Monday, September 15, 2014

Full Tilt

It takes a lot to write a nonfiction book like this.  I have had to take field trips to many places in the county.  I've begun to email people who can get me the court transcripts for the murder trial, always being polite and letting them know, when appropriate, that this book is to honor the memory of Asha and her baby girl, and illumine the plight of domestic violence, especially towards pregnant women.  Statistically, women have a higher chance of being murdered while pregnant than at any other time.  Sorry to be bitter, but I wonder how many murders are committed by partners who have no interest in being a parent.  Scott Peterson, who killed his wife Laci Peterson (a highly publicized case which ended in a death penalty conviction) almost certainly did not want to be a parent, but instead tried, by the most horrible means possible, to preserve his single lifestyle.  He has a single lifestyle all right, now, and a single cell in San Quentin, and a swinging lifestyle with his fellow prisoners.  The irony of all this is not lost: you get what you ask for.

 What is it with these people?  What's so frickin' great about a single lifestyle, or a lifestyle with no kids, that you have to destroy people to get it?  There are destructions great and small to get this, and it always costs the other person something.  My sister had this lifestyle for nearly all her adult life: she could travel anywhere when she felt well enough, she could pretty much do what she wanted, and buy all the things she fancied, but her life is over and reduced to a bunch of boxes in my downstairs storage, and all those things are gone, to .Goodwill and to the recycling center, to her friends' houses, and the dump.  I have her journals full of sadness, which break my heart.  There is nothing to show for the fact that she lived, except the memories she has sown in our hearts--which is good, and appropriate, but she once wanted a child, and truly, children are the legacy, or if not that, perhaps the books she wanted to write, something. There are those who treasure their selfishness above all else.  At one end of the spectrum are those who really don't care about others and who exist in a universe of one, and simply treat others with indifference and cruelty; at the other end, there are people like McClish and Scott Peterson, who destroy to get what they want.

Truly, I don't understand these things, at all.  Some things make me really glad I am raising a child again, even in a hardscrabble life.  It changes every perspective. I have so much respect for Richard Veil as I work on this book.  He would have raised Anina with Asha no matter who the father was.  He truly loved his wife; in many ways, he is the unsung hero of this story, as well as one of its victims.  I think the aforementioned people in the above paragraph can be reduced to one thing: they do not really love. They worship themselves, but have zero capacity to enter the crucible that love is, out of which emerges a finer self.  Not to say that capacity cannot be developed...it is in everyone, and of course everyone has potential to be better until the day they die.

Moving forward, I am trying to find the way to keep going with the beginning of the story.  I begin with light, and the time she disappeared, and the fear that a murderer was loose in our community, and he was.

Tunneling into this story, the focus of my creative life now.  I'm even beginning to learn Polish--just basic things, hello and goodbye, small things, because I would like to travel to Poland to meet her family (I will have a translator and my friend Mary with me, as Mary has traveled in Poland before).

She is worth all this work I am doing to write her story.  This photo was taken by her husband, Richard. It is one of my favorites of her.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Very tired tonight...raising a little one is challenging.  She was a grouchy little one today, but fell asleep early. I tried taking a walk with her and we picked up leaves for a nature collage.

I had one of my favorite poems accepted for Catamaran Literary Reader. I am really happy. Poetry has slowly started returning to me.

Back Roads

i appreciated some information my daughter gave me last night as we took our drive.  She told me that there is an entrance to Quail Hollow Ranch that the locals know about, especially the high school kids, and there is a way from Quail Hollow Ranch to Love Creek Road that goes quickly and stealthily through back roads, with just a very short drive on the other road, Glen Arbor (she pointed out that more people would recognize McClish's truck on the main road, so he would avoid Glen Arbor.  The back roads lead directly through Brookside and then Love Creek, saving about five minutes of what would have been precious time. She said all the kids who don't want to cross paths with law enforcement take the back way).

 She showed me where the "secret" entrance is, a very short, sandy road which I personally never knew was there. He could have taken his truck all the way down that road into a remote part of Quail Hollow Ranch without anyone ever noticing. The entrance is very close to where they found the backpack, so he would never have needed to even stop for very long to heave the backpack into the bushes.  Again, my theory is that he opened her backpack to get her car keys and then flung the backpack away into the dark, off the road.

