The Feminine Collective has published a piece of surrealism I wrote a few years ago. I’m partial to this piece and, even if you don’t quite get it, I hope you enjoy the Oklahoma rhythm of the prose, My Dear Readers. Read it here.
I have a new poem in The Feminine Collective today. If you’ve never discovered FC, you’re missing out. It’s a fantastically talented collection of female writers, poets, essayists, photographers, journalists, etc…You simply MUST check then out! Go here. It will make your Monday far more interesting.
To answer the question I’ve been asked three times this week, “Do you miss LA?” No. I miss California in the winter, but I never miss LA. It’s a wonderful place to be from and to be at, but I don’t miss it. Also, I was from Ventura Country. That’s not exactly LA. It’s southern California 100%, but not LA. Any Angeleno will confirm this immediately and loudly if you ask.
What I do miss is the South. I miss Texas sometimes, Tennessee, and Georgia. Places where my people are from. No one related to me is from LA. I don’t miss Oklahoma, but I think on it with affection, my birth state. I remember its red dirt and its wide open spaces, and all the Indian names. Chickasaw, Okemah, Broken Arrow, Ten Killer Lake. While California wins with exotic Spanish saint names, and I don’t have any difficult feelings associated with southern California, I just don’t miss it.
I miss Napa and the Ventura foothills on occasion. I miss Santa Barbara and even Santa Paula, with all its dusty orchards and winding mountain roads leading to Ojai. I don’t miss Ojai. That place was weird in a Salem, Massachusetts sort of way, and all the “gift stores” smelled like spiced pot and French soap. I miss driving past the ranches of Santa Ynez and Santa Maria. I even miss Oxnard strawberry fields and careless afternoons watching pretend surfers wrangle the baby waves at Silver Strand. Don’t miss Long Beach (who does?) or Anaheim or Westlake (again, why?).
I have good, messy childhood memories of Thousand Oaks, though, when kids from southern California still played in roving bands that ran around the cul-de-sac barefooted on the their bikes. I don’t know if Thousand Oaks is still like that, but my memories of it are that way, and I think of the summer and fall I spent there, before we moved to Oxnard, as lovely. Dirty and sunburnt and lovely.
I don’t miss any of the freeways or Hollywood or any of that. But, God help me, Pennsylvania winters make me want to puke, and nothing in California ever made me feel that way. Except North Hollywood and Tarzana. Those can be a puke-worthy place. So, if LA became its own country, I’d be fine with that. If I never drive on another LA freeway, I’d be fine with that. If I never saw another sunset over the Pacific, I’d be sad. There’s nothing else like it. But I’ve settled here in the Appalachian foothills and they’re fine, too. If I wasn’t literally allergic to the cold, I would die in this Ugly Old Farmhouse as an old lady, with a book in my hand and a dog at my feet.
I plan to move South as my children age. I need the sunshine and the warmth. I break out in anaphylaxis when it gets below 40 degrees. When it gets below 50, really. I blame all of that on my Southern birth and my southern California upbringing. The sunshine raised me. The dry desert air and the subtropic humidity of the low plain states. I just can’t handle the pressed-down molecules of winter in Pennsylvania anymore. Still, even the possibility of dying because I ran outside to get the mail and I didn’t wear enough wool, doesn’t make LA tempting to me. California, yes. LA, no. So, to answer your question, those who’ve asked. I don’t miss LA. I miss year round sunshine though. But when Pennsylvania gets over her obsession with freezing rain and blizzards and lets the spring break through, this is the view from my living room window. It’s almost like Bougainvillea, right?
My Pennsylvania Dogwood Tree
(courtesy me, Tiffani Burnett-Velez)
(Photo of East German guards reviewing passports at Berlin Wall. Courtesy: Bild Budesarchiv)
I have been working on, The Gate, the next installment in the Embers of War Series for several months now. It will be done soon and made available shortly after that. I can’t tell you, my dear readers, how different this books is from A Berlin Story. Yes, it’s dark, all that gray/brown of the Soviet era, but it’s intense and nonstop. The people just never stop running. So much hunger. I love these characters. Slices of Russian and German spill out into all the margins, where the Cold War has pushed itself to the center of the story and new terms appear–Air Lift, Stalin, the Wall. I can’t wait to share it with all of you soon.
And the whole series is getting a new cover, thanks to designer extraordinaire, Gayle Hendricks. More info to come. I’m pushing Mitya and Annalise forward daily, and they’re both at the edge of nervous breakdowns, but controlled ones that just simmer madly at the surface, because anything more would land them in Siberia.
If you haven’t read A Berlin Story, catch up before The Gate comes out!