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.