I still can't get over the steepness of the ravine which stretched all the way down the side of Love Creek Road, which I saw last night: an absolute gaping maw of blackness that seemed to have no end, and huge trees with half their roots exposed, leaning precariously everywhere, over the road, dangling into the creek, and all over everything, a coating of white, sandy dust.  On this road, McClish drove like a bat INTO hell, probably kicking up dust as he made his way towards what I believe was a pre-chosen spot.  There is no way ANYONE would just traipse up that road to do what he intended to do--get rid of Asha's body--unless he knew exactly where he was going.

This book saddens me.  There is so much attendant sadness surrounding this woman and her life--so many people who are angry still, who believe her killer is innocent, that she should have terminated her pregnancy--all grasping at straws to try and undo the past, which can never be undone.

As a coda to this, I dreamed that I was standing at the bottom of Love Creek Road, staring up at the dirt road and the cleared-up landslide, and huge pink flowers, like a cross between a hibiscus and a rose, opened up all in a row on the old landslide.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Drive Into Hades

I drove with my daughter part of the way to the site where Asha was found, just a short way until the road turned into a private one for the residents there.  I am going to ask the priest who placed her memorial cross if I can get permission to go up there, and from whom, etc.

Still, we drove enough to get a sense of what a sinister place it is, everything white with dust, dust kicking up as we drove, old landslides everywhere, trees hanging over the road, the road itself sand and gravel. The ravine on one side, leading far down the creek, seemed evil and terrifying in its sheer drop down...more cliff than ravine...truly one of the creepiest places I have traveled in this county, and I have lived and traveled here for thirty years. I assume it is that way all the way up, and the thought of Asha and Anina being left alone there, at the bottom of a desolate canyon,  makes my blood run cold with horror. To think of anyone being left there is horrible; to think of such a vibrant pregnant woman killed and then left in such a godforsaken place, someone I knew, turns my stomach.

We located a turnout so we could turn around and go back down.  Something curious: at the edge of the turnout stood a dirt-covered desk. It was like an invective to keep writing this story.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Nanowrimo No More

I was asked if I am going to do nanowrimo, the writing marathon in the month of November where people write about 50,000 words in a month.

The answer for me is, sadly, no, at least not this year. At least, not in Santa Cruz.  Let's just say that a mixture of elements last year sadly caused nanowrimo to crash to the ground and burn rather spectacularly.  I was told by the main office of Nanowrimo that the person who ran it in Santa Cruz is not coming back, and the other person who ran it got engaged and moved away (I'm really, really happy for her, by the way--she did a fantastic job and none of that was her fault).   I'm sad about the other person who is not coming back, for him.   I remember how exciting this was at the start, and how it crashed and burned, and really, at the last, there is sadness only.  I hope he keeps participating in nanowrimo, though.  He is a good writer and we are not the sum of our silly errors.

 Nano can really be fun for people if run the right way.  And, at simplest, the experience is not for me with the intensity of the book I am writing...plus, getting over what happened last year will take time for me.

I would say, if you are in Santa Cruz and want to do nanowrimo, approach it with caution and see if you feel comfortable with the people at the write-ins.  Hopefully this year, it will not crash and burn. It's supposed to be fun.

Anyway...on to a different subject: the more I read about Asha Veil, the more I admire her and wish I had known her better.  She seemed so alive, so resourceful for her young age, far more resourceful than most people in their 20s.  I wish I had been as independent as her.  I could have raised my little son all on my own and been much, much happier.

It is not bad to confront these old wounds I have never really dealt with.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Quail Hollow Ranch, Blood Orange Moon

For the last two nights, I have been testing a theory about where Asha Veil might have died, murdered by Michael McClish.  Again, it's the foxtails found in her clothing, and the fact that her backpack was found a very short distance from Quail Hollow Ranch, in the brush on the right-hand side of the road as you travel towards Ben Lomond, tossed into brush over a barbed wire fence at the side of the road.

