Marfa to Katy, still in Texas

6 05 2021

Leaving Marfa wasn’t hard because I actually felt completely fulfilled by the experience. I got my act together, told Lil’ Pinky I would see her again soon and checked out. The gift shop is just so amazing and I could not resist getting the robe after all. I know it will always remind me of the great trip and the magical experience. Sort of like my very own technicolor dreamcoat.

I hit 90 east again and it was nice to drive through Alpine which was a super cute town I’d like to explore next time. Then I headed back north a bit and then onto the 10 and the long drive across. I decided it was time to make a big jump because my pause put me behind. I’d made a ferry reservation for May 2 to get the car from Hyannis to Nantucket and when I tried to amend it found that there weren’t any more reservations until May 5 and then it just gets slimmer and slimmer! And with Covid they will no longer let you leave the car for them to drive on for you.

It was long, and very dull, but I decided to make a stop in a town called Ozona for fuel. Justt before hitting the town I was surprised by the smell of petrichor, that ozonated smell of the air just before it rains. I remember Jenna had a little fountain gurgling in her room in Sedona and told me the ionization of water cleanses negative energy and anger. Suddenly one little cloud above a hilltop doused my car with big raindrops. Funny though, it ended almost instantly and there wasn’t enough rain to wash the Marfa dust off the car! Just big polka dots all over it. I found myself scribbling on my notepad. It happened just before the town. I took it as a confirmation that I should stop.

I pulled in and got some gas and then stopped at a little Mexican joint, what I figured would be a good stop. They had a funny drive through that went around the side of the building and if you call them from the first menu sign they’ll have your order ready by the time you pull up to the one window. I was excited to find what I call Frito chili pie but they called “Corn Chip Chili Pie”. I make a spicy version of this at my snack bar on Nantucket, The Hungry Minnow, I serve it right in the Fritos bag. This was next level. In a stalwart styrofoam cup (oh Texas, really?) it was a huge portion of chips slathered in a rich meaty chili with beans and lots of oily sauce. Every chip was saturated and it was so good. I ate the entire thing. I’m still dreaming about it.

I’d parked near the town square and hopped out to throw my trash in the waste bin, no recycling would be my only negative comment about the town. Very pretty and serene. A vintage shop across the street caught my eye and I waited to cross and opened Instagram as the trucks swept past me. I was stunned to find out that my dear friend Tomas Estes had passed away. His son Jesse had posted about it seemingly very recently. I couldn’t believe it. It struck me that life is so fleeting and we have to take advantage of every moment. It made me so happy I’d decided to take that extra day in Marfa. I found out later that Tomas had been in Marfa for an agave conference in 2019. I was also struck by the notes I had written as I was struck by the little rain spurt just before Ozona. I’d written, “Rain dappled the windshield at Ozona, is that why it’s called that? Not enough to rinse the Marfa dust off the car.” Then I’d written “spirit guides, spirits guide.” I was headed to New Orleans eventually and was kind of thinking about how many incredible spiritual experiences I’d had there as well as the fact that I’d been there surrounded by all my spirit professional friends at Tales of the Cocktail for example. How those spirits we imbibe can cure us, inspire us and allow us to dream big dreams untethered by logic.

Despite being saddened by the news I dropped by the little shop and had a nice time chatting with the owners who had me sign their guest book. took a U-turn near an old rundown hotel and was soon back on the highway. I got in a little traffic and got turned around in San Antonio and it wasn’t a fun drive due to a lot of construction. I hate having to pass trucks when you have those narrow lanes with two concrete barriers on each side and no shoulder.

Not much to see on this stretch but open highway. As darkness fell I hit Katy, Texas and was enticed by a billboard announcing crawfish. I stopped by one of the huge Buccey’s road stops with the cute buck toothed otter on their sign. There must’ve been 50 gas pumps it was nuts. And inside they had all sorts of food, brisket sandwiches, roasted sugared nuts and wine, souvenirs and huge spacious and spotlessly clean bathrooms. I wished I’d have made this a regular stop all through Texas.

So I pulled in front of a Hampton Inn and made a reservation and then zipped over to the crawfish place. I was astonished to see that there were no masks worn by basically anyone! It was crazy! Not even the servers. I took mine off because I didn’t want to draw attention! The bar was crowded no distancing or anything it was a little overwhelming. I was fully vaxed and two weeks since safe but it was still just really weird. I haven’t really been to bars or restaurants too much for an entire year plus!

The crawfish were worth it though and they were so sweet and spicy and tasty that I got another batch!

Overall a good day, but Texas is huge, don’t underestimate the time it takes to get through.

Marfa Manifestation

27 04 2021

So my first night spent in Lil’ Pinky was so serene! I sat at my little diner table with some wine and felt completely happy and at peace. I started to wish I could stay another day, but what would that entail? I’ve made a ferry reservation to get the car to Nantucket, I may have shave time elsewhere. What about Austin would I skip it? I started to obsess over the whole thing. This wasn’t a responsible decision to suddenly add a day. I kept googling different options, but then I stopped.

Jasmine’s words echoed in my head. Pause, listen to your gut, don’t over analyze. So I decided I’d see if Pinky was available and if so I’d stay and figure the details out later. And I began again to be present and enjoy my night there rather than obsessing over next steps.

I had a very restful sleep despite the mournful trains that roll by. They didn’t really bother me at all. I woke to the bright dawn and a cacaphony of birds and mourning doves. I eased into my day with my usual routine, three rounds of Wim Hof breathing, then writing my three The Artists Waymorning pages and then shower followed by a cold shower although for some reason I couldn’t get the hot water to work and rather than fuss around just took an exhilarating cold shower. I lounged around in my room in the gorgeous green serape fabric robe and enjoyed writing my blog. I eventually got a coffee and was trying to upload the blog photos and the videos weren’t working, so I decided to go to town. I thought maybe I’d mail some of the spices home so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by them on the next few legs.

Marfa is literally so tiny that I passed the USPS a few times finding myself at the town building and getting all turned around, then Google tells you to go around the block rather than just U-turn. Seems like I needed to get off my phone and just look around instead of trying to be guided. Got a shipping box and some stamps and went to the grocery where I was thrilled to find my favorite Mexican mineral water, Topo Chico, and picked up some Zapp’s crawtater chips, my favorite New Orleans chips!

Tried to go to a thrift store but it seemed closed. Googled consignment stores and found only one open. Started to look for lunch and nothing was open, yelped, googled etc. and found myself at a loss. Looks like I could go to the Waterstop again or Marfa burritos. I liked Waterstop and the atmosphere, but I had all sorts of excuses not to go.

Too windy, it’s probably the same menu as dinner which was good but pricey, I hate going to the same place twice while traveling, etc. the brain was processing overtime and I literally felt my car being nudged over as I was passing a d found myself parked in the same space as the night prior. I said at loud to myself, “OK I guess we’re going here!”

I went into the restaurant to grab a menu and was delighted to find it was pink and a totally different menu than dinner. I figured I’d try to do some writing later so out of character while on “vacation” I didn’t have beer or wine but I got a green lemonade. Had cucumber and herbs in it, pretty tasty. I opted fir the 1/4 roasted chicken and some fries because I wanted to see how they were with the tahini sauce they mentioned, and the chicken and fries came out fast. This $9 plate was huge and beautifully adorned with watermelon radishes. All in pink and green hues.

Meanwhile a gentleman had sauntered in and sat at a four top behind me. It was still pretty empty, before noon. There was something immediately familiar about his voice to me, as if I knew it really well. It kind of sounded melodious like Cee Lo Green, but it was also the banter that intrigued me. He was talking about the pink Supermoon, grounding and manifestation. At one point I couldn’t help but turn and look over my shoulder. The waitress asked if I needed anything and I said I was good. Not exactly sure when but at a certain point we started talking across the patio and the gentleman invited me to join him at his table. I moved all my food and stuff over and sat across from him.

Sometimes you just know you’re exactly where you need to be at the right time. Here I was staying in Marfa for no apparent reason, but have a “chance” meeting with a perfect stranger. There was something resonating with his energy and mine. It was magnetic and seamless how we interacted. It was like he was a shiny glinting energy that could not be ignored. He spoke about everything I’d written about in the blog I had just finished that morning. He reiterated everything Jasmine had laid out for me! It was an incredible message from the universe. He said to call him Crow. And he said crows are tricksters.

The familiarity I had with his voice, demeanor and mannerisms had me immediately at ease and the conversation was flowing. It seemed to be on another plane, we spoke about manifesting what we need, being deserving and mist if all being thankful and showing gratitude for these gifts. That had been my affirmation that morning as well, the words “Thank you” are the most important in the universe.

We spoke of communing with our ancestors and how important that was and I told him I’d my vision that I’d had that my ancestors were surrounding me and holding me. Telling me that it was ok. Acknowledging my past traumas and telling me, “We are sorry you had to go through that but we’ve got you now.” Holding me tiny childlike hand in theirs and comforting me as I broke free of these shadows and pain only to become childlike in awe of the universe again. A complete paradigm shift of which I’m in the midst of experiencing.

