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5/22/2015

Flasback Friday: Fly, the Slick, Fast Blues Man & Magz

I gave a talk last night, and I focused on recovery from substance abuse, trauma, and brain disorders, and I've given a lot of these talks over the years, but this morning, I can't stop thinking about my old friend Seattle Fly, a guy lived in the woods near Queen Anne neighborhood. When I spoke, out of nowhere, his name came up; he was a guy who struck me with his words, and I never forgot the moments I spent with him. A while ago, I wrote a CityBeat Article about him...check it out. Over the years, I've had to privilege to watch a gazillion concerts, but Fly was one of the best guitar players I've ever seen. His stage was the sidewalk, the streets, the woods, the gutter, the sewer grate, you name it. Fly, the slick, fast, Blues man. I have no idea where Fly is now. I have no idea if he is even alive. I never knew his last name (or his real name), and yet, let's see, around eighteen years later, I still think about his words, and the way that they touched me. Hope you enjoy the article.

Also, as stated on my Bio, here is a link to all of my CityBeat Work...154 articles it says. Actually, I think there are many more creeping around somewhere, but who knows. I wrote for them for eight years, so some must be lost in the ether. It happens. Won some awards for the Rock and Roll ones, so that was awesome (see my Bio). Writing for magazines was a magnificent experience, and I learned so much.

Grateful,
C.A. MacConnell

5/21/2015

Jimmy, Real Horse Trainer

Jimmy, Real Horse Trainer

For many years, I was a horse trainer like Jimmy, and once I got deep into the hunter/jumper business, I realized this:  real horse trainers do a gazillion jobs, including riding, teaching, sweating, burning, peeling, freezing, and everything between picking hooves to fixing a little girl's hair under her helmet. Most of all, waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Watching clients ride, setting jumps, and waiting. Show days are long, long, long. There's no such thing as work hours. All hours are work hours.

Jimmy was my trainer when I was a kid until I was about 16, when I switched barns. A man of few words, he often "spoke" through body language, just like a horse. In his younger years, he was a star on the show jumping circuit, but by the time he was my trainer, he didn't really ride any more*. And although he taught many clients who were incredibly wealthy, he was never concerned about "having stuff." He always wore the same outfits. His hat was riddled with holes, but everyone respected him as if he were a King, and he never even tried to become so. Didn't have to. He was Jimmy.

No one ever wanted to upset or disappoint Jimmy. I remember one day when he caught me jumping my horse in the front field. I was alone, I wasn't in a lesson, and I wasn't wearing a helmet (all of which were illegal maneuvers at the barn), and I was so horrified when I saw him approaching me. He gave me that look of disappointment that I dreaded. Then, ever so softly, he said, "Chris, looks like you want to do some more jumping, so maybe we should have an extra lesson." And he smiled. "Now?" I asked. And Jimmy nodded and taught me a free lesson.

Without fail, rain, hail, sunshine, sleet, or snow, he showed up every single day, did his job, and people all throughout the horse world regarded him as a living legend. Right now, though, he's probably wind surfing, if I know Jimmy.

C.A. MacConnell

P.S. Wish me luck. I'm giving a talk in a mere hour and a half. I always cut it close when it comes to getting ready. Dayum.

*Correction:  Now that I think back, on very rare occasions, Jimmy did ride just for the hell of it, just for old times sake I suppose. He'd hack around, and he was a master of the hunt, so he went hunting, but he didn't compete anymore by the time I knew him. And that day he caught me jumping alone, he did actually ride down into the front field to find me, and he was riding a handsome bay gelding named J.P.

Mimi's Song: See-through Blue


Infinity.
Your mind.
So smart, I can almost see you grinning.
No jewelry now.
You would love this bare face.
You would kiss the right cheek.
You would tell me I need a haircut.
Some days, some days, my skin suits me fine.
In your kitchen, I learned about salty soup
and integrity.
We both hated cooking.

Always, the truth.

It’s a rainy May morning on this troubled year.
I'm here, awake.
Why.
The last time we spoke, your eyes had become
see-through blue, and I knew,
and you knew,
it was time.

Are you having any fun?

