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9/15/2014

The Right Side


Hi, back from a little trip to VA...about to get started on some book revisions. I'm on p. 31 of revision #5 on my 2nd novel THE HOUSE OF ANCHOR. The thing is 397 pp long altogether. Trucking along. :) Wonderful. Also, fuck, I need a job. Anyway, here's a li'l story for you in the meantime...

The Right Side

What if we all switched places with someone mentally? What if we had to crawl inside another brain for a while? What if we had to experience that person's feelings -- the joys and triumphs, the losses and victories? What if we had to feel it all -- the physical, the intellectual, the spiritual? I think it would be fantastic, eye opening, and in some cases, horrifying. I was pondering that idea last night when I was at the gas station. Really, the thought smacked me in the gut. Here's why...

At the counter, I stood quietly, tapping my foot, feeling a gentle rush inside. In a hurry, I was feeling intense, like I do. Quickly, I threw some money on the counter, buying a cherry Pepsi and some gum. Running late, I was looking forward to the evening, but at the same time, I was annoyed with some ridiculous stress that had piled up over a few months. How I wanted everything to simply shift and melt into peace. True, I was obsessing again, and I knew I was obsessing, and then I was obsessing about obsessing, and this complete awareness made me even more annoyed and obsessive. Dayum.

Anyway, I made my way to the door, and I reached to open it, but there was someone on the other side. Slowly, the man opened the door for me, stepping back, giving me room to get through. He looked left, waiting for me to slide on outta there. He had longish, dark hair. Small in build, his style was laid back, and I thought he was handsome in a rugged, strange way. Hm, I like rugged. I also like polished. I like it all -- people, particularly strangers, and the oddity of this mess we call life.

He still looked left, holding that door open, waiting patiently like a gentleman.

I stared at the right side of his face, whispering, "Thank you."

Then he slowly turned his head, staring at me straight on.

Suddenly, I realized that there was a reason he kept his head turned -- the man only had one eye, the right one. The left one was missing. There was only a tired lid drooping over the place where the eye should be.

"Thank you," I said again.

He nodded, smiling wide.

As people do, we went our separate ways.

I went outside.

He went inside.

In the car, I felt my body tingle slightly, and a new perspective crept in. I thought about what it might be like to crawl inside that man's skin, to know the world from the right side. Ignoring the time, I pulled over for a few minutes. Taking a slow sip of my soda, I was chilling on the side of the road, looking at the row of houses, then closing my eyes. For a little while, I slow-talked to God.

C.A. MacConnell

9/12/2014

The Staring Game

first prize, 39 Poets and Artists Against Hunger Contest, 1996, rev. just now.

The Staring Game


Inside me, there were voices, voices as real as my watering eyes,
eyes that dripped when I played the staring game with tiny Susan,

my pigtailed sister who was stronger. How she held back her lids,
her face fixed and pale, an easy mirror of my despair. Her fingers

moved into fists, nails pressed into her palms. Together, our bodies
shook with the fight. You can take it. Mother always said, To suffer

makes us strong
. Then came cravings. Give in, give in, shut them now.
Tears welled up, darted down, and fell, cutting alleys into cheeks

until those ticklish veins took over, and I couldn't last. Finally turning
my head, I looked away. Then came the breath, the fall of lashes,

and Susan's bare relief. See, I won again. Outside, her laughs blended
with the howls -- the small pack of stray dogs who caught the scent

of our Christmas turkey that lasted for soup. Those gifts always came
that time of year -- boxes of strange shirts and coats, hand-me-downs,

wicker baskets full of fruit. Three years later, I can still taste the pears.
I was born barefoot and stayed this way. My bones still poke at thin skin,

and I can almost see the blood there. I want it all to rush out, to push into
Susan's frame and fill it up, bringing her back to life with a mind that's still

beating. We can play hard enough at this fragile faith until, at last, we blink.

C.A. MacConnell

9/11/2014

A Slice, a Sliver

first Place, 39 Poets & Artists Against Hunger, Roanoke, VA, 1998, rev. just now.

