Tag Archives: write

Message in a bottle

It’s been 98 days since I remembered I had anything interesting to write here. I just checked. There was a meager sighting of sub-par poetry in there, done in the interest of humility and commitment-keeping, but my blog’s officially been getting short shrift since July. And what a shame, because phrases I’ve never in my earthly life written, like short shrift, have just been bopping around up there, waiting for their chance.

I’m not beating myself up about it, which I consider a great achievement. (Maybe next time I will remember in 92 days, or 88.) I am, however, afraid that if I don’t bottle the juice while I got it, it will flee as fast and as mysteriously as it landed, right here on my lap next to a purring cat at 4:54am. So it looks I’ll be plugging in my computer instead of crawling into bed, and I’ll suffer through the work day with an extra shot in my mocha.

The source of my sudden inspiration is hard to say, but suspects include:

  • the spontaneous Big Sur Tuesday night dance party (responsible for these wee hours), which was the most fun I’ve had in ages;
  • three shots and two glasses of wine at the aforementioned fête;
  • the idle perusing of ridiculous genius in my friends’ blogs;
  • the toying with a ridiculous idea to write another novel in November;
  • all this singing I’ve been doing;
  • or all the reading;
  • psychic healings from Laura Day and friends (see sidebar);
  • the extra 5-HTP I’ve been taking;
  • a day chock-full of gifts, in the form of super-kind words from all sorts of unexpected people.
  • Best, and most surprising of all, was the shot in the arm from my own self. I looked at my blog tonight for the first time in awhile, sighed (as I do), and suddenly had the ingenious notion that I could just start re-posting old posts, in an attempt to look prolific without having to actually form sentences. Brilliant! So I started kicking around the archives a bit, looking for a gem.

    Who knew? These fingers at my keyboard now are the same ones that typed the message in the bottle I’ve been holding out for.

    October 21st, 2008: The best laid plans

    Lately my life has been full of regrets and hurts and going-wrongs. Days and days stringing together without the solace of resolution or comfort of clarity. I’ve been tending myself pretty well, with the exception maybe of four days dedicated to eating bread, and am emerging enough from my wheat-filled fog to enjoy a little perspective. Here I can wonder, again, how each time life serves up a dollop of crap, I manage to convince myself I’ve never been here before. What to do? (Followed by close cousin: Oh why am I always this way?)

    And lo and behold, right here in my corner of the world wide web, I find a girl I can recognize, exactly one year younger than I am today. Struggling the same struggles and finding her way. Surely this is irrefutable proof of something more inspiring than I am a slow learner.

    The very dawn captured by neighbor Dave Egbert.

    Lucky day... the very dawn was captured by neighbor Dave Egbert.

    If 34-year-old Lisa could see 35-year-old Lisa today, I imagine she’d be equal parts relieved and dismayed, that exactly everything and nothing has changed. It seems to me right now that my life has been an exercise in nabbing new seats at the same film, waiting for a new ending.  I hope to remind myself, maybe when I read this post next year, to keep diligently pursuing an alternative to spending the rest of my days hapless and blinking in the theater, kicking the seats.

    It’s dawn now.  I can’t take my eyes off the ridge across the valley. My view from here is of the road I walked last October. Scrubby, black silhouettes of evergreens stand like cutouts against an unimaginable, painted sky. The pinking wisps of cloud smoke blush so deeply, then more still. As I watch it feels like my heart is nestling down in my chest. Somehow the sun’s relentless progress feels so hopeful at dawn, while at sunset it can be wistful and at noon mundane. All the while, here we are, just turning the same as ever.


    Filed under life, lisa goettel, writing

    You said.

    Earlier today I thought my words were broken.  Broken, or so rigid they could not form to the smooth curves of the knowing I want to express.  Since I was little I’ve gone through phases of deep despair and frustration over the frailty and imperfection of words in the face of my experience. Today I heard the teachers I needed and remembered: words can’t break.  Only we break our own vows and commitments – so understandably – in the face of all our human perils: distraction, avoidance, stubbornness, fear.

