Archive for February, 2008

I get up to discover that crazed beastlets have gnawed a large hole in the shower curtain. Because I really wanted a ragged hole to peer through on those occasions when shower time seemed dull and not-so-fun. Or to keep a bead on the advent of any possible Psycho reenactments.

Then, while writing this morning with my large mug (okay, it’s more of a soup bowl . . . okay, it’s more of a smallish vat) of coffee, cats thundering up and down the length of the apartment like rhinocerouses on crack, Tampopo suddenly charges the little tray on which I’ve set up my laptop and my smallish-vat–setting in motion a tidal wave of coffee cascading in mini-Katrina fashion, all over the laptop keyboard.

Historically, I am kind of meticulous about keeping a keyboard protector on the laptop. Somehow, I got all casual and laissez-faire about things this summer, and the laptop? It’s been going commando for awhile now.

My adored MacBook? FUBAR.


Work completely disrupted/interrupted.

Later on in the day, Aiko charges my dinner salad when I’m trying to pour dressing on it. She wants to get at the grilled chicken. And the almonds. She apparently loves the slivered almonds, too. Somehow, during evasive maneuvers, she ends up lunging at the bowl, knocking it clean out of my hand, and it all goes splattering all over the newly-cleaned kitchen floor.

While I shriek profanities in the kitchen, the kittens gleefully scarf down the windfall of chicken and almond pieces off the kitchen floor.

I have decamped to my office at school, where I am posting this, and reading more-and-more-grim MacBook anecdotes regarding Death by Coffee.

I am frankly afraid to go home, because I will probably return to discover that the kittens have somehow managed to set the place on fire. Or are building a homemade bomb out of common household materials.

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Warning hiss of sinusitis–right eye socket an emergency road flare of pain flickering in the morning dark.

Awake all night, all the thoughts you didn’t want to think about anymore that still insisted on being thought about cylindered around and around and around inside your skull like chilly blue marbles spinning down a slanted hardwood floor.

Icy rain on snow made last night’s streets an accident waiting to happen. Snow coming down all this morning like something ruptured. Everything disintegrates and flakes away. Fresh layers of disappointment erasing icy footprints leading nowhere.

At the end of a stupid and dull afternoon, night was crudely Magic Markered in with squeaky slashes and scrawls. Now wind marionettes the wind chimes like spastic puppets. Your chest clenches.

After what can only be another sleepless night, who will come to scrape you off the ceiling in the morning like chewed-up gum with a putty knife?

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Did I mention that I’m on sabbatical?

Have I mentioned the delicious, greedy book-reading frenzy? An orgy of literary gluttony and debauchery?

Like gobbling a fresh mango right at the kitchen sink–all slippery sweet flesh and sticky juice everywhere–because I can’t be bothered with a plate?

Like an enormous box of gourmet chocolates all to myself. Take a bite out of one and put it back in it’s gold-foil, crinkly-accordion wrapper. Take a bite out of another. And another. And another yet. And circle back to the first one for another taste.

Like an endless parade of pretty, pretty sushi?

Like one espresso after another — without the tachycardia and freakyrapidmanicspeechissues?

Like all-you-can-really-drink festive libations without the embarrassing confessional blurting, poor decision making, soul-sucking-to-the-point-that-you-must-jab-a-pointy-stick-in-your-eye-for-distraction hangover, and concomitant panic attack?

Like __________ without __________???

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In other news, the kittens are wild, marauding, thieving, frenzied beastlets. Just wanted to get that out there.

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It was like winning the lottery. Stranded at Chicago O’Hare, my name was called for the last remaining standby seat on the 5:10 plane to Sioux Falls. Amazing luck, yes? My suitcase finally caught up with me today, and I’ve been nesting with books and cats and coffee. It was a wonderful trip, but I’m glad to be home again.

On my last day in upstate New York, I was taken to the Everson Art Gallery in Syracuse, where, among other exhibits, I got to see the Pollock Matters exhibit (scroll down to bottom of linked page) which was absolutely fascinating. The story of the Pollocks and their authenticity was, of course, interesting, but perhaps even more intriguing to me were the photographs and possible influence of Herbert Matter on Pollock’s aesthetic, as well as the story of Herbert and Mercedes Matter’s friendship with Pollock and Lee Krasner. I also learned that Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming, which I never knew before.

Later on that day, following a dinner of delicious Mediterranean food, I got to see the Martha Graham Dance Company perform with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. The performance included the well-known Appalachian Spring, but also three other stunning pieces–all replete with the original costumes and original sets (most of which were by Isamu Noguchi). The expressiveness and modern lyricism of Graham’s choreography was just gorgeous–as well as its interconnectedness with modern music and art. There was a moment in the second piece, titled Diversion of Angels, which Graham said was inspired by the paintings of Kandinsky, in which a dancer in a red costume races and leaps across the front of the stage like a streak of red paint in a Kandinsky painting. That moment was unmistakable. And it made me happy.

I’ve been fascinated with this time period–mid-century modern–for some time now. I’m obsessed with it . . . can’t get enough. Both the Pollock exhibit and the dance/symphony performance seemed like necessary things for me to see right now . . . I can’t explain why, exactly, but it was precisely what I needed.

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(And in which I also realize the faux-antiquated “In which I am . . . ” titles are of limited amusement, if they even were amusing in the first place.)

Dear Blogosphere:

I am stranded at Chicago O’Hare airport. Again!

My flight to Sioux Falls has been canceled. Furthermore, Northwest Airlines and United Airlines played ping-pong with me for about an hour this morning, as neither one really wanted to claim/deal with me. (United initially said that since I was originally a Northwest customer switched over to United on the outbound flight, they had limited agency to reroute me to other airlines, and Northwest said that now that I was switched over to United, they had limited agency to reroute me as well.) There was a sad period of time in which I was a customer floating about in the airport without an airline. I contemplated a future of simply living in Chicago O’Hare. (Because I figured that upon departing the secured area I would undoubtedly cease to exist altogether, thereby prompting either (a) my arrest, or (b) an existential crisis from which there would be no hope of recovery).

I am now on standby for a 5:10 flight to Sioux Falls. In the event that doesn’t pan out, I will be on standby for an 8:30 flight to Sioux Falls. In the meantime, everyone is also hoping that the weather, which is questionable, doesn’t become markedly worse, resulting in cancellation of flights on which one is hoping against all hope, to fly out on standby today.

There may or may not be available flights out to Sioux Falls tomorrow.

But the good news is that I can probably get out on Tuesday.

The Standby Situation here, I might add, is totally Lord of the Flies. One family was Sophie’s Choiced on a flight to Appleton, Wisconsin.

Dear Blogosphere, please send me Emergency K-Rations (or dispatch Catherine Zeta Jones) should I end up stranded in Chicago O’Hare ad infinitum . . like in that Tom Hanks movie.

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Today is my last day in Oswego. This afternoon I’ll head up to Syracuse for sight-seeing, dinner, and symphony, then will spend the night there and fly out early tomorrow morning. The last few days have been an amazing blur of readings and workshops. On Thursday, I met with a history class at SUNY Oswego, read some historical monologues and talked about the intersection of history and creative work. The students there all had really great questions. Then I gave a Valentine’s Day reading at the library cafe — all buggy insect and mollusk love. After that, I conferenced individually with some exceptionally talented (and nice!) SUNY Oswego creative students, which made for a great rest of the afternoon! (One of the students kindly pointed out to me that Lake Ontario would act as a natural geographical buffer and thereby prevent me from accidentally driving into Canada in a Tourette’s-like spasm of directional dyslexia, and so I’ve been feeling really good about that ever since!)

Oh! And also on Thursday? I gorged on unspeakably delicious Thai carry-out from Oswego’s House of Thai! I had a Spicy Crystal Salad that I think I’m going to be reminiscing yearningly about for months to come.

On Friday, I traveled to the Village(!) of Hannibal and read at Hannibal High School and conducted a day-long workshop with the high school students. Later that night I gave my final reading for the trip at the Safe Haven Museum located in Fort Ontario.

* * *

This is my (finally) Special Dog Friend Julius from the charming Serendipity B&B in Oswego. Julius is suspicious. When I was here earlier this summer, he wouldn’t even deign to be in the same room with me. When I arrived this trip, he came right up to me and licked my hand. However, he wouldn’t let me pet him. Which was tragic, because he is so cute and soft and fawn-colored, and reminds me of one of my All-Time Favorite Top Blog Dogs, the awesome Chalupa. Julius withheld and withheld and withheld, but finally last night, let me pet him. Lest I get too big for my boots, however, it appears that I am only allowed to pet him on Fridays, but not on Saturdays. Suspicious Julius, much like my very own Yuki the Cat, apparently has complicated Julius Hoops that one must jump through.

* * *

Here I am, playing around with my MacBook Photobooth, before my Safe Haven reading last night, and this morning in my favorite Santa Claws lobster pajamas. (I should probably not confess to having a favorite pair of Santa Claws lobster pajamas, but I guess I just did, so there you go.)

