Saturday, November 30, 2013

Her Books Presents: Book Club Picks @Kathleen01930

The painter Georges Braque once said that there is only one valuable thing in art, the thing that you cannot explain. All my life I have marveled at people who think they understand things, that they have answers. Such confidence is astonishing to me. For many years, I thought myself deficient in that I never felt I knew much of anything. It was only when I began to study art, to seriously study art, that I realized what passed for great assurance and knowledge in many people was simply their decision to terminate their thinking at the point where they became uncomfortable.
It is to me one of life’s great mysteries that there are those who can ignore or eliminate feelings that they don’t want. I never thought I had a choice. I thought that the assault of emotions that were so much an everyday part of my life as a child were as confusing to everyone as they were to me. I don’t remember when I first realized that not only did most people not feel and sense and experience what I did, they didn’t believe such experiences existed.
The study of art was my salvation. I thought I was mad - so did a good many other people. But when I began to look at art and to let it enter my spirit as erotically and powerfully as a lover would enter my body, I realized something that has haunted all of my life. I am different. I am both blessed and cursed. I was born missing a layer of protection between myself and the world that most people have and are totally unaware of having. And, worse, there is no way for me to acquire it. I am like those strange invalids whose resistance to every form of bacteria is so fragile that they can only exist inside a climate-controlled bubble. Only it is not bacteria that infects me and threatens my wellbeing, it is something far less tangible. I am profoundly sensitive to energetic forces that I cannot explain - powerful feelings, hidden longings, mysterious urges, strong thoughts - all the things that most people do their best to conceal from the world. They are as real and accessible to me as the beauty mark on a pretty girl’s cheekbone or the delight in a man’s eyes when he beholds her.
My name is Tempest Hobbs. I am descended from a long line of sensitives. One of my great grandmothers, many generations back, was Deliverance Hobbs who was tried as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. But my great (I forget how many greats) grandmother was not among those executed on Gallows Hill. Her life was spared because she confessed. She admitted she was a witch.
I have lived in Salem all my life but for a few years spent at college and studying abroad. What I learned when away from Salem was that, different though I am, this difference is less tolerable in much of the world than it is here in Salem. In Salem there are three kinds of people: those who think the metaphysical is nonsense; those who have developed clever ways to earn their living from metaphysical gifts which they may or may not actually possess; and those, like me, who live with this curse in whatever form it takes, and do our best to lead a normal life. Whatever that is.
These days Salem has transformed into a theme park of the occult. Witch museums, psychic readers and astrologers, shops offering amulets and potions, tarot cards and herbs, draw tourists from around the country. I need only  leave the house here off of Derby Street to walk past business after business catering to this trade. I pass Derby Wharf where the Official Witch of Salem sells feathers and beads, rocks and books, past Pyramid Books filled with hundreds of books on every manner of occult and metaphysical subject. I turn the corner and walk up Hawthorne Boulevard past Fatima’s Psychic Studio and turn down Essex Street past Crow Haven Corner. Between these establishments are smaller shops. The occult is big business here in Salem. By the time I arrive at the Peabody Essex Museum where I work I have been assaulted by every conceivable sort of metaphysical purveyor.
Let me add that I am not one of those who choose to make use of their metaphysical endowments. I don’t call what I have a gift. Curse would be more appropriate. Curse because I have no say in the matter. As a child I was often the recipient of a stern look, a sharp rebuke, or a swat, and I never knew why. When I tried to comfort my mother’s friend for being sad when her latest lover abandoned her, she flew into a tizzy and called me a presumptuous little shit. How was I to know that it was crucial to her pride that everyone think the man had left due to a job offer in another city and not because he was tired of her?
My father’s family was somewhat more tolerant. My mother’s never much liked me.
“Sweetie,” my Aunt Honor Hobbs would say, “you’ve got to be more careful how you talk to people. Grownups can be very proud. They don’t like it when you tell their secrets.”
“But, Auntie H,” I’d wail, “I didn’t tell any secrets. I heard her say she was miserable without him and would be so good to him if he would just come back. She asks God all the time to make him come back to her!” My indignation was as righteous as my feelings were wounded.
“I know, baby,” she sighed, holding my hands, kissing my cheeks and my damaged pride. “I know you hear her say those things.  But they were secret things to her, she didn’t want anyone else to know about them.”
