Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Magic of the Free Pile

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As always, the free pile at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous was fantastic. Oh, there were plenty of items useless to me, like the dozen pair of reading glasses and the women’s clothing in sizes so small I wouldn’t have fit in them as a fourth grader, but I got so many great things from the free pile. I know other people did too.

I snagged a brand new red folding camp chair (retail price: right around $10 at Wal-Mart) for Coyote Sue. Once she arrived, she snagged for herself a large metal watering can, a decorative mirror in a wooden frame; and a four-plex birdhouse. One day while we were free pile shopping together, I found a container of dried black beans and handed them over to an excited Coyote Sue. She may have been the one person at the RTR who loved the free pile as much as I did.

Because the free pile required no money, we allowed ourselves to take risks.

The Divine Miss M picked up a folding cart on wheels. She took it to her camp for a few days and experimented with its uses. When she found it difficult to fold and discovered the plastic it was made from was cracking, she returned it to the pile. It wasn’t long before we watched a musician folding it up and packing it into her car. Maybe she had better luck with it than Miss M did.

I found food besides the dried beans I gave to Coyote Sue on the free pile, although not as much as in previous years when the cans left over from the cooking of the chili and soup dinners were donated. One day I scored a can of Del Monte (OH! Name brand!) peas. Another day  I snagged about a dozen Wal-Mart Great Value granola bars. Later, I scored a chicken and noodle MRE; I put it in my pantry for lean times. When I saw a donated container of doggy treats, I snatched it up for my friend’s pooch.

The strangest consumable I found on the free pile was a nearly full case of cans of Miller High Life beer. At first, I thought the carton was empty, but when I peered in, I saw only two or three cans were missing. Then I wondered if the cans in the carton were empty. Maybe someone had left a carton almost full of empty cans as a joke. However, when I nudged the carton with my toe, its heft told me it was almost full.

Did someone really leave beer? a fellow free pile peruser asked after I pointed out the carton.

It’s in the free pile, I assured him.

I do like Miller beer, he said.

You should take it, I encouraged, thinking of all the sober children in China, while also feeling a bit guilty about encouraging unhealthy behavior. Maybe I should have taken the beer when I first saw it and emptied the cans in the scrub.

I would have been really excited to find that beer when I was twenty, I said as the man carried the beer over to his bicycle.

Heck, I”m 41, and I’m pretty excited, he said.

My friends gave me first dibs on some items before they were offered to the general free pile public.

Mr. B. brought over a digital camera he’d fixed. (I take apart anything broken before I throw it away, he told me. I figure I should put my education to use. Apparently taking apart the broken at least sometimes leads to repair.) I decided to hold on to the camera in the event I need to replace the one I’m currently using. (I realize taking on a spare can be a dangerous precedent for a van dweller.)

Lady Nell sent Mr. T to me with the laptop he was about to offer up to the free pile. I passed on it because the operating system on mine is newer than what Mr. T’s had. Mr. T was skeptical anyone would want it, but it was already gone on my next visit to the pile. To someone without a laptop or tablet, it must have been quite a score.

Gee also gave me a preview of her free pile donations. From her I got a beautiful reversible silk wrap-around skirt; a pair of black leggings lined with soft black fleece; and a pair of light-weight, brightly colored, slip-on Sketchers. At first I thought the Sketchers were too small, but after wearing them a couple of days, they stretched a bit, and I love them! Slip on shoes are great for van life! Alas, while the leggings fit around my middle, they were way too long for my short little legs. I passed them on to Coyote Sue, whose long Viking legs are better suited to their length.

One day a woman I’d met briefly stopped her pickup near my camp and asked if she could park there for a few minutes while she carried some things to the free pile. I said sure and offered to help her. She offered to show me what she had before we brought it all to the pile. She explained another lady had given her the items and asked her to donate them. I found a pair of brand new Duluth Trading Company canvas pants which fit me in the waist and were only five inches too long! That’s a major find for a short, fat gal like me. The pants are my new favorite piece of cold weather gear. (I also got a light blue shirt with a hood, also from the Duluth Trading Company, also in my size. Double score! Alas, I have already spilled curry on the blue shirt, and I don’t know if I am going to be able to scrub it out.)

Two of my best free pile finds were a small cast iron skillet (hello, portion control) and a stamp collection. I rummaged through the collection for stamps that had not been cancelled and found many. I gave a bunch of cancelled stamps to Coyote Sue for her collaging needs and kept the rest to sell on the Etsy shop I want to open to sell collaging and scrapbooking items I pick up cheap.