    I’m building a mountain of trust, stone by stone.  Learning to get out of my own way.  Learning to listen.

    I asked for help tonight.

    You said.

    You can dance too.
    (And I can hardly sleep for the knowing of it.)

    You forgot, didn’t you?

    There is no way to break me. I cannot go wrong or do badly.
    When will you believe me? I cannot shake you – your vice its too tight.

    This is the time. Now. Here. Be with me.
    Don’t be afraid. I love you as a  nightengale slipped from its nest. You who knows no boundaries or reason.

    This picture you have is imperfect. Leave me to fill it.

    You have the most glorious spirit I’ve ever created. You. Yes you. There is none other.

    The typing is done by the fingers not the mind-vice.
    The fingers have their own agenda that can listen beyond all your thoughts.
    Listen like your fingers.
    There will never be another reason to doubt, though you will.  Your fear is too strong.
    But only because you create it each day.

    The fingers typing is the poetry you are wanting.

    Welcome yourself to the seat you’ve made and thank your Self for it.  Made of sticks and bones and paper and blood.  These you discarded and are now your throne.

    You are so full of magic it cannot be expressed, only experienced.

    Don’t go again.
    Know that you can recognize me always.
    I am your teacher and lover and friend and end to your loneliness. All those tragedies of human form.

    Be this knowing.  The world needs you.
    Has your recognition failed you yet?

    Shelters come in forms that waves punish.
    Bees dive for nectar in all the wrong places, most of the time.
    You are another soldier.
    I trust you to do it perfectly, because you are me.
    We are.

    Begin again.
    Show the light to itself.
    Go forward in the uncanny notions and step back from the dainty or cautious step.
    Will is the movement.
    Action comes from within.


    Filed under Big G., poetry

    Writing the Other Side

    chocolate-skin1I have been reading Rob Brezsny for an hour.  He is a madman.

    He is famous for his syndicated astrology column now, but someday he’ll be more famous for his mastery in untethering imagination in pursuit of truth.  He’s one of the seekers, choosing the reckless (but not aimless) path of uninhibited expression to the spiritual holy grail.

    He spends his days devotedly seeking the purest form of connection to our true, collective spirit.  The stuff of dreams and psychadelic worlds. The glorious wonders “behind the veil” of our boring little conditioning.  The delicious music of the subconscious that breathes love and manna and play into the world.  The everything that lives beyond our doomed daily chores of footsteps. The last great grand hope.

    Brezsny was buoyed by discovering William Blake’s description of this place, in a passage from A Vision of the Last Judgment:

    This world of Imagination is the world of Eternity; it is the divine bosom into which we shall go after the death of the Vegetated body. This World of Imagination is Infinite and Eternal, whereas the world of Generation, or Vegetation, is Finite and Temporal. There exists in that Eternal World the Permanent Realities of Every Thing which we see reflected in this Vegetable Glass of Nature. All Things are comprehended in their Eternal Forms in the divine body of the Saviour, the True Vine of Eternity, the Human Imagination.

    I wonder sometimes if the subconscious/ imagination are just an attractive highway luring us further into our super-egos under the guise of naked truth. But because I am (proud to be) easily influenced, tonight I am lapping up the contagion of Rob Brezsny’s reckless truths with glee.  Just imagine if the whole world was infected – suddenly swinging wide the doors to our collective and limitless imagination realms –  fearlessly and playfully celebrating the grown children we are. If we saw the world differently, would gravity fail to operate and the sun forget to rise?

    And so, your invitation.  Contribute an expression of your connecting with whatever feels true at this moment.  Any form.  Do not let your regular brain participate. What leaps cleanly from the tendons of your sense and invites us to a world where we remember our majestic capacity for ridiculousness?  Prove we are full to the brim of stuff way more interesting than the aerobics of those woefully limited left-brain synapses.  Enjoy five minutes of relief from the way words should go. No edits or judges or rehearsals… this is easy free spontaneous loveful playtime.

