Archive for October, 2002


Support the Cavort

Do you ever feel as if there is simply not enough frolicking in your life? A paucity of play? A dearth of divertissement? Unending stretches of bleh with no hope of a rollicking good time in sight? Do you ever catch yourself wistfully wondering, “Where’s all the frippery, buffoonery and tomfoolery gone to?” Do you just want to let loose sometimes and gambol a bit? Go on a fandango? Indulge in a bit of skylarking? Set forth on a clambake, a jamboree, or a saturnalia? Get up to some high jinks? Have yourself an escapade? If so, what you really need is a good cavort. So kick up your virtual heels, jump onto the e-bandwagon, and support International Cavorting Day! Go for it . . . support the cavort!

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On the Road

Wet chilly rain all Friday morning as I loaded up my Jeep Wrangler . . . soggy leaves splayed up against the windshield like wet scraps of yellow silk . . . the eery moments of blindness on the interstate each time trucks passed and everything turned to silver spritz and mist.

Outside Sioux Falls an astonishingly chunky bright rainbow . . . it looked as if it had been drawn onto the backdrop of charcoal-gray nimbus storm clouds . . . childishly, with bold wide sweeps of sidewalk chalk.

An hour north of Sioux Falls, the rain gradually succumbing to skies blue as Wedgewood China, and endless filigreed puffs of cumulus clouds stretching into the horizon. Supple brown ripple of wheat fields; scattered clusters of trees in bursts of school-bus orange and taxi-cab yellow; clumps of burnt sienna, yellow, and gold grasses. All of it rather glorious, like an Andrew Wyeth painting, and almost too ridiculously beautiful . . . as if it were more representation than real.

The turtle I see lugubriously ambling out onto the highway outside Brookings. I’m worried that it might get run over, and I want to stop, back up, and rescue it, because I’ve always wanted to have a turtle. I’ve been told that they prefer red foods . . . red peppers, watermelon, persimmons, pimentos, and azaleas. I would love to have a turtle to keep in the garden. I would feed it red things to its heart’s content. But I’m running late (the 9:00 a.m. departure time having been wildly optimistic on my part), and am not crazy about the idea of getting rear-ended on the interstate. Am also unsure of what P. will think if I arrive at her place with an unexpected turtle in tow.

On Highway 12 West approaching Aberdeen, running alongside the route of the Burlington Northern, the unexpected lakes and fish hatcheries in quicksilver, glittering stretches along the two-lane. Mirror-bright in the afternoon sun, and frothy with chop in the persistent, South Dakota wind . . . the water tossing and bouncing . . . all the motion and shine making me slightly dizzy. The unexpected seagulls. Wet, naked tree trunks and tree limbs poking up out of the little lakes . . . one of them named Blue Dog Lake, another one named Enemy Swim. I think that I would like to stay in the 1950’s-style Circle Pines Hotel in Waubay sometime, alongside the Blue Dog Lake . . . not during the summer fishing season, but maybe late fall, during the off-season . . . just stay there by myself and write for a few days.

In Aberdeen, the bright, airy rooms of P.’s cozy upstairs apartment . . . intriguing, geometric dormer shapes in each room . . . the warm, bright splashes of all her favorite colors, and her favorite objects now transplanted to this new abode. It feels clean, and sunny, and comfortable

Pre-reading jitters . . . worries about the new poems . . . worries about the old poems . . . worries about the in-between poems . . . the three cappuccinos I drank on the road starting to funnel ominously down through my lower intestines like a cyclone. Or maybe more like Draino. But it’s such a nice audience. Feel shy and geeky when signing books.

