1. January 16, 2013: Reading at Washington and Lee, in Hillel House, with colleagues, friends, and Margo. Photos courtesy of Patrick Hinely, W&L photographer! Looking at these pictures of myself, I see a happy woman. Is that what it looks like when the Ancestors are shining through me?
2. The next morning I hopped on an Oakland-bound plane in Roanoke, taking off around 5:30 a.m. Westbound travel is a tough start, but it's sooooo nice to arrive on the West coast with an "extra" 3 hours! Time enough to rent a car at the Oakland Airport, get lost (my GPS was willing to switch over to California, but not willing to give up the 'no freeway' command), find my hotel in San Francisco, check in, change clothes, and still make it to my 6 p.m. reading at the California Historical Society. A terrific audience, lots of great conversations, and afterwards, dinner with Lindsie Bear and Malcolm Margolin of Heyday, and an unforgettable walk through the Tenderloin to my hotel with two very faithful escorts.
Some of the things I saw that night will never leave me. A man making his bed on the sidewalk. Not off to the side or in a doorway: but right in the middle of the sidewalk. Communities living in cardboard boxes. The line outside a homeless shelter going around the block. Stepping carefully over a woman's legs as she sat against the wall with her pit bull asleep at her side. The smell of cigarettes, spilled wine, urine, salt air and dampness. The next morning, I woke to my yellow orchids from Malcolm and Lindsie dancing in the sun like little whirling Sufi dervishes.
3. A day of rest, much welcomed after 2 events 3000 miles apart. I woke to a beautiful sunrise over the Tenderloin District.
Coffee and a shower were followed by the keeping of a promise: I had allowed myself to be 'auctioned off' as a Heyday fundraiser, and so was teaching a writing workshop for ten of Heyday's supporters at a house out in Mill Valley. I was delighted to discover that getting to this site was a treat in itself:
|walking down to Market St. and catching a trolley to the Ferry Building down on the Embarcadero|
|Discovering it was the Saturday Farmer's Market ...|
|buying a small, gluten-free quiche for my breakfast and eating it outside on a bench under the clock tower and crisp blue skies...|
|then a sweet ferry ride out to Sausalito ...|
|and a drive up into the redwoods to our host's home near Mt. Tamalpais.|
...and a wonderful writing workshop with a group of women who came bearing notebooks, pens, laptops, and FOOD! Delicious potluck lunch, followed by lots of hot tea and some deep, serious, free writes in the shadow of those towering redwoods and that mountain that looks like a sleeping lady. I have several poem starts from that workshop, and was witness to some beautiful images.
|What a wonderful group of women writers! Thank you Marina, Susana, Susan, Kyle, Joan, Laura, Leanne, Lauren and Nancy!|
|Collage of indispensable items so far: printed itinerary, Luna bars (never travel without food), ferry schedule, SF street map, hotel room key, abalone necklace for good luck and oh yeah - THE BOOK!|
4. From San Francisco, I drove to my sister's house in San Jose. Louise always has a bedroom ready for me. It was so good to talk over family and tribal business, eat the good food she cooks, and sleep, sleep sleep!
Louise accompanied me to UC Santa Cruz for a reading and a class visit, taking photos, selling books, and filling in the gaps during Q and A - a 2fer of Miranda sisters! My hosts - Carolyn Dunn and Amy Lonetree, along with their colleague Renya Ramirez (on sabbatical), have midwifed Bad Indians through the long years of its incubation, and it was a real homecoming to deliver the whole book in their presence. What a treat to have Scott Morgenson in the audience, too, on a visit to his old stomping grounds, and to meet Lisbeth Haas (Pablo Tac: Indigenous Scholar) for the first time - her book has meant so much to me. Beth took Louise and me out to dinner that evening, and talking California missions with her was pretty dang cool.
|Signing a book for Renya Ramirez and Yvonne S.|
|The Sun! The Sun!|
|Swilling that pink lemonade that felt so good on my dry throat...|
|Presentation of Bad Indians to students & faculty|
|My Grand-niece, Alex, drove from Sacramento to be there!|
|Louise J. Miranda Ramirez mans the book table armed with my iPad and a "Square" swiper - a blessing for authors on a book tour.|
|Awesome UCSC students and faculty!!! Thank you for your generous hearts.|
|How Fire is a Story, Waiting by Melinda Palacio! It almost like seeing Melinda herself!|
6. After another night at Hotel Louise & Ernie in San Jose, I drove to Berkeley for the Pegasus Bookstore reading that Lindsie Bear was so helpful in setting up! Pegasus is the kind of bookstore I would have hung around as an undergrad - full of cool poetry, literature, ethnic studies and art books that make you just want to live in the stacks. It was a 7:30 p.m. reading, a beautiful rainy evening in Berkeley.