    Here’s my five-minute-stream-write offering, for starters. And Rob’s site offers a great deal more plentiful juice…


    “Will there ever be a day when we don’t die?” She asked him, her voice wavering in false fear.

    “Absolutely not.” He obliged in the condescension her tone so obviously craved.

    “I wonder then,” she mused peevishly in an instantaneous but nearly imperceptible shift to real bravery, “if we may have a go at it?”

    “What!?” He cried in exasperation. “We are 10,000 moons away from life yet.  We must die exactly 8,934,256 deaths before we can live.”

    She smiled coyly and slid the secret with her tongue across her freshly whitened teeth.

    “Oh don’t you smile coyly at me with your tongue and whitened teeth, just because you have the womb secret wisdom. I demand you demonstrate your fearlessness immediately,” his left eye twinkled.

    The death was quick and painless. She remembered milky skin and thoughtlessness.  She jumped in to the pool laughing, yelling “It’s been here all along!”

    “I’ve been trying to tell you…” he glowered, but her laughing broke his words in two.

    She looked at him and he didn’t have to apologize.

    “Wanna float?” She smiled.


    Filed under invitations, writing

    Procrastination Station

    I don’t need NaNoWriMo’s procrastination station.  I have an infinite supply of my own. Like this blog.  I should be writing many, many words right now. In my novel, that is.  Instead I’m writing words here.  Because my brain is working like these sentences. Small and random and not well put together.

    So here’s my random collection of things to share this evening.

    1. Nano halo with ice cream horns

      Nano halo with ice cream horns

      This is a picture of what I look like right now. I’ve decided this is my Nano halo, complete with ice cream horns.

    2. I am weary. I moved houses, again, today. This is a house I will move out of on Dec. 1st, so I can move back into it on Dec. 15th. And I will live there until at least April.  April!  Oh god! If you want to know how I feel about this, go look at the cover of the latest New Yorker Magazine.  You should seek it out anyway. (Thanks Dale.)
    3. It is ridiculously beautiful in Big Sur right now.  I feel bad for all of you who live in places that are cold and rainy.  It is sunny (not now, because it’s nighttime) and 80 degrees and I did yoga on a deck this morning next to a hot tub, overlooking 180 degree blue blue ocean view. (Thanks Nadine!)  I say this to inspire you all to come visit. Since I will soon have a house. And to say “Thank you god for not making me move in the cold rainyness.” Because today I would have just sat down in the mud and cried.
    4. My friend Mike from London is coming to visit on Monday.  Yea.
    5. I’m having lunch with my friend Chris tomorrow. Yea.
    6. I’m going to Mexico in February. Yea. (Thanks Mom.)
    7. I’m going to San Francisco this weekend to write dangerously, at the Night of Writing Dangerously.  And I found out today I’ll get a prize, for raising all those dollars, from all of you!  Hey! Thanks!  I’m also hoping to march in the streets.  You can too! http://jointheimpact.wetpaint.com/?t=anon
    8. Which brings me, aptly, to number 8, the post-Prop 8 despairdrom.  Seriously. I have been ruminating much on this. So have other people who are speaking out most eloquently. Namely, Keith Olberman and Joe Solomonese. Please take some minutes and click on both those links. And it seems I have something to say too.

    The passage of Proposition 8, which takes away the right of gay couples to marry in California, right there in the Constitution, has been beyond a disappointment to me and so many people I know.

    To me it feels personal and it feels mean.  What a pointy contrast to the presidential outcome and The Big O’s message of hope – appealing to the best, most heartfelt, inspired, humble and giving parts of our humanness.

    I am sad, but I not at all hopeless. I know in my knowingest knowing that the passage of Prop 8 will be more inspiration for all people, in every state, to engage in a dialog.  And dialog will save the day. Dialog with those who are directly impacted by it is important, but also those that aren’t. Those who think this has nothing to do with them.  Those who think that the rights of someone they haven’t met are not inextricably linked with their own. And it is my fervent hope that this inspires dialog with ourselves.  What an opportunity to discover what our own beliefs and (often subconscious) intentions are bringing to the world!

