The goat notes

for SS#187 “adventure” and 3WW’s “karma, obey, wither”

Chicago01.jpg picture by pemerytx

Photo © Giles Orr, of the blog, Traveling Blogger

I met the Goat Girl in an airport where all interesting things happen…  Alright, more specifically, two hours ago, I met the Goat Girl in Chicago O’Hare where I wind up frequently in compromising situations, like Chicago wants to kick my ass.  Or rather, after meeting the Goat Girl and imbibing her mysterious vibes, I should say it’s that Chicago wants to make love to me.  Chicago, the lover, and me the object of its desire.  Enduring, unrelenting Chicago, intent that I’ll come to love it and dump New York City one day if it keeps on trying, keeps on plying me with its windy joys.

Two hours ago I got off the first flight out of Minneapolis to make a connection in Chicago back to New York City.  I was looking forward to a touch-and-go at the office, a quick debriefing on the Minneapolis client and then dinner and a show with my good friend, Jan, who I’ve had to keep blowing off because of work.  No sooner did I turn on my cell and step out of the jetway, I got a message from my boss.  “Lyn, Tony here.  Change of plans.  You’re flying out of Chicago around 12pm for Detroit to meet at 4pm with Slidell & Barker’s Adam Jacobs.  I’ve e-mailed you everything you need on that crybaby.  Celia’s e-mailed your new itinerary.  Counting on your savvy as usual.  Good luck.”  Sonofabitch.

I looked at the time.  Just 8am and already everything was fucked.  It wasn’t the change of plans itself.  That’s situation normal.  It was the growing frequency of these fuckings that pissed me off.  It was seeing no end to Tony’s new trend, stringing me out, spreading me out across the country, over-scheduling me, so that now my new trend has become disappointing people I care about, telling them, “No go,” over and over, “I’m sorry but the big, bad Tony is sending me out again…”  It’s getting dangerously old.  And it’s getting that way because of what’s not getting old.

It’s the high of what I do, calming clients’ fears, finding win-win solutions that keep them happy and on board with us, that keeps me in the game, needing it, strung out on it.  And Tony’s like my pimp, for chrissakes, taking advantage of that, working it, pushing it.  It’s a cycle that’s going to snap in two, the same old chain of looking good—if I look good, Tony looks good, his boss looks good, the company looks good—that’s going to break if each link’s not maintained, fat and happy.  It’s a cosmic law.  Like cheating death, it ain’t gonna happen in the inevitable end.  So why do we all try to defy it?  Stupid question.

I took all that heavy mental shit with me to the biggest blank spot I could find on the concourse, a lovely patch of carpet by the windows to the world.  There was only one person sitting in the seats near there, a young woman, twenties maybe, pretty, long dark hair parted in the middle.  She was dressed like Stevie Nicks back in the late 70’s, had on a low-cut kimono top over layered skirts, silk and lace, and tall curry-colored, high-heeled suede boots.  A silky shawl with tassels had worked its way off her shoulders and wound around both arms all the way to her hands which held a small, red book with a big, white goat’s head on the cover.  Hence, the Goat Girl.

I parked my stuff at the end of the row of seats opposite the Goat Girl, far enough away to amply respect her space, and sat on the floor where there was a rare find, a plug in a wall by the windows.  I took that to be a good sign, that my karma wasn’t totally hosed.  I unpacked my laptop, plugged in and started getting all the details on my flight and my new problem child, Adam Jacobs, and his company, and I felt like someone was burning a hole in my head with their eyes.  A good burning, oddly, like good vibes, warmth.  When I looked up and around, I saw no one looking at me. 

This continued for about an hour until the meaning of too much of a good thing became too vivid, and I was about to pack up and get the hell out of there when I heard the Goat Girl say, “Excuse me.”  I looked up and she was looking at me, more like into me, with wide, clear blue eyes, particularly striking contrasted with her almost black hair.  National Geographic’s famous Afghan Girl with her huge, haunting green eyes came to mind and that was all.  Blank.  No words came to me.  Goat Girl said, “I’m finished with this book.  Would you like it to read on your travels?”

