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Jump Outside My Body and Fly

amazing sunset virga near Taos

Glowing virga at sunset is a mighty fine thing

I’ve only been outside my body once that I know of, and that was by accident. It happened around 3:00 a.m. when I was fast asleep at a sleazy motel in Fayetteville, Arkansas on a cold and rainy night. No really, that’s what it was. I was living in Austin, Texas at the time (early ’70s), so this must have had to do with selling my share of the 170 acres in Madison County and taking a last look or whatever. Plenty of stress to spare, in other words. That helps. All I can tell you is that at one point I realized I was simultaneously also standing naked outside the door to my room in the rain, fully aware that my body was back in the bed. To this day I can still see the red motel sign and the lights in the parking lot, glistening and wet, and have no idea how I got put back together. Maybe there’s a rubber band or something.

It might run in the family. I remember that our father, who didn’t believe a word of this stuff, was profoundly shocked during one of his chemo sessions in the last spring of his life when he found himself on the floor under the cot he was lying on at the very same time—over and under, as it were. It shook him to the core, never mind the obvious message that he had nothing to fear from death. My brother Rob told me once about floating up to the ceiling while his body was in the dentist’s chair. As for poor recently departed William G., our brother Bill, he may never have been in his body at all, which might explain a few things. Of my two sisters, Teresa who’s dead would have been totally cool with leaving her body, and in fact she did! Mary the nurse hasn’t weighed in on this yet and may be too grounded in gore (so to speak) to go playing with astral projections. She’s hip, though, so maybe.

The reason this came up is the sunset last night. You can’t see it in the photo above, but there was this perfectly round hole in the glowing overcast with clear sky above. I wanted to shoot through the hole and felt like I could—it was the strongest sensation and seemed so damn easy! I’d just make a big circle, there over the sunset, then come on back down through the hole and back into my body. No one would know if I did the thing fast enough, right? Leave the meat in the road, zip out and back in, but I was too scared and backed off. It was like turning away from a high-diving board, yet the board’s always there.

I did take a few jumps. Hops, really, on the balls of my feet, like a bird with new feathers and too many thoughts.

How to Live in New Mexico

interior of old adobe near Taos, NM

Learning to love shooting in RAW mode

Maybe it was the albacore tuna from Cid’s. My stomach swelled up so big with gas, I could hardly breathe. You can guess what happened in the bathroom at least twenty times. There is nothing like being choked by your own body, however, and that was much worse. I had to stay up most of last night, belching and farting and using up toilet paper. Until a few hours ago, all day today I had virtually nothing to eat. Breathing easily now though, and looking for food.

It’s almost midnight as I write, and the front door is open—in just a few weeks, that won’t be the case. The screen door fits poorly with a wide gap at the bottom. On Friday a chipmunk came in through the hole and ran right into the cat! Cue loud weird damn noises. She had his ass nailed in about fifteen seconds. My wife managed to run to the bathroom and slam the door shut in less time than that, so she missed me picking him up by the tail and tossing the trembling poor bastard out in the weeds.

Saturday was the reading. That went well enough. I got to say fuck a lot over a nice loud PA (see here, for example)—which pleased me no end—and met two of my fans. One was a lady who said my writing was “honest” and “fearless,” and that made my day. By all means take the time to read all about it, but this part is nice (thank you, Bill Whaley):

“Each in their own way, John Farr, Kika Vargas, Richard Trujillo, Anne MacNaughton, and Fred Dillen portrayed the results of a serious writer at work, each of whom is working out an individual vision.”

I’ll take that, I will. It’s amazing what can happen when I just get off my butt and join the real world. What else was there to do, anyway, except drive to Albuquerque two days before to see Lalo Alcaraz and Gustavo Arellano? If you don’t know their work, please google ’em up, and be sure to watch Lalo’s New York Times video interview.

Another ten years, I might learn to relax

Along with their host from the National Hispanic Cultural Center, the two of them actually met us for breakfast at Barela’s. I was like a starstruck kid—a real cartoonist!—but what a hoot. Just thinking about it makes me grin, and I can use some more of that for damned sure.

