Thursday, December 30, 2010

something under the bed

was keeping me up last nite --
it wasnt my heart
because things like that dont happen
but there was a soft clicking thumping noise
that seemed to be coming from below
it could have been the bed springs
but it was too steady
i heard it every time i closed my eyes
but every time i opened them
it was gone, perhaps
by the straw that broke the camel's back
of one extra sensation too many --
a noise so quiet
to be rubbed out by the faintest bit of sight.
it could have been from the apartment below
but i dont think so --
it felt close and tight
i'm trained to think about these things, to think about
whats going on in my head when i hear sounds
or voices
or other things
and the only thing that i can imagine
this had to do with
is my heart
but then again,
things like that dont really happen --
only in books --
so i'll have to make sure
i write it down

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

boy nation (for Jhone)

we look in from the outside we look in through glass windows shaded frosted we look in builders of bridges makers of music makers of buildings and houses sometimes we build houses with girls we like that but it isn't often we make things fix things play a tune sculpt a vision from clay we are this boy nation we love you we love each other we forgive and forget we forge and forge ahead we protect and serve with girls and sometimes we do not understand you we find you lack logic you don't you rely too much on emotion

emotion doesn't get a bridge built but it will save a child from a burning building intersect where do we meet in this fight this impasse toward equality emotion gets a bridge built you just told me because i get you from here to there

we do live on love you say without love i would not put a nail to a piece of wood to house you to comfort you not a brick to a fireplace to warm you would not chop wood without love sometimes self love when you are not here you can build your own house please do it for me

without love i would not sew a costume for the play i would not attend the opera with you though i hate it without love i would not even sleep with you because you do not want me

love intersects

healing melding who are you

i am a girl with a boy's heart

i would rather hang with a thousand boys and a tailgate full of beer than not except when i see the exquisite beauty of that delicate necklace you made for me

Friday, December 24, 2010

Mirror, Mirror

I am a stunningly beautiful woman. I am six feet tall, I have natural dark red hair with a blonde streak strategically placed, a perfect complexion, big eyes, long, thick eyelashes that curl up perfectly, high cheekbones, luscious lips, dimples when I smile and a delightful chin. People notice and comment on my beauty every day since I was a stunningly beautiful baby. I do not need a mirror to reconfirm it, but I do get a kick out the vintage mirror I purchased at an estate sale. It always answers me like the Queen in Snow White’s did. Yes, it tells me that I am the Fairest in the Land. I carry it in my purse in case I have a bad day.  I promise you I am not an ego-maniac or narcissist, it is simply the truth, anyone will tell you and the mirror does not lie.
            My friend Paul wants to take me to a gay bar, he says they have these wonderful shows where men dress up like women. He thinks I will enjoy it and that they will love looking at me the way he does. He says I am a Drag Queen’s dream. Whatever that means. I told him I would go if we could do it tonight. So, now I am dressing up for this show and am inspired to dress in the sexiest outfit I have. If I am going to be a Drag Queen’s dream, I want to look and act the part. Leather bustier with my boobs pushed as up and out as far as possible topped by a sexy vest worn open in the front. Makeup applied perfectly with big green eyes and red lips. My weave accented hair hanging down to my waist in billowy waves. My leather skirt so tight my perfect ass looks magnificent. The black fishnet stockings add just the right touch and the strappy spike heels lift it all up and show me off for the stunning beauty that I am. Eat your heart out Drag Queens.
            I am stunned at how these men actually look like real women. They have no evidence of a stubble on their faces and no sign of their penis under very tight -tights and skirts as tight as mine. Their make-up is phenomenally perfect, their clothes are amazing and very sexy. It is hard for me to believe that a man can dance around in those spiked heels. I am having so much fun here, some are even singing in lovely womanly voices, although most are lip-syncing. The entertainment value gets an A++ from me. I can see why I would be a dream for them, they probably would all kill to have my looks.
            Now there is one coming out with a veil over her face. Suddenly, I hear a loud cracking explosion in my purse. The audience has erupted with cat calls and whistles as Miss Star Sapphire takes off her/his veil. OH MY GOD, I suddenly realize why my mirror, now just a pile of glass shards at the bottom of my purse has shattered. I am no longer the Fairest in the Land.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Uncle Albert And The Singing Exchange

Eskimo Helix

From my book for children about Physics: The Black Whole Or Will Booboo Brazil Find True Love In the Big City

Chapter Wondur

Robin thought a lot about the God particle. She sat on the bench in the park thinking about it, she thought about it in the shower, and she thought about it walking to the store.

She smiled to herself thinking, it is here. It's right here, and I can't see it! While we search for it, it is already searching us. Silently, it asked, what are you thinking? How do you behave? What do you want, what do you crave? She laughed a little, singing inside, "Where are you Higgs? Where are you, God particle?"

Nebula Helix, also known as The Eye of God

Before reaching the front door of the market, two women stopped Robin and asked her if she had any change. She looked into their eyes. Aliens! She wasn't quite sure, but she thought maybe planet Init or Sutura. Those creatures had everything. They were trying to help humans, but found we couldn't be trusted with their technology. We fight too much. On Init and Sutura, the aliens were happy. They didn't fight. They were too busy having fun.

The two women peered back at her from their human transformation that came to them upon entry to earth. They had dressed in shabby clothes, and they looked so lonely, so different. They said they were hungry.

"Change?" they asked again, "Do you have change?"

"Yes," she said a little nervously. "I have change."

She dug around in her bag and found some coins. She knew these aliens were testing her. Change. She handed them a few quarters, dimes, and nickels. What did they want to know? Robin tried to help people who were in need as she had been helped when she was in need. She hoped the aliens could see that humans were trying to improve. Trying to love their neighbors as themselves.

The womalians, who called themselves Mary and Laurie, smiled. They smiled and nodded their heads, handing her the change back again. Robin frowned, thinking she had failed the test. The aliens wouldn't want to help for sure after this. Sadly, she began walking toward the store again. She didn't know what she had done wrong.

"Don't you worry," Mary said with a quick clip in her voice. "Change is exchange. You know that! Think about it a little more, and we'll be back."

Robin did think about it. Change is exchange. Then she began to sing it, change is exchange! She danced it! Change is exchange! People stared at her in the market as she dared to skip through the store singing, change is exchange! She could almost feel that God particle bouncing around inside her. She felt so happy, she thought she might burst.

As she left the market, Robin saw Laurie and Mary walking down the street, and as she watched, they became balls of light. The spheres of light became smaller and smaller and they were gone.

When she returned home, walking quietly all the way, so she wouldn't get in trouble from the mean people who didn't like singing and dancing, she found a note on her kitchen table.