Quail Hollow Ranch is a couple of miles from Ben Lomond, and is an amazing place, with acres of grasslands, a pond, thick clusters of oaks, madrones, etc. There is a large ranch house, painted white; my kids and I used to go to presentations there: one lady brought bats that were being rehabilitated; once there was a great presentation on the moon, and then a night of stargazing with the astronomy club; there was a guy called the Rock Hound who knew EVERYTHING about local rocks and identified a fossil clam that my son found years ago.  It's a nice place.  It takes a bit of time to get down to the ranch house; the place is like a small valley.

CG and I talked at length about it last night, as he watched Thistle whilst I traipsed around murder sites (there is something very odd about that, but you can't write a book like this without immersing in the scenario).  I drove first to Quail Hollow Ranch and parked my car, got out to look around. Pitch black.  No moon, not due to rise for an hour (we had carefully checked the moon phase for the night she was killed, and its position in the sky--the Internet is a wonderful thing).  Heavy brush and trees down around the pond, the thick grasslands white, everything dry as it is this time of year.  The gate wide open, ranch house completely dark, all the expanse unoccupied (it's hard to convey how large this place is).  No houses around this part of the road.


My theory:  McClish took Asha Veil up to Quail Hollow Ranch, ostensibly to talk about the baby/child support issue.  They had a history of hanging out in odd places (Asha thought Anina was conceived in the Felton Cemetery).  Asha might have still been wearing her market apron when she was found, which seems unusual to me, but there are verified reports she was much more quiet and seemed upset that day, and given the confrontation, she probably wasn't doing things she usually did, like remove her apron at the end of a work day.

I believe they went somewhere down the road at the ranch, cut the lights, stopped the truck, and walked into the grasslands, maybe by the pond.  The pond area is the only place which has a turnout before the main ranch, and all of the road and turnout is paved and would not pick up track marks from his truck.   My theory is that he spread a tarp out for them to sit on, as she was found with tarp material all over her clothes and beneath her fingernails, as well as a sliver of her own skull under a fingernail.

I believe he killed her there, on top of the tarp, and threw the bludgeoning weapon into the pond, where it would quickly sink into silt.  The pond is also quite full now, even in drought, and would have been fuller then, in a non-drought year.

CG theorizes that particular weapon was the business end of a heavy-duty mag light, as the weapon left black epoxy on her skull.  These are very heavy flashlights, by the way, and the batteries make them even heavier. A mag light (or other flashlight) would be likely carried so they could see a little ways in the pitch black park.  She likely fell on the tarp at some point, and scratched or clutched at it somehow (her nails were described as having blue, waxy material under them. I went outside today and scratched lightly at a tarp, and came away with blue, waxy material under my nails).  She also must have scrabbled at the wound on her head and picked up the skull fragment.  If they had walked into the brushy grassland by the pond, many trees would have absorbed the noise, and the tarp would have allowed for less or no blood to fall on the ground.  In the course of the struggle or after, she would likely have picked up many foxtails even on a tarp: they grow everywhere there (I mean, field after field of them) and the foxtails get scattered at the slightest touch.

I believe McClish wrapped her in the tarp, dragged or carried her the very short distance from the pond to the turnout, got her in the truck bed, and concealed her.  She was covered in bloody foxtails at that point, and her backpack was also bloody, with foxtails stuck on it.  It was likely on her person at the time she was killed, or nearby, or tossed with her body into the truck, where blood and foxtails would transfer to it.

I belive McClish drove like a careful madman out of the ranch, probably with lights cut (you can see the white road pretty well), and then turned onto the main road going towards Ben Lomond.  There was still no moon at this point.  I believe he drove down this road to a right-side sandhill turnout on Quail Hollow Road, just after the place where the backpack was found, got out, walked a few paces, tossed the backpack out over a barbed wire fence into brush, and then got back in the truck.  Working too fast, he  also needed to take her keys out to move her car.  In the course of McClish opening her backpack and removing the keys, Asha's credit cards fell out, perhaps from a slot or pocket in the backpack (I theorize that she likely didn't keep her cards in her wallet, which was a trifold wallet; she used the backpack as a purse and these often have credit card slots in them).  The credit cards were discovered first, on the ground, and this led to finding the backpack.