My eyes were withering under the intensity of her gaze and I had to look away or…  I don’t know, become enlightened or die, maybe, something scary anyway.  I somehow said, “Sure.”  Patchouli wafted from her laces and silks when she got up and brought the book to me.  Goat: A Memoir by Brad Land.  I took it and smiled, told her, “Thanks.  I appreciate that.”  She smiled back, filled me with warmth, and sat back down.  Patchouli lingered.  I read the front flap.  Lots of physically and psychologically violent shit happened to this Brad Land guy, and I wondered what someone reeking with peace and love would be doing with this book.  I had to know, felt like there must be something about the whole of it, the effect of it that would tell me, so I obeyed the urge and began to read.

About an hour into the book, I’d been through Brad’s ghastly carjacking and beating by two brutal, severely creepy ghouls, “the smile” and “the breath,” and was well into the sadistic, psychologically damaging Clemson hazings when I found two post-it notes stuck to one of the pages.  The first note read, “Stop fighting chaos—accept it, roll with it, relish the challenge it offers, and be unabashedly amazed at the results.”  And the second one read, “The ground of challenging injustice is gratitude, the heartfelt desire to honor the wonder of that which is; to cherish, to celebrate, to delight in the many gifts and joys of life.”  This was getting stranger by the moment.

I looked up at the Goat Girl and she was happily about the business of organizing her stuff.  I aimed an “Excuse me” her way.  She looked at me with those eyes and I dared continue, “Are these your post-it notes in here?”  She smiled, then in a faraway voice said, “The notes…”  I waited.  Nothing.  I said, “Yes, the two post-its with words of spiritual wisdom,” and she answered, “Oh, the notes.”  I waited again.  Then she asked me, “What did they make you think of?”  I told her I wondered if the person who wrote the notes, wrote them in reaction to what they read in Goat.  I wondered if the note-writer applied new age spiritual teachings to how a person in Brad’s position could have dealt with his experiences.  And I also thought maybe the notes had nothing to do with the book at all, maybe were quotes taken down from some source and just stuck in there for lack of a better place at the time.

A boarding announcement was being made and the Goat Girl stood up.  “Think about it for awhile,” she said.  I blinked at her.  Again, words failed me.  She took a pen from her tasseled purse and began to scrawl something on a corner of her airline ticket jacket.  She ripped the corner off and handed it to me, said, “Here’s my name and e-mail address.  When you’re done thinking, let me know what you come up with.”  Then she winked at me, turned and headed toward her gate.  I sat there in a Patchouli cloud and watched her go and go.  It was all too wacky.  Then I looked down at the paper she gave me, looked at her writing and compared it to the post-it notes.  It was the same writing.

I looked at the time.  11am.  I packed up my stuff and walked to the gate for the Detroit flight preoccupied with the peaceable notes and their hostile backdrop, like a representation of the world and its violence and drama and the antidote, peaceful presence.  I know those notes could apply to anyone in just about any chaotic or unjust situation, but I like to think the Goat Girl was some mystical thing there for me with those notes, because they fit, because I took them to heart, because they lifted a great weight from my mind and body.  Tony’s going to have to buy into my win-win solution for him and me, or I walk.  And I’ll roll with the chaos as always, only now with excitement to see what comes of it each day, like reading a book and turning a page and finding something I can use, like a couple of goat notes.

Fini

Goat01.jpg picture by pemerytx

Cover from The eBook Store

 

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3ww1

Missalister’s “The goat notes,” copyright © 2009, was spun off the Sunday Scribblings prompt “#187 – Adventure” and 3WW words karma, obey, and wither.  Click here for more on prompt #187 from other Sunday Scribblings participants and here for more from 3WW participants.

