An Introduction is in Order

“Often wounded deer moving over or through brush will leave blood sign well off the ground, tipping you off to where they were hit.” — from The Sportsman’s Way by William Curtis — Field and Stream, Mar. 1979

Upper-Midwesterner. Writer. Formerly of Colorado and Montana. Grew up in Minneapolis, went to college at the University of Colorado, Boulder — where I graduated in 1994 with an English Literature major and a Women’s Studies minor.  I waitressed until I fell apart and was dragged home by my mother and spent a dismal year back in Minneapolis working as a receiver at Barnes and Noble bookstore.  I had written two short stories in my life — both the product of my heartbreak that I’d left behind in Boulder.  I sent those two stories into the fiction department at the University of Montana in Missoula where I hoped to work with Bill Kittredge.  To my amazement I got in (at the time it was one of the top programs in the country) and I graduated with an MFA in fiction in 1998. I have had the esteemed privilege to work as a writer-in-residence/poet in the Missoula schools, also as an instructor — at the University of Montana, then at Salish Kootenai College, and, once I moved home in 2000 after my mother’ cancer diagnosis, at the University of Minnesota.  I did find a permanent teaching home and a tenure track with NHCC where I worked for seven years before I took my leave of absence precipitated by my struggle with infertility. I began Blood Signs 1.0 in 2007 and wrote more about my struggles with stepmotherhood, infertililty and writing. I moved to Blood Signs 2.0 after Zoe was born, and Blood Signs 3.0 was born out of my anonymity being a moot point after its discovery by a family member.  I had always intended to use a blog as a platform for a re-entry into the world of literary fiction — and so, here it is.  I don’t know quite what it will be yet, but I’m happy you’re following me.

My former bio from Blood Signs 2.0:

I once thought I might write the Great American Novel but instead found myself and my MFA teaching Composition buried for nearly seven years under 1500 pages of student work.

I found writing again when, after trying for a number of years, my partner and I discovered that our inability to conceive wasn’t about shoddy timing but rather a full-fledged medical condition. I took a sabbatical. I didn’t write my novel but I wrote about step-parenting, about feminism, about literature, about how it is that would try acupuncture, homeopathy, a surfer-shaman shacked up in a brownstone outside of Boston recommended to me by my brother — but was terrified to try IVF.

I left my teaching job in order to be at home with our stepson who had just entered the second grade. I wrote about step-motherhood.

I wrote about my father’s death and how it shadowed my early life. I wrote about food, my lapsed catholicism and yearning towards Eastern philosophy. I wrote about my mother’s depression and ducking her rages in childhood. I wrote about class. I wrote about my husband and how meeting him unfolded so much waiting good in my life. I wrote about missing the West and the proximity to wild empty places. For two years I wrote my way to motherhood and in March 2009 I conceived Z through IVF. She was born on Bodhi Day, 2009.

***

In November of 2012 my anonymous blog was discovered by a family member and precipitated the creation of the one you are currently reading.

I won’t be writing as much about step-parenting, nor will I be writing about my step-son — out of deference to other members of my family; in no way should the absence of that portion of the narrative be taken as a litmus test of  its importance in my life, rather the reverse.  That said, I will be writing about motherhood — taking into account Z’s privacy as best I can.  This is tricky business — I am left with the reminder of the importance we have to the peripheral characters in our narratives — to all of our characters — not just to ourselves.

13 responses

  1. Redheads always provoke strong feelings.
    Maybe because they are highly visible? provocative? beautiful?
    In Australia our female prime minister, who is much admired for saying what she thinks and calling out crap when she sees it, is a proud and defiant redhead.
    My favourite blogger Edenland is also a fiery redhead match.
    You are in wonderful company and your hair is stunning, stay ‘delusional’ for as long as you can.

    • Hi Megan!
      I’m so glad you’re here — I love both your PM and Eden! Thank you so much for your commenting here — I’ll have to visit you — do you have a blog? I am going to add an old school blogroll — I’d love to add you.

    • Dear Sweet Rex,

      So thrilled to see you here — I’ll miss seeing your lovely corner of the world on my IG feed while I’m sorting things out here…I haven’t forgotten that we’re pen pals…

      xo,

      Pam

  2. Greetings, PK!

    I discovered you on Alicia’s blog and followed your link here and I must say I am quite enthralled by your writings, your observations and aspirations, but soon the enthrallment became more and more familiar to me. What is it about your approach to the world and to life and to children, etc., that is so familiar to me and similar to my approach? And then I came to this page and read the two magic words that activated an immediate Homer Simpson D’oh! slap on the forehead.

    Of course! You are a “lapsed Catholic” just like me! That all-pervasive (Omnipresent?) feeling of familiarity was my recognition that you have that same “indelible mark” on your soul that I have on mine.

    I was born in 1948 into a very devout Irish Catholic family in NYC and was schooled the first 8 years by Franciscan nuns and then 4 years of Irish-Christian Brothers in an all-boys high school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. But then I went secular, going to an engineering college to study physics, whereupon I commenced my lapsing.

    So I would love to have you devote a full posting on your blog here to your lapsed Catholicism and how that impacted everyone around you. But wait, there’s more! Your full quote tells me that you were both lapsing and yearning in the same breath,

    “ . . . my lapsed catholicism and yearning towards Eastern philosophy.”

    Or maybe better to say: two sides of the same coin.

    I personally don’t know of any lapsed Catholic who has not embraced some aspect of Eastern philosophy as a consequence of lapsing. Many I know seem to have an affinity for Zen Buddhism, but others swear by TM or Mother Theresa because she lived in Bombay.

