PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES
[This post was actually composed late Thursday night, March 13, but as I was unable to get on-line until now, I’m afraid that, two nights later, it has possibly passed its expiration date and become rather stale.]
It has been a day of planes, trains, and automobiles, and I have set foot in a whopping total of five states today. My day began at 4:30 a.m. after about three hours of let’s-at-least-pretend-that-I’m-sleeping-so-the-horror-of-arising-at-4:30 a.m.-won’t-render-me-completely-suicidal-and-thus-emotionally-unfit-for-travel-but-let’s-face-it-who-are-we-really-kidding-here sleep. Insomnia has been rampant this entire week, as I’ve been wired out of my mind and working like a dog to get my ducks in a row (please forgive the mixed zoological cliches, by the way) on the work front so that I’m not completely and irrevocably FUBAR when I return. Plus, much as I hate to admit it, the truth of the matter is that while I would like to be all cool . . . like I’m pretending to be all, like, Ms. Jet-Setty Poet On The Road and shit, in reality I am actually a Complete Fucking Freak before out-of-town readings. (Exacerbated by the fact that my parents like to call me up the day before I leave and personally ensure that if I’m not paranoid and anxiety-ridden by virtue of my very own subset of neuroses, I will be paranoid and anxiety-ridden by the time I get off the phone with them.) Anybody remember that awful paragon of 1980’s cinema, Gremlins with Phoebe Cates? Well, like Gremlins, Artichoke Hearts come with two very basic, iron-clad rules: (1) Do not deliberately pester the Artichoke Heart when she is trying to write; and (2) Do not under any circumstances, attempt to fuck with the Artichoke Heart before an out-of-town reading. The consequences are ugly. Very very ugly.
First State: The State of South Dakota:
So I get up at 4:30 a.m., which is so early that it doesn’t even quality as the Butt Crack of Dawn, but is, instead, more along the lines of the Colonoscopy of Dawn. I take a shower, I have some coffee, and I say goodbye to the cats — taking particular care to mollify the Yuki-Tuki Bird, who has been verbally berating me at top volume since the rolling duffel bag came out of the closet yesterday. (Sabotage attempts were also made in which she relentlessly kept dragging socks and underwear out of the rolling duffel bag as I was attempting to pack it and attempting to shove them under the refrigerator.) I hit the road by 5:30 a.m.
Second State: The State of Iowa:
Restroom stop and refueling (caffeine, that is) in Onawa, Iowa.
Third State: The State of Nebraska:
Having read various accounts of my driving (mis)adventures when attempting to drive to unfamiliar airports, you may perhaps be shaking your head in dismay to realize that I had to drive to Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska. Frankly, I, too, was shaking my head in dismay. Granted, I was there with my colleague S. a mere two weeks ago, but I find that it’s really best to never underestimate the sheer profundity of my directional dyslexia. Amazingly enough, I arrived at Eppley Airfield on time and without getting lost!! (Unlike the time I pulled an all nighter to avoid oversleeping and missing an egregiously early flight out of Sioux City, but was so brain-fried that I miscalculated the driving time and ended up leaving too late and missing the flight after having stayed up all night expressly for the purpose of making sure that I didn’t miss it!) Admittedly, though, the route to Eppley Airfield is marked with remarkably good signage. One would have to be a Directional Moron to go astray. But hey, I am. A Directional Moron, that is. And I didn’t. Get lost, that is. May I state, for the record, that I *heart* good signage?
Fourth State: The State of Minnesota:
From Omaha I flew to Minneapolis, where I had a two-hour layover at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, so I did the thing that I like to do when I have a layover in Minneapolis. Which is to mosey over to that little carry-out sushi joint, Kyoto, over in the far left corner of the food court. I then proceed to consume a profound and undoubtedly inappropriate amount of sushi while sitting at the long high counter that runs along the bank of windows, watching the view of the planes loading, unloading, fueling, and de-icing. Yes, I know . . . it’s just airport carry-out sushi, but the truth of the matter is that there is no time, ever, where it is not all about the sushi for me. Hello, my name is Artichoke Heart, and I am a confirmed Sushi-holic . . . a Slut for Sashimi, a Nigiri Whore. By the way, is it me, or are connecting flights in Minneapolis purposely programmed by computer so that you always have to connect via the concourse that is directionally located at the greatest distance to the concourse by which you arrive, also thus insuring that you will always have to cross through the central mall area? I don’t mean to get all Conspiracy Theory here or anything, but I’m just sayin’ . . .
Fifth State: The State of California:
Upon my arrival in San Francisco, I was retrieved outside SFO Baggage Claim by none other than The Jaded One, who was unbelievably generous enough to pick me up and take me to the Emeryville Amtrak Station to catch my train to Fresno. Despite impending rain and rush-hour traffic she deftly maneuvered me to my destination with time to spare while providing delightful repartee along the way, thus preventing what would have undoubtedly been a distraught and freakish blog entry from me describing how I was tangled up, days later, still riding around aimlessly on the San Francisco BART system, having completely missed my reading as a result. Thank you JadedJu . . . you are a goddess!!
Sixth State: Altered State:
It is now seventeen hours later from my 5:30 a.m. departure time this morning, and I am composing this entry on the Amtrak train to Fresno . . . I have two more hours worth of train ride to go, and I have to admit, I’m exhausted down to the very marrow of my bones. Truly, though, I’ve been blessed with spectacularly good travel karma today . . . it was a complicated itinerary (let’s face it . . . Vermillion, SD to Onawa, IA to Omaha, NE to Minneapolis, MN to San Francisco, CA is kind of a fucked up way to get to Fresno, California) and everything went exactly as planned. Plus, I’m totally digging the train . . . the first part of the trip circled around the bay, and as it became dark the lights began to sizzle up in little pin-point clusters, and everything began to twinkle.