So I consider this journey/exploration to be it's own sort of spell.
Now some of you may poo-poo the power of a spell and I will be the first to clarify that a "spell" is just intention ritualized, but I realize all the same that I'm a little fruity and off the beaten path -- so call it what you will. In the story of my life, which I am forever creating - I am a witch from Rogers Park. And apparently from the number of alternative types in this hood, I'm in good company. All the old hippies of Chicago come back to Rogers Park it seems. So here it is that I find myself again after 22 years when I first moved to Chicago with the small blond nymphomanic (ex-best friend) to find our fame and fortune and do a decade and a half+ of non-equity music theater. (O'the perils and stories to come regarding those chapters.) I cannot mark this beginning without acknowledging that one, and in spite of the rancor that still bubbles regarding Ms. Mary and our love/hate friendship that spanned 20+ years, the thing that bears the largest testimony is the love I still continue to feel for her when I think of the past. Since moving back to Rogers Park, I often walk "with her" in memory anyway. This itself has been a balm to quell the hurt we did to each other and often gives me more perspective on our youth/wisdom in general/and the nature of forgiveness. So memory and present often unite --and also redeem. More importantly, our stories are the tree rings that mark our lives. Yes, it all started on LUNT. Not Paulina or Melvina but LUNT. Now that roach infested courtyard is a condo called Greystone Manor or something stupid like that. But it's still the same old place next door to the HEARTLAND CAFE which still continues to serve the world's most atrocious food. (Seriously, how has that place stayed open these many years??????)
So yes, I am a self-proclaimed oddball that would rather be alone than stand in the center with the rest of the common denominator that's too chicken shit to recognize the mystery and power we all possess. IE: I might not ask the Sphinx the right question in the end, but damn it all, I'm going to grill the mo'fo - okay? Let's rumble, Sphinx. I'm ready!
Besides, maybe my secret shy girl had to defiantly cultivate a sort of Shirley McClain image. All I know is that I bought into the fact that being different was cool and all the new age hocus pocus of the late 80's/early '90's really spoke to me. This culminated when I moved to Rogers Park in 1988. I would dutifully buy my crystals from Isis Rising, subscribed to Circle Magazine, burned my nag champa incense, chanted, took meditate courses, read a "wicked pack of cards" ---- and even went so far as to block out my windows so I would bleed with the full moon. You name it. To this day I seldom am without my token moonstone (talisman of Avalon for those of you who have read Marion Zimmer Bradley). I'm all crazy like that, it's true.
Now, I can blame all of the above on several things but I think its the fact that I grew up watching the TV show BEWITCHED. From the age of three on, I believed I was a witch or pretended to be. Which of course is one and the same. (Although I never got the nose wiggle down!) But what we think about is what we become -- thus, what we write about and create from a blank page is no less than life itself. Or to quote, my dear ribald, cock-waving Daddy figure Henry Miller:
I reached out to for something to attach myself to - and I found nothing. But in reaching out, in the effort to grasp, to attach myself, left high and dry as I was, I nevertheless found something I had not looked for - myself. I found that what I had desired most of my life was not to live- if what others are doing is called living - but to express myself. I realized that I had never the least interest in living, but only in this which I am doing now, something which is parallel to to life, of it at the same time and beyond it. What is true interests me scarcely at all, nor even what is real; only that interests me which I imagine to be, that which I had stifled every day in order to live. Whether I die today or tomorrow is of no importance to me, never has been, but that today, even after years of effort, I cannot say what I think and feel - that bothers me, that rankles. From childhood on I can see myself on the track of this specter, enjoying nothing, desiring nothing but this power, this ability. Everything else is a lie - everything I ever did or said which did not bear upon this. And that is pretty much the greater part of my life. (Tropic Capricorn/Henry Miller pg 13-14).Most of my life has been spent trying to figure out where the hell I'm going and most days I honestly don't know. Yes, of course, I work, I pay bills, tend to family, take care of all the THINGS we're supposed to do -- all those precious day to day menial tasks that give form to our lives. But it's my internal life, that rich murky stuff that leads to longing, dreams, manifestations - that's what I want to dig into. That's what this will be: a recipe, a spell for self creation. For who among us can live without food, love, desire, and language? From this vantage point I have always watched the world and reported it through stories: expanding the truth and living it like a mad Peter Pan. Now I am simply going to catalogue my sauntering tales and share them for those who may find some amusement and solace from one of the outlandish witches of Rogers Park.
So sit, enjoy and take it in....who knows what might come from a simple online jaunt?
Last note: why the Wasteland theme for the title? Madame Sosostris appears on line 43 of the Wasteland and my 43rd year was about to turn. Moreover I've always thought there is something very tongue-in-cheek about Madame Sosostris -- as if, perhaps, she knows she is a ruse herself. Whatever the case, she's always been with me and is very much alive in my imagination. Thus, if if I am reporting from the field -- as a post modern witch in an unreal city --- what better way to pay tribute to my liberal arts education, as well as acknowledge that at base, I'm an old show girl at heart? So whether I'm spinning a yarn, telling a tall tale, reading your cards, or making you dinner -- know I'm always going to try to give you a little song and dance: n'cest pas?
Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyant, Had a bad cold, nevertheless Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe, with a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she, Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor, (Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!) Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks, The lady of situations. Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel, And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card, Which is blank, is something he carries on his back, Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring. Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone, Tell her I will bring the horoscope myself: One must be so careful these days. TS ELLIOT: THE WASTELAND*****************************************************
Here's to the journey ahead. May the Lady of Situations, our eternal muse - lead us forth.
And lest it be forgotten: this one is for Alison Chisolm Cooper --- who told me long ago to do this!!!!