Beep Beep, Boop!

Written in response to Bumblepuppies’ prompt on bcandelabra: “Doesn’t everyone just love the sight of the “Beep Beep Boop” screen when we try to write a post? That’s what I thought.  It kind of makes you wonder where the folks at WordPress got such a wonderful idea.  For this week’s challenge, you’re going to speculate on how that phrase came to become so prominent around here.”

I am afraid I can’t even categorize “Beep Beep Boop” as an idea. And, when I looked for images I could use to illustrate this post, the first dozen were, you got it, WordPress. My best guess is that there is a lost Road Runner cartoon out there in which the Road Runner is trying to get Betty Boop out of his way. I can get behind that; she bothers me, too, and probably the Road Runner has a bomb to throw at Why Lee Coyote and the fuse is burning fast.

I seldom see this little Beep Beep Boop weirdness.


It alone is enough to make me go to my admin page and write my posts using the “old” editor rather than the “improved” editor (which I don’t think is an improvement — I like my tools on the right side of my screen, not the left). I find the whole “improved editor” to be kind of insulting and childish, but I’m not the target market and that’s OK.

As for the folks at WordPress? I’ve quit speculating. I don’t think they’re very bright nor are they very creative and I think they live in their own little world. I did the 101 class to get a better sense of this, and it was uninspired but I met some nice people. And that, I’ve concluded, is what this is about.

Scholarship Material

Kim Kardashian fascinates me and I don’t completely understand the nature of that fascination. For a long time, I heard/read her name and wondered who the heck she was. Then, a couple of students wrote reports about how she was their role model because she’d achieved so much in her life even though she was (is) a woman. These two students seemed to believe that Kardashian is also a “woman of color” so that added piquancy to her great achievements.

Reading those essays I had to look up this marvelous piece of female achievement, and I discovered that she was famous for having been Paris Hilton’s friend and for making a sex tape that went viral. Her name was vaguely familiar, as well, and I quickly learned who her father was and just what terrible obstacles she’d had to overcome in order to reach her mammoth success. Woman of color? No…

I confronted my students with these facts and I said, “Do you really think that she has achieved anything? She comes from a ridiculously wealthy family and all she’s done is pander her booty. Don’t you want something more for your daughters, if not for yourselves?” I was thinking that sexual attractiveness is a short-lived thing and there is every reason to prepare for a life that holds more long-term interest. Still, I knew they were in school to get a job that would allow them to make more money. They wanted what Kim Kardashian represents; sex and money. If all went well, they might also be “reality stars.”

They didn’t want “more” whatever “more” was. They still thought Kardashian was a worthy role model. The two girls decided I was some kind of old, strident white feminist who didn’t understand their generation, and they never returned to class.

I had to ask myself, “What MORE is there?” The reason we’re HERE at all is to propagate our species. Kim Kardashian has absolutely flaunted and capitalized on the characteristics that set her apart as a likely prospect for insemination. She’s not the first; Marilyn Monroe (also often chosen by my girl students as a role model along with Betty Boop) was also very nubile in appearance. In fact, the list is endless, from Helen of Troy on to millions of girls I’ve never heard of or seen through time. So what my girl students had been telling me for years — “I want to be sexy, therefore my role model is the latest hot item,” is absolutely valid on the level of survival of the species.

Nothing wrong with that. I decided that what we as a society need to do is make sure that most girls are ready to mate and spawn when they graduate high school. They should have intensely practical classes in child-rearing, management and homemaking. They should also learn the skills they might need for a decent part-time clerical job. They should be given every opportunity to enhance their secondary sexual characteristics so they have a better shot at attracting the best quality DNA. For, as Aldous Huxley was palpably aware, for a girl to be really attractive, she needs to be “pneumatic.”

This is written in response to Bumblepuppies weekly challenge on Black Light Candelabra: For this week’s challenge, your title should create humor by bringing together two things that one does not normally see together.  The two things might both appear in your title or you might create a clash between your title and the picture everyone will see immediately.  Alternately, you could choose a title that will grab your regular readers’ attention for being far outside the scope of your normal tone and focus.  Whatever you choose, make sure that your post is serious yet still relevant to the title you used for your starting point.

Hawk Dream

A response to Bumblepuppies’ Blacklight Candelabra weekly challenge:  “…look at the image and ask yourself what it says about you or what message it might convey.  Analyze.  Be sure to look at individual pieces (for example, the purple corners in my picture) and think about what they might represent.  Then, create a post that includes your image as well as the explanation of what you’ve discovered about that image.”


