Parting strokes
Masterjohn hangs up her pen and heads West

by Jules Masterjohn

Imagine my surprise when I heard through the grapevine that I was moving to San Francisco. Please someone tell my husband! Well, that’s just one of the great things about living in a small town – the rumor mill is much more exciting and dramatic than our lives generally are, which makes for interesting living.

The rumor is partially correct – I am leaving Durango, but not for Frisco. I am heading to an isle in the Outer Hebrides to raise black sheep, whose wool will be used in Ibex clothing. You see, it’s been my dream for the last few years to dodge the constant sunshine in the San Juan Mountains and live a life close to the land under the constant fog of the northern Atlantic. More importantly, I desire solitude. After writing more than 250 articles over the last five years, I have put out more than 250,000 words in which I have shared my thoughts about art and life, I have used up all my words, and must now take retreat.

You see, writers are given just so many written words in our lives. If we use them all before we pass on to the big black-and–white-and-read-all-over room in the sky, we have no choice but to simply be quiet for there are no more words in the brain’s left hemisphere. The lesson here is for a writer to choose her or his words carefully, to use them only when necessary and, of course, always use them toward the highest good. If not, there may be a colony of used-up writers living on the island of North Uist, dreaming in Gaelic, herding black sheep – and being my neighbor.

No, really, I am pulling your leg.

Actually, I am relocating to a small burg on Maui called Kipahulu where some friends grow organic papaya, coffee and bananas. I will become a Kipahuligan, playing pranks on neighbor Juan Hamilton, Georgia O’Keeffe’s longtime companion, assistant and heir. Mostly, I’ll bask in the feminine energy of Haleakala, Maui’s mother volcano. In Hawaiian folklore, Haleakala is considered home to the grandmother of the demigod Maui. According to the legend, Maui’s grandmother helped him capture the sun and, in her wisdom, force it to slow its journey across the sky in order to lengthen the day.

OK. I confess to pulling your other leg. After yanking on the first one, it’s the least I can do to keep your skeletal structure in balance.

The truth is, I am moving, but not because I suffer from wanderlust or because I am still exhausted from shoveling last year’s snow. I am moving because opportunity called, and I answered. I am moving to southern Oregon to continue my work in nonprofit arts administration.

The Rogue Gallery and Art Center in Medford has determined that I shall be its next executive director. The selection committee waded through 120 applications and identified four finalists. I was chosen in a unanimous decision. WOW – that’s an ego stroke, a big responsibility and very sobering. I asked the Universe for my next step and It responded. Starting January 2010, with the help of a committed Board of Directors, longtime membership and an active community, I will be shepherding the visual arts non-profit organization, which has nurtured artists in the southern Rogue Valley for 50 years. I am thankful and honored.

As a dutiful wife, I asked my husband before I headed to Medford for my interview, “If they offer me the job, should I take it?

“It’s your window – fly through it,” he immediately responded.

Apparently, not only the Universe and grandmothers have wisdom. Husbands can go there, too!

So, let us be thankful for black sheep, and volcanoes, and for grandmothers of all cultures, and husbands. And especially for those who help us to become who we are. Thank you, everyone! •



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