The real free pile magic happened for a friend of mine, but I was involved.

He was living in his car and hadn’t figured out a way to sleep comfortably. We’d talked about how sleeping in a tent might be better, but he was flat broke, so couldn’t rush out and buy one. Maybe I’ll find one in the free pile, he said.

I’d driven out to see a friend in a nearby town that day, and I was excited to explore the free pile when I returned. since it’s always more exciting after several hours away. I didn’t see anything good but half an hour later, I watched a man deposit a red beach chair on the pile. I thought surely someone milling around the pile would grab it, but no one seemed to want it. I went over to the pile and retrieved the chair for myself. (It’s the perfect height to allow me to sit comfortably in the van and see out my side window.)

Five minutes later, I was talking to my friend, who was still trying figure out how to sleep in his car. I told him I’d seen some foam bed padding on the free pile and offered to go see if it was still there. I went over to the pile and saw the padding was gone. Bummer. But then I saw an interesting nylon bag. Could it be? I peaked inside. Yep, poles and more green nylon. It was a tent.

I picked it up and carried it over to my friend. Heres that tent you manifested, I said as I handed it over.

 

Plans

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When I was traveling with Mr. Carolina, I’d sometimes ask him about his plans. Whenever I’d utter the word plans, he’d throw back his head and laugh uproariously. Mr. Carolina knew we can plan all day long, but the Universe does what it wants when it wants and our schemes mean nothing.

These were my plans for 2017:

Attend the RTR

Spend a few weeks in the Arizona desert

House and dog sit in MegaBabylon

Work on writing my second book

Spend a few more weeks in the Arizona desert

House and dog sit again for the same woman in MegaBabylon

Work some more on my second book

Get paid to score student responses to standardized tests

Head to California to spend my summer working as a camp host and a parking lot attendant

Those plans were supposed to get me through the middle of October 2017.

I made it to the RTR, but after that, the Universe had other ideas for me.

At the RTR I hit it off with a very nice man (who has a very nice dog companion). We up and decided to go to New Mexico together, where we both came down with terrible colds. I still managed to do two readings from my book, Confessions of a Work Camper. I sold ten copies of the book, as well as some jewelry and shiny rocks. Life was good, even though the man and I were sick.

I had a lovely birthday in New Mexico. The man and I soaked in hot mineral water, then joined two more friends in the park for ice cream and pie. It was a wonderful day.

The next day I was scheduled to leave New Mexico and head back to MegaBabylon for my house and dog sitting engagement. Saying good-bye to the man was bittersweet, but I’d decided to travel back to New Mexico to see him again between my two house sitting gigs. He’s a carpenter by trade and had offered to transform wasted space in my van into storage space. I was going to borrow power tools from my host family and work with the man on a van project. I was excited about the project and excited about seeing the man again.

When I got into the van that morning, there were no messages on my phone. I looked out of my side-view mirror and watched the man watch me as I drove away. I listened to Old Crow Medicine Show sing “Wagon Wheel” and tried not to feel sad. I’d known this day would come. I’d known all aspects of life are fleeting. I’d known all we have is the present moment, and I’d done my best to enjoy each moment I’d had with him to the fullest. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t already miss him.

Before I got on the interstate, I had to stop at Wal-Mart. I was still sick, and the sickness had settled in my lungs as a cough. The coughing had kept me up the night before, so I really wanted to be able to take a big swig of cough syrup when I arrived at the free camping area I’d decided on as my stopover. I thought my best move was to get some cough syrup before I left town.

When I stopped the van, I checked my phone, as is my habit. The screen showed a notification saying I had three messages. Three messages? What was up with that?

I went to my messages and saw they were all from the woman I was supposed to house and dog sit for starting the next day. She said she’d hurt her back and was just leaving the hospital. She’d had to cancel her trip. She didn’t need me until April.

I was reeling. What to do? Head back to MegaBabylon anyway? Stay and spend more time with the man? Something else I hadn’t even yet imagined?

It took me a couple of days and a couple of long conversations with the man to figure things out, but I made some decisions. I could tell you my plans, but what’s the point? The Universe is going to send me wherever it wants me to be.

 

 

I Am a Good Person

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Trigger warning: This post is about a past violent relationship.

I wrote the following words on Sunday, January 29, 2017, when I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep.

