So this evening, I have become familiar with a new concept: Free time.
Here is what I did with it:
People keep telling me I look like Merida from Brave. I guess I sort of do, but I thought the likeness would be closer if she had my gray streak and bifocals. (And more snout. She definitely needs more snout to look like me, but my Photoshop skills aren’t quite sufficient to perform reverse rhinoplasty on a Pixar character, so this will have to do. If Pixar made a movie about me, they’d idealize my face anyway. Disney princesses are always prettier than real life.)
This may be why I don’t get a lot of free time. Clearly, I cannot be trusted to use it sensibly….
During my trip to New Mexico last weekend, I wandered over to Santa Rosa to see the public art installation honoring local author Rudolfo Anaya of Bless Me, Ultima fame. I was aware of the park and the statue of Anaya himself, but last Sunday was the first time I’d noticed the bronze plates embedded in the walkway around the fountain. Each one contains a handwritten quotation from Bless Me, Ultima, which you really must read if you haven’t already.
Here are a few images from the park:
The Anaya statue.
Instagram of the tablet in his hand. The text reads: “Love life, and if despair enters your heart, look for me in the evenings when the wind is gentle and the owls sing in the hills. I shall be with you.” When I die, I don’t want a funeral. I want to be cremated, and I want somebody to stand on Tucumcari Mountain and read this passage to whoever needs to hear it before turning my finely powdered butt loose to ride the New Mexico wind.
Instagram of one of the bronze plates. This one says: “It is because good is always stronger than evil, always remember that, Antonio. The smallest bit of good can stand against all the power of evil in the world and it will emerge triumphant.” At some point in the not-too-distant future, we should probably discuss the metaphysics of that statement.
And this one: “‘Bless me, Ultima–‘ Her hand touched my forehead and her last words were, ‘I bless you in the name of all that is good and strong and beautiful, Antonio. Always have the strength to live.”
I like how the words sort of depend on the dust from the llano to make them legible. I don’t know whether that was intentional, but it really fits, given the importance of setting in Anaya’s work.
I have finally finished the novel. Every section of it that needed major additions/deletions/reworking is complete. Sierra is on paper, and her father’s side of the story is on paper.
This evening, I expect to sleep more soundly than I’ve slept at any point since I was 15.
God bless all of you who were involved in any part of this process. Some of you know who you are. Some of you don’t. Whether you were aware of your involvement or not, I love you. Sierra loves you. Joey and Morgan and Miss Shirley and Grant and Harvey and Lil Miss and Skinny and Hank and Bill and Dr. Scherer and Nettie and Brother Jerry and Abuelito and the CSNY kittens and the entire population of the nonexistent town of Coldwater, N.M., love you.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts — real or fictional.
Now … I have a favor to ask of you: Please don’t ask me when the book will be available. Writing it was the easy part. It is likely to be years before you find yourself standing in line at some indie bookstore to get my autograph on a copy of Greetings from Coldwater — if that ever happens at all. Once I’ve had a few days to rest on my laurels and recharge my batteries and reread the manuscript to make sure I’m comfortable enough with it to send it out into the world, I will begin exploring my options.
Right now, I believe my options are either decaf cappuccino from the Phoenix or a carton of Ben and Jerry’s from QuikTrip. Or maybe all of the above.
It’s a cold night. The new year started out gray and cold, with a few snow flurries. I hope that’s all we get.
I’ve spent most of the evening dinking around with this manuscript, trying to figure out how to rewrite and refine the sections I wrote last night.
When I get a hand free, I’ll post the photos I shot with my iPhone at the Rudolfo Anaya monument in Santa Rosa the other day. If you haven’t read Bless Me, Ultima, put that on your list of New Year’s resolutions. It’s terrific.
I got home from New Mexico at 4:30 p.m., went to dinner and picked up some groceries at 5, started working on the third draft of the novel at 9, and greeted the new year with a printout at 3 a.m.
Not bad. The last 20 pages or so will need some more tinkering, but considering how many changes and additions I’ve made since the first draft, I’m pleased.
Happy new year, kids. I’m going to bed for a couple of hours before I head to work.