Monthly Archives: May 2014

My desert muses are made of salt

“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…”
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince


My beloved Valley of the Sun has come to that point where the air wears its heat for the whole entire day.

I came to live here in the evening of July 26th, 1979. Eager excitement on my young face as a move to America had some promise of things that were greater. The kind stewardess, as they were called then, let my brother and I wait by the airplane door, a gentle smile on her face in reaction to our eagerness. The door opened with a swoosh and the heat slammed into our faces with a force we had never before experienced. My bother and I looked at each other,  disbelief or horror at what we had just experienced.  It was like America had greeted us with a slap to the face, one that was hard enough to leave a red mark.

While I had been to this desert before, it had never greeted me like that.

Over time the desert and I became fast friends. We share a deep loyalty and I have come to understand that harsh sting of a midnight heat. The desert, she is showing us her love.

in the time before the weeks settle into a strong  constant state of being over 100 degrees Fahrenheit  (over 38 C), I take the time to notice the subtle shifts in heat. Especially at night, there is a coolness to the caress that feels like a the touch of an adolescent trying to figure out the rules to touching someone they like, it switches between a gentle warmth, a cool waft, and the promise of a dangerous heat… all caressing my skin as we walk at night.

The shift happens, the move from the tender, emotionally mixed, adolescent explorations to a full on seduction, rather quickly.  The first night that I experience it, that change… I arrive home exhausted; like I got that slap on my face and tried to fight back.  I have to remember to give in to it, to give up those temperatures that are like youthful groping and allow the heat to do what she does.

Once I can give in to the heat, the definitive warmth at night becomes like a gentle caress, it glides across the skin and feels like a cross between a lovers touch and a mothers caress. It has a certain feminine fierceness. Once I can give in to that, I can survive this heat.

There is also a sound to the desert during this time,  the heat, it has her own sultry voice. She talks to those she loves. It takes more than giving in to hear her talk.

When you can hear these desert sounds; her voice, it has a sense of the divine.

But the desert is not for everyone. She either loves you or hates you.

“I shivered in those
when I heard
the voice
the salt
in the desert.” 
~ Pablo Neruda

The gentle art of not-being

This is an interesting topic I want to try to capture.

I try my hardest to be fully present to my life, to those I love, to being. It is one of the hardest things but it has a feel of being in the presence of the Divine when it is successfully achieved. I imagine it is what grace is supposed to feel like.

However, there are these occasional, very brief, spots in time where I achieve what I have begun to call “not-being”. It is not the opposite of “being present”, so I am struggling with how to define it.

These moments always happen when I am alone, and there is this sense of… not being. Like the world around me has ceased to include me in it.

The first instant (though this whole thing last only a few seconds) there is a panic, the awareness of a disconnect. When I first became aware of these times, it was not pleasant, but that I think (now) was largely due to  how different a feeling it is, there is no comfort in knowing it is love, or anger, hurt or empathy. It was unique to me. The closest I can come to describe it is like sleep paralysis, but without the horror.

When I was a little girl, I had crawled in to bed with my parents one morning before the sun rose. I fell asleep next to my mother and woke up with a start and an inability to move. To say it was terrifying would be true, I was flat on my back, with my head turned to the side. I was facing a window that had bright light coming through… but I distinctly recall that I became aware of a choice that I had. To allow the terror of not being able to move to dominate or to chose to focus on that which was good, a prayer if you will. So, I made an immediate decision to give in to the inability, to gaze out the window that I was facing and look at the beautiful way the sun hit the flowers growing outside. I saw insects flying around, I was hyper aware. The very second I gave in, I experienced that feeling of non-being and it was the most delightful thing that had ever happened to me. Shortly, I began to feel completely filled with love. Wait, it should be Love, with a capital. It was noun-like. It had an otherness.

That is the only time that happened to me, the sleep paralysis. It was transformative. It felt like a gift. So, when people talk about the horrors of sleep-paralysis, I am still usually stunned.

Because that feeling of being an outsider with a chance to look upon the world was one of the most magical things that has ever happened to me, I often wondered if I would ever get to experience it again.