This picture is every bit as subtle and inscrutable as my dreams. The symbolism in my dreams is so obvious that I often wonder what came first; the metaphor? the reality? In this picture I’m hiking, I see a hawk and there is the night sky. I’m an artist so it’s pretty difficult for me NOT to conceptualize as I go along and while I may like some abstract painting, I see no point in doing it myself. Anyway, I ended up liking this picture a lot and maybe it will become a painting someday. I think it is a painting of my death, my dreams, my past life and a spirit guide I had once upon a time who helped me learn to see. It’s significant that the hawk is perfect and my image is flawed. I believe that is accurate to life. The red tail IS perfect and I have a long ways to go…

and THEN…

Imagine that someone is going through successive lives and that those lives (or individual events from those successive lives) come together to develop a person’s spirit.  With this in mind, write three stories; each story should come from a different reincarnation of that person but that person must be a different entity in each story.  The result should (at least somewhat) resemble the character development you normally find in a novel but without keeping that character in the same body.  You could also use this challenge to show how your selected person or character became the way they are or to speculate about what they’ll be like in their future lives.

“Dude? Is that you?”
“Trees again?”
“Love being trees. GREAT incarnation the tree. I’m just going to stretch down into the nice cool earth with my roots and hang on.”
“Same here.”
“Looks like it.”
“Oh wow. That’s awesome. Not long-lived, but blossoms and bees and fruit that I LOVE whenever I’m human.”
“What were you last time?”
“Hate that. So complicated. So fraught with crises of conscience, mistakes, love stories and all that. How did it go?”
“I learned one thing. Not to sign up for a Crusade. Sure, it sounds good when the priests come through your town telling you it will save your immortal soul, but, fact is, it’s just nasty.”
“Wait. Did you say ‘Crusade’?”
“Yeah, why?”
“I was there.”
“There were a lot of Crusades, Dude. Which one?”
“The one where all the people died in battle, you know the one? And their blood soaked into the desert sand?”
“They’re all like that. Did you kill me that time? Was that you? Were you the infidel with the sword who swooped down on me, knocked off my helmet and severed my head?”
“I hope not, but it’s possible.”
“Thank goodness we’re trees this time. You want to cross pollinate when the flowers come out?”
“That would be awesome, Lamont. I’m a golden delicious.”
“I’m a Rome Beauty, so that will work.”
After several years of leisurely discussions and bearing fruit, Lamont found himself leaning suddenly toward the west. Dude saw his friend fall, his branches softening the impact.


She loved the waving, shimmering reflections of streetlights on the wet streets once the rain had stopped. She wanted to see him so badly. How he got a job in a vegetarian restaurant was beyond her, but, no doubt, he’d known someone. Done someone? Even more likely. He was nothing if not a prowler.

“They don’t mean anything,” he’d told her. “You mean something, you mean everything. All I want to know is that when all this is blown to bits and there’s nothing left, and I’m old and you’re old that you’ll be here, that we’ll be old together, sitting on the floor, wrapped in each others arms.”

She knew there was no guarantee of that. She knew it was abysmally unlikely, but she nodded. “I’ll be here,” she said, knowing he would not be. He had death written all over him, a barcode on his being.

“Hey, you made it! You want some lasagna?”


“God I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you, too. Why do we do that? We KNOW better, after all these times we KNOW better.”

She sighed. She loved him. Adored him. Yearned for him.

“We just hit the same wall. I wish I were different.”

“You’re who you are,” she said. “It’s just a fact of life. You can’t change it; I can’t change it.”

“Did you read The Temple of the Golden Pavilion?” He seemed to change the subject.

“Yeah. Mishima is a very interesting writer. I’m not sure about that reincarnation thing, though. It seems that every time, in every story, the ‘soul’ in question falls out of grace with God.”

“That’s why he has to come back. When he’s able to stay in God’s grace, he will not have to come back. He doesn’t learn so he’s trapped. I’d better get back there and turn in your order. Can you hang around until I get off work?”

“When is that?”

“9:30-10:00. I have to break down the hot table and the salad bar.”

“I don’t know. It’s only 7 now. I can’t see what I’d do here for two hours.”

“You didn’t bring a book?”

She shook her head.

“OK, well, let me turn in your order. Maybe I can go on break.”

She watched him walk away from her, knowing, perfectly, that there would be a moment when that walk would be forever away from her. “We love soul-to-soul,” she thought, “sometimes our bodies have other ideas.” The lasagna was good, but he couldn’t take a break and sit with her while she had supper.

