With my two babies, I made a brief visit to my parents in Oregon, returning in time to feel the Santa Rosa earthquakes shake the Bay Area in October. We were still living in San Anselmo with our little rock band household and I was having a harder time dealing with being a lonely single parent. Jane turned four that fall just as Jack Kerouac bled to death of alcoholism in a Florida hospital. In November, dozens of American Indian students symbolically occupied Alcatraz in the same week as 250,000 war protestors marched on Washington, and the following month the Altamont rock festival signified the violent opposite of what Woodstock had been less than half a year before.

Finally, as paying bills and getting along became unmanageable, our little community disintegrated and somehow the three of us parachuted into a tiny house up the road in the little community of Fairfax by ourselves. It was here that I began to stumble back to work, taking a job as a home extension agent, visiting poor families and helping them plan nutritious meals. I had to take some training, of course, and then I was on my own. It was so stressful to be trying to rejoin the work force while keeping my children on track that I developed a massive muscle spasm in my neck for which I was prescribed valium, becoming immediately addicted to the euphoria that came with the relief from pain.

Next page