Living the Dream - On the Road #18

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Hey y'all,

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.

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 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.

Remember Joe? 

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:

FREE!!!

Hear a story...

Buy a book...

Get Tarot reading...

FREE!!!

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. 

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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...

Peace, 

Montgomery

PS God I was naive!!! This was from the DIY booktour roadtrip I made in 2005-2006. Things have changed a lot since then.    

Let Me Just Say One Thing...AAIIGGHH!!! - On the Road #17

Angry New Yorker dude made this guy look mellow.

Angry New Yorker dude made this guy look mellow.

Hey y'all,

 I have seen the future I could have had and it just scared the shit out of me. 

I never, ever thought I would say this, but…I am - with great humility - profoundly grateful for the eight years I spent slinging booze, cussing out drunks, throwing grown men out of bars, and sighing helplessly while at the mercy of women in the throes of alcoholic switch-bitch psychosis.

But goddamn! Tonight has shown me that my time spent as a bartender were not only years not wasted, but they saved me from possibly becoming one of the people I just met at a workshop on self-publishing. 

Cool mask. Never wore one while at work.

Cool mask. Never wore one while at work.

I’ve been holed up in an accidental cabin behind the Brown Bear Saloon in Indian, Alaska. This place is a spit away from Anchorage, with its own itty-bitty town vibe. The owner of the place said he learned everything about what not to do in constructing a cabin while he was building the one I’m staying in. 

I didn’t care. I had to have it for the loft and the windows, but what he said about the wiring made me a tad nervous. One of the disadvantages of being on the road, sleeping in the Brown Beast, in hostels, in my tent, etc. is that the creative juices really start to pump and there's no place to spill them. 

Since what I'm doing does qualify as a business trip - hee-hee, haw-haw - I could write it off on my taxes to give myself that precious writer's space while fulfilling my storytelling/bookpeddling commitments in the greater Anchorage area.

Well, last night’s storytelling event at the Oasis was especially demoralizing. It’s been a while since I've hit a low, and I know it's all part of the process. But it still sucks. 

So, tonight I decided to do something different. So I went to Border's to a workshop on self-publishing.

This photo is much more stunning than the group of people I sat with.

This photo is much more stunning than the group of people I sat with.

Incidentally, Border's here in Anchorage is pretty right-on. Jess French found a way around the corporate structure to give me a reading/signing. Since the critical mass was narrowed down to those who liked to read, I had no problem approaching the people my gut instinct told me would be open to what I had, and introducing myself and what I was doing. My gut was on the ball that night. Every person/couple I picked listened to a story. All of them, except the respite provider with her client, bought a book. One couple even bought two.

But back to my self-publishing workshop story…

Since the weather's been stunning and I was on a writing roll, I almost didn't go. But I managed to finish the rough draft of a new story and headed to the workshop. I was surprised to see several people at the table. They had already started even though it was not yet the start time of six o'clock.

I took my seat and sized up the characters around me.

The guy giving the talk had self-published his book as a Print-On-Demand project. He had eyes that seemed to swim inside his sockets. 

Then there was the 50+ New York-to-Anchorage transplant. His hair was dyed black and slicked-back in a ponytail. He also had eyebrows Anton LaVey would have envied. When he introduced himself, I could just hear the tension in his voice. He was angry. Angry and frustrated that he had never been published. 

Looking around at the others as the workshop dude did his talk, I had the sense that everybody there was on the New Yorker's page. 

This was one serious, tight-assed group of people. It seemed as if this was a core writer's group that had workshops at Border's on a regular basis. 

Oh, Chicks with Bics – this night made me miss you so. We actually have fun when we get together. We laugh every time. I don't think any of these people have had a good chuckle in years.

Chicks with Bics enjoyed strawberry chocolate pizza and wine, but these ladies give off a joyful vibe.

Chicks with Bics enjoyed strawberry chocolate pizza and wine, but these ladies give off a joyful vibe.

 This was the most joyless group of intellectual idiots I've met in years. These are the kind of people who give intelligence a bad name.  

