RELOCATION IN REFLECTION.


  Curiosity doesn’t always kill the cat, sometimes it brings confidence. I asked my British friend, ‘is it common for people to lose their curiosity, passion, and desires as they age?’ He responded, LOL, yes. That’s where we are different, he has certainty, whereas I don’t. Being single and living alone affords you freedom of thought, and so it was this weekend, while enveloped indoors to avoid the chilling grip of winter, my thoughts were in a heated argument.

Go to Saratoga and visit the Casino Museum, have a croissant or lobster roll, roam the gallery district, window shop, and get out of this house now.

It’s too cold to walk, I’ve been to the museum, I don’t feel like dining alone again, and the galleries I’ve been to are arts and crafts.

That’s not the reason, is it?

No, I’m not curious.

Just four years ago, I’d pop out of my Santa Fe home and walk up to Canyon Road Friday Night. All the galleries are open and serve appetizers, some live music, some street vendors, and some costumed characters and it was a party. I didn’t mind eating alone because I knew the restaurant owners, bartenders, and regular guests. Sedation of spirit came in the last six months. The first year coming back to my home after a six-year absence was invigorating and new, and unexpectedly in need of serious maintenance and lease management.

In front of El Farol, Canyon Road on a stranger’s beauty mobile. Twice a week for live rockin music and dancing. One of my favorite dance floors because the stage is three feet away.

The second year was getting about town and exploring and then Covid so it was an incomplete year. The third year was a wicked winter and when spring came, the ebullient appreciation of the sun and flowers renewed, and my curiosity temperature was down but not dormant. Circumstances too complicated and gruesome to write, force me to stay here. I’m one of the millions, that live where they don’t choose to live anymore. When the day comes, the freedom to relocate is my curiosity. My next nest is undetermined. My friends, ask me, ‘where are you going to move to?’ This comes up in every third or fourth conversation. And the answer is the same, ‘when I know I’ll tell you.’

Upstate on a clear day.

Poetic justice for a life-long wanderer. Curiosity I call on you to visit my spirit and paddle me out to waters and roads unknown.  Give me the confidence to keep my oars afloat; confident, curious, and passionate.   

On the road from New Mexico to somewhere… I can’t remember.

HOPSCOTCHING THE TRUTH TWO


Three days later: The door is locked now, it will pop open now and then, in my interior rearview mirror. My secret can only be revealed after mounds of trust have been sifted and sealed. The former LouLou trusted, effortlessly, so the truth is I cannot behave that way anymore. Or can I?
It is the most destabilizing force of emotion to accept I trusted someone who betrayed our thirty-five year “Huckleberry Friend” song. I don’t know how anyone else adapts to this. I’m kinda staring out the window, like a cat staring at an unreachable mouse. When I’m in this mood I listen to Bobby Darin and Tony Bennett, I’m a bleeding nostalgic.  Photo Credit Philip Townsend. ” London in the Swinging Sixties.”

A CAT CAREGIVER


Today I am working on my next book, based on a true story, about 423 pages so far. I want it to end, but art imitates life so it goes on.

One excerpt: JUNE 10, 2017. Santa Fe, NM


The sun seemed to say, ” Ok, it’s summer, let’s go outdoors.’ I listened. With my badass worker’s gloves, I lifted that rod iron antique chaise with a broken wheel to my patio. Then I washed the cushion with bleach and soap and let it dry. A few hours later I looked outside, CatRockette is curled up on the chaise, we are listening to Opera. Tiny drops of beauty I am beginning to see again.
Carrying hatred is like wearing a coat of repellent against the world. Its aroma may be masked by Chanel but I am certain the whiff of my malcontent is apparent. All the advice and counseling from lawyers, legal-aid, and foreclosure specialists feels bloated. I’m switching from outside counsel to instinct. I’m learning to be more like Rockette. God must have sent him, he is indifferent to the diesel engines, steel ramps crashing on the pavement, racing cars, construction, and my irascible moods. His cat habitat is to sleep during the day, eat tiny meals every few hours, cry every few hours and wait for me to cry back. Around midnight he goes out hunting, returns at three in the morning, and I have to feed him. Then I’m awake so I’m drinking coffee and watching movies. It’s taken three weeks for me to gracefully and tenderly allow him to cry and wake me up. Without him is unbearable. We all need to take care of someone.