    They say a “value” only changes when two held beliefs come in conflict.  It can be a painful and sometimes lengthy process, but it happens all the time.

    Example: I believe the gay lifestyle is wrong.  My son just told me he is gay and I love him.

    Whether or not it seems so, I promise, these two statements are fully incompatible.  These incompatibilities force something to shift.

    My invitation to you is this. Take an opportunity, right this very minute, to shine a kind and honest light on your most deeply embedded beliefs about love and relationships in general.  All your parts.  Write them down. Your parts will disagree and you may not like some. But in so seeing, we have a chance to more consciously choose which part we want to lead our lives.

    Cheri Huber says something to the effect of “You can have a wounded little whiny person in you who just wants to get whatever she wants all the time.  You can love her and listen to her and accept her as a part of you.  But you don’t give her the credit card and keys to the car.”  (I have a part of me who wants to pop other people’s zits.  But I do not let her go to parties.)

    Ok then. Remember to check out Joe and Keith’s links.

    Back to writing.


    Filed under life, lisa goettel, offerings, politics, writing

    Moving, Electing, Noveling.

    Oh my, my.  I moved today, for the 14th time since July (but who’s counting.)  And I am living in America, a country I am proud to live in for the first time in 8 long, long years.  And I am many thousands of words behind in my novel-writing word count, but am having a fantastic time now, after days of less than fantasticness.

    ** Moving **

    I am learning the art of moving gracefully and painlessly.  I am not yet to a place of enthusiasm.  But I am grateful.  Grateful for having so many amazing friends who have extended their homes to me whenever I need them.  I am grateful for living rent-free for 4 and-a-half months.  I am grateful for the awesome realization of freedom that hit me at 4:00 today, that I could pick up and drive anywhere on the continent and make a life there, right now. I am grateful for getting rid of things, slowly, with each move, and I don’t miss any of them.  (I can’t even remember them.)

    ** OH! BAMA! **

    Speaking of grateful… although truth be told, ecstatic is the better word.  Or ebullient, giddy or glee-filled.  AMEN! HALLELUJAH! AMEN! (this is being sung by a big gospel choir in my head.)

    I watched the returns come in Tuesday, accidentally, down at Esalen with the only person I know in Big Sur who is as big of a political junkie as I am.  We shook and laughed and cried and screamed and sat quietly and hugged. (Thank you, J.)  This was followed by a trip down to the local pub where there was much dancing and whooping. The profundity of this decision sunk in only after the fact: a black man, a black man with integrity and heart, a black man with courage and humility and vision and presence and grace, has been elected President of the United States by the majority of Americans.  I can’t decide which is more impossible to believe: that Obama actually won, or that whole states of people out there voted for Sarah Palin.

    I am learning what it feels like to be represented(!) and what it’s like to be in the majority(!).  I am finding myself two degrees more courageous since Tuesday.  I am just a little bit more willing to risk hoping.  And I am reveling in discovering that just a little bit is so, so big.

    ** Writing Novels **

    All I can do is sigh, with pity for this little human that I am.  This ambitious and earnest and fragile little person.  On Wednesday, I still didn’t have any vision for my story.  I was writing disjointed fragments and as quickly as I wrote them I hated them.  I hated my characters, my lack of a plot or vision, this whole big dumb idea of writing a novel.  I stared at my screen for one whole hour without writing one whole word.  I got up and ate chocolate and drank wine. I sat down to write again and fell asleep instead.  I woke up and walked around slamming doors.

    It was about this time that a little voice whispered in my ear, saying “This is why you signed up for this. Right now. This.

    I looked up an e-mail that I got from my super bestest novel-writing mentor ever, P, in the week before the NaNoWriMo started.   I had relayed my anxiety to her about the whole thing and she offered this response.  (She offered a complete list of points a thru i, but I only needed to read to d, this time. Hope you don’t mind me sharing, P.)  She writes:

    oh, i hear you, sister friend. i hear you.

    and i hope that you will:

    a. give yourself permission to write the worst crap ever. like, seriously awful crap.

    b. and that for a while it bothers you, how much crap you’re slinging. that you start to wonder if you have any business at all writing.

    c. and i hope that when that happens (because it will) you keep writing.

    d. and after you keep writing even though you hate everything coming out of you, that you start to think it’s fun and silly and awesome (because you will and it is).