For a few weeks, I was waking up every night right around 3am. That’s what happened to me the night of January 29. The next day, when I mentioned to a friend how I’d woken up at 3am and how waking at that time kept happening, she told me I should pay attention to what I was thinking about when I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep, maybe write it all down. I told her that’s just what I’d done.

My friend said (and the Power of Positivity website [https://www.powerofpositivity.com/if-you-wake-up-at-the-same-time-every-night-this-may-be-why/] confirmed),

If the time that you awaken is between 3:00 am and 5:00am, it could also be a sign of your Higher Power alerting you to pay attention to messages that are being sent to align you with your higher purpose.

In any case, the following words are what I wrote that night:

The fear is not just that he would hurt me, but that I would go back. I’m scared I’d set eye on him and feel his power over me again, succumb to it, run into the sickness with open arms.

It hurts to say I participated in my own abuse. We’re not supposed to talk about this aspect of the violence, but the truth of the matter is, I stayed. Sure, he threatened to kill me, my family, the dog, my friends, everyone I ever loved, if I left. Sure, he said it would be my fault if he ever ended up back in prison, the thing he feared most. He said I’d pay if he was ever put back in a cell, that he knew people and had connections and could have me killed. But I could have left, walked away and never gone back, as I finally did. What took me so long? And after the first three times I left in grand and bold ways, why did I go back?

I had hope, I suppose–hope that this time could be different, hope that this time I could be different, hope that this time I could be the person he wanted me to be, hope that maybe this time his anger would dissolve.

No one ever told me hope can sometimes hurt. No one ever told me hope should sometimes be released. No one ever told me that sometimes a situation really is hopeless.

I gave up on him changing early on. He was a pillar. He was steadfast. His anger was not going anywhere.

How can I bring out the worst in a person I love so much? I often wondered.

Now I understand I wasn’t a catalyst for the worst, but an excuse.

Why didn’t I leave?

I thought we were cosmically linked. I thought our stories were meant to be intertwined forever. I believed it was us against the world.

I believed his lies. I believed the lies I told myself.

I thought maybe I was so flawed, that this was the best I could ever do.

I hoped under all the bullshit, he really did love me.

I thought maybe he was capable of hunting me down and hunting down my family and hunting down my friends and killing us all. I thought I was responsible for protecting all the people I’d ever loved. I thought I was responsible for protecting him. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that I was responsible for protecting myself.

I’ve forgiven him, for the most part, to the extent forgiveness can extend to someone I still fear.

You don’t have to hate him on my behalf, I told a friend once. I’ve let go of any hate I felt for him. I feel great compassion for him, he who’s been locked in cages since he was 12. I wish him peace. I wish him love. I wish him to stay as far away from me as possible.

I’ve mostly forgiven him, but it’s just occurred to me that I need to forgive myself. I am my own most precious gift, and I squandered my own safety and value and self-worth to appease a bully, The hardest thing to know is that I sacrificed myself all for nothing; I gave up myself and it wasn’t enough for him. I could never give up enough of myself to satisfy him.

So now I’m working on forgiving myself for staying, for loving him and protecting him more than I was willing to love and protect myself.

My new mantra is I am a good person.

I say it to myself before I go to sleep at night. I am a good person. I say it to myself when negative self-talk creeps into my head. I am a good person.

I say it to myself when I want to say You really fucked that up or No one’s ever going to love you because you’re so fucked up or You’re going to die alone and no one will even remember you. Instead,  I say, I am a good person.

Currently, I chant it frantically. I am a good person. I am a good person. IamagoodpersonIamagoodpersonI amagoodpersonIamagoodperson.

I’m hoping if I say it enough, I will come to believe it; the thought will become automatic; it will be true. I am a good person.

I’m hoping eventually I will be able to say it calmly, slowly, from a place deep within me. I. Am. A. Good. Person.

Because I know I can only let go of the fear of drifting back to him by loving myself enough to truly believe I deserve better than his bully bullshit.

Valentine to My Own Dear Heart

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Coyote Sue told me about the contest.

A local coffee shop was holding an art contest with the theme “Sacred Heart” just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Oh yeah, I thought. I can collage it up to that theme.