DON’T DO IT ALONE


ADVENTURES IN LIVINGNESS FALL ON… moving without a new address. This is the pinnacle of the If Girl, an identify that suits me.  I’ve met dozens of men and women who are transitioning from one local to another, one partner to another, one pet to another, the if is the true arch of our character.  If we reach to high we may end up with  a knock on the head, if we reach to low  we disappoint ourselves.  If you are not moving internally, well, I guess you are happy where you are. I’ve never known that.  Maybe its the writer in me, without conflict what to write about?

Direction is a choice; move back home, move near your children, move for a job, but in my case I move because my act in Santa Fe has closed. I’m like a space between two paragraphs; a blank slate sounds romantic, no commitments or tangible responsibilities my home is rented and so like a nomad, I’m searching for a new beginning. Some say its an adventure, some say the answer will come in time,  as I lay my head down on a hotel pillow, the interim is asking me to be peaceful, as my belongings are reduced to a partial wardrobe,  my cat, three books, and my coffee maker.

Its like when I went off to college,  a liberating extension of those early days when belonging to things didn’t matter, life mattered.  If you are single and without children this is the knife that we  must slice into a piece we accept, or no peace at all.  hopscotch-bristol-1050x700

COMING OF AGE AT SIXTY-SOMETHING


I  don’t know at what age reasoning and understanding took over daydreaming, was it in my thirties?  No, fifties. No sixties, no; this week.  The time of change without my someone to guide me, map out the course, and hold my hand when I take the wrong turn is here.

In a few weeks, I’m leaving Santa Fe, heading west, to Los Angeles, my home that hasn’t been home for twenty five years. This leap of change came about after I decided to leave Santa Fe, where to go was easy, back home for a refresher course in metropolitan living. Some time soon I’ll write about Santa Fe, the land of entrapment.  I looked it up on google, its not a tin-pan myth, the force of gravity here is like a wave you can’t swim at your own pace. Nature in New Mexico is the ruler, mankind just passes through. To describe it should be left a mystery. If you feel the draw to Santa Fe, do it, there is a reason.

I wonder if I left a mark. If  someone years from now will remember Gallery LouLou, or the Wild West Vacation Home, or just where Rudy and Loulou live. It doesn’t matter does it? I remember.

Packing is also unpacking; everything I did, bought, wrote, or wore is in the house, so as I pack up what to take, I leave behind the collapsed friendships, fortunes of moments inked in my head, like letters that play the past.  Four years ago I was ready to leave,  maybe longer, a force much more powerful than I, said, no, not yet. Just  as the dice lined up, the tables turned against me. I thought I’d lose everything.  A year and a half later I’m a few days away from the road trip to Westwood, where I was raised.

When I arrived in Santa Fe in 2007, I felt powerful, focused and determined. Now as I close the door, I feel humbled, like a wild animal whose been fed just enough to keep going.  That has not been one of my strongest points as I am constantly pulling out new canvases to caress, and forget to say, thank you for the meal.

The door to relocation propelled me to trade in my car for a convertible coup, sell or give away and now I’m taping up the boxes of Santa Fe memories to take with me to the next adventure in livingness. To be continued.

YOU’RE INVITED


 

PUBLICATION PARTY FOR LOCAL AUTHOR’S MEMOIR-CRADLE OF CRIME

                                                                     by Luellen Smiley

 

La Posada Resort & Spa- 330 East Palace Avenue Santa Fe. NM 

Sunday – February 12, 2017

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM MST

CELEBRATE WITH LOCAL AUTHOR LUELLEN SMILEY

Complimentary Wine, Champagne & Appetizers

Book signing & Q & A

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RSVP

loulousmiley@yahoo.com

This eye-opening memoir, twenty years in the making chronicles Luellen’s journey into her father’s criminal past, beginning ten years after his death in 1982. Luellen is the daughter of Allen Smiley – Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s best friend and business partner for ten years. Allen was seated next to Bugsy the night he was murdered. Luellen discounted her father’s Mafia association until she was forty years old. Awakened by an identity crisis, she cut through her silence and used government surveillance records, newspaper articles, and FBI files to discover her father’s legacy.

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330 East Palace Avenue

Santa Fe, NM 87501

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THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER IS…


 

SEASONAL AND SENSUAL OVERTURE TO REVERIE.

