Greetings All,

I realize that I've not posted a blog in some months, now. However, upon examining the site traffic on MariaNazos.com, I was pleased (and a bit puzzled) to see that my site visits have doubled, almost tripled in the last few months. I'm trying to figure out why this is, but after trying to examine the reason, I realized, ultimately, I will never know. December 14th, a day where my site scored an all-time high of 20 visits, was not a special day. I did not do a reading, or make an appearance, or even post a blog, for that matter. Fact is, to my delight and surprise, this week, my site racked up a total of 80 visits that week. Although this number may not seem like much--I assure you, for someone who has so consistently neglected her website, that is a nice, round number! That's 80 random weekly visits made by random people, floating around in the Internet ether, just wanting to stop and say hello. I thank you fervently and say hello back. Hello! 

I also feel a pang of conviction, that if people are actually perusing my stuff with interest-- from the outdated me-naked-in-a-mink, to my even older publications, well, then, I might as well blog. You guys out there who continue to faithfully read, ROCK.

So, as far as my life goes, the most frequent question I receive from the few friends patient enough to keep up with my constant gypsing around: "Where ARE you?" 

In case you've lost track, I am currently a Writer-In-Residence at The Santa Fe Art Institute, where I've been positioned since September 31st. Now, in later December, I am wrapping up my stint here, and on New Year's Eve Day, will be flying back to Ptown, where I still currently reside, to reunite with Bruce, my boyfriend. The three months here in residency that initially flew past me like manic sparrows, has slowed to a mild treading. I can say, with confidence, that my time here in the Southwest has been wonderful and productive. 

And I am ready to go home. 

Santa Fe is an amazing city; and I don't just mean the physical landscape. The mountains, the hot springs, and the all-adobe residences and stores are lovely. But the spiritual landscape is by far the most powerful aspect. Most of the aforementioned features, (hot springs, stores, hikes, etc.), to be perfectly honest, I didn't really get to partake in until Bruce visited last month. Mostly because I've been sitting in my handsomely-appointed room with a private bath and huge desk, finishing up my first book of poems, entitled "Trailer Park Heart." 


I will say this, though: Santa Fe (and New Mexico in itself) possesses a haunting, synchronous quality. Sometimes, while working in my room, I'll catch a dark shape whizzing by my periphery. Odd coincidences occur constantly. In the fall season, when I first came here, I was delighted to find lavender growing wild outside my door. I have a sprig hung over my desk right now, for healing powers, and to my surprise, it has not dried up like it's outdoor kin. 

My days consist of waking up in the morning to get a cup of coffee, grunting hello to other residents (there are twelve of us stationed here), slathering some peanut butter on a piece of bread, and going back to my room, where I stay working until dinner. Sometimes I got for long walks on the trails. 

 This may sound boring, but it's not. 

In between I've ducked out quite a few times. In November, I stopped off in Decatur, Georgia, to meet the Wising Up Press Editorial Collective at a writing retreat. I recently became a proud member of the board. The founding editors, Heather Tosteston and Charles Brockett were kind enough to put us up. I spend two fabulous days becoming acquainted with my new colleagues and reveling in their writing. 

The day after I came back, Bruce came to visit for ten days. (By the way, we are going on a year now, that's common-law marriage for me...and still very much in love...) and we got to do all the fun touristy things that I've elected to forego in favor of my book. We went to the hot springs, where a bunch of good 'ole boys, who were co-cavorting in the mystical tubs, were convinced that Bruce was Brett Favre, despite his repeated firm but polite denials. Finally, they were staring at him so hard, it became uncomfortable, so we abandoned the hot tub for the sauna instead. I myself took this case of mistaken identity to be a huge-ass compliment. (I mean, come on. Brett Favre wouldn't be with an unattractive woman. If I am not mistaken, athletes usually are with really hot chicks.) 


But frivolity aside, one of the best experiences--if not THE best--was visiting the American Indian Reservation, or Pueblos, as they're called--for Feast Day. Feast Day is a celebration of life in which the American Indian Reservations open up their homes to complete gringo strangers. 

The name of the reservation we visited was the Tesuque Pueblo. We watched the Native dancers in the locus of the dusty, adobe pueblos. The dancers stomped and kicked. They wore headdresses made from real antlers and black-and-white-fringed costumes, and they chanted and danced every hour. I could smell the cedar burning in the air. After the dancers finished, everyone was invited into their home, where we waited in the living room until one of the women invited us to the table. Then, we were served with enchiladas, green chile soup, baked beans, and so much more. Bruce and I were lucky enough to have one of my fellow residents in tow with us, a descendant of an Alaskan tribe. He explained to us that the impetus for the Native feast day is to give as much as they can. I love this concept, as much as I am moved by it. Here we are, residing in a time of economical downturn, being fed silly by a people whose land we've pillaged to nothing, who frankly, don't owe us a dime. 

Another fascinating attribute of the Southwest has been the diversity. To quote Chris Rock, "No ethnicity has shit to complain about in comparison to the American Indian. I have lived to see a polar bear ride a tricycle. But I've yet to see an American Indian family chillin' out at Red Lobster." So it is. 

Another amazing experience was volunteering in the Flash Flood Project. Santa Fe Art Institute is a strong community organizer, among many other things. Flash Flood entailed getting 1,0000 people to gather shoulder to shoulder in the now- dried-up Santa Fe River, to hold up a piece of blue cardboard in protest of global warming. With the help of volunteers on loudspeakers, they instructed us to flip our cardboard over to the brown side, then flip it to the blue. Then, an aerial satellite camera took a picture of how the Santa Fe River would look if it were once again replenished with "blue" water. We did this a few times, all the while chanting, "FLASH FLOOD!" I felt moved to be a part of the bigger picture of global awareness, literally. 


The final--and strangely most moving--event that I encountered was the Santa Fe Farmers' Market. It was my first week in Santa Fe, in early October. This was unlike any Farmers' Market I've ever experienced. Suddenly, my senses were assaulted. One moment, I was walking down a long, concrete pedestrian walkway, filled with vendors' stands. From fire opals, to large, black photographs of nuclear orange koi, to bottle cap earrings, I was enamored with the Artisans' Fair. Then, at the end of the walkway, suddenly, the Farmers' Market. There was an onslaught of colors, tastes, and sights. Handmade lavender creams, carrots as thick as a man's wrist, lumps of kale, a man holding up a huge, black orb like Atlas, and juggling it around overhead, while multi-colored chili-peppers roasted inside, spicy homemade mustards, huge tropical-colored dahlias, and strange, handmade pillows with the Virgin Mary, then, beautiful lesbian encounters sewn on them. To describe the strangeness of arts-meets-the-vegetal-world is to do the scene an injustice. I can only tell you that it was like falling love; I needed this scene like air, yet it was hard to breathe. 

This brings me up to speed, to where I sit today: the remnants of snow melting outside my window. In not even 11 days, I will return to Ptown. I went back, briefly this month to see Bruce and celebrate an early Christmas together. Nothing had changed, of course. 

If you are still reading, I thank you for staying with me. I promise to keep up with you more, and value your readership. I'm going to keep posting in this coming time, because ironically, in the onset of winter, that I am out of hibernation. The book is done; for better or worse, and that chapter in my life is over. I can speak again, and am glad that I have you, my readers, to speak with.