It read:


Love, Uncle Albert

While we watch them, they watch us! Photo from The Helix, whom very generously posed for this photo op.

Uncle Albert, private collection, The Internets

Sunday, December 19, 2010

reading: that cat

children's rhymse ii

that cat she wanted to go for a sail
to feel the crisp wind
to spin a great tale

and so she stitched
bits of leaf with her whiskers
and bound many sticks
with the help of her sisters

'til her craft was done:

cat-sized, quite small,
but sturdy, and tipsy,
then steady in squalls.

ii: the Whale

and so when the cat
was well out from land
she saw a fine beach

green trees
golden sand

so beaching her boat
she stepped on the shore:

and of cat, boat, and island
nowt was heard more.

iii: Riches: The Return:

'til later
much later
after spit-up and gale
our cat washed ashore
all glued up
and blue.

But when her five sisters
undid all her wrack
they found 'twas ambergris

and now they're quite rich.

2009 Peter Greene.

Friday, December 17, 2010

michael and the electric koolaid acid test

unto us a child is born every 4.2 seconds a baby is daunted pushed into this world and they suffer remember coming here i think of the color of koolaid and people die drinking it all sweet sips over the cliffs popular culture is like that sad most children born today and today and today every 4.2 seconds will follow few will lead strong enslave the weak take directions think i'll slip over to archangel michael's and put my hands in the golden light of his color into reds dip into rusty blues and nightshades what's behind that moon slide my finger across the brushes put them on my tongue drip down my chin weep an exotic dream of otherness

Thursday, December 16, 2010


If love is a vast sea
Can it be nirvana
As it is oblivion
Noisy as it is silence
Calm, harmonious as it
Softly brushes the beach
Stormy, tumultuous as it
Angrily smashes the rocks
Pulled by the moon
To ebb 
Tricked by the sun
To neap
Yet every day
High and low tides
Bring magic
To our landlocked lives
Hidden behind
The smiles 
We try to suppress
As we feel the joy
Of those so brave
They dare to ride 
In the tube
Of love’s giant waves.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Communion: Kneeling On The Bayous

In the Fall of 2009, I was finally standing on the edge of the Mississippi Bayous. As a small child in California, they called to me. Couldn't tell you why. Saw something in school during a film and fell in love. I would go there someday. I knew I would stand right on the edge of creation and weep. I had lost something there, in another time, some piece of me, and I would find it again. I kept that dream close for forty years.

I met a man who said he could help. An angel. I almost thought I could see his wings. I was in trouble. I had lost everything to an American economy that crumbled around me. I was terrified, wandering. I wanted to be someplace different. Anywhere. I felt his feathers flutter around me and I believed him.

He said the magic words, "I have a place on the Mississippi Bayous. You really have to see it."

Tears sprang to my eyes. Did he say that? Could this be happening? After all the grief, the loss, the rebuilding, the falling apart, would I finally get to the water to find that piece of myself I lost at seven years old?

I simply said, trying not to cry, "I have dreamed of seeing the Bayous since I was a child."

He showed me pictures of his home in Mississippi. I touched them longingly.

"Let's go."


"Mississippi. Pack a bag. Let's go."

I went. I was so desperate to be free from years of pain and struggle, I got into his car and we drove. And drove. And drove. Past bright beaches, miles and miles of unspoiled surf. I cried to myself. I put my head out the window and kissed the sun.

We drove up to his house. It was on stilts because of the floods. I had been there before a thousand times in my heart. I got out of the car and walked right out to the edge of the creation.

I was in heaven. I couldn't believe it. I was standing at the water of the Mississipi Bayous. I made it. I clapped my hands toward the skies. Oh magnificent you, whose name I do not know!

The man brought me a chair. He was kind, charming even. Helpful. We sat outside and I let the sight of the bayous pour itself into my soul.

He pulled his wings down; they fell into a heap at my feet.

"Were you abused growing up?" The man asked casually.

I made a mistake and the devil rose up.

I said, "Some stuff went on."

He had been an Army psychologist. I didn't realize I had opened the door to a room for him to dismantle me in. The warm air was still. I changed the subject.

"I can't believe I'm here. Thank you. Thank you so much for this."

"So," he was inside the room. "What position did your abuser have you in? How did he hold you? Did he make you strip?"

With those words he delivered a nearly fatal blow to my psyche. My hands were shaking and I struggled to form words. His face changed, became contorted.

"I don't talk about that." I forced the words out.

He asked another round of questions meant to systematically wear me down. Graphic and horrible. I sat silent. Looking out over the Bayous, looking for a piece of me.

"Time for dinner!" his voice boomed. He stood up.


"Elks Club! There's a dance."

I went. In a silent childhood speechless daze, I went.

It was Halloween. People wore magical costumes. Mardi Gras costumes. They were so warm, jolly. They talked to me. I was the shy child in the wonderland of another culture. A woman in a fairy costume sat next to me and asked if I wanted to dance. I said yes. I watched her whirl around, her gossamer wings seemed real. She laughed and held my hands.

The man came onto the dance floor and said we had to go. I left with him We drove to his house. He yelled at me. He told me I was disgusting. He told me I liked being assaulted as a child. And now I was a pervert for dancing with a woman. He loomed over me, judge and jury. The demons of my life danced around his head.

"We're leaving tonight!" He bellowed.

I ran out to the water. In the dark, I kneeled at the edge of creation. I threw my tears at the delta. I reached my hand into the mud and wiped it on my jeans. I found that missing piece of me in the dirt, the terror, the silent room of a child who had been given over. It would get darker after that, but not for long.

The bayous returned that piece of me, had held it close, and set me free.

by Robin Sneed, From The American Daughter


                            the balloonists

            there were many
                   who went by balloon in those days
            and       there was one
                 who  found a way to throw
                      clods of mud
                 from the ground
                             to the balloons -sometimes
         He knocked them sideways, blocked an
              ascent valve,  or just spattered
         the gondola's occupants  .Still , the
      balloons   followed  the wind , which formed
                  in the sky
        that  they  would  drift  along the edges  of
              not  blind  , not uncaring
       just   not  particularly motile
                    without the wind .Reaching higher
    many joined great stratospheric wind-lines
           and scudded rapid  through the sky
    below  , Tom (the mud guy)  could see  this organization,  far
         above his throwing range and
    whirling up the sky behind him and  before him ; mad
      with fear , he fled  one way and then another , eventually
            to collapse upon the ground,  arms
            folded over his head, weeping,  terrified.

2010 Peter Greene.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Patanol,Qualude and Cyboxin.

I have the cock of a wolf;blood thirsty and harmonous.I feed on broken hearts and weak human beings.I stab the life out of wenches and whores,my jagged and razor sharp teeth dance in meat. Im despicable of course,chasing lovers around the edges of trees,smelling the desperation they so wish was sweet.I am no cassinova,no not jesus Christ neither,just an errie version of ghandi,dripping blood from my nose. high on methamphedamines and hallucenajents,mushrooms and coke.FFFucking to fear wolves again,being a sheep with a devious taste for lightning bolts.

The Hard Sell

Over the course of my life I have held various positions of employment, with wildly varying degrees of success.  Apart from one job the average time I spent in any one place of employment was around 3 months.  This should tell you everything you need to know about my attention span, commitment to the banal and my intolerance for stupid people. 

Amongst my many job, I have been a Summer Camp counsellor for Jewish kids with attention deficit disorder, coupon checker for a major supermarket chain, engine silicon hose cleaner, drug and alcohol addiction clinic administrator, electronics factory stock controller and door to door vacuum cleaner salesman.  It is that last job and it’s assortment of attachments that I will now share with you.

It was a glorious time.  The year was 1999 and the world buzzed with the coming new millennium.  Bush Jr had yet to go crazy and start a million riots, the internet provided a new investment bubble that would never ever burst and Dawson’s Creek was just hitting its stride.  Everyone seemed to have a plan, the 90s were the foundations and the 00s were going to be our skyscraper to the heavens, it would be out decade.  We would build, burn, build again and touch the clouds.  The future lay in front of us and we were going to gang bang that bitch all night and not even bother leaving cab fare. 

I wanted to be part of this mad new gold rush that was going on, but not having any kind of investment capitol or internet programming experience, I decided to try something a bit different.  I decided to become a door to door vacuum cleaner salesman…  I don’t quite know how I came into or chose this position, but I guess I saw an ad somewhere and thought it would be a good thing to get into.  I mean the world will always need salesmen right?  If you’re good at it then the world is your oyster and I had a hankering for some sea food.

I attended the induction programme at the Welsh Kirby headquarters in Cardiff and found myself surrounded by people of all ages and colours, each looking to make a fortune and be the next millionaire vacuum cleaner salesman…  We were all seated and shown a video presentation featuring none other than William “I fucked your mom” Shatner.  The legendary cocksman sauntered up the camera, stared right into it and spoke directly to my soul;

”Yooooooou’re….. at a crossroads.”  This line was delivered while Shatner was actually at a crossroads on his trusted steed, with direction posts pointing to “College”, “Own Business”, “Doctor” and “Lawyer”.

“Yooooou want to make over 50k a year.  Fine.  But there is now only one path left open to you, become…..  a salesman.  The other crossroads have gone now, leaving you with only one choice.  So what are you going to do?  Give up, work minimum wage for the rest of your life?”

No Bill!  No, I will not!  I love you!!!

”By making this decision and by being here today, you have shown that you have the courage to make something of yourself.  Follow the instructions given to you by your superiors and you will have all the tools to make a success of your life.”

Shatner sat atop his horse, judging me, sizing me up.  I stared directly back at him.  I would prove myself to the only man ever to defeat the Kobayashi Maru.  By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan, I shall repay your faith in me Bill.

I was placed in the Port Talbot office, about 25 miles from Cardiff.  Famous for its steal works and being the home of Anthony Hopkins and Richard Burton, I felt confident that I would make this town my own.  I looked out over the visage that lay in front of me.  Silver neon glittered on the towers in the distance; the sea air filled the night sky.  I would own this place in 6 months, make it my personal sand box and suck the place dry, then move onto bigger and better things.

I was working in an office with around 12 other people in their 20s.  Our boss was a former army man who had now retired from the services and started his own franchise with Kirby.  He delighted in telling us graphically disturbing stories from his time in the Gulf, including a particularly graphic tale of a friend who got run over by a tank, causing his innards to be expelled through his mouth.  Yeah it’s fucked up, but we had to hear that story at least once a week, so I see no reason why you, dear reader, shouldn’t have to share my pain.

I was generally well liked and respected by my peers, which in a sales situation is pretty important.  You don’t want rivals taking all the best leads and cutting you out of the loop whenever a hot new cul-de-sac was going up, full of hip, young professionals with money to spend.  You not only needed to cultivate relationships in the community, but you needed to maintain and hold the respect of your co-workers.  Power was everything in this game; you were either giving it or taking it.  And I wanted to take it.  I wanted to take it all!

We would spend the first part of the morning shooting the shit, swapping war stories from the previous night’s sales calls.  Who was the lucky fucker that got the hot young teacher, who was the poor bastard who got the single, retired 70 year old shut in? 

From 12pm till around 6pm were the hard times.  We were forced to trudge around the streets and byways of South Wales knocking on doors, taking leads, telephone numbers and addresses of potential costumers.  This was difficult work.  As soon as someone opens the door and sees a sales man with a slick tie and even slicker hair, they can’t wait to get rid of you.  So you develop tricks instead.  You ask leading questions, charm them with humour and a devilish smirk instead, then when you got them on the hook, you offer them a free carpet shampoo (with a “wink” if its an attractive lady), free of charge of course with no obligation.  You then helped them fill out the information cards, promising that they would also be entered into a draw for a trip to the Caribbean.  Funny thing was though that as soon as we sorted that info, the coupons were thrown directly into the trash and as far as I knew, the promise of a Caribbean holiday was worth nothing more than the cheap paper it was printed on.

As this stage in my salesman career I still believed that I was the shit.  I had watched Glengary Glen Ross at least 3 times and had convinced myself that that sad sack Alec Baldwin could take some major lessons from me.  However when it came to the actual sales….  Well, that’s where I kindda fell down and become more like Stephen Baldwin.

The problem with the Kirby vacuum cleaner is that it costs a lot of money.  I mean A LOT!  We were selling them for around £1400, which we could get down to around £1200 with their old vacuum in part exchange.  This wouldn’t have been such a problem if I was selling in the high financed streets of Chelsea or Notting Hill, but in a working class town that was reeling from the recent closure of the Steel Works, people were not as willing to spend as much on luxuries as they once were.

It was a constant battle of wills between myself, the potential buyer and my conscious.  When they would tell me that “no vacuum cleaner is worth £1400”, I couldn’t help but agree with them.  Hell, at the time my car only cost £700 and I don’t think people really cared enough about their carpets to spend that kind of cash.