|Bad Indians in some good company.|
|(not my photo; too rainy that day to get a good picture)|
7. And then in the morning, back into the car, back onto the freeway, and back to San Jose to tape a session of Native TV with host Rose Amador (click here to watch this episode). By this time, I have to admit, the cold that had been chasing me since about day 3 was coming in for the kill, and I was dragging the whole way in pouring rain. Thank goodness for GPS, which took me only a little off track before finding the studio, and for the kind crew on the set who found me a cup of tea, put makeup on me, arranged my microphone, and made me feel more than welcome. Since my mom worked at KOMO-TV in Seattle for over 20 years, being back in a TV station and behind the scenes felt very familiar. Being in front of the camera, not so much! The following photos are courtesy of Native TV.
|Rose Amador preps me for the show.|
|Donna Wallach gets the mike to stick!|
|Lori Ramos Ehrlich was very concerned about my innate shiny-ness.|
|Ah, the control room! This was where I liked to hang out with my mom at KOMO-TV.|
Back over to Louise's house for lunch and a nice rest, then into the car again for a not-too-rainy drive down to Cal State University at Monterey Bay for a reading in the evening. Here, my voice really started to get ragged. But a nice mango-orange smoothie from the Starbucks in the Student Center got me through! Thanks to Tim Bill, who invited me, and to the students and other visitors who attended and with whom I had great conversations with afterwards. How amazing and strange it was to read about events involving my ancestors while standing on the very ground where much of those events happened...
|photos by Louise J. Miranda Ramirez|
Spent that night in San Jose with Louise and Ernie, and drove up to San Francisco around noon to check into my hotel and get ready for the evening's "Journeys of the Spirit" reading at The Women's Building with Kim Shuck, Indira Allegra, Jewell Gomez, and devorah major. I have long wanted to see this building in person, and it was simply stunning. I didn't take these photos, because it was just a little too dark; instead, I've gathered them from websites about the mural project. This must be one of the most gorgeous, most beloved buildings in the world. It's a Goddess of a building. And we got to read in it!
10. Next day it was a short drive to Oakland, where I crashed for the afternoon at the home of Keiko and Lisa, dear friends who were off to a birthday party and left me to their sunny, peaceful home. I napped, drank more of Beverly's cough syrup, and by 4:00, I was ready for the reading at Oakland Genealogical Society - a place I'm pretty sure my mother must have gone on her research travels, and where my old friend Ellen Sacco-Fernandez, whom I met at least ten years ago at the NEA seminar at Evergreen State College, is now on the Board. Now these were people after my own heart - folks deeply immersed in the lives of their ancestors. And way more people showed up than Ellen anticipated. Two women said they saw the notice on the Heyday website, my cousin Arleen and her wife Pam came, one young professor I'd met at MLA a few years ago who had my chapbook & wanted to see the whole book - and she brought 2 students, at least, with her. Three or four members of CGS. Beverly. Ellen's husband Tom. A few others. A great audience, more like a class. I read for an hour. Then Q and A for another hour. These are my peeps! Genealogy Geeks Unite! By the time it was all over, my poor voice was truly shot. I crept out to the parking lot, got into my rented Jeep monster, and drove back to Keiko and Lisa's. Those dear friends fed me hot, precious Pho, made me more Throat Coat Tea, and tucked me into bed with an electric blanket. But you know what? Being sick didn't matter to me. I had felt, once again during that reading at CGS, the Ancestors with me, lifting me. They had been with me the whole trip, even when I was at my lowest. And that's the whole point: love, pride, gratitude for the Ancestors.
|Me and my Chumash cousin, Arleen. She brought her genealogy so we could see where we're related!|
|I snuck this picture before everyone had arrived. By the time I got going, we'd had to borrow chairs from another room. Way to go, Ellen! (that's her on the far right)|
11, 12 & 13. After a deep sleep, I woke to a lovely breakfast of hot oatmeal and coffee (thank you Lisa!!) and hugs all around before leaving for the Oakland Airport. Saying goodbye to my rental, I caught my flight to Portland Oregon. Rented another car, not nearly as much fun as the Jeep, to drive down to OSU in Corvallis. I read three times there: once at the Long House, followed immediately by a 2 hour visit to Qwo-Li's Queer Theory Lit class; and once for Margaret--> Mathewson’s Contemporary Native American Issues class the next day.
