Wheatfield Near Fort Pierre, South Dakota. Photograph by Robert Clements

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Sunrise, Atlantic Ocean, East Coast. Photo copyright, Shannon Thorne. Simply Shannon
I arrived via Cesarean, delivered by a doctor named G.W. Twaddle, on January 12, 1952. That makes me 60 years old today. I am not sure of the fate of Dr. Twaddle, but I am thinking he may have departed this mortal coil in search of a more dignified name. Of course, no matter what his name, I am grateful for his help and his knowledge on how to deliver skinny, blue-tinged babies.

Sixty. I 'made it' to 60, as opposed to 'reaching' 50. If I'm lucky and lose about 20 pounds, I may 'hit' 70. After that, anything is fair game. My parents are both 84. That's remarkable. And they've been married 61, going on 62, years.

I don't feel physically different than I did yesterday, when I was 59, which somehow sounds like leftover age-gravy ready to be thrown out, anyway. Sixty actually sounds kind of perky, and I like the 'x' in the word. Words with the letter x in them are a little mysterious. Sphinx. Vortex. Xanadu. Lynx. Excalibur. Excuses. Excommunicate. Okay, some of them are mysterious. The others are based on ancient languages that exalted the 'x'. 

Pemaquid Point, Maine - Robert Clements Photo
It's storming outside today. I am living in a small apartment in the West End of Portland, Maine, looking out at the long-last-it's-freakin'-here snow and thinking about shoveling the car out. I will probably put this off for a long time. I wanted peace and quiet for my 'big' day, and I have it. Later, I will watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs and drink some red wine and think about angels.

Robert left a little over a week ago, headed for the prairie via airplane. I talk to him about four times daily on the phone, but it's not the same. He sent me beautiful roses for my birthday. They sit in the sink, staining the porcelain a brilliant scarlet, feathery leaves softening their thorns like tender, rail-thin fingers. I am wondering about vases, and cuttings, and rejoicing because although I miss the two flower-eating cats that prowl the gallery in Belle Fourche, they will not tear, nor attack the roses, stems, leaves, or anything connected with them. Rua, the dog, is not interested in roses, and Jessie, my beloved street cat, is sleeping, dodging the bullet of his terminally failing kidneys for a little while, at least. I miss the prairie, my partner, and the quiet. But I also love it here. Resources are available. There are ridiculous choices in fancy grocery stores. Restaurants. Current movies. The ocean. My family and East Coast friends.

Me in front of Pemaquid Lighthouse. Photo by Robert Clements
No matter where I am, Life is about to change, significantly. My book is being released in a couple of weeks. I will be reviewed, interviewed, viewed, and eschewed for about fifteen minutes. I have readings set up, will be giving at least one lecture, maybe two, have book club commitments, and will be applying for a fellowship at Breadloaf, thanks to the wonderful recommendation to them by someone who is incredibly kind to me. To say that I am reeling from all of this attention is a small thing. To say that I am grateful for the amazing support of people from all parts of my life, is a given. I am grateful, excited, and overwhelmed. To have created something that most people that read it (not all - see reviews. Oh well...) seem to like or even love, and something that someone will read after I have 'hit' seventy, and then, well why not - eighty and beyond - and started down the long, cane-riddled, blue-permed path to my eventual demise, gives meaning to me for why I existed at all. This is my paged-child, my eldest, my first-born. I will enjoy every minute of what will be happening, albeit quietly, because I am a Maine girl, and my mother would have my hide were I to get stuck on myself.

Pemaquid, Maine, January 2012. Photo by Robert Clements
So, if you see me acting dazed, understand that I have to grasp it all. I have to understand what it means. Process it. Shape a new paradigm for life. Punch-list the important things, and save the rest for later. Transmogrify (where is Hobbs when I need him most - love, Calvin). I am excited, exuberant, excellent, and teetering on the fact that something extraordinary has happened. I will take every next experience as it comes, and when it all becomes too much, I will go to the ocean to examine my smallness against the universe. I will think about the prairie sky and the grasses that roll on forever, and I will say to myself, "Sixty. Hmmm. You are sooooo young, under the sky and in front of the sea.  What's that sound? Are the waves laughing at me? Is the sky snorting? Is the grass giggling?"   Then it's all good. It's as it should be. And I'm humbled and happy that I was able to contribute a small part to the universal cha cha. Everyone...keep dancing.