Most of the people there were in their 50’s and 60’s. I had the impression that they had lived mostly inside their minds, and hadn’t lived nearly enough in their bodies, much less the world beyond. 

Chances are, they probably wouldn't understand the value of living for the sake of enjoying yourself. 

The pursed lips, the fidgets, the jerks, and the insistence on sticking with the program – I guess they wrote and shared at these workshop? Even the workshop dude felt the need to get on with it and wrap things up with his particular talk, so the others could get going with what they wanted.

On the upside, this only took a half an hour of my life because I left as soon as workshop dude was done. No way was I going to write with these folks.

Every single one of them - male and female, young and old, plain and pretty, gay and straight – reminded me of the maxim: “You need to get laid.” Every single one of them probably needed to get laid really, really badly.

Have sex. You’ll feel better.

Have sex. You’ll feel better.

 The men needed to cut loose and be so obnoxious they might get 86ed from a bar. The women need to get so shnockered to end up sobbing hysterically in the ladies room of the local karaoke bar, struggling to get into their painfully tight shorts while their string bikini panties get tangled around their crotch. All the while testing the patience of the female bartender who had to babysit this embarrassment to womanhood who couldn’t remember her name, much less her address. 

It is impossible to recreate an image of that hot mess, but i was grateful and surprised to find this on pexels and pixabay.

It is impossible to recreate an image of that hot mess, but i was grateful and surprised to find this on pexels and pixabay.

For the record, I was the bartender in that sordid little scene, not the drunk bitch. 

But that's not the point. The point is that the people at that dismal self-publishing workshop really needed to actually have some life experiences that would inspire stories other people might actually want to read.

For instance, the workshop dude told his tale of self-publishing through a small POD publisher that charged him for their services, but got him distribution on Amazon and his one year contract. It cost him more than he made, and in one year he sold 300 copies.

“I didn't have to lift a finger to do it," he smirked.

Anyway, workshop dude with the swimming eyeballs moved on to greener pastures. He got some reviews from total strangers on the Barnes and Noble site; and a bigger small publisher (at least I believe that’s how it was) that had formerly rejected his work, has now picked up his book. He felt successful and good for him.

It all comes down to perspective. 

I received my books in early July and it's now late September. I've probably given away about 80 books, and mailed 20 (my mother said she can sell them). But I've sold just under 200 books in less than three months. I have spent way more money this way. I've also lifted many fingers, some in obscene gestures.

But the experiences I've had doing my little grass-roots book tour have been the stuff of dreams during the best of times, and the content of nightmares at their worst. Most, if not all of these vivid experiences, became the subject of my emails to you.

I don't know if I'll sell or give away all 1100 copies, but I'm sure I'll outsell 300 books in 9 more months. I'll also have more fun doing it.

Maybe I’m an optimist. Maybe I'm out of my mind. If nothing else, this DIY booktour/roadtrip has given me plenty to write home about. 

Don't forget to check out www.juneaumusic.com for all your social butterfly needs.  And while I'm plugging Jason's site, I'll plug myself. "Ella Bandita and other stories," is sold at Rainy Day Books and Hearthside Books for 10 bucks. I'll be in town for a few days in October. Call me and I'll sign it for you. 

By the way, would anybody like to review my book for the local paper? 

Peace,

Montgomery

PS My oh my! How self-publishing has changed since 2005. Much of this story is now outdated to the point of unrecognizable. But it’s fascinating to see how Amazon was a player in the Self-Publishing World even then. And Border’s has been out of business for years. I’m still sad about that.

PPS I have less than 150 copies of the original 1100 left. So, in all I did pretty well.

PPPS If you’d like to read the blog post about my times at the Brown Bear Saloon, click here.


The Unexpected Freedom Drunk

Can you feel the healing vibes of this wonderful place? Catalonia in the right window. She spent a lot of time there.

Can you feel the healing vibes of this wonderful place? Catalonia in the right window. She spent a lot of time there.

So not too long ago, I wrote a blog post about Adventure or Stability in the Writer’s Life. For those who’d like to read about that, there will be a link to that post at the end of this one.