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BEHIND “THE GOAT NOTES” STORY

My mom picked up “Goat: A Memoir,” among many other books on sale at the small library in the small-time Vermont town where she lives, where I grew up, and inside it were the two post-it notes I quoted.  I became possessed both with the strangeness to me of famously independent and stubborn Vermonters writing new age spiritual teachings on post-it notes and with such notes found in such a book.

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21 responses to “The goat notes

  1. I love a world that can drop something so serendipitous on your head and then smile when it sees what you make of it. I loved this encounter and the back story that landed on your horizon and flowed right through you to us. I loved this :”I sat there in a Patchouli cloud and watched her go and go” Forces at work in that airport, putting her in the place where she would cross paths with goat girl, the same forces that put that book in your mother’s hands and set you to writing this. Everything in the right place at the right time.

  2. What an enchanting encounter. I was so jealous because I wanted to meet Goat girl. Just those few moments with her and your life was changed. Fantastic!

  3. Ok. This story is fucking wonderful! The realness of the surrealness is absolutely brilliant. And all those things that Dee said about serendipity. Again, your weaving of the fabric of description of Goat Girl leaves nothing to the imagination. It is embellished on our senses and you have nothing short of mastery for this. I’m sitting on the floor of that concourse with you (and I’ve had a few O’Hare layovers myself). I simply love reading you.

  4. tony as a pimp was such a great way to put into perfect perspective her relationship with him and the job… that blood pumping joy even as you think you hate it.

    i’m not sure i want to read the book. i do know i copied the post it’s, and will print them to hang on the wall by my desk.

    another fuckin’ wonderful bit of work from you, my friend. just…so precise and layered and rich.

    well done.

  5. Top notch writing. I was hooked from beginning to end. Not only was your description vivid and realistic, so was the conversation, setting, and all aspects of this jewel. During the summer my daughter worked in a book store that gave books away for charity. She found all sorts of things tucked into the books. We both became fascinated with the mysteries of those photos and notes and would talk for a long time after work. It’s rather like discoveries in an attic, don’t you think? Well done!

  6. Muchness: I love that patchouli’d wink. In my experience, winks are a very fine and exquisite art. Far too many people in this world have no business even trying to pull them off, and yet persist, with miserable results. This is about the last chica I would expect to try, much less pull it off, and yet she does, and somehow that transforms all of who she’s been up to that point in the story. (And for the record: I couldn’t pull off even a half-assedly decent wink to save my life. You, on the other hand…)

    I love, too, the idea of playing with lit within lit, and of course, the back story of yet another way in which possession falls on you like a torrid grace. Narrator and Goat Girl are awfully shiny in all their fictive (and not so fictive) brilliance. We even get yet another winking glimpse of Rhonda the Anti-Muse. We’re past yellow-highlighting all the wonderful twists and touches – you know how good this one is.

    Goat Girl: I was thrown back to Giles Goat-Boy by John Barth, and about the same time up there in the fall chill of Cambridge, listening to Goat’s Head Soup in Kirkland House with Ms Tammie Elliot, fall windows open, after which she read Yeats to me aloud. And could that chica ever wink.

    PS: Basement of an old building in the village of Waitsfield, VT. Potter and her pottery studio. European woman: German? She could have written the notes. But, she wouldn’t have winked.

  7. Oh, it’s all so wonderful. Serendipitous, solid, seeking and steamy with treasure. Patchouli and Stevie Nicks are as visual as if mural’d. (I wonder about ‘wreak’ – ‘reek’ ? but both feel heavy to me. Hmm) Another glorious read that will travel with me.

