Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Saga of 2009, Part One.

Friends! First and foremost, there are officially seven of you! Seven! As of my last post there were three followers; this is a 200% increase from last post! Or possibly infinite! Disregarding the actual mathematics, I can say only that it makes me very happy to know there are at least seven individuals in the world who care to squander their non-Facebook time on this little site o' mine (I'm gonna let it shine?). There is also a very large possibility that I have eight readers, the eighth being my father, who googled me once and found my previous blog even though I expressly did not inform him of its existence. It was weird.

Matthew and I just braved the wintry streets of Tulsa to go see The Road. Here's a tip: if it's wintry out, do not go see The Road. If you are feeling at all unhappy, do not go see The Road. If you are with a person who is not your arch nemesis, do not go see The Road (if it is your arch nemesis by all means go ahead). If you, like me, watched Children of Men and then demanded that someone in the room give you a hug promptly afterward because you felt so generally unhappy, do not go see The Road. (The hug was helpful though thanx guyz).

So now, having seen The Road, which is about the apocalypse and eating grasshoppers and running from crazy hillbilly cannibals and overall despair and bleakness and the dregs of humanity, a year-end review seems a little silly. But I'm gonna do it anyway. Because this is my blog. And I can do what I want.

Plus I mean 2009 was kind of a big deal. Behold!

After experiencing such thrilling sites as the World's Largest Totem Pole, The Big Blue Whale of Catoosa, and Pop's Soda Store Emporium Gas Station Burger Joint of Wonder, Rob concludes his first ever visit to Tulsa; his departure is saddening, but also reaffirms that my hometown is the absolute shit.

We acquire Scrabble, the cat, who spends a lot of time being adorable and kittenish and then morphing into a hellion with razor claws, which somehow find their way up my nose one night while I am trying to sleep.

I return to Blam Blamilton for the last semester ever but am too busy flailing/berserking/breakdancing in the throes of grad school applications to really take notice and/or care. The last of my nine applications goes off; at the end of the month, I'm accepted at Pittsburgh.

My birthday (the 1st!) falls on a Sunday; after considering the chaos of my 21st birthday in Berlin combined with a growing sense of unease tacked on to the awful weather of central New York in February, I decide not to throw a party for the big double-2. While I am talking on the phone with Rob the Thursday before my B-day, Winston comes by to insist I go downstairs right that second because SURPRISE they threw me a surprise birthday party! There was a cake; there was also a case race. It was an overall tremendous evening and Cameron made a B-Day Hell Mix CD (which I am listening to right now!) and I think we listened to the Fleet Foxes/All The Single Ladies mashup at least 45 times straight. Or that might have been another night. It doesn't matter.

Rob and I and a few SU folks drive from central NY to Geneseo to Chicago, allegedly to attend AWP. In reality, the conference makes me fidgety and anxious about grad school, so Rob and I ditch the whole thing and go up the Sears Tower on Valentine's Day. We sleep in Kara's closet in Hyde Park - no, actually, in a closet. I walk past the table of my future grad school and see three dudes with beards; in later months, I will learn their names. On the drive back, Sara's mother feeds us a delicious meal of chicken and itty bitty onions which she got from Top Chef. This makes Sara's mother unspeakably awesome. Also: chocolate-covered pretzel rods. With M&Ms.

Things get crazy busy and I stress out a lot and all is quiet on the grad school front for quite some time. Then the rejections start piling up. One Friday, conveniently the English department's First Friday, I am rejected from both Brown and Iowa; I proceed to join my professors in the pub for First Friday, get belligerently buzzed, and accost everyone. And by everyone I mean all of my professors.

Spring Break meant one week in Tulsa of which I don't remember anything; there may have been Scrabble (the game, not the cat). I may have lost. Poorly. The other half was spent in Rob's dorm room in Pennsylvania, where we inadvertently watched only movies featuring animated mice (The Rescuers Down Under, The Secret of Nimh) and played a lot of Super Mario 3. Actually, Vish played Super Mario 3 and I shouted things like "GET THE RED YOSHI NO DON'T LET HIM FALL NO GO GET HIM."