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First, the flight out of Sioux City is canceled due to mechanical failures.

So I am rerouted to a different airline out of Sioux Falls. And so I drive to Sioux Falls. The flight out of Sioux Falls is delayed due to mechanical issues because it is just So. Freaking. Cold.

The flight from Sioux Falls finally leaves, and circles Chicago O’Hare for a lengthy time, and after landing, waits in line for an impossibly long time before deplaning. I just barely make the connecting flight.

However, the connecting flight is similarly delayed. First by one hour. Then by two hours.

Also? Can I mention that I have Midol-immune cramps of operatic proportions? And a headache? And that I am hungryangrylonelytired?

Apparently, while I am in the bathroom, a gate change is announced. It is not, however, reflected on the LED monitor behind the gate counter. So I think that all is well. I read my book and wait. And wait and wait. The time for departure arrives and I wonder why boarding hasn’t commenced. All of a sudden, the flight on which I am supposed to be disappears from the LED monitor, and a different flight pops up. I panic. I flitter at the counter: WhathappendtomyflightIdontseemyflightwhat’shappening? They tell me there’s been a gate change. I’m supposed to be boarding my flight right at that very moment at a gate located on the opposite end of O’Hare.

I commence to do the dreaded adrenaline-fueled full-on-panic Run and Flail with roller bag bouncing in tow through O’Hare Airport. Because what could be better than that? Did I mention that my travel day was in it’s twelfth hour at this point in time? I arrive at the gate sweaty and freaked out and with a large blister on the ball of my foot. The plane has to be cracked back open for me.

My flight arrives in Syracuse at about 12:40 a.m. I am supposed to pick up a rent-a-car from Enterprise, but it turns out that the Enterprise counter closes at 11:30 p.m. So I get my bag from baggage claim, and procure a taxi to take me to the Best Western, where I am to spend the night prior to giving a morning reading in Syracuse.

At the Best Western, the computers are down, and the keycard-making device defunct, and so I can’t be checked into my room. There is only one person working, and so she has to call her boss. I am finally let into my room at about 2:00 a.m. I am able to get sorted out and into bed at about 3:00 a.m.

However, despite the quirky travel day, I ended up where I needed to be, and that’s all that counts, when all is said and done, and I’ve had a fabulous three days so far here in upstate New York! I read at Onondaga Community College on Monday, and then gave a reading and several workshops at Wolcott Middle School on Tuesday. Today I read at SUNY Oswego, and visited with Ira Sukrungruang’s (delightful!) creative writing class. Plus? I am driving a rental car! And I have not accidentally ended up in Canada yet! Hooray!

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My parents explained the facts of life to me early on, but for the longest time, I thought that when two people wanted to have a baby, they made an appointment at the doctor’s office. And then they had sex while the doctor supervised to make sure they performed the procedure correctly.

I thought it was okay to volunteer my accurate, albeit clinical, knowledge about where babies came from when I was invited to Sunday school by the girl across the street, whose mother was undoubtedly concerned about my heathenish ways. It was springtime. Easter. We were being invited to talk about baby lambs and chicks and ducklings. It seemed like a natural segueway. I wasn’t invited back.

I thought astronauts really did eat Pilsbury Space Food sticks while they were on the moon. I thought Pilsbury Space Food sticks were the Best. Food. Ever.

I thought nachos were really called machos (what my mother called them) because you had to be macho to eat all those jalapeno peppers.

I thought a party line was called a party line because you had a party after school with rice crackers and hot tea and listened to the neighbors talking on the phone with your hand clamped over the receiver so they couldn’t hear you and your mother laughing at them.

I thought everyone else was also required to call their parents “ma’am” and “sir” at home.

I thought it was perfectly normal for families never to answer the telephone or the doorbell unless a Top Secret Code was involved.

I thought that: American people don’t know how to tie nice bow on back of dress, and that if I rubbed my nose: Polico going to think you making the Drug Abuser Salute and you get arrest and have to go to jail.

I thought that if I hitchhiked, kidnappers would kidnap me and chop off both my hands with an axe.

I thought that if I left a door unlocked, burglars would break into the house and shoot everyone in the head.

I thought there was such a thing as perfect. I thought that if something wasn’t perfect, it was a dee-aster, and shame would rain down upon the entire family.

I thought that if I rubbed the gnarled South Seas carving with bony ribs and pendulous breasts that my mother named Aunt Aku Aku and rubbed for good juju, I could avoid mistakes (memory slip at the piano competition, wrong letter at the spelling bee, an A without the plus) and forestall dee-aster.

I thought I was supposed to be allergic to cats.

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