The Sorcerer punched his thigh, watching the girl leave.
He bellowed through his nose while she took the spiral out of his Caverns two stairs at a time. He had waited for too long to claim this one to allow her to slip away.
He glimpsed the liquid cloud of second sight. The vial was on the top shelf carved in the eastern wall, resting beside a small cauldron.
Perhaps he could see something useful.
He took them both to the table and sat on the sofa, resting his palm where the girl had been. He savored the heat she left behind until the image of her was clear in his mind.
Then he emptied the vial into the cauldron and closed his eyes. His face smarted from the smoke rising to form a cloud above his head.
The Sorcerer cast his mind and heard the girl’s labored breathing before he saw her running through the trees.
She came out of the woods at the river, close to where he had found her the previous morning just as she was about to jump.
This time she wasn’t alone.
On the other side of the river was the giant gray stallion, the one that ran wild in the Abandoned Valley. Although he was a mammoth among horses, his glossy coat blended with the rising light and the girl didn’t see him until he pulled his head from the water.
She glowed when she saw him, the radiance in her face surprising the Sorcerer before he remembered that summer when she rode in the Abandoned Valley.
The handsome young Horse Trainer had always accompanied her on a splendid gray colt. This must be the same animal.
The girl called out.
The giant equine looked at her for a moment before turning away.
As the animal ran for the far reaches of the Abandoned Valley, the Sorcerer saw the crest of the Patron seared into its left flank.
The girl shook her head and turned towards her father’s manor.
The house was high enough to view the fields, orchards of unborn peaches, and forests of the family estate, as well as the village to the south.
The manor was backlit by the coming sun, and the household would be coming awake to start the new day.
The girl stretched her limbs to their limit and fled.
She didn’t stop until she came to the garden of lilies encircling the house.
The top bulbs peeked at her from above her head, but the girl had her gaze fixed on the massive door carved from the wood of peach trees.
With her flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes, the girl could have been a refugee at the gates of sanctuary.
Then she touched her hair.
The coil had come undone when she fell in the river, the golden tresses hung loose and tangled to her waist.
She looked over the stains on her gown and paled, her fingers touching the remnants smeared across her face. When she faced the front door again, the shine dimmed from her eyes.
The girl took several deep breaths before following the path to the portico. Her hand shook reaching for the knob.
All was quiet when she stepped in.
She made her way down the hall running through the center of the house.
One door opened to a salon on the west side, while the one on the east was closed.
At the end of the corridor, twin doors opened to the dining room.
From the west side, two servants swept in from a second door, which the Sorcerer assumed to be the kitchen.
Their arms were laden with a basket of steaming bread, a cutting board with a round of cheese, a tray of sliced oranges, and a silver pitcher of coffee.
They seemed unaware of the girl’s presence, arranging the breakfast at the far end of the table near the lone place setting.
From the parlor, the rising sun shone through the eastern windows, gleaming along the wooden floors to fade away before the stairs.
The sudden creak in the floor made the younger maid start and look up.
At the sight of her Patron’s daughter, she spilled the tray of oranges.
The other servant turned and scowled at the stains on the pristine linen. She opened her mouth to scold the other, but closed it when she saw who stood just beyond the doors.
The Sorcerer suspected this must be the girl’s personal maid when the woman curtseyed.
She looked over her mistress, taking in the ruined gown, unkempt hair and grimy face, and paled more than the younger maid.
The servants looked at each other and back to the girl, all three standing motionless, a temporary tableau of panic until the heavy tread coming down the stairs spurred them to action.
The older maid hurried to place the tray of oranges over the soiled tablecloth, the younger poured a stream of coffee into a china cup, and the girl turned to meet her father.
The Sorcerer also held his breath, knowing that what he wanted depended on the Patron’s reaction.
His boots appeared first as he stepped down from the landing.
The Patron would be working in the fields again that morning. He was dressed in peasant garb, and there was a permanent cake of mud around the soles of his boots.
His torso still held vestiges of the formidable strength he possessed when he had claimed this estate as a young man. His large hands were calloused from years of hard work, the mark of a farmer.
Yet his hands were also those of a nobleman, his fingers scrubbed each day, his nails rounded and clean of dirt.
