End of 2020
I’ve been “on the road” during the past few years, not running, but living in the midst of uncertainties and the mini-storage of most of my belongings, including The Books. This unsettled, mildly peripatetic existence involved living for 2 years in an all-electric rental house that was built in 1979, the year I moved to California. I was concurrently overseeing the very event-filled construction of the Dream House. My mind could not help but recall my much younger days of being footloose, and not fancy-free, but free!
During that gypsy phase of my life, I’d take to the highway, or freeway, very freely. The beginning of NORTHSTAR starts out with my character Shannon, in her Mustang, speeding on I-80. Such a scene was a frequent one during my single years, although I always drove within the Jimmy Carter-mandated speed limit. My Muse always traveled with me back then, although I was scarcely aware of her existence. I presently more than acknowledge her existence. In fact, I have provided her with her own living —and breathing — space. My Muse and I now have separate rooms, or so I’d like to think! The construction of the Dream House, Larkhaven, took longer than anticipated, expected, planned, hoped-for, or wanted, but I am abundantly thankful that the dream, at last, became a reality. Building anything in the current state of the State of California is an adventure. I have therefore pushed forward, with pen and laptop in hand, throughout the mad and madcap merriment, every ghastly and giddy step of the way, all the way from the doom and gloom of the Great Recession — to today.
I literally had a dream one night, on 31 March 2005, of “The Sunroom in the Next House”. There was a fireplace, and extravagant square footage for dining. Upon awaking, I rough-sketched the image from memory. I showed it to Dear Husband and my children; I later showed it to my beloved Teaching Colleague. He became utterly fascinated with the idea of a two-story house for me. I pooh-poohed it, but he would not be silenced: “You deserve a second story, with at least one room to write in, with a balcony, and a fireplace in the master bedroom.” Our cherished friend is no longer physically with us, but when it came time for us to draw up plans for the Dream House in late 2017, that penciled-drawing got penciled into the architectural design. I felt duty-bound to grant to Self what this sweet, kind instructor and tender mentor had stated was my due. Discussions of how to build a 2nd story onto the Peach House had become a dedicated mission of “Uncle Roy”. There was just one problem: he knew, and I knew, that my writing this novel named NOTTINGHAM, which grew into THE DAWN — meant that I would one day need a new home. He quietly commented sometime around 2008 that I was running out of room for a lot of things in my House Beautiful, and that certain pieces of furniture did not stylistically go with the other pieces of furniture in the Peach House. “I know,” I concluded. “They’re for The Next House.” The Next House became The Dream House, Larkhaven. During the framing stage of construction, Bob the Contractor used to go upstairs to that dreamed-for 2nd story to sit and sulk in the room at the far end, down the hall, away from the Master Bedroom. He’d look out of the windows and contemplate — whatever he darn well pleased. I had originally scoped out that space as My Writing Room, but it soon became Bob’s Room, even before the second floor was completed. I therefore encountered a slight dilemma upon moving into my new house this past summer:
How to reclaim territory I’d not yet claimed! The room across from Bob’s Room was to have been my Writing Room, but as I initially worked on its design, I realized that space is the Sewing Room. And it shall remain the cozy quarters for all of that wonderful creation with fabric that I almost prefer to writing. My Muse is working on reclaiming Bob’s Room, starting with re-naming it The Buckaroo Room. Complete with bunkhouse bed, Writer’s Desk, and the bookcase of French Books, this inner sanctum is dedicated to enjoyment and relaxation, along with Writing the Westerns. That kind of rivalry among my priorities, and competition for creative dominance among my talents enormously enthuses and motivates my Muse. She is also quite pleased with having not just one room, but a Series of Rooms, for her aesthetic needs! May the brightest and strongest genius win! “Genius”, my Wile E. Coyote stuffed animal with a red cape, was carefully wrapped up and put in storage for several years, awaiting his throne in my new artistic zone. When I purchased him at the grocery store checkout during Halloween of 1999, California was a lot more fun. Grocery stories also displayed a terrific sense of humor!
During that year, 1999, California was gearing up as part of the national horror buildup to the Y2K catastrophe — that never happened. I purchased at the same grocery store “Crash” — the Y2K Millenium Bug, for My Dear Young Children. They tossed the Cyber Bean Bag critter to the floor so often, and with such élan, that the battery-powered speaker thing (sewn inside) wore out, long before January 2000! Crash got trashed, but the slavish need for a Cyber Pal continued for some Millennials. Genius, however, earned a prime location in my artistic sphere which, I gotta say, was none too spacious in the Peach House in Newcastle, CA. I positioned him atop some book-ended books on a shelf. He truly was an inspiration — reminding me of certain people, males in particular, from my unpleasant past, whose life ambitions were stomping on other people’s dreams. Some of them set out to sabotage me — the Roadrunner. I didn’t run fast or well, but I always managed to outsmart the loser-saboteurs at every turn and escape them — instinctively! Being monotonously called: a squirrel-ey blonde; a dumb blonde; an under-achiever; someone who never finishes what she starts; whose talents were squandered by the age of 20; whose life was a real shame because no one bothered to train her right, so she missed the boat and didn’t hit the big time by 21; who was too restless and couldn’t stay in one place; who wasn’t even a late bloomer because her bloom had already faded — Well, those older adults looking down their negatone noses at roadrunner-me, they didn’t have a clue about me, the Pragmatic Dreamer; the Quiet Constant Striver; the Continuous Bloomer, the Challenge-Driven Personality, the Long-Term Thinker, the Engineer of Big and Bold Designs, the Trailblazer; the Pioneer Woman; and the Commander of Massive Battlefields. It’s not easy living your life in shadow, being grossly mis-understood, mis-underestimated, condescendingly sidelined. Sometimes, however, enduring that stance is a survival skill of immense worth. Sometimes. a person needs to wait until the stars align for her time to shine. Sometimes, all of the ornery nastiness comes the way of a person who needs a counter-irritant every step along the way, so that he can outlast the snide perniciousness of others, so that he can rise to become the person he was born to be. Sometimes, as Flaubert reputedly stated, “Talent is a long patience.” I ought to know those truths — my Muse taught them to me, along with so many others. My Muse and I now have separate rooms, but she is most certainly free to enter my range, my home, home on the range — anytime she wants. Not that I have any say over it. She knows that my creative spark depends entirely on Her!