Sometimes I see a swift, white woman
with a slick, lasting smile.
She has no wings to speak of.
You could be swimming with saints,
bathing in liquid light.
You could be the rush of weather, the give
and take,
as loving as the forest.
Heaven will never be the same.

So smart, I can almost see you grinning.

C.A. MacConnell

5/20/2015

Photos: 5/20, A Black/White Day.


Play

 Wait

 Stage Dive

 Relax Love

 Yes, Flaws Make Us

 
Found the Way Back

Trees are so expressive to me. Very emotional. When I'm really in tune, I can feel it, the way I did today. Ha, I also learned my lesson. Right after I told a stranger, "Oh, just hop on the path. You can't get lost here really," I totally got lost. Late start, due to my adventure. Now it's time to write some on Book 3.
C.A. MacConnell

My Heart is in Virginia. Celebrate the Magic.



Today my heart is in Virginia. My heart is with the family and friends of Bill Mahone (pictured at left). The service is today, and although I'm not present physically, I'm writing with sincere sympathy, and I'm sending out energy and support to all those who knew and loved him. Bill died at the young age of 43 years old. He was always dabbling in something creative, and he was a prolific photographer; he used this talent to do outreach work for animal rescue organizations. His numerous magnificent, touching pictures of animals helped many lost creatures find permanent homes.

On and off for six years, I hung out with Bill and his friends, and one remarkable thing that I always noticed about Bill was that he was an absolutely loyal friend to his bros. In Roanoke, a group of us ran around together all the time -- at the old Mill Mountain coffee shop, on the benches downtown, at his apartment, at a magic store, on the stoop, you name it. People would skate, drink coffee, go to open mics, go to drum circles, go for drives on the Parkway, cause trouble, chill until the street-cleaner came, and we were often up all night. Nearly every day/night, we all ran around the Roanoke streets, and with these guys, every moment seemed like a dreamy adventure. Because they were all nonstop dreamers. Every single one of them. They were the kind of guys who could turn a drum circle into a ferocious, tribal, energy-packed, wild sound, drawing a crowd that bled into the streets. Roar. And it wasn't just one, special night where everything gelled. It happened all of the time. They were the kind of guys who would sit with me on hard tables in the Market Square where the flowers and fruit would be the next day, and our dangling feet would swing, and we would talk about nothing and everything until our asses hurt from the elevated seats. And even when the scene downtown died out, we'd find some other place to be. Just be. It was a truly magical time, and Bill was always around, and he was part of this magic.

His passing has brought back so many memories. And it has brought on sincere gratitude for the people who touched my life during those years. Sometimes people keep you feeling alive, just by being there. A wave, a smile, a magic trick, a bummed smoke, an extra large Mill Mountain blend, freshly roasted, a steady gaze through black-rimmed glasses.

Here is the announcement in the news. Took this one the other day, while thinking of those days:



In the spirit of Bill, his family and friends, and in the spirit of Virginia, I will find someplace hilly, and I will take a walk and have a magnificent adventure, one full of pictures, pictures of the gifts the world is offering up today.

I will celebrate the magic.


C.A. MacConnell

5/19/2015

Photo: Fire House

Fire House


What do you think? I dig this one. :) Happened to walk by at this moment. Sittin' home, chilling, after a big writing session, a big walk with Bo the dog (a terrible walker -- all he does is stare at me), and a big walk with a snake, some robins, some male red-winged blackbirds (they're so fast!), pine cones, fields, fences, weeds, dogs, regular bikes, the sit down bikes, a lost deflated balloon, a mysterious gift shop, another robin taking a bath in a puddle, and oh, some people.

I hope I see turtles tomorrow. Didn't see those sneaks today. Have a beautiful night.
C.A. MacConnell

Sign Patrol: No playing on....


Read the sign, folks. No playing on cooters here! What a boring place.

C.A. MacConnell

5/18/2015

Photo: Turnstyle, and Writing News!

Turnstyle

This photo has nothing to do with my books. I just thought it was interesting. Took it the other day when I was out walking. It's a gray day today. I dig 'em. I find the gray days calming for some reason. Now, writing news...

