This Space: A Reckoning

A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that I hadn’t posted here in over a year. In truth, I almost closed this blog down entirely when it was up for renewal in January. I was aware then that I hadn’t posted in a long time, but I also decided to keep it open just in case. Still, months have gone by, and I haven’t felt an impulse to return. Every now and then I get an impulse to delete the entire thing. Still I can’t quite bring myself to let the site go entirely. It’s my hope that perhaps in writing a post here, I’ll work through some of my thoughts on the matter.

What happened?

The short answer is that I ultimately had a negative experience in my MFA program, and once I graduated, I lost the will to do poetry things. Aside from my weekly haiku exchange with one of my former classmates, I stopped writing poetry (and prose, for that matter) altogether. I stopped attending most poetry events (except for I Scream Social, which is one of the best things Austin has to offer). While I kept reading poetry, I no longer felt any desire to do much in the way of either create my own work, or participate in a poetry community.

What have I been up to?

Since April 2018, I started focusing more on my yoga practice. I started my own business for my teaching practice: Luna Nidra. I started recording meditations and hosting workshops.

I’ve also kept busy in my teaching life at ACC, helping to grow our department. We’ve started hosting more events, and I led the relaunch of our social media presence.

Finally, I’ve been having some amazing adventures, including travel to Mexico City (my favorite), a road trip through New Mexico, and a glorious adventure in Peru this past July.

After my trip to Peru, I started feeling called to write again. I finished an essay that’s out for submission. I revised my manuscript and started sending it out again. And I’ve even written a few poems.

Still, I wonder whether I really want to continue keeping this space. On some level, it’s so deeply connected to a past life: my marriage that ended five years ago, old jobs, old friends, old adventures that are distant memories. I needed that hard break after my MFA, and I am starting to re-emerge as a writer. And yet I don’t necessarily want to return here. When I think about this site, and how much of the past it contains, I’m just not sure I want to keep it.

I’m not making any decisions just yet. Quite frankly, I’d be surprised if there were any readers left to see this after such a long silence. Perhaps I just need a total fresh start with my digital life. I’ll always be writing, but maybe this isn’t the place for it anymore. We’ll see.

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Winter Adventures: New Mexico

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John and I had an ambitious winter camping trip planned. Six parks in ten days. But then after Christmas travel, we were a little burned out. John was also just getting over a double-whammy of flu and pneumonia. So, aside from our plans to visit our friends in Albuquerque, we scrapped our entire plan.

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Instead, we spent seven days driving around New Mexico. Instead of racing through Albuquerque, we spent an entire day wandering around Petroglyph National Monument, taking in ancient art. We also had some amazing food at Sadie’s and Flying Star Cafe. And we got to spend much more quality time with friends than originally anticipated.

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After some time in Albuquerque, armed only with the recommendations of friends and a print copy of the Lonely Planet guide to the Western USA (well, plus cell phones with decent data plans), we took off toward Santa Fe. We continued to eat exceptionally well, especially at the Shed. Instead of camping, we got a great off-season rate at the Old Santa Fe Inn. This was also my first experience staying in a hotel with a fireplace.

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I found myself moved to tears in the Georgia O’Keeffe museum. I loved wandering around the historic center of town. I also loved the Wheelwright Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.

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The highlight of the trip, though, was hiking in Bandelier National Monument. In many ways, that was a difficult hike. It’s actually not especially tough, but I was struggling with altitude sickness. But at the end of it all, just before sunset, we came across a herd of mule deer as we were leaving the park. Unfortunately, because I’m not the greatest low-light photographer, not all of my pictures turned out well. That doesn’t detract from the incredible experience of being so close to so many deer.

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After some time in Santa Fe, we went up to Taos for the night, in hopes of getting to see the Taos Pueblo. We took our time, visiting Holy Chimayo for a few hours. Even if you are not religious, there’s something arresting about the site. I absolutely recommend visiting.

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We also went out to Ghost Ranch, which is a gorgeous space. Just a few minutes there, and you can see how it influenced O’Keeffe’s work. I hope I get the chance to spend more time out there in the future.

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Sadly, we were unable to see Taos Pueblo, because it was closed. But since we were close by, we went out to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. I found this one of the most startling and emotionally volatile parts of the trip, not just because of the incredible view and my fear of heights, but also because of the suicide hotline phones, and the inspirational messages and tokens left by an artist hoping to prevent jumpers from taking their lives. I had not expected to see those.

We got a third hike in at Tent Rocks National Monument. This site had been closed for a tribal event the first time we tried to go, so I’m glad we had the opportunity to double back and visit. I’m also glad I got to take that hike after I’d gotten over the altitude sickness! I’d never heard of Tent Rocks before, but it’s otherworldly. While it can be tough to access, I encourage you to go if you’re in the Albuquerque area.

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While we didn’t have the adventure we planned, we had one just as good, if not better. I’m absolutely smitten with New Mexico, and hope to visit again soon.

Birdathon: Mute Swan

Peculiar that swan should mean a sound?
I’d thought of gods and power, and wounds.
But here in the curious quiet this one has settled down.

From “Inside My Head” by Robert Creeley

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Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

(Note: The mute swan is not native to Central Texas. In the Travis Audubon seasonal distribution guide notes that it was an introduced/escaped species originally bred in captivity. The mute swan now manages to breed in the wild.)

From April 1st until May 15th I’m taking part in Birdathon, a challenge I’m undertaking as as member of Travis County Audubon to raise money in support of local birds and their habitat. My goal is to raise $500, and I’m 35% of the way there! If you’d like to contribute to my campaign, visit my donation page.

Birdathon: American Coot

American Coots

Not everything that floats
is a duck. Or contains
the mythic beauty
of a swan. Or honks
a song all the way
across a continent.
Or inspires philosophy
and odes. We squeak
and clack, white beaks
stark against the black.
Not everything that flies
does so with grace.
We can race
into the sky, but our wings
strain against the air.
Not everything made
of meat is edible.
Not every game
is worth the chase.
We thrive on indifference.
Not every water bird
waddles. Watch us dig
our toes deep into the sand,
watch us root
ourselves to the world.

From April 1st until May 15th I’m taking part in Birdathon, a challenge I’m undertaking as as member of Travis County Audubon to raise money in support of local birds and their habitat. My goal is to raise $500, and I’m 35% of the way there! If you’d like to contribute to my campaign, visit my donation page.

Birdathon 2017: Great-Tailed Grackle

Warn those you love when the predator
approaches. Screech loudest when you
are the predator.

From “Advice from the Grackle” by Susan Elizabeth Howe

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Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)

From April 1st until May 15th I’m taking part in Birdathon, a challenge I’m undertaking as as member of Travis County Audubon to raise money in support of local birds and their habitat. My goal is to raise $500, and I’m a third of the way there! If you’d like to contribute to my campaign, visit my donation page