A Slice, a Sliver



You can feel the hole in your stomach.
Again, you've been shot or stabbed
in between your highest rib
and your gut.
Sometimes, the hole speaks,
muffled like a mouth
covered by someone’s hand.
You hold it, infatuated.
You feel the cheek dents,
how they suck in,
reminding you of others
who whistle that way.
But their faces return to fullness,
rebuilt into finished moons,
while yours stay sunken,
cutting into your face
the way night carves darkness
into the planet, using rations of light
until all that’s left
is just a slice, just a sliver
that hangs in emptiness.
You begin crouching, hands
feeling your flesh
to make sure it’s still there;
each bone pushes at you,
testing your skin
to see how far it can go.
You pinch yourself, just in case.
You begin rocking
the way old men do, when sitting
on paint-chipped porches,
sipping homemade lemonade,
whittling wood into faces,
when they're passing time,
when they’re easy to forget.

C.A. MacConnell

9/09/2014

Thoughts on Professor Rick. The Poem, Alive.

*Alive is slightly revised (always, ha, of course. It's never done. Rick would be proud). In 1996, this poem won the Hollins University Literary Festival Poetry Prize, which was a great honor, and it was first published in Cargoes Literary Magazine. Also, I wrote this poem right after I had my weekly meeting with my Senior thesis adviser, Rick Trethewey, an amazing poet, critic, and teacher. I am greatly saddened to learn that Rick passed away this past weekend. This man was a great mentor to me and countless other hard-working Hollins writers.

That particular day in the nineties, I met with him to discuss my first attempt at a book, and then I walked across the Hollins front quad barefoot. When I returned to my dorm, I wrote Alive, and after many years of wrestling with poems, this one literally poured right out of me. It seemed so effortless. I barely revised it, and it later became the award-winner. I always felt like Rick had his hand in the inspiration process. Constantly, over the years, he gently encouraged me to enter contests (gently, because I'm so damn stubborn), and as a result, I won the Hollins Fiction Award, and the 39 Poets and Artists Against Hunger Contest, two years in a row. Without Rick, I wouldn't have had the courage or drive.

In 1992, when I was fresh out of high school and knew basically nothing of the writing craft, he was my very first poetry/fiction teacher. After class one day, he took a look at one of my poems and joked that I might want to consider another major. Indeed, it was bad. Then he talked with me about it, and he reshaped the way I wrote. I was passionate, but lost, and he was the tough guide I needed. All four years in undergrad and later in graduate school, Rick helped me through, and over my college career, I took many of his classes. Sometimes he was harsh, and his voice would turn into somewhat of a poetic growl. One day, we argued about a poem for about an hour in his office. Later, he had that stone-faced look that was impossible to read. Then it turned soft as hell. Another time, after class, he tore apart some of my fiction. I redid it, and sometime later, I was sitting in a rocking chair in front of the Main Building, and he walked by, growled, and muttered, "Chris, I read it. It's good." I smiled wide, and then he walked away.

He was a master at honoring a writer's individuality, while showing how the work could always become more. I'd get upset, then realize that he was right, and his critiques always made me better. Most days, he was straight up gentle and kind, leading people in his quiet way. He'd play guitar or silence people with his knowledge, and he was always musing about things. But he didn't just ponder; he always had a vast encyclopedia in his brain to back up his ideas.

Throughout a good part of six years, he was my mentor and friend. Real friends help you get better, and he did. You will be so missed. My heart goes out to Hollins University, his many friends, colleagues, and family during this time. May you all find peace in your hearts. Amen. Peace out, Christine.


Alive


You are sick again, filling your prescription at the counter in a feverish daze, back turned
to the fast walkers who cut through the crowd with shopping cart weapons, cursing
yourself because you still want a cigarette. You finish muttering your condition, hand

the white slip to the coated, vague bodies, and turn around, looking for a place to linger,
when you see him waiting for his name, sitting in the row of uniform chairs, one empty
on either side of him. You sit down on his left, notice his soiled skin, the wide-lined

scars, the way his clothes hang on his frame as if one move would make them fall, piece
by piece, until he is naked, another man with the same anatomy, labels on the parts
that make him alive. You feel like patting yourself on the back. No one else would have

gotten so close. A suited, fat man struts up to your scarred partner in waiting, studies
his appearance, asks him if he’d like a chance to better himself, to find a job, to clean up,
leaves him a thick brochure, and drifts down the aisles with a holy grin. The scarred man

shakes his head, looks into you with blue eyes clear as an ache, strong as your hacking
cough that just won’t go away, and says, You just never know about people, before he
grips your hand and tells you his name, tells you to take care. There is nothing polite

in the way his soft, tired voice works through his chest to his limbs, leaves the thick lips.
Before he even spoke, you knew him. Before he even took your hand, you were already
touching. A smile, some kind of tug in your chest, and the joy of strangeness makes you

want to collect everyone in a circle, close your eyes, listen to each mysterious song
of skin and bones, cup your hand around the closest ear, and whisper, Pass it on.