  8. DEE
    It’s pretty neat how it all works—you put it so well so I’ll not risk bungling an embellishment—airports especially. When I first started flying, some revelation would come to me at thirty sem-odd thousand feet and I’d grab the in-flight magazine and just start writing in the white spaces. Now I carry my journal/writing notebook. And in the airport, out on a concourse, like a dock over water, it’s like a space pad, and combined with the people you see, it always makes for some cool happening or revelation. That awkward attempt at fiction I did called “A few bad forks” was based on one of the worst-yet-best airport experiences I’ve ever had. No, not meeting some guy from Houston, but being stuck, really badly stuck, in Pittsburgh during a baggage handlers strike at Christmas. Everything in the right place at the right time, as you said : )

    OLD EGG
    Welcome, Old Egg : ) I tell you Goat Girl made me jealous. I’m a high strung sort and I envy anyone who’s at peace with themselves and others. But also, as you say, encounters with such folks do have an impact, do change one’s life, over the years or the moments, like the notes did indeed make an impact on and change my life.

    GAUTAMI TRIPATHY
    Thanks, GT, and ditto regarding your “flames of karma.” That concept was brilliant and lined out as only you with your poetic savvy can do.

    MUSIC MAN
    Isn’t the f-word great? Such a horrible and horribly satisfying thing to say, like getting your teeth around something crunchy or chewy after a week’s worth of soup LOL! That and “realness of the surrealness” and your vibes here and your supreme ending compliment, well it all intoxicates me as usual, sets me up for an O’Hare hangover from the layover : )

    QUIN
    Thanks, Q, for the layered and rich. I can taste it : ) And I liked the pimp thing, too. It’s how I felt (think Sam Kinison, now) for eighteen fucking years! in the corporate world, that is.
    Not reading the book, you’re not missing anything. Mr. Land ain’t hard on the eyes, but Lord love ‘im, his writing style is hard to get used to at first. And certainly, for all the education he got, I expected more, much more. If that’s what an MFA gets a person, I feel better about not having one. The post it’s were the highlight, girlfriend : )

    GEL
    That would be so very, very cool, that bookstore job your daughter had, finding all the stuff in the books, and you the other fortunate recipient of the spoils of those treasure hunts! I do indeed think it like finding mysterious things in an attic! And I am as envious of that experience as I am of the Goat Girl with her metaphysical peace and love and all that gook ; )

    BIRTHDAY MAN
    I’ve yet to put the characters that seem to come back and back (like Jules, Lyn and Cassie, for example) and their likenesses and links to their stories in my sidebar, but you know Lyn’s the one with the perpetual Chicago issues. And from the beginning of Lyn in “Flying blind” (with your cool subtitle of “Chicago, naked and pissed”) she’s also had a wink in each of her stories. Winks are indeed a very fine and exquisite art. “Flying blind” was my rant about being inaugurated into the winking corporate world, “Soon, you solidify the fake and learn to add a wink to it.” It’s the love/hate thing Quin picked out. There’s so much love/hate in that world, and the wink is the fuck you/I love you. It really is such the beautiful thing, the embrace of this world and its polarity. It’s the nod to living here on Earth, to playing the game of life. So of course Goat Girl aces such a thing. She gets life. And Lyn, she survives on it.
    This comment of yours is luscious, btw. And on btw’s, don’t ever waste your money on Evan Williams bourbon whiskey. But the lit within lit sounds good, is good. Never done it prior, and Brad may be pissed if he ever reads my response to Quin’s comment, but dammit, he’s good, he just could do better, and we have to believe he’ll get there eventually, like we all will, like you will with your wink. Come now, surely Miss Elliot’s wink sunk into your core. You just need to access the power ; )
    Waitsfield is only 50 min away from my home town. Maybe Waitsfield Potter/Owner German-born Ulrike Tessmer? http://www.waitsfieldpottery.com/ Although I love the idea of it, I think if the potter wouldn’t wink, she wouldn’t have written the notes. But then tapping into the vein of this story as Dee did it justice, anything could happen : )

    TUMBLEWORDS
    Aw, Ms. T, I’ve come to think I know you fairly well via your comments, and this one tells me what I thought when I first posted this piece, that it ain’t no greatly great shakes, but it’s alright. I can’t believe I didn’t catch the wreak/reek bit, though! Peace and love definitely aren’t heavy, although Mother Teresa’s face made it look so at times, but that’s not this story ; ) A result of brain rot, I’m [not] thinking, is all I can say ; ) Anyway, I’ve changed it to reek. Much better, thank you! : )

  9. Ulrike’s the one: thank you for running her down again. She makes exquisite coffee/tea mugs: very simple, lush dark green glaze, love to hold them like a zen bowl in my hand. I’ve given all of mine away: need to order more.