Howdy. Books, books, books. My book number one, released in December of 2013, GRIFFIN FARM, is out there on Amazon. Here is a description:  Fast-paced, dramatic, literary, and poetic, C.A. MacConnell's debut novel, GRIFFIN FARM, is a sweeping tale about raging love, murder, addictions, brain disorders, horses, rock and roll, and recovery. Chilling, honest, and undeniably real, the story shows the deeply entangled history of two families, revealing one woman's heroic fight to heal. Indeed, it's a mover and a shaker. Yo, raw. Check it out.

Book number two, THE HOUSE OF ANCHOR, a work of mystery/literary fiction, is a finished work, and I'm currently seeking representation. Working hard at getting it out there. This sucker is powerful, gritty, real, and undeniably unique. A murder mystery, an adventure, a love story, a story of the Seattle streets in the 90s. The dialogue is like no other.

Book number three, I'M NOT TELLING THE TITLE YET SORRY YOU CREEPOS, is in the works. I'm about 195pp. into a first draft + some notes on yellow legal pads. It's a love story. :) Juicy. And I'm gonna work dogs in there too, if possible. But it is not a love story between dogs. If it were, it would be called, Lady and the Tramp.

So this is the plan. Sometimes when I'm confused on what to do next, I just apply this theory:  Pick something, and go with it.

So grateful to feel better today. The past few days have been tough. Lost a good'n.
C.A. MacConnell

5/17/2015

Photo: Girl, Saylor Park

Girl, Saylor Park

-- C.A. MacConnell

"Loving allows us to live and through living we grow in loving." -- Evelyn Mandel

Photos: Split, and a Note to You

 Split, 1

Split, 2

Same tree, different angles, different times of the year, different exposures. This tough one lives on one of my walking routes, and I'm always amazed at its resiliency, despite the obvious power lines that cut right through the top of the sucker. There it is, growing and growing. There it is, becoming bare, then returning to fullness.

I have many questions and few answers, if any, really. But last night, two women and I sat and had ice cream, and we laughed and laughed. One thing I know for sure:  I love sprinkles, and when I say that, I mean it fully, and I believe I always have. And always will. Ha, it's true. There's my wisdom for the day. Nothing is divided when I focus on the little nights, the sweetness, and the little gifts of smiles.

Life. The person I love, he or she may be gone tomorrow. Today's laughter and love is everything. Celebrate the little things. If I feel bare today, I will soon return to fullness.

C.A. MacConnell

5/16/2015

Photo: Rain Game.

Rain Game
C.A. MacConnell

Dirty Turkey

short story, fiction

Dirty Turkey

Thanksgiving break. Evening in Jaytown, flocks of college kids browsed the stores and each other. Back home, each year, Rose became one smooth deal hunter. Her jeans were the black, skinny kind -- straight-legged and tight. Casually dressed to kill, she was window-shopping until some voice came at her from behind, the way she liked it.

“Hey!” he yelled.

She whipped around. "Hey yourself," she said to the man in the new T-bird. The car wore temporary tags.

She looked him over. Fresh meat, she thought, grinning. He was young, around her age, nineteen, and his build was hardly bigger than hers. He sank low in the leather seats of his crimson car. His hair was her brown shade. His wild brows weren't plucked, like hers. His shirt was red and fading, bleeding like hers.

Waiting for him, she leaned back against a storefront, restless. Maybe she’d buy a thumb ring later. Maybe skateboarders would soar and wreck, nursing breaks and bruises on Jaytown's streets. She never knew what characters would appear or vanish. She looked at her watch. Dad might ground her if she were out too late.

Hand at her chin, she studied him.

He parked crooked as hell. He was half-baked. He wasn’t careful.

She liked this.

When he climbed out of the car and reached for her, his shake was firm, like hers. “I'm Billy,” he said, raising a brow. “You look familiar." Billy touched her wrist, which cracked.

In his hand, her wrist became weak and fragile, like a wishbone. For a moment, she liked this too. "I'm Rose," she said, grinning. He seemed like a good egg. And when he touched her hair, she felt a shock, which was strange. She liked strange birds.

His eyes turned round and large, nearly buckeyes. "Come with me," Billy said, tugging her small wrist.