He came back with the check, “$0.00.” “If you tip me, I’ll die,” he said.

“Don’t worry.” She smiled. “What’s 15% of 0, anyway?”

“I love you so much,” he said sotto voce. It was then she knew that Gary, the owner of the restaurant was his lover. “Can we have dinner Sunday?”

“Sure,” she said. “Call me. I have to go. Thanks for the lasagna.”

Outside the rain had started up again, this time mixed with snow and blown by the wind so it was almost horizontal. No use for an umbrella. She looked quickly both ways, and stepped into the street.


“Guess we’re slow learners.” They both sighed.
“Maybe there is no ‘enlightenment’. Maybe we’re NOT here to learn some mystical and profound lesson. Maybe we’re just energy that’s not wasted.”
“That’s what I think, Dude.”
“Salmon. You?”


Why do I think I have to write novels?

Bumblepuppies, Blacklight Candelabra, “This week’s challenge has two parts.  You will start by creating the constraints you’ll have to work with later.  To achieve this, you will forge a chain.” We are to pose ten questions for ourselves, then answer them, and construe the answers into a blog post.


Yeah, actually. That’s freaky — it’s all about being submerged in an unnatural environment. A long time ago I wrote a story called “A Vast Chain of Dancers.” It was based on a description Aristotle had made of humanity through time. He said we are just that; a vast chain of dancers. My then-boyfriend said, “I have a little problem with a chain being vast.” I don’t think he saw what I saw; a chain as a net, as in chain-mail. I still think a chain can be vast and I still think Aristotle did a good job describing the generations of humanity, how we’re linked to each other. That was my first real writing experience. It was a story based on a then-occurring hopeless love affair.

I loved writing it and it was a way for me to make sense out of the experience I was having. I found that story — it’s as long as a novel — and I re-typed it into the hard-drive of my RIP Mac PowerBook. If I want to do anything with it, I will have to take the three extant printed versions and type it again.

Writing, which I’ve been doing as a full time job since I retired last fall, is a strange occupation. I have a novel — a good novel — published and out there. Savior. People have offered to review it (and didn’t) and I’ve solicited reviews from friends and acquaintances who then offered to review it, but none of them have. Reviews are essential for a self-published author. What this makes me wonder is if the book actually sucks and no one wants to tell me. Strangely, my cousin (whom I did not know when she read and reviewed the book) liked it better than the one most people think is better, Martin of Gfenn.

I think the novels are equally good, but the protagonist in Martin of Gfenn elicits a kind of sympathy I do not think Rudolf, the protagonist in Savior ever could. Rudolf’s story has a happy ending. As a friend said when I spoke with her about it, “Yeah, it’s OK, but I just LOVE Martin.”

It’s disturbing to me on a personal level because I know, deep inside, that Martin represents Kirk, my brother, and Rudolf is me. Kirk was a captivating character, beautiful to look at, extraordinarily talented, fun to be around, passionate and intense and doomed. While I can be charming, I’m basically introverted. Otherwise, I’m not completely ugly, moderately talented, often fun to be around, passionate and intense, I’m NOT doomed. Like the protagonist in Savior, I’m a person who has striven against my inner demons, and I have mostly managed to hold my shit together. I’m not burning my candle at both ends and giving a lovely light. I’ve already lasted the night. Prosaic.

My cousin, who loved Savior, is also such as one as I.

For whatever reason, Savior so far has only one review and while here, yes, I’m mentioning it, I haven’t really asked anyone why (and I’m not asking). Still, it’s made me wonder what is the point of writing novels. That’s a question I should either answer or forget. And so far, I haven’t decided which. Anyway, I’m am asking myself what is the point of writing novels. As for the other question? Maybe I already know that they [my readers] don’t want to hurt my feelings by telling me something I don’t want to hear.


Here’s the actual prompt for anyone who wants to give it a shot

Dewey Decimal System

“…create three 3-digit numbers using your selections from the first step. Next, visit this Dewey Decimal System website and find the subjects that match your three digit numbers.  If one of your results turns up “not assigned or no longer used,” you may create a new 3-digit number to replace it from the original four you selected.”