C.A. MacConnell

9/08/2014

Stars Without Makeup


Sad but true:  the top trending post on Yahoo this morning has to do with a picture of a star without makeup. What's even sadder is that my life is so much in the shitter that I sank low enough to click on the link to look at the picture. Anyway, to go along with this trend, I would like to post a picture of me WITH makeup. I am very nervous about this, since I usually go without makeup. I am also concerned how I will celebrate "National Topless Day," because I think everyone should be able to be naked whenever. Okay, maybe not everyone. Just everyone cool. I never wear a bra, unless I have to be at some job, so I think I should celebrate "Bra-less Day" by wearing a bra I guess. Anyway, here's the pic of me WITH makeup:


And here's the pic of me WITHOUT makeup:


Here's another angle:


Time to Write,
C.A. MacConnell

9/06/2014

Nineties


Those years. Deep,
low, and rumbling,
through thick lips,
your voice poured out
like the lonely cave
echo. Long-lasting,
after startling months
on the rising road,
your sound slid
into a sleepy whisper,
a gravelly grumble,
a drowsy drawl.
Some nights melted
into sick mornings,
but you were alive,
young, and the songs
were clear. Each show,
you fought the mean
crowd's undertow,
and how the wild,
slippery fingers
grabbed at your long,
dark hair, tearing out
pieces. Skin and nails
were lost and found,
turning to souvenirs,
and after a while,
when you were beaten
by the relentless war
of touch, you didn't feel it;
you were so skinny
and numb. All around,
wide-eyed cops brushed
knuckles against cuffs,
slapping palms against
sticks, settling on guns.
When all crowd mouths
opened, when all heads
tilted, when all eyes
looked up, watching you
climb into the rafters,
creating a massive yawn,
a gaping world, everyone
reached for you. Even
the largest men screamed
through this sweaty, bloody
dance. Some people call this
vintage.

C.A. MacConnell

9/03/2014

Meeting Mama Nel

In 2004-5 I believe, my boyfriend Jay and I often played guitar together; we'd jam at parties, kick back on the streets, make up songs on the corner, and it was nothing fancy. Man, we adored Blind Melon. Of course, I still do. Actually, we worshiped the late singer Shannon Hoon's innovative creative talents. There were many times when Jay and I would hop in his car and sing along to Shannon's song, "Change." Damn, we belted it out, smiling all the way. By far, that tune was our favorite pick.

Back in the day, Shannon Hoon sometimes played "Change" while sitting on his mother's porch, and when Kurt Cobain passed, Shannon dedicated the song to him on national television. Of course Jay and I knew the song was about tragedy, struggle, and addiction, but it was much trickier upon closer listen. See, it was also a song about great hope and utter innocence. Undeniably raw, emotional, and intensely poetic, the words and chords emanated a certain dynamic truth.

And Jay and I felt enamored with the Soup album in its entirety. Although the commercial success of the sophomore work was not as great as that of the debut, to us, and to many music diehards, it was absolute genius. Although the disease of addiction took Hoon's life, his band's music continues to live on in the hearts of many fans. In both a tortured and gorgeous way, these original, gritty, yet well-crafted songs made us ache, and how we loved to ache.

Ironically, in 2007, Jay lost his life to addiction as well, and it has taken me a long time to come to terms with the loss. Most days, I figure the best way to honor his life is to try and help others recover whenever I can, wherever I can. Which brings me to now...this year, a music friend emailed me about the upcoming vigil for Shannon Hoon. When I checked out the site, I ordered a T-shirt to support the cause and to honor Jay. Well, some time went by, and I never received a shirt. Then I pretty much forgot about it until last night.