 

Suffice to say, that’s all changed now and that’s given me something to write about.

 

I broke off my engagement and that puts me back in the freedom-junkie phase of life. But this time I’m on the road in a very peculiar adventure. I’m vagabonding on the outskirts of Portland until my ex and her daughter move out of my house. And I have 4 cats with me.

Aengus and Rimsky Korsakitty

Aengus and Rimsky Korsakitty

 

As break-ups go, this may have seemed sudden to my ex. But we’ve been hanging on by a thread for almost a year, and we’ve had many break-up talks in that time. We even negotiated everything from money to who keeps how many cats to me leaving my own house until my ex and her daughter move out, etc. All the logistics discussed beforehand, when it was time to pull the band-aid off cancer it was time. So how “sudden” can this really be?

 

Maybe I’m in pain and I’m too numb to know it. Perhaps I’ll feel it when I’m back home in my house that will be empty of their presence and their things. Maybe then I’ll be overcome with a tidal wave of grief and loss. But I suspect we stayed together far past our natural expiration date.

 

I felt heavy in my heart on waking up every morning for the first week or so, but nothing that I couldn’t shake off within an hour. Other than that, the most notable sensation of each day is relief.

 

I’m more than 3 weeks past that day when I tore off the band-aid holding our relationship together, and the crushing pain of loss has yet to overcome me. If anything, I feel freedom drunk.

Zephyr and Aengus

Zephyr and Aengus

I thought that ridiculous sensation of the post-break-up-freedom-drunk ended with my 20’s. This is different. I don’t feel the euphoric giddiness I savored after extricating myself from a toxic relationship when I was young. But I do feel alive. Many people have told me that I seem lighter since I left. Why wouldn’t I? I finally ended a relationship that lasted too long for all the wrong reasons – on my end as well as my ex-partner’s end.

 

Of course, the first place I stayed helped a lot. It was an absolute jewel, filled with color and light and spaciousness, and oozing with healing vibes I desperately needed. When I got there at Estancia Serenova, I was still in shock. My hostess, Lisa, was so warm and supportive and encouraging that I did the right thing. She also accepted all my cats. That was no easy feat, finding places that were ok with them.

Zephyr

Zephyr

I felt held in that beautiful space, and I stayed there for two weeks.

 

Where I am now is pleasant enough. I’m on a ranch north of Portland. I’ve enjoyed seeing the freaked out fascination of the cats over the sight and sound of horses, far more massive than dogs.

 

But it’s the opposite of the light and spaciousness of where I was before. It’s dark and constricted. I have far less space and the cats are starting to drive me a little nuts with their restlessness. But I can appreciate the yin and yang balance of this change – going from the light and expansive to the dark and constrictive. Healing of hope and renewal and then the reality that growing pains hurt for a reason. That’s where I’m at now. And part of me wants to run back to the space and color and light of Estancia Serenova.

 

And maybe I will. The cats liked it too. They had far more space to run and jump, and they loved going up and down that ladder to the loft.

Rimsky Korsakitty

Rimsky Korsakitty

This is not the most fun I’ve ever had on a road trip. But this post break-up freedom drunk is an odyssey of sorts, this bizarre limbo that is really starting to get to me. As a whole, I feel really blessed. I’m lucky that I’m able to distance myself instead of getting mired in the twisty, gnarly web of push and pull that characterizes the last gasps of a dying relationship.

 

Okay, time to stop now. I’m getting maudlin and gloomy. But this is the first thing I’ve written in weeks. Maybe I’ll return to my novel soon.

 

Link to previous post, click here.

By the way, aren’t my cats pretty?

Catalonia and Aengus

Catalonia and Aengus

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry... On-the-Road Loneliness Nobody Talks About - On the Road #15

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Hey y’all,

I wanted to show off. At the time, I wanted nothing more than to entertain my audience of friends and family.

Strangely enough, that is what I regret the most about the email journal I kept of my DIY booktour/roadtrip in 2005-2006.

