I’ve been neglecting this blog. I’m a bad blogger. Honestly I blame it on a) living, b) the damn cold (how can I blog if my fingers are freezing?), and c) books.
I recently thought about re-reading The Savage Detectives. I liked that book so much and I’m putting off reading some of Bolano’s others (the few I have left). I really wish he wasn’t dead. Anyway, instead of rereading, I ended up flipping through and looking at the notes I had made while I read it the first time. And reading a few reviews of it online. It's funny to me that several reviews didn't actually get past the first 150 pages. I wouldn't have any idea anything about the book if I'd only read that much. Anyway, I don’t know why I write notes. I have no papers to write, don’t belong to a book club, and I haven’t written a review in a long time. God, what a book. Anyway, you should read it.
Also distracting me from blogging this week: Lily Hoang’s Parabola, Ayn Rand’s Anthem, and Arthur Rimbaud, who I’m currently in love with. I’m reading/rereading/gorging myself on A Season in Hell like it’s a Thanksgiving turkey. Parabola is also a force to be reckoned with. Stretching the definition of “novel” to a nearly unrecognizable form, this book is entertaining like nothing I’ve come across. The book wants me to figure out who I am. Or at least that’s what I think the tests are for. I’m closer, anyway. I might be a De-Constructor or a Doer. Also, a Sadist. Generally also anytime a writer wants to throw science in, I’m pretty delighted. If you need a book to shake you up a bit, to look at your own work a little differently, this is a good place to start.
And Anthem? Well, I don’t think Rand writes anything that isn’t one. The scope is always larger than the pages in your hands. For some reason this slim allegorical tale makes me want to try my hand at filmmaking. Maybe it’s just the image of the light in the tunnel, maybe the glass house on the hill. Ah, collectivism. Perhaps I’ll get a group together to make the film. (No I won’t.)
This week also saw me on the road. I can be fussy on the road, but this was mostly a good time. Carol and I read in Portland with Emily Kendal Frey. Like I’d special-ordered it, Emily read Airport, which you can find here: http://issuu.com/bluehourpress/docs/airport.
I read some of the new conspiracies, and also from Money for Sunsets. Carol, in my opinion, did not read nearly long enough. Also, she did not read the poem about the girl in the photograph with a plastic gun. I will make her bend to my will on this soon.
The Democracy of Bad Food
When I travel I eat a lot. Every coffee is a soy latte (which I never get at home, too candy-like), four dollars for a drink seems like nothing when you're moving at rapid rates of speed, when you're away from and feel you'll never get home. I eat on the road. My favorites: Subway sandwiches, waxen chocolate Donettes, fruit leather, scratch-off lottery tickets.
On Wednesday we did not take the train. Instead of the 8am departure, I walked the dog in the morning, walked the little lady to the yoga, cleaned house, packed the car, rolled around on the (newly cleaned) floor with the dogs, picked the little lady up from yoga, all her duds in the trunk and ready to go. On the way we stopped at the Mount Vernon co-op, a half hour south of Bellingham, oh land of richly organic produce and fantastic prepared foods. The sandwich I got tasted like soap. Or rather, the first bite with cucumber and pepperjack cheese tasted like soap. The turkey was smoked and not what I asked for. And every bite I was waiting for soap. I ate half the sandwich, not good for me (I'm an eater) and all of a great big Snickerdoodle to rid myself of the memory of (what I thought was) goddamn soap. Cookie for lunch=excellent start to any trip.
In Portland, I did not ask where the Indian restaurant was. I was a little turned around, but I knew there was a really good place close by that I'd been to before. We walked a few blocks, it was cold. Or, I should say, C was cold. So we picked a nice-looking Thai place. The boys working there were nice, it was clean, they gave us water, smiles, got tipped well. Back in the room, hotel towels for napkins, bad TV going, we ate Thai food that tasted like paper towels. I ate just to feel the texture, then scraped all the peanuts off the top and nibbled on those. Then had a great big chocolate chip cookie. Peanuts and cookie for dinner=excellent continuation of trend. I also had a soda, which I never have. Thank you traveling belly.
In the morning (starved), I had bad coffee at the corner coffee shop and a tasteless and stale croissant. Back in the room, cozy and showered, I spied something with baguettes in the window on the next block and had the best salad I've had all week. Okay, the only salad, but it was good. Walnuts and apples and bleu cheese. Lettuce, too.
Dinner was a pizza delivered by an uncool boy with a bad faux hawk. The pizza was cold-ish, but excellent. I also had a soda, drank directly from a two-liter bottle C wanted nothing to do with. In the morning I had another piece and got all the way to Everett before I was hungry again (more than two-hundred miles). Had a Subway sandwich, the bread of which tasted ridiculously sweet. They put sugar in that? Seriously? I picked the nine grain. What does that mean to them? Is sugar the ninth grain? Then C cooked vegetables when we got home, though I went to happy hour and Art Walk and didn't get home until 8 (much earlier than I should have, tired, tired, for Art Walk). Ah, vegetables.
I made soup last night.
And How the City Could Have Failed Us
The drive down was peaceful, easy. The last few times I've taken the train because the last few times before that it's taken me, respectively, 10 hours to get to Portland, 10 hours to get to Monmouth, 6 hours to get to Oly. It was that last trip to Oly (only 140 miles) that made me give up on driving. Portland should take 5-6 hours; Olympia, 3 with bad traffic. This time it took 5 hours to get to the Fremont Bridge in Portland. It's the bridge you take just after you get onto 405 and is the second-longest tied arch bridge in the world (I like reading about bridges; I do not like driving on them).
