Archive for the ‘journal’ Category


My posts have been few and far between lately, and this one will just be a brief update as I have myself spread pretty thin these days. That’s a good thing, though, as it’s an indicator of a lot of progress on multiple fronts – business, music, social.

The house in Parks is sold and I’m almost out of the high country. The last of my stuff will go into temporary storage this week. I’ve been busy trying to line up a place to live in the East Valley where I can teach in my home and still be close enough to the music store that the commute is not too onerous. I had hoped to have a place rented this week and to make a smooth transition directly out of Parks, but there will probably be a slight gap. I’m still narrowing down the housing options and should have that done in the next week to two weeks. It’s been great fun staying with my friends, but I’m anxious to get back into my own place again.

So far, I’ve built my student roster up to one third of my goal and, as I’ve seen happen before, the rate of new signups is starting to accelerate. I should have a full teaching load before May. I’m really enjoying teaching again and happy to have focused specifically on acoustic guitar. I’ve been getting some super students. I’ve found some other musicians to jam with; my repertoire is continuing to increase. New experiments on guitar nails, too, which I will elaborate on soon.

I’ve met a great guy and we’re having a lot of fun together – from visiting the Phoenix Art Museum to having a snowball fight in his front yard the last time I came back down to Phoenix from the high country. It’s unusual to find someone who has so many interests in common with me, and who is smart, articulate, and playful, too. I’m smiling a lot these days!


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As I drove across Garland Prairie last week, the light of a full moon illumined the snow and the pines, casting deep shadows across the frozen ground. It was a beautiful and a bittersweet sight. The song of a great horned owl greeted me as I got out of my car and crunched through the snow to the door.

My plan was to continue packing my belongings, but most of the time ended up being spent running around Flagstaff dealing with the buyer, title agent, insurance agent…and getting some heat tape to keep my pipes from freezing again. Temperatures have been very cold, dipping below zero several nights in a row.

In a few days I won’t be a property owner in the high country anymore. My focus will be back on building my business, filling in with other work as needed, meeting new people, and making new friends. That is as it should be, but I will miss the high country, the pines, the wildlife, and being close by to family and old friends. I can’t help but feel a little pang.

Still, new horizons beckon and I’ve been having some unexpected fun in my life. I’ve met some very nice guys down here in the Valley and have had a couple of dates recently. As I write this post, it’s raining outside, as it has been all day. I know that soon the desert will be in bloom, alive with colorful wildflowers. And, there are friendships blossoming in my life right now, even the possibility of romance. Who knows what may follow the high country snow melt and the desert rains?

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Except You Become as Little Children

I now have some small taste of what it is like to be a celebrity. Yesterday afternoon I got mobbed at the pet store…

I’d better get used to having enthusiastic “munchkins” jumping up and down and hanging onto my legs, for when I walked into the Flagstaff Petland yesterday to drop off some CDs for my sister-in-law, I was immediately spotted by my niece and two nephews. I barely knew what hit me.

What a blast! I got a tour of the whole store from three small children who were each trying to pull their aunt towards their own particular favorite animal. Rabbits, mice, hermit crabs, puppies, goldfish, cockatiels – every critter got a visit. And I got a lesson in seeing life through the eyes of a child again. What a gift.

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So Much Stuff

The logic of an arsonist suddenly makes a whole lot more sense to me after several days of packing up to move, especially since I have been plagued by a cold for the whole duration. I’m tired and cranky. How could one person accumulate so many possessions – so much JUNK – in twelve years? Why didn’t I just keep that vow of poverty?

Hey, it’s cold out; the humidity is up. A bonfire seems like a mighty fine idea. There’s a snowstorm on the way and I could have a nice, warm, safe fire out in the middle of the acre. But that wouldn’t address the issue of choosing what to destroy and what to sustain.

So much stuff. So many decisions. That’s the crux of it.

The things I need for everyday maintenance are easy enough to decide on – kitchenware, clothes, linens, office supplies, basic household tools. The items I need for work are easy enough to identify. The things that are more difficult to sort into “Keep” or “Pitch” piles are the objects of sentimental value, the gifts, the beautiful but useless things that might have once delighted the eye but now seem to cry out, “Fragile!”

Most difficult of all are the things that hopes and dreams are made of. Books, art supplies, yarn – things that whisper of cozy evenings spent on a fun project or caught up in another time and place, weekends dedicated to creative ideas. Siren songs. Should I plug my ears with wax, or like Odysseus, tie myself to the mast? Or will I (once again) pack up EVERYTHING, and like some latter day Atlas carry it all with me?

So far, I have given a lot of things away. Plants, furniture, redundant items, electronics – I’ve gone through the easy stuff. I’ve got a pile of things for Goodwill and for the used book store. But there is oh so much left. Now comes the hard part…

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The New Year is starting off with a bang! While my packing up the place in Parks is going slower than planned due to the fact that I have a cold, I may already have a buyer. I also got a confirmation call this afternoon for a gig playing at an attorney’s conference in February. (Things are finally starting to move on the music performance front. Woohoo!) And, though I haven’t been working on the novel at all lately, I had a major plot breakthrough this morning. Evidently my subconscious has been toiling away on it, unbeknownst to me.

The unexpected gift from my deeper mind was particularly exciting. The two closing scenes that it delivered up to me as a sort of “mental movie” as I groggily awakened solved several character motivation problems and tied up some loose ends in continuity – no mean feat when you are dealing with beings that bend time and travel between different dimensions. I was ready to start writing immediately, but had to limit my enthusiasm to some brief outlining. Snow is expected here in the high country and I’ve got waaay too much packing and cleaning to do before I have to beat it back down to Phoenix on Friday morning to stay ahead of the approaching storm.