The Patron stopped when he saw his daughter, eyes wide with surprise.
He opened his mouth as if to speak.
Then his gaze dropped.
As he took in the girl’s appearance, he flushed and his lips clamped in a tight line.
He shook his head, flicked his eyes away, and descended the last stretch of stairs, to step past the girl to the dining parlor. His manner was stately when he claimed his seat at the end of the table.
The girl stared after her father, the high color draining from her cheeks. Her lips trembled and empty swallows rippled down her throat as she fought to regain her poise.
The maids shifted their regard between their Patron and his daughter. He said nothing until he had taken a few sips of coffee.
Then he placed a few orange slices on his plate and reached for the bread, nodding at his daughter with a glance to her maid.
“I think she needs to attend to her toilette.”
The rigid features of the older servant relaxed. She left her position at table to approach her mistress and curtseyed to her again.
“Would you like me to draw you a bath, Miss?”
As the last of the liquid cloud dissipated, the polite smile and empty eyes of the aging lady’s maid faded from the Sorcerer’s mind, yet the well-modulated voice lingered.
Miss, he wondered, frowning. Miss.
How strange that her own maid should address her in such a common manner, even if she was the only person in the entire village who spoke to the girl.
His eyes snapped open.
He’d forgotten the Patron had never given his daughter a name.
The Sorcerer of the Caverns leaned back into the pillows of blood red velvet, smiling up at the bright sky at the end of the tunnel.
She would be back.
The elegance of mind and immaculate manners of the patron family from the southeast incensed our patron family in the northwest.
For the patron family from the southeast made it graciously clear that they had no wish to nurture this new connection into a friendship.
Thanks to the eavesdropping of the housemaids, we heard all about it in luscious detail.
The patron family read the letters out loud many times, and there was much crude cursing and bouts of raging lament once they realized they had been rejected.
Everybody relished that the marvelous Noble Son was not so blinded by the beauty of the Patron’s Daughter.
His parents were also not impressed with our patron family. They often expressed shock and disgust at the lack of kindness and courtesy with which our patron and patroness treated their household servants.
Although they had said nothing at the time, the housemaids swore they overhead a conversation between the Noble Son and his worried parents.
Concerned that their Noble Son was smitten, they implored him that a marriage to such a young lady as the Patron’s Daughter would only cause him heartache and grief.
The housemaids insisted that they overheard the Noble Son reassuring his parents that he had no significant interest in her at all. That as beautiful as the Patron’s Daughter was on the outside, he didn’t much like what he saw on the inside.
I rejoiced at this miraculous news.
We all did.
To know that our horrid patron family had repulsed truly splendid people cheered us up magnificently.
Many suppers were shared amongst us, and our conversation was lively and animated as summer progressed. We had never been able to enjoy a comeuppance before, and we savored our vicarious victory.
As much as I relished the Patron’s Daughter finally getting her due, I was despondent with the departure of the Noble Son and my romantic dreams about him.
As outrageous as my fantasies had been, my longing for the Noble Son made me feel alive in a way I had never known before.
So not only did my heart ache after he left, the dullness of life became suffocating.
Because it was summer, work was as excruciating as ever. But for once, I threw myself into it.
Driving myself to exhaustion in the merciless heat gave me something to do with my pain.
Yet no matter how hard I worked, I always took a long walk through the trees of the Ancient Grove before I went home.
That was the only place I could cry and lament, for I knew I would be alone.
I couldn’t stand for anybody to see me in such a pitiful state, nor could I bear the scolding tongues and wagging fingers of those who would call me a fool to dream of a man far out of my reach.
I already knew that, and the forbidden woods where the Sorcerer of the Caverns worked his evil magic, was the best place to avoid my people.
It was also the best place to wail over my unfulfilled desires, as well as the eternal bleakness ahead of the thankless labor and dreariness that would be my existence until I met the Reaper.
But I was strong and built to last. Decades of drudgery would pass before life finally killed me. And there was no way I could accept this miserable fate as a beast of burden any more.
I started to ponder suicide on those walks.
I knew I would disgrace my parents with such an act, not just to my patron family but to the other peasants as well.
