When I was a teenager, my family's car broke down in Ouray, Colorado, a barely-there village (pop. 1,013) sitting at an altitude of 7,800 feet in the middle of the San Juan Mountains. I couldn't believe my misfortune: there was no swimming pool or television at the hotel where we stayed. There was no McDonald's; the nearest movie theater was forty-five miles away. My parents said we'd be staying until the car was fixed.
More than fifteen years later, in 2001, when l needed a remote location to get some writing done, I began an affair with that same little village, those same mountains. I shadowed some horse trainers at Eagle Hill Ranch and wrote about them in my hybrid memoir-in-progress, Splitting. The story of a marriage and an equine program for women in trouble, Splitting is told from three perspectives (a wife who stayed, a wife who ran, the wife who survived). Chapters have been published in River Teeth, Prime Number Magazine, Quarterly West, Barrelhouse, Fourth Genre, Grist, So To Speak, The Fourth River, Baltimore Review, Able Muse, under the gum tree, Image: Art, Faith, Mystery, and other journals and anthologies.
Meanwhile, my story-collection-in-progress, Trouble Is a Friend of Mine, spins into fiction local newspaper accounts about the environmental and wilderness disasters along U.S. 550 (known as the Million Dollar Highway), from Durango, to Silverton, through Ouray, and ending at Montrose. Stories from this collection have appeared in Colorado Review, The New Guard, Quarterly West, and other journals. In 2012, this collection won the Everett Southwest Literary Award, judged by Lee K. Abbott.
Tonight, you wonder why evolution hasn't yet untethered the eyes of female humans, bifurcating their vision so they can better see what's coming. Your head tilts over your shoulder toward the blind spot behind you, listening for trouble to charge through The Grit's door.
As the reel starts, the lights dim, you tell yourself two hours in a theater with a man not your husband means nothing. There's the tame aroma of popcorn. There's the crowd---safety in numbers.
in Quarterly West
At my cabin, spider webs dangled from the ceiling in the bathroom and kitchen. There was no telephone. A fat bear-proof garbage can sat on the deck—a warning. As I stood at the opened patio door, I pondered the chore of trash, the types of predators I’d traded my husband for.
Jenny doesn’t like fishing so close to the sterile headwaters. She resents the old mines that filled the river with ore and sulfur, and dyed it the color of egg yolks. She doesn’t like the roar of water this time of year either, how the snowmelt pumps up the river till it runs high and wild.