My novel Curva Peligrosa opens with a tornado that sweeps through the fictional town of Weed, Alberta, and drops a purple outhouse into its center. Drowsing and dreaming inside that structure is its owner, Curva Peligrosa—a curiosity and a marvel, a source of light and heat, a magnet. Adventurous, amorous, fecund, and over six feet tall, she possesses magical powers. She also has the greenest of thumbs, creating a tropical habitat in an arctic clime, and she possesses a wicked trigger finger.
My husband and I have just returned from five glorious days at a house we rented overlooking the ocean at Sea Ranch, an enclave on California’s Mendocino coast. This escape from urban holiday craziness has become an annual ritual for us. And for the time we’re there, we’re actually transported not just into a different location but also into an altered psychic space.
Most of the usual daily routines fall away and we replace them with ones that fit our new surroundings. Instead of working out on our stationary bike or at the gym, we take long walks on the bluff trail overlooking the ocean, mesmerized by how the sun polishes the sea’s surface to a high gloss and the thundering surf. At some point, we pause to watch the seals lounging on the beach, huddled in groups of 20 or more. Some flop into the ocean in search of food or for a quick dip, but most seem content to just plotz. I understand their motivation. They offer a wonderful model for what I’m seeking in these few precious days by the sea.
Limited external stimulation. Maximum time for internal reverie.
Since we’re experiencing the last few days of 2015, I’m also reflecting on what I’m leaving behind. For over 30 years, I’ve been teaching part-time at Bay area colleges, though mainly at the University of San Francisco. I’m not quite ready to say the word retire, but I plan to take what may be an extended leave of absence from the writing class I teach there. I’ve also resigned from my duties as vice president of the part-time faculty union.
These are big steps for me. I’ve been working all my life, and while I’ll continue doing so in various new contexts (writing, after all is work, as is editing, teaching writing workshops, and tutoring), my income from the classroom, etc., will be gone. Apparently these changes are stirring up early deprivation fears as I’ve had several dreams about not having enough money and needing to find work.
I do look forward to devoting more time each day to my various writing projects and to expanding my marketing outreach for Fling! as well as for the novel I’ll be publishing in 2016, Bone Songs. I feel ready for these major changes, but it’s always a challenge to shift one’s focus, and I’m sure I’ll run into many of them as I shift gears.
I wish everyone a rich and rewarding new year!