I grew up Catholic, so I was familiar with the imagery of Jesus and his Sacred Heart, but if you’re not, here’s a picture from Two Heart Design (http://www.twoheartsdesign.com):

Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_Heart) says,

The Sacred Heart is often depicted in Christian art as a flaming heart[3] shining with divine light, pierced by the lance-wound, encircled by the crown of thorns, surmounted by a cross, and bleeding. Sometimes the image is shown shining within the bosom of Christ with his wounded hands pointing at the heart. The wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Jesus’ death, while the fire represents the transformative power of divine love.

Somehow the teachers at my weekly Catechism classes failed to teach me what the Sacred Heart was all about, and I had to turn to Wikipedia again. The aforementioned article says,

The devotion to the Sacred Heart (also known as the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sacratissimi Cordis Iesu in Latin) is one of the most widely practiced and well-known Roman Catholic devotions, taking Jesus Christ’s physical heart as the representation of His divine love for humanity.

This devotion is predominantly used in the Roman Catholic Church and among some high-churchAnglicans and Lutherans. The devotion is especially concerned with what the Church deems to be the love and compassion of the heart of Christ towards humanity, and its long suffering. The origin of this devotion in its modern form is derived from a Roman Catholic nun from France, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, who said she learned the devotion from Jesus during a series of apparitions to her between 1673 and 1675,[1] and later, in the 19th century, from the mystical revelations of another Roman Catholic nun in Portugal, Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart, a religious of the Good Shepherd, who requested, in the name of Christ that Pope Leo XIII consecrate the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Predecessors to the modern devotion arose unmistakably in the Middle Ages in various facets of Catholic mysticism.[2]

I only had a vague idea of what I wanted to do when I started the project. I knew I wanted to make a collage, and I knew I wanted to profess the sacredness of my heart. As interesting as a heart pierced by a lance wound and surrounded by a crown of thorns may be, I decided not to go the Jesus route with my project. Yes, in the collage for the contest, I would make the sacred heart in question my own.

Most of my collages are small, usually about 4″ x 6″, postcard size. The minimum size accepted for this contest was 8″ x 10″. OH! This was going to be a big one.

I started gathering materials at my favorite purveyor of inspiration, the thrift store.

I took this photos showing the original wall ornament after I painted about half the border with red fingernail polish.

At the thrift store, I found an inspirational plaque with the saying “Home is Where the Heart Is.” I liked it because the words were written on a piece of heavy cardboard that projected from the frame. I also bought half a bottle of red fingernail polish which I used to paint a copper colored border. Finally, I found a big red cardboard heart to use as the focal point of the project.

After painting the border, I started collaging the areas within and outside the border. I used mostly images I had on hand. I also collaged the big red cardboard heart. I went back and forth between those two parts of the project.

Royalty Free Images Anatomical Heart Vintage

This is the royalty free anatomical heart image I got from http://thegraphicsfairy.com/royalty-free-images-anatomical-heart-vintage/.

I wanted my sacred heart to be somewhat realistic, so I found a royalty free image of an anatomical heart from “a Vintage Circa 1884 Science Book” on http://thegraphicsfairy.com/royalty-free-images-anatomical-heart-vintage/. I used colored pencils to color the body of the heart red and the blood vessels a purply blue. Later, I used purple and red glass beads to accent the parts of the heart and the blood vessels.

My final touch on the anatomical heart was to add words of inspiration and aspiration next to the letters marking the different regions of the heart. For example, the letter H shows the part of my heart where “breathing with joy and ease” occurs. Part C of my heart is “joyous.” The letter I points to the area from where my compassion flows.

In addition to the images I cut from magazines and catalogs, I used real stones on my collage. I added turquoise (which is said to stimulate romantic love), rose quartz (the stone of unconditional love and infinite peace) and quartz crystals (a powerful healer and energy amplifier) I dug up in Arkansas. In the middle of the anatomical heart, I glued on a cubic zirconia a friend sent me last summer. The cubic zirconia and the self-stick “jewels” I bought at Wal-Mart give the whole project a bit of bling.

I pierced the representation of my heart with little skewers which once held tea bags from the shop sponsoring the contest. Those skewers sport little red hearts. I think the skewers evoke the piercing by the lance in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I attached  metal spirals which I painted with glittery nail polish, as well as a large red glass heart which had been crookedly glued to my dash. (I used three different kinds of glue to make this collage! Is that some kind of a record?)

The queen of hearts represents me, and the pink image of Guanyin (or Guan Yin) represents the compassion and mercy I want to offer to myself and others. (For those who may not know, Wikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanyin] says Guanyin

is an East Asianbodhisattva associated with compassion as venerated by Mahayana Buddhists. She is commonly known as the “Goddess of Mercy” in English.)

