musings


Last night I re-watched My Dinner with Andre for the first time in a very long time. At least 20 years, maybe longer. I’ve seen it many times. There was a time when my friend and I would go to see it every time it played at the Nuart cinema in West L.A., an “art house” theater which still exists (though it’s part of the Landmark chain now). Every time I saw Andre I felt as if the conversation had somehow magically changed, that new things, new concepts had been added. My sympathy would swing back and forth between the two people talking, I’d laugh at one and then the other, cry with one and then the other. The ending always made me appreciate the mystery and the wonder of life, from the ordinary details of a cold cup of coffee, to the mystical wonders of Findhorn, to living life consciously, and living life in a dream. And it still works. It still works.

In some ways it works better in today’s society than it did in 1981. The themes of living consciously rather than floating along; the themes of how distracted we all are and how difficult that makes it to live meaningfully.

“A baby holds your hand and then suddenly there’s this huge man lifting you off the ground. And then he’s gone. Where’s that son?”

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And speaking of watching, I just finished season 3 of The Detectorists. What a lovely, lovely show. Low key, gentle humor, sweet spirit. One of my very favorites.

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Mom and her starling, Baby:

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Butterflies are such beautiful creatures. Which is why I can’t understand the urge to collect them, kill them, and use them as art objects, preventing them from living out their life cycle and reproducing so that we will continue to have beautiful butterflies.

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My mother grew up right in the middle of Uintah Co., UT, a place well known in paranormal circles and home to the infamous Skinwalker Ranch. It was a little farming community called Willow Creek, not to be confused with the current day town of Willow Creek which is some ways northwest of where Mom grew up. Mom’s community doesn’t exist any more, as it became part of the Ute reservation. I had to locate the Creek it was named after to get an approximate location on Google maps (below).

I’ve often wondered if Mom’s nervousness regarding “weird shit,” as she called it, was because she grew up in a place where it was common.

Having said that, one of the shows she really liked to watch in the last years of her life was Finding Bigfoot. It was one of the few “weird” shows she could tolerate. Every time we’d watch she’d be fascinated and almost every single time she’d say afterwards, “There has to be something to this.” Not sure why she found it so convincing. But maybe Uintah County had something to do with it.

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Speaking of weird (as I do so love to), I was reading a thread on Twitter about the superstitions of health care workers. One of the most frequently mentioned was that health care workers would open a door or a window when someone died so the soul could find its way outside. (This is a very old folkloric belief.) While reading this I remembered that when my mother, who was in hospice here at home, passed away, the very lovely hospice nurse (a lady from Africa—and I’m sorry, sweet nurse, I no longer remember which country you said) took care of business and then went to open the front door.

I don’t think I even asked her why (I was in grief shock) but there must have been something in my expression because she hurried to say, “That’s so the funeral home knows what house it is.” I accepted it at the time but in retrospect, that makes no sense at all. It makes more sense after reading that thread on Twitter.

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It’s so difficult to overcome the “I want I want I want” mentality so many of us have been raised with in this society and replace it with the “We are we are we are” mentality. But necessary deprogramming.

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I’m a rather half-assed pagan. I do witchy things but I respect and honor witches too much to call myself one unless I feel I’ve earned it. I think I’m on a parallel but different path, anyway. I have a kind of spiritual practice that I’m getting back in touch with after many years of distraction and tamping it down to deal with this world. Any spiritual practice that’s worth its salt, I think, has to deal with both the mystical and the mundane or it’s just escapism. (Yes, I know, some would say all spiritual practice is escapism, but that’s their problem. I have no patience with them.)

In recent times, I have meditated and put out calls of—how to phrase it? Belonging? Certain deities respond and when they do I honor them on my mantelpiece. Others are just “the spirit of the rock” or “the spirit of the tree.” I am sure there is a spirit of the house, this house, but it’s unnamed. My mother, as I’ve mentioned, was not comfortable with discussion of anything spiritual. But I think she had some talents. She said the first time she walked into this house it opened its arms to her and said welcome. And I still feel that.

Everyone on the mantelpiece seems okay with everyone else, but I always ask before I place a representation there if everyone welcomes the addition. On rare occasions they say no and I honor that, but most times they’re accepting. And not just spiritual things go on the mantle. It’s a kind of cornucopia of silly and sacred and artwork, but it seems to work for everybody.

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What’s something about myself that I once wanted to change to fit in but am now happy with? My weirdness. I never saw things the way most people did. I now realize that’s not my affliction but my treasure.