Crow is a Virgo, I’m a Sagittarius. We spoke about past lives and the idea that people in your tribe come and go and you’re forever reconvening. Death is as beautiful as life. We talked about how I let my father’s death shadow me instead of embracing its beauty. How I’m finally allowing myself to lift that weight off my shoulders.

At one point he left the table and said he was getting something for me. He came back to the table and placed a nice sized oval shaped piece of pyrite on the table. Also called Fool’s Gold it’s a good stone for grounding, protection and abundance. So funny because I’d been looking for a crystals in Sedona but had been overwhelmed and found it so confusing! He also had a square box he set in the table and began to look through it.

“Ah here it is!” He said as I moved from across the table to a seat adjacent to him to be closer. He placed a gorgeous carved Zuni fetish bear in my hand. I immediately started to cry. “You’re going to give this to me?” I couldn’t believe it. The day before I had seen some great carved bear necklaces in El Paso and asked the guy at El Paso Connection if they’d had any of just the carvings. I collect these bears and even wear a silver bear around my neck at all times. And here was the perfect bear being delivered to me from the universe and this incredible soul I’d met. This bear was a gorgeous reddish color reminiscent of the rocks in Sedona but with blue eyes.

I popped up from the table and zipped out to my car to trade him a Virgen de Guadalupe sand dollar I’d painted and one of my Day of the Dead sand dollars. He gave that one to our server. We talked about lost things and he went back to his car to grab a St. Anthony pendant his friend Eugene in Oregon had given him. It was a keychain and included in it was a piece of the relic. Eugene called him a few minutes later.

I couldn’t help but laugh thinking that I’d almost ruined this encounter by leaving Marfa too soon. We paid our bills and decided to continue our conversation back on the porch by Lil’ Pinky. We were just so I tuned with each other on a spiritual level. He brought out a special copper cup and I took the Tequila horn out for the first time in the trip. I had some El Tesoro Anejo and took some from his cup and he drank some from the horn, more as a ritual or an offering than to get drunk.

We talked for awhile more and then he asked if I’d do him the honor of being on his new Spoon podcast that his agent has him doing. I was thrilled, here was my chance to get my messages out to the world. I suggested we do the taping inside the trailer because the wind was whipping around so much.

He was an adept interviewer and it turned out mire like an interview than anything. He went in on me being a songwriter and I found myself not only answering his questions with depth, but I found myself suddenly in the position of BELIEVING myself. It was almost a magical dream state I was in during this whole meeting with him. I could really believe that I’m a songwriter. I AM. I could really allow myself to believe what I’ve been touting for a week since it came to me, “The universe is my hammock”. I’m utterly supported and honestly I deserve to do whatever I feel compelled to do. This is my job. I’ve been a writer forever, since I was a child, for lifetimes. I truly believed that Crow was sent to me in that moment in Marfa to remind me of this. I cannot deny it any longer!

So when he asked me if I would indulge him and the audience with a song I did. I played and sang Carpe Diem for the world. I was playing a song I wrote in a trailer in Marfa, Texas, my dream come true. “Well I can’t tell you where I’m going, I don’t remember where I’ve been, storm clouds seem to be blowing, I’m walking straight into the wind. I feel just like an apparition, a pilgrim in purgatory, on the way to the next Mission, seeds to sow and crops to reap.”

The wind was blowing and we said goodbye maybe I’ll see ya later and the incredible confluence stayed lingering in the air for a while, a magical few hours where time stood still and two connected souls reconnected and reminded each other of their purpose. This all sounds weird afterwards right? Like there’s this passionate connection but in a very different level. Some may read this with the lens of a romantic encounter but it was nothing of the sort. A logical mind might find this dangerous and my monkey mind obsessed for a few minutes chiming in loudly with all sorts of accusations! You let him in the trailer! He could have poisoned your drink! He knows where you are staying! He could have taken your computer! He knows you have a guitar! You’re traveling alone. That bear isn’t stone! All sorts of nonsense. I put the monkey back in it’s little box and shut the lid.

Trust. You have to trust the universe is doing things in your best interest. Jasmine too had said it, trust your intuition! So I didn’t let the magic go, I didn’t let logic tarnish my incredible experience and the beauty of confluence! I had absolutely manifested this entire experience, I intended to have a magical Marfa day and it had played out like a movie I had scripted. More lyrics from that song, the bridge actually states it so clearly!

“I won’t let logic keep me shackled, lines on my face can’t bind me down, a mortal resurrection to tackle, crazy as that may sound.”

Thinking back on the experience I can’t totally explain it. I feel like there was a trick that the universe had played on me, pulling my guard down completely so that I could experience this magic. The feeling of exhilaration and knowing that someone was on the same level as you and finding out that you’re in exactly the right place at the tight time. It has happened before… the time I met someone from Malta in a bar in Bordeaux and I knew I was following my path, the time I spoke with Tomas on the Camino (2018) and he foresaw and told me of what I think was a prophecy of the events of 2020, the moment in New Orleans when I was gifted a Mardi Gras coconut from the owner of the Candle Light lounge, shortly after Tomas Bermejo passed and a day after I’d heard of the passing of Brendan,

Later in the afternoon Crow came by with a huge piece of amethyst with quartz inlaid in it to give me to protect me on my ride. He was dressed up ready to attend the pink super moon installation that he said may or may not be happening due to Covid and the overcast skies. We said goodbye a second time, I’m pretty sure he will pop up again sometime with another shiny object to bring me, as crows do. I felt like the magic in both of us had receded a bit on this second meeting. It just seemed more normal.

I communed with a hummingbird who was showing off, probably doing a mating ritual for me. But before his display he sat on a desert shrub motionless for a long time. It struck me that hummingbirds are almost always moving. I’ve been seeing a lot of them lately… this one allowed me to get super close and observe it sitting there. I wondered what its message for me was. Looking back, I now see. The pause. I was taking a pause in Marfa, listening to Jasmine’s recommendation. There is beauty in the pause!

The next day on the way through Texas i hit one mini spurt of rain, not even enough to wash the Marfa dust off the car. It just dappled the hood. It happened just shy of the town of Ozona, and then stopped abruptly before the exit. I took this as a sign. As I was walking to a thrift shop I opened Instagram a d I found out that a friend, Tomas Estes, passed away. Another Tomas, not Thomas.

Tomas left us Sunday, the night when I allowed myself to say yes. Yes I am going to pause here in Marfa. Yes I deserve this. Yes I can do anything I set my sights on. I am meant to take a pause. Listen, trust.

I came to find out later that evening that Tomas, who founded Tequila Ocho, had participated in an agave experience in a Marfa in 2019. Also a Virgo like Crow. And there we were toasting him unknowingly. I feel like Tomas was there nudging me. Experience the magic. Allow yourself time. I’d scribbled a note while driving just at Ozona… it says “rain dappled the windshield at Ozona, is that why it’s called that? Not enough to rinse the Marfa dust off the car. Spirit guides, Spirits guide.”

Magic Marfa

26 04 2021

So the rest of the drive from Sedona to Las Cruces was pretty brutal. I was in great spirits luckily with a lot to think about and a great playlist. I spent a good deal of time “downloading” song ideas. They just kept coming for me it was crazy. Don’t worry it’s totally safe to do while driving 80 MPH. I have a large pad and I just scribble. I don’t look at the page at all. I don’t think it’s always coming from my brain so I have to write it down. If you take a drink from your coffee on the road it’s similar.

I drove and drove and drove some more. Stopped for gas at a Circle K and something about their coffee station I just love…

I totally forgot that I’d be entering a new time zone when I got to New Mexico. I cheered as I crossed this new state off my list. Upon entering I saw a sign that said “Dust storms may exist” I found it such an odd way to say it. Like are dust storms going through an existential crisis? As I pondered the sign a ton of individual signs announced what to do if a dust storm were to exist and you happened to be driving through it. Pull over, turn car off and foot off the brake. I think they forgot a crucial step… pray. I’d be terrified on the side of the road waiting for another car to slam into me. I do remember my high school drivers ed teacher telling us if we had to pull over keep the car in neutral so the car has less resistance to the one that slams into you from behind. You shut the car off so the cars behind you don’t think you’re in a lane… he also told us to always get out of the car on the passenger side, even if you’re the driver so I take his guidance with a grain of salt.

So I pummeled down the road as darkness descended. Fast speed and passing tons of trucks along the way. I’ve noticed how they move and on these long inclines and grades it’s important to watch all of them interact and adjust accordingly. If there’s someone pulled over a truck will always want to get into the left lane. If you see two trucks too close the back one will likely need to pull left because their speed is too high. Just all stuff to be constantly aware of.

The crazy thing is this, all this processing, controls the part of my brain that overthinks, the intellect Jasmine was speaking of, and when that happens I’m free to have the creative side open up. It happens when I have a long drive. This was 8 hours plus.