SUMMER is not a memory yet; my skin too sensitive, and my heart still attached to the moments.  I’ve misplaced my journals and so I have to read my to-do list to recall the events.  Let’s go back to June; well my head was bent like a candle wick in this memoir. By then I was into the first rewrite, the worst of the next ten. That first one is deceivingly promising, the chapters line up, the suspense tickled, and it was five-hundred pages.  The first draft was actually two books, as I dared to try and run the 100 meter in two different directions.

I must have had some standout memories, but I don’ recall June being amusing.  Writing about my deceased parents was not summer reading.  A year had already passed since I began, and I was now at the last stretch.  My sense of completion was annoying.  I began to hate the word focus. My body ached for water, in any form, a pool, a river, and the ocean.  June was also the month when rejection letters arrived.  For a moment, I’d forgotten. Whoa! Stay away from LouLou, her nerves are visible! On the flip, it was also acceptance of those letters.  I had to prove to myself that I could take it, and continue writing.

Outside my window, Palace Avenue raised to motorcycles, skateboarders, conversational bicycle riders, and families out for a walk. My concentration was beguiled.  So I turned on the fan, the loud kind that screens the room in a hum.  I tried to imagine as waves just after they have capitulated into bubbles.

Memorial weekend was gemstone sunlit of color and clarity.  I’d decided to break and go to a party at La Posada.  Yes, that was my first grasp of summer, the sudden appearance of flowers, greenness of the landscape, flowers, and light. I think it was warm enough to sit outdoors all night.  We were not yet ready to kick and scream, it was more of a real memorial kind of party.  For our troops who finally are reaching us through the news, the films, and the books.

Most every evening I’d walk across the street to La Posada, have a glass of wine while listening to the chattering guests, age-out themselves by immobilizing a very liberated and young spirit. It’s a beautiful sight. Most people in my experience, come to Santa Fe and strip fullsizerenderdown to vulnerable. They invite conversation and are genuinely interested. I am asked, ‘What’s it like living in Santa Fe?’  To be continued.

IT’S UNLIKE ANY OTHER CITY I’VE EXPERIENCE.D  It’s called the city different, it is also the city difficult.  She ( I see Santa Fe in the feminine gender)  has to be treated gently. Her  weather patterns resemble a menopausal woman,her stature demands respect, and she can be congenial and patient.

You can walk this city as if it were a neighborhood. If you do that consistently you’ll meet people, and get to know them. Unless you’re like me, a standoffish fast walker dazed by the outdoors.

If you’re dazed and illusional you can master this city very well, as the drowsy pace and cordiality allow freakish  freedom.  I ‘ve seen the liberating soul of Santa Fe,  teenagers racing down the middle of a commercial street one foot on the skateboard, bad-ass bikers talking with bad-ass cops, women with parrots on their shoulder, dogs in baby carriages, cats in a bag, and women on horseback galloping up Palace Avenue.

At night you’ll see raging midnight ramblers dancing on the sidewalk, and all of this is appealing to an LA transplant.  I have driven in my robe, danced in the street and broken the heels on most of my shoes because of the pot-holes. They are always working on a street, but never the sidewalks. I ‘ve been bounced out of the locals night-howl El Farol for accidently pushing  a dancer, who knew the manager, who came running after me and took down my license plate.

So many of us are loners, the serious kind, that have to be rigged out of our nests.  Luckily I live on a commercial street and have no choice but to be commercially friendly. After nine years, my seasonal behavior is obvious: sprite in summer, blissful in fall, giddy in spring, and withdrawan in winter. I’ve learned patience, understanding, and adopted a mixture of cultural traditions. I’m close to fifty percent certain I’ll miss Santa Fe terribly when I do leave.

Has living in Santa Fe  given me more than I’ve given back?  Yes, it has and that’s why when I’m asked what’s it like living in Santa Fe, I try to reveal the blessings here and not the bullshit. 025

EDITING LIFE


There are  reasons to quit and more reasons not to. The one reason that hovers above all is that everything we do in life needs revision. We are never through evolving into more thoughtful, loving, or wise human beings. Every day there is an opportunity to  revise your valor and conviction.

Revising the position you sit, walk, talk, judge, form opinions, contribute to your home, friends, partners, and discovering what you’ve learned,  dreamed, and mastered, is your novel.   How to write a chapter when you feel  caught;  trapped by decisions that are outdated. Antiquities of a former persona.