Just after dusk, my phone rang, and the long distance number was one I didn't recognize. Usually, I wouldn't even answer such a call, but for some reason, I called the number right back, and strangely enough, on the other end was Nel Hoon, Shannon Hoon's mother. From Indiana, she called me to say that they didn't have the particular T-shirt I ordered. So strange. My mouth dropped open. Well, after we talked for a while, I became incredibly choked up, and I really felt Jay's presence in the room. And then I thought maybe Shannon was there as well. Hi friends.

I asked Nel how she was doing...this is a tough time for her, since it's the anniversary of her son's death. We talked for some time -- about festivals, the vigil, T-shirts, and then we talked about recovery, and I told her I'd been sober for 16 years.

She responded, "Christine, I'm so proud of you."

I told Nel how honored I was to talk with her, and she personally invited me to the vigil.

When I hung up, I felt my eyes fill up, spilling over. The way it happened, with the chain of coincidences over time -- Jay, "Change," tragedy, recovery, email from friend, website, T-shirt, call from Nel -- it was absolutely amazing really. Silently, I sat there, thinking, What an amazing connection, and it made me realize this:  this is why I've stuck around. Dear God, this is why I'm here.

To me, this whole story, this miracle, if you will, was a reminder of what's important, that maybe today, you're not at your job to punch in a time clock or sell or be the big shot. Simply, maybe you're there to help save a life.

Thanks for the reminder Nel, or "Mama Nel," as most call you now. I can't wait to meet you, sit on your porch, and listen to some tunes.

C.A. MacConnell

P.S. Who wants to go?

9/02/2014

Special Effects

Oh, man. I'm worn out and sore from head to toe. Been running around a barn, and there's a gelding named Captain who is obsessed with me. Man, he's a fancy son of a bitch. But also, very messy. Picture the equivalent of a horse heartthrob...that's him. Anyway, he loves to blow his hot breath in my ear, as well as show me his goods. Nice. See, even horses can be pervs. I said to a coworker, "Man, he likes women." He responded with a chuckle and said, "Yup."

That's all from me today. Here is a link to a CityBeat Article I did, a touching piece called, "Special Effects."

C.A. MacConnell

9/01/2014

Exclusive Author Commentary on The House of Anchor and Over 50,000 views.

video
Sorry about the lighting. As usual, C.A. MacConnell's lighting crew was unfortunately wrapped up in working on the sequel to "Boyhood," called, "Manly Girl."

Some Come Back

Drinking dark roast coffee, my girl friend and I chilled at a table outside of Panera Bread, running our mouths and laughing about the world's crazy brains. And then suddenly, I heard some slight rustling right next to me. Startled, I jumped a little. I never like it when someone sneaks up on me, and it doesn't happen often, because I have extremely sensitive hearing; my body is particularly tuned in to the slightest change in surrounding sound. I am ready, see. Could be danger. Could be a miracle. I am always ready. Well, I like to think I am. Life always brings surprises. I looked right, checking out my intruder, sizing him up.

Wearing an ancient sweatshirt, taking his time, a thin, blue-eyed man was digging through the garbage can. Dressed in papery, dirty, light blue jeans, he stared back at me and nodded. Then, without even taking anything from the trash, the sweatshirt man vanished. Easily, he blended into the scene. Some people are experts at that. Actually, I used to be a master. When necessary, I suppose that even today, I'm a professional alley shadow. When near the gutter, one must turn to water.

When my friend darted inside for a refill, the sweatshirt man returned. Again, he sifted through the garbage, settling on a half-full found cup of coffee. In victory, he held it up at me, took a sip of it, smiled wide, and said, "Hey! How's it going?"

"Pretty good," I responded. "How are you?"

"I'm good. You from around here?" he asked me. He spoke clearly, enunciating words at the ends of sentences. Sipping his coffee, he closed the garbage can lid.

"Yeah, I'm from here," I answered.

"What part?" he asked. His blue eyes shone. Everywhere, tiny smiles. Then he asked all about my history, naming streets and schools; he knew the area well.

His quick wit and vocabulary reminded me of a highly caffeinated professor. "Where are you from?" I asked him.

He grinned. "Oh, various places," he said. But then his eyes darted to the seat across from me, and he raised his brows, appearing nervous. "Hey, where'd your friend go? Is she coming back?" he asked me.

"Yes, she's coming back," I said. "No worries."

"Oh, good," he said. With relief, his shoulders sank. Quickly, he smiled, walking around the corner, vanishing into the evening air.

