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Archive for the ‘Mary Sojourner’

Bad Girls and Tricky Boys

February 14, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Mary Sojourner

The Gateway Ghosts of Flagstaff, Arizona

by Mary Sojourner

They worked for free. No budget allocation necessary, no bids for building and installing, no $28,714.99 chunk out of the City budget, no steel, no rock columns, no treated log. Unlike the gateway sign recently approved for 89N’s entrance into Flagstaff, the bad girls and tricky boys of the early Nineties went on about their daily business voluntarily, which had much less to do with welcoming tourists to our town, and everything to do with survival — and what, to my human eyes, seemed to be fun.

They — the teasing females and wily males — were the ever-alert, ever-busy members of a prairie dog colony that once occupied the center of a little traffic circle on which a faux-classy motel and a pseudo-Mex fast food joint now squat. I was one of many lucky humans who watched them — and blessed the red light that often stopped us near their home, and the rare Friday late afternoon traffic jam that would let us sit through two changes of red to green, long enough to begin to see the differences between the individual dogs — the chunky one who was always scrounging food, the two young pups who seemed to chase each other from dawn to dusk. I lived in a trailer in Kachina, worked in town, ran errands on a daily basis. Over time, over seasons, the prairie dogs reminded me to slow down, pay attention, to get my head out of my too human reveries and resentments. (more…)

Shards Two

November 16, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Mary Sojourner

Ruminations on Memory and Loss, Pleasure and Pain

by Mary Sojourner 

When I was twenty-seven the world broke into particles: the shimmering leaves of the elm became lozenges of gold; the color red leaped out from everything I saw; corners, then curved edges seemed to seize my perception so that I had to lift my thinking above them. I was certain I was going crazy. I was raising three kids on my own and there was no time to go crazy.

Twenty years later, I was reading a novel when I found myself wondering how I knew the meaning of the word “cedar”. Did I see a picture of a tree? Did I sense associations? How did I know what each letter was? For months, I surfed above the ruminations, forced myself to speak and to understand what was said to me. I knew I wasn’t crazy, but I was terrified it was the beginning of dementia.

In late November 2008 I walked with my grown son across a Mojave desert playa. He talked about a friend of his. I had never met the man. Suddenly I wondered how I experienced the man. Did I imagine him visually? How, in fact, did I experience anything someone said to me. Again, I forced myself above the loop delay in my mine and pretended I was listening as I always had. (more…)

Solid Gold Peanuts

October 19, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Mary Sojourner

There’s No Such Thing as a Corporate Courtesy

by Mary Sojourner

“You can’t put a price on sensory experiences. They are so invaluable and so total.” – Hyatt Regency Scottsdale spokeswoman, Arizona Republic, Business, May 31, 2007

Totally. The wordsmith read the article on Hyatt’s plan to use soundtracks in their lobby, bars, restaurants, and spas. Five compilations are available on their website for download. One can download fifteen songs for $22. The first artist named was Thievery Corporation. I did not make that up.

The article pointed out that some properties were also “dabbling in branding tools….” Bend over and pull down your pants, tourist. We gotcha. (more…)

Life After Facebook

September 21, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Family, Mary Sojourner

Real Connection Takes Work, and It’s Worth It

by Mary Sojourner

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” — Hunter S. Thompson

Writer Hunter S. Thompson was a pro at weird. But he would find Facebook beyond weird. Even as tiny green tree frogs scampered around the edge of his tequila and there seemed to be an aardvark climbing up his leg, he would consider it surreal that contact with dozens of “friends” can morph into two at the click of Delete. That’s the rate of attrition in the five days since I left Facebook — and that’s just the people I shared messages and comments with. Yeah, I knew. Yeah, I’m not surprised. The more time goes by since I last logged into Facebook, the even weirder the few months I spent on it seem. (more…)

Shards

August 17, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Mary Sojourner

A Woman’s Life Offered Unto Itself

by Mary Sojourner

I wrote. When all was said and done, when I had known it was over, when I had barred the door behind my love, when I had burned his last letter, the one in which he diagnosed me as permanently broken and lost; when dust radio broadcast no more, and the word “much” meant only a great deal, then on a silver-gray day I wrote.

I wrote because to do otherwise was to negate the slab of juniper tucked in a niche below the porch roof of my little cabin. The wood was golden. A red prayer ribbon from a Tibetan nun looped through a crack in the juniper. A few weeks before my love (Code name: Monkey) had come to visit the first time, I wrote She Writes on the juniper in black marker. I wondered why I felt compelled to declare the ordinary. There had not been a day for two decades in which I hadn’t written.

A year later Monkey arrived to live in a cabin near me. A few weeks later, he began to die in front of my gaze. His ghost was hungry to move in — not to occupy Monkey’s cabin, but to seep into Monkey’s flesh, to live behind his eyes, to stare out, un-seeing and unseeable. (more…)

Raw Diamonds

July 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Mary Sojourner

Being Changed With Every Breath…

by Mary Sojourner

“… the Jeweled Net of Indra, a metaphor from the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, which portrays how all beings are interconnected across time and space.  The image, a vast net of inter-connecting threads, describes how at all intersecting nodes there is a diamond-like jewel that represents all sentient beings — human and other — that exist in the universe.  Each jewel reflects every other jewel in the vast net.  Whenever suffering occurs anywhere in the great, luminous net, a tear appears.  In times of trouble, people respond, and their compassionate response helps the net to reweave around the places of suffering.” — Olivia Hoblitzelle, “Get Your Dyin’ Done Early,” Inquiring Mind, Fall 2008

An older friend is afraid for his mind.  I am seventy-two and have been afraid of losing my mind since I was eighteen.  Olivia Hoblitzelle’s husband, Hob, had intended to give a talk on Indra’s Web at the Cambridge Insight and Meditation Center.  He was more than qualified.  He’d trained in Buddhist meditation and was a lay monk in the Tiep Hiep Order.  He’d taught for fifteen years. (more…)

Coinstar

June 15, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Mary Sojourner

Or, Why the Poor Gamble…

by Mary Sojourner

“Pin your ear to the wisdom post; Pin your eye to the line; Never let the weeds get higher; Than the garden…” — Tom Waits, “Get Behind the Mule”

Four years ago, I was meeting the moving guy to bring my seven pieces of furniture from Twentynine Palms to my new one-room cabin in Yucca Valley, California.  I’d been renting a 16’ x 10’ jackrabbit homestead. Sharing a kitchen and bath, one mid-May day of 111-degree heat and one day of 50 mph winds that ripped a window off proved me to be the Hippie American Princess I had always suspected I was.

I pulled into the cheapest gas station to fill up.  The cheapest gas in the cheapest gas station was $4.15 a gallon.  I shoved my credit card (SHOVED is the operative term) into the slot and watched the numbers launch. (more…)


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