Although I am still ill, I was able to get over to "Voices Carry" the annual event suggested by the late, great Chante'Whitley-Head, and co-created with the help of Cecilia Woloch and Collin Kelley.
Pal Danny M. drove as I told myself I'd feel better once I was in the company of the featured artists. I missed getting to hear Collin Kelley read during the first few moments of the evening, but was buoyed that I was able to enjoy the rest of the wonderful night.
As usual,"Voices Carry" featured an eclectic mix of poets. Laurel Snyder's poem "It's a Boy" was hilarious and touching;Jim Elledge's excerpts from "A History of My Tatoo" were at times, hard to take in ("I was almost 13, and he said 'shhhhhh, don't tell anyone' " -- a refrain, and theme);Theresa Davis' poem about "Why Do I Do This?" was inspiring, and uplifting;Cecilia Woloch's magical, wistful "Bareback Pantoum" had us revisiting our own brink-of-adulthood memories;special visitor from San Francisco, Leroy Moore, and his poem on the history of differently-abled peoples challenged us to educate ourselves;Kodac Harrison's classic poems on the theme of Dreams, including my personal favorite,"Dream Turtle", saluted this historic week(re: President-Elect Barack Obama)).
Collin Kelley wrapped up the evening with a shout-out to Wordsmiths' Books, which always supports local authors and hosts local and national author-events.
I purchased Cecilia Woloch's brand-new "Narcissus", and am reading it now. The themes I'm already seeing have to do with losing one's voice through oppression(by a man? oneself?) and then finding it again(perhaps as a result of the oppression?). There also seem to be themes of reflection--in terms of "seeing" oneself reflected, and in the actual, thoughtful process of reflecting on one's own acts,on one's own character--weighty subjects, but handled with the ever-present pure,Woloch lyricism.
"I'm up so late, it's early."
I first said this phrase, nearly twenty years ago, when I worked "job-jobs"(my term for non-performing/non-writing work) that required late night hours(various jobs in bar/nightclub environs). I suppose at middle-age(what IS that, anyway, and hell, at 51, does that mean I get to live to see age 102?)we stay up because we simply can't sleep. (It is 3:00 A.M., as I write this.) In my case, it is not out of worry, but out of excitement. What I find in middle-age is not apathy, or a sense of loss (all those things I once thought would befall me, as I'd heard tell that's what happens), but a sense that life truly becomes more interesting, and I can begin to believe I can make a difference. In others'lives. In my own.
I even find myself trying things at which I may never excel. Like hiking!
Which brings me to how-I-spent-Sunday:
With "Louie" in tow, Hansoo and I drove out to Amicalola State Park
(I should note here we got away rather late(nearly 1:30 P.M.!), once again on account of my continual illness, but soon this will be remedied--after my surgery(coming up in December!) and I'll be better-than-new!)
So, we arrived, and commenced hiking up to see the famed Amicalola Falls.
"Louie" went nuts, looking less like a golden retreiver of nearly 11 years, more like a pup of a few months, eager with hot breath and huge, clumsy paws, and a tail that thumped continually, for adventure.
The leaves of the maples swirled around us--red, rust, bright gold. The ground had been blanketed so thickly, it was rather treacherous to climb. Slipping was a given, and I nearly fell,twice.
Nearing the peak, we could hear rushing water and a few quiet ooooh's and ahhhh's from a conglomeration of older white couples with Christian crosses and lots of babies(their grandchildren, or are these their children,courtesy of in-vitro-help?). There were also young Korean folks who live in the area.And several women with razor-short-hair who walked either arm-in-arm or hand-in-hand with whom I'm guessing were their life-partners. And an oddly large number of Chinese and Japanese tourists.
I pressed "Video" mode on my "Shine" phone, and recorded the crash of water over rock, hoping the sound would be at least as perfectly taped as the images of the water were...As much as I sometimes hate giving in to modern technology, I wanted to be able to play and re-play that soothing sound.
And there was that odd sensation once again--that feeling of being awed, scared of the height, of the danger--while simultaneously wanting to jump into the water, those rocks. No, I'm NOT suicidal, but this odd phenomenon plagues me every time I'm up high--whether it's at the top of the fake "tower" at the Paris Hotel casino in Las Vegas(I've been in the real Eiffel Tower, but it's safer there, because it's protected), or the various tall buildings in Chicago(Sears Tower)or San Francisco. It is an overwhelming sense of wanting to be set free, to fly. It's very odd.
In the past, I've asked my Mom about it,and she said she always feels that way, too. She said it's why she's "scared" of heights. In my case, I do have acrophobia(even looking at photos of tall buildings can make my palms sweat), but there is also an irresistible urge to climb and then look straight down.
I survived, kids, because the closest I got to the edge was when I teetered close to a cliff-hugging tree to see between the branches--curved, craggy, sharp--in order to witness a breathtaking burst of bright gold maple, branches spread out like the way a priest holds his arms out just before the sacrament of communion. I felt like crying for some reason, but I did not.
I just stared.
Starting back down the trail,I was pretty tired, so Hansoo left with "The Lou" to drive back to fetch me. In the meantime, I attempted some Haiku(the original intent of Haiku was to show praise/glory for nature--I daresay I went with that original intention on Sunday, though we'll see how successful my attempts are!), and checked my cell-phone for messages.
I saw some folks rolling their eyes as I sat on a rock, pen in hand, yellow-legal-pad (my preferred paper for writing poetry)at my side, and my cell-phone nestled next to me. I hope it wasn't too intrusive. In that moment, I was exactly the kind of person(a cell-phone-toting hiker!)that I find ridiculous.
Thirty minutes later(Hansoo told me Louie literally flew down the trail as they headed to the car)I piled into the car, and off we went.
On the way home, I told Hansoo how hungry I was. He agreed that hiking works up an appetite. After feeding "The Lou" at home, and seeing him nod off to sleep, we opted for a nearby buffet-restaurant that offers "comfort food"--mashed potatoes, veggies, fried chicken, and the like.
When I returned home, I found myself saying Thank You to a God that only a few years ago, I did not believe in.
If you've never been to Amicalola State Park, don't wait--get over there now, while there are still the colors of autumn on the trees, and at your feet. This year, they won't be there much longer.