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One thing I miss about the Arizona high country is the dark night skies.  I’ve been back up in Parks for two days to do some more work on the place and I went out tonight to look at the sky.  The stars were breathtakingly bright in the cold, clear air at 7,000 feet. While gazing up at the Milky Way, I became acutely aware of the tension that I live with on a daily basis right now.  I have been so busy running to try and get everything done that I hadn’t taken the time to just look, much less to feel.

Pursuing a new life in the Phoenix area and trying to maintain my place in northern Arizona is an uneasy balancing act. Uncertainties abound and I never know from one day to the next what new surprise will come up next.  It is exciting, that’s for sure.  I feel as if I am riding a unicycle on a high wire while juggling.  Blindfolded.  I seem to recall saying something about not having enough excitement in my life, oh a couple of months or so ago…. Nowadays, I have about all the excitement I can handle.

Actually, things are going pretty well.  My student roster is growing and so is my repertoire. I’m almost done with a client’s website in Drupal. I’ve got a possible interview for a long-term temp assignment as a web developer later this week. If that all goes as I hope, I’ll be on that full-time as of next Monday, which should fill in the gaps while my teaching schedule expands. It’ll be hectic for awhile, but doable.  At least I will have a settled, predictable routine for two months!  I’m almost done with all the various projects on the “cabin.” It’s been difficult making all the trips back and forth, but it has let me see my folks more often than I would have otherwise.

It was wonderful to be able to be outside today in near 60 degree temps, scraping paint and caulking.  I could feel the warm sun on my shoulders and smell the dusty tang of the dried grasses in the yard.  I had to laugh as I took the extension ladder down off its hooks; I could hear Cap’t. G’s voice in my ear telling me in no uncertain terms how to lift, carry and place it. Angle, brace, test, climb, anchor your leg to leave your hands free- it was fire academy all over again.  I was grinning as I went up and down the ladder at each window and door.

If nothing else sticks with me from the old firefighter days, I did gain the confidence to tackle just about anything around my place. It all seems pretty elementary after learning how to run pumps, extrication equipment, chain saws, and to repair SCBAs!  (As you might have guessed, I never was much of a Barbie doll, though I have been rather mindful of my nails lately.  I don’t want to ruin my guitar tremelo!)

Some things are falling through the cracks at the moment, however, like blogging, Flamencophile.com, and accompanying flamenco dance classes. I have to remind myself every so often that it will all still be there when everything calms down. (Famous last words.) For now, the fact that I’m keeping up with practicing and my exercise program in the midst of everything else is quite an accomplishment. And, I did take a few minutes to gaze up at the night sky tonight and just appreciate the clarity and the beauty of the stars.

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One thing about writing about personal things in a public forum – sooner or later you will have to retract something you’ve said, apologize, or otherwise eat crow…

I need to correct something I said in my last post. I did believe it was true at the time, and the realization was quite freeing, but it is inaccurate. When I said, “I was finally able to admit what it is that I miss the most about firefighting. The danger,” I was wrong.

That sentence nagged at me all day and wouldn’t let me go. True enough that I enjoyed the danger. I do miss it, and facing it did develop qualities in me that I value, but it isn’t what I miss most. It took a few hours of acute writerly discomfort before I ran smack into what it really was that I missed most. Perhaps I should have known at the ease with which the first post rolled across the keyboard that I was missing the obvious. When something means as much to me as firefighting and EMTing did, it is never that emotionally glib.

I’ve been a frequent reader over at Steve Pavlina’s blog the last few days. I was merely preparing to do the exercise he recommends in his post, “How to Discover Your Life Purpose in About 20 Minutes,” when the truth hit me. Structural collapse. A rain of metaphorical burning embers and charred trusses fell around my ears. I guess I needed the old cosmic 2″ x 6″ up along side of my head after all.

I didn’t need to do the exercise; I’ve been doing it for a year and a half. Longer, even. My personal mission went through my mind as clear as a the crack of thunder a half-mile away during the summer monsoons. “To embrace the world, sing it a lullaby, and rock it to sleep.”

As simple as that. Pavlina says that the mission that is yours will make you cry. It did. I’m still almost woozy from the impact. I know that’s it. I can look back over my life and see so many ways I’ve tried to live that out unconsciously and unknowingly. I “mother henned” my crews and trainees unmercifully at times, try as I might to moderate what I identified as “misplaced maternal instincts.”

“To embrace the world, sing it a lullaby, and rock it to sleep.”

The first part of that phrase is right out of something I told M back when I first started firefighting, that it was a way to “embrace the world,” to help whoever needed it whenever, however, without question. When the tones sound, you roll. It is called the Fire Service for a reason. The thing that gives me the shivers at the moment is that it was also during that conversation that we discussed how I was dealing with the miscarriage I had had a couple of years previous. Sometimes it is like looking into the face of Persephone to gaze into the eyes one’s own unconscious. One half the year in the world of light, the other half shrouded in darkness…

I can think of many ways that this could play out. And I know that thinking is not how it will play out. It will be in the day to day living and dying, the quiet listening to my heart at those moments when I will be tempted to take the easier road, to go back into unconsciousness and denial. On the surface it makes no sense that a childless woman of nearly 50, who wanted children and could not have them, and whose husband (now-ex) once told her she wouldn’t have been a good mother anyway, would have such a mission. M’s reply… “Who better?”

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