Yet, our patron family was a disgrace amongst other patron families. Perhaps it wouldn’t be too hard on them. Disgraceful or not, my lineage would be free with my death and my parents could not be forced back to work.
On my walks through the thick woods of the Ancient Grove, I reflected on every method to kill myself.
No peasant possessed a pistol, and the thought of slitting my wrists seemed risky and even kind of weak.
Although I was ugly, I knew there would be no way I could cut my throat. That would have been agony and I would have made the most hideous mess.
I considered hanging myself in the trees, but the thought of struggling for air and flailing about if my neck didn’t make a clean break was terrifying.
Throwing myself in the river to drown was also frightening. My life had always been full of suffering.
I wanted to die easy.
An overdose of laudanum was the most appealing way to die I could think of. But how would I get any, much less enough?
Any medicine was a luxury for the peasants. I would have to steal something so precious, and not get caught.
I met the Sorcerer of the Caverns one evening, during one of these brooding ambles.
I stood at the bank of the river, staring at the rocks.
Suddenly, it occurred to me that if I threw myself head first into the rocks, the crush to my skull would probably kill me immediately. And if it didn’t, I would surely be knocked unconscious and would not experience the panic of drowning.
I remember congratulating myself on how brilliant that was, this perfect solution to my dilemma.
It was at that moment that the Sorcerer of the Caverns intruded on these bleakly cheerful thoughts.
“You aren’t the kind to take the coward’s way out.”
He had the deepest baritone I had ever heard, and that booming low voice almost made me jump out of my skin.
I lost my footing and nearly fell into the river for what would have been an ironic and accidental drowning.
But he caught me by the wrist and held on until I regained my balance.
I stared at him without a word for what seemed a really long time, and was probably only a moment.
I knew he was the Sorcerer of the Caverns before I saw him, at the moment he spoke.
He looked exactly as he was always described, dressed in flowing black robes with tangled, straggly hair and beard that was the color of dust.
I’ll never forget his eyes.
His pale, colorless eyes held the emptiest gaze I had ever seen.
Really, his presence made my flesh crawl.
Most people found the Sorcerer terrifying, probably because of that desolate stare of his. But not me.
I was never afraid of the Sorcerer of the Caverns. I wasn’t afraid of him in that moment or later, even after I witnessed what he was capable of.
“I’ve been watching you,” he said.
“Oh yeah?” I snapped. “And what do you see?”
“I see a girl who wants what she can’t have.”
“So how did a wench with such a lusty appetite come to the point of throwing herself into the river?”
“If you’re such a mighty Sorcerer, then you should already know the answer to that question.”
“I can see the feasting has made you rather bold,” he chuckled. “Really. You could be fascinating.”
“What do you want?”
“I already have what I want, Girl. Question is…what do you want?”
The girl chortled, the bark cut short from an upsurge of bile burning the back of her throat.
The pain of eating too much came upon her in that moment.
She curled into a ball and wondered if she would burst from gluttony until her silent memories swept in.
The image of empty faces and condemning eyes seared through and emptied her again. But the ache remained in her belly and the Sorcerer looming over her made her uneasy.
Yet she also remembered this was the first conversation she’d had in almost seven years.
“What do you think?” she muttered, sitting up. “I want to not be so alone. I want people to care. What else could I possibly want?”
The Sorcerer raised his brows and the hairless arches deepened the grooves in his forehead.
“Come on, Girl. Don’t be so paltry in what you wish for. You can do better than that.”
The heat rushed to her cheeks, but she said nothing.
The Sorcerer rested his chin on interlaced fists and waited.
That squeeze clenched inside her breast.
But this time she wasn’t so foolish to hope her heart beat again. Staring into the colorless eyes of the Sorcerer, who gazed back at her with a bland expression, the girl couldn’t move.
“I want anybody I choose to fall in love with me,” she finally said. “Can you really make that happen?”
The Sorcerer of the Caverns smiled, his teeth the longest she’d ever seen, the dark yellow gleaming against his matted dusty beard. He nodded.
“And what do you want of me?”
“I want to lay with you,” he said. “And I want you to give me your heart.”
The girl froze.
Although her heart had been dead for years, she clasped her hands over her breast to protect what rested underneath. The thought of giving it to the Sorcerer made her stomach churn.
