Archive for January, 2008

Five Years Ago, I . . .

Posted in personal history, travel, writing, writing practice with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2008 by bosquechica

(To keep things moving, I’m tossing this out there without the pictures from Africa and without the links that my good intentions wanted me to provide.) 

 

Lost my grand-dad. Bye old guy! Picture (c) visitusa.com

Scattered his ashes in the mountains outside of Las Cruces.

Finalized buying the old adobe house from my wife’s parents.

Worked mostly in Spanish that year.

Had tea in bed every morning, with the globe and an africaatlas propped up between us, learning the names of all the African nations and their capitals.

Grew tomatoes, grapes, pears, plums, onions, garlic, basil and apples. Daffodils, tulips, irises.

Wrote one piece of short fiction almost every week.

Went to Uganda for the international dance festival at the Ndere Centre in Entebbe, where I discovered exactly how white I am. I was one of six light-skinned people in a festival attended by over 6,000 Africans from various nations (three of them were Austrian). The festival took place about six weeks before we started bombing Iraq; I was angry, outraged, and pretty-well petrified to be travelling at that particular moment, with our government hijacked by criminals and my fellow-citizens apparently having lost their collective minds.

On the opening day, I sat roughly 10 feet away from Ugandan President Musevene while he made a very angry speech about the interference of American and European white people in African business, cultural and political affairs. My two friends and I had been seated more-or-less next to him, but were separated by a ring of armed guards. The festival was incredible, high stomping, enormous drums, colorful, with movement that blended some of the conventions of missionary teaching with older dance traditions that expressed sexuality, war, hunting, with the relatively recent influences of modern dance, mixed media performance and pop culture trends from African, European and American sources. For the traditional African dancers, it was the first time most of them had performed together on a single stage.

Attended the going away party of a retiring Anglican priest who was moving to Scotland after 45 years of teaching dance and self-sufficiency to young women in Kampala. Kampala is a hot crowded city, smoke rising in trash can fires all over the city, maribou storks hovering like crows in the mango trees. My friends were tense and angry and closeted and sarcastic. I smoked American cigarettes on the balcony and choked on the urban air. The storks were enormous, prehistoric, almost hip height to me.

After the festival, I flew alone (at last!) from Uganda to Naorobi to Amsterdam. I wandered the streets of Amsterdam late at night until I came to the Café Kale, where I ordered beer, soup and kale pesto with crusty bread.

Back at home, we were maced at a peace rally by mounted Albuquerque police. Hid in a sandwich shop with two dudes who kept saying “Whoa man, we should really shut down.”

Acquired two new cats, the blue-eyed husky and a pair of lovebirds.

Took sides when my friends in Uganda split up. I’m a big fool sometimes.

Saw the little nieces and nephews frequently. Their favorite games at the time were role playing, yoga, fencing and playing dragon in the yard, storytelling and making scrambled eggs.

Had a major flood (in an act of rural vandalism) that almost collapsed the house (it is made of mud). Moved from room to room for almost three months as we rebuilt, keeping the fridge in the front yard the entire time. Good look, that.

Learned to make pie crust.  

Next: Five years from now, I . . .

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Gah I can’t think

Posted in family, life, life-n-death, marriage, personal history, rant, writing practice with tags , , , , , , on January 29, 2008 by bosquechica

Well I have been slam-banging along for the past couple of weeks, running into walls, wrestling (I have an urge to say “rasslin'” here, like I’m doing things with alligators) with nursing homes and assisted living facilities and anxiety-ridden relatives and ridiculous therapy contracts and elder lawyers and may I just say that even without being there in the same city or state as my old mama (who is getting really cranky about being in a nursing home, even if it is temporary, and the jury is still out on that) it’s really time consuming to the point of disrupting the time-space continuum (whatever I mean by that) and gah I can’t think. My life is interrupting my blogging and it really chaps my hide.

And this week I’ve got company Wednesday through Saturday, a bunch of yodeling folk singers descending on Casa de Bosquechica on Friday, a trip to Santa Fe on Sunday for a hideaway-retreat with the missus and a visit to the state legislature on Monday to advocate for our right to have the partner benefits that other married people can just take for granted, thank you very much. And I can’t find my damn photo album from Africa, which I’ve been trying to find to post in this piece I was working on last week, because ever since the mom-stroke thing, it’s been hard to focus forward; my brain keeps doing “my life in review”, which is just a wretchedly self-absorbed response to her pending mortality (pending?).

The persistence of the “life in review” thinking made me decide to do a two-piece writing practice: “5 years ago, I . . . . ” followed by “In 5 years, I . . . ” to help me shift back into where I’m going instead of where I’ve been. What will I be doing in 5 years? Well, if this past couple of weeks is any indication, I’ll still be working on this freakin’ “freewrite” about what I did five years ago…….and geez, that’s just wrong.

Meme-ories

Posted in family, names, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 19, 2008 by bosquechica

I love these silly name games. This one comes from Moonbeam McQueen (spy name – Spring Sweetpea – the best!). Play along!! I want to know everyone’s middle name . . .

1. Rock Star Name: (first pet & current car) Dale Evans, from the Portsmouth Public Library Roy Rogers Collection

King Dale Evans

2. Gangsta Name: (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)

Super Fudge Chunk Blueberry Sugar

3. Fly Girl/Guy Name: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)

Tval

purple goose4. Detective Name: (favorite color, favorite animal)

Purple Goose

5. Soap Opera Name: (middle name, city where you were born

               Diane Santa Monica

6. Star Wars Name: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)

Valte

Actually Mata Hari, famous girl spy7. Superhero Name: (2nd favorite color, favorite drink put “The”) (I like this one better as the Spy Name, but I’m playing by the rules) 

Seems more like a spy name to me Actually Mata HariThe Jade Star of Persia

8. NASCAR Name: (the first names of your grandfathers)

Paul Rafael

9. Stripper Name: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne, favorite candy)

Sandalwood Truffle

10. Witness Protection Name: (mother’s & father’s middle names )

Carroll Weldon

11. TV Weather Anchor Name: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a city that starts with the same letter)

Alley Anacortes

12. Spy Name: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)

  Autumn Lily

13. Cartoon Name: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)

Raspberry Hoodie

14. Hippie Name: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree)

Morningstar Patty Cottonwood

15. Your Rockstar Tour Name: (“The” + Your favorite hobby/craft, favorite weather element + “Tour”) JFK

The Baking Rainy Tour

16: Blues singer name  (a disability, a fruit or vegetable, and a president)

Stuttering Peach Kennedy

peach

Yard sale rhapsody

Posted in community, life, nice things, random, this-n-that, Uncategorized, writing practice with tags , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2008 by bosquechica

I love yard sales. I love the beginning of yard sale season. Like yachting, all the cheerful colored signs bobbing along on the horizon. Other people’s stuff.

I love yard sales the way I love eavesdropping, a guilty pleasure a search for rare treasure, a treat a retreat a brief moment away from my own life and into yours.

I love yard sales, the free box, the sticky lemonade and the 11-year-olds who wistfully offer me some for a quarter. I love the bad portraits of your mother’s cousin Jean, the macrame holders still tightly wrapped around 2 liter coke bottles, with leggy spider plants hoarily clinging to that crafty harvest gold past.

I love yard sales and talking to strangers, agreeing on the dangers of overpricing, underpricing, bad weather and early morning poachers. I love finding out that my girlfriend dated your son back in high school, I feel so local, and that he’s married now with two kids but having problems and then changing the subject.

I love yard sales and looking at other people’s decorative choices. The red walls with blue accents, the rock garden, the swoopy window treatments, kitchen appliance excesses, the incredibly organized and labeled garages of you not me. The beaten and smirched record of your children’s discarded toys, your baby’s first velvet dress with the little matching mittens.

I love yard sales and the over and under valueing we all do of our stuff and our stories, the unexpectedly good artwork inexplicably stuck in the workshop behind the arc welder and the broken rakes. I love the costume jewelry, the plastics and resins, the hand-blown glass beads and the tarnished milagros. I love rummaging for change, the good faith willingness to hold your perfect estante rústico until this afternoon when I can come back in the red truck with some muscle and moving straps.

I love yard sales, the lumpy old dogs, the ladies in sequined sweatshirts, the avon bottles shaped like ships and trains, the huddled men comparing tools and two-stroke engines. I love getting home with yard sale amnesia. Unwrapping the little packages in anticipation, I become my own secret Santa, pleased and surprised at the silliness in which your past becomes my present, rubbed clean and new and ready for whatever comes next.

Year so far plus trashy anecdote

Posted in family, personal history, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 7, 2008 by bosquechica

So far this year – that’s 6 days right? — I’ve been crazy overbooked, had a couple of nice hikes with the dogs, hosted a party for political bloggers and another for folk singers, stopped sleeping altogether, gone to urgent care with wheezing and bronchitis, alienated the staff at the rehab center where my mom is trying to recover from her stroke by asking stressy half-baked questions, looked at rentals for my brother to move here when my mom does and posted I don’t know three-four things on blogs 1 and 2.

Blogging personal history reminds me of this diary I kept when I was 12, where I made up things like “I want to be a skydiver” so that my creepy mom and brothers could find it, expose themselves as icky and intrusive, and I would feel justified in being mad and nasty to them.

It was a white leatherette diary, embossed with the words “My Diary” in gold print, with a little gold key that I hid in a small red silk chinese box in my closet. I got it the same year my g-mom gave me her favorite book of etiquette for young heathens — “White Gloves and Party Manners” — in a pointed commentary on my unladylike tendencies. She also sent me to dance classes and took me to museums in an effort to build my poise and public confidence.

Our neighbors gave us a flock of chickens that summer. We kept them hidden in the workshop behind the garage, where my dad (not a chicken fan) was unlikely to look. The workshop filled up with chicken shit and feathers. Behind the workshop was a little private office where my brother hung out, smoking joints with his buddies and making out with his girlfriend. Somehow, I got a chicken leg with a tendon dangling loose at the knee ( I suppose), and chased the other girls on my block with it, yanking the exposed tendon, making it contract into a little chicken-claw fist. Clutch and release. Eventually my dad noticed the smoke and the cackling out back, and then we were all in big trouble.

All of which is to say that the book was probably well intentioned and desperately needed. And no, I never wrote a thank you note for it.

Incredible-Hulking-Wonder-Spider-Woman

Posted in body, cancer, family, personal history, Uncategorized on January 5, 2008 by bosquechica

 

In 1959, I had cancer. I was three years old at the time. It came on suddenly and without warning. My dad, the engineer, designed a treatment delivery system that focused the radiation specifically in the hard palate of my mouth, where the cancer was located. First, they fried it, then they cut it. No chemotherapy – it wasn’t yet available. That was 49 years ago (my math – it is superb!).

In direct contradiction to predictions made by teams of medical experts, I did not die, the cancer did not recur, I’m not a deformed monster, and I did not spend my life with a brain cooked by radiation like a vegetable tempura. Far from it.

But here is the family myth I want to share: According to this myth, I am an amazing princess goddess of steel, given superpowers by the radiation itself. Like Spiderman, Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk. This was the story I was told, over and over again. The script: “You had cancer, such a tragedy. However, you were treated with Radiation (capital R), which means you have special and advanced protection against virtually all other diseases, and it also means you will never get Cancer (capital C) Again!”

This message was a logical extension of the power of positive thinking business that so pervaded my grandparents’ generation. My parents, themselves, were more fixated on how this illness would limit my choices as a damaged female. Their script was something more like: “Thank God you’re smart, cause you’ll never get married with a face like that!” (For the record, I’m actually kind of cute.)

I undoubtedly absorbed both messages, both of them flawed but incorporated into my sense of self. My funny-looking, super-charged special-yet-doomed self. In my adolescence, I suddenly realized that both myths were a lot of hooey, and damn that made me mad. I started wearing black and thinking about mortality a lot. Early goth really suited me.

It’s interesting to me that in our culture, intellect and appearance are set against one another. In the schema that informed my growing up me, female and imperfect, it was always smart vs. pretty, pretty vs. strong. Contradictory. Challenging.

How do we raise our girl children and our boy children to accept the blend of characteristics and circumstances that inform our sense of self? How do we learn to acknowledge, honor and even love the imperfections of self and other?

It is no surprise that in my middle years, I have chosen to work with people with disabilities, where my once “tragic” differences have transmogrified recognizably into the strengths of compassion and empathy. What surprises me more is how many years I worked in advertising, where appearance reigns supreme, and how well I proved myself in that setting, against a jury of my cultural peers. That’s me, Wonder-Spider-Hulking-Woman. Look out.

NaNo Nanette

Posted in this-n-that, writing on January 3, 2008 by bosquechica

Nanowrimo? Nano-Nanaimo? Nano-Nano? Nanoblomo? What to do? What to do?

Here is a synopsis of musical comedy No No Nanette (distilled from the already distilled Wikipedia):

Jimmy Smith, rich Bible publisher, is married to cheap Sue. Their ward, Nanette, has an untapped wild side and wants to have fun in Atlantic City. She is being courted by Tom Trainor. Rich Jimmy is being blackmailed by three beautiful women (Betty, Winnie and Flora). Tom Trainor’s lawyer uncle, Billy, helps him get the girls out of his life, and advises him to hide in Philadelphia (?). Meanwhile, Billy takes Tom to Chickadee Cottage (in Atlantic City) to meet the three ladies. The wives, hearing that the husbands will be away on business, also go to Chickadee Cottage. After much singing and dancing, Jimmy also takes Nanette to Chickadee Cottage, chaperoned by a grumpy maid.

At Chickadee Cottage, everything happens. Tom and Nanette sing wistfully about getting married, wives and husbands confront one another about naughty thoughts and jaded ladies.  Tom and Nanette quarrel, the chaperone leaves in disgust, Jimmy pays off the ladies, and there are explanations all round. Tom and Nanette make up,  they all have a party, and cheap Sue wows Jimmy with a fancy dress and a final dance number.

Ta-da.

Which leads me to a non-binding resolution, that I will write something, or some things, this year, although life being complicated even without musical comedy, I do not guarantee that I will participate or not in the assorted Nanos floating around in the cyber playpen.

How’s that for commitment?

Maybe I need a trip to Atlantic City.