Luckily I wasn’t tired just kind of over the tedious part of the drive when suddenly a big 3×3 cube appeared out of nowhere! It must have just fallen off a truck or just been hit by a car because it was like an explosion of gray dirt or cement or feed raining down on my car like the ash of Mount Vesuvius and making it impossible to see the road or what was ahead. Meanwhile I had to swerve to hit it as I was going fast this caused the car to shimmy back and forth six times until it regaining the grip of the road (thank you Subaru AWD). I just kept my eyes ahead looking at the headlights as I was pummeling through the dust, couldn’t slam the brakes because someone may have been behind me, but also couldn’t possibly know if someone was in front of me or where the road was going, or how long I’d be in this cloud and suddenly I was birthed out the other side. Shaken but intact. I’m so grateful for my ability to be calm and get through unscathed. So after this harrowing ordeal another few hours drive.

At about 10:30 I got to Las Cruces only to find I’d booked the hotel on I25 not I10. I’d had no dinner, no restroom since Sedona, one coffee and was now on fumes both personally and in terms of gas. I also had a piece of sand in my eye on and off for hours. All I wanted was my room. Got gas and bought two pieces of cheese to supplement another in room avocado and potato chip meal.

By the time I got to the hotel the sand lodged in my contact became unbearable and so I popped it out and held the rigid gas permeable lens in my hand knowing I have no replacement. At the hotel the associate could not find my reservation. I had to pull up the confirmation. Then the advertised “contactless’ checkin and phone activated room key meant I still had to show an ID, actually hand over the credit card which I’d already booked with and then sign a Covid waiver and then write my car make and model down. I’m still holding the damn contact in my hand! And oh was I hangry.

So it was not my best night but I got the contact safely back in my eye.

I usually boycott Walmart but the next morning I headed in for some supplies and eye drops to prevent more contact lens mishaps. Loving on Nantucket we have no chain stores so A superstore like that was overwhelming! At checkout the receptionist asked me if I was heading back to California and for a moment I answered yes, lol. I corrected myself and told her actually I’m heading to Nantucket. She knew it! She and her mom read romance novels so she knew Elin Hildebrand’s books! She was super sweet, Bethany.

So since I had such a short day planned I opted to head to Hatch, NM home of the famous Hatch chile peppers, just a quick 40 mins to the North, out of the way, but close enough. As I drove in I was greeted by kitschy huge signs and a big man holding a tiny RV. The town is tiny too… very quickly I came across Spanky’s, the restaurant where Kern McNutt told me I should go. I’d forgotten his parents are living around there! But I knew he knows Hatch so. Before I knew it I was outta town so circled back and decided to first do some shopping.

One of the stores that caught my eye had gorgeous bunches of chilies drying outside and bags of them for sale. More chilies than I or The Hungry Minnow could ever use! When I entered the store I was struck with the intense smell of the freshly ground peppers and spices. Lots of Mexican handicrafts and kitchen items. So I loaded up on everything the Minnow could possibly need! Cumin, oregano, ground green Hatch chile, extra hot Hatch red chile powder So excited to be able to shop and not worry about how to get it home. That said the car is getting very full! The guy at the shop complimented me on my Spanish, so I was proud. The place is called Grajeda Farms.

Went to Sparky’s to get the green chile cheeseburger, fries and a half sweet half regular iced tea. Luckily I got in just before the crew of Harley Davidson riders or I’d have had a much longer wait… but Sparky’s has all sorts of cool stuff to occupy your time including large sign and icons from old restaurants. So vivid and bright, unfortunately not the beat time to take photos, the sun makes it hard. The burger was huge and had piles of chiles and cheese sauce all glommed on it. So tasty. The best part is the grease of the burger and the juice from the chiles combine underneath the fries and drench them in spicy liquid.

Then it was on to one more shop for a few more pepper strands and hit the road. Stopped off in El Paso at the El Paso Connection which is an enormous endless warehouse full of Mexican imports, artesanias, furniture and the like. I was able to restrain myself enough to not purchase too much, so I just got a few hearts and stars that I can paint.

The road seemed so short with only a 5 hour jaunt. That said I lost another hour to the time change. Makes you wonder how time really works when you cross an imaginary line and you “lose” an entire hour. Time is stretchy, in my opinion. If you’re doing what you should do and enjoying it and are present you don’t feel it passing, I’d think most of us can agree. Like when I’m scalloping or playing music or with someone who I can connect with on a deep level. Time flies. I’ve found on the road 8 hours is nothing like 8 hours not moving. It seems faster somehow…

Once you get off the major road and onto 90 East it’s a whole different kind of experience! No more huge trailers dragging their loads, just one lane in each direction and a dotted yellow line. For the first half hour I saw not one car. And no one was behind me for the majority of the drive. So incredible really!!

Off to my right the sky was cloudy and striated and to the left it was blue and clear, me zipping right down the middle of two weather patterns. Dust devils were forming and swirling like little dancers flitting across the dry ground. They were bigger than I’d ever seen. I wanted to take a picture but there was no where to take one and they were so elusive they seemed to be ghostly in their impermanence, appearing from nowhere and then disintegrating into nothingness. I thought of ghosts in an attic rattling chains for attention, these haunting dust spirals that touched the clouds and connected them to the land were like that. I found myself almost transported into another dimension in this unique and desolate landscape, nothing up ahead and nothing behind.

I was struck by the intensity of the scent emanating from all the spices mingling in the car from the warmth of the day. Suddenly it occurred to me, “I am steeping in the incense of my ancestors.” I felt suddenly the symbolism of this. These were the ingredients my Abuelitas used, they would have ground them themselves and made log cooked stews with them. They probably smelled like this. I recorded this fleeting thought so I would not forget and seconds later came to a grinding slow down as a woman in an orange bikini top and jeans roller skated down the middle of the road, her friend taking video of her in front of the Marfa Prada store art installation. I ground to a halt just after the store so I could take some photos and observe a black dot on a cloud. After a ton of photos it was back on the road to find the black spot become a weather balloon. As I drove down this crazy barren highway into town I was struck by a song in a song on a CD I’d randomly pulled from the heap in the seat next to me and now, Talking Heads Road to Nowhere was playing. Funny also because my album title is “Road to Know Where.”

The town of Marfa is super small, not as small as Hatch but small. I tried using intuition to find El Cosmico the hotel my friend and travel writer recommended, but had to resort to Google. It was good to get the lay of the land though and I saw some great murals. A tip if you’re driving around Google maps doesn’t seem to work here, lol. I’ve been doing U-turns all over town.

Pulling up to the hotel I saw a bunch of tents and campers and entered the gift shop which was decked out with great merch. They even had a Topo Chico tshirt, Topo Chico is my favorite Mexican mineral water. I had just picked up a bunch at my last gas stop. The stuff is great. I wanted every shirt I saw, one with mushrooms on it, one that said Manana. So I was next at the counter and there they have these amazing serape inspired duvets and robes. Stunning the color combinations, and pricey $180!

So I’d opted for a small trailer. El Cosmico rents everything from yurts to teepees to trailers of all sizes and types. They also allow overnight RV parking and camping. I was told I’d be staying in #23 Lil’ Pinky.

Wow was I glad to be here at daylight. It was just amazing. Hammocks are hung all around the trees in little groupings. There was a kitchen with a refrigerator and cooking utensils and stove and such. All open air with counters and high tops and chairs. There was a bandstand where in non Covid times no doubt the music must be great. Then all the campers were spaced out with porches facing the bandstand and there were little platforms also all in a semi circle facing the bandstand with its sun motif.

I approached two small pink trailers not knowing which one. No numbers on them no names and I had a key… I told myself I did actually know which it was, the one on the left and used the key and voila. The cutest trailer ever. So comfortable, just ideal. They’d redone the counters in a orangey red and there was a perfect little diner table with seats reupholstered in Mexican blankets. The bed had that beautiful serape duvet and four fluffy pillows. A two burner stove, fancy new stainless steel fridge and a sink with a fancy slice of yucca soap and some pure Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap and a teeny sponge for your dishes. There were three candles with the fanciest compostable matches from Mexico. A fan, cutlery, can opener, corkscrew, paper towels, French press and coffee and AC unit. Absolutely everything you’d need and in the closet two of the fancy robes to use! The deck connects the two trailers and there’s a shared toilet and an outdoor shower. It was magical. I had everything I needed!

I headed to town to hit the Waterstop restaurant that the front desk person said was really great and got steak frites and a beer on the early side because I wanted to go and try to see the Marfa lights phenomena. The place was super cute and I was able to get some writing done. Headed back to Pinky and was debating going to see the lights, it was kind of overcast and I just wanted to hang at the hotel, but at 8:20 I headed on out.

There’s a viewing area outside of town, just ten minutes away where people gather to see the lights. Off in the distance mostly on the horizon these lights dance. They combine and separate and combine again like square dancers at the county fair. They started to come out as dusk fell and became stronger as the darkness deepened. It was cool but I’m not sure what to think. Could it be explained? Probably, but it seems that logic has no business in Marfa. The lights aren’t hurting anybody and they’re not scary so who needs to explain them away? It’s fear that tries to paralyze us, over-rationalizing when magic is truly all around us. We just don’t want to see it, so we ruin it, we become seers (and see-era) with an adult eye rather than child’s eyes… we judge and worry and hem and haw and say oh what if? Then list for ourselves the litany of ways the shit could hit the fan, and so we don’t dare. We don’t dare ourselves to let go of what if’s and just DO. I’m all about this concept of doing, the magic will take care of the rest. I may sound crazy, I know, but I feel amongst my people here, just a little bit crazy enough to know if I can dream it I can make it happen.