She shook her head before she spoke.
“Not so hasty, Girl. I think you may like what I have in mind for you.”
“I said no.”
She stood and looked up the staircase spiraling out of the Caverns.
Then the snap of fingers made her flinch, and the sound bounced off the stone and reverberated up the tunnel.
A boulder slid across the top and the girl watched the nighttime stars disappear.
She couldn’t quite believe this was happening to her, but she still wasn’t afraid.
A calm descended on the girl as she watched the Gateway to the world above close off to her. She looked at the Sorcerer.
His robes cascaded around his throne; his hair and beard were dull against the opulence of gold and velvet.
“I’ve heard stories about you all my life,” she said. “But never once did I hear that you could force me to stay. Not even once.”
“That’s true,” he replied. “However, I can insist that you listen to what I have to say before you refuse me.”
The Sorcerer waved his hand to the sofa.
The girl saw the table was clear, the ruins of the banquet gone as if the feast had never happened.
Instead, a bronze triad of candles stood in the center of the table beside the crystal she pulled from the tunnel walls.
“Have a seat,” he continued. “You may find my offer enticing.”
She sat down. Her back was straight as a rod, her hands in a tight clasp, her limbs rigid, a silent prayer repeating through her that she had to get out of the Caverns.
For a moment, she panicked at the thought that the Sorcerer might read her mind.
But he gave no indication he could as he took the crystal stargaze and held it to the candles.
Its essence came free, and the colors whirled around them.
The girl grew light-headed, but dropped her lids. She refused to look up until she’d made herself blind to everything but the Sorcerer.
Then she opened her eyes and focused only on him until the essence was brought home to the crystal and the colors fell.
“You have a strong command over yourself,” he said.
“Just tell me what you want and be done with it.”
He set the crystal down and pushed it across the table, its tiers spinning before her.
“If you lay with me just once, I will bless this stargaze with the power to steal the heart of any man you desire. But…”
The Sorcerer paused.
“If you lay with me many times, I will teach you the arts of seduction.”
The Sorcerer slowed his speech to the lulling cadence of persuasion.
The girl listened. She couldn’t stop her limbs from softening nor could she hold the tight grip of hands.
“To master the secrets, you must surpass the ancient knowledge. If you can do this and pleasure me more than any woman ever has, I will give you a dust you can use for protection.”
“What does such a dust do?
“Blow a pinch when faced with an enemy,” he said. “Say the first thing that comes to your mind and thus, your enemy is changed.”
“So far, this sounds…” the girl trailed off. “Why not just make this your offer?”
The right side of the Sorcerer’s brow crinkled deeper. She scowled, hesitating before she continued.
“My heart’s been dead for years anyway. Why would you want it?”
“All or nothing.”
The girl tensed. She thought an agitated serpent might have invaded her belly. The longer she looked into the Sorcerer’s eyes, the tighter the coil around her innards became.
“No,” she said. “I won’t do it. Just let me go.”
“I’m not done yet,” he retorted. “If you give me your dead heart, I will make you immortal.”
This excerpt is out of Ella Bandita and the Wanderer. To purchase the ebook, click here.
Before I get too carried away, let me just say one thing: next time any of you are in Anchorage, you must check out El Tango on Tudor behind the Holiday gas station.
If you've gone to Hooters, you have definitely gone too far!
El Tango has a fantastic menu of Latin cuisine - Columbia, Argentina, and Puerto Rico - a very friendly staff, and a small dance floor.
It's only been there for a year. The location sucks; but if you like your ambience refreshing, then this is the place for you.
How did I get there?
Last night at the Cook Inlet Bookstore, I was crushed to find that I was one of a cluster fuck of writers.
Needless to say, the four of us were overcrowded at one small table. So we got another one and two of us sat there.
I figured I’d stake out the front door in the hopes I’d get more attention. But everybody still herded around the schoolteacher at the other table.
She had a mountain of books and a generous target audience. Her book, “Recess at 20 Below” was full of pictures of her students having FUN in her class and adorable narrative about school life in Delta Junction.
It was both cutsie poo and Alaskan at the same time.
Meanwhile, I misread a potential fan, Sheila. And I found out she was anything but when I told her the first chapter of Ella Bandita. I included the dirty old sorcerer, the cold-blooded daddy, and the eaten heart.