Meeting Billy was a good excuse to avoid home. Dad was usually out. Or making juice or eating tofu, watching Survivor, just checking out. Mom checked out too. Ten years back, on Thanksgiving, raspberries were on sale again. What a deal. Mom went to pick some up, planning for Dad’s special pies, but she never returned. Around twelve items or less, Mom disappeared. Dad let the turkey burn, burn, char in the oven. Dad still called her "missing;" he still put up signs. Rose couldn't picture Mom anymore. Rose only saw smoke.

Past the ghetto mart, past the people gliding through auto-doors like shopper hawks, Billy led her into Jaytown's famous ice cream shop. They shared a cone, berry sorbet.

Rose called it a date. Each year, back home, around the fourth Thursday in November, she had dates like this. She grinned, reminiscing. She checked the wall clock. She knew she had to either push this one in the oven or let it sit. She checked her watch, scratching her head. She would already be in trouble by then. Might as well stay out.

Backtracking, they paused in an underground parking garage until it became a deserted maze. Sex began with the slight tearing of shirts until both were bare, focused on skin grabbing. Billy let her suck on his finger. He let her suck.

Rose discovered that Billy was the sweaty kind – nearly cooking. And Rose discovered that someone had written Bush Sucks on the wall in black. Overhead on a fire escape, a couple fought until breakables began breaking.

Billy scooped his arms above her, making weird wings. Then he reached down, gripping her wrists, pinning her down on the ground.

It was hot, mad, wet, rough, and then her body became his giant skin pillow.

His chest, his body curves fit hers.

She wondered if she'd see him again. She fell asleep wondering.

--

Stiffly, she woke. It wasn’t that cold out, but Rose shivered. The world was hardly lit. She squinted to see. She was whale-hungry, chewing stale gum. She looked at her weak wrist. It was 9 a.m.

Billy slept spread-eagled on the blacktop. Then he came to, rubbing his buckeyes, moving his mouth like hers. Chewy.

Quickly, they dressed before crowds or cops appeared.

Her car had a fresh ticket. Using a rust crayon she found in the gutter, she scribbled her number on the back of the ticket, handing it to Billy, saying, "That's me." Rose sat in her car, wondering if Dad would ground her for staying out. That turkey.

Blocking traffic, Billy leaned at her window, hovering and shifting like a drug dealer. He said, “I’ll call,” and his buckeyes loomed at the surrounding traffic. All around, drivers’ faces burned red, trapped in various road rage stages. "I will," he said. Then he kissed her. Then he paused. Then he kissed her again. “I’ll call,” Billy said again. Then he shot away, heading for his T-bird, heading for the highway.

She didn't believe him. She never believed those turkeys. No matter how good they tasted, the seasoning was never quite right. Gripping the wheel so tight that her wrist, her wishbone, hurt, she noticed that her red shirt was too loose, too faded. It wasn't hers. It was Billy’s. She should give it back. She smiled. She followed him. She was close. Too close.

His lead foot was serious, like hers. Deep into the back roads, Billy flew easily until he couldn’t take the curves.

She tailed him. She was close. Too close. She watched him weave, trying to lose her, but she grinned at the game. She knew these moves, these streets; they were all a familiar recipe.

The T-bird screeched, wobbled, then flipped like a toy, landing upside down. The car was no more than shredded, splintered metal. A smoldering nest.

Pulling over, Rose's body simmered, shaking out a small earthquake. She listened for Billy’s life signs, blinking repeatedly. No movement, no life, no breath. So much smoke, so much black ash mascara. Her eyes smarted, taking the burn. Her eyes leaked, crying and drying. One thing was clear – another turkey was burning. It was too late for Rose to check out. Dad might ground her. Dad sent Mom out for raspberries. He had to have them. Twelve items or less. I’ll call. I will. That liar. All those liars. Express checkout, motherfucker. She shrugged, running her hands together – slap, slap, slap – then licking them clean. All she had to do was speed and wait and watch the time, and this dirty bird was done. She clapped, just once, feeling suddenly sleepy.

Rose's U-turn was hard. She scanned the road, studying the cars, the colors, the metal skins. She knew how to pick a bird. She followed another car. She could see the back window, then the plates, then the driver’s hair -- tangled with angry wings, beyond help with flyaways. She was close. Too close. Rose was one deal hunter. She smiled, red-faced and whale-hungry again, her teeth tearing through stale gum.

