Saturday, February 20, 2016

Writing Down the Bones



It is 2:50 PM and I’m enjoying my first cup of coffee this Saturday afternoon. Actually, it tastes better than it does first thing in the morning. Why, you may wonder would this be? Gratitude I suppose. The alarm rang at 5:50 this morning so that we could get to the hospital in Espanola at 7:30 am leaving no time for coffee. PQ is having sleep tests to determine if he has sleep apnea. 

 I had hoped to attend a free event celebrating the 30th anniversary of famous homey Natalie Goldberg’s first bestseller, “Writing Down the Bones”, but PQ’s appointment had been changed from 12:30 to this earlier time. We rushed down to Espanola Presbyterian, didn’t know where the Sleep Center was and couldn’t ask because the front desk wasn’t open. Finally, a janitor offered to walk us there. A quarter of a mile later we walked through the door. PQ was exhausted from the rapid sprint so we sat down. A young nurse came out with a puzzled expression and looked at our papers. “Oh, that is 7:30 pm tonight, she said. Then I walked rapidly in the cool morning air back to the main parking lot, because my honey couldn’t have survived another four block run, picked him up and drove us back to Taos. We have to go back this evening.

PQ slept while I drove. It sounds obvious in hindsight but since neither of us had any idea what a sleep test involved we just went along with what we thought was an odd plan. The truth is PQ could have taken the test this morning. He has no trouble falling asleep that early in the morning. I however, was wide-awake. 

When we got home, I realized there actually was time to attend the celebration of Writing Down the 
Bones, before delivering Corey to his cooking job in Arroyo Seco.  Of course, I will have to take PQ back to Espanola this evening, drive back to Taos and then to Seco to pick Corey up at the restaurant.  In the morning, it’s back to Seco to deliver Corey to the restaurant for Sunday morning brunch and then on to Espanola to retrieve PQ.  Are you confused yet? I’m hoping that I won’t be.
Natalie (center) in the Dining Room of Mabel's House

The Mabel Dodge Lujan House was the location of “Writing Down the Bones” event and it turns out it was the first event held in that New Building at the base of those antique stairs leading to the main building.  I felt like a stranger at a family reunion but that was OK, because I knew that I should have been part of the Taos writing family a long time ago. It is my own undoing that I’m just an appreciative stranger. 

It was definitely a family event and I enjoyed some brilliant and funny stories going back to the Lama Foundation and outer edge of the old hippy days. Some of these people are now famous writers and all of them figurative siblings in this family. Every time I yield to disenchantment with the Taos chi, something comes along to shame me into taking back my negative grumblings.   

My personal connection to this event goes back to my days at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver. I remember placing Writing Down the Bones on the shelf when it was just published. I read the brief bio of Natalie and noted that she lived in Taos, which is where I wanted to be. I had a warm rush each time I fetched that book for a customer. Yes, Natalie was one of us and I secretly hoped to meet her someday. But I didn’t read the book.

I’ve kept a journal since I was 25, but never considered myself a writer. The journal was personal history and self-psychotherapy. I always received excellent grades for papers and once in a while wrote an  article with complementary responses but I was not a writer. I didn’t want to be a writer. I wanted to be a Jungian therapist, an anthropologist or maybe a mythologist like Joseph Campbell.  For one thing, I was too shy to be a writer. I was almost too shy to be a painter. Earlier I wanted to be a dancer so that I could express myself without saying a word.

I uploaded my first blog entry with trembling hands. We had recently returned to Taos from Cottonwood Arizona and all my painting supplies were in boxes here and there. However, the real reason was that I knew I needed to do this. It was time to quit hiding in the shadow of more outgoing people. It was time to avoid exposing myself to possible criticism; it was time to come out. Yet, this morning I realized I have to take another step into the world of words, even though I haven’t quite arrived at that trailhead.

I noticed that Natalie’s audience this morning was 80% well educated, over 50 white women. Yes, there were a few Hispanic women, and half a dozen men but everyone represented the feeling intellect and a politically liberal outlook. As I looked around, I wondered, “how come I’m usually to be found among this demographic?” I have no degrees, and economically I don’t qualify as middle class.  Then I realized that these women and a few men are swimming in the same stream as Mabel Dodge Lujan and her Movers and Shakers. They represent the visionaries that can re-balance this out of balance world with the consciousness of the heart.  The stream is rising again and I need to get off the bank and jump on the canoe.