2015 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 400 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

“…if I had my goddam choice…”

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“You know what I’d like to be?” I said. “I mean if I had my goddam choice?…I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all…And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff–I mean they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d be the catcher in the rye…”
Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
Who wouldn’t like to have written that? You can hardly put into words everything he’s caught in those lines–every bit of longing and need, every bit of hope, every bit of love. We want to know Holden, and we think we do.
I don’t think JD Salinger even wanted the fame and fortune that book brought him. What he wanted was to write it.

Magna Carta–what?

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A_Chronicle_of_England_-_Page_226_-_John_Signs_the_Great_CharterThis year marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the closest document England has to a constitution. They’re one of three countries without a written constitution, along with New Zealand and Israel. Our constitution is based in part on the Magna Carta.
Why?
It was created out of real protest, not by politicians.

Demonstration against G8 Summit in Le Havre

It was the first time protesters spoke truth to power and had a real impact–they would no longer be ruled at the whim of the King, a tradition in place for as long as anyone could remember.
It is the origin of the legal concept of our right to due process of law for people and property.
It’s still used–Darcus Howe, an outstanding Civil Rights leader in England, in the case of the Mangrove Nine, 1971, used Magna Carta as his defense.

Jay Z Magna Carta Holy Grail cover

One historian said recently–it has survived by magic rather than its words. What it carries is hope. And that’s how people have used it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/15/belfast-g8-protests_n_3446781.html

Turkey Vultures

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One morning, when I was staying up country in a valley of the Manzano Mountains, I got up early to see the sun rise. I went out on the deck, and as I looked across the field, I saw about a dozen turkey vultures, each perched on a fence post.
turkey vultures

They stood with wings outstretched, unmoving, waiting to catch the sun’s rays, to warm their wings. It was a surreal sight, as if they were caught in a moment of worship.

It made me think of turkey vultures differently, to feel a kinship with them. We both were in that moment to appreciate something ancient and foundational that is rejuvenating to something deep within us. For that moment, we were worshiping at the same church.

Now when I see them surrounding road kill, I don’t go, “Ew-w-w!”

Photo from: http://blueridgeblog.blogs.com/blue_ridge_blog/2004/10/taking_flightpa.html

Tasmania–running into the other you

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launceston
Excerpt from Jumping: a Novel.
Babe has jumped into the Void and is meeting an aspect of herself whom she almost met in life:

One of them is a woman I saw once, in Tasmania. I’m surprised to see a woman with whom I have had only one encounter, and we never even spoke. . . .

I take in the woman, who looks strikingly like me, and remember seeing her in the crowd of evening strollers along the pier one night, on the Tamar River. . . I felt so strangely drawn to follow this woman, knowing there was some sort of connection, and hoping she knew it, too.

I think she was afraid of me—she noticed me, but only peripherally, and wouldn’t look at me head-on. I was a little freaked out—knowing she was me somehow, some other version of me. I wanted to see her and have her see me, as validation of something, but at the same time I felt as if something irrevocable would change, and I didn’t know if I was ready for that. I think she felt the same way.

The woman approaches. The silence lingers.

“Babe, this is Hardin,” Philip says, just as I’m thinking the name in my head.

“I know.”

Hardin and I hug. And Hardin, laughing, says, with a distinct Australian accent, “Of course, I did see you. I’m an aspect of you and you of me. It was my first time to ever see such a thing. I wasn’t well at the time, and I thought seeing you meant immanent death!” She laughs again, “I know now that’s not the case. And I’m sorry to have missed the opportunity, but I was a frightful little thing in that life. Not like you!”

“Oh, I was scared, too!” I reassure her.

The Snake

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Water drops on blue background

From Jumping: a Novel.
Babe, on the arrival of her sisters. [I have three sisters.]

“I remember seeing a snake come down from the porch roof of a cabin I was staying in with friends. As we watched, it extended half of its length down through space as if the space had substance to support it, leaving its other half anchored on the porch roof. It lowered that front half right into a fir tree leaning against the porch, into the nest of a small mourning dove, a nest clearly visible to our group on the porch, a nest with two small eggs in it.
The dove had left the nest, probably because we had scared her off by coming out on the porch, and the snake had seen its chance. It moved into the nest with half of its body still on the porch roof, and swallowed both eggs, so quickly, so effortlessly, I could almost believe it hadn’t happened. I didn’t want to believe it had. Then it withdrew itself back up onto the roof, again as if suspended by invisible wires, and disappeared from sight. We stood there, silenced by the finality of its act. . . .
“Later I found a snakeskin tucked in the fold of the bottom step of the back porch. It was beautiful, elegant, like a woman’s elbow-length opera glove, dropped unheedingly, while she was on her way to somewhere else. . . .”

Are you selling out when you sell yourself? Sure!

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You can’t let it change you.  Then it’s not selling out.  But is that even possible?  Nowadays, if you’re a writer, you’re in sales.  We just used to think someone else would be doing it for us.

The other day, the 21 year old technical whiz who works with me and I produced the first draft of a video for youtube.  The publisher will either edit it and put it up or send us back to the drawing board.  Their marketing person said two minutes, don’t read, talk about the book, but don’t give it away.  Right now, we’re at five minutes and six seconds.  And we’ve got lots of out-takes.  A couple of times we got to laughing and almost couldn’t stop. The techie/director took care of lighting, sound, time, setting, wardrobe, hair frizzies, script management, feedback, production design, and more.  I supplied the script and showed up.  That was a lot!

I think the truth is my apprehension, at core, comes from the fact that I’m still getting to know the book.  I wrote it and moved on to the next one.  Now I look at it and try to remember.  I’m surprised and unsettled by the comments of others who’ve recently read it.  They’ve seen something I didn’t know was there and been moved by it.  The book is clearly a thing unto itself.

I will say, as I go back into Jumping, looking for things to quote or things for readings, I find a lot I remember and still like.  Maybe that’s because I know the book wasn’t written just by me.  Go, little book!