Sheila scrunched up her face and let me know that she was a fan of the Walt Disney version of whitewashed fairy tales. She also said that she used to have a friend who would have been into my writing because she wrote a lot like me.
"But she's dead now," Sheila said.
So heartwarming of her to tell me that.
Do I sound bitter? Really, I'm not. Even though the night was a dud.
At this point in my road trip, I have had enough successes to not sweat the flops.
Besides, last night was a quality, if not a quantity, experience.
I ended up with a date. A good one, too with a nice guy.
Go figure. That practically never happens to me.
I usually gravitate to the those-I-cannot-or-should-not-even-consider-wanting-to-have types.
This guy has a steady job, no addictions ( at least, not obvious ones ), courtly manners, a good body, and blue eyes that are awful purty to look into.
That's how I ended up at El Tango. Because Nice Guy With Pretty Blue Eyes took me there.
Besides the food and the Argentinian staff, they had a keyboard player whose keyboard created a symphony with every note, and the staff would get up there and sing.
Since they didn't have the TV screen that enabled bad singers to massacre mediocre lyrics, it wasn't really karaoke. But it kind of felt that way even though the staff were the main singers.
Most of the songs were in Spanish, so it was very cool. It also helped that they could...oh, sing.
Hugo, the owner who was from Argentina, played kind of the Latin version of a bluegrass washboard - a weegel ( I don't know how to spell it, and the closest he could come to describing it was a plant, kind of like a zucchini, that's dried and then hollowed out - if you want to know what the hell I'm talking about, go to El Tango and you'll see), while the bartender had maracas.
I love Latin folk. They really have the happy-to-live mentality down pat. Hugo gave us free drinks, calling us amigos and that we are family.
"When you are in Anchorage, this is your home." Hugo said.
Nothing is perfect, however...
Hugo is a sucker for Celine Dion, because his daughter, Lilly, belted out "I Will Always Love You," and he sat there, looking emotional and teary-eyed.
Lily sang beautifully. I simply don’t like Celine Dion’s music.
But other than that, the night was awesome.
I was going to come back on Tuesday. But my good date asked me out again, so…it’s good to explore the possibilities.
I'm coming back to Juneau roughly sometime before I head down to the lower forty-eight by November 1st.
Does anybody have a housesitting gig or an extra room?
I rented my place out and I don't know about crashing on my own couch for almost two weeks.
It'll be good to see the Vagabond - my cat, that is. And of course, all of you. I’m really excited to see all of you.
Because the Patron’s Daughter had cast off all the eligible young men in her part of the country, her parents had to invite suitable families from faraway for long visits.
The patron and patroness had many houseguests that season. All of them arrived with a son who was of age to mate with their malicious minx of a daughter.
This desperate attempt to marry her off delighted we peasants working the fields.
There were rumors that the Patron’s Daughter was threatened with the convent at the end of this social season if she didn’t stop spurning suitors simply for the thrill it gave her.
The thought of the Patron’s Daughter with her hair shorn and dressed in a nun’s habit and wimple gave me great pleasure. I often laughed myself to sleep at night imagining such a fate.
Whether those rumors were true or not, she did stop the emotional slaughter of the would-be suitors who were hunted for her.
Her rides around the fields were less dreadful when houseguests came, because she was always in the company of the latest young man her parents hoped would marry her.
Perhaps her reputation had spread far, because the families who came were rather lackluster. All the invited families had impeccable breeding, but those who accepted were either on the brink of impoverishment, or their sons were dull of mind, plain of face, or both.
Of course, all the enamored gentlemen got down on one knee to declare their love and ask for her hand in marriage.
But these proposals the Patron’s Daughter respectfully declined. Her parents hardly blamed her, for none of these inadequate young men would do.
Every two weeks, her suitors changed as the houseguests changed.
In the beginning of summer, somebody came along who the Patron’s Daughter actually liked.
He was truly beautiful, this Noble Son of the patron family from the southeast.
I didn’t get a good look at him that day.
But I saw him the next on the ride he took with the Patron’s Daughter. He had fine brown hair and features that were unusually blunt in the highborn class, and the most soulful brown eyes.
