IFJM and Rabbit Girl

If you read Roz Stendahl's blog, Roz Wound Up, you may know that several years ago she inaugurated "International Fake Journal Month. " I believe I joined the first year, but have fallen behind and haven't since.

This year I am thinking of joining publicly or privately with an alter-ego I had in the 90s: Rabbit Girl.

I was living temporarily in an alternative community in Shutesbury with folks I met whilst conducting workshops for people living with HIV/AIDS.  I met the group through a public health administrator in Boston.

Bill, like too many of my friends, colleagues and acquaintances during that period, has passed beyond.  He had lived in the community before joining the MDPH (Massachusetts Department of Public Health).  MDPH was, then, one of the most dedicated and generous of funding agencies and public health providers in the country.  They funded my projects with a vigor I never found elsewhere, including these weekend long psychological workshops they helped me provide throughout the State.

Lower Berkshires, Shutesbury, MA

After I left one of the agencies I directed in Western Massachusetts, I decided to see what it was like to live collectively.  I was fortunate to have a beautiful room, with fabulous views of the lower Berkshires, and two huge closets, in a custom built house on the property.  What I didn't have was any privacy.   Two young male adolescents, two scattered adults, and an untold number of undisciplined animals were my house-mates in one big untidy mess.

When I fulfilled my duties for the day,  (I was the in-house publicist and fund-raiser for the community) I'd roll down the hills (saving petrol) to Amherst and find refuge at the Black Sheep Cafe.

Black Sheep Deli and Cafe, Amherst, MA

The Black Sheep has good coffee, great perhaps and excellent food and desserts.  Sitting outside in good weather, and indoors in bad, I'd plot my next moves.  Rabbit Girl was part of those planning sessions.  I found her in Northampton (MA) waiting for me in the window of a pastry shop on Main Street.

She went with me everywhere, a dangling miniature white stuffed rabbit.  I loved her to distraction, and ultimately she became so messy, dirty and straggly that years later I put her away.  Now I can't remember what I did with her, but I did buy a replacement--a larger rabbit that sits on top of my pen and ink cabinet.  In this way Rabbit Girl stays clean, safe and remains relevant.

Norwottuck Rail Trail Bridge, Northampton MA

Whenever I am out of sorts, I think about Rabbit Girl.  You may ask why.  Rabbits are known for their skittish nature, run fast and in Native lore represent a form of timidity, or fear.  I am not known for either, but Rabbit Girl could be both and she often was just that: fearful.

For many personal reasons, Rabbit Girl, emblematic of the lore is very present in my consciousness, and I wonder how she could have her very own journal.  

I am still wondering!  

I did start to prepare a spiral bound journal following Richard's lead and intend to have it finished up by the time I reach Pittsburgh.


  1. Great photos. I live in Sunderland and can get to Lake Wyola (technically in Shutesbury) from my apartment in less than 15 minutes. I love The Black Sheep -- my minister's husband owns it and my husband and I try to eat there as often as we can to support them. It's easier to do so when the college kids are away on winter and summer break, but it is a great place to unwind. I love the fruit tarts and the butternut squash soup.

  2. Thanks for stopping by from Sunderland, Jennie. I miss the Valley and may go up for a wee break later in the Spring or early summer.

    I'm off to try a cup of java here in Pittsburgh. :)

  3. You should definitely come back:) What took you off to Pittsburgh, if you don't mind me asking?

    1. I haven't lived in the Valley since '97. I left when I was offered a good paying job in New York City.

      I am now retired and living in NEPA, and visiting Pittsburgh and my family.