Before leaving Florence for San Diego I wrote e-mails to a number of people who I hoped to entice into giving my new book a blurb when it’s finished by having them read my first book, The Call, after having met me. My theory is that my message and take on the preservation of Gaia is so extreme that I must overcome the automatic rejection most of the intellectual types will have to anyone claiming to have seen a Vision.
All overtures, save one, were rejected almost out of hand. Derrick Jensen, author of many fiction and non-fiction pieces with similar themes to my own, didn’t appreciate being approached at home. Steve Schneider’s chief advisor and confident, from what I was able to determine, demurred, and, initially, so did Anne Ehrlich, wife of and frequent coauthor with Paul Ehrlich, whose most famous book was The Population Bomb. Both Schneider and Ehrlich are at Stanford.
At first, Anne had thought I was actually offering to buy Paul a lunch in return for gaining access so that I’d not be rejected out of hand as a nut case. When I replied to her e-mail that I’d meant the invitation for her, assuming her husband would be too busy, I got no response at all.
Not until the intended time frame was past, at least. While in Diego, I got an acceptance and scheduled lunch for Wednesday, March 4th at Stanford.
Frankly, I couldn’t believe my luck. Anne is, in her own right, one of the leading voices in the environmental movement, and an audience with her was a big break.
I left Pasadena after the grand kids went to bed on Sunday, intending to drive the Big Sur coast and arrive with a full day to spare at my mother-in-law’s in Los Gatos. On Monday morning, as I passed through Santa Barbara, I lost my transmission. All day spent having the triple A approved mechanic look at it only to have, “take it to Ben’s Transmission” as an outcome. Ben looks at it and says, “no way this vehicle is going to be out of my shop by Wednesday.”
I reserve a rental car and pick it up Tuesday morning. By about noon, Bro and I are in route again, this time shining Big Sur on. We’re at Maxine’s with plenty of time to spare. I’ve told Max to reserve dinner at a fancy restaurant so I can repay her for her kind and understanding support and hosting. I’ve only had a chance to walk Bro, though, when I hear him gobbling something down in the kitchen and ask Max if she has some cat food out. “No,” she says, “I haven’t had a cat for years.”
“Rat poison?” I ask.
“Oh, my God!”
We rush Bro to the Vetspital, apparently in plenty of time, but the box of bait didn’t get there with us. We get lost going to emergency, and Max gets lost again on going to get the box. “De-Con and blue,” just isn’t enough information. The type of poison, it turns out, is critical to the end stages of the treatment, and one type in particular, that attacks the neurological system, is a very big problem. When Max finally arrives, the news is good; we’re dealing with a poison for which there is an antidote (which Bro had to be on for three weeks–he’s fine, BTW).
It seems our method of killing rats isn’t very pretty. Like so many things, I fear it is better kept at such an arm’s length that we never really have to look at it at all. Suffice it to say that, if “cruelty to animals” were actually outlawed, rat poison would be banned.
They keep the dog for a couple of hours, and Max and I keep the expensive dinner date in the interim. On the way back to the Vetspital, we get lost again.
One of the things they do to treat rat poisoning, in any case, is pump the dog full of charcoal after having induced vomiting. They warn you that his poop will be very black in the aftermath, but they didn’t tell me not to feed him later that night. Probably not necessary to mention that to ordinary folk, but I’m not your ordinary folk. So, dumb as I am, knowing he’s not had his usual meal I feed him after we get home. (He looks and acts perfectly normal, after all.) That night is spent repeatedly cleaning up charcoal colored dog vomit. Should I have warned you first about that? Sorry. Suffice it to say that semi-digested charcoal isn’t so easy to clean up.
So, anyway, I get off to Stanford just in time, dressed to the T’s. Anne comes in and, within about two sentences, it’s clear that she thinks I’ve arranged to interview her, not to introduce myself and, essentially, be interviewed.
Suddenly, I realize how lucky I’d been. If Anne had truly understood my request, she’d have been crazy to accept the invitation. But, being there already, and being as gracious a person as she turned out to be, how could she refuse now?
We had a very pleasant lunch and discussed my situation and ideas in as much detail as if the interview had, in fact, been intentionally agreed to by Anne for what I’d wanted it to be. She took the book on our parting, promising to give it at least a glance and to let me know what her reaction was.
I don’t know what, if anything, will come from our encounter. Suffice it to say that we had a pleasant time, I liked her and, I hope, the feeling was mutual. She had some important reassurances, but not ones that completely convinced me. But, then, what can you expect when you talk to a “Visionary?” Most importantly perhaps, she e-mailed a clarification of one point to me the next day, conceding to the possibility a calamity ending in the death of Gaia was conceivable. I’m hoping her e-mail indicates a willingness to continue the discussion.
From lunch with Anne I went directly to Tahoe, with a stopover in Camino to change from the rental to the four wheel drive I left with my brother-in-law for the winter. I had two doctor’s appointments on Thursday, one for the M.S. and the other for high blood pressure that’s only recently developed. Friday I left early trying to get back to Santa Barbara in time to turn the car back in.
Didn’t make that. The transmission on the Van had been fixed, but the engine was still running badly after having gone thru the trauma of the transmission breakdown, so another mechanic looked at it Saturday morning. By that afternoon I told them that, rough running though it was, if it moved at all, I wanted to move it. Santa Barbara is way too far south for my tastes. If it broke down again, I wanted to be closer to home to deal with it. I drove straight to Camino with only a minor sputtering once in the night, and traded back into the pickup, before getting to Tahoe just before the next storm.
If you look at it in one way, starting on Monday morning the 2nd, through Sunday the 8th, I spent about three, or maybe four, months worth of rent getting to the interview. But, if you look at the potential, it may have been well worth it.