1952, the year of my birth. 529, 195, 291 Let’s see what happens now! (Sorry, I couldn’t see any point in making multiple four digit numbers, bpuppies)

529 = chronology

195 = Modern Western philosophy; Italy

291 = Comparative religion

Anyone looking at the chronology of human culture is going to find themselves staring into the looking glass tunnel of world religion. Like ocean waves, the themes recur and recede. Here humans worry about caring for the poor; here they worry about salvation; here they worry about the exact meaning of whatever scripture they follow. The study of comparative religions shows this, even with its intrinsic philosophical flaw. Comparisons are, by definition, the search for similarities, so over and over we find virgin births and baptisms. These facts emerging through the chronology of the development of human culture become “evidence” for one argument or another. The central assumption on which the comparison turns — that there is a supreme being — is often ignored. Since comparative religion is used to bolster arguments, we forget that religion is also humanity’s attempt to make sense of chaos, to fence human experience within the chronological parameters of a human life. It’s difficult to accept that while our lives begin and end, they are not complete sentences. They are fragments of something larger and, perhaps, eternally incomplete.

In Milan, in the Stazione Centrale, I’ve had some of the greatest moments of my life. I didn’t know much about the station and its history until I bought a tourist guide (in Italian) and read that the station had been built by Mussolini as a testament, a monument, a palace to “liberty ed eclettismo.” Pondering that bit of modern Italian philosophy, what is liberty but eclecticism? And what a world that would even think of that? And isn’t it in that eternal incompleteness that we find liberty? In eclecticism we find the most possibility? The irony is that this was part of the philosophy of Italian fascism.


This is written in response to Bumblepuppies prompt on Blacklight Candelabra. I’ve linked it to the Daily Prompt because it’s far more interesting (to me).

July 19 (719) was the day I retired from a career of more than 30 years.

Two months later, having sold my house, I took off in a rented van (never driven a van), with three large old dogs, some possessions (the book on how to move across country said put irreplaceable possessions in your car, not in the truck) expensive art supplies I got in Switzerland years and years ago. I set off across the hot southern Arizona desert, up the lush corridor to Flagstaff to a nasty Motel 6 that did, at least, allow all three dogs in my room. From there up and out through Arizona’s hypnotic northern desert, with its wild horses, wild rocks and a sweet Navajo waitress in Dennys who said, “You look tired.”

I was driving through the American landscape, driving to freedom, driving from what I perceived as failure and betrayal into a larger world dominated by natural landscape. Shiprock rose ever higher on the horizon to the northwest. Herds of tame horses ran alongside the van. Small flocks of sheep lounged on the low slopes of a butte. Then…



Green fields. Neat farms. Slo-mo McDonalds in Cortez. Young Indian cowboy dad says to me, “This is taking forever,” he’s worried about his hungry kid and I’m worried about the dogs in the car.

Small town, small town, green valley, a Colorado I’ve never seen. A Colorado I want to see, but I must drive. South Fork tonight, a cabin, sleep, a place to walk the dogs. Mancos, Durango — no, this is not where I want to live, I erase the glimmer of possibility. Bayfield, Pagosa Springs (beautiful!). Many of the places I pass are possible homes though my sights are set on Monte Vista, I am not locked in yet.

The pass, Wolf Creek, lingers in my memory of other people’s conversations as being “dangerous” “Yeah, yeah, we had to go over Wolf Creek!” “Oh God. How was it?”

Beautiful, smooth, even, empty. My pass. On the west end a fantastic waterfall, on the east end? Home? Maybe?



I arrive in South Fork at the cusp of fall. Aspens turning, first higher in the San Juans, then gold creeps down the elevation to the Rio Grande valley. The river flows not far from the field where I walk my dogs. I watch it change color from black to blue to golden in the light. I love it. Rio Grande. The words are romantic and beautiful. I love the drive down from South Fork to Monte Vista when I have to shop or look at a property. Tense times; where will I live? But the beauty around me is a balm on my uprooted soul.


In the Dewey Decimal system 719 is “Natural Landscapes.”

That turned out well 🙂 And, what’s more, 719 is the area code here!


You might like a map!

You might like a map!

Morning alpenglow

Morning Alpenglow from my front porch.

Wildlife refuge

Monte Vista wildlife refuge, August, 2014, south of my town


Bring Back the “C” Word

Long ago in a not faraway land there was a kid who had the idea that it was stupid to give symbols, including words, too much power. “It’s just a word,” she’d heard as a child after she’d been teased and bullied by kids at school. “Words can’t hurt you.” She believed it, too.

Apparently some words COULD hurt because years later, when  the girl brought some home, mom got incredibly upset, set the girl down for a “talk” and said “Never say that word around me!” The word, of course, was “fuck.” And for saying that word in school? A kid could be put on suspension.

The girl wasn’t stupid. She understood that people gave words this power. She thought it was like witchcraft or voo-doo, spells. She also thought it was stupid.