Hear Me Read in Taos! (Updated)

Taos Writers on Taos

Interesting weekend…

Here’s your chance to see me in person! I’ll be reading a few killer selections of my work at the above event from 4:00 to 4:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 25, with a short question-and-answer session afterwards. Expect the timing to be somewhat improvised. Note that the theme is Taos itself, which raises certain dangers. The tension may be fun, though.

I’ve appended an ever-changing preliminary schedule below that tells you who else will be reading and when. Some of them are heavy hitters, and all are worth your time, but afficionados of a particular segment of the “old guard” in Taos are advised to catch John Nichols’ opening talk on Friday night and pretty much everything Saturday after me, especially Saturday night. There are many tribes here, and this is one of them. (I’m from a different branch but just as old and look the part, so I can fake it.) There will be name-dropping like crazy going on all weekend. Come have a listen and meet some folks!

Schedule (subject to change)

July 24, Friday Night:

Open 6:00 pm: Brodsky Bookshop will have Nichols’ books for sale
7:00 PM: John Nichols’ Keynote Address

July 25, Saturday

10 am-12 pm: Booksellers Set Up
12:00 noon: Book Fair Opens
12:30 pm: Fabi Romero
1:00 pm: Martha Grossman
1:30 pm: Elizabeth Cunningham
2:00 pm: Julian Romero
2:30 pm: Cindy Brown
3:00 pm: Steve Tapia
3:30 pm: Bob Silver
4:00 pm: John Farr: “Another Day in Paradise”
4:30 pm: Kika Vargas
5:00 pm: Steve Fox
5:30 pm: John Suazo: “The Man Who Really Killed the Deer”
6:00 pm: Richard Trujillo: “From the Tia Zuco Tales”
6:30 pm: Taylor Streit
7:00 pm: Jim Wagner
7:30 pm: Paul O’Connor/Rick Richards
8:00 pm: Bill Whaley: “Tribute to Ruthie”

July 26, Sunday

12 Noon: Book Fair Opens
12:30 pm: Bob Romero
1:00 pm: Trudy Healy
1:30 pm: Jonathan WarmDay Coming
2: 00: Debra Villalobos-Whaley
2:30: Linda Fair
3:00: Kelly Pasholk/Catherine Naylor
3:30 pm: Lynn Robinson
4:00 pm: Debra Diamond
4:30 pm: Anne MacNaughton: “Kali”
5:00 pm: Meier/Fair5:30 pm: Phaedra Greenwood
6:00 pm: Fred Dillen
6:30 pm: Kay Matthews
7:00 pm: Sylvia Rodriguez
7:30 pm: Q&A Authors Present

Sponsored by Taos County Art and Artifacts Review Committee, Taos Council of the Arts, SOMOS, Nighthawk Press, Wink Visual Arts, and Taos Friction.

Volcano Sunset

San Antonio Mountain

Extinct my ass it’s right there ain’t it

The top of San Antonio Mountain, at 10,912 ft (3,326 m) one monster of a volcanic peak, is about 43.5 miles as the raven croaks from where I stood to take this picture. That would be the top of the driveway, so I guess I can’t complain.

Well, I could. It’s in my nature. The people at the single-wide at the top of the hill were out of it and playing with their trucks a while ago. Maybe it was only one truck, revving. Hard to tell over all the yelling. Sounds of action, gravel crunching. Arguing, blubbering, slamming shit. Reminds me of me childhood, except for the shots, if that’s what they were. Probably just someone banging holes in aluminum with a heavy metal object. Nobody screamed, anyway, so. About 10:30 p.m. now.

Jumping the Gun

Outdoor scene in Taos, NM

Imagine the wind blowing and everything rustling & dancing

How did the custom of waiting until 5:00 p.m. before having a drink of alcohol ever get started? Crazy, isn’t it? I’ve been waging guerilla war against the practice for decades, rarely with much success, so I’m happy to report that I shot the above scene yesterday at approximately 23 minutes before the hour, with a shot of tequila in my hand and my honey by my side. Living dangerously here, all right.

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