Then, McClish drove down Quail Hollow to Glen Arbor, driving carefully and deliberately (sherrifs occasionally patrol this road). There is a side road (Brookside) that completely bypasses Highway 9 and the fairly well-lit town of Ben Lomond, and the market.  Brookside passes the place where Asha's car was found (Brookside and Estates), and connects directly to Love Creek Road.  It is all very dark. I think it takes probably ten minutes to get up to the actual site where he left her; then, after he disposed of her body, he went down Love Creek Road again, called his wife, and asked her if she wanted anything from the market (this was verified by his wife).  His home, on Hihn Road, took about five minutes to get to from Brookside and Estates.

All this driving would take about twenty minutes, tops,  not including the murder, and McClish was gone for just over an hour, about an hour and fifteen minutes  It would leave him with adequate time to spare to move Asha's car after he killed her; where she used to park is relatively unlit at night and he could get there quite unobtrusively. I would think he likely had a change of clothes with him.

To move the car, I believe he concealed his truck somewhere in walking distance from Brookside (lots of places to do that), walked very quickly down the dark streets behind Scarborough Lumber, Henflings, etc., but well out of sight of the market, and got across Highway Nine by the coffee place.  I believe he got in Asha's car, drove it up the road past the coffee place (the store was still open, so he would not go that way), across Highway 9 and back through the streets he had just walked, abandoned the car at Brookside and Estates, and then got in his truck and went home.  This part would have been very easily accomplished in about twenty minutes, tops, maybe less if he walked fast on the dark roads.  He was wearing a hat and dark jeans, also, so there is less chance he would have been easily seen or recognized.  Next day, he went to the dump and likely got rid of anything else related to the killing.

This is the most streamlined scenario.  The other one, that he killed her up in the vicinity of Love Creek, doesn't fly because foxtails are not abundant at all in that heavily forest-and-fern area.  It would mean that McClish would have had to drive up and down Love Creek Road, then all the way up Glen Arbor and then Quail Hollow, make an awkward left turn onto a narrow sandy turnout, then walk down the road, pitch the backpack, get back in his truck, and drive back down to Hihn, adding at least fifteen minutes to his trip, and leaving much less time to unobtrusively move the car.

I actually drove both scenarios tonight, and when I was done, and driving home past Quail Hollow Road, the moon began to rise, and it was huge, a luminous mask the color of a blood orange, watching over everything I saw.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

When She Was Gone

Tonight is the eighth anniversary of Asha Veil's death.  I would even call it an abduction in some ways.

It was a full moon night, dry and a little cold.  I will drive up to Ben Lomond after class tonight, to the market, then up Love Creek Road, then up to Quail Hollow Road, and then I might write in my car before going home.  I want to get a sense of what the landscape was like, what the moonlight looked like, and how it must have been for her.  Last night I watched the supermoon and stood in light that was like silver-white daylight.  Somehow I remembered a night when Arctic cold came down from Canada, many, many years ago when I was pregnant with my youngest son, and stood outside on my deck, the whole landscape having gone sinister and nearly blue from the full moon and the killing cold.

I wondered last night if Asha looked at the moon as she went off with McClish.  How this happened I do not know. No one saw him bring his truck back to the market (I believe it was still open on that night), and she usually parked her car near Mill Street Hairquarters, where I get my hair trimmed; it is near the Ben Lomond Park.  I doubt McClish moved her car after the murder; he had other things to do, like dump her backpack, get home as quickly as possible to clean his car and throw all his clothes in the washer. He would have been spattered with blood, which would have transferred into her car had he moved it after the fact. There was no blood in her car, but his DNA was found on the steering wheel.  That part--how the car got to the place where it was found, a short distance from the market but not anywhere near Asha or McClish's home--is a mystery.  He could have slipped out of his house after everyone was asleep and moved it himself, but who knows?

There were baby clothes in the back seat.  Some things really stay with me.  That, and the list of baby shower clothes found in her backpack.

Good and evil.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Juanita Nelson, Part 2

I emailed the cold case division of the sherrif's office and they say they have never been able to establish connection between McClish and Juanita Nelson, and thus he is not a suspect.  The email was worded a bit carefully.  If there is a connection, perhaps I will find it and perhaps I will not.  It is an utter tragedy for her family.  I hope that it is resolved someday.