However bad things got though, there were slivers of success during my slide into Jack Lemmon-itus.  One memory of an 18 year old girl, home alone with nothing more than a laxed attitude to clothing springs to mind, as did the sales pitch I once gave to a married guy with a young kid.  The guy was a builder and during my demonstration I picked up enough cement dust, sand and grit from his carpet to fill a sack!  He asked me if I thought his toddler daughter, who spent most of the day crawling around on the carpet had asthma because of all the building debris in his carpet?  I thought about it for a few seconds…  “I don’t know??  I’m not a doctor?  I don’t have asthma?  It could be any number of factors???”

“Yes.  Yes, your daughter has asthma because of you.”

I had crossed a line into the dark side of sales.  It felt good.  It made me feel powerful.  I had used the illness of a child in order to make a quick buck.  I was a bastard, but god-damn it felt good!  Once I crossed that line once it became a lot easier to do it a second time.

I used a similar technique on a blind woman and her husband.  I took her hand and guided it into the sample cloth, letting her feel all the dead skin, dust, dirt and grim I had picked up.  What felt like just a small pile of dirt to me or you felt like a mountain to her.  I sold her the Kirby and moved on to my next sale.  I was starting to get the hang of this.  Things were going well and I had developed a ruthless streak that rather suited me.

Then shit started going downhill.  Every single one of my sales had been cancelled.  The guy with the cement turned out to be self employed, meaning that he was ineligible for the loan deal.  Even the blind woman decided against pursuing the sale.  Maybe she saw the light?  Though I suspect that even a blind person could see that paying that sort of money for a vacuum cleaner was pretty stupid.

I had been working there for around 3 months now and after my induction and training I had been selling for nearly 2 month and had yet to make a sale.  Smelling the one drop of blood in the water, my co-workers turned on me.  My bright, shiny, silver Kirby was stolen and replaced with a pitted, dull, old model by one of my fellow salesmen.  I needed a quick sale and I needed one fast.  My savings were starting to run down and all the gas I was using driving to sales pitches was starting to bleed me dry.  But I had an ace up my sleeve.  I had mad a diamond lead, a real 4 star prospect.  There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you more or less sell the product during the initial “lead” conversation.  You got them on the fucking hook and all you have to do is reel them in and let them flap about a bit on the dock before you bash their heads in and eat them for supper. 

I arrived at his house and started setting up.  Then something unexpected happened, it turned out that he didn’t actually want a demonstration or sales pitch, he just wanted to chat.

I sat there is stunned silence?  What the fuck am I, some sort of well dressed social worker?  I tried every trick and line in the book, but the son of a bitch wouldn’t budge.  He made me a cup of tea and proceeded to tell me how the whole “AIDS thing” was nothing more than a government created disease that they used to get rid of undesirable elements.  I sat there patiently, sipping my tea and staring out into middle distance.  While he prattled on about Elton John and his friends, I imagined what William Shatner would say if he could see me now; a failed, broken salesman with no money, no sales and being subjected to Tom Cruise levels of crazy from some random guy with too much time on his hands and an unhealthy interest in gay culture.

I eventually made my escape and headed for home.  I was now broke.  I had no more savings and had lost 20lbs in weight due to not eating in order to save money.  I took out one of the very few remaining coins I had left in my pocket.  I looked at the dull copper coin in my hands.  Heads I would head for home, quit and call it a day.  Tales I would stick it out, get some cash from somewhere and redouble my efforts (and also maybe watch Glengary Glen Ross again). 

So I flipped the coin….

Strange how I would put such an important life decision in the hands of time, space, force and gravity, or fate as some may call it.  But some decisions are way to important for a simple person to make, sometimes you have to just flip a coin and see what happens.

I headed for home, now a former salesman.  My dreams of success, Porsches, Cocaine parties and my own empire were now in tatters.  But I still get the old twinge of desire whenever someone happens to mention buying a new vacuum cleaner.  I size them up, begin formulating a “value build” in my head, raise the eyebrow and stare directly at them…

“How much is your home and health worth to you?”

