for SS#187 “adventure” and 3WW’s “karma, obey, wither”
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.
Cover from The eBook Store
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.
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.