My son, Danny Miller, took the train down to Salem from Seattle, visited with a buddy of his, then caught a ride over to meet me at my hotel. It all went smoothly! How good to see him again! He still looks 12 years old to me, but he's really 23, and quite the grown up. He's working this year before starting grad school, but business is slow at the Space Needle in January, so we were able to squeeze in this visit. This really cheered me up! Danny also took these photos of the reading at the Long House on OSU campus for me.
|Me with my friend and OSU host, Qwo-Li Driskill.|
|The Long House is brand new - this was one of the first events - and this totem pole was an incredible presence.|
|A collage of my OSU visit: throat lozenges, Osha Root cough meds, a beautiful basket woven by Qwo-Li, plane ticket, the necklace Margo made for Qwo, and book marks made by my sister Louise. It really does take a village to care for a poet.|
Danny and I drove up to Portland together, and I dropped him off at the Amtrak Station. He was heading back home to Seattle, and I was catching a plane to Ohio for a visit with Janet McAdams at Kenyon College. It was hard to say goodbye to my boy. He's such a kind, strong, smart person - we had some great conversations in our room and in the car (before he fell asleep, as he always does).
|Yes, I'm cheating. This is Danny two years ago on a visit to Virginia. I can't believe I didn't take any pictures of us together. This will publicly embarrass me enough to not forget next time, I hope.|
14 & 15. By the time I hit Columbus, Ohio, I was actually feeling better. Maybe it was seeing my Danny, or hanging out with the awesome students at OSU; maybe it was just time for the cold to exit, stage left. And from here on out, the trip seemed much easier. Probably that was because I left my rental car in Portland and from there on out, I was cared for every step of the way. Someone else flew the plane, a driver met me at the airport and drove me the hour to Kenyon (I slept, like Danny, most of the way); and my host, Janet McAdams, made sure I had rides the whole time I was there. The best part was staying at Janet's house in her luxurious Poet's Apartment downstairs; even when the power went out for the entire second night, we were snug and cozy! Of course, part of that may have been the furry presence of Durga, Janet's dog, who snuck down to my bed ...
|I read here ...|
|I took few photos at Kenyon - you could tell it was the end of the trip. Stole this one of Janet from the KC website.|
|One of Janet's gifted students made this poster - accidentally choosing one of the "Kids on Pony" photos from the blog instead of the book cover, but we decided we all liked it (and the kid is now a former colleague of Janet's, so it all worked out)|
Ohio was cold, it snowed a bit; the little village of Gambier lost power one night, but Janet's house stayed nice and warm. We walked Durga, drank a lot of scrumptious tea that Janet provided, talked, went out for great meals with good people, and had a terrific time. In fact, I can't wait to go back and visit Janet again - I miss her warm and wise presence!
So that was my amazing journey - and one from which I am still recovering. Getting a cold while on a book tour must be part of the dues writers must pay; it helps a LOT to have good friends along the way who ply you with herbal remedies, pho, hot tea, warm beds and snuggly dogs (thanks, Ollie and Durga!). It was an adventure, especially for someone like me, who never really travelled until well into my 30s; hotels, rental cars, plane rides and restaurants are still big thrills for a kid from the trailer park. I felt so lucky to have this book out, and the way people have helped me welcome Bad Indians into the world has been one big gift. Thank you, everyone - and now ... on to March and April!
I'll be traveling to:
Boston for the AWP (signing books and manning the booth for Scapegoat Press), Charlottesville VA for the Virginia Festival of the Book (with Karenne Woods and Allison Hedge Coke), to Minnesota for the Native American Literature Symposium at Mystic Lake Casino, SUNY Syracuse to visit Jax Cuevas's classes, SUNY Oneonta with Susan Bernardin, then out to L.A. to read at Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural and Bookstore, Cabrillo College in Aptos, UCLA, the Salinas Public Library, and the Los Angeles Book Festival (where, if I don't get invited to read, you can find me haunting the Heyday booth!) at USC. See the "Readings & Reviews" tab for details!