After the initial spell with the lights was complete I watched for a bit more. I met a guy named Matthew, he took a photo of me, he’s heading west from Toledo, Ohio, nice long road trip. I asked him to take my picture and we became FB friends. Fun to meet others whose journeys are different yet so similar at the same time. We agreed that traveling alone is great because you can change course in a breath. Change your plan, stop wheee and when you want. Again, funny to think that our paths should cross here in Marfa. Will I meet Matthew again in the future? Why did our paths intersect here and now? Are all these connections meaningful or are some just random? So many journeys all intersecting and so I’m trying to read into whether there’s a message in every intersection or just some.

After leaving the viewing area I took one look back from an area near where I parked and the lights seemed more active from over there. I watched for awhile in the dark. It was utterly dark with the almost full moon, but there are few street lights so as not to not interfere with the viewing, I heard someone in the gravel and realized it’s probably not the best to stand there alone at night staring into the night. I mean I’m not crazy right?

Side area viewing off the platform.

Flagstaff onwards

25 04 2021

So I spent the night in Flagstaff. I didn’t get in until late and it was dark but the Hampton Inn was super clean and nice and they were totally friendly. I got two bottles of water and they had luggage carts so the unload of the car was much easier! I zipped over to a place called Oregano”s of all things. Kitschy Italian but very clean and spacious which is great because I hardly ever eat out in Covid times. Or rather I should say eat IN (indoors). Since it was only me they asked if I wanted to sit at the bar so I accepted nervously but luckily there were very few people. I got a big draft IPA, something that’s been very absent from my life without going to bars and it was fun to interact with the bartender, another thing I’ve missed! I felt like a pizza was going to be too heavy so I opted for wings and the bartender recommended to do a mix of the dry rub wings with the medium sauce. They were really good and I realized bar wings are also missing from my life lol. They came with homemade potato chips and I chose the blue cheese over Ranch. Soon I was buzzed and full and the hotel was literally across the parking lot so that was a nice perk.

One great Covid perk is that because of distancing there’s no chance that some gross and lecherous guy will sit next to you when every other bar stool is open. How many times on my journeys has that happened and then I need to be extra cautious getting to my hotel room safely. I remember the time in LA when a guy sat down next to me and started in… I love to meet people at bars, but this guy put me immediately on alert. I was always sure to have a book with me so that I could say I was reading, but this didn’t deter him. He told me he was a Teamster (should I have been impressed?) even showed me his watch. Commented on my wedding ring… “Any kids?” I replied no. He kept on… “Must be a problem in your marriage.” I wanted to tell him I was barren to see if that would elicit a reaction. What the hell with people? I find many people very uncomfortable with my decision to not be a mother in this lifetime. I’m a mother in many other ways. And It would not be fair for me to try to mother someone literally with all the things I feel compelled to do with my life. I would not be on this journey.

The next morning I did much better on the load in but had to laugh because I went to sanitize my hands after using the cart and the sanitizer exploded all over the car… I’d forgotten the altitude I’d gone to! There was a lot of debate in my mind as to where to go next. My initial plan was Albuquerque but it was already 10 and my friend out there had an event at 4, so I’d miss her… then I had been told Santa Fe would be amazing, but I’ve been going to these places and getting there too late to enjoy them. And I had a place on the list (stay tuned) that I decided I absolutely wanted to relax at and not roll in at 10 pm exhausted. AND I really wanted to go to Sedona, but it had been too expensive so I stayed in Flagstaff. So I set my sights on a quick Sedona jaunt and then to stay in Las Cruces, NM.

I’d been to Sedona before, once on business with Rubicon Estate, and the second time on vacation while I was working for the estate so I knew folks and got to be fancy out there and stay and eat at Auberge de Sedona. Luxury for sure. Still even after seeing it twice as I rounded the bend to see the greenish mountains suddenly erupt in bright reddish coppery striations was still absolutely breathtaking. I found myself embracing it with childlike awe and again, my eyes welled up with tears. I found myself saying out loud “He painted them.” Sometimes I honestly don’t know where the words come from… I’m just the messenger.

I pulled into the first visitor center to take some photos but there’s no way to capture them properly. The red color too is so unique, I can’t find a word for it. I was surrounded by rocks. I love rocks but these were particularly spectacular. It’s as if they are magnetic how it feels to be in their amphitheater, like the sensation of being within a redwood ring. Majesty and awe even with the throngs of people. I stopped by a few more pullouts and both were completely full! Suddenly I realized it was a Saturday! A bit sad that I couldn’t take a hike (not enough time plus too much stuff in the car) I set out to find a new crystal. The traffic began to build with each and every roundabout to the main part of town. By the time I got to the main drag it was getting brutal. I was at a standstill and then noticed a crystal shop that also offered readings. That would be cool if I had the time I thought, but at least I can look around. So I pulled over.

The shop was mesmerizing. Rooms and rooms of crystals from cheap and small to enormous and pricey but gorgeous. I was drawn to a stone that was bluish in color and doesn’t need clearing and is good for intuition, manifesting and such. I thought it was called Kryolite but can’t find that spelling online so I may be confused! But anyway, got a few postcards and then was observing where people sign up for readings. Some younger girls were getting their auras read, seemed loud and boisterous and kind of bachelorette party like attitude, I wasn’t interested in that. Then some elderly ladies booked a reading, just for one of them, but she didn’t want to give her last name.

I sidled up to the counter and they slipped me a binder with plastic covers sheets that covered headshots of each medium or reader, John, Sheila, Stephanie, Maurice, and then on the back was information on their specialities. Reiki, past life regressions, Chakra cleansing, manifestation practice, Tarot. Whatever you could want. I began to peruse the book, turns out you could absolutely do a mini reading, 15 mins for $35-$45. It struck me that although I’ve never been to a brothel perhaps this is the way that works too… a list of expertise, a nice photo, make sure your comfortable with this person you’re about to become intimate with, in a different way of course…

I must admit my first choice had something to do with manifesting but she was with a client already so I went for Jasmine. She had a really open face kind and caring and friendly and I just got a good feeling that the timing was once again right and Jasmine was there waiting to guide me. So they held my crystal at the cash register and guided me to the staircase. As she escorted me and I handed off my crystal, the girl said “Ooh Kryolite, great choice. Jasmine’s room is up and to the right and she will meet you there.”

So I climbed the stairs and Jasmine happened to be trans! Not exactly what I had expected! I have absolutely no issue, and I was concerned about , I considered not even writing it here, because it shouldn’t be a thing right? But I did notice it… and honestly it’s the reality, and a truly beautiful thing in my opinion. I just wasn’t expecting it. I was immediately put at ease because I took the fact that Jasmine was able to embrace her true self as a sign of honesty and integrity and soulfulness. I was very happy with my choice!

Jasmine took my temperature and then took hers and we sat on two sides of a plexiglass barrier. She asked me if I had specifics I needed to know… I said I wasn’t sure, that I’m on a journey and wanted a little guidance. She shuffled the deck and instead of cutting it I was instructed to point to where I would have cut it with a wooden skewer as she fanned it out. She then reworked the deck and I was instructed to pick 6 cards. I’ve had Tarot maybe once before not too often so it was really fun, it was also really accurate and in fact she did say that primarily it’s her telling me what I know but need to hear.

She had me tape it on my iPhone voice memo, and what I heard was pretty cool. First thing “You’re on quite a ride! A rollercoaster!”

She started in with, “You know how you breathe?” My ears perked up because I’ve been doing breath work in the Wim Hof method every morning for over a year. “Well, breathing in is the plan and breathing out is completion and revising the plan, but in between there is a pause with no in or out, you skip the pause. If you skip the pause then someone you’re trying to teach or mentor can’t catch up, so you need to extend the pause.”

She then asked if I mentor or teach and I smiled inside not wanting to offer much to twist her reading I merely said I used to teach and I mentor in an untraditional way.

On the next card she said “Damn! You think ALL the time, a thinking machine.” She told me I need to not let intellect rule but instead let my intuition and knowing come first. Trust intuition first. So this seemed to really be apropos when I was trying to logic away the visit to Cesar’s grave the day before, making logical excuses to skip it, yet I knew I must go.

She spoke of me being a creative, visionary inventor.

She asked if there was any other business I’d been toying with starting. I said writing, songwriting, healing. She told me I should consider teaching mindfulness through my writing!

She told me “We gotta be careful of you being distracted.” Mostly by friends. So this is when I’m gonna apologize for breezing through Clovis and Albuquerque, I’m probably gonna miss you folks in Texas. Don’t worry NOLA, you’ll be my day off, but this trip is tough and long and grueling. Not the hours on the highway but afterwards I’m depleted, because like Jasmine said, I don’t take time to “not” breathe, I don’t pause, and I’m always thinking. I’ve realized here a good deal of the way through that all these pie-eyed destinations were too ambitious and if you drive 8 hours you want to go to bed, or just be alone, and in days of Covid everything is closed earlier than normal.