That yearlong odyssey was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. That doesn’t mean it was easy. I only wrote home about the fun stuff, and therefore, I wasn’t being fully honest.

I never wrote about the loneliness. Those long stretches of desolation only came out in hints here and there that only the very perceptive picked up on.

I was so lonesome a sensation of grayness permeated everything.

I was so lonesome a sensation of grayness permeated everything.

Isolation has a relentless quality. 

From what I remember of that trip, there were many chunks of time when I was so lonesome a sensation of grayness permeated everything.

After the excitement of the first weeks wore off, and as summer gave way to autumn, the other travelers had gone home. That’s when I realized that in the “us vs. them” mentality of most Alaskan small towns, I was one of “them.”

Even though at that time in my life, I had lived in Juneau/Douglas for enough years that I had earned my Alaskan spurs, I was not an integral part of the places I passed through in the Interior 

I sold books pretty consistently. Since I had several hundred books in the back of the Beast, I was always “ON.”

Alaskans are very big on community. Contributing to the village is a core value of this state in a way that is lacking in many others.

Travelers and vagabonds don’t invest themselves in the communities they visit. We’re there for our own experience. If we’re cool and awesome about that, we come and go without impact, and are always welcome to come back.

Travelers are there for their own experience.

Travelers are there for their own experience.

 The locals were very nice. People talked to me readily at the bar or the coffee house, and seemed curious about this journey I was on. But nobody invited me home for any dinner, nor to any potlucks that happen as the darkness comes and the summer goes. 

I could hardly blame them. Even in my chats with people, I couldn’t connect with them any more than they could connect with me. The locals were settled and on home ground, while I was on the road.

Constant motion does something to a person.

A few months later, when I would be in Colorado, a college friend told me that I seemed very ungrounded. She was right. It was impossible to stay grounded when all I had to do was pack up the Beast and move on, and that created a here-today-gone-tomorrow mentality.

I remember when the switch flipped in my mind. It was around the 3-month mark.

After that, the only people I could relate to were other travelers looking for the next place to live. Although they were filled with excitement and a sense of adventure (which for me, was like cool water while dying of thirst in the desert), they were as unsettled as I was.

I learned to make the most of every genuine connection, however brief. Every chat and every conversation gave me the nourishment I needed to stay somewhat tethered to humanity, and kept the relentless grayness at bay, and for that sliver of time, I felt relief.

I can’t believe this is my life I’m living. I am so blessed.

I can’t believe this is my life I’m living. I am so blessed.

And then something would shift. The next adventure would begin, and I was off on another limb of this odyssey. I would be so excited I would forget the loneliness. All I could think was:

“I can’t believe this is my life that I’m living. I am so blessed.” 

Peace,

Montgomery

 

PS: This post is from memory, written now about the DIY booktour/roadtrip I was on for a year during 2005-2006. To see the previous post, Lazy Hiking and Positive Omens, click here.

Lazy Hiking and Positive Omens - On the Road #14

DIYAuthorMarketing

Hey y'all,

Honest...I think I wouldn't be keeping a journal if I wasn't sending it to fifty people. It's weird, but even though I have little to say this week, I feel compelled to write anyway. 

For those of you who live in Alaska, ignore this if you like, because we experience cool shit like this all the time. This is more for those who live elsewhere. 

I love lazy hiking. Sitting on my duff whenever I feel like, zoning out until I feel like getting up and moving again. 

It's the peak of autumn right now, and the colors are breathtaking. Staying last weekend in Denali, I couldn't find my camera before going on a hike; but I looked at the cloudy, rainy skies and figured it wasn't that important, so I left without it.

Of course, lots of special Kodak moments happened.

"Etch it in your brain," my inner voice said. "That way you can take it with you when you die." 

That's very nice, but I still wish I had my camera with me. Even if I can recall the image vividly at will, my bragging rights have been severely stunted.     

There had been a group of fitness-junkie hikers that zoomed up to the overlook and back, while I puttered along and sat on my ass regularly. They said the view was "awesome," and nothing else.