    It was the two degrees of relief and hope and trust that I needed to start writing again.  I haven’t stopped since.  I am still way behind the word count I should be at, but I don’t much care.

    If you fancy reading the occasional, random excerpt, I’m posting them at:

    http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/425881 (Click “Novel Info”)

    1 Comment

    Filed under life, politics, writing


    My life is spilling over the top.  Full and full and fuller.  Storms and websites and jobs and e-mail classes and moving and novel-writing… up to the eyeballs.  Doing doing doing from sun up to way past sun down.

    But I dashed off a little poem note to myself this morning in my journal, and thought, I’d like to post this.

    Happy, HAPPY election day, by the way. (I am so very excited I can hardly stand it.)

    so much doing,
    and believing,
    and unfolding –
    this will never be
    satiated –
    no amount of money
    or fill
    or jars of jobs well done
    will relieve
    this breath,
    or remind you
    there is no earning
    of joy.
    you already belong to it.


    Filed under life, offerings, poetry, writing

    Lily in the Valley

    Vernon Bush

    I learned a new gospel song last weekend from friend and superstar Vernon Bush called Lily in the Valley.  Words, “there’s a lily in the valley… a bright and glorious star…” lots of times, followed by a bunch of “amens.” It’s a good song. An uplifting song. It’s a simple, joy-filled tune about finding the good.

    Finding the good is easy to do, I find, when I’m not in a valley. But today was a swampy, off-kilter, oh-no, not-at-all-comfortable-in-my-britches kind of low down yuck day, and now I’m not in bed yet because I don’t want to go to sleep feeling bad.  My brain, my darling brain, is a broken record, tormenting me with its perpetual skipping to the accumulated list of everything that went so very wrong today.  It is instant gratification, like eating a whole roll of cookie dough (if you like that kind of thing) to review and add to this list.  It feels like I’m in an endurance contest of trials and each of these wrong things is a notch in my belt. I grow ever more righteous, resentful, frustrated and victimized as the day progresses.

    And I find, after focusing all day on this list, that I feel like I missed a day of my life.  I had a few good moments there, where I stopped the record for a time or pulled the reigns in on the momentum, but then another thing would go wrong and I was kicking the dirt again.  It is compelling now, to want to review the day in a kind of audit, making a power point presentation out of it and putting big yellow arrows at all the moments when I made poor choices.  Or big red warning signs on situations I walked into that I know tend to make me grumpy.  I think about all the decisions I could make – wear different clothes, do more yoga, drink more water, quit my job, never talk to people again – that will save me from this fate in the future. I’ve done this for 34 years.  It hasn’t worked yet.

    How to stop, so wholly and completely, that the strength of the momentum of this habit can’t take me on it’s ride?  It feels today like turning physics on its head.  A thing in action tends to stay in action.

    This is why I write.

    Somehow, somewhere, whenever I sit down to write and ask a sincere question, the answer comes.

    Just like that.

    Now it came, like a tiny whisper from deep in the canyon of my left ribcage, saying “Make a list of the lillies.”

    Ok then.

    Things I loved about today:

    • Pumpkin pie with whipped cream.
    • Fresh laundry.
    • The neck crack I’ve been waiting for for weeks.
    • Sweet and kind words on my blog from friends and strangers.
    • Saying hi to the new guy, and knowing I made his day better.
    • A confirmed “yes!” from a donor for a $500 sponsorship.
    • Singing along with Ani Difranco in the car.
    • Firefighters.
    • Kittens.
    • This perfect, dark, crickety, warm night, and the pjs I’m about to climb into.


