Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Sacred Nook

The weekend before last I was given a sacred talisman at a housewarming party. Well, first I was given a sausage. Yes, I’m vegetarian, but I really needed that sausage. I had partied too hard the night before and was feeling extremely weak. My head was throbbing and, frankly, there are times when nothing will do for a girl but a sausage. I begged Jordan to bring me one. Sure enough, it revived me somewhat. Seeing that I had perked up, my friend Caroline asked me how my work was going.
“I still haven’t sold my book,” I said.
“Have you been visualizing?” she demanded reproachfully.
Caroline is one of the toughest, smartest women I know. She was a firefighter for thirteen years. Yet she once hired a psychic to help her figure out why her cats weren’t getting along, and she believes in lighting a candle and visualizing the future you want. She is one of those types so common here: otherwise hugely intelligent people who turn out to cherish some wacky belief—in reiki, say, or numerology. When you meet them at parties, you have a fascinating conversation and then they use a phrase like, “My life coach says…”, or “Let me guess your sign.”
“I haven’t been visualizing,” I admitted to Caroline.
“Do you have an altar at your house?” asked our friend Jeff. Jeff is another one of these people. He is a wonderful writer and storyteller, but he has not one but several altars. I don’t know if he believes in astrology, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
“I don’t have an altar,” I confessed.
“What you need is a lucky talisman,” Jeff said wisely. “In fact, I think I’ve got one with me.” He removed a folded square of brown paper from his wallet. Then he hesitated.
“Do you at least have a place for sacred objects?”
I do not believe in talismans but for some reason—perhaps I thought it would cure my hangover—I desperately wanted whatever was inside the brown paper. So I improvised.
“I have a sacred nook,” I said grandly. Actually it was an empty window ledge where I’d been planning to put a Buddha, when I got around to buying one. I decided not to tell Jeff that there was nothing in it at the moment except for a dead fly.
Jeff opened the paper and showed us the thinnest square of gold leaf.
“Gold can be hammered to the thickness of a single molecule,” he explained, “and this piece of gold leaf is lighter than air. If I opened this piece of paper, it would float upwards.” He told us that he had acquired the talisman at a Buddhist temple in Thailand, where locals stick these scraps of gold onto statues of the Buddha with KY jelly. This practice is supposed to bring good luck.
I thanked Jeff warmly for his generous gesture then we went home and fell into a profound slumber. By the time we woke up that evening, my head had stopped throbbing. We ordered a pizza, ate it then went back to bed. I forgot about the talisman, and my sacred nook sat empty, although someone left an empty whiskey bottle on the ledge on the other side.
I don’t believe that the Buddha can control my destiny, any more then I believe the psychics can resolve disputes among cats. But the following week, I was assigned a wonderful travel-writing project out of the blue. I started work on my third novel and a children’s book and my head swarmed with ideas. For the first time in a long while, I was happy.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Sans Blog

On Wednesday morning a fire knocked out about 2,500 phone lines in the Market/Octavia area, and since then we have had no phone and no Internet access. Thus, although I have composed new blog entries, I have not been able to post them (I write now in a coffeehouse where I have to pay by the minute for Internet access). Being without home Internet access does not bother me as much as you would think. It means that I cannot fritter away my time researching frivolous topics such as who made the world's biggest rubber band ball. Since you ask, it was a Welshman, who was then paid by an American TV company to drop it from a plane flying over the Arizona desert to see if it would bounce. (It did not.)

Detached from the Internet, I have been extremely productive, and I've realized that ninety percent of the email I send is mere idle chatter. But being without my blog is painful indeed. I feel as if I hardly even exist. I am as forlorn as a Welshman without his rubber band ball, wondering what he will do now. Hopefully they will restore phone service on Wednesday as they have promised. Otherwise, I may fade away altogether.