Changes in life are like  photographic images.  Looking at old photographs and what I see is someone else. Some are recalled with approval and others are works that led me astray.  I’m not alone. Life is a runaway that we have to catch for ourselves. 

The puzzle is how to live, where to live, and for whom.  It is the same with  manuscripts; they improve with each revision. 

 

EXCERPT FROM CRADLE OF CRIME


CHAPTER NINE

1998 WAS ALL RIGHT

AWAKENING ON THE ROADRUNNER SHUTTLE as we chugged up the steep grade highway, the red skin of Taos peeled back the imposing medieval Gorge crack. The cavity unzipped and five thousand feet below was the Rio Grande. I felt the altitude filling my lungs, and my eyes twitching from one scenic masterpiece to another. Everyone in the shuttle was giving me a history lesson about Taos. Before I knew it, the shuttle door opened, and the driver yelled, ‘Smiley.”

At the end of a two-mile dirt road the shuttle dropped me off and I was shouldered on either side by melting banks of snow.  It was April. Unexpected snow storms arrived the same week.

The FBI boxes I’d shipped were in front of my casita.  Darting from room to room, thoroughly satisfied with a two-story loft, floor to ceiling windows, and sunlight in all the right spots. I unpacked in the seductive silence. Was I all alone out here?  A few other casitas were on the property but they looked vacant. A pang of anxiety seized and then I realized, I had a cell phone, a credit card, and cash. I could always call a cab right.  It was winter in April; the first time I’d lived in falling

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DH. LAWRENCE WRITING ROOM. TOAS.

snow.  In the dining room, I unpacked the boxes and arranged them in a circle around the circumference of the table. It was a heavy southwestern oak table, twelve feet along, and to the right was sliding glass doors allowing the light to stream across the black and white print. I was left to unravel two thousand more pages on Dad’s criminal life.

The trip was extended to two months. I read all the files and  left Taos a different woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Santa Fe today

Santa Fe today, Friday the 13th. Listening to soundtrack of Man & a Woman, my lyrics, my movie. The end is what I imagine mine. The day was blowing cottonwood  and white wisteria  in a blow glow of dance.  There is a certainty about my movements, different than yesterday. I declare this day of summer, sandals,pedicure, trying on my bathing suit, making a palette change, and putting on the ritz. The gloss and bronze, and maybe even going outdoors.  Shopping and going to the Lowriders Day in Santa Fe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOU’LL FEEL BETTER IF YOU TALK ABOUT IT


The throw of the dice this week lands on Adventures in Livingness.  The last time I wrote a column about life beyond the book was the Malibu series.  I’m still tainted by the U-Turn out of Malibu, but as Dad always said, ‘If you fall off the horse you get back on!’  That’s what this book is all about;  just how impressionable we are as children.

 My pals who have commented after reading this material in six different memoirs are immensely important to this writer. Word press followers, you are recognized with every comment!  Pals, Baron, Blair, and Stone who took my hand into the offices of agents and editors thank you for believing in my dice!

Santa Fe. NM 3/26/2016

A photographic day for capturing the stillness of light on the rose  20160311_112156[1]buds. Winter was a lot of writing, editing, and films. I must have seen a hundred this winter. All easy paved paths to escape.  The one I’d recommend is Divided We Fall; a Polish film set during the occupation of Poland. The Director managed to weave suffering and horror with extraordinary hope and brotherhood. If you like mystery-crime dramas,  Nine Queens, an Argentinian film that rattles the roots of a cheaters.

A FEW DAYS LATER

Today is sprayed gray and white cloud cover, and tiny drops of wet snow. I call the climate of Santa Fe, a woman with PMS.  I’m listening to Nat King Cole and withering under a  hang-over after a sensational evening with Brother Marc, (the son I wanted) White Zen, his Mother, and Rudy. I’ve watched Marc grow up. Over the last seven years he’s transformed from a shy, confused young adult, into a man of the mountain; wilderness is his passion.  He drives those big snow plow machines and grooms the mountains in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He works at night and when he takes a break he  looks at the stars.  Six-foot thin muscle, shoulder  brown curls, and eyes  shaped like two row boats filled with blue water.  He’s not only handsome, his instincts, original expression, and amusing bellowing deep voice tie this lad up in someone you love. He’s an original. You never get the question or answer you expect;  he pulls wisdom from his head and heart as easily as folding a napkin. One two three–a brand of thinking shoots out and I just look at him bewildered. Marc is a twenty-nine year old frontiersman and  has been since he was knee high on a San Francisco skateboard. The Revenant!