I wondered how his life turned, how he ended up wearing layers, spending an evening among strangers and garbage cans, and I wondered why he appeared in my world on a seemingly random evening. But see, some things aren't random at all. In my past, my dark world was chock full of abandonment, and life was littered with the affects of addiction. At ten, I knew what the gin bottle meant, and I knew that it could change the night into something hilarious or horrible. I knew that people overdosed, that others skate boarded down hills and remained missing. Later, I knew strange beds, my cheek on a branch, my cheek on the street. There were few hellos and goodbyes. And even fewer returns. Although it's been many years since this storm center of chaos, I still cringe at times, remembering mornings with mysterious bruises. I still watch my back.

That sweatshirt man -- perhaps he was some messenger, some god speaking to me, letting me know how far I've come, letting me know that I can rest assured that at times, some people do indeed come back. And some keep coming back.

C.A. MacConnell

8/31/2014

Fence

Hm...this turned out lovely. I don't feel so well, but I'm going to start revision 5 on my book. Poem's from the P.O.V. of the fence. I dig it. Hope you're happy today...God bless. Stay in the light. Love, C.A.

Fence

Human, for years, I've been waiting.
Soon, I may blush and warp
into kindling, but I'll still open
my knots, my mouths,
giving you hints.
Somewhere, leaning back there,
lives a ladder.
Today, may you reach out,
touching my strong side --
the least faded, the straightest,
my shaded best.
Go ahead.
Press your rising chest
against me. I can take the weight.
You will make me --
one lowly, man-made fence --
stand tall enough
to come to life.
Peek above the jagged,
harsh rows.
Take in the crooked downside,
for there is so much more
beyond and below.
A thousand splintered stories,
the aches of yesterdays,
are hidden within my cracks
and lines. So many whispers.
All over, I hold secrets.
They are woven in.
They are carved into me
by little hands.

C.A. MacConnell

8/30/2014

F'n Rad Novel Query Letter

August 30, 2014

Dear New York Agent:

I bet you're lonely. I hope you have a good desk chair, because all of that reading must make you sore. Perhaps I could send you a massage chair? I'm sure you are not a bad person. Also, I would like to come visit you and bring you my book to make you feel better. I would like my book to become a movie, so if you don't have connections in film, please forward this along.

Secondly, to give you an idea of my background, I have been writing since before Starbucks existed. I write so much that my fingers are swollen and bloody. I am extremely dedicated. I chose you as my agent because you are very good looking, and I feel like only someone as good looking as you could sell my book. Also, I think your name has a nice ring to it, and according to our horoscope charts, it should be a good match.

I know you said in your instructions not to include a sample, but I decided to stand out among the norm, and I attached three chapters of my finished novel, 953,563-4 words, called, "Pitcher in the Corn." It is adult fiction and young adult fiction, because there is one character who is a teenage vampire. It could also be a romance or mystery novel, because this work is so diverse, it will blow up the charts. According to your Website, you are seeking science fiction. "Pitcher in the Corn" could also be read as Science Fiction, because the teenage vampire in the story partakes in time travel, and the voice is like none other you have seen. The voice won me Honorable Mention in the "Most Improved" category in the Atlanta Cornbread Literary Contest in 1995, and I have been working on it ever since, so imagine how good the voice is now. I mean, seriously, close your eyes and imagine.

Dynamic, fast-paced, literary, engaging, tight, emotional, hilarious, and unique -- these are all words that reviewers have been using to describe "Pitcher in the Corn." It is the story of 15-year-old Smolden Rawlfield, a sarcastic and fiercely angry student who falls in love with his male classmate, a vampire named Bob Mattison, who has vampire cancer. Everyone else has long accepted Bob and Smolden's relationship, but it is Smolden who must wrestle with his inner demons with regard to Bob's disease. As a result, he develops Tourette Syndrome -- in all of  his high school classes, he cannot stop muttering, Fuck you, and he writes it all over the place, which makes it exceptionally difficult for him to graduate and deal with Bob's vampire cancer. Never before has a vampire had cancer, which creates great strife for Bob, because even the vampires ostracize him; we all know that usually they are eternal. That is why this book is so unique, and the whole world will be able to relate to these multi-faceted characters.