Then she learned about the Norman Conquest and how speaking English became a crime. Beautiful and holy “Anglish” Germanic words were replaced by Latinate synonyms which were more “polite” and “proper.” Even though the Normans went home sooner or later, the “spell” remained.

There were attempts made to rehabilitate the old words. One famous attempt was that of D. H. Lawrence in his novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover which ended up banned and condemned because of, mostly because of, its display of the old words.

'Dunna ax me nowt now,' he said. 'Let me be. I like thee. I luv thee
when tha lies theer. A woman's a lovely thing when 'er's deep ter fuck,
and cunt's good. Ah luv thee, thy legs, an' th' shape on thee, an' th'
womanness on thee. Ah luv th' womanness on thee. Ah luv thee wi' my balls
an' wi' my heart. But dunna ax me nowt. Dunna ma'e me say nowt. Let me
stop as I am while I can. Tha can ax me iverything after. Now let me
be, let me be.' (D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover

She encountered the phenomenon, later, when she looked into joining an archeological trip to Petra. The rules for behavior clearly stated, more than one, but mentioned more than once was this: “Eschew the use of Anglo-Saxon words while working on the project.” “Anglo-Saxon” was a euphemism for “fuck” and “cunt” and “shit” and all the great monosyllabic thundering words with their stark power and clarity. (And truly; what word sounds nastier than “eschew“?)

And really, she wondered, why does the word “vagina” sound “better” than the word “cunt”? Vagina sounds like a disease. “I don’t know how to tell you this, ma’am, but the thing is, I’ve checked your condition thoroughly and you have vagina.”

“Oh, no, doctor, you don’t mean it!”

“I’m sorry.”

“Is it fatal?”

I don’t even think the doctor could be a judge of that.

There was a time, long, long ago, when there was no taboo over the words cunt and fuck. They had no power. They were everyday words used to discuss, well, discuss what they are. To me, they are emblematic of the innumerable casualties of prissy hypocrisy that slows down the progress of truth and steals energy from language. And while I don’t like D. H. Lawrence’ book that much (any more; time was I did), he makes the point here.

'Tha'rt real, tha art! Tha'art real, even a bit of a bitch. Here tha
shits an' here tha pisses: an' I lay my hand on 'em both an' like thee
for it. I like thee for it. Tha's got a proper, woman's arse, proud of
itself. It's none ashamed of itself this isna.'(D. H. Lawrence,Lady
Chatterley's Lover)

There is no reason these words are “sensational.” There is no good reason not to use them in normal conversation, but we don’t. When I consider how pervasive the “F” word has become in film and music, I wonder that it still shocks anyone, but it does. And the “C” word? In the US, it’s used as the ultimate obscenity, the worst thing a person can be. Wow.


If you think about that, you might think, “Wow, that’s fucked up. If it weren’t for my mom’s cunt, I wouldn’t be here.”

I think there’s something in us that needs to be horrified by trivialities. Does this mean there’s nothing else in life to horrify us? Or maybe the words are too real and we want our words to be dispassionate, abstract and silent?


P.S. The point of this post is to respond to this prompt: “…think of another object or event that projects radically different meanings depending on the viewer or participant.”  I have chosen to write about the word “cunt” which “projects radically different meanings depending on the viewer or participant.If you don’t like the word, don’t comment to that effect here.  Just don’t use the word. That’s your choice. However, you could try to imagine the word NOT used in a derogatory or hostile manner. Would it bother you then?

Here’s another interesting take on this amazing word:

This was written in response to Bumblepuppies’ weekly writing prompt. This week it is this: For this week’s challenge, think of another object or event that projects radically different meanings depending on the viewer or participant.  Then, write a true or fictional story (or even a poem) that incorporates the differing perceptions people have of your chosen topic. You can find it here:

And subscribe to it here:

Nuts and Soft-Centers

This is a response to bumblepuppies’ Black Light Candelabra prompt. If you’re looking for an interesting weekly writing challenge, check out

Write “…a dozen mini-pieces in a single post.  Each mini-piece should be 25-35 words and be self-contained…Whatever strategy you choose, the twelve pieces should look like a coherent whole when they’re juxtaposed in your post.”


The first day, they’re all the same, though they try to stand out, one from the other, striking the predictable poses of late adolescence.

“OK guys, if I pronounce your name wrong, let me know? Jesus Martin? Good. Oh my god, this is funny. Jesus, looks like your dad is here. Joseph Martin?” Only Joseph laughs. “Hi son!” he says.

