I love you.
Do you love me too?

I’m moody.
I know that.
You’re moody too.

I’m willing to change.
Are you willing to change too?
Not too much because this is me and that is you.

I’m fucking scared.
I’ve been alone all my life.
It’s how I protect my heart.
No exes, no kids.
I don’t know any other way.
Can we be “free birds” together?

All I know is that I want you in my life.
I look for your truck.
My heart skips when I see you.
Do you want me too?
Are you scared too?

Can we just be gentle with each other?
Like innocent babes
Nice, soft, sweet
And fall asleep in each other’s arms.

Know it all

“Know whatever comes to you unexpected to be a gift from God, which will surely serve you if you use it to the fullest. It is only that which you strive for out of your own imagination, that gives you trouble.”

The Journey by Brandon Bays

4:26 AM. Tired of tossing and turning, now on my left side, now on my right, now on my back, spreadeagled dead center across the bed, I give up and get up. I hit the buttons, fore and aft, to extend the slides pulled in last night when the winds were high. It’s dead quiet out now. Not even the rooster is awake.

Inverter on. First cup of coffee of the day. Vibrant red Keurig single cup coffee maker purchased for Mom after Dad died. She didn’t want it, she insisted, even though it was her color.

My favorite coffee — Great Value French Roast 100% Arabica Coffee in the purple box. I heard that the man who invented K-cups regretted adding to landfills. I vow — again — to order biodegradable K-cups from Amazon but Walmart’s convenience, low price, and dark roast are too tempting.

I apply Rust-Oleum Ultimate Wood Stain in summer oak to a scrap of quarter-round and lay it on a piece of aluminum foil to dry. Remember I got vinyl plank flooring installed in Slab City? Well, Anthony, is helping me install trim around the edges. “You want to protect the wood,” he says, handing me a half-full can of stain, “In case you spill red wine on it.” I couldn’t picture myself drinking red wine anywhere near where the floor and the cabinet met but keep my mouth shut. I don’t make decisions based on fear, I tell myself.

I am so arrogant. I pride myself on not living in fear but live in fear everyday. I’ve been wanting to meet someone (For a change) and I do.

Anne calls me on my B.S. “You always talk about not living from fear and here you are doing it,” she chides as we talk men. We’re good mirrors. I call her on her B.S.; she calls me on mine.

I flash back to a conversation at Cathy’s house in Minneapolis several Christmases ago. Mom, Dad, and I in the kitchen, post-show wind-down. It was dark, late, and cold but warm and toasty in the kitchen. Mom in her pink flannel flower PJs. Jack and Diet Coke warmed from the inside out. (Do you sense a theme here?).

“You’re not humble,” Dad said to me.  “Your sister,” he turned to Cathy, “she’s humble. You’re not. You never have been.”

It’s true. Even as a kid, I knew what I knew and I had confidence in what I knew. And I questioned, all the time. Especially people in positions of authority. Parents, priests, professors.

More than one person considers my never-ending questions “arguing.”  I don’t. I consider them “discussions,” an information exchange, a two-way street. More than one person gets annoyed, really annoyed with me. But I can’t help it. Questioning is as natural as breathing to me. And in questioning others, I question myself. I am constantly challenging myself to re-think things, to have an eternally open mind, to never be satisfied with the status quo.

I don’t want to self-censor — I did that for too many years and am only recently finding my voice again — but I don’t want to piss people off either.

So what to do?

Make a second cup of coffee and wait for the sun to rise.

Dear Reader

Dear Reader:

Please excuse my recent silence. Dead in the water and all that jazz. Did you notice my absence or did it seem like just yesterday that you read about our  misadventures in Slab City?

It’s not because I don’t love you anymore, or because I don’t care, or because I have other, more pressing things to do. Actually, I have been busy with other things. Like you I’m sure. Things like taxes, maintenance on Pegasus, margaritas in Palomas.

And it doesn’t help that time lately seems to be both accelerating and standing still at the same time. Do you feel it too, Dear Reader?

Anyway, Pegasus et al have landed back in Deming, New Mexico, our home away from home. We’ve been here since late February and, apart from a quick weekend in Columbus, Ohio for my cousin David’s wedding, we’ll be here until.

Until when is anyone’s guess.

Until I get bored and feel the need to move.