The story ends with a wedding between Smolden and Bob, even though Bob is on his death bed. Determined to stop the wedding, a riot breaks out in all states where same-sex marriage is not allowed. Suddenly, there is mass chaos, and nothing seems sure, which also leaves "Pitcher in the Corn" open for a sequel set in Massachusetts. I think readers will identify with Smolden and Bob because they show us true love in spite of Bob's great disability.

I hope that you will consider "Pitcher in the Corn." I have attached the last three chapters, as well as a computer scan of a SASE, just to be thorough, even thought this is internet. Thank you for your hard, painstaking consideration, and I hope that today you can think about what Smolden might say. Actually, he wouldn't say anything because Bob eats him in the last chapter.

Best,

Adult Fiction/Science Fiction/Young Adult Fiction Writer
(attachments)

-- C.A. MacConnell

8/29/2014

F'n Rad Daily Meditation. The White Bison: Beautiful and Rare

Yesterday's daily meditative writing was so rad (might want to read that first) that I decided to use it again and rewrite it to make it even more rad and spiritual. It's now at the level of f'n rad, and it's a little different, but see what you think. C.A.

F'n Rad Daily Meditation. The White Bison:  Beautiful and Rare.

Every morning, I wake up around 3:40 a.m. and check the apartment to see if anything is amiss due to my occasional sleepwalking. Then I make coffee that I scored from Steve, my "friend." Actually, he is just my friend. Next, I check a gazillion different internet sites, and I usually laugh at things that no one else finds funny. For instance, I may listen to someone's music and crack up, realizing later that it was meant to be a song about a traumatic breakup. And then I am so sorry about the comment I made that read:  "Holy shit, this is fuckin' hilarious."

Next, I usually click on the "White Bison" site and read the meditations. Now, yesterday's had to do with the idea that we're born with a true purpose and "every true purpose will always be about serving the Creator and helping others." A definitive statement that really hit me. It really hit me because I believe that my true purpose is to get a big break. Also, I was glad there was not a white bison in my apartment, because that would be a lot of upkeep.

All the time, I am struck by the notion of "roles." I also like crescent rolls, and I am struck by those as well. When I look at those around me, and I notice the work labels -- musician, technician, service adviser, manager, salesman, receptionist, and on and on, I realize that the labels are appropriate for some, and for others (service adviser), definitely not. And then I look beyond them, because I am spiritual, and I see that there is so much more to all of them -- the service adviser sometimes prints out Rush lyrics to answer all of my problems. The technician leaves notes on my car that turn my day around, and he leaves his first name on the note, as well as his number; however, there are 30 or so technicians, and I have no idea who he is. The manager has a brotherly side, and I want to kick his ass at basketball to prove that I went to a women's college. The salesman is a devoted father, and I feel connected to him in a strange way, and I am damn sure that he doesn't feel this connection, but rather, finds me horrifying. The receptionist has a beautiful new baby boy. I had a baby boy once. No I didn't. That was just that year I was chubby. And the musician would give his right arm to make sure that someone he loved was safe, and I'm sure that someone is safe as hell, and that someone is sure as hell not me.

All of them work hard, sometimes they watch T.V., and all of them have a true purpose that is unfolding in good and bad ways, and all of them have changed me forever. Some of these changes I am trying to change back, but it's okay. I'm a trooper.

People used to call me "horse girl." Then it was "yoga girl." Sometimes they call me "the writer." Now they may be calling me...I'm not sure, but I hope it's not "E.T." or "Frodo." But whatever the case, I hope to be known not for my labels and not for the crazy thoughts I may have, but instead, for my actions, my creations, my past recycling obsession, my current bubble gum obsession, my past and current obsession with the stuffed animal claw machine, and my positive or terrifying affect on the world.

So today let us take a look at the small stuff, like dirt. And perhaps these intentions will spread to those around us. I can look at yesterday's behavior and be gut-level honest....I'll start here...okay, so during the middle of the work day I went to Target because my shoes fell apart, but they had nothing cool. I can make amends where I need to, let it go (come on now, that's asking a lot), and try to keep my heart as open and clean as possible. And let me tell you, everything around here is clean.

