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How to Stop Worrying

worried man

You’re welcome

Oh, you clicked on that, did you? Probably means you’re a worrier, hah! Well, I don’t know. Why do you think I posted this in the “Mystery” category at 3:00 a.m.? We can try replacing worry with something else, I guess. Heroin, maybe, or a plate of steaming hot waffles soaking in high-fructose syrup with slabs of melting butter on top and a big glass of ice-cold milk. A new motorcycle magazine. A trip to Colorado in a stolen Jeep. Would you believe, I rejected a house because there wasn’t a decent place to park a motorcycle. Oh sure. But what am I supposed to do, roll it into the living room like I was twenty-four? I can’t do that, I have a wife, for Christ’s sake. The funny thing is, I don’t even own a motorcycle. Seems like I should wait until I have more coming in so I can pay for those replacement parts. Mine, not the bike’s. [There he goes again.] But what if I’m too old? Use it or lose it, they say. What if I already lost it? Would a Ducati Scrambler bring it back? No, wait, we need a house. That better not be gum disease, I can’t afford another implant. Now see, I’m not doing this right.

Old Aspen Song

winter dawn s. of Taos

Tight shot from same day as before, 7:00 a.m.

This used to be a barren hillside. Around 1961 or ’62—think proto-hippie, hard-core, early lefty-artsy-sure-I’ll-try-some days when you could almost buy an old adobe with the money on your hip—a tiny enclave did arise. At one time or another, neighborhood residents included a well-known photographer, Krishnamurti’s ex-girfriend, a couple of jazz musicians, Jerry Garcia’s ex-girlfriend, a writer and theater critic, a painter, a potter, professional drunks, and a one-time neighbor of Allen Ginsburg and Gary Snyder who used to run hashish from Turkey to Amsterdam with a trick car and guns. (Later Dennis Hopper showed up and lived for a time in a house in this shot.) The hillside stayed barren until somewhere in this time frame a few of these folks planted aspens, cottonwoods, and apple trees along the acequia. One of them, the largest aspen I’ve ever seen, died quite some time ago but stood until the power company cut it down.

Few signs of this cultural history remain. If you knew where to look and had a guide like I did, you might hear, “So-and-so built that walkway with rocks from the mountain,” or “Then he got high and tried to run over my dog,” or “That’s where we played trumpet and drums while everyone danced…” She lives high up in the canyon now but gets her mail here because the house is illegal—not up to code, no permits, no law.

There’s a small pond with muskrats. No toilet. That’s all.

Adobe Dawn

snowy Taos scene

January 30, about 7:00 a.m.

Eat it up, you myth addicts. It’s amazing how this can grab you, even as you realize your cargo pants are a darker shade of khaki now because it’s too damn hard to even think about the laundry when you have to weight the hose down in the kitchen sink and dry stuff by the wood stove. But never mind: “It’s Taos,” as they say around here to explain the latest degradation. Like the guy who tried to kill himself last year by eating prairie dog poison and started belching poison gas. (That works, by the way.) They’re right, of course, but do I ever hate it when they are. I shouldn’t, though. I’ll bet in L.A. people say, “Hey man, it’s just L.A.” I think I would.

The snow you see is how it looked a couple of days ago. Today we had a lovely blizzard for several hours that dumped about a foot on top of that. There was less on the flatter surfaces. I used to think this made my struggles less legitimate. Way to chop your head off, bro. But I had a plan to drive the car out this time. All I had to do was make a path to the top of the hill and shovel about three acres of snow so we could back out into the road and get stuck there. I said “out,” not how far. Anyway, I did that, and we’ll see tomorrow.

It was bizarre this morning, however. The sky was mostly murky with just a few odd flakes fluttering down, so we left to run some errands. Oh were we ever slick. As we reached the end of the dirt road where a driver coming down from Miranda Canyon miraculously halted at the usually invisible Stop Sign of Doom, I realized half the sky was pure gray-white and I could see the curling tendrils on the leading edge of a goddamn snow cloud rolling up the mesa, on the ground, at thirty miles an hour. “See that? We’re gonna get a little snow!” I said. Half a mile later I could see bare trees bending in the wind and then the whiteout. We turned around before the mini-mart and didn’t even try to get a paper so my honey could do the crossword puzzle while we got snowed in.

Splendor in the Mud

interior of old adobe in Taos, NM

7,000 feet and don’t you forget it

You can’t say we haven’t done it. Well, you can, but that would be wrong. I will forever be proud. If anyone ever mentions “old Taos,” this is what they mean. It does work. Inside thick adobe walls, we almost never hear a thing outside. It’s cozy in winter, even if the wood stove and the dust and God knows what else one breathes can lead to headaches, angst, and other strangeness. (Maybe plague and hantavirus!) We’re ready for central heat and insulated glass, however—oh, and yes, a dryer. A woman we know who lives way the hell out in the goddamn boonies with elk and bears and shit was listening to my wife explaining about drying laundry by that stove. “You don’t have a dryer?” she asked. I mean, come on.

Update

portrait

On a walk two weeks ago

Ah well. The piece that used to be here just didn’t work for me. But I love the photo, so I’ll leave it up. (When I asked her to stop so I could take her picture, she pulled her scarf around her face and looked away! Check out the nostril flare.) Gorgeous!

In other news, I’m trying to get my latest ebook (Another Day in Paradise) properly formatted. That’s the big push at the moment. I haven’t gotten off the compound to take photos, so there’s nothing new to post. It’s totally splendid here, in an arctic sort of way, but I have no gumption for posting snow pictures. Snow, snow, snow. To hell with it. It’s cold, it’s white. I’m sick to death of snow and the worst part of the winter hasn’t even arrived yet. Bah!

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