Tomorrow marks the eighth anniversary of Asha Veil's disappearance from the Ben Lomond Market.  I try to take in what it means to have someone go through a day, not knowing it will be the very last one they ever spend on earth.  I can't even imagine it.

I saw a friend of mine from African dance, one of the drummers, who works at the County building.  Strange how many people I have run across in the course of working on this.

Tomorrow: phone calls as to how to get the trial transcripts.  Early bedtime tonight.

thanks for visiting...

To the Person In Question: Accidental Friend Request, Facebook

I have a new tablet computer which I am still getting used to and sometimes
the touchscreen is a bit wonky.  I had you in a list of "suggested" friends last night on Facebook, and selected what I thought was the person beside you on the list, but must have ended up selecting you.  I deleted the friend request today and am sorry if that request bothered you--I found out because I check my friend requests every few days and am glad I checked this morning.  Facebook seems to get more and more overwhelming with the amount of people it wishes me to be buddies with.

Certainly I am amenable to being friends again, but you have to initiate this and not me, as I think that is respectful of you and your time, and feelings.  Note I don't even message you about this sort of thing, but put it here, because I know you see it and don't have a problem with you reading my blog (in fact, you are almost the only person who does). I doubt you want any direct contact with me right now, so this is a message in a bottle.

thanks, Joanie

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Keep an Open Mind

The above title is an Al-Anon slogan, and I used it tonight at Voice Weavers (which was FANTASTIC--my voice is getting much more fluid and the range is better).  There is a song I used to loathe from African dance because I thought it was weird.  Then my voice teacher incorporated it into Voice Weavers: we sing the first line all together, and then in the second line, all the harmonies kick in, and it is really, really cool.  Now it's one of my favorite songs.  Keep an open mind...

In other news, Catamaran Literary Reader (a great magazine based at the Tannery in Santa Cruz) wants to take an old poem of mine IF I edit some lines to their satisfaction, a love poem for S.-one he really deserved, as he has always cared a lot about me, even after we broke up--he tried almost a dozen times to contact me, but I ignored him and then regretted it...but through the miracle of Facebook, we reconciled and his daughters, whom I have always loved, are my friends.  At this point, the poem is a puzzle to be worked.  It is called "Night Cove".  They really gave it a fair reading.

I must away to bed; Thistle has school in the morning.

Last Dream Weaver Roses

It has been a beautiful, if sad and poignant summer for me, with beautiful roses despite the drought.  Here are the last of my Dream Weaver roses, a rare rose not really cultivated anymore.

Pretty Statue for Angel Devi Rose

I found something my sister gave me many years ago--kind of a "Mother and Child Reunion."  I put it in Angel Devi Rose's little planter for her yellow rose, which is beginning to bud out in this warm September.

If I get mad at the person in question here, please remember that when you have a wanted and loved pregnancy with someone, even if the other party doesn't know about it, you are bonded to that person if only by the slimmest thread, a thread of the highest good between both people.

I will keep trying as I endeavor to be a better person.

Friends of Voice Weavers

By the way, to Voice Weavers friends (yes, a post about something fun instead of angst), it starts up again tonight from 6:30 to 8 at the yoga place in Felton (the Center for Healing on Highway 9).

Listening to "Defying Gravity" last night in preparation for Wicked next week...I really want to learn how to sing this song.  My voice teacher says I have a beautiful, strong mezzo-soprano and it is weird to hear a beautiful voice coming out of my mouth when I thought one could never happen for me.  I thought it would be locked inside forever.  For now, lots of learning harmonies and how to sing clearly and proudly--that is my goal for the next six months.

Anyways, any woman can go to this group, so if you are in Santa Cruz, please try to go!!

Too Harsh

I was being too harsh in my last post--I know the person in question is trying his best to change, and so am I.  It is a painful, cosmic process for me, and I have crawled it on my knees for sure, but even crawling is an advancement forward.  I actually love this person very much, and part of that love is trying to reduce my sadness over all this.