The Noble Son wasn’t like the other suitors who had pursued the Patron’s Daughter. What set him apart was the way he treated us, the workers.
Every other gentleman who had come to the big house was content to ride past we who labored in the fields without a look or a greeting; but the first day the Noble Son rode with the Patron’s Daughter, he stopped his horse and dismounted.
He then took a few minutes to introduce himself to us, and even removed his glove to shake our hands.
“It’s wonderful to meet you,” he said to me. “You have the most beautiful eyes, Addie.”
My knees started to shake when the Noble Son took my hand.
He had the softest skin, but there was strength in his grip when he held my hand for that moment. His smile was warm and genuine, and the Noble son looked me right in the eyes.
Nobody had ever looked at me like that, not even my parents. He looked at me as if he truly cared to see me.
I almost collapsed.
Because he’d removed his glove, I had actually touched him, and the shock of contact sent a thrill up my arm and into my breast.
My heart stopped for an instant, then pounded as if I were working relentlessly at my fastest pace.
I grew light-headed and could scarcely breathe. Something burst inside of me, spread throughout my being, and made me giddy.
Then the Noble Son nodded and stepped aside to introduce himself to the man next to me, and his manner was every bit as sweet and gentle. He had a simple grace and a universal kindness.
But my destiny changed on the day I met the Noble Son. The effect he would have on me would change who I was and who I would become.
I had always suffered from resentment and malcontent. Everybody around me was unhappy, how could we not be?
But most of my people, including my parents, resigned themselves to their fate. Though they knew life was unfair at their expense, they accepted their paltry share of it without complaint.
Perhaps apathy was a form of self-preservation for them, while rage over the injustice of it all seethed through me every minute of every day.
I hated my life. I had always wanted more.
Then along came the Noble Son, and the desire for something better became the most excruciating craving.
The Noble Son was impossibly out of reach, but that didn’t stop me from falling madly in love with him.
Desire is powerful, and the longing I felt for him was so raw I thought about him all the time.
Suddenly, I understood why girls allowed themselves to be seduced, even if it brought them to ruin.
In my world, privacy was unheard of. Thus throughout my life, I had caught couples in the fuck many times.
Usually during urgent moments when I had to relieve myself, I rushed to the bushes for some privacy only to come across two backs and thrusting hips; or a woman held against a tree as the man ground his meat into her, her face contorted as if she were in pain; or a woman on all fours as the man poked her from behind as if she were a common bitch.
It was tedious to empty myself with the animal grunts and moans coming not even five feet away.
Until the Noble Son came, I had always found rutting rather repulsive.
Once he did, the restless consumed my body and hijacked my mind.
The fuck became appealing, and I knew exactly how to imagine him taking my maidenhead.
My fantasies were detailed and unabashed; and I dreamed about him day and night, at work and at rest. During the day, when I plowed through the fields I imagined the Noble Son plowing into me.
Every time I gave myself to the Noble Son, I was a virgin; and every time, a layer of ugliness fell away from me until all that was left was the blossom of purity.
I never had a vision of what I looked like, but I knew I had transformed from the awe in my lover’s face.
“I always knew you were beautiful,” the Noble Son would say. “But you are beyond this world, Addie.”
Then he would kiss me deeply and I would melt.
But morning would interrupt rudely, and I woke up knowing I was ugly and unwanted.
I saw the Noble Son in the afternoons, for he rode with the Patron’s Daughter. Every day, he stopped to greet those who worked the fields.
These daily kindnesses when her escort treated us with courtesy caused much vexation to the Patron’s Daughter. It was the only time she acted cordial to the peasants because she knew she’d make a terrible impression if she didn’t.
There was some satisfaction in that, but of course, we knew better.
Those two weeks were delicious.
Besides savoring the discomfort of one who had to give up some of the power she loved to abuse, I got to touch the Noble Son almost every day when he shook my hand.
He remembered me too, and always called me by my name.
“Nice to see you, Addie, with the sparkling, golden eyes.”
Most of the time, I could scarcely mumble a greeting in return. I always looked away from him when my face grew hot for blushing was horribly embarrassing.