Most importantly Jasmine told me to defend my passion. Be present. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t outthink yourself.

And ultimately she said, “Whatever you wanna do is gonna be available to you.”

So all my dreams can come true. My dream of living bicoastal is not elusive. My dream of touring across country may be ambitious but I can do it. I’m so blessed.

I bid adieu to my new friend whose reading on tape was actually more than 19 minutes as she told me that she knew I had a dog, an old one in pain and he should come to Sedona for healing or at least to help him transition peacefully. I paid for my crystal and postcards and was back on the road.

By this time traffic was so bad that I actually saw Jasmine walking faster down the road than I could drive in her flowy purple dress with a thigh revealing cut to get lunch. It was gridlock. I would have liked to visit a vortex or whatnot but I was just ready to get the bell out so I veered down a road that looked familiar from ages ago that leads out to strip mall land. I thought I needed to eat and considered that a greasy spoon diner would be ideal so I set out the intention and in less than three minutes the coffee Pot Restaurant appeared on the right.

The place is old school! So comfy, dark woods but has a skylight. Strange handmade pottery mugs that are made to stack on a dowel. If you order coffee they bring you a full pot, water a full pitcher, even me solo. They have a ridiculous menu of 101 omelets. I get it as a restaurant person because it’s all about mis en place, but I also wonder how annoying it must be to work there. The endless combinations! I ordered smoked salmon eggs Benedict. So good, great home fries with charred chilies and onions in there.

A table nearby got their food before me and one woman was griping. She ordered the tuna sandwich, which on the menu is basically a tuna melt. But she was astonished to see cheese on her sandwich as it arrived. “This is NOT at all what I wanted.” She harped. “Where’s the tomato?” Because in her mind there’d be a mind reader psychic medium like Jasmine in the kitchen to say, “hmm I think Karen wants tomato!”

Hey lady no one puts tomato and lettuce on a tuna melt Mm-Kay? Her friends all started throwing tomatoes off their garnishes to her because they knew how this was gonna go down.

In her passive aggressive stance the woman kept trying to be ok with it but as soon as the server would leave she’d again reiterate to her friends, “This is NOT at all what I wanted. This really is not what I wanted.”

Eventually the server got the rest of the table’s food down and was able to address the issue. Super professional and kind, yet I was on the sidelines seething! Wtff! Finally the sandwich which had been basically raped, all torn apart with it’s innards all naked and exposed, was thrust back to the waitress and to be rushed to the kitchen for triage. The woman specified exactly what she wanted. Tuna on Sourdough with lettuce and tomato. Wait actually GRILLED sourdough! The server calmly took the filthy mangled plate back to the kitchen.

Suddenly in writing this all down, clarity is seeping in. I was wondering why I was so invested in the interaction but upon writing about it I do see!

Whilst the petty push and pull of the customer vs the server has always been fascinating to me mostly because I’ve played that game so many years, suddenly I see so clearly a different lesson from what I observed.

This “Karen” (sorry Karen’s everywhere) knew what she wanted but could not adequately convey that to her server, so how can she be so entitled to think she’d be satisfied with what she got. The server had every intention of providing what she wanted! She wasn’t trying to ruin her day or vacation…

So the same holds true in the rest of our lives, in bigger things than an errant piece of cheese on a sandwich. So if you want something for your life you must be brutally honest and specific. You must really know what you want. You must articulate that to the universe and be clear so that your request is valid. And you must find yourself worthy of receiving that gift. Deserving.

So many lessons and teachings being downloaded to me. The hardest part will be being honest about what you want. The unfortunate part is that sometimes in order to get what you want you need to relinquish your former paradigms. You might need to change. Could be a job, a habit, but it’s a radical shift in mind frame and not everyone will be ok with it.

Overall I’m not even done with this crazy description of one day and the days keep flowing and I keep trying to catch up! But I think this is a good place to take a pause!

I left my heart in San Francisco

24 04 2021

Well leaving SF has become hard for me. That said, I will be back before I know it. The summer on Nantucket is a whirlwind and before I know it it will be over and then I’ll be sad to leave Nantucket, BUT I already procured two gigs out west at the Outer Sunset Mercantile Market on September 26 and October 10, both days from 12-2! I’m so excited!

Bison Golden Gate Park

So I got a lot of errands done, thankfully a package that was delayed arrived a day early yet still I couldn’t get out of the house before 5pm which meant I had to miss having dinner at the epic Trelio in Clovis, CA. I’ve always wanted to go, it’s epic, but it wasn’t in the cards this trip. And luckily on my last trip to sell back books at Green Apple Bookstore on Clement I was able to get to Wing Lee one last time! This time I got salt and pepper fried prawns! A half duck was too much to deal with yet very tempting… but wowsers this is a half pound of prawns!!

This is what $5.40 will buy you in prawns!!!!

So I got relatively organized but trying to organize a car for a long haul road trip is hard. Then add a fancy Gibson guitar and the basic needs like the traveling Riedel stemware kit and you can see how it escalated. I’d wanted to dine at Trelio in Clovis but I headed out too late. Bummed to miss my friend owner Chris Shackelford, but at least I got on the road. Instead it was me dining Chez Hampton Inn late night with roadside avocado and all my excess food and whatnot. I was able to regroup though and get a whole lot mire organized. Luckily the first leg was a shorter one and I was able to get one of the last rooms at the Tulare Hampton Inn. I like the chain, good Covid protocol which I discovered when I was in Arizona in late October helping the United Farm Workers Union with their canvassing campaign for Biden. I stayed for a week and found it to be super clean, safe and comfy.

So the morning got to a slow start and I did not get the Day One blog post done, but instead had to deal with the now new and very real urgency of trying to pack the car. I have some towels I bought at Costco and garbage bins and books… silly stuff really that is in the back seat, hopefully it obviously not important stuff, but I wanted the valuable stuff like the guitar to be covered when I stop for lunch or a restroom. I also brought a ton of CDs to join me, CDs I might add that are totally annoying because literally every time I took a load to the room they fell all over the place. Leg one music by the way was Dr. John Going Back to New Orleans (chosen at random, but seemed appropriate), Faith No More, and The Singles soundtrack.

So I pulled the car to the back of the hotel to load the three piles of crap back in, yep even after consolidating still so much stuff. While I was puzzling over how to fit it all, a homeless man approached asking for my room key so he could use my room to shower. I felt bad but I couldn’t chance it, seemed too sketchy. He apologized for asking me without my husband there, so I told him, “Oh yeah so he’s at the market getting us food.” He loomed around so I took the car round to the front portico of the hotel and resumed my puzzle. Let’s just say it was a total disaster. Everything in and out so many times, at least right. I love my Subaru but damn the truck is a weird shape on this Forester, I liked the old boxy one! And the curvy Gibson just did not want to fit. I know, I’m sorry first world problems. So everything in, then out, I tried not to make eye contact with the UPS delivery guy who was clearly amused. I took photos to remember the configuration but then some little thing would be off and I’d try again. Total nightmare. After about 35 minutes I got the thing done. And even got the truck closed, well after having to stop again. And then I had to stop at a rest stop about 10 minutes away because my anxiety had me convinced it could never have fit and I must’ve left a bag on the ground at the hotel. Ugh! So I left later than I’d wanted. I tried to remind myself that it’s all about the journey but I did make a ferry reservation for May 2, so I still need to make progress.

Hot mess

So the area around Tulare is the home to my favorite standard butter, Land O Lakes despite me not seeing any water anywhere. Lots of dairyland, big tanks, farm equipment suppliers etc. it was pretty dull scenery wise so I spent a good deal of the time on the phone with a friend chatting about my recent mindset. I’ve had a sort of catharsis understanding that my role in this life is to communicate and do so through writing, songwriting, teaching, healing and cooking. My message is going to take various routes to people and the universe has set things up so that I can live with ease to accomplish thus. Sounds a little wacky and new age but it’s what I feel compelled to do. This journey itself is part of it. I explained that I feel that my ancestors are closely around me guiding me at every turn. They’ve got me in their embrace and I’m being held by them. They’re holding my hand and allowing me to release past traumas so I can move forward. The other day I determined that “The Universe is my hammock”. Not a parachute that may or may not open, but rather a constant support system. If I believe something I’m doing is for the better good, the Universe will make it so. Very similar to the concept that The Camino will provide.

So I’m zipping along and starting to enter the Tehachapi mountains. I explain to Glen that this is where my dad Roman would have picked crops as a young migrant farm worker who came to the US in the bracero program. Roman passed away in 1995, and I’ve been recently understanding that although he’s gone it’s just for now. I didn’t handle the trauma of his death well… I’ve let it shadow me, and I’m learning to release that too, believing that our souls will reunite, but also believing his energy is still here with me. I explained also that this is the area where Cesar Chavez had his commune, La Paz, where I lived in Cesar’s home on an internship in 1988 while I was in high school in 1988. In fact just yesterday I came across the essay I’d written about agribusiness and its detrimental affect of the health of people in the town of McFarland that happened to appear somehow almost demanding to come on this journey with me. So suddenly the call dropped so I brought my attention to the mountains I was entering.