A mantra I often use:  be here now. When I use this mantra, I am usually in deep shit. Yeah, it is definitely cliche, but it's true -- this moment is all that we have and beyond the labels and daily operations, if you love someone, for god's sake, hang on to that love like it's your last day on this planet, because great love is beautiful and rare. Well, hang on to it unless they dump your ass. Then you should probably cry and find an imaginary lover as soon as possible. The touching moments in life (let me reiterate the word "touch"), the moments when I feel as if my chest might burst (hells yeah) -- these are the minutes, the hours, the days that I live for. Okay, the minutes. It's not about the show, the great award, or the time clock. No, not at all. It's about cash.

For me, the best moments were when I gave someone the shoes off my feet, the purse off my shoulder, the shirt off my back, and the life blood from my vein, without expecting anything back, except for better shoes, a kickass purse, and a cat face T- shirt. You can keep the blood from my vein, asshole. I may fall off the track here and there (not much because I have huge feet and awesome balance), but somewhere within this giving lies my true purpose. When I can wish what's best for only the people I totally dig, I can forget about my plans, throw out the labels, and listen, really listen, to those around me, and sometimes, I can tell them to talk quieter because they're too loud. Today I will pay attention to the white bison, and I will tune in deeply, madly, and with a caring heart, and I hope someone tells me how to take care of the white bison, because it's in my apartment, and it's very hungry.

-- C.A. MacConnell

8/27/2014

White Bison: Beautiful and Rare

Every morning, I click on the "White Bison" site and read the meditations there. Here is today's. It has to do with the idea that each individual is born with a true purpose and "every true purpose will always be about serving the Creator and helping others." A definitive statement that really hit me. It made me think this:  how can I do this better? How can I use my talents to the best of my ability and in turn, serve others?

All the time, I am struck by the notion of "roles." I look at the folks around me, and I notice the work labels -- musician, technician, service adviser, manager, salesman, receptionist, and on and on. And then I look beyond them, and I see this -- the service adviser sometimes makes me laugh so hard I feel like I might throw up. The technician leaves a note on my car that turns my day around. The manager has a protective, brotherly, sensitive side, and I often want to go shoot hoops with him. The salesman is a devoted father, a man with integrity, and I feel connected to him in a strange way. The receptionist has a beautiful new baby boy. And the musician would give his right arm to make sure that someone he loved was safe. All of them work hard, all of them have a true purpose that is unfolding, and all of them have changed me forever.

People used to call me "horse girl." Then it was "yoga girl." Sometimes they call me "the writer." Now they may be calling me "horse girl" again, I'm not sure. But whatever the case, I hope to be known not for my labels and not for the crazy thoughts I may have at times, but instead, for my actions, my creations, and my affect on the world.

So today, I can take a look at the small stuff, and perhaps these intentions will spread to those around me. I can look at yesterday's behavior and be gut-level honest. I can make amends where I need to, let it go, and try to keep my heart as open and clean as possible.

A mantra I often use:  be here now. Yeah, it may seem cliche, but it's true -- this moment is all that we have, and way beyond the labels and daily operations, if you love someone, for god's sake, hang on to that love like it's your last day on this planet, because great love is beautiful and rare. The touching moments in life, the moments when I feel as if my chest might burst -- these are the minutes, the hours, the days that I live for. It's not about the show, the great award, or the time clock.

For me, the best moments were when I gave someone the shoes off my feet, the purse off my shoulder, the shirt off my back, and the life blood from my vein, without expecting anything back. I may fall off the track here and there, but somewhere within this giving lies my true purpose. When I can wish what's best for you and you, for all around, I can forget about my plans, throw out the labels, and listen, really listen, to those around me. Today I will pay attention to the white bison, and I will tune in deeply, madly, and with a caring heart.

Yo, whether near or far, love is magnificent.
C.A. MacConnell

8/25/2014

First Place

On my birthday a week ago, for some oddball reason, I bolted awake at 5am and motored up to a small town about an hour north of home. Why? For a 10K/half marathon race. Have I been running? No, not at all. But earlier that week, a friend had told me about the course that went right through the woods, and I had nothing better to do, and it all sounded peaceful to me. Also, I knew the race cash would help support the parks and bike trail that I use frequently so I figured, what the hell. Admittedly, I was on the "upswing," and I thought I was Flash Gordon or some shit (this happens sometimes...perhaps tomorrow I'll share about my "pro rollerblading" experience, a disaster that lasted one day). Or ask my roommate Buzz about my one-day tennis career, which involved him yelling, "Gentle! Gentle!" while I repeatedly hit the ball over the fence and out of the court. I admit I tend to overdo it. Go hard or go home! Ha. I think that saying was meant for people who actually practice at things and have experience, rather than for a 5'2" woman with more muscle and spunk than aim.