Oh! How I adored him! I would have given my soul for a night in his arms. I would have joyfully given him my maidenhead and I wouldn’t have cared about the consequences.
This excerpt is out of my work-in-progress, “The Shepherd and the Courtesan.” If you’d like to see the previous excerpt, click here.
It was love at first sight. Or first sound, really. The first time I heard the primal drone of a didjeridu, I was at Esalen in Big Sur. The Wednesday night jam was a weekly event amongst the tubs where the spa was enclosed.
The sacrifice in the view of the cliffs over the Pacific Ocean were more than compensated for with incredible acoustics.
Somehow a didjeridu, a saxophone, and a trumpet made an effective and peculiar trio. But it was the didjeridu that did it for me. The mysterious tones of the didjeridu played into the amplifier of a clawfoot tub soared through the chamber, and I was hooked.
That was before the didj player did his rounds for a sound healing up our chakras. I had never experienced music that could be felt, physically felt as the musician played it around me.
Then I was really hooked.
Every time a didjeridu was played, I got excited.
The best New Year’s Eve I ever had, a didj was played as we approached midnight. Even though the headlining band was playing on the top floor, I knew I was in the right place to call in the New Year.
I especially love to dance to the didj. That tone brings out something buried deep in me. I move in a more thorough, embodied way that gets to all my parts. It’s catharsis in its purest form.
Beloved is one of the more beloved music festivals around Oregon, focusing on sacred music and higher consciousness. It’s lush and decadent, and very Arabian Nights with its exotic trappings. I went one year and had tickets to go to the next.
Then I heard about InDidjInUs a few years ago.
I couldn’t believe there was a gathering centered around the didjeridu. The thought of 4 days of non-stop didjeridu music made my mouth water.
The website and Facebook page was so vague, yet so specific, I wondered if it was only for didjeridu players, not didjeridu listeners or didjeridu dancers.
It also seemed that there was some kind of struggle going on about the values of this gathering. One man made very clear that they were not about a typical “festival” party atmosphere, and they’d appreciate it if the festival partiers would go to Beloved instead.
Beloved was on the same weekend.
I asked on the Facebook page if dancing listeners were able to come, or if this was only for didjeridu musicians. Ycats (Stacy spelled backwards) answered that a dancing audience was most welcome.
I didn’t hesitate. I gave away my tickets to Beloved and went to InDidjInus. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
That first InDidjInUs, I went to sleep and woke up to the vibrating drones of didj being played somewhere near. My energy field shifted during that time, and my time there was a profound experience in healing.
I knew I loved didjeridu in music. I had no idea how diverse didjeridu could be when it came to making music.
But one of the most surprising benefits to making such a sudden switch was the genuine sense of community that InDidjInUs provided.
A lot of festivals focus on “community” and “tribe” and “getting woke” and whatever else you can think of that sounds transcendent and cool.
But this group really embodies the essence of community - with the good and the bad, especially when it comes to figuring out conflicts and the fallout that entails. Most of these people I only see once a year in the community that gathers for InDidjInUs.
I just finished my 5th InDidjInUs, and this year was the best one yet. Again, I was in need of healing. Having space when I needed it, and community when I needed connection was crucial, and then there were the various jams going on as well as the stage performances.
Anyway, I included some short clips of the amazing and gorgeous music I enjoyed this past weekend.
And if that’s not something worth writing about, I don’t know what is.
I am so glad I listened to the wisdom of my inner voice, the same inner voice that told me to go back to Seward for the Music and Arts Festival, even though my first tableside storytelling adventure was not immediately profitable.
In fact, my first day I told stories with my whole heart and soul into it because I wanted to sell my book, dammit!
This was only my second stop on the trip. I had had a couple of things in Homer. I was in full-throttle eager novice mode and people could smell blood...I could sense them smacking their chops as I concluded my story without closing the sale. I sold nothing!
And that really sucked.
And frankly, so does Anchorage.
I did my last storytelling tonight at the Organic Oasis, and it is impossible to do what I'm doing and not do it often in Anchorage. But I just do not resonate with the vibe of this town, it reminds me of the Orlando of my teenage years.... AAIIGGHH!!!
So let's get back to the good stuff, Seward.
After that discouraging first day, however, it got better. I sold two books on my second day, and on my third and final, four. So, the word was getting out there.