I have not had an experience of sleep paralysis again, but that feeling I had, the one where I gave in… well, it is something I think I have experienced since. These brief moments where I am overcome by that same feeling of Love with disconnect. It has happened when I drive, in the middle of a panic attack, while I am writing, eating breakfast. Usually when I am alone, though not always.

I wonder about it though. There is a part of me that wants to assign it a meaning or a job, a purpose. Maybe, though, I should just enjoy it.

Exploring vulnerability

Everyone, I think, would agree that there is something about being vulnerable that sucks.

I write about it here.

In terms of why I am cross referencing both blogs, the answer is that I am still looking at both platforms, not sure what to do. I think they both have advantages and disadvantages in a manner such that that I do not feel in-any-way-compelled to use one over the other… I sorta wish I could use both in one.

What are your thoughts?




Being vulnerable

So, one of the blogs I often enjoy reading, did that thing that I dread most and brought up bullfighting.

They referenced this article and had their post begin with:

Bulls 3, Tormentors 0.



So, I left this comment: I am a bullfighter’s daughter. I feel for all of those men and their families. The bulls did what they were bred to do.

But after all these years, I still get sick to my stomach when I reply to these things and/or bring up my familial ties to bullfights.

I still so vividly recall one day after bullfighting came up in my college English class and people were saying so many things that I knew to be incorrect that I spoke up and corrected them. After class, a woman in her 50’s that was in the class with me came up to me and said “You and your family disgust me”, she then spat on me (my feet, actually) and left before I could have replied. Admittedly, I was pretty speechless.

I can understand why people hate bullfighting, it is so in your face with forces of nature that humans tend to ignore. But, I am so lucky to have seen a very different side (through my father and our bull ranch where we raised fighting bulls), one that is so much more impassioned with things like respect and admiration between two very different animals (the human and the bovine).

I think that if there is a good side to being subjected to the vitriol of those who loathe bullfights… I know what it is like to be bullied (isn’t that an interesting phrase to use here). In my case, I did not choose bullfighting, it is what my father loves with an immense passion. I love my father, I have to include that in our relationship, I have had to come to peace with it, to dig deep and find out why and strangely enough it is through that process that I have learned that every time I want to react strongly to something I know that  I also need to dig deeper (hard to remember, but it is there), to know that there is always more to the story. I have to be gentle, I have to love and most of all… I have to learn how to forgive. It is sure hard when people spit at you though.


 My father with my son.


Some of the feathers on my soul

First, go over here and read that post…  then come back here and let me talk at you… that royal you, that invisible you… that you that is really me.

True Things.  What a nice way to put them. I haven’t had a name for those things of which Leah speaks, but I know deeply and fervently that they exist.

My True Things

  • I am incredibly flexible due to an extra bone in my spine. The bone is half sacral and half lumbar, I joke that it has a split personality. I say that in part because I think good things come out of everything. Because of this bone, I will probably always be able to touch my toes and put my hands flat on the ground while my legs remain stick straight. Some may call it a mutation, or even a throw-back to arboreal apes. I would call it an advance. It has come in terribly handy. This is vain and superficial, but I am fond of this extra little bone in my back.

  • Walking. When I was living in South America on my own, with so many reminders of family but without them there… and the world became dark because I was not near them, I took to walking. A lot.  I also took to letter writing but only to my mother. I still walk. It still helps beat the dark giants that attack.

  • I accept that this darkness (the dark giants I refer to above) happens to everyone. While I have had people disagree with me, that insist that there are people out there who do not know or have never been intimate with darkness… I believe this to be wrong. I think we all go through it, through bouts, of varying severity and that it is a part of being human and makes me like the vain metero-sexual sitting next to me at an event because I realize that is only a shield they might need. I find peace in this, not that everyone has dark moments.

  • Orange. When I was younger and pressed to disclose my favorite color I really couldn’t pick one. So, I asked my classmates what color they hated most. All of them replied that they hated orange. So, I picked it and have loyally stuck by it without regrets. It brings me great joy now to claim it as my favorite and can feel like I forge an instant bond with others who lay claim to a love of orange.