Back at Shamilton. A lot of things I don't want to remember occur, mainly things involving idiotic student media bureaucracy and certain individuals who once graced the uppermost spots of my hypothetical hit list (that spot now belongs permanently to Scrabble - the cat, not the game. No, seriously, she's a bitch). My list of grad school responses dwindles, slowly, and within a week I'm admitted to Montana and good ol' UniWilmi. At my senior dinner, where, unsurprisingly, we all get trashed, a certain alumnus regards my two options as such: Good skiing or good golfing? This, apparently, being how a Hamilton student should think.

At this point I have also read so much Willa Cather she is haunting me like a creepy, conservative, cranky old lady ghost.

My thesis: written. My final Willa Cather paper: fought through like a machete through a jungle. Willa Cather: back in her grave where she belongs. My spare time: spent looking at pictures of the ocean!

Senior Week is mainly Rob and I running amok, wading in Oneida Lake, then driving around all of Oneida Lake, then wondering where the last four hours went.

I graduate! Good riddance! No, not really. Well, kind of. Our last night is tearful, then smoky, then it's sun-up, then I'm driving off with my folks, to Cooperstown, where we participate in the Beverage Trail, which might as well be called Get Tipsy All Day Every Day Best Graduation Trip Ever.

After a creepy and kind of bizarre rendezvous in a Binghampton Dunkin Donuts parking lot, I send my folks back to Oklahoma and Rob drives me and all my stuff to Jersey. Here, we plot and plan and I do laundry, and then we embark on three weeks of East Coast road tripping. Our mission? To find an apartment in Wilmington, and to not kill each other. Both are successes.

Highlights include but are not limited to: the craziest mini-golf course ever outside of D.C. with Annie, the wild ponies of Assateague, Graceland in Memphis, one night of hard drinking and nostalgia in Nashville (hi Alec!), the Atlanta Aquarium, riding boats on the Outer Banks, that lake we found in Virginia, the reliably delicious Catfish Hole in Arkansas, reading the entirety of The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull aloud to one another, and many, many others. Lowlights include but are not limited to: 200 mosquito bites in one night, the rainy weather in Maryland, the scrapple omelet I had in Ocean City (to be fair this one was my fault), rain, rain, rain, the hipsters at the Rune Stones in Georgia, the traffic in Atlanta, the heat in Memphis, oh, and trying to find an apartment and deal with the whole holy shit we're moving here business.

An eventful first six months, to say the least. The next half comes tomorrow, though it probably won't be as exciting, considering you folks already read about all of it - either way, that's all for now, my knuckles are all achey and my pillow's a-calling.

Good Night, God Bless, and Guten Appetit.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Saga of Snow-klahoma.

Please also see the following representations of the past two weeks spent here in the 918, also known as Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I once grew up: Smoke-lahoma, Broke-lahoma, Bro-klahoma, Karaok-lahoma, Folks-lahoma, Choke-lahoma, Oh No-klahoma.

There are 1, 296 miles between Tulsa and Wilmington. Probably 1,150 of those miles are on Interstate 40. Interstate 40 and I became very good pals over the twentyish hours I spent cruising across North Carolina, the southeastern corner of Virginia, the great long expanse of Tennessee, the brain-numbing deltas and cramped traffic of Arkansas, until finally, the glorious Muskogee Turnpike, where the speed limit is 75 and the state troopers busy someplace else. It was a day and a half's drive total (I spent most of the time shouting at the other cars, scolding and cursing them); my folks were expecting me in the next day (it took them 3 days to do the same route, which you could make a mathematical equation out of: half the age equals twice the speed?), so I arrived to an empty house, and for a minute I actually thought, why did I stop? I could be in Amarillo tonight. I could see the Pacific ocean by Monday morning.

Then I let Penny in the house and we fell asleep on the couch together and all was well again.

Then I did a lot of tremendously idiotic things, most of which involved vodka tonics and karaoke and that sweeping and utterly false sense of grandeur, cinematic significance, that comes of driving home alone on a Tuesday night at 3 in the morning when all the streets are empty and you definitely wouldn't pass a breathalyzer test. Fortunately these were not solitary plummets (WHAT UP BITCHES) into the realm of Going Out in Tulsa and therefore I do not regret them one mite. Though I do regret the tequila shots. And Gold Digger. You know it's bad when the emcee announces, "Look at this little white girl trying to rap. How cute." Never mind that the emcee is a scrawny white guy himself, emceeing karaoke at the only leather bar in Tulsa, a place called the Screaming Eagle. Never mind that I was there in the first place.

