Hello Dear souls. It has been a minute. It appears one of my blog posts has garnered more attention than usual and I have a few new readers. I am grateful, but oh man, the pressure. “Just do what you do Rachelle, act normal.” I am reminded of a time when I got pulled over once with my daughters in the car and the youngest, who couldn’t have been older than four said, “Ax normal.” Ha ha there is no ax here and I will do my best. Normal is a little hard to pull off sometimes for someone neurotypical.
I admit, I am a reckless blogger. I commit to sitting down and writing and it’s anyone’s guess where the journey will end. I once took a class on intuitive writing and it sucked because the speaker kept saying something about ”POST-IT-NOTES” with hard emphasis on the P and the T. I couldn’t help but think, “How can this be intuitive writing with so many PosT iT noTeSSS? ” The speaker reminded me very much of the teacher on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off who put everyone in zombie mode. Anyone? Anyone?
Let me tell you something about neurotypical people. Sound is big, and the audible annunciation of words is big. If you know, you know. Certain emphasis on sounds can drive one batsh*t crazy. It’s like nails on a chalkboard. I don’t know why, I don’t make the rules. The closest I can say is that if someone over annunciates consonants or slows the pitch, it feels condescending. As a neurotypical empath, over half of what I process anyway has nothing to do with audible language but how I feel in my body interpreting cues that are not affiliated with the listening ear at all.
I don’t get to make the rules on that either. Sometimes I err on reading “too much” into things when sometimes they really should be taken at face value. I am not unique to this. Enter body language, which many experts say is over half of communication, and don’t even get me started on passive aggressive emails, unnecessary commas, or the lack of a sarcasm font which has got me into trouble a time or two.
I am also put out by chronology. Do I start this blog post chronologically or do I pull a Stranger Things and jump around so people can piece it together. I tell you what, I started watching Outer Range and that’s a real mind bender on chronology and even mentions Chronos the God of time, and the separation of realities. What is going on with that big gaping hole anyway?
I might mention, that my favorite writing genre is Magical Realism and Stranger Things is listed as an excellent example of this, where real meets supernatural. Might I also give a shout out to Kate Bush for a re-emerging hit that needed to re-emerge? In the past, I have always leaned more into reading Magical realism along the likes of Toni Morrison and Alice Hoffman, while listening to Kate of course.
Is she or is she not a witch? Rumor has it she won’t cross the ocean due to superstition, and if you want to see her, you have to venture her way. I place her up there with my other muses, Stevie Nicks, or Florence Welch, from Florence and the Machine.
Enter one of my other muses (of the male variety) and writer of the West, Taylor Sheridan, and let’s face it, that hummingbird in the final scene of 1883 did not come from nowhere. Elsa’s sense of hanging between two worlds in hyper-sensory mode as she lies on the brink of living and dying also felt beyond. I daresay, Taylor Sheridan did you put some magical realism into Western expansion? (he is too big for my little blog to answer) It seems to be a common theme.
In the movie Far and Away Tom Cruise leaves his body and comes back. In Young Guns there’s a magical trip on Peyote. In Australia there’s this magical journey across the Never-Nevers. There are numerous plot lines where many of venturers are taken in by an indigenous medicine person where they experience unexplained healing with wild encounters and other worldly visions.
Take for example, Casey Dutton in Yellowstone lying between prayer flags, or Leonardo DiCaprio’s character as a fur trapper being taken in by a medicine man after being mauled by a bear. Don’t even get me started on Outlander, and the magical realism that exists there in Scotland AND in Colonial America.
So, I have been told repeatedly, “Rachelle, you have got to narrow down your niche.” So I have been toying with Magical realism, then I thought, “Is that too narrow?” Well No, not really. That’s pretty damn expansive because Magical realism is everywhere. Why? Because reality sucks.
What would life be without a little magic minced with reality? Ha ha to quote a phrase from that commie Carl Marx, Magical realism is ”the opium of the people.” Just kidding, he never put magical realism and ”Opium of the people together” but he did have a lot to say about how people romanticized their oppression to the point of keeping them from the realty that they were indeed oppressed.
Bingo! Magical realism has roots in oppression, colonialism, extreme poverty, and all sorts of political strife, and/or corruption. Magical realism is also attributed to latin American literature. Need I mention as well, that one of the central tenants of Shamanism is story telling? So there it is, the direction I anticipate going with my blog but don’t be too frightened. Magical realism is indeed broad and I am also a bit squirrely.