But they didn't have a squirrel flirting with them from branches three feet above their heads, trying to seduce some snacks out of them. I did. And that's the kind of thing that happens when you do lazy hiking. 

I continued on up even though the fog was totally socked in and it looked as if I wouldn't be getting any "awesome" views. But I saw at least five flocks of migrating (after asking around, I decided they were cranes) birds flying above me as they made their way to their winter homes. 

Whatever they were, it was impossible to miss them, because their purring birdcalls could be heard for quite a few minutes before I actually saw them. 

I had also seen a flock of cranes (they definitely were) flying above me in Fairbanks. And I saw folded cranes in Gulliver's - who is carrying my book - and in the College Coffeehouse - where I did my last minute storytelling.

My time in Fairbanks was effortless.  

Cranes are definitely a "thing" in my life, whether they're made out of feathers or paper. What can you expect from a woman who folded a thousand cranes and put most of them up on her wall? 

But back to my hike. I made it up to the overlook and there was a ridge trail continuing on. Once at the top of the hill, I hiked the ridgeline. The undulating ease of the ridge is the hikers reward for getting there. 

The mountainsides were stunning with the red, gold, and fiery colors, and the deep green spruce speckled throughout. The fog kept coming in and going out, and eventually, the rainy skies cleared up. 

The views alone were enough to make me regret my camera. And that was before I saw the sheep. 

Going the extra distance was worth it. A quarter mile up the ridgeline, I saw a horned head poking around a rock staring at me, and a smaller head joined hers. 

Looking to the right, I saw a young Dall ram - his horns hadn't curved all the way around yet - poking along the stray plants munching away. He gave me a bored glance and kept chewing. 

The mama sheep and her young were just a little more nervous. They were also right on the trail, so I gave them time and space to move, which they did hesitantly, eyeing me all the while. 

I watched the sheep, the lamb, and the ram for a while, cursing myself the whole time for not searching more diligently for my camera. They practically posed for me, and there was nothing but my memory to remember them by.  

I passed them and sat on a rock that gives that "top of the mountain" feeling and just soaked in the space around me. After a few minutes of sitting on my duff, I head footsteps behind me and turned to see yet another Dall sheep coming up the trail and she stopped about six feet away from me.

We just stared at each other for a few minutes. Maybe if I'd stayed still, she would have strolled right past me, but as soon as I moved, she scurried to the side and around me to join her group.

Now that was cool. 

Between the flocks of cranes and the sheep, I took the whole day as a sign that things were looking up and a breakthrough had happened on my book tour. 

Maybe I'm a superstitious ninny.

But this week, I heard from the Anchorage Press that they are featuring my last storytelling at Organic Oasis, instead of just putting it in the calendar. And book sales have been steady. Maybe that's only a coincidence.

Either way, I still love lazy hiking. 

By the way, many thanks to Jason Caputo for featuring my journal entries on his website, www.juneaumusic.com. Don't forget to check out the site regularly for info on what is happening in Juneau musically and artistically.

Besides some of the links are cool, but beware the infinite David Hasselhoff crotch shot. Unless of course, you like narcissism...and David Hasselhoff. 

Peace,

Montgomery 

This excerpt from my DIY booktour/roadtrip in 2005/2006 was one of my favorites. I don’t know if the juneaumusic.com site is still active with or without David Hasselhoff’s crotch shot. But my email journal ended up being my first blog during the infancy phase of blogging. Andrea, who was on my email list, forwarded it on to Jason and that’s how it all began. If you’d like to see the previous letter in this journal, click here.

Who is the Critical Mass? On the Road #12

OnTheRoad

Hey y'all,

Although it was a stroke of luck to get any space at the Alaska State Fair since I didn't get on it until the very last minute - and I am grateful to Denise of Non Essentials (homemade natural skincare) for giving me that space - I am nonetheless exceedingly relieved that I wasn't at the State Fair every day, much less paid exorbitant rates for a booth there.

There was something about the fair that made me think of the Celestine Prophecy and the Critical Mass, those select individuals awake to the spiritual journey of their lives, and will thus raise the human race to a higher level of existence.   