    Filed under life, writing

    Of mountains and molehills

    It’s late and I have to get up in six hours.  It’s been weeks and weeks and weeks since I’ve written regularly though, and I’m determined to prove to myself that typing a few words is not pushing a boulder up a mountain.  I wrote two whole posts last week and had internet problems so I didn’t post them, and when I re-read them later they felt forced and inadequate.  Blah.  I’m sticking my tongue out at my inner critic right now.

    I’m just going to say a nighttime prayer (I wish that word wasn’t so associated with churches and bibles) to this infinitely supplied universe, full of things that are healing and nurturing and fulfilling. Heirloom tomato pizza, suprise path crossings with old friends, singing(!), Ani DiFranco’s new album, the nighttime that is serenading me with crickets.

    For the majority of you with whom I’ve lagged in contact, here’s an update in five minutes or less:

    • I’ve moved 12 times since July.
    • I’m luxuriously perched atop a Big Sur ridge in one place for a whole month, as of Saturday.
    • I went to Colorado for 10 days and saw changing Aspens and old friends.  I love Colorado, changing Aspens and old friends.  I saw my cat and three ex’s.
    • I’m teaching myself how to play guitar with “Guitar for Dummies”.  I know 16 chords and am very, very proud of myself.
    • I’m single for the first time in 10 years.
    • I’m taking a three month Zen class with Cheri Huber remotely, using conference calls and e-mails.  My assignment: do something that a) nourishes my heart and spirit and b) will earn me $500 in three months.  I think this is scary and implausable and fantastic.
    • The neighborhood skunk just waddled by the open door and gratefully decided against coming in for another cat food feast and four hour nap under my bed.

    I’m back!

    1 Comment

    Filed under life, writing


    Part of me wants to sit and write forever – typing my digestion of this past week, month, year. Another part of me wants to sit in a silent room– having nothing to say, nothing to write, nothing to do.

    Tonight I’ve settled upon my red pajamas, renting Juno and eating a dove bar for dinner. I did start writing some yesterday, noticing there’s the writing I feel I should do – updating friends and family on the fire – and there’s all the words underneath. I’ll probably make a series of it, as the onion reveals itself. I beg your patience with both the wordy waterfalls and days of silence in between.

    I just re-read the last fire update I sent. Now it feels so dramatic. The big, bad (and yes, still burning) fire that had all our fingernails chewed down to the quick has, after an exhaustingly watchful week, moved along from Big Sur with (relatively) little fanfare. This is in no way intended to diminish to the 27 homes lost, or our northeastern neighbors who are now evacuated, but when it seemed like the fate of the entire coast was at stake, to have the highway back open in the span of a mere week seems altogether anticlimactic.

    The statistics feel worse than the fire. Apparently by the time this is all said and done (probably not until the winter rains) this will be the largest wildfire in California history. It’s a few fires actually, that have joined and will burn more than a quarter million acres. In all honesty, that means nothing to me. It’s a vast sea of wilderness that my brain can’t wrap itself around. When I look at the fire maps I see fragments of Bambi flash through my memory reel and I imagine the distress of the deer.

    Hearing about landmarks, big and small, help my mind and body understand. I can picture the garden at the zen center vividly – memories of my fingers in soil beds that are now smoldering, black mounds. Sula’s house, where I sat with her over a long tea, talking about the joy of mixing paint colors and how Big Sur swept her off her feet so many years ago. Feeding her horses lunch and imagining myself living there too, in the little Airstream on the ridge. All those paintings and teacups and books – the accumulation in the life of a dilettante – now ash and dust.

    View from the highway July 3rd

    ** View from the highway July 3rd **

    When I first saw the fire up close, on evacuation day, I was surprised at the force of the effect. I sucked in breath and sobbed. The line of flames burning down the ridge looked like a scalpel, with neither malice nor care, cutting through the vulnerable skin of a friend. And we had to leave, not knowing if we were in for an appendectomy or a heart transplant.

