New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Sister, You’re an Addict

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

Empowerment Is Not Spelled C-R-A-Z-Y B-U-S-Y

by Mary Sojourner

In the early Seventies, I was the divorced working mother of three kids, a community activist, peacenik, teacher — and a fool for weak men. In those days, Redbook magazine ran short stories by women, about women, for women. One night after kids and boyfriend were tucked in bed, my ad for the food co-op written, my lesson plan for my next class written and I was too wired to sleep, I opened Redbook. By the time I finished that month’s story, I knew sleep would be possible. And that I was neither depressed nor crazy — I was exhausted.

The writer had taken me through a day in the life of a dead woman who did not have time to die. The young wife and mother suffered a fatal stroke as she was racing up the stairs with three bags of groceries so she could start dinner, clean the apartment, stuff dirty laundry in a bag to take to the laundry and get to the school to pick up her kids. She knew she was dead. And, she had to keep going. (more…)

The Split

January 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Ecology, Mary Sojourner

A Self and Nation Divided

by Mary Sojourner

“Hatred keeps on increasing to a point where both you and I burn ourselves in mutual hatred, and to the Buddha the only way to solve it is that one party must stop…” — Ananda W. P. Guruge,  in Awakenings: Asian Wisdom for Every Day (eds. D. and O. Folimi)

In April 2001, I was on a solo road trip researching Nevada light, sage basins, indigo mountains, and small town casinos for my novel Going Through Ghosts. I had stopped in a convenience store for coffee and yakked with the young clerk. She had told me there was a warm spring in a nearby cottonwood grove. “Don’t tell anybody where it is,” she said.  “It’s for locals only. We take care of it.”

Nine years later to the month, I slid back into that silken water. Soft desert sunlight gleamed on the cottonwoods’ new leaves.  I listened to the whisper of the old trees and the silvery rill of water trickling into a series of pools below me.  The locals had continued to take care of the place. They’d reinforced the crumbling cinderblock walls around the spring.  They had set up a bright red battered barbecue grill beneath the biggest cottonwood and a sign that read: Please clean up after yourself. Thank you. (more…)

Opening Statement

February 24, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Mary Sojourner

I Am What I Am…

by Mary Sojourner

I walk east, away from the last light of the shortest day. The edge of the circling earth covered the sun a little earlier. I walk on Winters Road next to a ribbon of gleaming snow-melt in the High Mojave Desert. The colors of clouds and snow-melt shift: lilac to rose, rose to red-gold, red-gold to pink, pink to turquoise, turquoise to ice blue.

I let the colors fill my mind. There is barely enough room for them. I’m in a new level of my addiction recovery and withdrawal. I’m terrified ninety-five per cent of the time. Thoughts rattle. “What if? What if? What if?” The past and present jam up in the now that we are told so blithely to occupy.

Suddenly, I think not of colors or terror or the way a barbed wire ribbon of past and present has been streaming through my brain. I think of J., the gentle super-market bagger. He is a short middle-aged man, his hair faded rust. He wears thick glasses and he often talks himself through packing the groceries. “Good, that fits right there. Not the apples next to the onions. Too heavy, take out the milk.” (more…)