Even if this is an act of love for all of humanity, one could still argue the concept of a Critical Mass as another form of elitism - sugar-coated and with the new age stamp of approval - but still a statement that some people matter and most people don't.

Although I found the message to be inspiring, hopeful, and way groovy, The Celestine Prophecy is also one of the most badly written books I've ever read, so I couldn't take it completely seriously. Yet, some of the most intelligent people I know have eaten it up, and I don't know what to make of that.   

For those heartfelt idealists who really want to believe in the potential of all humanity, but feel the pull to...get in touch with their tendencies towards elitism…I suggest you go hang out at the State Fair. Even better, try to pursue your dream at the State Fair, and you'll get in touch real fast with your inner snob. Anybody who has ever spent any time in any customer service job knows just how awful, stupid, and downright annoying people can be.  

And at the Alaska State Fair, as I was commiserating with Denise, the lovely woman who let me set up a table on her "porch" free of charge, about the oblivious rudeness of those who come into her booth, I was struck by all the people. Swarms of people streaming by me with their hair spray-painted in rainbow colors, outlandish designs that will take the better part of the night and next day to wash out, designs painted on their faces, in tight hip-slung jeans in varying stages of fat and thin, with quite a few Mabelline cosmetics covering teenage faces that don't need make-up, and the scruffy teenage boys in their shapeless clothes. Not to mention tourists with their sparkling white, comfortable, "walking shoes" and their name tags. This sea of humanity walking back and forth was striking in their ordinariness, and there were so many of them. It occurred to me how few of these people really seemed interesting or vivid. Denise agreed and remarked that she was shocked that so many young women looked tired to her, and even more haggard than she was in her early fifties. 

"When I was young, I was young," she said. "These girls I know are young, but they already seem old."

On a positive note, a beautiful mother/daughter duo got my attention as they approached Denise's booth. I noticed them immediately because they had the same eyes - large and almond shaped, slightly Asian, and bright green. The mother was in her mid forties with her hair short and her clothes practical; she wasn't trying to impress anybody. Her daughter had her long hair in a ponytail, no make-up. She was about fifteen and absolutely beautiful in an effortless, natural way and her manners matched her looks. They spent quite a bit of time in Denise's shop and made her day, not only because they spent some money, but because they looked over her products with appreciation.  They stopped at my table for a minute. They didn’t buy anything but I didn’t care. They were not only pleasant and respectful, they were very present.

If I had to pick shoo-ins to the Critical Mass of those who are truly alive, I’d definitely choose these two. 

These ladies were a vast improvement over the stout dowager clad in a pink sweat suit with a goofy cartoon character on the front. She announced that she didn't read fiction, only the Bible; and she certainly didn't read fairy tales since she was a Christian.

"But I have many friends who do and I don't hold it against them," she puffed up.  "And I don't hold it against you for writing them."

I'm sure she felt the greatness of her spirit as she told me that and reveled in the righteousness of the narrow world of those who do not think. Perhaps she's an eager participant in book burning parties. 

Shortly after that exchange, I found myself thinking of the Critical Mass and wondering if maybe there wasn't something to it.

I'm sure this lady was certain that she was part of the Critical Mass of those who had been saved by Jesus. She certainly believes she's right and maybe she is...Who am I to say otherwise? Maybe we all are supposed to be mindless dogma junkies who live by a checklist of good behavior and see the Devil in fairy tales. Perhaps they really are the saved. Who knows?

If they are though, I will gladly go to Hell. Who wants to hang out with people like that for all eternity? 

So, who are those who make up the Critical Mass?

Call me selfish, call me vain…but in my world, the Critical Mass are those people who say:  

"Oh!  I would love to buy your book because I believe in supporting local artists."

Peace,

Montgomery

This is from a journal I took of a DIY booktour/roadtrip I did in 2005/2006. You can find the previous entry here.