Meeting all of P.’s new friends . . . thinking how empowering it is to sit in a circle in a room full of strong, smart, interesting women . . . how good it feels to laugh with them. More and more beer. We all get a bit raucous. And the next day a dinner party to continue the conversations. And they’re all so wonderful. J. with her freckles and wildly blushing pink cheeks who gives us good beer, and makes us all sweet potato quesadillas and a fucking awesome cream cheese/cilantro/cream cheese dip (note to self: must get recipe); L. who is so sweetly, adorably gracious . . . a little bit shy, perhaps, but endearingly so; M. with her spider tattoo and marvelous, impish wit; how wonderful L. and M. are together; and K. who has that steady, intelligent, soft warm glow . . . she is like C. and S.R. in that regard . . . one wants to just seek her out and curl up under the focus of that glow like a cat under a lamp.

Later that same night, P. brushing my hair for an entire half-hour until all the wildness becomes domesticated and silky under her hands and I feel very calm, and sleepy, and happy.

A trip to Story Land in Aberdeen’s Wylie Park . . . recreations of scenes from the Wizard of Oz, in honor of L. Frank Baum, who lived in Aberdeen (replete with Yellow Brick Road, and talking trees, and Auntie Em’s Kansas farmhouse, etc. as well as turkeys and colorful, exotic chickens which I think might have been Hamburgs, which Baum used to raise). There were also other storybook characters . . . a carousel, train, castles with moats, etc. Astonishingly, horrifyingly, marvelously, and most satisfyingly kitschy.

Lovely weather for the drive home today, feeling pensive, and well-rested.

Although I still wish that I had gotten that turtle.

Nice to be home again, relaxing in my pajamas. The cats, jostling each other for space on the futon, purring and talkative . . . happy to see me and interrupting each other to tell me all their news.

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Fragments of Phone Conversation With My Japanese Mother

Regarding Voice Mail

JM: Where you been? I been calling, calling, calling. All week long, we been calling. And why you set answer machine so no ring? Answer machine pick up right away and then we have to pay for long distance. Make me so mad! You need set answer machine different so don’t pick up right away.

AH: Mom, I keep telling you it’s voice-mail, not an answering machine. When it goes straight to voice-mail it means I’m either on the phone already or on the computer. Just leave me a message and I’ll know you’ve been trying to get a hold of me . . . I mean, think of it this way, you’ve already paid for the first minute of long distance anyway at that point, so you might as well leave a message instead of just hanging up.

JM: Yeah . . . we get so worry, we finally have to leave message yesterday. But see, you never call us back.

AH: I’m calling you back now. When I got the message yesterday it was too late to telephone.

JM: Well . . . it’s too late now. Your father already gone sage grouse hunting so he not here. You call again tomorrow when he come back. Make sure use secret code and only ring twice so we know it’s you.

Regarding Sexual Orientation

AH: Mom, I’m a lesbian.

JM: No you not

Regarding Sexual Orientation . . . Six Months Later

JM: [During conversation regarding a male friend]. Is there some monkey business going on between you two?

AH: Mom . . . I’m a lesbian.

JM: No you not.

AH: Yes . . . I am. I’ve been telling you this for awhile now.

JM: You mean . . . you one of . . . them?

AH: Well, the official paperwork and secret decoder ring haven’t come in the mail yet, but my sponsor already got the free toaster oven for signing me up.

JM: No . . . you wait until you have tenure!

Regarding Sexual Orientation . . . One Year Later . . . In Which My Japanese Mother Actually Says the Words “You” and “Lesbian” Out Loud in the Same Sentence

JM: [In a jokey mood.] Maybe I send you video on how to marry Millionaire Man.

AH: Mom! I’m a dyke!

JM: Well, you must make sure to never ever tell anyone about way you are. You don’t need to advertise to anybody that you lesbian.

On Eating At Restaurants

JM: If you eating at restaurant and you start get full, make sure you pick out all expensive bits and eat first.

On West Nile Virus

JM: We been so worry I can’t sleep at night. News say West Nile Virus coming straight to you. You have to promise you not going to go outside at night. And if somebody invite you on picnic, just say no. And make sure wear long sleeve and long pants and tie scarf on head, then spray all over with mosquito spray if you go out. Best thing not to go out though. Just stay inside house.

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