On the road Author Functioning it up again for the next few days. Have figured out how to moblog from the cell phone, so check in here for (apologies to Elizabeth Bishop) Small Bad Cell Phone Pictures:
Archive for March, 2007
First, the newsreels of Hiroshima, in the movie taking place in Hiroshima, where the actress in the movie plays an actress making a movie about Hiroshima and peace. A movie about (re)membering what has been (dis)membered. A movie about the horror of forgetting.
It is here, in this movie, where I walk tonight. In the black and white streets of borrowed time, inside the movie set of a movie set, brazen neon flickering numinous promises, the fictional lovers first illuminated, then dowsed like a candle pinched between thumb and forefinger. Can you see me? Will you follow?
(You’re destroying me. You’re good for me.)
The late-night cafe. Cold pale crisp beer. The shadows of moths like tiny black hearts singed by the unexpected flashing burn of rice-paper lanterns. The insatiable koi mouthing the surface of the garden’s pond, like insects fluttering against a lit window, like your face illuminated by the quiet electric glow of your computer screen as you read these words. Like my face, as I write to you.
Here, on the other side of your screen, inside the movie taking place within a movie about Hiroshima, about the illusion of love, about the illusion of not forgetting, I will tell you my stories, I will tell you I love you, and promise you that I will never forget you. Here, in this place, at this moment, it will all be true.
(She: . . . on the fifteenth day too. Hiroshima was blanketed with flowers. There were cornflowers and gladiolas everywhere, and morning glories and day lilies that rose again from the ashes with an extraordinary vigor, quite unheard of for flowers till then. I didn’t make anything up.
He: You made it all up.)
Here, on the other side of your screen, by the River called Ota, which ran by the city where my mother grew up, where the clouds hang low and dark like bruised sulky pansies, and the glimpses of sky behind are a surreal, too-bright Dali blue (not that you would know this . . . don’t forget, this is black and white) I am walking in deeper into the interior of the narrative’s narrative.
Will you follow?
Things here all flurry and hurry after returning from Wednesday’s road trip: visiting writer in town for the O, Canada! reading (exotic Canadian authors in the flesh + hockey fetish = “authentic” Canadian literary goodness), the newly-revived Women’s Research Conference this weekend at the University (among many other wonderful offerings, an amazing panel session with four iconically legendary American Indian women activists), best buddy P. in town for the conference (we read together on a panel and got to catch up in person, for once, instead of our usual M.O. of what S. likes to refer to as “teen phone”).
I read fiction here in the home stadium for the first time, as opposed to poetry. Mind you, I’ve read fiction elsewhere a number of times, but this was the first time most of my colleagues/students/friends had actually heard any of my fiction. Honestly? I was surprised at just how nervous I felt about it.
Then, at the conference banquet, I read some poems, after which I ate the most delicious chocolate cake of my life. It was so delicious and shiny that I couldn’t stop obsessively talking about it in embarrassingly fulsome sexual terms at the party I went to afterwards.
* * *
SAUCY PARTY BADINAGE:
P: It’s amazing how it all fell into place and made perfect sense after meeting people I’ve heard you talk about.
P: Oh . . . so that’s what you were laughing about earlier? Those guys all standing in a circle?
AH: Yes! With the postures! And the pants! And the pockets!
[We all pantomime the postures with the pants and the pockets.]
L: I’m telling you. You don’t want no scrubs, Artichoke Heart. (Pointing to her left.) See? Those are scrubs. You don’t want no scrubs. (Pausing.) Well . . . maybe I’m kidding. I guess they’ve got graduate degrees.
SK: (To B.) But you’re a lesbian!
B: But sometimes it’s just there and it’s long and it’s hard and you just want to take care of it.
BJ: I don’t know where the hood is.
L: What kind of a lesbian are you?
GF: So are you going to watch The L-Word or Battlestar Galactica tomorrow night?
AH: Well, I’ve been invited to The L-Word party. You, however, never invite me to your Battlestar Galactica parties.
GF: I’m not sure if I’d call it a party.
AH: How would I know? I’m not invited.
GF: Mostly it’s just me watching Battlestar Galactica by myself.
GF: With a bottle of wine.
GF: In my boxers.
AH: So I guess what you’re telling me is I’m watching The L-Word, then.
DL: My absolute favorite is tattooed handcuffed Barbie.
* * *
Nine hours round-trip driving today . . . my Author Function judging a Poetry Out Loud competition at the State Capitol.
(In an amusing non sequitur, Googling Googlers now arrive here searching for “author function.”)
Woke up at 5:30 a.m. The first two hours of the drive a complete misery. Potato soup fog. Ran out of wiper fluid, so grime on the windshield congealing into a stubborn gummy mud. Too cold from the smashed-in back window that I keep meaning to fix but don’t, so I have to wear the kooky-ass hat that keeps my ears warm. Yesterday, the mysteriously flattened tire on my Jeep that had to be completely replaced while I struggled with a migraine. It was not possible for me to be any crankier this morning.
