SCN Conference: Circles of Conversations

Barbara Jo Brothers, of San Antonio (nee New Orleans), and discuss levels of losses in New Orleans after Katrina…how there are subtle losses, far more reaching and harder to reconstruct than the buildings. How are these subtle losses to be healed? Loss of relationship? The loss of how places were before Katrina…and all the way along the timeline to now…and after reconstruction to the new places. The loss of nurturing artistic communities for the musicians that made New Orleans breathe and live, from street corners to clubs. The man from the fish market she no longer sees, now that she’s re-settled in San Antonio, so far from her long-time home.

Barbara Lindquist Miller’s “Solitude: Balm and Mystery” provided a marvelous bilbliography and explored the question of What is Solitude? Barriers to solitude; past experiences of solitude; solitude and community; and making personal plans for solitude. I helped her carry her book bag to her car afterwards. The car trunk here serves a lot like our lockers did in Junior High School aka, Middle School, now.

Cindy Bellinger led us in writing practice and reflection on “Harvest Your Family Tree and Write Scrumptious Stories.” I hugged her afterwards and congratulated her on a job well-done. We both agree it’s been fun being room-sisters for this little bit of time.

Helen Leatherwood, of Beverly Hills, California, and I chat about the intersection of The Muse and The Critic. She’s just attended Lisa Shirah-Hiers workshop “Accessing Your Inner Muse” and tomorrow will present “Giving the Critic the Slip.” We compare notes, too, on the workshop I designed and gave widely in New Mexico during the 1980s through my consulting company “Clear Communication.” My workshop title was “Transforming Your Inner Critic” and came on the scene before that phrase was widely in vogue. Years later in California a national seminar company invited me to tour nationally with my workshop, but I said “no.” When I examined what that life would really have been…not unlike a band on constant tour schedule, with never more than one day in any town…I saw it only looked glamorous on the surface.

Theresa May, Austin, Texas, Chief Editor for University of Texas Press, will be on the Pen to Print panel with Cindy Bellinger and myself tomorrow as Paula Yost moderates. She sat next to me at lunch, and I enjoyed her delightful humor. I asked if there’d been lots of teasing in her family. “Yes,” she said. “Turn on a 40 watt light bulb and I’ll tap dance.” What a pleasure to be surrounded by witty women. She is working with Susan Tweit on her memoir.

When I lived in New Mexico in the 1980s, I studied Spanish like the devil, even going to Mexico for immersion training. When I came back, I could hardly speak English. Folks warned me that without constant practice, my ability to produce the language in speech would decline. Sure enough, it’s true. Here, years later, I dredge up Spanish nouns and verbs to chat with the maid in the hallway to tell her not to worry about changing the beds. She’s filled with good will for my halting efforts combined with pantomime. It’s just like a quick trip to Mexico or Spain where I can get a Spanish lesson on every street corner. It’s the good will, the good-heartedness that makes both of us laugh and our day just a tad more fun than it was moment earlier. Not to mention, she’s taught me how to string those nouns and verbs together into a recognizable Spanish sentence.

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