  • I love making up nicknames and songs. I am happiest when this comes about. If you have a nickname or if I have sung you a song, I deeply love you. Unless your nickname is bitch or asshole, then you are doing something that is teaching me a lesson… and I love you, but I am probably not happy. 

  • I am trying to embrace vulnerability.. It has been the toughest path to embark on… so many people will seem to throw you to the wolves, call you a bitch, or even belittle you as a means to force you to deal with your own insecurities in a long list of ways people manage to toss out things towards others. I have often confused vulnerability with responsibility, in that being vulnerable is the antithesis of being responsible. I was born with an ability to handle things well, things that involved a great deal of responsibility. My mother had me be in charge of carrying plane tickets from a young age. I am sure that part of this was to give me something to keep me busy, but you would all be surprised how much that particular responsibility carries (especially when you are 5).

  • Silence. I deeply love silence. The kind of silence where nothing is heard but it is unbelievably loud. It is a a sacred moment for me when I can hear it that well.  

  • I love. There are only a few people with whom I struggle on this one with. But, I love.

  • My family, both genetic and lovingly acquired, are deeply, fiercely, majestically important to me. 

© Cheska Cacnio

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all. ~ Emily Dickinson

It was the best of thoughts, it was the worst of thoughts

“I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

Oh Kierkegaard… somehow, I have come to imagine that should you have become in this more modern current era, that  I would have considered you to be something akin to a tragic hipster with an ironic mustache in a constant state of existential angst. (wink)

I have been walking. A lot. 

Actually, it is better said if I write that; 

WE have been walking. A lot. 

For me it came about because of a new bra.  I hate shopping, and I hate buying under garments. I actually love pretty underthings, I just hate trying them on for “fit”… but brassieres, like all good things… go wrong and new ones must be purchased.

So, off I go and find myself moving in to larger and larger sizes… which is the horror of shopping to me,

FINALLY, I find three bras that fit and have some element of being pretty and sexy and are not useless pieces of lace sewn together to no viable effect but are not something that were solely designed to be “sturdy” or “durable”  which renders me positively grateful, because I still recall the days when I spent way too much money on really beautiful undergarments…  and so, I purchase them.

Then I get them home, and start the mad dash to remove tags… only to find myself actually reading the tags like I were at the breakfast table wasting away my morning by reading a cereal box.

The damn tag said  “full figured”.

I have never been full figured in my life.

I have even made jokes that the bowl part of a champagne  coupe was not designed after the beloved breasts of Marie Antoinette, but mine!  

Champagne coupe

That is not a full figured size.

This is full figured:

Full Figured Champagne Bowl (and not an accurate reflection of my current bra size)

Except, that is, when I was breast-feeding and had breasts that must have been GG’s (double G!?!?!?!), it was impressive and shocking!

So, anyway, as I am won’t to do and why I hate shopping I sank in to a funk and realized that I probably weighed way  too much and that I needed to turn my “full figure” into that figure I had some pride in. 

So, I proposed a walk to my dear husband, and he accepted. 

And so, it has been a few weeks now and we have managed to walk quite a bit. We walk about in a park near our home which offers us an clean 7 kilometer walk (4.5 miles) and 8 km if we move a bit around the neighborhood on the way home.

It has been an interesting time for us as we have gotten to know each other a bit better in the dynamic that kind of time together warrants (it can be around 90 minutes of walking).

But the other benefit is that it has given me time to mull the stories in my head for the story (book, hopefully?) that I am trying to write. It has given me clarity in how to get to the subtle nuances of the experiences I am basing some of the stories that I want to include, in to the story.

The story is in the Third person, but in writing the background pieces I find that am more often defaulting to using First person… it has been interesting to note that the shift in narrator has come about as I walk. Maybe it is because this is in an effort to own the personal experiences and so I can more cleanly reflect where the stories need to move in to the realm of magic realism.

So, these walks are helping me move away from being the full figure I so despise in myself in a physical manner, and yet are profoundly helping me make my life experiences become “full figured” in a allegorical manner for the stories I am writing.

The even better part of all this walking and writing is that I can see more clearly see who it is that I am… as a person (even if I currently have to wear full figured bras). 

For some creative twits (I think it is much funnier to call them twits, than tweets): 
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