Most people know by now that I’ve moved. I’ve talked about it enough. Stressed about it enough. Complained about it enough. I left behind my world in the land of the Shire, AKA New Mexico’s River Valley, and entered a land more closely resembling America’s Bible Belt. I don’t think it’s a big stretch to realize I don’t fit into this culture. In fact, I’ve long held onto a fair bit of animosity toward redneck culture — animosity I promptly shoved down inside when I moved to the Land of Enchantment. Sadly, as shoved things will do, the animosity has risen up again. Ah, the buoyancy of negativity! As light and airy as bubbles!
I don’t know how to write about internal and external interactions without creating a labyrinth. If you wander over to the tab “2015 Books”, you will find a book entitled Future Memory by one P.M.H. Atwater, who claims she heard the Voice of the Divine command her to “write her book like a labyrinth”. Through this labyrinth, her book would be written and understood. No offense to Atwater — it’s altogether possible she DID hear the Voice of the Divine — but I suspect it’s the ego that commands harried intellectuals to write in a labyrinthine manner. This is to put people off the trail, you see. Personally, it’s somewhat natural for me to think in a nonlinear fashion, so “writing the labyrinth” falls under the category of Natural Proclivity turned to Bad Habit.
Coming back around, I’m about to make a bold claim. Any post in my Roswell Journals will also be in my Coffee Memoirs. The labyrinth, you see. At the tail end of my life in Socorro, I gave up coffee. I suffered from headaches for a few days before I was free from the caffeine addiction I’d had since age sixteen. I’ve since taken up coffee again, and this is least of all relating to working in a coffeehouse again (I do). I needed coffee to help alleviate stress. Yes, how typical — I with my studies in languages (English, Spanish), with my degree that was consumed by the study of Enlightenment history, now work at a coffeehouse.
To be fair to myself, in earlier days, I did some translation work and have been working as an editor on and off for many years. These are directly correlated with my studies, and although I can make a lot more money off languages, I also can’t rely on the work to bring in steady money every month. Writers, you know, aren’t steady in how they write books. I can, however, rely on the work to give me carpal tunnel and keep me at the computer longer than I desire to be there, where it — ambiguous “it” referring to too much time at the computer — turns me into a mean, stingy misanthrope like my favored literary character, Scrooge. So. I work again in a coffeehouse, where people reputably talk politics, literature, philosophy, and freedom. Maybe. They do, indeed, gather and drink gallons of sweet beverages.
I appreciate coffeehouses, art museums, and libraries as a trinity of culture. Since I work in a coffeehouse again, my focus will be on libraries today, in order to avoid banalities and keep my job. Back in Socorro, I used to visit the library regularly. I loved the shelves of newly acquired books and the Southwest room. It was a very small library, though, and its offerings were limited. As a strange not-necessary-to-know fact, I was constantly frustrated by the missing books in the science fiction section. The computer said they were there, but they were evidently not. Recently, I learned from one of the librarians that science fiction books were commonly stolen, along with classics and crochet books. Socorro is a techie town; I can’t explain the rest.
My first day at the Roswell library, I was overwhelmed by its physical size. Roswell is a city of about 50,000, in contrast to Socorro’s 8000. The library may not compare to those I used to visit in Portland or at universities (Socorro has a university library, albeit primarily a techie one), but it’s enormous compared to Socorro’s city library. With a certain trepidation, I shuffled over to the science fiction section and was startled to witness empty shelves. There would be a clump of books, and then vast empty space until the next clump of books. This is insanity for somebody who prefers order. Where were all the missing tomes in the alphabetization? I ran over it again and again, wondering why it should skip from Stapledon to Stokes, etc. This reality, in fact, made me queasy. Where were the missing letters? Did this spell a secret code delivered from an evil Roswell entity?
A librarian took pity on my continuous loop from one stack of books to another. “The missing books are on carts at the ends of the aisles,” she informed me.
She pointed to the ceiling. “The roof has been leaking.”
As I looked up, the rain began to pour down again; it had been doing so on and off ever since we’d moved. The streams of water cascaded into buckets which I swore had not been there a moment before. What I couldn’t understand was why the leaks were concentrated over the science fiction section. It seemed to spell out something quite a bit more sinister than the missing alphabetization.
After a day at work yesterday, some reading, and some serious despondency, there was another tornado watch for the Roswell area. I had trouble falling asleep. This had nothing to do with the weather; it’s just the way I am. I always have trouble sleeping. But when I finally did sleep, the weather permeated my dream world. That and, no doubt, the unstolen Philip K Dick books from the Roswell library I’d read one after another (does it surprise anyone that many Dick books would be stolen in a Techie town?). My dreams had many layers and stages, with my old dream character, Oso, showing up. He is clearly my animus, or my domineering masculine element. Actually, I simply entered his house and found it was exactly what a house should be. He wasn’t physically present, though, so no domineering this time.
Before that moment of peace, I was kidnapped by a group of young redneck males, whose paid chauffeur was a woman. That is, the feminine element was complicit in the kidnapping. It wasn’t her plan, but she was happy to be paid. They drove me far away, and when I awoke in a new place, summer had aborted itself. Winter lay stretched out over flood waters, ice sheets eddying on the waves. We went out in a boat. I had a baby by this time, clutched tightly in my arms. I don’t know where the baby came from, but in the dream I said, “It was just beginning to be summer when winter set it. I didn’t get to experience the summer at all.”
Then a giant industrial set of windchimes rang out a warning, and before we could return to dry land, we were swept from the boat. I had a thought, a strange one, that this was deja vu — that I’d experienced this very reality another time and had lost my grip on my baby when the waters consumed me. This time I wouldn’t lose the baby. I’d hold it firmly in my arms and we’d both survive. I was very strong. My arms were strong. And I DID survive. That was the reason I ended up in Oso’s house near the end. The perfect house. A house I couldn’t have designed better had I done it myself. Which I had, as it turns out, because it was my dream.