“But then why did she say them?”
Of course, what Auntie H had no way to explain to me was that though people were not talking to me, I was listening to them. It confused me for years.
Art, blessed art, was my salvation. It all began with a painting of a girl in a garden by Robert Vonnah that hung in the Colonial Tavern’s Tearoom where Auntie H took me for lunch or treats.
Auntie H Hobbs was a beautiful woman. I spent more of my childhood with her than I did with my parents. My mother was a nurse at the local hospital and my father taught auto mechanics in a nearby vocational-technical school. We lived near Collins Cove on the way to the Salem Willows, but Auntie H lived in an eighteenth-century house just around the corner from the House of the Seven Gables.  My earliest memories are of days spent at Auntie H’s, day-dreaminging in her wild, fragrant garden, learning to play the piano and knit in her pretty parlor, walking down the street to where it ended at a small stony beach along Salem Harbor. Even after I started school at St. Bernadette’s I’d walk down Derby Street, past Pickering Wharf and the liquor store called Bunghole - a name that made the boys laugh hysterically, though it was years before I figured out why. I passed the Customs House where Nathaniel Hawthorne once worked, and the Maritime Park, and then went down Auntie H’s little side street. When Mama came for me after her shift at the hospital, I always begged to be allowed to stay over which was fine with Auntie H. She’d put on one of her spectacular silk kimonos and a slouchy velvet hat with feathers or roses. We’d walk back across Derby Street to the Colonial Tavern.
The painting hung in a gilded frame between two of the front windows and, if the table below it was available, I’d claim it before the server had a chance to seat us. I thought the painting was the most perfect thing I had ever seen. The garden reminded me of Auntie H’s, filled with pink and white flowers with touches of blue and violet. The girl was young, dressed in pink with a sash around her waist. She sat, hands folded in her lap, leaning against a tree. Her eyes were closed. Auntie H told me the name of the painting was “Daydreamer”. I loved it.
What I loved the most was that when I looked at it, when I focused on it, I could shut out all the chatter that seemed to be going on in my head.  If I wasn’t concentrating there were all these strange thoughts that assaulted me as people passed by... I love that, wonder if it’s for sale... I hate that, impressionists are a bore... Wouldn’t mind nailing her... Wonder what that’s worth... But when I looked at the painting, let my mind enter into it, shutting out everything except the beauty of the work, the voices went away. It’s been that way ever since.
Let me tell you something about this Curse, it makes leading a normal life impossible. There are times when I am less conscious of it than at others but there is always this incessant buzz, this tickle of emotions, this awareness of stuff that is not my business, and that I don’t want to know. I have no idea how I got this way. Was it something inherited from my infamous ancestor? I don’t know. But it makes my life more miserable than you would believe. I won’t bore you with the recitation of boyfriends that have come and gone in my life. Gone, all of them. But that is not the worst.
You may have seen true crime shows on television in which a psychic is involved. Perhaps you think it is a joke or a scam, something to snicker about. I can’t speak for other sensitives but from my own experience I can tell you it is more horrible than anyone can imagine. It has happened to me three times. The last one was the worst. It went on for months and ended badly. Believe me when I tell you the emotions that assailed me through those months, right up to the bitter end, were indescribable. My mother, a nurse for close to forty years, could scarcely bear to approach the hospital’s locked ward where the most traumatic cases were confined. She could not bear to see what had become of her daughter, the weeping, terrified wreck that huddled in a rocking chair begging to die. My poor mother.
              I have been home and back at work for four weeks now. But I sometimes wonder how much longer I will be able to hang on.
Samples to Savor: Book Club Picks, presented by Her Books:
Discover your book club’s next page-turner and spark fascinating conversations with your friends in this free sampling from eight bestselling authors. You’ll find rich prose, evocative plots, compelling characters and surprising twists from:
Finding Emma by Steena Holmes
Composing Myself by Elena Aitken
Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby
The Scandalous Ward by Karla Darcy
The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge by Christine Nolfi
The Promise of Provence by Patricia Sands
Broken Pieces by Rachel Thompson
Depraved Heart by Kathleen Valentine
About the Author(s):
Bestselling authors Steena Holmes, Elena Aitken, Rachel Thompson, Patricia Sands, Christine Nolfi, Kathleen Valentine, Bette Lee Crosby and Karla Darcy provide readers worldwide with contemporary fiction and nonfiction releases ranging from historical romance to literary.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre –  Women’s Fiction
Rating – PG
Connect with the authors on Faceboook

No comments:

Post a Comment