  10. PASCHAL
    You gave lush, dark green-glazed, zen-bowl-like pottery away??? All of it? Alrighty then, my birthday’s March 11 ;-)

  11. You took me to places that stayed within an airport. I loved that richness of your writing, the way your strung out the narrative. Some of your best work, I think. Captivating, vivid. Brilliant.

  12. THOMMY G
    Hahaa, my man ThomG is back and tackling this long read and givin’ it a brilliant! My work here is done :-D

  13. hahaha the patchouli cloud got to me too, as it did to Dee. :)

    Indeed the contrast between the book and the notes is huge – I’m going more for the 3rd option, that they have nothing to do with each other – I guess that’s my way of accepting chaos.

    I’m thrilled when 2nd hand books I buy come with a note, or a card or anything personal. My last one said: To Carole, Happy Christmas! (please open carefully) Love Les xx
    :) ihih

  14. DEVIL MOOD
    Oh how cool, Les’ Christmas note! I love it when you share your stories, Ms. Mood, like your Janis Joplin neighbor story. Those are the little things that I always remember. The big things I’m supposed to remember, like dates of historical events and any mathematical calculations I don’t use in my line of work? Forget it! For me, I think the coolest-ever used book find was when I picked up a copy of Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet” at Half Price Books in Dallas. It had within it an enchanting note from a older man to a young SMU student encouraging him in his scholastic and creative endeavors. I wrote my own note in it when I gave it as a birthday present. And wouldn’t it be the ultimate cool find if, many years later, someone found it again and it had all these lovely notes in it for each time it was given as a gift?! I get all silly over that kind of thing : )

  15. Oh it was lovely and yes, it would be even lovelier. I’m sure it is out there, the book. That’s why Bookcrossing is so fascinating.
    Also, I really need to read Rilke.

  16. I love it when a book and a couple of notes inspires a story that seems to go so naturally with it. I liked your Goat Girl character and how the whole airport encounter played out. It felt genuine like it had really happened. As always, your writing is superb.

  17. DEVIL MOOD
    I’m glad you came back and dropped the Bookcrossing name. I’d never heard of it before. What an exceedingly great concept!
    I agree regarding Rilke. I’d say grab any collection of his poems, for there’s no Rilke that’s not exceptional, but make sure to pick up a copy of “Letters to a Young Poet.” It delivers the secret to life in the most self-discovering way.

    REBECCA
    You know, even after I wrote this, even now, I still have a hounding feeling that I’ve not got to the core of what the notes and book are all about. I can get so worked up mentally about something that I block the flow of creativity that would hand me the answer if I’d just relax about the MiG. Of course this is very much like the feeling that hounds me when I leave the house for the airport—the feeling I’ve forgotten something but I don’t know what—so it’s hard to know what the hell is real! LOL!

  18. Good lord, Missalister

    I return after a few months absence from the e-world and you bowl me over with a steamy slice of reality and dreamtime like this.

    Thanks.

    You have the email from the. Let me know of a postal dropoff point for some dream-glazed green-glazed zen-like pottery. Or at least a card. A cafe where you are friendly with the owner is fine by me, especially given some of the characters that inhabit your world…

    Bowled over and patchouli-drugged
    Chris

  19. Shit, you guys, I let this slip! Pardonnez-moi!

    Chris, I just sent you an e-mail. Deliver those brain cells pronto, k, baby?!

    Bum, I’d say if you ditch the probably from your second sentence, you’d have it! I love when you use the L-word : )

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