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Date with a Swami

   I was invited to attend a Darshan for a man called Swami G. It sounded like fun and the man who was hosting was a renowned chef with a reputation for incredible food.  I was excited to accept, as I had never been invited to one of his famous events. Eric, the host, was not exactly clear about what to expect. Yet here, in the heart of suburban Mineapolis, I was about to attend my first Darshan.
Eric made a wonderful table of delicious treats, although it was a cold winter evening and everything was cold. Someone made a comment about the coolness of the food and Eric informed us that Swami G was a raw food vegan. I could have sworn there were some cold meat delicacies on the table but I would have been wrong. Swami G, dressed in a long burnt orange robe with a bright orange scarf wrapped around his neck, filled a plate and sat on the throne like chair Eric had arranged for him in the middle of the circle of pillows where the chosen audience to the great one would assemble.
Speaking while he ate he thanked us for coming out on this cold night to eat cold food and listen to an old man talk. The crowd smiled but no one laughed, we are very polite here in Minnesota and we didn’t want him to think we were laughing at him. He briefly explained that a Darshan was an audience with a holy man or guru, who was there to answer questions from us and to teach through those answers. He hoped that we would all leave the Darshan more enlightened. I was seated two people to the left of him, thankfully, he said he would answer one question from each of us, starting to the right of him. Breathing a sigh of relief, I would have time to come up with a question.
Eric was first and he asked Swami G why there were so many natural disasters and why the number of people dying in them seemed to grow each time there was another one. Swami G giggled and said, “Mother Earth is crying and she needs to call in as many souls as she can so they can be taught to care for her. When they have learned how to save the earth she will reincarnate them. It is Mother Earth’s only hope.” His answers to all of the questions were short and full of the exact explanation to why and how things were going to happen. When he got to me, I asked him about people who rise to high office around the world that appear to have evil and dangerous intentions, like Osama Bin Laden or George Bush. Serious this time with a deeply furrowed brow he said, “We all have free will and when people use it for evil they are pooping on the world, they will return as poop collectors, spending life after life picking up poop until they learn.” I really loved that answer and the images of evildoers picking up poop picked up my spirits.
When the last question was asked, Swami G rose and left the room, bowing and thanking us for the thoughtful questions. I helped Eric clean up and was about to leave when Swami G walked back into the room and put his hand on my shoulder. “The Universe is smiling on you,” he said and handed me a card with his name and phone number. “Call me, I have a message for you that the Universe wants delivered, but this is not the time or place.”
Curious, but somewhat anxious, I waited four days before I called. I started to say my name and he said, “I know who it is my child, the Universe has been waiting to hear from you.” I tried to say something but could not frame the words in my mouth. “You need not speak my child, I will tell you what I have been told to say and you may go your way. Your real mother was a creature of the sea, half seal, half woman. Your father is the one you know, he was on his way home from Germany after the war and stopped in Ireland to visit the seaside village where his mother was born. Despite having a wife back in Minnesota, he fell passionately in love with a beautiful woman named Airmid and she seduced him into making love with her. The result of that union was you. He wrote his wife, the woman you know as your mother, and told her that he was leaving her to be with Airmid. The day that you were born she told him that she must find her skin and return to the sea until you were ready to join her. Then she left and was never seen again. Legend calls these people Selkies, many believe they are mythical but they do exist and they live to create babies that are fully human. When they mate with a human and create a child, they are called to return to the sea.”
“Wait Swami G, are you saying that I am a Selkie? That is not possible, I am fifty years old and have no children. I love the ocean but I never wanted to live in it.” I was trying to exercise my Minnesota nice and not tell him he was full of poop. He giggled and said, yes he understood, but there was a reason for that. He said “ your father was so angry when Airmid left him and the villagers told him the story of the Selkie that he swore he would do everything possible to make sure that fate did not happen to you. He took you home to Minnesota, as far from the ocean as he could and when you were twelve years old he paid a doctor to sterilize you so that you would not be able to have children. He felt that it was the birthing that triggered the desire to return to the sea.”
Not believing a word he said and knowing that my father would never do anything like that, I said, “But, you said that the Universe was smiling on me, this is terrible.”
“Not so,” he went on, “You found me and I am here to tell you what you must do to truly live the life you were meant to live.”
“I am supposed to live the rest of my life as a seal, I don’t think so.”
“Not to worry, you can no longer be called to a life in the sea, but you are needed in Ireland. You must return to that seaside village and start an orphanage for Selkie babies, you are an example that will show them that they do not have to make babies and then return to the sea. You can teach them that they have freewill and can choose a different life than the one their mothers whispered in their ears on the day they were born.”
I was starting to feel sick and dizzy and yet I truly did not believe a word he said. I thanked him for his message and hung up the phone. I wanted to call everyone I knew and tell them about this crazy story, yet I could not make myself do it. I called my doctor and asked if there was any way she could tell if I was sterilized. She said that she could order an ultrasound but I would have to pay for it myself since it was not medically necessary. I tried for twenty years with Boyd to have a baby. Boyd died in my late thirties and the desire died with him.
My father, mother and grandparents were all dead. I called my fathers sister and asked if my father brought me back from Ireland after the war. She asked me if I was doing drugs. My mother’s cousin was the only one left in her family, she was eighteen years younger than my mother and told me that she was never told anything about me not being her real baby. I had my birth certificate with her name on it. I called an attorney friend of mine and asked if it was possible that it was wrong. She said that it was possible since it said that I was born at home. My mind was telling me that this was completely crazy but my heart was telling me to go to Ireland.
I have been in Ireland for thirteen years now and none of my orphan babies have returned to the sea. None have given birth yet. I teach them about their heritage and tell them that they have free will.  I cannot tell them not to go or recommend that they be voluntarily sterilized because I long to go myself. Only childbirth can show me the way and I am an old woman now. My sealskin is lost to me in this lifetime but I pray to find it in the next.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Witch Tree

- My name is Cory and I am a widow - It seems as though I have worn that sign around my neck for the last three years. I feel like an exile from a twelve-step grief group. Maybe that's why I threw the brochure away when it first arrived. Surprisingly, when my cat Moonstone knocked over the recycling bag, it was the first thing that caught my eye. “Invent Your Future, Begin Your Life,” it was a workshop at the North Woods Retreat Center. It was only January and it didn’t start until August. August seemed a long time away, also it marked the anniversary of Franklin’s death. “Maybe it’s a sign,” I said to Moonstone, who was glad I wasn’t yelling at him for knocking over the bag.
I met Franklin when I was eighteen and he was thirty three.  I’m forty-three now and there are days when I feel my life is over.  He died so suddenly, I never thought I would lose him over a bad cold, but three weeks after that first dreadful cough started he was gone. He fought so hard but the pneumonia fought harder. 
            Nothing was fun for me anymore and I walked through life as though I was following a vague instruction manual. Franklin had so many interests and his enthusiasm for them was contagious. I learned to love baseball; jazz, hiking, biking, and the stock market. Even history, his passion after me, was fun when he told me stories of dynasties, wars and ruthless dictators.
            I knew he would expect me to still love these things, but I couldn’t. I cried every time I heard a baseball score and I couldn’t even get myself up for a walk around the neighborhood without weeping. I quit seen our old friends because they were tired of inviting me only to hear I was not ready to go out yet. I also knew I would have to get going and find something I could do that wouldn’t make me sad. The idea started to creep into my mind, “ Perhaps this retreat is just the thing I need. Perhaps in August, I will be ready.”
            Everything that happened between January and August is a blur. I could scarcely believe it when the day finally arrived and I had no excuses to keep me from forfeiting my $500 registration fee and staying home.  I was even getting a little excited about the prospect of spending some time on the shore of Lake Superior. I heard about and was eager to see the North Woods Retreat Center.
            I put the top down on my convertible, popped in a James Taylor cassette, opened a large bag of corn chips for nourishment and began the long drive on the warm August day. I pulled into the conference center five hours later, tired and apprehensive about the whole week ahead. I found my cottage and when I saw how small it was I was glad I had paid the extra fee not to share it with another person. I could see I packed too many comforts of home for this tiny place but I needed to feel at home here if I was to stay.
I unpacked my portable cassette player and put in the tape of Native American music, drums and chants. I purchased it because it seemed to fit my image of the kind of music I should listen to in the north woods. Then I propped myself up on the bed with the two small pillows provided and started to read the new Rebecca Scott mystery novel I bought for the trip. Before the end of the first page I was sound asleep.