I had not done much research on what lay between my destinations, and I had thought I’d be staying in Clovis and heading to Sedona, but now the route was Tulare to Flagstaff. And I was literally just in the care of Google maps. I was on 58 E, I had no idea where in these mountains I’d visited so long ago. Suddenly I saw one of those blue signs that list food options with “Keene Café” on it. My mind perked up. Keene? Wasn’t that the name of the town where La Paz was? Yes, I remember now, that’s where I’d address the letters to Cesar and Helen. The whole reason I got the internship with Cesar was because he was a close friend of my father. My father would host UFW events at his Pancho Villa’s restaurants. Cesar was even my brother’s godfather. I met Emilio Estevez at a UFW grocery boycott… fast forward to me going to see a pre-screening of The Way where he and Martin Sheen spoke… and me then going on The Camino de Santiago years later… all interconnected.

But wait I’m driving here, and today I’ve got Buddha Bar playing and it’s all trance like and Zen like you just checked into a W Hotel or something, and there’s huge trucks all around me and these super rocky mountains are growing taller, and the drums. I’m in the right hand lane, should I stop fir lunch? It’s like 1:30. I can’t just pop in and say hey UFW. And it’s Covid. And is this even where it’s at? Then I see a sign, Cesar Chavez National Monument. What? This is a thing? (Thanks to Barack Obama it is) and just a few minutes later and I feel the wheel pull me to the exit.

The cute kitschy Keene Cafe signs had me pull over to take a photo. Still numbly floundering somehow I wonder should I bother with the monument? Is this really a thing? I see a sign that says 1/2 mile with an arrow… so I go. At the entrance is a new looking sign that confirms I’m here. This is La Paz. I start the windy road down. I even stop once, is this private? Am I allowed to be here? Why am I scared or think I’m imposing? I Google “Cesar Chavez National Monument” confirming it’s real and there’s a gift shop. So I go.

I pull in and get out to read a sign and a docent is there with a private tour. I hear him say they’re closed due to Covid. “Sorry are you closed? “ I ask timidly, he wonders if I’m looking for a bathroom. Not really I say and then he tells me I can go through the gardens, see the monument and if I want to go on a short jaunt I can go and see Cesar and Helen’s humble home. It’s behind the fence.

I tell him I lived there once for a week and he’s impressed lol, starts rattling off names of people I probably should remember, but he doesn’t know the current team, he’s a park services guy. I feel guilty for not reaching out to then but I’m just breezing through.

Suddenly they’re off, not a big place, but they disappear to allow me to be alone. The fountain which I discovered is the monument isn’t grand, just like Cesar wasn’t grand, but it exudes a sense of peace and calm that Cesar would have loved. There’s wisteria and a rose garden, but I step up into another area, didn’t seem like much save some quotes on the wall but one more step reveals a statue of the Virgen de Guadalupe. She’s an icon for me and I said before I headed out that she’d be with me on my journey. I am struck by the fact that if I hadn’t taken that extra step I would have missed her. I burst into tears, overcome by the emotion of it all suddenly allowing myself that feeling I’ve had so many times, that I’m EXACTLY where I’m supposed to be. The repacking the car, the little stop to check the trunk all the confluences are set out by the Universe to put me in the right place at the right time so that I’ll get confirmation that the messages I’m receiving are oh so real. I turned to the left and my eye caught the centerpiece of the garden and my heart caught further in my throat. Sobbing now I gazed at the final resting place of Cesar and Helen Chavez. Roman had given me that nudge so I could go and pay my respects. I had no idea they’d be buried there. Just incredible.

So I took the walk through plants that represented Cesar’s persona, simultaneously sturdy and tender, some from Cesar’s home state of Arizona. I found the humble home where I lived with them the week I worked on my research. I was embraced by the community and Cesar’s nieces. I remember the house had a small guest room with a high si gel bed where I stayed. It smelled of clean laundry with lots of Downy fabric softener. Cesar was macrobiotic and ate very simply and I’d sometimes see he’d taken a nibble right off the block of Muenster cheese. Wow. I’m so honored to be the keeper of these memories. I’m so grateful for this experience. I felt very connected yesterday.

The rest of the drive, about 7 hours, was pretty uneventful, beautiful Mojave desert and not much but deep thoughts.

Nantucket Bound

22 04 2021

“Well I’m on the Downeaster Alexa
And I’m cruisin’ through Block Island Sound
I have charted a course to the vineyard
But tonight I am Nantucket bound”

-Billy Joel

On to the journey! Gotta do some errands and such and awaiting a package but other than that my mind is ready to leave this home. I got a comment yesterday that said it was sad that I don’t have a “home” where I can feel comfortable and secure and “at home”. I know it’s hard to understand but I do feel completely at home in both SF and Nantucket, I think it’s harder on the people that I leave waiting for me while I’m on the other side. Of course I miss them and my other home a lot when I’m away, but the alternative would be to leave forever, and just occasionally visit. Now I leave knowing I’ll be back soon enough. I guess it’s hard to understand!

I used to cry, weep, every time I had to leave Nantucket, but now that I have a home there I’m reassured that I’ll be back. The island has always had that draw for me since I visited fir the first time. I came across a poem I wrote from my first trip… I was 11.

Not my most profound poem but the memories were deep. It was so great. We stayed at a tired little beach cottage right next to the Wauwinet Hotel. Now a grand Relais & Chateau property, it too needed some care at the time. It was my grandparents on my Mom’s side, My Uncle Dan and his son Josh and wife Sharon.

It was an ideal setup for me. Raw wood walls in the drafty upstairs bedroom with the howl of the wind blowing through the beams. A teeny window looking out towards the harbor and the vast ocean just behind us over the dune.

My mother being somewhat “fancy” looked at the place somewhat disapprovingly. It was homey to me, homely to her. It took that first trip to the bathroom where she saw the “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” sign taped to the toilet fir her to flee to the hotel to find more suitable accommodations. The hotel wasn’t even up to her five star standards at the time, so we never went back to Nantucket despite my begging.

Fast forward to my junior year at Cornell. I was in TCAB the teaching restaurant class as a teaching assistant. I think that meant I worked the pasta station, dipping par cooked pasta back into a hot water bath to refresh it… my advisor Chris Muller and chef instructor Brian Halloran would hang around chatting with me on the line as the night went on. At one point the topic of Nantucket came up and I told them how much I wanted to go back. Suddenly I was inundated with tales of the island and the escapades of their youth out there where they’d had incredible adventures. They would not stop until they’d convinced me to go out there fir the summer. They introduced me to Susan Tate and Doug Wolf and somehow I was able to get a coveted host job at the iconic Brotherhood of Thieves. I even got housing with my friend Cindy and a random assortment of young men, chefs, carpenters, very great guys. I had the quintessential Nantucket summer, and I remember a party the night before I left, I don’t think it was in honor of me, but I recall how I sobbed wondering if I’d ever be back, because it was the best summer I’d ever had.

Life’s like that though, you wonder, was that the best? Could it get any better? And I guess it can, it does. So it’s important to be ok with goodbyes, and make them more like “see you laters”.

Recently I’ve been thinking about that… I think I’ve been holding on too tightly to permanence. To loss to goodbye. Grieving the passing of my father in particular. I’m learning that holding onto despair doesn’t serve me well, or in fact his memory. These connections, the people you find in this lifetime are so important, but you have to appreciate that they will come in and out if your life at times. I feel like if we are at peace with this ebb and flow we can better enjoy the connection even if it seems fleeting. I feel like we have soulmates, many in fact, and we are put together at critical junctures so we can reconvene and learn from one another. How else can you explain live, friendships, and bonding tightly to people you never knew before. My tribe is a motley assortment of people from all over, and so I’m always surrounded by this family no matter where I am in the world. I’m always home.

I’ll leave you with some lyrics of mine from Missing Someone All the Time…

“It’s hard being friends with me, cuz I just have to roam, you see my heart is so carefree it just has lots of homes…”

“Not tryin’ to complain, I love the thrill of the road, but I just hate to say Goodbye. These boots weren’t made for staying, so I gotta get goin’, but I’m missing someone all the time.”

So I’ll see you later…

Traveling again…

21 04 2021

2020 began innocently enough. I had a trip to San Francisco planned for some R&R. Just prior to that a friend suffered a dire accident and had to be medi-vacced to Boston from Nantucket. I happened to be going to the Boston University hockey game with a few of my college roommates from 301 Bryant. I was lucky enough to have some time to go and visit him in the hospital. I picked up some towels at Macy’s for his girlfriend who’d been stalwartly at his side for most of the week while he lay in a medically induced coma to get through his intense injuries. I also grabbed some dim sum in Chinatown and got some egg custard bites for her. Friends sent some cash for her to use and I got it and bought two cards with mushrooms on them at a shop near Mass General to wrap it in. When I arrived she warned me of his condition. Nothing like the cardiac ICU to bring up memories of past hospital bedside visits and departures, but I steadied myself and went in, bravely I might add.