Anyway, the race. When I arrived in this rustic town, everyone around looked cool and slick in their name brand "moisture wick" running clothes. Many people were half naked, and it got so bad that I started expecting to see someone show up in a thong. Alas, no luck. I thought I was styling as well, but I'm not sure what kind of activity I was dressed for. I wore a hoodie, a tank top, and some black short shorts from like 1950. You know, the kind Dad wears with knee socks. Also, my neon red vintage Sauconys cost me $29.99, shipping included. Nearly all of these runners were sporting souped-up, expensive running shoes with labels, webbing, reflective gear, and turbo jets, I suppose. Oh well.

So they were all warming up -- jogging along the tracks, stretching, downing energy drinks and energy bars, eating bananas, etc. I laughed, thinking, These people are seriously more nuts than me. But I warmed up as well. Here's what I did -- I slid on my Captain Fin surf/skate hat (no, I don't know how to surf or skate, but I am a total groupie), and then I wandered around, taking a bunch of "I'm so artsy" pictures of old, abandoned buildings, a train car, antique shops, a house with no front steps, and the like. Then I smoked a few cigs and guzzled down the rest of my extra large gas station coffee. Side note:  a while back, I did actually run and finish a marathon (without stopping), and I used the same preparation method. So I figured, if it works, don't go messing with society.

Well, I'm no dum dum. I didn't think I could run the monster, but I do walk a ton, so I was in shape for that. So I decided to run/walk the thing, and I was feeling stoked. Like I said, I was on the upswing...when we started out, everyone and their mother and baby passed me, but I didn't care. Later, I passed some of them. But overall, I power-walked along or jogged, enjoying the scenery, noticing how most racers seemed so serious, and I totally thought they should all stop to wish me a happy birthday. Then I realized this:  oh yeah, this is a race, and it's not a benefit for me. Fuck, I forgot.

As I was chilling, "racing" along, I started to see people coming at me from the other direction. On the race path, we went "up and back," so the people doing the half marathon started passing us from the other direction while we slower shits cruised along. So I watched to see who was winning, and I studied the faces. The top three came in sporadically -- in first place, one man (not as toned as you would think), then another normal-looking, sweaty man a few minutes later. In third was a wiry, alien-like creature, a "skin and muscle" man who looked like he lived for marathons. I figured he would catch sweaty #2 and maybe #1. But what really caught my attention was the fourth place runner. Here was a pretty, thin woman with wide set eyes, big lips, and a small nose. She was the first place woman, and then I noticed something else -- she only had one arm. The right one had been amputated above the elbow. And this lady was fucking flying. And smiling right at me. I smiled right back. Badass, I thought, giving her a thumbs up.

So then a pack of men sprinted past, and then a few women, but the next woman that caught my attention was in about 7th place. She was pushing a baby in a running stroller. Imagine what place she would've been in without the stroller. Probably #1. Guess there was no sitter that day, I dunno. It really touched me.

In recovery after the race, people stretched, ate bananas, ate energy bars, drank water, and some even kept right on running. I said hello to a friend who ran the half marathon, fixed my Captain Fin hat, hopped in my car, and headed over to the generic quickie mart for a large coffee, and let me tell you, that caffeine went straight to the vein, which was fun. Then I smoked a few cigs and headed on home.

I may not be the fastest racer, and I guess I don't do anything right at all, but cruising along, being me, I had the time of my life. And here I am with two hands, able to type and write to you. That one-armed woman wasn't letting her disability get in the way of her love. It was an awesome and beautiful reminder for me. Disability or not, we can do anything we wish to do, as long as we put in the work, dream big, and keep on pounding the pavement, one red, vintage sneaker after the other. She reminded me to never, ever give up.

What an inspiration. Each day, I become a little more at ease with letting my true self shine, and that is the best birthday present I could've ever hoped for. I walk fast, but I look, really look around me, and these days, I pay attention to the details. I like this new pace. It's mine, all mine. And I keep my eyes open for the god moments, such as the moment when I looked into the eyes of a first place, smiling, one-armed woman who was easily sailing right through the finish line.

C.A. MacConnell
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