June 12, 2017 – The Pit Fire

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For several years, while I was living in the borderlands of Southeastern Arizona, I made it a point to attend the annual Cochise College Pit Fire. The entire evening surrounds a main event, the lighting of the pit fire itself; it’s an ancient method of baking clay pottery in which the pottery is placed in a trench dug into the ground with a wood fire burning above it. The result is pottery covered in interesting patterns and colors.

The evening is peppered with various musical performances on several outdoor stages, dance performances, acrobatics, theater art, gourmet food supplied by the college’s culinary arts club, and other vendors. It’s free for anybody who wants to attend, and it is genuinely one of the more interesting (and little-known) events in this somewhat remote area of Cochise County, right along the Mexican border.

I wouldn’t even be able to tell you if today’s picture depicts a booked performance artist or if it’s just an enthusiastic attendee who decided to spin poi in the field where the pit fire’s lit. It doesn’t really matter – it illustrates the energy and creativity of the event.

If you live in southern Arizona and want to attend, all you need to do is mark your calendar. You can check out their website here.

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The Dream Figure

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Irrationally peculiar dream figures – my loose, ‘armchair’ understanding of things is that most people don’t have recurring dreams, or even recurring themes or personalities in their dreams. It’s a popular trope in story-telling, which makes perfect sense – haunting dreams are a wonderful expression of foreshadowing, a device to inject a sense of inevitability, foreboding, or fate. The reality, of course, is far more banal. Those of us who encounter recurring dream figures ought not take too much from them; the general consensus in the psychological community is that they are completely happenstance, and may represent nothing more than a single event in one’s history – not even a particularly important event – that managed to get stored in our memory in such a way as to appear and reappear, like a skipping record.

This particular dream figure has been visiting me for the better part of a decade. I’m assuming she’s some remnant of my college days, which I spent at the University of Arizona. She reminds me of art school girls at house parties, smoking cigarettes in used clothes bought at Buffalo Exchange, a haven for hipster women looking to spend twice as much on a pair of pre-worn jeans than the original price-tag when they were brand new and not covered in holes.

This apparition – and she really feels like an apparition, an uninvited ghost that only I can see – is never aggressive, she never threatens me, never harms me. But I always recall feeling an extreme unease when she walks into the room. She usually walks around a corner, and it’s usually when I’m trying to leave and get outside. In most of my dreams, I turn around and nurse a drink, taking little sips, and make small-talk to the gaggle of faceless others around me, glancing occasionally to see if she’s still there.

She’s always blocking my path. And I spend my time hoping for a chance to scoot by and get outside.

Nothing bad ever happens. No gore. No evil. Just a faceless, toothed, unsettling creature.

I’ll let the psychoanalysts in the inter-webs analyze this. In the quiet of night, unable to sleep, I decided to scribble-out a picture from my dreams.

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