Good caveat for me with dealing in such dark material for the nonfiction book.  I've decided to switch between my science fiction book and my nonfiction book.  Both deal with good and evil, but the science fiction book is more fun, in some ways: it involves a stranger who comes to earth accidentally in a post apocalyptic community, and since he is actually human from another place, he has no special powers to offer.  Besides, the Earth community is beginning to do all the things they have to do to survive which would have helped avoid the disasters--so what the stranger teaches them is how to respect their history and they end up creating a play about how the Earth got the way it is, and their hope for a continued existence.  In his world, there is also a play like this, but much more elaborate and a deeply entrenched part of their existence.  Eventually I do have hope to write an opera libretto based on this, if the person in question ever has interest in scoring it.

I think that's a good strategy--there is really a lot of humor in it and a great deal of life-affirming-ness and hope.

So there! :)

up too late; sad and disheartened

Printing out the spate of emails in December and January from the person in question, as I feel I need to have copies of some of them..some strange, intuitive feeling about needing copies. The cognitive dissonance between his emails and the person I cared for so much is the vastest gulf imaginable.  Who was the real person?  Was it all smoke and mirrors?  How can all this emerge from such a fine, intelligent, truly brave family whom I continue to deeply love? How?  And how can I have allowed myself to be gaslighted, for years?  This person is nowhere in the ballpark of my intelligence, yet I thought this person far more intelligent than me, and I worshiped what I thought I saw. After nine months of time, I see that I am the one with the formidable mind, the intellect that soars light years above his, and yet I hid my light for some reason I do not yet know.  I am a professor, a writer with publications anyone would be proud of, a mother, an adoptive grandparent who walked into a drug den, picked up my granddaughter, and walked out.   Yet as I read these old emails, I see a torn and anguished person with a trashed self-esteem.

I think that there are some things in life that are so dissonant with reality that it takes years to close the gulf.  This will be one of those things, which is why I have said it will take years to get over, to really trust anyone again.  The final sadness over this is that I do not trust people now, because I have not done all the work to close the gulf.  It takes time to do that, sometimes years.  The last time it happened to me, it took three years to finally come to the point where I no longer cried at least once a day.  And curiously, that person came back after four years and wrote me perhaps the most beautiful letter/email I have ever received.  He said simply that he would do things very differently today, and he did this with the most gentle humility. There were other, personal things, but I appreciated being told this thing in particular. Once, long before we hurt each other, he said that he was convinced that I was created as a completely unique person filled with a light that many bad people had tried to stamp out because they had no light in themselves.

I believe this is what happened this last time: this person saw my light, my spirit, and my intelligence, and for a time, loved them, and then he spent the rest of the time trying to extinguish them. We are driven by such deeply unconscious forces that who knows if this was at all personal?  Perhaps I could have been any woman at all.

If you come here, interested in him, and look at these nine months of anguished, painful writing, as I pray to God you will, know that this anguish will be yours, in time, because some people have conditions of the human spirit that may never go away.  If you have a light in your heart, intelligence, and anything else that the other party does not have, by the time you get out, these things will be something you will have to work unconscionably hard to find again.  You will be abandoned over and over to all the difficulties of your life. You will be called psychotic, delusional, and crazy by the very person you have spent years nurturing, encouraging, and being kind to, if you get a glimpse behind the mask. You will find things out that will tear your heart down to the ground.  Mark well my words.  You will have to crawl through this desert on your knees as I have done these nine months.

It has not been easy for me to remember who I am after all this, but I am returning.

I take all this, this idea that there are people out there who see the light in another and endeavor to destroy it, and I will pour this too into my book.  It is all I can do, to help the eclipsed light emerge again from the shadows.

Saturday, September 06, 2014


I'm planning to see Wicked in San Jose (unfortunately given my illness, I can't really say definitely even though I have a ticket--still very excited and I am sure I will make it)!!  I don't really like going by myself, but I need a treat, and my therapist said it is really important to take breaks from this book.  It is such dark, terrifying material.

Chapter headings so far:

1) Prologue/Paradise
2) The Sati Gate
3) Counting the Bones (begins with me seeing divers go into the San Lorenzo river the night Asha was found).