“Hey prof!” “Whoa, Joe! I hear you made pro!” “Yeah. Come meet my girlfriend. She’s over here.” Joe picks me up and carries me across the library. Is that why I never got tenure?

“Your quizzes are hard and you’re mean. It says so on Ratemyprofessor. You make students cry.” “Have you read the chapter?” “I don’t have a book yet.” I think, “Fuck off,” but I say nothing.

“Remember me? I was in your class four years ago? I dropped out to join the Marines? You tried to talk me out of it? I’ve been in Eye-rack.” I remember. War is easier than breaking up with a bad boyfriend?

“Professor, guess what? I got a marketing job! I work in Vegas. I stand beside cars!” She pulls up her tube top. Mensa level IQs are wasted on long-legged blondes with store-bought tits.

“Dude! Dude! Wait, DUDE! Professor Dude!” He grabs my jacket. “You know that ‘Allegory of the Cave’ thing you made us read?  Dude, that’s my LIFE.” “I know, Chris. It’s everybody’s life.”

“I’m retaking your class. This time I’m getting an A.” “It’s easy. Just take all the quizzes, do the homework. Show up.” “Thanks for failing me. You woke me up.” “Are you sucking up?” “A little.”

“Why do we have to read this? It’s boring.” “That book changed the world. You need to know what it says or you’re going to live in a future just like that. How far are you?” “Two  pages.”

“Professor, can we talk? I can’t talk to my parents. The thing is, I’m gay. My parents don’t know. They’re Christian. Being gay is a sin.” I think, “They know.” I say, “Give them a chance.”

“Don’t quit just because of one bad class. You’re a great teacher. You really care about us and you want us to learn.” “Thank you,” I write, “It’s time for someone else to carry this baton.”

“Professor, I hope you like Colorado. I wanted to tell you I’m going home to Iraq for the first time since we moved here. I’m scared.” “Don’t be. Write me when you get back. Tell me everything.”


Go with the Flow; Navigate by the Stars

This is written in response to Bumblepuppies’ weekly writing challenge. 

“What kind of idea are you? Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damn fool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? – The kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of hundred, be smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the world.” Salman Rushie Satanic Verses

Sorry, Bumblepuppies, but I can’t accept that whole romantic myth that only the “…cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damn fool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze” idea changes the world. In fact, I think Rushdie presents a false dichotomy.

Over the years, I discovered the virtue in surviving. This past Saturday, when I received very good news about my novel, Martin of Gfenn,  I was, at first, very happy. Then, as it sank in, I thought about where I stand in relation to the time of my own life. Then I felt very lonely. The people I would like to share that moment with? Well…”smashed to bits.”

At the beginning, there were others with me — three in particular. Kirk, my brother; Peter, my lover; Wes, my friend. All of us were artists and we were united in a fine and blazing mission across future’s infinite sky.

One by one, demons found us and pulled at our feet, hands, hearts and minds. Peter fell first, then Wes, then my brother. I fought and extricated myself from my demons, only to be trapped by the same demons time and again. My “idea” held me aloft. It always beckoned from that empty sky, blazing bright and waiting. Because there is a bit of the “…cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damn fool…” in me, I never turned away.

Unlike my allies, I supported myself. In that I learned the usefulness of the other “idea” “…the kind that compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive…”  What good are my dreams and aspirations, how can I “change the world” if I am not here?

So, Saturday night, I thought about how long it had taken me to write Martin of Gfenn. I started in 1999. I wrote it completely three times. It’s had a life of its own. In 2009, I almost gave up, let go completely of the whole thing. Then I thought I owed the experience of writing it, and the protagonist, more than that. Was that “cussedness,” stubbornness, some romantic notion of “unwavering faith” or was it love? I rewrote it.

And I am here. My friends are dead, their books unwritten, their paintings unpainted. I miss them. I wish I could share the good things that have happened with them, but…

A brave and passionate man will kill or be killed
A brave and calm man will always preserve life.
Of these two, which is good and which is harmful?
Some things are not favored by heaven. Who knows why?
Even the sage is unsure of this.

The Tao of heaven does not strive, and yet is overcomes.
It does not speak, and yet is answered.
It does not ask, yet is supplied with all its needs.
It seems at ease, and yet it follows a plan.

Heaven’s net casts wide.
Though its meshes are coarse, nothing slips through.

Tao Te-Ching, 73

I wrote about this topic in detail in another post — a talk I gave last spring at a conference. The title is “Old Heroes: the Heroism of ‘Mere’ Survival”.