She told me I could touch his hand and I did, thinking briefly of Covid, but it wasn’t even a thought to most back then. I came back the Monday after, and honestly can’t remember which visit it was, but I was there when he was waking up. He is a normally ornery guy but he was combative upon reassuming his body. No blame but he was fighting and confused as to his predicament. His girlfriend was frustrated and left me alone in the room with him. I said, “Hey man, you gotta be calm, because these nurses have got you so you gotta be nice to them… you’ve been out sedated for a while so it’s gonna take a bit to come back.” “Sedated?! SEDATED!” He growled. “Sedated for how long?” He probed incredulously. Not knowing whether I should tell him and with no one else in the room I told him, “10 days.” He seemed confused but also diffused. I was happy to see him alive and With the same brain function as ever.

But I headed out to SF on a frivolous journey, dim sum and wine and honey mead abounded, but just as I was scheduled to go home we got word that my husband’s father was dying. He hopped a plane to Phoenix and I drove down visiting Megan and Phoebe in Santa Barbara, and Greg in Palm Springs. I got the news that he passed as I was stopping at a crystal shop in Quartzsite.

So we spent some days cleaning his room from the nursing home, staying with family and regrouping and eventually made the trip back north to SF where we could then fly back to Nantucket. The generosity of our friends was great. Trupiano and his family welcomed us for happy hour and Treg and Shannon let us stay in Santa Barbara and get to know their amazing kids. We saw Raj and Nina on our way out of town. We hopped on the plane for Nantucket not realizing this would be our last journey for a while.

So the lockdown happened very soon after our return and a new normal began, masks, sanitizer, distancing all of it. I ran my business The Hungry Minnow the best I could in this different paradigm. And in the fall my traveling ache just could not be squelched and I headed to SF again and zipped down to Arizona to help the United Farm Workers Union turn Arizona blue. A week down there and then back to SF and back to Nantucket for the winter. Spring found me longing for sun and the other ocean and so I spent a lot of time out in SF regrouping mentally for the coming summer season. I got the vaccine (2 doses of Pfizer) and now I’m really to hit the road again. I’m heading back east but this time by car. My friend Ali today spoke of the magnetically charged road the cord that drove us during our magical walk in 2018 on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. She reminds me as much as our feet and bodies ached how driving the pull was. That’s what this journey is as well. I’m feeling the pull to step out of my comfort zone yet again and hit the road. My course is plotted but the coordinates are not firm, there’s always forks in the road. I’m guided by intuition and feel that I’ve discovered my purpose at least for the short term. I’m a writer. I’m a songwriter. I’m an artist. I’m a healer. I have been denying these truths but know I now must embrace them. It’s an unconventional lifestyle but I’m going to come to terms with the fact that I’m bicoastal. I have two anchors that are across the country from each other. It may seem crazy, but I’ve spent 7 or so years trying to come “choos” and I can’t. So the truth that I’m finding is that the coasts are my anchors or moorings and the country is my ocean. It’s my job to navigate and by taking on the task I am weaving a web of interconnection between the two.

I always said that my songs really speak about what I’m meant to do if I’d just listen to my own lyrics… almost every song I write riffs off this theme.

“Like driftwood I long to be weathered, but please keep me firmly tethered to your moors, like sea glass I need to be tumbled, to strengthen sometimes you must stumble, but oh, when I’m ready, moonlight on the jetty will guide me back safely, cuz to grow, you gotta go to sea.

So I set sail via car tomorrow. Would you join me?

How We Grieve

2 04 2020

I remember the first moment that death was explained to me.  I have no idea how old I might have been, maybe 4 or 5?  That seems to be when the more complete memories begin to be accessible from my mind.

I remember exactly where I was, in the breakfast room at my maternal grandparents house in West Nanticoke, PA up on Tilbury Terrace.  The room was a little add on between the kitchen and the garage and had an inset table with benches.  I used to enjoy making Creepy Crawlers at that table.  What a brilliant toy for small children, for those too young to have had the pleasure, you took bottles of what was likely highly toxic goop and poured the into metal molds shaped like bugs and then took a hook type thing that was flimsy kind of like a wire clothing hanger and locked that into this metal plate and then inserted the plastic into a burning hot mini toaster oven type thing.  I loved the smell of the plastic cooking!  Then when it was done you tried to grab this thing out of the oven without touching it, but you’re like 6 so of course you do and you also can’t wait to pick these little crawler things out of the hot metal pans to see how they came out.  Oh, and ask me about Shrinky Dinks later.

Anyway, off the side of the room there was a door that led outside to the flagstone lined yard (so three doors in this small room).  In this little entrance there was ridged green plastic awning that spanned from the house to the garage.  Daddy (that’s what we called my grandfather) would sometimes start some plants out there because it created a nice warm spot with good humidity.  It also cast a weird minty green hue over everything on that side.  I recall there was also a little bench just inside the door where he would sit Mr. Rogers style and switch from his gardening shoes to slippers.  The door to the garage is where we would generally enter the house and then this small breakfast nook was the path to get to the kitchen, a happy place with its blue tile floor and yellow accents on the backsplash.

We had driven up suddenly from New York and I was very confused because everyone was crying.  I knew what crying was but I had never seen it before, or recognized it, in the face of an adult.  I think I must have asked my mother what was going on and it was there that she explained death to me.  I cannot really imagine what the conversation was exactly, but I remember her telling me that my Uncle Eddie had died.  I remember hearing something I could not believe, that when someone died that meant that they do not exist anymore, they cease to breathe, and they cease to live.  It was shocking to hear that it meant that I would not see the human I had grown to love so much.  I was very concerned about this because Uncle Eddie smoked a lot of cigars and he would save the boxes for me.  I always have loved boxes, and these were great places to store fun treasures.  Did this mean my connection for boxes was gone?  And I would not see him again?

But I did see him again.  I was raised Roman Catholic and we have a viewing or wake with the body generally before burial.  So I do remember that first time seeing a dead body and how pale and creepy the skin looked, how utterly still he was.  How cold to the touch when I was told I could touch the hand that was folded so gently across his other hand on his chest.  The smells of gaudy flowers there perhaps to mask the smell of formaldehyde.  My first funeral.  Before the burial there was a second chance to view the body to let it really sink in, and then the casket was closed.  A mass, a procession to the burial site with its green astroturf attempting for a moment to shield the marred grass.  Perhaps to ease your mind from dwelling on the fact that it takes a whole lot of digging to get six feet down.  Our family generally didn’t do the throwing of the dirt thing at least I don’t really remember that part.  There is something so strange about it all, and sadly I have been to a lot of burials.  As my years wore on I went to more and more, I have a huge family, mostly on my mother’s side these funerals, due to proximity and other reasons not really necessary to go into just yet.  Funerals became a way for my cousins and I to connect, for me to be with family, as sometimes life gets in the way of living, but death sometimes seems to be the only way to interrupt it.

I do not tell you this to depress you, but I tell you this because I have experience with death and with grief, and I suddenly had a realization last night that there are MANY people who do not.  Yesterday, day who knows what of shelter in place, I was going through some stages.  I was pondering how long this might take, and my husband in a good natured way was trying to tell me not to worry, not to listen to news.  As the evening wore on I finally cried.  For the first time since this all became real to me.  A song called “Lift Thine Eyes” a hymn I used to sing really brought out the waterworks.  I also got really angry with someone who was talking about the border wall and comparing that to shelter in place borders.  My hackles were up, you see I am also half Mexican so… but I don’t want this to be political.

I just want people to understand that we are all grieving in some way.  We grieve for our lost routine, job, way of life.  We grieve the loss of lives and livelihoods.  In the coming days, weeks, months we will all lose people close to us, and most of us are NEVER TAUGHT HOW DIE OR TO GRIEVE!  Can you believe that?  Something that is so innately human, and we are expected to figure it out ourselves.  I wish I had more answers, but unfortunately despite all my experience I am no expert at grieving.  I am sad to say that I lost my father Roman when I was 24.  That was a little more than 24 years ago.  And I have grieved him since.  I am sorry to let you know but grief is unfortunately not something that happens to you and then goes away.  It’s like the ocean, it ebbs and flows constantly.  So it’s your job to tether yourself to something and ride the tides.  It is ok to feel low, because the tide will rise again.  The lows will come again too, but just get through this.  Some tides get very low, I know, and I encourage you to get help if you need it.

In my opinion it is important to let yourself feel too, acknowledge your feelings because if you do not then sometimes the numbness can be prolonged.  Do not worry if you feel wide swathes of emotion right now.  Remember to be kind and loving and understand we are all processing these events in our own way.  Some of us are in the denial phase still, some angry, others fearful or sad.  Give yourself permission to feel these emotions and then try to find the light through the darkness.  And please refrain from directing the grieving of others, but offer support.

I was with my father the moment he left us.  He was intubated due to complications from leukemia.  November 3, 1995.  I remember how it felt watching him leave us in that hospital.  I could never have such a moving and wonderful experience.  It was a beautiful thing.  His departure seemed to leave me empty for so long, but all this time, twenty-four years, I know he left me with something vital.  Faith.  I have faith that death is not an end, but it is a shift.