Easter brings people together and I’ve sensed a developing  surge to be in a group. Distanced friends come closer, family is the bread and butter of vacation, I see so many of them at La Posada, and couples are cooperating.  No one needs to hug a pillow when they go to sleep  is my motto.

My rise above familiar surroundings and comfort began the day Brussels was terror stricken and  all Belgians  became one. I checked on Twitter that day, and was touched so deeply when I read the dozens of tweets offering shelter, food, and clothes for those in need. If I were a lifestyle journalist I’d go there and write about the emotional and physical patterns that will change over time. Imagine the consciousness’ of those personally affected after experiencing a bomb exploding beside them. I’ve asked a few people how they feel about terrorism. Some are inflamed and others refuse to discuss the matter as it elicits political commentary.   Terrorism has infiltrated the shuffle of disappointment and raised the inner riot in my head to world events. The importance of conversation so we don’t feel alone is vibrating. I don’t mean in text and twitter. It is too instant to embrace.   What happened to,

         ‘You’ll feel better if you talk about it’ psychology?

 After a few weeks of submitting the book and reading rejection emails,  I realized I wasn’t as prepared as I thought.  Not taking rejections personally is like a handshake after you’ve been swindled.  I moused over to JK Rowlings and read a few rejection letters she posted after submitting a manuscript under the name of Richard Galbraith. One of the letters suggested she join a writers workshop!   Anonymous writers like actors, musicians, artists, and photographers  are caught in the storm of celebritism.  If you are unrecognized the  brick and mortar you have to break  through is an Olympian challenge.

I was writing a lengthy portrayal of Ben Siegel one day and it occurred to me that he had become a major character in my life.  He played a role that someone else should have; a noted author, or journalist, or poet.  Ben Siegel changed my history because I had to learn to love him.  Learning to love him meant erasing everything I had read or heard. It is said he was a ruthless killer, a savage, violent, and that he loved to kill. I turned to look at a photograph of my mother.  I was told that she loved Ben too. Where once I believed my mother was naïve and uninformed, I know this wasn’t the case. She knew from the beginning. Mom fit into this strangely singular and controversial group of people. I see her in the full frame of who she was. (she is on the right in MGM Ziegfeld Follies 1946)get-attachment.aspx  I like her this way because it raised my self esteem; my rebelliousness came from both parents.

While writing about Dad I questioned my prolonged interest in his choices, behavior, and his secrecy. I asked Uncle Myron who shared the same history.   Myron reaffirmed that my father was a true to the code gangster. No one ever got him to talk about what he knew or had seen.

Children feel the repression of truth as clearly as they do the pain of bruise.  The more you hide or bandage the more they seek and peek. At my root is the inclination to question the world around me, and to mend the breaks in life that molded my identity.

Along the way of the first chapter, I discovered that people like to know how it works; how we write in a state of solitude and selfishness.  A story or any work of art lives in the artist and God. Miracles do happen!

LIGHTS ON SANTA FE


 

A NATIVE AMERICAN  LIGHT SHOW.

YOU CAN BECOME WHO YOU DREAMED OF, DO WHAT YOU DREAMED OF IN SANTA FE , because Santa  Feans do not care.

I heard this slogan a lot when I first moved here seven years ago.  My understanding was vague, unrealized, and I didn’t think much about it until  this winter.   I began to  approach strangers,  walk across the street to the spa in a robe,  or  leave my pajama top under my sweater because I like the texture of it.
I’ve  given  up the diving board of scrutiny and plunge into the dreamy, stony,  outdated, simplistic extravagance, and unrealistic vibe of Santa Fe.

I keep dreaming, and preparing,  with a face blotched red by cold, that THE LIGHTS, SHADOWS,  MOON AND CHARACTERS ARE MY BROADWAY FOR NOW.   NOT FOREVER. EVERYTHING CAN BE TEMPORARY IF WE TAKE ADVENTURES IN LIVINGNESS.