Ucross

August 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Ucross

Gray-golden fields; flat, rounded and pointy mountains; a haze of smoke in the air from those out-of-control fires in Yellowstone and Idaho. A bedroom with a good bed, good light; a huge studio with a desk, couch, several armchairs and a porch; meals prepared.

Dinner last night: cioppino with scallops, shrimp and mussels, salads, breads and three cheeses; flourless chocolate cake with whipped cream. Good company (4 men, 4 women; 4 writers, 4 artists) and no obligations, other than to clean up after myself. I even have phone and Internet service in my bedroom and a kitchen to make coffee in down the hall.

Yet I feel surprisingly homesick. I don’t want to go home, but I miss my domestic world, the triple feline and guitar-playing family. But the writing I have done is much better than what I’ve managed do in the city this year. So. No complaints.

Every night before dinner I’m stricken with shyness. I’ve only ever been in communal living situations with strangers twice: boarding school and college. Neither time was I leaving intimacy behind. And there were boys: walking enchantments, creatures too glorious for my eyes, sinister angels with the powers of heaven, strewn carelessly. None of that now. But the mountains, the sea of grass, the gray-gold, the sage green. Rumors of rattlesnakes. Cattle guards. A winding, metallic-blue creek. A full moon.

I had to spend most of Tuesday at the dentist because a tooth broke (at dinner the first night) but the doctor made the crown himself in 20 minutes, and it cost less than it would have in Manhattan—though not as much less as I expected. He said I needed at least two more crowns done soon. Medical tourism in Costa Rica, perhaps?

I’ve finished a novel (worked on, on and off, for over 10 years). It was really already done; I just needed to believe it was finished, to wrap it up and give it a final polish. Not perfect, but good enough. Now I’m sleepy.

A Bird came down the Walk—
He did not know I saw—
He bit an Angleworm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw,

And then he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass—
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
To let a Beetle pass—

He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all around—
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought—
He stirred his Velvet Head

Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home—

Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam—
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon
Leap, plashless as they swim.

–Emily Dickinson

Where the West Commences

May 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Ucross

I learned the other day that I was accepted into Ucross, an artists’ colony in Wyoming. Four weeks in beautiful country (late August-September), four weeks with my own writing studio, lunch delivered, dinner cooked by a chef…I can’t wait for the cool nights, the billion stars, the smells. Will I get any writing done? Who the hell cares! But, yes, I will. There’s not a whole lot else to do other than wallow in nature, and there’s only so much wallowing I can do in a day.

I wish I could bring Fitzroy—he would love it so much—but no pets allowed. No husbands either; I can live with that. I’ll have to bring my own chocolate and coffee (I’m picky) and get used to not being online whenever I want.

I’ll say it again; I can’t wait to lie outside in the dark, in the immense quiet, looking up at the sky. Mornings and afternoons will be beautiful too, but it’s the nights I’m dreaming of: moonlight, shadows, a tickle of snow on the breeze. It’s been too long since I lived in the country. I dreamed about my old house again last night, the same dream I always have: we’re settled in for the weekend, spreading out, when I start to think: didn’t we sell this…? How can we still be here? Very similar to dreams about dead people where you’ve having a nice chat and then remember…damn…

Next year: Yaddo, Macdowell, Latvia. Latvia? Yep, I just read about it: a writer’s colony of one in a boutique hotel in Riga every summer. Kind of lonesome, but I guess that’s the idea. Swamp the writer with Balkan ghosts. Make her run up huge hotel tab, Russian vodka. Maybe she’ll never leave. I bet they wouldn’t care if I brought a cat.

Don’t Fence Me In

Oh, give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above
Don’t fence me in
Let me ride thru the wide-open country that I love
Don’t fence me in
Let me be by myself in the evening breeze
Listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever, but I ask you please
Don’t fence me in
Don’t fence me in

Just turn me loose
Let me straddle my old saddle underneath the western skies
On my cayuse
Let me wander over yonder till I see the mountains rise
I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences
Gaze at the moon until I loose my senses
I can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences
Don’t fence me in
Don’t fence me in

Give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above
Don’t fence me in
Let me ride thru the wide-open country that I love
Don’t fence me in
Let me be by myself in the evening breeze
Listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever, but I ask you please
Don’t fence me in
Don’t fence me in

Just turn me loose
Let me straddle my old saddle underneath the western skies
On my cayuse
Let me wander over yonder till I see the mountains rise
I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences
Gaze at the moon until I loose my senses
I Can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences
Don’t fence me in

–Cole Porter

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