Until it gets too hot and we head north through Colorado and South Dakota to Minnesota and Wisconsin for the summer; then Indiana, Ohio, and my old home in northern Virginia for the fall; then Arkansas in early October for a workshop; then back west.

But what am I up to now?, you ask. What has kept me so busy that I couldn’t write? What, what, what?

What exactly am I up to as I sit in Pegasus, boondocking for a mere $85 a month — can’t beat the price — orifices snapped tight against the wind and sand storm.  Strategically parked nose to the east, tail to the west, open slides to the relatively calm north. Even Roan is inside. Just another spring in the high desert.

What am I doing? I’m writing a book based on my blog posts from the past three years. The book will also include select comments from you, Dear Reader, as our journeys dovetail — ebbing and flowing before forking to the four winds. It’s a beautiful thing when journeys overlap. It reminds us how we are all more alike than not.

Anyway, back to me. My book will either be called “Becoming Me Again” or “Life Wide Open,” like the poem of the same name I wrote back in September 2014.  Oh, how time flies.

I’ve compiled a 62,300-word manuscript and am looking for expert outside eyes to help me with the next steps. And, unless someone comes knocking at Pegasus’s door with a hefty advance, movie deal, or both — I plan to self-publish.

So, long story short, if I go radio silent for a bit, please excuse me, Dear Reader. I still love you and think about you often. The feeling’s mutual, I’m sure.

With Love and Thanks.

Liz Carmel

2 months, 2 fires, 2 puppies

Honey's puppies
Honey’s puppies (Photo: K. Pitera)

What sounded like gunshots woke me. The window at the head of my bed was wide open — pop, pop, pop flowing in on the cool breeze.  I heard similar noises a few evenings before but they stopped and the night fell quiet again. This morning, the pops were followed by shouting, swearing, more pops. A dog barked himself hoarse.  I looked out the window and saw a fireball. Oh shit.

I got up, pulled on sweats, called 911. Roan was under the table — his safe place.  He had slept through a lightning strike in southern Alabama and Fourth of July fireworks in Milwaukee. This was different.

I grabbed my headlight but didn’t need it. A waning full moon lit the sky. I walked down Low Road towards the flashing lights then turned around. The fire department and police were on the scene.

On my way back to Pegasus, I stopped at A. and J.’s camp, kitty-corner from where I was parked on the northwest edge of the Travelin’ Pals Club. I had met the young couple and their black and white Siberian Husky the day before. They seemed cool and I knew they were up. Their car light was on when I walked down Low.

“Hello?” I called softly towards the now-dark SUV.  J. opened the back passenger door. They were bedded down, Zoe tucked in safe and sound.

A. had run towards the fire. Their friends were camped nearby.

“I tried putting the fire out,” he said, “I grabbed a bucket but it was melted.  There was nothing I could do.” Thankfully he grabbed a propane tank.

“There are crazy people out here,” I said.

As soon as the slightest hint of light lit the eastern sky, Roan and I were up and out. Our walk purposely took us past the now burned-to-the-ground Coffee Camp. People were moving about in the gray pre-dawn.

“Does anyone know about the puppy?” I asked a man making coffee in the back of a van. G.’s dog Honey had a litter of nine in December. B. had one. The Coffee Camp was his place.

“They didn’t make it,” a female voice shouted from somewhere.

I learned that two people and two puppies were in the Coffee Camp.  B. came tearing out of his trailer with just a thermal long-sleeved shirt on; someone gave him pants before he was arrested. A woman escaped the inferno as well. The puppies didn’t. Both were Honey’s.

C. and E. had been at Slab City for only 18 hours. Head and body draped in a blanket, E. stood, quiet. Their camper was parked across from the Coffee Camp. I hugged E., C., and another guy and then walked back up Low Road, crying for the puppies.

Fire is the weapon of choice in Slab City. People get “burned out.” Set in the late afternoon a few weeks ago, the last fire destroyed a small travel trailer. A man in a dark red pickup towing a trailer with an ATV came back to a smoldering wet lump. He told the firemen he wasn’t surprised. Seems a man in a brown van had threatened him. Something about his dogs.  Set at 4 AM, however, this fire was meant to kill.  And kill it did.

Rumor at the Oasis Club later that morning was that B.’s mom may have set the fire. Or maybe it was a manufacturing accident. Does it even matter?

Roan and I left Slab City a few hours later.