This was a rare one. The head was feathered messy, out of control, like hers. Rose looked at her watch.

-- C.A. MacConnell

5/15/2015

Breaking News

Whatever the sky holds --
stormy or clear -- she's no angel;
she always wanted to take you
home. The clouds, the threat,
breathe beyond a shower.
Soon, in this muted light,
her world is weathered naked.
Outside, the sky spits and sputters,
soon flooding crowded highways,
swallowing love and machines.
Raise your arms, and she'll lift hers,
for the sweaty prayer's answer
rests within your chest, her chest,
right now. Heaven lives in-house.
In the safe room, far from winged,
heating spiced tea, making reckless
toast, you are damn wrapped
in the breaking news that she
is trapped. The blanket is across.

C.A. MacConnell

5/14/2015

Photo: Curley

 Folk Musician Curley Ennis


From Floyd, VA. One of the greats, in my book.
C.A. MacConnell

On the Clock

Often, at the local quickie mart, Brad (name changed) rings me up. He's retired, tall with glasses, balding, clean-shaven, fit, around 65 years old I imagine, and no matter what, after examining my items carefully, he says the following:  "Enjoy your coffee. Enjoy your snack. Drive safely." He says it with a straight face. No smile, never ever. It's as if he's the conductor on a train, or the manager at a high class restaurant. Every time I see him, there's a definite top notch style and classy presence to Brad's whole countenance, as if he's working undercover. A former postal worker? A cop? An agent? Impossible to tell, actually.

So one day, when he rang me up, I decided to do some digging. "You're always in a good mood it seems," I said to him. "What's your secret?"

He looked at me with that stone-straight face and stated, "Only when I'm on the clock."

I chuckled. "So when you're off the clock, you turn into some kind of monster?"

He nodded. "It's like Jekyll and Hyde." Even at this point, he still never smiled. Not even the slightest grin. Either he was a masterful joker, or he was dead serious.

I paused for a moment, waiting for him to grin, waiting for his glassy countenance to break. Nothing.

He handed me my coffee and snack, offering me a bag. "Enjoy your coffee. Enjoy your snack. Drive safely."

"Thanks," I said, scooting on out of there, and as I got in my car, I was sufficiently creeped out. He was a master at hiding his insides. Again, I wondered about his background...military perhaps? Limo driver? CIA? Anything was possible, but I knew he was someone who could and would keep a secret. He could be a Mob boss or grandpa or anything in between, but when I see him from now on, there's one rule that I will follow. Each time he rings me up, I'll smile and remind myself, Jekyll and Hyde, stay on his good side.

Enjoy your coffee. Enjoy your snack. Drive safely.

C.A. MacConnell

P.S. This would be a brilliant idea for a crime show, yes indeed. Criminal loses it when he's off the clock. I have a gazillion of these ideas, just saying. You may steal it, writers out there, but I'll probably write it first, and I write fast, so enjoy your coffee. Enjoy your snack. Drive Safely. Ha.

5/13/2015

Photo: Church

Church
C.A. MacConnell

Daily Meditation: Feeling Safe

A few months ago, I was in a work meeting, and someone was reading something simple, and I'm not sure what was read, but it triggered me into a panic attack. I was shocked, because I hadn't had a full-blown one in such a long time. But that's why they call them "attacks." For me, there's no warning at all. Boom.

But right as it was coming on, I looked across the room at my friend Bob (name changed), who was in the Army and suffered from PTSD. I had talked with him about it before, and many of our symptoms were strikingly similar. Anyway, when I looked at Bob, I knew he understood. It was as if he was sending me a message:  You are not alone. You will never be alone. I'm with you on this.

But it was strange, because I hadn't had a really bad one in quite a while. I suppose 1999-2000 was the worst of it. Also 2007-2010, when I was dealing with abuse at work, the intense effects of stigma, and I was in some hardcore therapy for past trauma; I was really digging into some raw stuff. During those years, there were times when I had panic attacks during the middle of teaching yoga classes. Calmly, I'd tell the class that I had to leave the room for a few, and I'd have a horrific attack in the bathroom, and then I'd return to finish the class, painting on my "yoga teacher face." No one had any clue, and I never missed work. I have no idea how I did that, now that I think about it. I have come so far in fighting fears, and it's a miracle, when I think back on it. Unbelievable.