    The week away was a blurry flurry of websites and phone calls and meetings. Everyone insatiably hungry for information, most of which told us only to keep waiting. The people who know things announced it would be at least a few weeks before we could return home. And as abruptly as the evacuation came, one evening (Thursday? Yesterday? A year ago?) they announced the road would open to residents the next day. This was more shocking to me than the evacuation frankly. Great for Big Sur businesses and obviously a good sign the fire was well contained along the coast, but I couldn’t help feeling like I’d just worked really hard getting comfortable in an uncomfortable chair, and now I had to go find someplace else to sit. I could understand the joy of friends who could finally go home, but I had no home to go to. The place I was planning on moving to survived by the hair of its chin, but the owners have decided not to rent it for awhile. So now what?

    I began to feel all the stuff behind the stuff. How becoming absorbed in managing a community website was simultaneously providing me with a point of focus and a container, giving me purpose and sense of earning my space in the village. How the fire was giving me a good excuse for eating badly, feeling sorry for myself and playing hooky. And now the containers and urgencies were falling away, and my community was scattering back up on their ridges, each immersed in their own fridge clean outs. (I have to make mention of my friend and fellow fire gypsy Linda’s perfectly written account of re-entry – http://survision-bigsur.blogspot.com/.)

    I’ve spent the time continuing my coffee shop wifi tour of Carmel, feeling out the not knowing in the occasional courageous moment. Not knowing always seems to come in equal parts pain and freedom. I’m still searching for my bootstraps after days full of tears and frustration and naps. But angels abound, and in the span of a day I’ve secured Big Sur house-sitting gigs through the end of August and Yossi signed a lease on an apartment in Marin.

      **the view from my front door**

    **the view from my front door, July 16**

    (Aside: There’s an overwhelmed little girl in me who wants everyone in the world to know that her old hometown flooded, her new hometown burned, she’s homeless, alone and her dog died last week. But what more to say than the picture of this moment – I’m nestled under a homemade quilt in a private guest house over a glimmering, enormous ocean, sipping wine and feeling taken in and loved everywhere. Don’t let me get away with the poor me routine please.)

    When I finally drove back to Big Sur this weekend, I nervously wondered what our new landscape would have to say, but it wasn’t anything like seeing the fire. I just stared at the hills in awe and curiosity, not the least bit sad. Where I saw the fingers of flame coming down to the road is now a giant, ashy mountain. In the right light you have to look twice before you even notice it isn’t green. The trees are still intact in many of the burn areas, where the fire didn’t crown and just burned through the understory. (I have a newly enhanced fire vocabulary.) If anything, Big Sur just looks even more dramatic than before.

    What most residents see is a much-needed, healthy clearing – and the makings of a winter full of mudslides and road closures. Not to mention all eyes are still on the half of Big Sur that didn’t burn, as we glance at the calendar and count down 100 more days till fire season is over.

    It makes most people wonder why on earth anyone has perched themselves up here in this place. I know painters who stay for the limitless landscapes. A friend told me today her neighbors wanted “country without the rednecks.” Henry Miller said it’s where he learned to say “Amen.” For me, Big Sur is a teacher of the lessons I’ve signed up for. And whether it’s flavored with pain or freedom, it always whispers in my ear “this is how big my love is.”


    Filed under life, writing

    Feeless free writer (rider)

    Per the invitation: http://talknsmack.wordpress.com/

    Old Chopper, they called him. Reminded them of that heap of metal off Birch St near the Rhoades’ place.

    Sat every day looking the same. Same sour face, same stubble that mysteriously never grew nor was shaven. Same unkempt shirt and hair. Growing the same age old every day, holding the same half glass of lemonade. Bottom lip jutting forward, refusing to reveal what is surely a toothless, or at least un-pretty grin, if anyone had ever seen it.

    Old Chopper. Maybe they gave him the same name as that old truck (the one by the Rhoades’ place) because we have the same relationship. Our lives move but they still sit there, aging imperceptably, as if time was immaterial to those who stop moving. We don’t trust him quite enough to have a name like Bob or Paul. He has been nobody’s brother to us. Just Old Chopper, sitting on his porch, serving witness to those of us who busy about living.


    Filed under life, writing