Since I’m a word person, I couldn’t let the piece go without a written explanation.

My heart is sacred, fragile, and precious.

I used the definitions from an old dictionary Coyote Sue gave me to explain the meaings of the words “sacred,” “fragile,” and “precious.”

I call this collage “Valentine for My Own Dear Heart.” It’s a reminder to me that my heart needs to be treated with reverence and care. Anyone who gets close to my heart better be prepared to treat it kindly.

Valentine’s Day Advice

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Since today is Valentine’s Day and I’m not qualified to speak about romance, I’ll let the Grateful Dead offer advice in matters of love through the video for their song “Foolish Heart.”

If you want to follow along with the singing, here are the lyrics from https://play.google.com/music/preview/Tcu6tifbkyp3snodrbo6j7ijoym?lyrics=1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=lyrics&pcampaignid=kp-lyrics&u=0#:

Carve your name
Carve your name in ice and wind
Search for where
Search for where the rivers end
Or where the rivers start
Do everything that’s in you
That you feel to be your part
But never give your love, my friend,
Unto a foolish heart

Leap from ledges
Leap from ledges high and wild
Learn to speak
Speak with wisdom like a child
Directly from the heart
Crown yourself the king of clowns
Or stand way back apart
But never give your love, my friend,
Unto a foolish heart

Shun a friend
Shun a brother and a friend
Never look
Never look around the bend
Or check a weather chart
Sign the Mona Lisa
With a spray can, call it art
But never give your love, my friend,
Unto a foolish heart

A foolish heart will call on you
To toss your dreams away
Then turn around and blame you
For the way you went astray
A foolish heart will cost you sleep
And often make you curse
A selfish heart is trouble
But a foolish heart is worse

Bite the hand
Bite the hand that bakes your bread
Dare to leap
Where the angels fear to tread
Till you are torn apart
Stoke the fires of paradise
With coals from hell to start
But never give your love, my friend
Unto a foolish heart

Unto a foolish heart [Repeats]

Built to Last
”Foolish Heart was released on the final Grateful Dead studio album Built To Last which came out in 1989.  It was written by Jerry Garcia (music) and Robert C. Hunter (words). The video was directed by Gary Gutierrez .

According to http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0349359/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm, Gutierrez graduated

from the San Francisco Art Institute, [and] apprenticed at John Korty’s Mill Valley studio as an animator of children’s films, creating and directing live action and animation for Sesame Street and The Electric Company.

(So there folks, is the connection between The Grateful Dead and Sesame Street I always suspected existed.)

[He] create[d] the 8 minute animated opening for The Grateful Dead Movie…

Gutierrez also directed the music video for the Grateful Dead song “Touch of Grey,” which was the introduction to the Dead for many people, especially those of the MTV generation.

The American Book of the Dead
The American Book of the Dead by Oliver Trager says the movie footage in the “Foolish Heart” video is from a 1903 film by Georges Méliès called Kingdom of the Fairies.

According to http://www.earlycinema.com/pioneers/melies_bio.html,

Maries Georges Jean Méliès was born in Paris in 1861…

Méliès’ principle contribution to cinema was the combination of traditional theatrical elements to motion pictures – he sought to present spectacles of a kind not possible in live theatre.

He pioneered the first double exposure (La caverne Maudite, 1898), the first split screen with performers acting opposite themselves (Un Homme de tete, 1898), and the first dissolve (Cendrillon, 1899)…He was also one of the first filmmakers to present nudity on screen with “Apres le Bal”.

Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Kingdom_of_the_Fairies) says of the film,

…film historian Georges Sadoul suggested that the film was freely adapted from La Biche au Bois, a popular féerie by the brothers Goignard, which had been first produced in March 1845 at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin and which was frequently revived throughout the nineteenth century.[4] A publication on Méliès’s films by the Centre national du cinéma cites Charles Perrault‘s story “Sleeping Beauty” as the most direct inspiration for the film, with the seven fairies in that tale reduced to four.[4]

The film’s cast includes Georges Méliès as Prince Bel-Azor, Marguerite Thévenard as Princess Azurine, and Bleuette Bernon as the fairy Aurora.