Also, on the third day is when deliverance in the form of Joe Alaniz came along and saved my demoralized ass by selling fourteen books by the next day.
So that was my Seward experience in early August, but they had just put up all these flyers for this festival and since the booths were cheap, I marked my space.
I woke up to beautiful weather in Seward with the colors in full blast and knew it would be slow at the festival.
And I was right, but I learned a few things since my last time in town. I set up my space with blankets, pillows, and although I left the candles in the Beast, I laid out my purple sari over the table with the book displays, and a sign under an orange patterned fake-silk poly scarf that read:
Hear a story...
Buy a book...
Get Tarot reading...
I figured if everybody was going to confuse me for a fortuneteller, I might as well give them what they wanted. And golly gee! It worked!
To make it even better, people were into the storytelling and into buying the book. But about a quarter of my sales happened because somebody really wanted their cards read and the book was only ten bucks.
I sold twenty-two books at full price. And the experience was effortless, at a festival held indoors at the Cruise Ship Terminal, which looked more like a hangar.
The turn out was low due to sunny weather. Got to get that hiking in! Because the darkness, rain, and snow are just around the corner.
I also sold ten books to the lady who had an all-purpose gift shop coffeehouse in town, so now the book is being carried in Seward. I traded a book for a bracelet.
So in one weekend I sold over thirty books.
This, of course, feeds the soul...not to mention the validation that I'm on the right track.
But the best part of this week-end was not the sales - not that I minded those! It was really connecting with people when they sat down to hear a story.
The way I see it, I'm laying the foundation for my base of readers for the future, and it is such an intimate way of connecting with them. It worked well at Borders as well.
One woman said that I was living the dream, and she was right. Right now, I feel like I am.
The weekend was so great that I didn't mind coming back to the tepid atmosphere at the Organic Oasis. I sold a couple of books and it is happening...one book at a time. One person sold on my work at a time.
I'm getting better at this, but the tarot cards were a nice touch.
I must admit being a fortune-teller was fun too.
Anyway, Keep in touch...
PS God I was naive!!! This was from the DIY booktour roadtrip I made in 2005-2006. Things have changed a lot since then.
So… I’m making memes now. It was that something new learned this week.
For the record, I’m very proud of the meme that starts this blog.
In my personal life, I’m addicted to Facebook in a love/hate kind of way. My now ex-partner hates it and I wouldn’t say I love it, but it’s become a habit. An annoying habit. Anybody who is not addicted to any kind of social media and does not participate -especially if that somebody isn’t a hermit in a cave somewhere in the Rockies – has my respect.
But I’m a sucker for memes, especially the good ones. It’s such a succinct way to get a pithy message across with words and a visual. Thanks to my flailing in the world of Pinterest, I came across a blog on how to make memes.
So I read it, and started. And I think I’m kind of hooked.
If I’m not careful memes will take over and I will stop writing. And that would be a bad, bad thing. Perhaps these are natural growing pains that come with donning lots of new hats?
It’s good for my brain to learn new things. That’s what I’m telling myself right now. I’m overwhelmed. I’m trying to embrace it.
But I loved learning about memes. I made 10 memes on my first day. Self-expression feels good to choose images and quotes – sometimes I even use my own. Or I use an image from the piece of artwork from Ella Bandita with a punch that fits in in a different way, and thus alters the meaning. The possibilities are endless. So what’s not to love?
The best part is that I already taught something the day after I learned it. My friend and former housemate, Cole is stepping in to help and I taught her how to make memes too. The ones she made were completely different from mine, but fabulous! Maybe we will rock cyber space with our fresh take on things and our memes that go viral.
Or maybe we’ll simply do a great job of getting people’s attention to this website and my stories. Because that’s what I’m really here for, you know?
What about you, dear reader? Do you like to pass the time making memes, finding memes, or both? What are some of your favorites? Let’s have some show and tell, please.
PS: Here’s the link to a site that makes it really, really easy to make a meme:
PPS: Cole found her medium through the Adobe Spark app. And here is one of hers.
PPPS: Technically, memes have nothing to do with writing. But these can also make some good writing prompts. Pick one and do a freewrite. Come on! I dare you.