 

Serendipity and a Squatter's Treehouse - On the Road # 9

AlaskaRoadTrip

Hey y’all,

This letter is written long after that wondrous DIYBTRT (do-it-yourself-book-tour-road-trip) of 2005-2006 was over. At the time, one friend told me to take copious notes so I would not forget ANYTHING. Well, I didn’t and fortunately, the emails I wrote during that time were enough of a push that I could much remember the gaps much later. I realize the perspective of looking back does not carry the excitement and immediacy of the present moment as I was living through it; but I hope to fill in those gaps and be more honest about the downs of an experience where I only drew attention to the ups. The downside of the original emails was that I was showing off.

So before the Blackburn Music Festival near the Kennicott glacier that I wrote about in these blogs here and here, Joe and I crossed paths with our mutual friend Ela while I was in Seward. Anybody who has ever lived in Alaska knows that this a small town in a huge state. Since there are a lot of seasonal nomads who go to various parts of the state to where the work is, I ran into a lot of people I knew from Juneau. Joe had been fishing out of the Alaska peninsula; Ela was working in Girdwood for the summer. Later, I would run into friends in Fairbanks, and then I would meet their friends who then became my friends.

Keep in mind this was before Facebook and other forms of social media.

So anyway, I knew Joe and Ela from Outdoor Studies - a program where we would learn about how to navigate the Alaskan outdoors – kayaking, rafting, glacier travel and crevasse rescue, ice climbing, rock climbing, as well as hiking, backpacking, and navigation. I broke my experience down to two years and Joe was in my first year, and Ela in my second. After we ran into Ela, we headed up to Girdwood with her and stayed the night in a squatter’s tree house where Ela had lived all winter – even with a broken back. She peed when she had to in a plastic milk gallon jug with the top half cut off, whereas able-bodied me and Joe went down the ladder to pee outside. She said we had to be careful going in and out because the town of Girdwood was tearing down the tree houses, so more people would have to pay rent, and this one was particularly vulnerable because it was close to Alyeska resort. So she always dressed as if she was coming out of a hike, and passed on the treehouse to us, as she was about to leave Girdwood.

I wish I could have taken her up on it. Later, Joe and I would stay the night with Pando in the treehouse (blog about Pando here). He may have claimed it because this was right up his alley. But I remember that night as being a challenge to my patience, because Pando and Joe were wasted, loud, and obnoxious. Perhaps if I had been drunk too, I would have been fine, but I wasn’t. So it was less than ideal to be in tiny treehouse in a loft with two drunks laughing at nothing on the floor below you.

I hope that treehouse is still there, but I doubt it. Girdwood has changed a lot.

Anyway, after the treehouse adventure – or maybe we stayed in the treehouse after this camping trip, I’m not sure – we met up with another friend from outdoor studies, Winter. She was staying with her father in Sterling, and her sister Brita was there as well. The five of us went on an overnight hiking and camping trip on what is now known as the Primrose and Lost Lakes trail – about 15 miles of hiking through beautiful rainforest and a stunning alpine ridge trail with stunning views.

Of course, it was a total blast and Joe loved nothing more than being the only guy in a group of girls. Even if he didn’t hook up, he loved being in the circle of how crazy and off-color women can be with each other with no men around.

Of course, I don’t remember the particular conversations from a camping trip I made more than 14 years ago. But I do remember how good it felt to be in such good shape that I could backpack at the last minute, and do a 15 mile trail with no problem. I also remember the beauty of Alaska and how much it hurt when it was time to leave that state. I also remember that I heard about Blackburn that would take place the following weekend from Ela on that camping trip. Once we arrived at how chosen place to camp, we sunbathed on the ridge, and chilled out in a warm sun while Ela told us about this really cool party. She was bummed out she couldn’t make it because of work, but Joe and I decided at the last minute to go.

The spontaneity and serendipity of that road trip were the headiest miracles about it. I was constantly amazed how a chance meeting led to an adventure, which led to another escapade and so on. I realize it’s not sustainable for most people to live like that all the time because I did this trip long enough to experience the exhaustion of it.

But it sure was incredible while it lasted. I still miss the freedom I had on that trip. 

Peace,

Montgomery