Monday, November 26, 2018


A two-sleep night is an old habit of mine. It dates back to Browning at the beginning of the Sixties when I was madly in love with Bob Scriver and a little scared of life, so I would go to sleep against his warm back in his bed, set the alarm for 3AM and walk home in the snow, then slide back into sleep until time to teach. The kids, of course, figured this out early and followed me, mocking, one night. It made no difference. In Browning there were always people awake and in the streets, walking somewhere. No one made a fuss because Bob was famous and the two of us were tending his art, not showing off or acting out. 

In the summer this far north, 4AM is dawn. Ever since then, I've wakened at 3AM, especially during the three circuit-riding years when I was living in the van and sleeping out there in various places, sometimes up a forest road and other times at someone's curb. There's a physiological element: most of the women in my mother's family need to pee at 3AM. It may be that about that time we also need to clear our subconsciousness. During the second sleep we dream. We have busy heads. 

Sometimes we solve problems in our sleep. The problem I've been struggling with this year has been figuring out what I want to survive my death and how to make it happen. (Just turned 79.) The curious part is that it's not my own personal existence that matters -- I sort of gave that up when I stopped expecting to write a famous book because the conditions in 2018 make that near impossible. But I did transition over to wanting a blog worth reading and maybe saving, which is now complicated by the social media trying to understand what THEY want to survive and how to make that happen. Federal prosecutions will be enlightening. 

Another complication is that most of the things I feel most intensely ought to be preserved are aspects of other people that I have already gone to considerable effort to save. The importance of genealogy and records of work have faded. When first I approached "retirement" my main survival tactic was poverty, to need only a bare minimum of money but to control that, own it. But now this little house may not survive unless I Ieave poverty aside enough to do repairs which means money. 

 When I bought this house it was in part to house some of the family remnants: photos, books, genealogical remnants. This was my mother's last concern: she spent her final years finishing albums, cookbooks (which my brothers burned at her death -- the recipes don't work now, esp. since I am diabetic.) I have some family furniture but it's a matter of convenience rather than sentimentality. 

The social mechanisms of preservation -- museums, archives, younger friends and relatives -- don't work. Museums are being challenged, called capitalist hoarding and white male self-aggrandizement. The archives are choking on papers and must spend money defending themselves against family who are either hiding something or expecting to exploit the materials. The younger people are simply not interested in old stuff. The Blackfeet want no white interference or even participation. 

 In these last years I've discarded a lot of people. Many have died, but many others are clinging to the way things used to be and I'm nothing like who I used to be. The vestiges of cowboy art mania are horrified that I don't keep on being Bob's wife fifty years after divorce and twenty after his death. The UUA is more of a club than a denomination but I take religious issues far too seriously. Environmental people and natural history people have shattered into sub-issues, but I value the broad view. 

So I'm awake at 3AM, wanting to go back to bed in order to warm up. Not troubled by Christmas issues because I'm not observant. Not worried about the fate of my only descendant, a niece, because she's more capable and mainstream than I've ever been. Knowing a full moon is shining on new snow. The cats are curled in sleep but will make room for me. 

At four AM it's 6AM on the East Coast and I'm eager, even anxious, to know what indictments have been unsealed. Who will join the frogmarch today? This both messes up my world-view and keeps me on Twitter, intent on watching Trump fall. Whether or not he comes down hard -- and he is susceptible to death by natural causes -- the rebuilding of the nation will be pretty interesting but it won't be on Facebook. After decades of warning friends and relatives to get off that platform, the evidence is finally coming out. it's indicative of institutional rot that churches cling to being on Facebook. 

Turning the mirror on myself, I realize that I have four books that are 85% finished. Partly, mostly in the book I call the "Flaming Chalice", the science is moving so quickly and deeply that I'm constantly having to rethink and rewrite my manuscript. Society at large is nowhere near keeping up. Churches remain socioeconomic and ethnic: it's in their flesh and bones. The one about water on the East Slope of the Rockies is the most pressing because it is framed by global warming. I don't know how to interface with an agent or publisher except through a finished manuscript, so obviously I'm the one who is preventing publication. 

Several books are framed and "published" as blogs and "Heartbreak Butte" -- which is both online as a blog and circulating as a PDF through a few "academic" sources like "Academia" and "Researchgate" -- are being read but not in America so much. It is also affected by socioeconomic and ethnic factors, some of them based on fantasies about indigenous people. 

Probably it is about time to find an American publisher for "Bronze Inside and Out", the biography of Bob Scriver, which does not appear on the "Montana" lists of books defined by Missoula thinking of friends. 

I could pretend I was at the beginning of a second stage of writing, except that the truth would be that there are many stages. I don't see an end yet, but a narrowing. For instance, I'm moving all posts about the Blackfeet rez to They amount to a book, but nothing like the bound and marketed accounts advertised.  People prefer what they already know.

No comments: