Passages, First Part

Passages

Mary Clark

Now available on Kindle Vella

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.

– Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume 7

Part 1

1974

1   Martin

My name is Martin and I live in a Jersey suburban home on a road down from a nine-hole golf course where the working class plays the wealthy’s game. In a haze of beer and pills, I walk my dog in the shredded grass of the right-of-way. I know that if I trip and fall, the neighbors will let me lie by the side of the road. They might call 911 to complain, but no one will come to my aid.

A girl yells out the window of a passing car, which one is the dog?

I’m young and skinny and sometimes I look defeated. Sometimes I shine. Both men and women have come on to me.

I hardly flinch. Insults are common parlance.

I continue my trek to the open fields. I am the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. I am the rivers drifting and the big fat sea. I have my own world and many, many visions. I want to fly and learn physics and have a book published and travel. I believe life – Life – is complicated, with uncertainties and changes in perspective. I want to drown in it, rather than walk about on the surface. Not to be a trendy “celebrity” saying foolish things, superficial things. Where I can’t be a total person. As if I’d ever be a celebrity. I’d rather be anonymous in the midsection of American life, flowing with the blood, losing, winning, decaying, renewing.

What I’m searching for is communal and infinite. Like on a crisp clear night when you see the stars above the golf course. In daytime, it’s something less. You can’t get a hold of anything. It’s not like being underwater where it’s peaceful, quiet, a continual world. Everything is linked together. On the surface, people in their boats with beer cans, things are not connected.

I must learn to cope with the disconnected, the abrasive. When I close my eyes, it’s dark, peaceful, continual, infinite. Opening my eyes, I will have my own perception. I will. Can’t let anyone or anything knock away my vision. Lose so much. If people come up to me and ask: Are you a Democrat or a Republican? Or a homosexual or heterosexual or bisexual? Or a commie or a cappie? Or a socialist or a socialite? Does your detective debutante know what you want? It’s all so stupid.

I take my dog home, watch him curl up and close his eyes, to sleep, to dream dog dreams. At least, this.

I dream I’m playing baseball in a field and look up to see an eagle circling above. The huge bird plunges to earth and recruits the boys, who pull out snub-nosed revolvers and start to chase me. I dodge and hide among the half-constructed buildings near the field. The kids or men apparently cannot harm me. They melt away. I look up to see the eagle hovering, talons unsheathed. They’ve run from the menace. The eagle lands on the other side of the wall, but my perspective has changed, I can see it’s turned into a person about my size. He comes around a corner with a knife. I knock it out of his hand, take it.

Not a man, a beautiful woman.

Mid-January

I feel no pain. Or pleasure. I am a dull, grey person floating away from a dull, grey planet. I don’t care about anything. I don’t care about the birds that flash before my eyes. I don’t care about the trees or the grass or the blue sky or the big fat sea. I don’t care about the feel of the earth against my feet, the swirl of water, the living texture of a tree, or sex or the best sex in the world or beds or twilight. I don’t care about the fear I feel at the top of a tall building. I don’t care about my parents, my friends or airplanes or the stars or books or films or children of my own. But so what? Don’t read no poetry at me. I don’t care about truth, beauty or justice or Washington or spring or chocolate milk shakes or the wise men of the East or being wise which I’ll never be. I don’t care about the highways, the patterns, the order, the noise of the city or the high I get from drinking too much. (If it doesn’t mean anything to you – I know. It very seldom means anything to me – all this not caring. But tonight, bless me, I feel no pain. My brain is sanitized, everything gently eased away. I am left with a proud child: isolation. And to me—the terrible thing is I had this thing right in my head, but I can’t remember it now. Can’t remember the things I don’t care about, and the right sequence. Color. The color of something. Rainbows? The planets in space. My bones beneath the skin.)

During this inner monologue, I drive to the store for groceries. I drive all over town, delivering my community paper with its theater and music reviews and poems, stop by to talk with my old guidance counselor at the high school.

The counselor is a libertarian. He ran for “ungovernor” of the state. We have wild and exciting talks. Flareups of substance. He told me about Kurt Vonnegut, recommending Cat’s Cradle. After that, I read, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. Told the counselor he reminded me of him. “I’m not Mr. Rosewater,” he (almost) barked in his affected William Buckley style. And I laughed. At his discomfort. At the realness of the moment.

He’s like Mr. Rosewater to me because he distributes his wealth – in his case, of knowledge, and his insistence that people live well.

February

I take the train to New York City looking for a job, fill out applications for copy editor at Scribner’s and Macmillan, leave resumé at Random House. No openings anywhere. I hope they notice the minor in English.

What am I to do with my college degree?

I’m writing, thinking of writing something rambunctious, flashy, to break into a career. Ah @*!

I know I am going to get old, and I won’t even care about my dreams. I’ll never get the chance to do a film, probably never a book and so on. It’s depressing to waste, if I may say so, talent, ideas, energy. It won’t matter in the universal plan, but I and many others, man, we haven’t got a chance.

I feel like chiseling a design in the walls of my room. A Design for Myself.

Redesign. Redesignation. Martin is my second name, the first is Avery. Sometimes I feel like Avery. I think it was part of the name of a steamship my great-grandfather skippered. My grandfather remembers his father taking him out on his boat in New York Harbor to witness the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty. Avery fell by the wayside before I was three because my sister couldn’t pronounce it. She said, Vree. I like Vree, it sounds like verity. Authentic, real. And free.

To read the entire first chapter, please visit Kindle Vella. The first three chapters are free.

Author notes:

Martin is experiencing angst, a feeling of dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general. Angst was a common topic in the 1970s. The word comes from the German for “fear” and was used by Freud and Kierkegaard.

The Horizon Seekers

The Horizon Seekers by Mary Clark

In my new book, The Horizon Seekers, time travel and romance play like light in the story, or so I hope. 🙂

Leila Payson moves from the present to the future and tries to make her visions real. She teaches high school, but she is more than her job and her role as dutiful daughter, she is a kind of pioneer. She hopes that when her students fly, they’ll see beyond the horizon to where imagination and courage can take them.

Meanwhile, mystery follows Leila. She is haunted by early trauma, but is it memory or a dream? She confides only to her funky, no-nonsense best friend, Caroline.

One of Leila’s students learns he is losing his hearing. She rethinks her life and occupation, remodels it, bringing in her past experiences, her future realizations, and her friends. Those friends veer from fun-loving to serious as they move through the seams of the modern world, seeking new arrangements. Baruti, the therapist who works with people with disabilities, whom Leila met in South Africa years before, is a constant presence. And an attractive man with a book keeps appearing at her favorite places. The journey begins, and the horizon always beckons.

Racing The Sun, A Novel

Racing The Sun Cover

Leila and her friends are back with more adventures in Racing The Sun, a sequel to The Horizon Seekers. Leila must decide whether to continue as a high school teacher, or quit her job to run a new group that brings together people of varying abilities. She meets Doug, a paraplegic and former student, who wants to design and build better wheelchairs. Her relationship with Mark, the attractive “man with a book” is challenged by another love, and she discovers her mother and father both have secret lives. Leila goes head-to-head with Mrs. Grisjun, the combative guidance counselor, who thrives in a post-truth world. And what do those mysterious stones in the local park mean? 

Dov, the gay event planner from South Beach, and Maria, the female Don Quixote, are back, along with Raoul, Leila’s former hearing-impaired student. There’s lunch with Caroline, her oldest friend, who always speaks her mind. Cran Birdsall, father of Leila’s friend Charles, and husband of the erstwhile Berry, loves his vintage racing cars. But after an accident, his life takes a different course.

All the while, Leila knows she must slow down to admire the flamingos. But life now has a fast pace. Will she be able to take the wheel to control the speed and direction of her work, love, and life?

Racing The Sun is available on Amazon and Smashwords

Racing The Sun on Amazon                                   Racing The Sun on Smashwords

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Pre-Order Racing The Sun

Mary eBook Cover Top Part

The Kindle and Smashwords editions of Racing The Sun are now available for pre-order! This short novel is the sequel to Miami Morning, and continues the story of many of the series’ characters. It’s a book that’s both light and serious, trying to make sense, and have some fun while doing it, of contemporary life.

The ebook is $2.99 and the paperback (available on Amazon soon) will be $12.95. 

The print and ebook editions were beautifully formatted by Jo Robinson and the covers equally well done by Chris Graham of The Story Reading Ape. Thank you both!

OccupyAbility

Condor Marathon's Wheelchair by Juan Gill, via BehanceI’m working on a sequel to Miami Morning, and this is the name of Leila Payson’s new group. She’s excited about the future, with her new love, Mark, and the start-up of this group. OccupyAbility is designed to bring people of varying disabilities and abilities together, for the benefit of all participants. Because who among us doesn’t have a disability? Who among us doesn’t have a talent or strength that shines when it’s shared?

Here’s a little preview of what’s to come, I hope, by this summer.

Leila meets Doug, a paraplegic, who wants to design and build better wheelchairs. Her relationship with Mark evolves, and she discovers both her father and mother have secret lives. Her friends are back, diverse and adventurous, along with her former student, Raoul. And so is Mrs. Grisjun, the combative guidance counselor, who thrives in a post-truth world. As her oldest friend, fellow teacher Caroline says,  life is so complicated now. 

And a little hint. Besides Leila, two others will tell their stories: her friend Dov, the gay Swedish-Jewish event planner, and Cran Birdsall, father of her friend Charles and husband of the erstwhile Berry. 

 Photo: Condor Marathon’s racing wheelchair, design by Juan Gill, via Behance

Review of Miami Morning by Poet David Selzer

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading MIAMI MORNING. Its title raised expectations which were more than satisfied. The work is rich in characters, themes and incidents – and reads well throughout.

Mary Clark juggles and interweaves – sometimes only mixed metaphors will do! – an impressive range of plot lines very skilfully. So skilfully, in fact, that it seemed, for example, quite natural – rather than contrived – that the main protagonist, Leila, should meet up again with Mark, a probable soul mate, by chance on a Cuban beach!

I like Leila – her concerns and interests, her eclectic friendships, her alternating self-worth – and was engaged by her throughout. Mary Clark describes the wide range of relationships Leila has with a wide range people very convincingly.

life-is-an-adventure-1The author’s descriptions of people, places and weathers are very evocative. Just as I know I’d like Leila, I know I’d like Miami, for example – urban, urbane, and both disturbingly and reassuringly tropical. The accounts of the high school students brought back (good and bad) memories of working with adolescent learners very vividly.

Read the full review of Miami Morning on Amazon

Please visit David Selzer’s website. I’ve been following it for several years and have always been delighted by the range and depth of subjects taken on, and by the high quality of his writing. This is one of the poems I’ve most enjoyed: The Reclining Gardener.

Smorgasbord Autumn Reading – Miami Morning – A Leila Payson Novel by Mary Clark

Announcing My New Book

COMING SOON! Watch this blog for special offers related to the publication of my new book, Miami Morning, coming from All Things That Matter Press. You can also sign up for email notifications and receive information about additional Special Offers on my website.

From South Beach to South Africa, Leila has an adventurer’s heart.

The creation of my heroine, Leila Payson, was inspired by a woman I knew. She, like Leila, had a full-time job, but she spent hours each day as the “guardian angel” of the local playground, and in community improvement activities. Her smile made others smile. She christmaswas generous, but she knew the cruelty human beings are capable of. She was curious about the world, courageous in her approach to problems, and had a self-deprecating sense of humor. Without any fanfare, she did her work and improved the lives of many people, even if only in making them believe in their own decency. I feel passionately that such good people make all the difference in the world. 

Leila lives in a place I love: Florida. Although I don’t live in South Miami, my intuition and research led me to this place. It was perfect for her. Leila enjoys the big city, with its cultural richness, and also living in a smaller town, with nature near to hand. There’s a wealth of experience in this book: teaching, disability issues, occupational therapy, a diverse group of friends, travel, family, romance, food, and nature. I hope you’ll come along for the ride. 

More information on Miami Morning

Miami Morning: A Leila Payson Novel

cropped-cropped-miamibeach3.jpgLeila Payson, known to her students and friends as Miss Pacer, is always pushing the boundaries of her experience, to become a better teacher and human being. She enjoys her work as a high school Social Studies teacher, her adventures with her diverse friends, and her volunteer work at a local playground. But Leila is at a midpoint in her life.

When one of her students begins to lose his hearing, she immerses herself in learning about people with disabilities and the challenges they face. This takes her back to an earlier time when she spent a year teaching in South Africa. There she saw an occupational therapist at work, and met others working in the disability community. Now, years later, when the student asks for her help, she begins a pivotal journey.

Besides this, a mysterious man keeps appearing at her favorite places. Her friends keep her on her toes. And at Leila’s high school, a young guidance counselor sees Leila as a mentor, while the other counselor views her as a rival. Trouble is brewing in the paradise of South Miami. But are there new possibilities as well?

Publication date: Spring 2016. Publisher: All Things That Matter Press.