So many times, it’s true, I’m just plain lost, but today it was a matter of my not being able to see what I needed to see. At one point, I had to pull over at an out-of-the-way gas station so that I could squeegee off the gunk from my windshield, because in between the fog and the grime, I could not see a damn thing. In fact, I couldn’t locate the turnoff for the gas station (which was, admittedly, an obscure dirt road), and so I accidentally missed the turnoff three different times going back and forth in different directions. By the third time, I was pounding my steering wheel like a crazy person and yelling a stream of profanity that I can’t even begin to repeat because it was just that nasty. Too nasty even for this blog, if you can imagine that.
(Don’t you just love the word squeegee, though? I do.)
Once the fog lifted, though, and once I began to achieve a state of sugary, buzzy, hummy, overcaffeinated near-religious ecstasy resulting from inappropriate and obsessive consumption of gas station cappuccinos (an indulgence with which I bribe myself during onerous road trips), I stopped being such a crank.
West River signboard: Dick’s Body Shop. Free Toe Service.
I arrived in the grasslands late in the morning: iridescent pheasant casually strolling about, hawk on the fencepost, expansively rolling dips and swales a calm wonderment.
Admittedly, just because one can take amusingly bad little pictures on one’s phone and then post them to one’s blog doesn’t necessarily mean one should insist on doing it. Nonetheless:
I wanted to keep driving. All the way to Deadwood. All the way to the Black Hills. All the way to the Badlands.
(I know I shouldn’t. But sometimes I just can’t help myself.)
Libra Horoscope for Week of March 22, 2007:
If we were going to equate your relationship options with varieties of ice cream, we might say that in the next eight weeks you will have a choice between Black Raspberry Avalanche, Caramel Toffee Bar Heaven, Cherry Chip ba da Bing, Grandma’s Cookie Dough, New York Strawberry Cheesecake, Cashew Praline Parfait, Peanut Butter Truffle, and good old Vanilla. Oddly enough, Vanilla might turn out to be the most gratifying. Of all the varieties, it would certainly have the best aftertaste.
Last week a crazed, awful, dervished blur.
One day spinning into the next, too fast for me to keep up, strange circumstances spinning painfully out of control, that unexpected moment of undiluted sweetness in the dark but it happened so fast and I was spun so hard that now I wonder if I made it up, Friday spinning into unrepentant dissolution spinning into Saturday’s dance floor: twirling dancers, art students gyrating their bright costumes like a scattering of leaves, searing flare of fiddle making me flicker all night long like a flame growing reckless on the wick.
I wake up the next day and find that I’ve lost my voice.
I walk and walk and walk, and try to find my words again, try to think of something/anything to say, but the cold green rush of the river’s current erases all my language, birds have hijacked my song and are holding it hostage for their own nefarious purposes like Patty Hearst, and even if I could find my voice, my breath’s been taken away by the same negligent spring wind that tangles my hair into a dark intricate knotwork.
At the end of the day, I’m too exhausted to do more than steep myself into a spent teabag in the bath. There, I dream of fish singing silvered scales, a pure a capella solfege, in the dark. I dream of jellyfish with their ribboned streamers, luminescing like a cascade of moons, or party lanterns. I dream I can swim all night underwater.
My skin pinkens, and steam’s elusive cursive writes to you in the air like my emanuensis.
Where does that time taken away, those 60 missing minutes, that lost hour, go to?
(Is it a slender fold in the space-time continuum, a secret note, taut lacquered rib of a silk fan accordioning back down on itself?
If I were to unfold that hour back open, would the noisy rushing chunks of broken ice, the awkward branches, the unsettled gliding-too-fast ducks rewind themselves backwards up the river?
Would ink lift up off the page, black letters a magnetic tangle in the air, before clattering down to the floor?
Would all the cut flowers in the Wal-Mart seal themselves shut again into invulnerable, vise-tight buds?
You have a little hole in your heart, she said to me, pointing to the tie-dye heart on my chest.
Yes, but if I put my finger here just so, no one really notices, I told her.
What impossibilities exist within that lost hour:
(1) I meet myself coming. You see me take myself aside. I quietly confer. I shake my head. I look away. I’ve made myself sad.
(2) I meet myself going. You see me take myself aside. I quietly confer. I don’t take myself seriously. I laugh.
But no . . . I think I have it all wrong.
I am not there, coming and going, in that fold of time, those missing minutes, that lost hour.
You are not in that fold of time, those missing minutes, that lost hour.
You are that time, those minutes, that hour. The broken ice, the awkward branches, the too-fast ducks. The letters unwriting themselves from the page, the buds clenched shut.
I write you again and again, I reassemble you with forceps and glue like archaeological pottery, I shine light to make you bloom, I rip you open like an unexpected letter, I fuck you and unfuck you, sing and unsing you, unwind you like a tangled froth of ribbon on a present, or pull you back down to me like reeling in an extravagant goldfish kite out of the windy blue blue sky . . . )
But still: It is 12:18 a.m..
Much too late, or maybe much too early, with much too much to do.
Daylight Savings Time.