My mother used to joke that she'd close her eyes while she drove over bridges. I don't do this. I open windows. You know, just in case I end up in the water. I don't want to die all boxed in and watching water.
We hit traffic, bad traffic. Enough to sit on the bridge for nearly an hour, feeling the breeze and the tremble from the weight of traffic. I understand about failure factors and how most bridges are constructed with a factor of at least 7, weight-wise. I should be calmed, but I'm not. I've seen far too many videos about bridge failures to want to be one of the cars that feels the weight give away, hear the whine of metal and the thundersnap of everything going wrong. I don't panic while driving over them. I panic while sitting still on them. C rolled down the window. It was bone cold and I rolled them up again. "But," she said. I said, "I know, but at this height it would be like hitting concrete; there's no way we'd survive the impact. I'm not at all worried about the water."
The drive back, even with all our stops only took us 5 hours. I have faith in traffic again.
Boys Who Look Like
Jay Farrar hasn't aged. I went to see Son Volt night before last, kind of with Oliver and Meredith, kind of by myself because C didn't want to go. I never saw Uncle Tupelo because I only knew about them after they broke up. Some people followed one second marriage (Wilco), some followed the other (Son Volt); I've always liked both for different reasons. I think they were stronger together still. Anodyne is a genius album. No Depression too. Neither Wilco nor Son Volt have (in my mind) achieved this kind of greatness.
Jay Farrar had a bandaid over the bridge of his nose, a little tummy, and a spot of grey in the scruff of his facial hair. Other than that, he looks exactly as he did when I first saw him in 1996.
The lead guitarist was strangely attractive to me. I haven't looked him up, he's nobody I recognized. Younger than, probably 30. I had a sudden thought that he was probably good in bed. And maybe why the woman next to me never took her eyes off his tremolo-ing hands.
Sera Cahoone opened. Not my type, and her stage presence didn't add anything to the music, so I hung back and talked while she played. I liked the music though.
The boy at the Mac store yesterday also had a huge gash on the bridge of his nose. A theme. He was blonde in that way that made me think of all the boys in Salt Lake City I saw the first time I ever went there. Blonde boys at the gas station pumping gas. Blonde boys pouring Slushees. Blonde boys holding the hands of their blonde children, crossing streets.
At a coffee shop before the reading Thursday night, the barista reminded me so much of B I almost missed her. The good B. The quick wit and innocently seductive way of moving. The one that didn't ultimately hate me. But really, I suppose all incarnations would have disliked me eventually.
I bought a pastry from her, just to go up to the counter again.
A Son Volt standard:
The Biggest Fan
If I'd been on stage I would have been terrified of him. I don't think there was anything wrong with him, he was just really into the show. He looked like somebody's dad who had just been let out for the night after a rough few weeks locked in a house where no one talked about anything but female issues. Balding, short hair rimming the shiny pate, a straight-man's jacket, ill-fitted jeans (everybody has jeans that will fit them right, but hardly anybody wears them), a polo shirt. Maybe he was drunk. Right up against the low stage. The stage is elevated only about a foot and a half higher than the rest of the crowd. One good step and anyone could be up there with little effort. The man rocked out, hands alternately in his pockets, alternately cupped to the back of his head (as in, oh-my-god-i-can't-believe-it's-really-them?), lots of movement from the upper torso, lots of singing along. People around him had to stand back. Seriously. By half way through the show he probably had an equal audience to the band. I could see the guys in the band look at him from time to time, never laughing the way the fools in the crowd did, probably waiting for the inevitably gun or knife or broken bottle to come at them. We live in crazy times. This man looked the part.
The Dirt of Powell's and Other Bookstores
Looking Glass Books actually had a surprisingly good collection. Lots of stuff from Dalkey Archive, a press I really admire.
If you look at their website it's a caboose and they say it's much bigger than it looks. It is much bigger than it looks. It's a caboose connected to a house porch closed over, connected to the front of a house, all of which contain walls of books. I didn't buy anything, I was too distracted by talking to people and talking to my wonderful aunts who made the long drive north to see us. C bought a couple of things, right now all I can remember is David Rees’ Get Your War On.
At Powells, everything seemed strangely gritty. Like the front room, mud room of a house will seem in winter. The gravel wants in. I felt it everywhere. But maybe I was just irritated they didn't have everything I wanted. What I did buy: Noy Holland's What Begins With Bird, Lawrence Sutin's When to Go into the Water, Lance Olsen's 10:01, Denise Duhamel's Ka-Ching, Rimbaud's Illuminations (though not the Donald Revell translation I wanted), and Herve Guibert's To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life.
I watched this on TV.
The last time I saw it was on a little TV in Mark's room in high school. Neither of us knew the other was gay. I knew that a) Sharon Stone had gone to high school near where we were and that she slept with the whole football team and also my neighbor who went to school with her, and b) that I would sleep with her if I had the chance. Mark and I ate popcorn. And talked loudly enough that his mother told us to shut up; his father had to work early the next day.
It's still a good movie. Sharon Stone is still hot. It occurs to me that I'm probably now about the age she was then. She seemed so old and untouchable. I have little interest in her now.