In the main conference center building there were five circles of chairs spread around an oak tree that grew out of the ground in the middle of an atrium. The roof was a dome shaped mosaic of glass; most of the panels had abstract stained glass designs. A few were clear and projected rays of sunlight into the room.  It felt like a cathedral that mother nature had blessed and made me feel as though I was taking part in a spiritual quest.  I took a tray like the others in line at a buffet table and helped myself to a blueberry muffin and a cup of tea. I found the circle for my group easily since a smiling man with a badge that said, "Michael" stood there holding a sign in bold letters  “Inventing Your Future.” Michael had a distinctly Irish face, filled with freckles and boyish appeal. He had sandy colored hair with reddish highlights. It was slightly silver at the temples and along an inch wide strip of hair that fell softly in a wave from his part on the right side to just above his left ear. The silver made me think he might be older than he looked. I looked at him and felt a wave of guilt sweep over me. He had the same kind of smile that attracted me to Franklin.
            The meeting started like every other workshop I have ever attended with a round of introductions. I pulled out my imaginary sign and announced my widowhood and desire to learn who I am and how I am going to spend the rest of my life. Sitting to my left was a woman named Doris who said what I would I have liked to say, “I’m not interested in telling anyone why I registered for this course. It’s no one’s business.”
            After preparing us for the topics to be covered in the week ahead, Michael gave us our first assignment.  "Find a harmonious place somewhere on the conference grounds where inspiration will cover you with its blanket of creativity. Enumerate all the things you want - no limitations. Be enterprising and audacious, tap into the depths of your imagination. When you are done, pause to meditate, perambulate the grounds, return to your primordial haunt and catalog all the things you don’t want. Same rules as for the want list. Take time for another meditation. Then  make a list of the rules you live by. They can be as routine as your daily schedule and as deep as the values and convictions that you will not violate at any cost."

Michael’s words curled in my mind like spoken calligraphy. They left me wondering how to begin so I perambulated the conference center grounds until I saw my perfect place.  There it was an old gnarled tree growing out of a rocky formation along the shore with only a few leaves left on it although this was only August. Native American’s called them Witch Trees, trees that live a long time and seem to be nourished only by stone and rain.  The roots at the base of the tree, puIled up by the shifting earth, formed a knot that looked like a small chair. I sat there hoping that the tree would be my muse and help me write this Want list.
All I really wanted was to have Franklin back - To walk with him along the sunny beaches of our favorite vacation island in the Caribbean - To drive him crazy with my dreadful singing - To show him how well I can score a baseball game - To brainstorm with him about which stocks to buy – To laugh with him – To love him.
Then I started another list of wants, possible or hopeful wants. The first page was pretty boring things like losing weight and getting more exercise. Then I started getting into the assignment and felt free to write what I really want.  I want to love again – To be loved again – To learn more about myself – To find my gifts – To be spontaneous – To be eccentric  – To be uninhibited – To shed my cocoon  – To sail a boat – To live on the Ocean – To learn to draw and paint – To learn the psychic arts - To stand in the spray of a waterfall – To take time for daydreams – To know my spiritual side – To seek the divine – To be mysterious. Then I set my journal down and watched the waves lap the shore.
The Don’t Want list was harder so I started with things about bad health, obesity and loneliness. I ended with not wanting – To be predictable – To be reliable – To fear my dark side. Where in my head did I have that fear?  I am not even sure what my dark side is. Did the want list inspire me? Was it the Witch Tree? The deep gray water and waves pounding the rocks?
Just then I heard my stomach growl and made a quick addition to my want list – To eat dinner.
Rodney and Rachel, a married couple in their mid seventies, were just sitting down and asked me to join them. They had a common goal for the course of using it to decide if they should stay married since their fiftieth wedding anniversary was coming up in November. They said they still loved each other but wondered if they were in a rut that a separation might cure. They had not been more than a few yards from each other since they both retired ten years ago.
.            “How are you two doing on the assignment?” I asked.
“Oh, we both finished,” answered Rodney, “ We are about to go for a drive along the North Shore. Would you like to join us?”
“ I better not. I’ve got the rules list ahead of me and my muse is calling.”
             After dinner it took me a while to get back into the project so I roamed the shoreline. I found myself noticing, as though for the first time, the myriad shades of green on the trees and in the grass; the rough and smooth textures of the rocks and tree trunks that I passed; the sounds of unseen animals rustling somewhere near on the forest floor; the sounds of different birds as they called out their songs; the smells of ripened fruit and moist earth seemed to fill the air. It was the first real walk I had taken without Franklin and I had not thought of him until near the end of the trail. 
I went back to my witch tree and started to write my rules list. Never thinking of myself as a rules person, I was surprised when I found myself with a list that was longer than the other two. I started with my daily routine. I suddenly realized that I was in a rut. All those inane little daily rituals were really important to me. Franklin used to laugh and say, “Why do you rush around in the morning to get to work just so you can go to coffee break? Why did I? I never answered that question for him. For fifteen years I gossiped and drank coffee with the same people. I guess I thought they would leave without me if I wasn’t there by 7:30.  The longer I worked on this list, the deeper the realization that I did not consciously know what my deeper convictions were. Is that why I wanted to seek the divine and know my spiritual side? I was exhausted when I finally finished. I slept deeply to the muted sounds of native drum songs.
The next day I rose feeling refreshed and contented. I felt ready to throw myself wholeheartedly into the rest of the workshop. Breakfast with my classmates was interesting. Most had enjoyed the first day’s assignment. Everyone but Doris who spoke only to condemn the course as a waste of time: “If I could get my money back I would have gone home last night. I’m already tired of looking at Michael up there acting like the god of transformation and it’s only day two.”
“I think Michael is inspiring,” I said.
“Sure, if you have a pocket dictionary,” Rodney spouted.
Doris was an enigma. She looked like an endearing teacher I remembered from grade school. She acted like the kind of disciplinarian who slaps a ruler on her hand to remind you that it might be on your knuckles or worse, if you don’t behave. She seemed to be my age or older. She had long blonde hair that flowed over her shoulders in soft waves and eyes that were so incredibly green they seemed unreal. I wanted to like her but she was not making it easy. Every time I spoke I felt she was rolling her eyeballs as though what I said was na├»ve.
Michael spent the whole day lecturing on tools for understanding yourself and your relationship to your community. The Pyramid of Human Needs grabbed the group’s attention. We spent an hour discussing which of the needs each of us felt were and were not being met for us. I felt my need for self love had evaporated when the love of another had been pulled away from me.  I also felt that my community lacked supportiveness since I depended on Franklin to provide those needs for most of my adult life. Transcendence, the tip of the pyramid was the hardest one for everyone but Doris who announced,  “I have already achieved transcendence. I am a deeply spiritual person.”  She did not offer any examples of how she accomplished this, merely stated that she had. Eyes were rolling in her direction this time.
In the afternoon session Michael wrote on the blackboard as the group called out answers to his question, “what are the attributes of people who live their dreams?” We came up with answers like; self confident, talented, passionate, committed, driven, visionary and risk taking. Then he gave us the assignment for the rest of the day. “Evoke both your right and left brain to bring forth those attributes, good and bad, you know exist within each of you. Again make a list. Put your feet to the fire. Then I want you to take a few of the magazines on the table and bring fifty pictures to class tomorrow. Cut them to three by five-inch size. Have fun.”
Fun indeed, the attribute list was mind boggling to me. I really did not know where to start. I did not feel I had any of the attributes we came up with in class. Did that mean I am doomed to never living my dreams? I really needed the witch tree to brew me a pot of attributes. I started to write: I am a woman – I am a widow – I was a loving wife – I am an introvert – too serious – too opinionated – too consistent – good at my job – compassionate – analytical – a perfectionist. Why is this so hard? I just could not think of anything else. I went back to my cabin and attacked the picture project. That was hard too, my perfectionist attribute would not let me cut out anything that was not just right. Whatever that meant. Finally I finished and went to bed with a headache, still wondering why this assignment was so hard. Even the native drums did not quiet my thoughts.
The first thing Michael did in the morning was to ask us to take out our pictures. I immediately noticed that I was the only one who cut them out in neat three by five boxes. Most of the people ripped them out and their piles were ragged and uneven. That bothered me. Next he paired everyone up with another person in the group.  Doris was assigned to be my partner. I was disappointed. I was even more disappointed when Michael told us to exchange our bundle of pictures with our partner. Then we were to go through the partner’s pictures and put them in order of how much we liked them. We were to give the one picture we like best back to the partner and tell them why. Doris liked the one of an eagle flying through the clear blue sky, “It makes me feel like I could fly,” was all she said.  I found that I liked all of Doris’ pictures and it was hard to pick a favorite. Finally, I chose one of a shack on an ocean beach at sunset and told Doris, “I would love to live on the ocean and sleep peacefully to the sound of the waves.” I didn’t care about not getting back the rest of my pictures and was happy to have Doris’.
“I want you all to eat lunch with the person you exchanged pictures,” Michael presented the next assignment. “When you have had a chance to know each other better take notes as each of you tells the other what your feel are your own attributes. Focus on the things that you believe will help you to achieve your list of wants. If some of the wants on that list no longer seem important to you, cross them out. Before you go I want you to each sign up for a private meeting with me tomorrow. The group attacked the sign-up sheet and by the time I reached it the only time that remained was seven a.m. 
Doris was pacing around the oak tree waiting, having been the first one to get on the sheet. “I suppose you really want to do this? You seem like such a Girl Scout.”
“Of course,” I was stunned. “I can’t believe you would say that. I paid for this workshop and I plan to learn something here. If I don’t it won’t be because I didn’t give it a whole hearted try.”
“O.K., O.K., you win. I’ll play the game. Let’s go to lunch and learn more about each other,” Doris said with a strong overlay of sarcasm.
I told her about Franklin and how hard it’s been since he died. “ I have lived with the pain of a broken heart for too long. Maybe I am looking for a miracle cure for heartache but I don’t know what else to do. I feel I am dying inside.”
“What are your parents like? Did they have a good marriage?” Doris asked.
“No, my father wasn’t the kind of person who should ever marry. When I was ten years old I made a pact with myself to marry a man who was the opposite of my father and that was one of the things I loved most about Franlklin.”
“Is your father an alcoholic?” She had a sympathetic look on her face and I did not take offense to the question.
“He never will admit it but I believe he is. My mother is still taking his abuse and letting him get away with whatever he wants.”