I like the whimsical, but also slightly creepy vibe of this video.  Skeletons playing records, Victorian era toys, ghostly band members, black and white film footage of devils with pitchforks and torches, Bob Weir’s hair, I like all of these aspects of the video while they make me a bit uncomfortable too.

 

Lady Party

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How had I ended up at this full moon party with all these rich young women?

When I looked across the room and saw my roommate, Baby Dyke, I knew the blame lay squarely on her.

The hostess of the party was a friend of Baby Dyke’s friend from work. The work friend had invited Baby Dyke, then Baby Dyke had invited me and Big Mamma and a handful of other slightly dirty, more-or-less punk, full-on-lesbian or somewhat-bisexual, women-loving-women. I guess Baby Dyke didn’t know the rule about guests of guests not inviting guests.

The first indication we were out of our league was the gate…as in gated community. This was perhaps my first foray into a gated community, but I knew it was where the rich and fearful resided.

Not to worry, Baby Dyke reassured me when I questioned our entrance into a gated community. The house wasn’t actually the home of the hostess. The woman was simply holding the party at her parents’ house. That was supposed to make me feel better? As if somehow the woman’s parents were loaded and she had access to their house, but she was working class like those of us being brought in by Baby Dyke?

We found the house and entered. The house was huge, as I’d suspected it would be, and tastefully decorated. I’ve since been in houses as fancy, but that night was a first for me.

I don’t remember being met with any hostility. All of the friends of the hostess were very polite. I realize now, they weren’t the children of the uber rich, but they’d obviously grown up with access to advantages I’d never had.

We started the evening with sangria in the kitchen. The drink was served in delicate tea cups. I remember Big Mamma laughing about the little teacups disappearing in her big hand. She was a little more somber when she said she spent the whole night worried some part of her big self might smash something expensive.

We took our tiny cups of sangria out onto the back deck where we were treated to a stunning sunset view of the hills.

It’s so nice to be able to see the hills, one of the friends of the hostess gushed. So many people don’t even know they’re here.

How could they know they’re here? I wondered. If the hills are surrounded by gated communities, only people living in the gated communities can see them. But being Southern and all, I kept my mouth shut.

To this party I’d worn a polyester blend, blue and white checked housedress with a zipper up the front. I can’t remember if I’d carefully chosen this dress to wear to the party of if Baby Dyke had breezed into our home and told me I was going to a party at such the last minute that this dress was the best ensemble I’d been able to pull together. If I wore such a thing now, I’d look like what I am: a middle-aged, fat woman wearing something loose and comfortable. Back then, I was young and thin enough to believe I looked cute in old lady clothes.

The dress, or course, had been bought used. More specifically, the dress had come from the dollar bin at a really hip little second-hand store near my house. Finding the dress in the dollar bin (one step away from the rag bag) definitely marked it as not quite as hip as the other items in the shop.

I thought the dress was a reasonable party outfit. It wasn’t a dressy party. Baby Dyke and Big Mamma were wearing trousers and masculine shirts. The friends of the hostess were wearing casual summer clothes. Nobody looked too fancy.

Did you get your dress at The Gap? one of the friends of the hostess asked me.

For years, I’ve laughed at the woman. How could she possibly think the dress had come from The Gap? Nothing about the dress indicated The Gap.

Now I wonder if maybe she knew as well as I did that the dress had not come from The Gap. Although I thought of The Gap as a place where rich people shopped, perhaps she thought she was putting me down by suggesting my dress came from a place where middle-income people shopped for poorly made clothes. I don’t even know. I was absolutely naive about the ways of the rich and thought the young woman was just dumb. If she was sending a cutting insult my way, it was lost on me.

Oh, no! I told her. I explained I’d gotten the dress our of a dollar bin at a second-hand store. Any judgment from her went right over my head.

At some point, someone suggested we sit in a circle of chairs on the deck and enjoy the cool night air. I can’t remember if we went around the circle and introduced ourselves, but I do remember someone suggesting we play a kissing game. I don’t remember who exactly suggested the kissing game, but I’m pretty sure it was someone from Baby Dyke’s crew. We weren’t just dirty, punk women-loving women. We were dirty, punk, horny women-loving-women.

For me, bisexuality was new enough to be exciting. I was still nursing a broken heart after being dumped by my boyfriend, and I thought perhaps a sweet new girlfriend might ease my pain. Alas, no sweet lady ever offered me any sexual healing.

Kiss Clipart Free - Tumundografico

image from http://tumundografico.com/clipart/kisses-clipart.html

In any case, whenever I was invited to play a kissing game, I was ready to participate.