I am, for the record, an amazing rapper. Just not on Gold Digger.

Coming home this time around has been weirder than ever, a trapeze act of swinging from Wilmington, where I'm the youngest, where I'm inexperienced, where I feel like a kid-playing-at-adulthood a lot of the time, to Tulsa, where Jesus H Happenstance, how did we get so old? We try and remember what year it was when we stayed up all night getting lit on two shared Sam Adams in Ariel's attic bedroom during the Solstice Party, or smoking peach cigars in Woodward Park, or who was first chair in the cellos in Orchestra; all our memories one enormous cardboard box that's suddenly become very old, very heavy.

Meanwhile I'm realizing I've already undergone a semester of graduate school, and that invites a whole slew of doubts and confusions and ugly unwanted conclusions: what the hell do I think I'm doing? where is this going? In this way it is uncannily like being in Vienna - I'd sit in some ornate cafe outside the Hofburg complex and smoke Lucky Strikes and write and write and write, ignorant to the architecture, the atmosphere, wanting only to know what the fuck I was supposed to be doing. As if there is some one accountable thing, some planner, recipe, instruction book that I lost.

But the visiting writer in November illuminated a lot for me, a kindly, softspoken man who forgave my absolute incoherent nervous rambling when I met with him, and who convinced me that I am learning, I am working towards something, even if it doesn't feel like it. I asked how do you train yourself; he said it happens, or something to that effect.

In essence, he forgave me for spending 3 hours hunting down graph paper composition notebooks (another symptom of Vienna, because they don't use lined paper over there), and for scribbling dozens of insane fragments on notepads and pinning them to my bulletin board (SANDY ALLEN TALLEST WOMAN IN WORLD/ WALKING RACES/ BLACK FRIDAY?), and for driving to the beach in December for no other reason that to look at the water. Drinking too much coffee, spending all morning and some of the afternoon reading in a big armchair. Riding my bike. Wearing cardigans and purchasing tote bags
and checking out too many books from the library.

In essence, it was forgiveness for not doing what I thought I'd be doing, which is waking up early, editing, printing, mailing, submitting, discussing, researching, analyzing, pondering, epiphanizing, philosophizing, writing.

And that's why I am real keen on 2010 getting here. It's a new goddamn decade! And I am full of a hundred thousand resolutions, or even just suggestions, or even just hopes. Those are easiest, by far. And really, at the top of the list is something my father keeps telling me to do when I am scowling and cranky (usually hungry): lighten up. Don't be so hard on yourself. Rob tells me to do this too, but I've had a lot of time to perfect being self-brutalizing, if only in my head.

So! In the physical, actual world, there is a lot of snow. Tulsa, in hopes of keeping its throne in the finals for World's Worst Weather, received its first ever blizzard warning. It was a white Christmas, yes, but a snowed-in one, too, a drive-if-you-dare, a good-thing-you-have-on-Demand-TV-and-can-watch-4-hours-of-Mad-Men Christmas, too. Penny and I went on an adventure up and down the street yesterday afternoon; there are few things funnier than watching a Corgi trample through a foot of snow. We had a grand time.

I also received the most amazing gift of all: a George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine. This was remarkable because I had expressed want all of a week before Christmas, and usually, this means No Chance in Hell, but remarkably, Mom--or Santa!?!--pulled through. Truthfully, I'm awful glad the holidays are at last at an end. Matthew got us 4 dozen oysters for our Christmas Eve appetizer feast. Mom refused to eat any because they looked like sputum. Then she had to work on Christmas Day, so our Christmas Dinner Proper is currently cooking downstairs--at last count, Mom had used 5 sticks of butter. I love this state.

And hey! I just discovered I have all of THREE subscribers! This is monumental. One is Rob, shockingly, and one is Rob's pal Jordan, but the third is Ball of Flame Shoot Fire, this band of guys who are all right I guess (no I'm kidding they are actually great) who should a) save me a t-shirt and b) institute a holiday tradition of covering songs from Muppet Christmas Carol. Please listen to this and then tell me you are not beside yourself with unmitigated holiday joy. Then go listen to their other songs too.