Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Heading North

Despite the best efforts of the Mojave to hold me fast with its beauty and dear people, I leave today for Bend, Or. Thanks to my son, Matt; and my beloved friend, Fred K., every object I own is in a 5X8 trailer and my Vibe.

I carry with me the silhouette of the Joshua Buddha, 395 sightings of the moon; pressing my face to the rough bark of the old Joshua west of my cabin and breathing in its fine scent and the kindness of friends and strangers. I carry, too, the solid joy of knowing my second novel, Going Through Ghosts, will be published by University of Nevada Press in Spring 2010; and being half-way through writing, She Bets Her Life: women and compulsive gambling.

When I came to this medicine desert, I was one month away from my last casino bet. I was in the grip of recurrent opthalmic migraines. And raw terror. And no hope. I knew it had something to do with the withdrawal from the gambling that had had become my refuge and my reason to live.

I found a group of gamblers who didn’t gamble. I listened to their stories and heard my own. But they said little about the ferocious nature of gambling withdrawal. I hunted the internet, ordered books, but nowhere could I find information about the terror I was walking through.

I began writing She Bets Her Life. Slowly, my pain began to ease. Slowly. I came across information that made sense of the fear that at times had seemed a descent into psychosis. Slowly, I found the women of Scheherezade’s Sister occupying my thoughts and emerging on the page. The Sisters are a circle of women who meet once a week for Double Decadent Brownies, good coffee, talk and listening. Each of us, like Scheherezade, tells stories to save her life. We grant ourselves a reprieve of twenty-four hours, no more, no less---again and again.

I take the Sisters with me. They are becoming as dear to me as my Mojave friends, D. and D. I owe them and this desert for my life. I owe them this book.

My email stays the same.

Up the road, m