I might also confess that I am confused by writing advice I have received in the past to narrow down my niche but also to write multiple genres for wider reach. For example, Outlander is Historical Fiction, Romance, and maybe a little time travel with super natural Sci-Fi minced with a surreal sense of Magical Realism. Cue the dancing Fae people with paper lanterns, the buzzing bee sound, and the gemstones.
I might also want to add that this blog post went completely off kilter about my intended topic, tying in Buddhism, Taoism, and how one must find peace and tranquility amidst suffering because pleasure only wants more pleasure. Endorphins only want more endorphins. Euphoria only wants more euphoria. Living life on the pleasure principle alone only begets a life that is never satisfied, creating an insatiable monster that continuously needs feeding.
So why not Magical Realism sprinkled in with the nuances of mundane living that are either uneventful, often times uncontrollable, uncomfortable, and are just overall generally sucky?
Magical realism is a defense mechanism really. It accentuates the possibility of what lies beyond and drops it right into the lap of known reality. The natural becomes super natural, and impossibilities suddenly become possible. Take for example Lonesome Dove where Gus’s delirious cowboy companion Pea Eye is literally roaming around shoeless, delirious, and naked after they are hammered with arrows until the Ghost of Danny Glover (Deets) guides him across the plains.
I would like to think that magical realism has snuck into my life from time to time by presenting something to me that quite literally defies any explanation or defies any rule of natural happenstance. I mean, there probably is an explanation, but I don’t know what it is.
Then there are the dangers of fabricating explanations for the unknown anomalies in life and believing them just for the sake of having an explanation. Enter conspiracy. I saw a tweet the other day that said, “Bitches be like, Yeah I’m spiritual, then describe psychosis.” I felt that. This also can apply to both sexes BTW.
So, Magical realism exists as escapism in my life. It is a genre I enjoy reading and writing. When I get overwhelmed by things like the Uvalde shooting, gas prices, the war in Ukraine, inflation, climate change, midterm elections, political hearings, etc. I can always turn to watching something like Outer Range on Prime so I can wonder, ”What the hell is going on with that hole in Roy-ALS West pasture anyway that is causing such a ruckus?”
My other option is to romanticize my own life. Bring magic to the mundane. I went on a trip to the mountains with my husband over the weekend, and to a small town hot air balloon fest.
I put 140 miles on myself touring the mountains. The views were incredible, the Alpine lakes stunning and serene. We climbed a mountain just to realize there was another one to climb and there seemed to be an abundance of mountain ridges as far as the eye could see.
As we climbed from the heat and wind from lower elevation to high, the scenery changed from red rock and dirt, to sage and juniper, to quaking aspens, and pines. Above the timber line, there were rocky peaks, bald mountains, craggily trees formerly struck by lightening, and the occasionally cumbersome drifts of snow.
It was refreshing to have to add on layers of clothing. My husband and I picnicked at alpine lakes in down coats. As we descended the mountains we could see the parched valleys among splintered barbed wire cattle fences where we saw a small flock of Turkey vultures, and an eagle ascend from the road .🦅
We washed our bandanas in a trickling stream and tied them around our necks. The moisture quickly evaporated and I could taste the dirt, feel the wind at my face like a heated blow dryer and feel the desperation of tumble weeds that had succumbed to the heat while grasshoppers and flying insects made high pitched noise that was a mix between concussed tinnitus and low pitched out of tune recorders on blast by amateurs. Not pleasurable to the human ear, and beyond the brink of tolerable for my neruro-divergent self. The sensory nerves among my ear fibers were crawling in response like the tiny legs of a thousand insects crawling across guitar strings connected to an over zealous amplifier.
There was not much I could do but try to channel the hum of our side by side, the shifting down, the tiny glitches of potholes, occasional jerks, the rattling of cattle guards, and the rhythmic flapping of my bandana as it came unloose and repetitively wacked me in the face like a moth in the wind.
I had to allow my imagination to play as a coping mechanism so I joked with my husband that we were now crossing the Never-Nevers. The situation then became surreal as if I was experiencing it outer body while methodically avoiding large dips and areas of washed out road while continuously blazing forward. The occasional blip bringing me back to myself.
There was no magic in this but maybe there was. I had no idea what ten Turkey vultures were doing all together fleeing from a dilapidated fence or the romance that was accruing among the thousand chorus of flying insects, The juniper Berries hung like dried up ghost beads and the sage was all around mingling with my olfactory system, the pollen getting hung up in my hair. There was a lot going on and not much going on at the same time.
