Fast Lane, or, Seeing Red

January 18, 2007|Posted in: Uncategorized

So on my way from taking one child to the orthodontist I was narrowly missed by a driver who blew through a red light in Oakland’s wacky Chinatown/produce district (honk if you love double-parked trucks with dead pigs falling out the back). He missed killing me by maybe one second and maybe three feet, and the muthafuckah just tore right through. I had turned my head and just from the corner of my eye saw him, managed to slam the brakes, (amazingly) wasn’t rear-ended either, and off he went. I usually have a kid in the front seat with me. I usually have 2 or 3 with me, in fact. I sat there in a multi-million-millisecond daze thinking, “Bugger me. I could be dead right now. My kids, too…” Then the guy behind me honks while I draw breath to gather up the life I still possess.

But he didn’t hit me, and I drew that shaky breath and said, “Hey, Universe. Thanks.”

And went about my day.

I’m telling you this because it happened, it’s true, and we all know about Hemingway’s One True Thing. But also because I’ve been reading these two awesome books (as well as jamming my way through James Clavell’s Shogun again, of all things, and apropos of nothing) (The Red Book, by Sera Beak, run and fetch it. Go! Now!

I got that book and also Pronoia, both of which I asked from Mr. Patrick Wonderful as gifts and duly received them at the Xmas holiday gift blurge. I’ve been reading the RB and it’s simply devastating — both in that I wish *I’d* written it (as a scholar of religions and spirituality, and as a writer of unspeakable things; see my novel) — but also as the book I’d always wanted to *read* that never existed before — all the good stuff in one handy carrying case, I mean (I’ve read/studied/hermeneuticked the Bible, Wicca, Be Here Now, and all the other Zen, Buddhist, Kabbala, Rumi, etc stuff, too). I’m a bit high in her demographic, I think, being a bit over the 40-year-mark, and I have a passel of kidlets (some mine, some came with Mr. P), but it still works for me. The Red Book and Pronoia both dropped into my life at exactly the right time, as these things happen. So thanks to the lovely Sera Beak for writing it.

And now, do as you’re bidden — go read it/them. I’ll report back on Pronoia when I get far enough into it to remark. Oh, and Shogun? Fun. The Muse sez check it out…(again).

PS Assignments for this week’s writers: A) 15 minutes of writing; B) write out your writing goal; C) bring in two fiction or poetry books; and D) write a poem in the style of 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (any topic, any number of ways).

Next week’s assignment will be posted tomorrow.

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Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of six books: three novels, one poetry collection, and two women's history. She was the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, in 2014-17. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. She has a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University, and MA in Early 20th C. British Literature from Cal State Hayward. Julia's articles have appeared on Salon, Thrillist, Paste, Scary Mommy, Narratively, Yahoo News, Your Tango, and Sweatpants & Coffee. Her articles have also run in Redbook, Woman's Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, Town & Country, the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Magazine, Quill, and MadeLocal. She was the founding editor of weekly Alameda Sun and literary zine Red Hills Review. Her poetry has been in The East Bay Literary review, Postcard Poems, Americus Review, Cicada, Tiferet Review, and many others. Julia has been recognized several times by the San Francisco, East Bay and Peninsula Press Clubs as well as the California Newspaper Association for her blogging since 2003.

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