For the last nine months, I have felt so much that everyone I know is harboring terrible secrets, that everyone around me lies, does horrible secret things, etc.  I feel as if the person who tells everyone I am crazy is being believed--and then I hear from people who tell me they love me and they do not believe this person.  These are people from dance classes to my old writing group, who is having a little celebration with me in Campbell on the 23rd.  They want me to come back!!  There will be a point when the the person in question can and should be told that I have a place there, and that the person in question can either be there to critique The Book of Jezebel (the Asha book is too graphic and is going to my other writing group), or he can sit it out and bitch to himself in his house. I will NEVER be told again that I can't go somewhere because someone is deciding to be an ass. The group says they love me, they love my writing, and miss me.  The one who hates me is just an echo calling back to himself.  It is hard to be hated like this by a person who once was one of the closest persons to me, but I do not have to take it in.  I have had people call me all kinds of things in my life, and nobody who really loves me believes them.

If I walk with integrity in the world, if I simply act as I am, I do not succumb to this person's anger against me--because all it is, is anger.  Anger cannot kill me.  My problems cannot put me in prison for the rest of my life.  I am not the one with that potential, and never will be, and I am not in denial about how serious my bipolar could get if I don't stay on top of it.  And I hope that the person in question is.

And above all, I understand best of all that people do not stay angry forever. I have to be ready to say, "I am sorry," and receive it back if Spirit wills it so.

 I have seen so much forgiveness happen in the last year that I am beginning to think nearly all things are possible.

They are.

Hurrah Zofran

I am tolerating Imuran very well these days, but once in a great while, the nausea roars back with a vengeance. I am glad I got a prescription for Zofran, because it helps a lot (it is a standard antinausea for chemo, though it takes a bit of time to kick in).

Nightmare extraordinaire about the person in question last night...dreamed he passed away somewhere in a remote place (some nameless place but I have no idea where, just a rocky, deserty place) after getting badly hurt, though I do not remember the accident, just that I was with his family, all unseen but present and he was gone, and the sadness was just visceral...it was one of the scariest dreams I have had in a very, very long time and I have had unease all day.  I hate dreams like this...far, far too realistic for comfort. I almost never have nightmares these days, and never about him these days either. Just thinking about it freaks me out, so I will stop.  I think one fear I have is never mending any fences with him if something happens to either of us, so it was a "fear dream". I would never, ever want something like this to happen to him.

Later:  I feel better; any time I have ever had a dream about someone dying, it NEVER comes true.  Plus I have been tired and hanging out in the ugly County building, which was sort of like one of the places in the dream.

Trying to rest now, and get some work done later.

My Science Fiction book.

I wanted to share a cartoon from Facebook which is the exact theme of my science fiction novel, The Book of Jezebel. It was quite cool to find.

County Building/American Cafe

BTW, when I am at the County Building, I stop in at the American Cafe, which is located in the basement (yes, again, Silence of the Lambs, but I digress).  I have eaten there twice in the last week as I work on getting documents and do research for the book.  It is not bad; I think it is still run by the same folks as Michael's on Main (where I have bellydanced).  I haven't tried the food, but I find it amusing that the place has moved up in the world.  You can even get paninis there, and Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting coffee in carafes, instead of the ancient, ever-cooking axle-grease-in-a-coffeepot they used to have years ago.  I don't even think the place had a name then: it had chips, Odwalla bars, muffins, etc.
I am glad to see the changes.  It even has lace curtains at the windows, which look out onto the very, very ugly basement corridor, with its bleak ATM machine, a message board that used to be crammed with job offers, but there are none now, and an exit sign to a locked door.  At lunchtime, the deputies come in, cracking jokes, all of them looking like Hank Schrader on Breaking Bad.  The lawyers chat up the kitchen staff and the cashier; there are so many lawyers with silver hair, perfectly groomed.  There are county workers clustered around tables, laughing and gossiping.  Altogether I feel it is a place to work which is satisfactory to me, and I have already scoped out a table that I like.

Well, the hour is late and I need to go to bed.  Thanks for visiting.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Marriage Certificate, Death Certificate

I picked up informational copies of Asha's marriage license and death certificate.  Her mother's maiden name is Kilian, so that confirms for me that she was half Scottish. She had been married just a little under two years when she died.