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“It’s not a swastika it’s some kind of Tibetan symbol,” said the guy in the Nazi war helmet when asked why he put a concrete swastika in his front yard. “I don’t think he’s a Neo-Nazi,” said his neighbor, adding sheepishly, “But he may be racist.” #TalesFromTheLocalNews

My problem as a fantasy writer is that I’m too logically-minded for dragons. I swore I would never use them, but I went back on that promise to myself for one novel and it didn’t work out so well.

Someone suggested that it might be interesting to do a story from the POV of a very logical/intellectual dragon. I tried doing such a creature but reached the inevitable scene where someone needed to ride it and my mind rebelled against the usual scenario. It’s scientifically impossible for a human to ride on a dragon’s back. They’d be killed instantly, torn off the beast by wind velocity and g-forces. I couldn’t suspend my own disbelief in that regard and the alternate solution I came up with was utterly ridiculous.

So, an otherwise good novel was ruined in the third act. Alas, I didn’t have the heart for a complete rewrite at that point. And as time went on I realized there were other problems. (I tried to write a trilogy in one book, for one.) The dragon was just the most egregious.

Lesson learned: if you’re going to pull the dragon trigger, you’ve got to go all in, suspend your disbelief and have humans ride them in defiance of all laws of physics. Or don’t pull that trigger.

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I hate it when a trilogy is just good enough that you need to keep going but not good enough to be enthusiastic about it.

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It’s always a toss-up whether the Science Channel is going to inform me or scare the crap out of me.

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Maybe our alien overlords will impeach Trump. Then again, I don’t think even they could get it through the GOP-controlled Senate.

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Finally worked up enough nerve to open this box.

 

When in conversation I mention that I never really wanted children there is a certain species of woman who goes on about missing out on the miracle of birth and I want to say to them, “What a bunch of sexist crap.” It’s about choice, ladies, not about being brainwashed by social norms. I even had one tell me, “I’m sure you console yourself with that.” Believe me, if I really wanted to get knocked up it’s the easiest thing in the world. I just didn’t want it.

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The crows around here get most of my table scraps and leftovers that are past their prime. There’s one crow who sits atop the telephone pole near my house as a lookout. His job is to caw-caw-caw really loudly if I (or anyone else) throw things out into the yard. But before he does that he first comes down to help himself to a nice snack. Then he flies back to the telephone pole or the roof of my house and sends out the alert to the other crows. He ain’t no crow’s fool.

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You know, even if you roast troll meat in olive oil and garlic with some fine herbes it still tastes like sweat and urine.

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“Primitive” is such a Western-o-centric word, don’t you think?

It seems this notebook I just finished using up is emblematic of my life: the spiral binding had gotten crushed at one point so it was impossible to turn the page without tearing it at the top but I persisted in using it to the very last page.

Ego is a necessary thing if we’re going to get anything done in this world, but oh the damage it can do if left unchecked. It’s a life’s work striking the balance between, the razor’s edge.

Old age is really the harvest of all we have ever been or known or done, for good or ill. So be mindful of what you gather around you in your youth and middle-age.

When it comes to pilgrimage, the destination is not the important thing, the prize at the end of the journey is not the important thing. The important thing is walking the walk.

Patience may be the hardest part of any artistic endeavor. “Why aren’t I good enough yet?” “Why isn’t this getting easier?” “Why can’t I break in?” “Are we there yet?” As my wise friend, L., says: “At the end of the day you realize that doing this [art] is the only sane alternative. Patience is the life-saver.”

Emperors are all sociopaths. When they give up their sociopathic ways and become soft they are overthrown.

Old age is really the harvest of all we have ever been or known or done, for good or ill. So be mindful of what you gather around you in your youth and middle-age.

 

 

When it comes to pilgrimage, the destination is not the important thing, the prize at the end of the journey is not the important thing. The important thing is walking the walk.

Patience may be the hardest part of any artistic endeavor. “Why aren’t I good enough yet?” “Why isn’t this getting easier?” “Why can’t I break in?” “Are we there yet?” As my wise friend, L., says: “At the end of the day you realize that doing this [art] is the only sane alternative. Patience is the life-saver.”

Emperors are all sociopaths. When they give up their sociopathic ways and become soft they are overthrown.

When it comes to pilgrimage, the destination is not the important thing, the prize at the end of the journey is not the important thing. The important thing is walking the walk.