21 October 2003

Multi-tasking right now, which always makes me feel a little chaotic in thought.... It's Sunday night, time to do all the domestic chores I didn't do over the weekend. Currently, I'm running a load of laundry in the wash, and another in the dryer, and--

-- and then Megan called, and I talked to her for almost an hour. We talked about how we both bought big jugs of apple cider and little pumpkins to put on our windowsills, and how it's going to be in the 80s tomorrow in both Albuquerque and Milwaukee.

Zeke is snoring in my bed, the laundry's finished (I folded and put it all away while talking to Megan), and I'm a little nervous about how not-tired I am. I have to drive out to Moriarty tomorrow morning and be there in time for first period, which means I'll need to leave the house around 7:00. The only good thing about that is that I can listen to Morning Edition while I drive, which should make the trip slightly less boring than usual.

Another good thing is that I replaced my favorite halogen lamp (left in Des Moines with Cam, I believe) last week for a mere $4.22. Working in a thrift store is so convenient! Also, I now have a big mattress supplementing my air-mattress, so my bed looks more like a real bed, and less like a poor college student's floor mattress. These are good things. And now, with my many candles and my lamp, I finally can achieve the quality of lighting I like best in my room, the kind that softens the corners and hides the dog hair.

The highlight of the weekend was yesterday, when Lisa and I spent several hours wandering around Albuquerque posting poetry in public spaces: on bulletin boards, on kiosks, in bathroom stalls, in laundry mats, in parking garages, and in phone booths. We put up somewhere around 100 copies, I think, because I printed out four copies of each of twenty-something poems. The titles now gracing our fair city are as follows:

John Ashbery, Paradoxes and Oxymorons
John Ashbery, The Painter
W. H. Auden, Musee des Beaux Arts
Elisabeth Bishop, One Art
Eavan Boland, The Lost Land
Billy Collins, The Flight of the Reader
Rita Dove, Flash Cards
Louise Erdrich, Windigo
Allen Ginsberg, A Supermarket in California
Jorie Graham, The Geese
Robert Hass, Letter
HD (Hilda Doolittle), #39 from The Walls Do Not Fall
LeRoi Jones, Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note
John Keats, To Autumn
Audre Lorde, Hanging Fire
Edgar Lee Masters, George Gray
Pablo Neruda, Puedo Escribir Los Versos...
Frank O¡¯Hara, Why I Am Not A Painter
Mary Oliver, Wild Geese
Adrienne Rich, Song
Wallace Stevens, The Plain Sense of Things
Derek Walcott, The Season of Phantasmal Peace
Richard Wilbur, The Writer

We noticed that many of them -- the Erdrich, the Graham, the Hass, the Keats of course, the Oliver, Rich, Stevens, and even the Walcott, a little -- are autumn poems, but they're autumn poems by northern poets. Lots of falling leaves and flying geese, things we're not getting too much of out here. Ah, well.... Also, I made sure to hang the Walcott over these posters advertising the "George Bush School for Public Administration." Phantasmal peace is right....

I kept thinking of all the times I went out with Nat to hang posters for YB shows, how we'd discuss which posters on a kiosk should be covered or not, how sometimes we'd argue about it, where I'd be defending one poster or event or group, for no real reason but that for some reason it spoke to me, and other times we'd be in total agreement about who should be covered up by the YB posters. Also, I thought of the year I was the Bob's publicity manager, how I'd spent between two and six hours every week walking up and down campus, hanging signs. I had a system down then, wore my rolls of masking tape like bracelets, made five or six different signs at a time and sorted them into piles such that I never hung two of the same signs side by side on the loggia walls. Many weeks, I timed my postering so that I might just casually run into a crush as he got off work, or so I could end my posterwalk in the PEC when Ali was working.

Too, as I wandered through campus with Lisa, and listened to her stories about different classrooms and dorms, I tried to imagine how my life would have been if I had come here for college according to 15 year old Molly's plan. This kind of musing reminds me of geometry, of the logic lessons of conjunctions and disjunctions. If not a, then not b. Only these historical equations tend to turn into long domino chains: If not Grinnell, then not Ali, not Kevin, not Cam, not Carrie, not Jamie, not Mary, not Mark, not Rashmi, not Jean, not Zeke, etc.... My first thoughts are always of people, of course, but I can do it in terms of writing as well: If not Grinnell, then not Bittersweet, not Hanging in the Spaces, not Benediction, not The Bog Girl's Reply, not Habeas Corpus, and so forth. The longer I play this game in my head, the more the equation builds, until it must be reduced for simplicity's sake. The reduction being, of course, if not Grinnell, then not Molly. At least, not this Molly.

Rachel Clark's plan today was all about things she misses. She's in Senegal now, in the Peace Corps with her husband, and she faces the problem that many of us now seem to be bringing upon ourselves: the more places you pull under the umbrella called "home," the less likely you'll ever be able to be home, one hundred percent, ever again. For Rachel, home is Washington (both Sedro-Wooley and Seattle), Iowa, Sri Lanka, and now Senegal. Her plan was familiar to me, of course, because every day is its own list of what's missing in my life. Reading Rachel's list, it occurred to me that any list of what's absent says a lot about what's there. Rachel's list of what she misses tells me more about her day-to-day life than any email or letter.... and I wonder what will be on her missing list in a year and a half, when she and her husband return to the states. Surely Senegal will feel like home when they leave it, maybe even moreso than Seattle will when they return. And I wonder, how many places can a person call home before the word loses its meaning?

Leaving these questions tonight, I'm content to call this place, with Zeke snoring in my bed and pictures of Megan, Ali, Cindy, Tim, Kevin, Ila, Cam, the Fun Nuns, the Thursday night kids, Ma'Pickett, and my parents all gracing the wall above my computer, with my halogen lamp and candles and little pumpkins on the windowsills, with apple cider and a train crying in the distance, for the time being, home.

No comments: