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Entries in Kansas (2)


Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge

The rattlesnake stirs at my house around 7:00am these days.  Well he is Ezra when he wakes up, sprawled naked across his bed (our recent hot snap having turned pajamas into a corporal punishment analog), but shortly afterward he declares in a small voice I'm a rattlesnake and sheds the first person for the rest of the morning. 

From there on out it's all

the rattlesnake is cold


the rattlesnake wants mango

and in fidelity to his character he slithers around on his naked belly (while I cringe at the prospect of the splinters he could pick up from our century-old hardwood floors) and insists on a straw in his morning smoothie since rattlesnakes don't have hands to hold a cup.  The rattlesnake's logic is unassailable. 

Today he broke out of his snake physicality only long enough to hold the rattlesnake's favorite artifact, a wooden apple.  It's getting positively biblical around here in the mornings.


I'm not sure I've quite deciphered the rattlesnake's appearance in our family ecology, but he tends to emerge on hard mornings and his timid little third person voice makes me wonder if he turns up when Ezra feels particularly vulnerable. 

When Will and Ezra dropped me at the airport last week Will asked Ez Are you sad because Mama left? and Ezra replied No, I'm happy because I'm a rattlesnake.

Maybe the serpent in my garden knows something I don't about deflecting fear and doubt.


I thought if lots of people told me I am awesome I would start to believe it.

Apparently it doesn't work that way.

(I mean, it's nice to hear, so you should tell someone they're awesome if you think that's true, but it's not the kind of thing that's easy to internalize.  Or at least not for me anyway.)

I think what works is doing lots of work, lots of writing, lots of making pictures, lots of tinkering to develop a style.  So this is me, back to the drawing board, trying to hitchhike out of Kansas.  I'm going to pick up a fierce power animal along the way too, just in case I need to slip her on to deflect the scariest stuff.


The Point

Happy birthday, new friend!The topo map of my internal creative landscape lately looks a bit like I imagine Kansas - wide, meandering contours, vast empty space, point-less.  I am used to inhabiting a creative Colorado, ideas jutting up into my consciousness like the million points of the Rocky Mountains and flowing out here like snow melt.  Now I'm down here in the flat lands, trying to herd words uphill.  Gravity is not my ally in this effort, when it seems like every helium-filled wisp of idea is encased in concrete boots and ditched somewhere around Byers, Kansas.

I bought a fancy new camera, and suddenly all the simple things I usually train my eye on seemed too banal for this equipment, like driving a new Ferrari down West Colfax, waiting at endless stoplights and passing shuttered motels and used car lots.  This is neurotic, for sure, but if I have no pictures and if my ideas have all gotten lost somewhere in the central time zone then this space starts to look a little, er, past its prime. 

So in case you have been wondering where I've been lately, think Kansas.


I got lucky this week though, when a close friend pushed this little Buddha of a boy out and into our village. This? This was worth getting the Ferrari out of the garage and racing at top speeds out to the University to witness.  We human beings do this everyday, this birthing of new human beings.  But damn if this nine-and-a-half pounds of confusion and tiny clenched fists isn't a miracle anyway.  He is all fuzzy blond hair and fingernails and soon-to-be-blue eyes that are mostly shut hard because why do you have to keep it so bright out here, people?  He is 12 hours old when I meet him and he is full of qi and hungry and smells like the fountain of youth.

The gift of all this for me was that I got to have a point.  Milestones, rites of passage, these are obvious signposts that beg us to sit up and notice and freeze them in our hearts and minds.  This morning as I write this, the baby boy is five times as old as he was in this picture, so I bet when I see him later he'll have lots of teeth and be cranking The Pixies in his room while he writes algorithms.

This makes me want to take note of things - all kinds of things - before they escape to Kansas, never to be heard from again.


My old friend Larisa told me a few months ago that I should enter a piece of writing into BlogHer's annual Voices of the Year competition, and since I usually do what people I admire tell me to do I dropped this piece into the running in their Identity category.  And then because I am afraid to ask people to vote for things, I didn't tell anyone about it.  And then I forgot about it.

So you might imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail yesterday saying I had been selected as one of the honorees.  There is simply no way to adequately convey my delight at being included in this group of artists and truth-tellers, and more broadly, at having this space to air my joys and struggles and fumbling excursions through the wilderness of my internal creative Rocky Mountains.  May a million more points solidify here and in our virtual village at large.