To look on these things begins to solidfy my sense of Asha as a person, not a statistic.  Here is her signature, with her surname, Dragunowicz, written first, an almost unreadable loop across the page--the very first thing I have seen which is "hers"--her name.  She had sixteen years of education.  They were married at the end of December.  Strange that the Internet will be able to provide me with the moon phase that day, even perhaps the weather if I can find it.  I hope the day she was married was a pretty, sunny winter day. I hope she had a bouquet in her hand and that Richard kissed her at the end of the ceremony.

Marriage certificates are full of hope.

A death certificate, on the other hand, is bleak, sad, final.  Her body was found "over an embankment on a public roadway" around 6:10 in the evening.  The cause of death is "pending" and the clerk told me it was curious that it had never been amended.

That she was found at 6:10 made me realize further why I saw firefighters (a lot of them) and divers navigating into the San Lorenzo River a bit further down from where it runs through Ben Lomond:  they were looking for a murder weapon that may had drifted downriver.  The object which caused a brutal blunt-force trauma to Asha's skull has never been recovered, and all they know is that it was heavy and covered with black paint.

I know the causes of her death.  She did not deserve this.  She did not deserve to be reduced to a person on a blue-bordered death certificate, to be reduced down to someone tossed "over an embankment on a public roadway." Her story is not reduced to those lines.

I've a saying: when someone dies, worlds die with them--the world of that person's life.  Writing this is like raising that world from the dead, for the short time a writer can do that.

Her death certficate, in some way, is the saddest part of what is left of her: unamended, sitting in the Santa Cruz County building forever, never completed.

This process of getting into a person's life probably seems obsessive to some who come to this blog and read my words.  I hope to show how writers operate to create a resonance with the audience:  a person who was born, who lived and died along with her child on a full-moon September night, for no other reason except that she wanted to do the right thing for the child she carried.

Next week, I will begin looking at the criminal records and the trial documents.  I curiously am very attached to this project.  I resonate so much with Asha's story, and I think the best stories are written with this sort of resonance...not like this is the "best" story, but it is certainly compelling me to move forward.

Taking a break from all this tonight and am going to Haitian dance.  I need to rinse my mind a little bit after today, before I proceed with another chaper.

Juanita Nelson

If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? 

1 Cornithians 15:32

The above is the epigraph to The Silence of the Lambs, which is actually an extremely well-written book.  I have this quote written in my research notebook for Ravine.

Something plucks at me as I continue to research and write: the unsolved murder of Juanita Nelson, eighteen years old, who disappeared while walking to San Lorenzo Valley High in 1998.  She was eight weeks pregnant when she vanished; it has been theorized that her body was dumped into a ravine off Bear Creek Road.  Apparently there has been a jailhouse informant, but without a body, no charges can be filed. And how reliable are jailhouse informants, anyways? It all depends.

What I would like to try and find out, while researching this book, are any parallels, any potential contacts, between Juanita and McClish.  Given the efficiency with which he killed Asha, hid her body, rid himself of her backpack, and hid her car, I wonder about whether he killed before.  It's something to think about.  In the meantime, I might email one of the detectives who worked on Asha's case about Juanita.  It would be "good" (wrong word to use, but you know what I mean), if there could be closure for Juanita's family.

Tomorrow: County Building, again, to get Asha and Richard Veil's marriage license, and her death certificate.  

All this information has to go very slowly.  It is hard to take.  

Still, after what I have been through in the last nine months, nothing surprises me anymore.  The trick is not to let such an experience taint my entire world view.  What I went through has nothing on what Asha went through:  in a matter of minutes, I discovered that someone I loved with all my heart is just about the worst thing a human being can be, forever complicating the fact that I still love this person, realizing I was just a "thing" to him, the man whose baby I carried and lost in secret.  In the very same way, Asha was a "thing" to McClish.  

Asha saw the monster under the mask of someone she loved, too, and he killed her.

Anyways, less of this thinking and more focus on the book, the intent, and perhaps considering Juanita's murder.  Though I may never be able to do this for Juanita's family, I would feel I had accomplished some good in life by helping to bring closure on a horrific tragedy.