“I understand, I came from a family like yours. I also vowed to marry a man who was the opposite of my father. My husband is a dream come true in every way my father was not. I just didn’t see that he also had an addiction. Not alcohol, drugs, women or gambling, he is addicted to having children. I feel like I am an incubator and nursemaid.”
“How long have you been married?” I asked.
I’ve been married twenty years. I gave birth to five children then I told him I was through. Since then we have adopted five more, the most recent is a baby girl from China. I will be sixty-five when she graduates from high school.”
“Is that why you took the class? Are you thinking of leaving them?” I envied her and pitied her at the same time
“I don’t want to leave them but I’m dying inside too. I’m afraid if I stay I will freak out and end up in padded cell,” her eyes were misting over.  “Unlike you I have lots of interests of my own. I paint, I dance ballet, I sing, and I play the piano and guitar. Those things have been taken from me because I spend all of my time taking care of children.”
“You’ve really got some big time thinking ahead of you. Is the class helping at all?” I was stunned by her story.
 We agreed to find a place to review our attribute lists and try to help each other pare down our want lists. Amazing to me, we shared many of the same wants with the twist that I needed to learn many of the things that she already knew. I told her that I admired her self-confidence and her ability to speak her mind. She told me that she admired my courage and sincerity.
“You have a rare gift,” she took my hand, “the ability to make people feel safe, as though you would accept them unconditionally no matter what crazy things they might say or do.”
 I told her that she had a rare gift also, “the ability to project legitimate authority. I bet your children are highly motivated to please you.”
“I always thought it was fear, but they seem to love and respect me too.”
We talked about our spirituality and I was enthralled to know that she was a student of world religion and currently was involved in a pagan group at the Unitarian church she attended. I asked if I could view a ceremony sometime. She seemed pleased.
“The group I belong to is all women. We follow the rituals of the Native American goddesses. I have a book I want you to read, if you are still interested I will gladly take you to our next full moon ceremony. Its in three weeks.”
We spent the rest of the day together going over our wants and checking them against our attributes. Thanks to Doris I found that I had more positive attributes than I would ever admit to on my own. We had dinner together at a log cabin diner she knew just a few miles away that had a great view of the lake and was angled on an outcropping of land, that faced west and provided one of the most glorious sunsets I can remember. Every shade of purple and pink and coral seemed to light up for our own private showing.
What a great day, I was happy that I found a friend in the north woods and I was eager to read about goddesses. Doris said she would get the book, “I have an extra copy I was meaning to send to a friend but I would rather give it to you. I hope you enjoy it.”
I was up until three o’clock reading her book, “Sisters of the Moon,” and I was so tired when the alarm went off that I almost did not go to my meeting with Michael. It was no longer important to me to have a man validate who I was and I really did not care to discuss my future with him. My day with Doris and my night with the goddess book filled me with a new sense of power and strength. My new role model was Coyote Woman, the trickster. According to legend Coyote Woman teaches us to grow by tricking us to take chances. Doris was my Coyote Woman and I was waiting to see what tricks she could teach me.