I have faith what we are experiencing right now this is not an ending, but a metamorphosis, how much it must hurt for a caterpillar to morph into a butterfly.  The preparation, the weaving and building and intense energy it takes to find that perfect shelter. The solitude of the cocoon.  The intense internal changes.  Then the bursting forth into a place that looks very different from new lenses.  Ultimately the exhilaration of realizing that you have wings.

Be well friends and please stay home.

Reality Bites

4 04 2019

Well the blog posts had to take a backseat to an intense 24 hours of tax preparation which was really tedious and is still incomplete.

I actually had a full day off today and all I did was taxes. In some ways it really reminded me of the Camino mindset because last year at this time I basically just split and left my husband to deal with things. Not very nice, not very practical but the Camino was waiting and got priority. But that was last year, which really irked me today.

I’m trying to retrieve that mentality but that’s just not possible off the trail. I wonder if this is why so many people do the Camino over and over. When someone would share that it was their third or even eighth Camino Suzy would say, “You know there’s a group for that…”

It’s also difficult to relate to others who haven’t been on the path. You end up feeling like you’re constantly talking about it and wonder if people are thinking oh jeez here she goes talking about the Camino again. Their eyes glaze over and they shuffle from foot to foot looking for the next exit.

Last night I became overwhelmed by the paperwork and fled to Facebook for a moment and caught some glimpses of my Camino family and it warmed my heart. This little network seems at first so tenuous when you consider how little time we spent with some of them, but the conditions under which we met were so intense that the bonds that formed were incredibly strong. Like fishing line the ties seem almost invisible but the line is secure and we will always be connected.

Jacques for example, I think we really only met him at two albergues but when we reached a town further along where he was working as a hospitalero we came across his Albergue/rest stop. We were greeted as warmly as if we were his family. Kisses and hugs and introductions to his co-workers, just incredible connections formed in short instances.

The other thing I find so interesting is how certain people would enter our zone for a time and then disappear. Some we never connected to again, like the woman I gave a scallop shell to, the guy who was super chatty that we walked with in the rain who told us to find Tomas the mystic. There were people we saw everywhere like the nice young man that had no money and was injured. We will likely never know if he finished. Everyone is on their own pace and schedule and as such sometimes you do t know where they are. I’d love if someone could do a schematic of the various paths we were all on and show me for example how and where we got ahead of the Germans who arrived in Santiago after us. Where did we pass them? Were they in a bar? Did they start late or stay an extra day? It really fascinated me.

I left the paperwork to sneak out to open mic tonight and while I was there reviewed my posts from just about now realizing that one of the great stops was Albergue St. Nicolas. That is where our first core group came together, but interestingly none of them were in Santiago when we were there. One aped way past is so far that we could have never caught him, a couple we met there had already done the last half of the Camino and had just come to do the first part, and of course one had to leave due to foot and then leg issues. Heartbreaking to us.

But then along the way we made new Camino families. More and more connections.At Puente la Reina we met a great big group but only really kept connected with one guy, he hit the Cruz de Ferro before us and we ran into him in Santiago, can’t remember who arrived first. Until recently I didn’t realize he’d known our friend who had to leave as well. So without us knowing a lot of the characters we met also have ties to others we knew. So imagine all of these lines back and forth. Micro filaments that span the globe connecting us all. Think of it! I believe it is like a Gia t dream catcher. Each “wire” has a charge, that comes from the two individuals at either end. So there’s energy coursing across these “wires” but all the wires are crossing and at the intersections where they meet that energy is magnified.

This collective of peregrinos, some considered friends and some maybe just someone who you casually passed with a “Buen Camino” and a nod. Each one of us is a spider on this web we have woven, so when one of us tugs it we all sense the vibration and we can all tap into the current of electricity these connections provide us. I’m so grateful for that.

Si Se Puede

3 04 2019

I meant to work on my blog post for Tuesday last night but I fell behind.

It’s been hard to do this daily! I do nott have the same luxury of hours spent walking clearing my head and the routine of the Camino de Santiago that comes with that.

It’s weird to me because every day on The Way was so different, the conditions so variable yet it seemed more predictable somehow than my daily life here on Nantucket with a daily job.

Maybe it’s because life at home is filled with so many distractions. My mounds of paperwork loom there on the kitchen table encouraging me to take for the couch and hide under the cozy blankets. I’m trying to get better at organizing and funneling through my things.

I’d like to streamline my life to enable myself to find more clarity like you do when you pack for the Camino, but the normal paradigm is so much harder to break when you have the luxury of space and you aren’t carrying your whole life on your back.

My pack turned out to be 18 pounds. That’s was a bit more than the recommended 10% of your body weight, but despite all the weighing and reweighing both literally and figuratively that’s where I ended up.

I think the packing for the Camino is a process that’s almost as important as the walk itself. You force yourself to define what you really need to survive. We are t talking about camping gear or food either, and there are an incredible amount of resources on the Camino, but then there are also things you absolutely cannot buy as well.

I think I did a really good job of estimating my needs. We ended up doing a lot of laundry which was a luxury many pilgrims didn’t partake of , but it gave us comfort and because my walking partner Suzy and I could put our things in one load together it was less costly.

There were only a few times where laundry day left my in my bathing suit and swim shorts huddled shivering under my Costco down blanket waiting for the wash to get done. I never went swimming but was happy to have the suit that day.

I would have left a few things behind, maybe the guide to the edible plants of the Camino, but I carried it there and back even though its owner had said it would be ok to ditch it.

I missed having my favorite shampoo and conditioner the most, and my bar soap became mushy and annoying. I’d lost the mini bottles way back in Espinal and now cannot remember what my replacement was…but it wasn’t adequate and comforts like those are important to have.

My silk liner was one of my favorite items… so warm yet lightweight, a barrier to the bedbugs or “chinches” that we luckily never encountered, probably due to the early timing in the season and cold weather of our trip. It just felt safe getting into my clean little cocoon.

My DKNY puffy jacket was also vital. It was warm and useful as a pillow or when the albergues were drafty and it’s softness was soothing like a favorite blanket. It also squished into a tiny pouch. I also had a Columbia puffy silver lined super warm thermal thin jacket that was a great outer layer. At times I wore double puffies with a Patagonia windbreaker on top.

I didn’t buy too many new items because of cost but I was lucky enough to receive some donations for new Prana hiking pants and a Smartwool wool long sleeve shirt/sweater which I couldn’t have lived without. The pants are really vital as they dry very easily and are light. There were times that my kegs would be drenched by rain. While uncomfortable when wet the pants would even dry on my body pretty quickly.

All the planning and replanning set me up with a pack that contained pretty much what I needed to survive my Camino. Maybe I got lucky with weather and circumstances but I felt like it was perfect. No doubt I obsessively packed and repacked after hours spent scouring chats for advice. Ultimately the choice was mine because only I know myself. Others can recommend what you need having more understanding of what you may encounter on your path but only you can pack your bag. I remember seeing an older woman along the way with a stuffed bear peering out the side of her pack and thought “What a waste of weight!” But who knows why she felt she had to take it. Maybe it gave her comfort, maybe a child asked her to take it along, when we had seen her last in Pamplona she’d been ready to call it quits, but she was still walking.

So back here in my real life culling through what isn’t necessary is not as dire a task. There is less urgency to clear through and discard what I don’t need, but I’ve got to get on it. The clutter on my table and in my mind need sorting and a lot of trashing. Systems that don’t work for me need to be reworked or discarded. Caustic people need to be sent along as possible or managed properly. If there are people in my life that bring me down I must handle them as if I’m in a hazmat suit, put on the mask and gloves and protect myself from their debilitating influence.

For example I could trash 90% of this post which is tedious and boring but I find it interesting to see how one thought leads to a small epiphany for me. One step leads to a goal.

I wanted to come home from my Camino and be immediately able to tackle these types of obstacles but found that this is an ongoing process. I’m better at it but I’ve still got a ways to go.

I have to remember not to let fear hold me hostage. Fear often keeps me clinging to what I don’t need. What if? Is the worst question to ask. What if it snows and I’m not warm enough. What if I get a blister and the farmacia is closed? What if my feet get wet? What if I run out of soap? And here at home, what if I could use that cord someday? What if that key is for something important? What if I find that other sock? What if I took the time to match the Tupperware lids? What if I need that paperwork? What if I want to read that book again?

It comes back to faith. At the end of the day do you believe that you should fear what life has in store? Do you want to live that way wondering what if? Or can you learn how to live from a different perspective, from a place where you know you can overcome any obstacle. Where you know you have abundance in all aspects of your life. This reminds me of a motto from the United Farm Workers Union, Si Se Puede. Yes You Can!

If you believe you walk for a higher purpose then you can and will overcome any obstacle in your path. What you need will be provided for you. Just don’t be afraid and have some faith. Just pause, look and listen closely and with faith in your heart what you need will be provided for you. The guidance you’re looking for will be delivered to you. I believe.

Blog posts from my 2018 Camino