The hostess and her friends seemed a little hesitant. Maybe they’d never explored the loving of women. Maybe they had explored it and decided it was not for them. Whatever their previous experiences with women, they all agreed to play the game.

As my fuzzy memory clears, I think it was Big Mamma who suggested the game and explained the rules. She pulled a big slice of pineapple from the bowl of sangria. We would pass the pineapple around the circle mouth to mouth. When the slice was passed to a new gal, the woman doing the passing would bite off the chunk of fruit she’d been holding in her teeth. When a woman was presented with not enough pineapple to bite, she and the woman who’d gotten the last chunk had to kiss.

The fruit started moving around the circle. When it came to the woman to my right, I turned and used my mouth to take it from her. There was only a small piece of the fruit left, and I knew I’d get to kiss the stranger to my left.

I turned and showed her there wasn’t enough pineapple for her to bite. I swallowed what was left and puckered up, but my kissing partner balked. I don’t know if she didn’t want to kiss me in particular or any woman at all, but her quick no offense in my direction did little to soothe my fractured self-esteem. She must have wanted to kiss someone in the group because she had agreed to play, but she obviously didn’t want to kiss me.

A second piece of pineapple was put into play across the circle. There was much giggling and whooping as women put their mouths close, separated only by a bit of tropical goodness.

The fruit made its way to the woman on my right. Again, there was only a small piece of pineapple to take from her. Again, I showed the small piece of pineapple to the woman on my left, chewed it, swallowed it, and puckered my lips. Again, she who was meant to kiss me balked. This time she accused her friends, You set me up! This assurtion was maybe true, since they’d started the pineapple with the same woman as the time before. She again lobbed a no offense or two in my direction, but she’d already shattered my fragile ego.

If she didn’t want to play, she shouldn’t have played. If she didn’t want to kiss me, she should have sat next to someone else or hid in the bathroom. It wasn’t like I was going to stick my tongue down her throat or expect her to marry me, but I suppose she had no way of knowing my intentions.

I don’t know how the hostess and her friends ended up feeling about the party, but the evening was pretty much a bust for me.

 

 

Reconnoitering in the Desert

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Last week my friend and I walked around the desert, looking for a place to make a good camp on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. While we were walking around, I took photos of some of the things I saw.

This photo shows the old car we found in the wash. It’s very rusty.

The most unusual thing we saw was the rusted remains of an old automobile. Believe me, the car was not in a place it could have easily been driven to. In fact, it was in a place that seemed impossible to drive to. It was high up in a wash, in a place I think no motorized vehicle could go.

How do you think that car got here? I asked my friend.

I dunno, he drawled.

I think it was washed here in a flood! I said. How else could it have gotten here?

The car seemed old, not just because it was rusty. The design of the car seemed old. I think the car had been sitting there for years, decades even. I don’t think anyone is going to drag the car out of the wash. I think the car is going to sit there until it becomes one with the earth.

This is the front of the car we found in the wash. It looks really old to me.

Wow! Look at that bug! I said when I saw a beetle sunning itself on a small rock. I like to see creatures hanging out in nature.

We poked at the beetle a little, just to see it move, then we felt bad about disturbing it. It tried to hide in the shadow of the surrounding rocks. I tried to move it back to the sun where I’d first found it.

Later, I almost stepped on it as I skidded down from a higher level where I’d climbed.

Watch out for our little friend, my friend said to me, but I thought he was talking about the dog. Luckily, I didn’t step on the beetle, although I was pretty out of control at the moment, waving my arms and trying to get down the steep, rocky incline without falling.

Here’s the rock formation I’d climbed up to look at more closely:

I stood at the base of it and looked at the openings in the rock. I think it was full of packrat nests. I saw what I thought was feces, and got away from it fast. I don’t need any New Mexico plague, thank you very much.

I think the formation was made of sandstone. It felt gritty to the touch, and seemed as if it could easily disintegrate or wash away. Although at first I thought camping up against it might make for a good campsite, we ended up deciding it was too unstable to trust with our lives.

After a couple of hours of walking around, we found a spot my friend liked. It was mostly flat and mostly secluded. He set up his tent and hauled his things over while I reorganized the van.

As I left in the late afternoon, I saw the sunset in my sideview mirror.

It was a lovely end to a lovely day in the desert.

I took all of the photos in this post.