I realized that is the magic of living. There is what is known and seen and then there is a vast world when you start peeling away all the layers. Mysteries and awe inspiring wonder we can not even fathom. So much energy, so much to ponder, and I will never witness it all with the naked eye. Something big was happening among the trees who speak their own language, new weather patterns were accumulating by the hour, and cloud formations were in the making that would never be seen again.
The vast interplay of synchronicity, and sometimes volatility of all the elements blows me away sometimes, infinite fractals going in both directions, taking it down, and blowing it up. How can what is real not also be considered magical?
My husband and I finally made it through the “Never-Nevers” and into the heartland of a heat sweltering rural town. Salt and clay were at our feet. We later found ourselves in the hub of that town. Dilapidated store fronts stood that composed a barber shop, the local bar, an RX store, and a liquor store that couldn’t have been much bigger than a firework stand, and a malt shop.
Only in Salina, would a local barber capitalize on being an ex-con while you leaned back in his chair, his hand held over your face while gripping a razor. The sign out front reading, ”The conViction Barber.” The font on the V so brilliantly fashioned into a pair of scissors. A candy cane striped fixture whirling outside.
My husband and I walked Main contemplating getting lemon-aide in a boot. Ramps were set up for motor cross stunts. Ozzy Osborn’s intro to Crazy Train was blaring over the loud speaker (ALL ABOURD! ha ha ha) while two cyclists revved their engines, circling around, and popping wheelies while contemplating doing stunts and defying the wind.
One cyclist chickened out, the other tested nature and the limits of his fragile human self while luckily sticking every landing. Trees bowed to the wind and deflated hot air balloons lied limp on the pavement.
A small band was setting up and baskets of propane, fume, and flame would soon light up the night in unison to the rhythm of the beat, while the heat and glow would light up onlookers faces.
Across the way an elderly man would sit in his wheelchair gumming down fries from a styrofoam container while occasionally sipping a Bud Light through a straw then carefully placing it back in his cupholder where you’d think an Ensure should be.
A man with asymmetrical shoulders in a red hat minus the MAGA logo walked by like he had bad discs not meant for cowboy boots. He had two holstered open carries. One on each hip above his Wranglers and below his striped rodeo-clown style shirt, determined to be one of the good guys with guns I guess.
Earlier in the day, my husband and I had seen the letters “NRA” carved into various quaking aspen, and I knew it didn’t stand for National Rodeo Association. My husband and I nonchalantly chuckled at the sight of the man as he passed before us, who looked like he’d have a hard time removing any gun from any holster on the fly without busting a hip or any other related injury.
As if my husband read my mind, he turned to me and said, “There’s a new Sheriff in town.” For some reason I didn’t feel triggered by this as much and almost felt a soft spot that anyone felt compelled to inadvertently look out for my safety as long as their heart was in the right place. I would have liked to have seen him try as long as that didn’t translate to shooting anyone representational and not a real immediate threat like a Nancy Pelosi for just for showing her face in rural America or anyone just trying to give Americans health care.
Across the way there were signs that read, ”Vote for Tooter” who I later discovered had a real name of Garth. People in small towns have this novelty of going by un-given names. Again, I felt like I was caught between two worlds. This is the place where I raised my girls before venturing off to the big city. The place where half my family hailed from.
I walked by a house slathered in rainbows and another with ornate pots of geraniums with psychedelic art painted on the shed. My dad said to me, ”This is a Da-verse community,” and he said it just like that.
I realized how progressive I thought I had become alienating myself from this community, and how what was really needed was to do something radical by staying put and having honest conversation with some of these people at Mom’s Diner. I realized missed opportunities that came with polarization. I suddenly resented the rural divide and my heart ached for my alternate home.
My husband fell head over heels for the mountains I fell for years ago, the ones that kept me sane while I lived there, and we contemplated seeing ourselves there once again sometime in the near future. For once, it didn’t feel so preposterous or absurd.
I came home with a brain on fire, a heart eager to write, and a desire to brand this blog under the banner of magical realism, and my love for the West. A West revisited and forged through fire, the thorns of thistles, and central to the heart of those who were here prior. I have cut myself open under the brambles here, closed in on myself, and now my heart feels open. God only knows where this will take me, or which way the wind blows but it’s howling people and I am ready to blaze on.
Until Next Post!
Rachelle Whiting xo