    But I found a way to finesse the lapsing-yearning dichotomy. It’s like I flipped the coin and it landed and stayed on its edge and began to roll.

    Back in 1976, when I was 28 years old, I discovered the work of Rudolf Steiner and his brand of palatably Westernized Eastern philosophy called anthroposophy. I jumped into the cult with both feet because I already had in place this framework of Catholic doctrine into which I could fit this new Eastern stuff — but see, it wasn’t genuinely Eastern stuff, no, it had been properly Westernized (even catholicized, but that’s a deeper discussion).

    My point is, now, looking back on the past 36 years, I realize that I never really “lapsed” from Holy Mother Church at all. To me, Anthroposophy and its associated Waldorf movement (I taught physics, math, chemistry in Waldorf high schools) was simply RCC 2.0 for me, and upgraded version of Catholicism, where Steiner (who believed himself to be the reincarnation of St. Thomas Aquinas) finally answered so many of my deep theological questions that the priests and nuns had relegated to the realm of deep mysteries. They are matters of faith, you know.

    See, I could believe in karma and reincarnation now without having to become a Buddhist or Hindu. So my coin was able to roll.

    Only this year have I realized why I never could fit in to the cult of anthroposophy — mainly because I had been born into and had never really left the “Mother of All Cults,” the Holy Mother Church. That mark is indelible, after all, which means it’s forever and ever, Amen! Glory be!

    May I leave you with some traveling music. Tom Lehrer in 1965 playing piano and singing his “Vatican Rag.” (1:17)

    Tom Mellett
    Los Angels, CA

    • Hi Tom.

      Thanks for your comment; I don’t write nearly as much as I’d like to here but I appreciate your observations– it gives me some food for thought as I seem to have run into a bit of writers block.

      I have to say I don’t know enough about Steiner but recently when I came across something from Alicia’s link that
      spoke more directly to Steiner and Christianity I began to understand a little more about its overall draw– that kind of hybrid experience that you bring up here. Maybe that was at work at some level. I am still processing it.

      Thanks for stopping!

      P

  3. PK,

    I wrote this comment before the CT “massacre of innocents,” but want to post it now as a way of moving on from the somber numbing pain of it all. Not only as a welcome diversion, but actually as a possible means of gaining a new insight since a heavy mood can slow down cognition to a pace that enhances concentration and contemplation.

    (Also, let me know if you want to continue this thread here or move it somewhere else, or even go to email.)

    Tom

    =====================

    Hi pk, nice to hear back from you. Yes, indeed , the overall draw for me as a devoutly smart (and smart-ass) Catholic young man on a spiritual quest was strong even at a distance, but like a paper clip moving closer to a magnet, there comes that “point of no return” when it flies onto the magnet and sticks.

    That happened to me in 36 years ago in Texas, an event I always recount like this with proper teasing pauses: “I discovered Rudolf Steiner . . . in 1976 . . . at a shopping mall . . . in Houston, Texas.” After I milk the cognitive dissonance dry, I explain: I found this book called The Spear of Destiny by Trevor Ravenscroft, all about the legend of the spear of Longinus that pierced Christ’s side and the history of its kinda sorta “relay race” passage through the Merovingians, Charlemagne, the Cathars, the Knights of the Holy Grail, the Templars, Rosicrusians, the Hapsburgs, Hitler and the Nazis, and finally to its final claim by the USA in 1945 when Gen. Patton sent a detachment of US Army soldiers to get it out of its underground bunker storage in Nuremberg.

    The legend of the spear is that whatever nation controls the spear controls the destiny of the world. And even though Gen. Eisenhower ordered to the spear to be returned to its place at the Museum in Vienna from which Hitler had taken it, nonetheless the USA is considered to be the present “owner” – well not quite, more the “custodian” — of the spear, so that the USA controls world destiny even today. (OK, it’s not 1976 anymore.)

    And, as exciting as this Indiana Jones-like progression through Western European history (which up to the Renaissance is all but identical with RCC history) was, I came away from the book obsessed with finding out who was this guy Rudolf Steiner who was woven through the background of the entire book as the noble and righteous “white magic” opponent of Hitler and his nefarious band of “black magic” Nazis.

    A few months later, I moved to Austin to attend the university, ran into some Steineristas and actually got deeply involved with many of the people who founded the Austin Waldorf School in 1980.

    One reason I recount my history here to you is that I am of the 10% and you of the 90%. My experience is that if a pollster were to query any 10 random people who already know about Rudolf Steiner, that 9 of those 10 will say that they first heard of Waldorf and then only later found out Steiner was the figure behind it.

    So, for your own important continuing education about the Steiner behind Waldorf, then I heartily recommend you keep reading up and commenting on Alicia’s blog. But if you are also curious about Steiner’s specific connections with Catholicism, then I will gladly be your guide. For openers, there are 3 distinct sub-groups, largely mutually exclusive among members, that involve aspects of great overlap between anthroposophy and the RCC. And I haven’t even mentioned the celebrated and denigrated young German woman anthroposophist who has been blessed (sic) with the Stigmata since Eastertide 2004. Move over, Padre Pio and Theresa von Neumann! Make way for Judith von Halle!

    Tom

  4. Wow. Somehow I lost you in the ‘password era’ and didn’t realize you were still blogging. I am glad e have kept up by other means. I love, love, love your verbal descriptions and photographs of your Z. Having been connected since her preconception, I feel kind of like a distant auntie. : )

  5. Hey you, just wanted to let you know I dropped by after I found your note on my blog. I’d wondered about you and your family and so was happy to receive the means to come and visit.

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