These days, after massive amounts of hard work and therapy, the issues are extremely mild in comparison. I hesitate to say "normal," but life seems closer to that than it's ever been. Some rooms, chairs, houses, furniture, people, environments, and lights are still an issue, but I have learned to hide it so well, it is virtually invisible. For instance, if I know the lights may bother me on a certain day, I wear fake glasses, and the feel of them distracts me. People's reaction? Cool glasses. Ha, the secret is out. The secret that I'm cool, that is.

Who the fuck is "normal" anyhow? Just sayin.

So I've learned to manage, and for the past few years, the serious ones have nearly disappeared; however, maybe it was the room, the lights, someone there, who knows what it was, but it hit me that day and when a really bad one happens, most people think that I'm having a seizure or an overdose, something like that. But no, it's pure, natural terror. Fun stuff. It's weird to say it, but I've gotten used to it. So I moved into another room, because I worried that they would worry and call the paramedics. Here's what happens when you call the paramedics:  they show up, cause a big ruckus, and everyone stares at you, and they tell you you're having a panic attack, and then they leave.

In the other room, my legs jerked and shook. The usual tears. A sinking feeling in my chest, like a tunnel of never-ending fear. Dizziness, hands moving out of control, the works. I held on to the counter to keep myself from falling. I knew the drill, so it was nothing new.

Then I looked up, and there was a petite blond woman there. I did not know her, but she walked right up to me and without hesitation, she wrapped her arms around me, gripping me with all of her strength, hugging me, helping me control the shakes. In that room, she held me until it was over. She would not let go, no matter how much my stubborn body was twitching around. I could feel strength, peace, and love coming from her. Yeah, a complete stranger.

The bad ones usually last around twenty minutes. She held me the entire time. And when it was finally over, I looked up at her, wiped my eyes with my fingers, and said, "Thank you."

She handed me tissues and stated, "I've been through trauma, and I could see by the way you were moving that you were experiencing something like that. I knew what to do."

And with that, we went back to the meeting.

At the end of the meeting, my friend Bob came up to me, and he wrapped his thin arms around me. He said, "You're all right. I'm here. You had that look in your eye. I know that look. I've seen it in myself."

"Thank you," I said to Bob, feeling Bob's strength and knowing seep into me.

As I left the meeting, remarkably, I was smiling. See, I believed that those two people were placed in that room on purpose. It was like magic to me, the way that they related to me, held me, and helped me when I was in my most vulnerable state. It was so touching, the way one friend and one stranger showed me absolute love. And since that miraculous day, I have felt even more relief.

Daily Meditation:  I am a warrior. I have come such a long way, and God provides loving support for me no matter where I go. Believe. I have no need to worry. I am safe.

C.A. MacConnell

5/12/2015

Photo: Nineties, Short Vine

Nineties, Short Vine
C.A. MacConnell

There's something about the night

The first line is the title in this poem. The day is beautiful. Enjoy it. Love, C.A.

There’s something about the night

that makes me want to tell you
I once was a fat, dirty girl
who spat watermelon seeds.
Long before winning was everything,
Mom forced my hair straight,
and each piece was tied up tight
in a slick, perfect braid
that swayed with my horse’s tail
when we trotted down fence lines,
lost and found in the wild weeds.
But in places, the stirrup leathers
rubbed against my calves,
burning my legs, turning them raw,
daily creating fresh sores.
Secretly, in bed, for hours,
I vigorously checked the cuts,
searching for new ones,
spreading Vitamin E oil
across the wrecked skin
until my callused hands
softened with bloody oil.
I have a curl for each time.
And how I prayed that one day
all scars would turn into stars.

There's something about the night.

C.A. MacConnell

5/11/2015

Photo: Brothers

Brothers
Can't really be crabby when I look at these fellows. :) Got some good news today. Up, down, up, down.

Love to you,
C.A. MacConnell