“You certainly are a model student,” Michael gave me one of his sincerest smiles, “I’ve never seen anyone take my course so seriously. I hope it’s helping you with your journey.”
“Yes, yes, you’ll never know how much it helped,” I said smiling back.
“ Is there anything you would like to ask me? Anything I can do to speed you on your way.” 
“I can’t think of a thing,” I said.
“Then you are ready for your final assignment. Tomorrow we will have class until noon. Then we will re-convene at six p.m. and each of you will present a totem to the class that represents who you are. It can be as simple as a stone you found on the shore or a picture you like. It needs to be something concrete, an artifact, that, like a Native American totem pole, represents your past, your present and your future.”
            When I got back to the room there was a note on my door. Doris wanted to meet me for breakfast at the trading post in town. I was thrilled to have the chance to tell her how much I loved her book. She was sitting at a table on the deck, the one nearest the water, when I arrived. I bent down and gave her a hug.
            “Did you like the book?”
            “I loved it, I can hardly wait for the next ceremony. You have to bring me with you now. I’m so glad you are here I need your help with the next assignment.”
            “You mean the totem?”
            “How did you know about the totem? You haven’t had your meeting with Michael yet.”
            “That’s something I need to tell you. I’ve deceived you and I hope you will understand. You see - Michael is my husband.”
            “But, Michael, how could it be Michael, you act like complete strangers.?”
            “When I told him I wanted out of the marriage he made me promise I would attend his workshop, as a student. I also had to promise I would not tell anyone but I don’t think its fair to you or to me. I’m counting on your non-judgmental nature to bail me out.” Doris looked sad for the first time.
            “Don’t worry about it.” I said surprising myself, “I understand completely. It was terribly unfair of him to coerce you into attending but I’m so glad he did. Now I can see what you meant by the god of transformation.”
            Doris knew exactly what I wanted to do for my totem and she helped me purchase just the right things to pull it off. Then I asked her what she would do for her totem.
            “I am going to make some business cards and let Michael figure out what they mean. I haven’t done it yet so I’m not quite sure what they will say.”
We spent the rest of the day walking along the shore collecting rocks, hiking up a mountain trail and talking. She told me tales of other Native American legends, the animal spirit guides. She said I could pick one of them to watch over me if I become part of her group.
“I picked the eagle because it stands for spirit, majesty, renewal and the ability to soar to new heights. Eagle teaches how to be strong and be a woman. Eagle turns up to help me when I least expect it. I knew it when I saw the picture of the soaring eagle in your packet.”
I told her, “I loved the story of Coyote Woman. She reminded me of you.”
“Don’t be so hasty,” she said, “You don’t want the trickster around all the time. No, I think the otter should be your guide. You need to learn to have some fun. Only Otter can teach you to play.”
The class on Friday morning seemed like busy work, I tried to give it my full attention but I drifted into daydreams more than once. I looked around the room and notice that everyone seemed as distracted as I. Finally, Michael gave us the evaluation sheets and said we should turn them in at the center office on our way out.
Six o’clock arrived and the group quietly gathered each carrying a paper bag with their secret totems inside. Mine was in a basket, which I covered with a black lace mantilla to mask the contents. Before the totem ceremony started Cory asked the group if anyone would mind if she did her totem last. The group agreed.
            Each totem was unique and touched Cory’s heart as she listened to the stories behind the choices.  Rodney and Rachel’s joint totem touched Cory the most, it was a homemade Japanese serenity rock garden. The largest rocks represented major milestones in their life together, smaller rocks represented interests that each had that were not shared, the sand represented their life today and the small rake represented the work they needed to do to keep their garden alive. Cory was also impressed with Doris’ totem, two stacks of business cards. Doris hand printed, in script, her name and her calling at various times in her life on the cards in the first stack: daughter, student, wife, and mother.  In the second stack each card was identical. She handed one out to everyone, including Michael, below her name was the word – Freelance Artist.
Finally it was my turn. I took the black lace off the bark basket and began to assemble an altar. I was ready to do my first ceremony, I only wish it was a full moon. Doris taught me that ceremonies had certain aspects, which must always occur in threes. First a chime must be rung three times. I found a chime block with three chimes and a small mallet at the trading post. When I rang the chimes the group became quiet. I was nervous they were watching me so intently.
            I lit three candles and said, “ all four of the elements are represented here. The candles represent the element of fire. The feather represents the element of air, without air the eagle would not soar. The eagle teaches us of our ancestors and how we can use their spirit to attain new heights.”
            I picked up a rock I found this afternoon on my walk with Doris, “the rock represents the element of earth. I chose this rock because it is heart shaped and has a jagged crack down the middle. Like my heart it is broken yet it remains whole. The coyote lives in rocks and cliffs above the lake. The coyote is a trickster, it has used this workshop to trick me into seeing that my heart can heal but it will always be scarred.”
            I had a mason jar of wine in the basket, I poured into a bowl as I said, “The wine represents the element of water. It reminds me that it is all right to enjoy my life as the otter finds time to bathe on a rock and play with its friends. It is my future, to be more like the otter. I will let it guide me to be more playful.”
            I took a vial of lavendar oil that Doris gave me and said, “ The scent of lavender has qualities that relax and ease a restless mind. I anoint my totem and will anoint each of yours, if you wish, so that you may move into your new futures with a calm assurance that you have done the right thing.”
            Every one brought their totems to me and I anointed them with the lavender oil in the shape of a crescent moon.
            “I now close this ceremony with the chimes and my wishes that you all reach your dreams.”
            As I gathered up my altar I noticed that both Michael and Doris were gone. The others thanked me and we excused ourselves to go back to our cabins and pack for the long trip back in the morning. Doris was waiting for me at my cabin door.
            “What did your card mean, Freelance Artist, I still don’t know what you decided to do about your marriage?” I really was puzzled.
            “Michael knows, the word Freelance is the clue. I wrote him a note and put it under his door if he has any doubts. We have a lot of details to work out before I can be free of him. I still will be a mother to the children, but I need a little time away. He will want the children to live with him in his huge home full of rooms. He can even add a few more if he finds the right woman to clean up after them. I am going on a trip first, to Paris. I have always wanted to see the Louvre and I can’t think of a better way to get inspired.”
            “You are incredible. I guess an eagle can’t be chained down forever. Good Luck, call me when you get back.”
            “Don’t worry about that, I’ll be back in time to take you to the full moon ceremony.”
            “Great, I’ll get the added bonus of hearing about your trip.” I opened my arms to hug her and she kissed me – on the mouth. I never had a woman do that before. It was a soft sweet kiss and she lingered for few seconds before she pulled away.
            “I’m sorry if I scared you, I didn’t mean to, it just happened that way. I better go. I’ll call you when I get back. Bye now I have to go if I’m going to get to the Duluth airport in time for the red- eye.”
            She turned and walked away. I tried to tell my self it was nothing but a friendly kiss but I knew it wasn’t so. I leave these north woods with another dilemma. One that’s very different from the one I brought with me