Seven days overdue - and I know you all have been sitting at home, biting your nails, perched painfully on the edge of your seat, impatiently and anxiously awaiting the gripping, thrilling, scintillating conclusion of 2009 - for that I apologize, but here it is.
First, though, 2010. I need to type it a few more times so it looks less like some crazy future date and more like, you know, now. 2010. 2010. 2010. (Poll: Is it two thousand ten? Or twenty ten? Or, if you are me, and from Oklahoma, where we tend to mush our words together like the innards of a loaded baked potato, tweneetun?)
The drive from Tulsa to Wilmington (the Southerly route this time, still 20 hours, but with a few more turns than the I-40 NC-VA-TN-AR-OK route) was fraught, so I'll relay it to you points-style, because if there are two things in the world I truly and eternally love, it's Diet-Coke-with-Strawberry-Fanta-32-ounce-QuikTrip-drinks and assigning arbitrary points.
Oklahoma: will be omitted due to author partiality (needless to say it wins).
Arkansas: -100 for being so damn big, but +15 for the crazy Hitchcockian flock of birds viewed over the Eastern deltas. Also, +5 for some really entertaining radio, and for the existence of Stuttgart, pronounced, of course, Stut-gard.
Tennessee: +55 because I only clipped the corner of Memphis and traffic wasn't bad at all. -30, however, because I didn't get to drive over the big Mississippi bridge and see that crazy inexplicable glass pyramid.
Mississippi: +40, divided into two 20s - one for the nice moon, which was full and orange, and one for being relatively swiftly overtaken by my speeding Toyota.
Alabama: -200 for the disgusting gas station cappuccino (serves me right I know), the overpriced motel room with the bad TV reception (I spent the whole time composing a letter to the manager: Dear Sir, Not only was your reception awful, there was nothing good to watch. Also breakfast was pretty subpar. Please send a refund immediately), AND the Taco Bell I for some reason decided was a good place to grab a bite to eat, only to wait 20 minutes for a goddamn CrunchWrap Supreme. For the record, CrunchWrap Supremes are a) disgusting and b) notoriously hard to consume while driving on an interstate.
Georgia: +200. Two words: Quick. Trip. So. Many. Of. Them.
South Carolina: - 10,000,000. Of course my luck would run out one state away from home; some asshat did not see me cruising past them in the passing lane (which is for passing and not for driving I will have each and every one of you know) and decided to merge, right into me, or what would have been me if I had not honked like hell and swerved right into the grassy median. Smoke, rubber burning, the works. Then I had a little go-to-pieces over the steering wheel and very soberly drove the rest of the way home.
North Carolina: Should also be omitted due to author's partiality but I just want to mention the radio station I found called BOB FM which proceeded to play, in order: Hall & Oates, that White Town song I was obsessed with at age 11 called "Your Woman" or something, Kings of Leon, Journey, Lynrd Skynrd, and then 15 more completely arbitrary songs. It was amazing. Behold! BOB FM
And now I am here. Which leads us to the past 6 months, briefly summarized below.
As a celebratory end to our down-country then cross-country odyssey where we successfully procured an apartment and an enormous sense of apprehension, Rob and I conclude the trip with a sub-trip from Tulsa to Branson, Missouri, where we ride roller coasters and play mini-golf and Captain Professor, the man steering the Duck, makes some snide remark about how we are "so in love" after he views me merely resting my weary head upon Rob's accommodating shoulder. Needless to say a chorus of "Aww" ensued. Rob drives back to New Jersey; when we next see each other it is at our shared address.
I dog sit. The dog in question escapes. Twice. Both times she is recovered. Both times I consider throttling her. Moral: Shih-tzus are the devil.
My childhood bedroom becomes a maze of papers and boxes and trash bags and chaos as I bravely attempt to condense the past 22 years into piles. I manage to cram my entire education in to one single box. This disturbs me, but not as much as discovering every single hot lunch menu from my elementary school, which I apparently diligently saved, marking each day's fare with smiley or frowny faces (fishstix : ( - cinnamon rolls : ) ). Someday this will be fodder for my sidesplitting and deeply depressing Fat Kid memoir.
I move to Wilmington. During the drive there, I think mostly OH HOLY SHIT OH FUCK REALLY IS THIS HAPPENING OH MY FUCKING GOD. Then we, being my parents and I, arrive at my apartment and spend the next week or so really wishing I owned some chairs. My dad takes his first dip in the ocean; he remarks both that "I can understand why people do this, this beach thing. It's quite relaxing" and also "I'm mad at that ocean. It knocked me down." My folks depart, and I spend three empty days in the apartment, watching too much Law & Order Criminal Intent and having trouble sleeping until Rob arrives, which he finally does, bearing, among other things, furniture.
I attend Orientations and am generally bamboozled by the prospect of being at a different school than the one I just graduated from. I meet some dandy folks. I decide to start a blog.
Rob and I watch too much TV, eat too many hamburgers, do not find jobs. That's about it.
I go to New York City and get real drunk and don't really want to talk about it again. But then there are jobs! Albeit short-lived ones. At the end of the month, my mother arrives and sets the Crisco can on fire, plays DRIBBLIT in a game of Scrabble, sits in the passenger seat while I am breathalyzed, etc.
Rob and I go as a deer and hunter for Halloween. The antlers are currently hanging above our front door.
I get published for the second time! Then I write sometimes and then sometimes I don't when I should, but then I just end up watching marathons of Clean House while Rob is gone for Thanksgiving and wonder why I love Niecy Nash so very much. MFA Thanksgiving is a smorgasborg of tasty. It rains.
I drive back to Tulsa for three weeks that become evenly split like so: reading, drinking, driving, and sleeping. I spend $60 at Gardner's in one amazing sweep of manic book buying. Penny and I go on a few tremendous walks, then she spends the rest of the time moping. She is a sad, sad little dog. Christmas happens - Matthew receives his 30 pound jar of North Carolina sand with grace and confusion, then New Year's - which we ring in with rum and Dr. Pepper - and then, glory be, it's 2010.
I had my first class of the semester the other day and it was like a good slaparound - I'd somehow forgotten that I was a student, and a writer, and pretty much anything else beyond a mere human being. This does not seem like it would be a good thing, but marvelously, I am very determined not to squander any more time. So I redid my desk corner, made it into an actual workable space, and then I cluttered it up with books and letters and Polaroids, and now it certainly looks like a crazy writer's nook, if nothing else. Got myself a new printer, too. We also bought another bookshelf, so the teetering metropolis of paperbacks is gone from the study floor, now shelved nicely downstairs. It looks halfway respectable here.
Shamefully, though, I have to say I am a little more in love with the kitchen than anything else right now. Two reasons: 1) the George Foreman Grill coupled with the prospect of Jarlsberg grilled cheese sandwiches (no really have you tried Jarlsberg? it is the cheese of the gods) and 2) the wall cling Where the Wild Things Are stickers I got at the closeout Blockbuster sale so now we have...wait for it...A Where the Wild Things Are panorama across our kitchen cabinets!
Plus, tonight, I'm grilling salmon. George Foreman would be so, so very proud.