29 December 2003

Monday Afternoon

Not quite 3:30 pm. I'm in Studio 207 in the Handicraft Guild Building in downtown Minneapolis, MN -- home of artist Kevin Cannon. [Kevin wants me to put a link here to his newest cartoon, DOBEY! -- Apparently, this is just the first of many episodes in the life of Dobey.... call the trumpeters, rejoice.] Just returned from a lunch near the window in a third floor niche overlooking 7th Street. Minneapolis today is a lovely snowglobe of quiet flakes and soft lights. In other words, home.

I looked forward to this moment for months: caught between the frozen earth and the great gray sky, surprised by sudden snow. It happened this morning, as Kevin and I walked to the ochre bricks and wooden doors of the Handicraft Guild Building. Snow.

It has snowed several times while I've been home -- when I was in Grinnell, I stood outside of Steiner at 3:00 in the morning and willed the tiny snowflakes to grow in the light of the old-fashioned streetlamps; when I was in Oregon, an entire day of tiny snowflakes outside my livingroom window; when I was driving home from Ila's house on Gorham, mentally beseeching the falling ice to switch to snow -- but this morning was the first perfect snowfall of the season (for me at least).

The last two weeks have been full of wonderful people (though sadly there are a few terribly important people I missed -- you know who you are) and great moments. Last night for example, sitting on the couch between Carrie and Kevin, laughing at some lame joke carried all the way from gourmet house... or sitting with Cindy and Memo as they opened their cactus... driving on Lincoln Road with my sister, talking about old loves and new lives... eating gross fast food breakfast with Ali on Summer Street -- and breakfast at the New West Side with Ali and Adam and Larry -- and breakfast with Jean in her sunny little kitchen -- and breakfast this morning with Kevin and Kate at Pannekoeken Huis, where the wait staff apparently has to sing out "Pannekoeken!!" every time they deliver one to a table.... The problem with all this, of course, is that I start to wonder what I'm doing 1500 miles away from the people I love best in the world.

One important thing I have realized coming home is that I can't see Oregon or Madison or Grinnell through new eyes. Wherever I look, I see layers -- I see things not only as they are now, but as they were when I was 21, and 18, and in Oregon, as they were when I was 9 and 12 and 4. My whole adult life, I've been searching for the eyes of a new writer -- looking for ways to make the world seem new again, as it was when I first picked up a pen and realized I could make the world my own through words. At home, I've lost the ability to be happily surprised, lost the ability to see the small streets of Oregon with wonder. In the west, I have new vision. In New Mexico, I have moments of sparkling clarity, where everything I see is illuminated.

As Mr. Root once told me, "The trick is to find that at home."

10 December 2003

Wednesday Night

Well, we've always wondered, and now we know:
The Airspeed Velocity of an Unladen Swallow


T-minus SIX DAYS before I leave for the midwest! Needless to say, I am very excited about my imminent departure, and can't wait to fill my eyes with the faces of my beloved Northern Folk (as if you were a tribe of dwarves with hairy feet, no?) in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. I plan to arrive in Iowa late Wednesday night (Dec 17) or early Thursday morning (the 18th) & stay until the 20 or 21. I'll be Wisconsin-Bound on the weekend, and will of course make a short trip up to the TC in MN between Xmas and the new year.

One funny thing is that my boss can never remember which state I'm from, and keeps telling people I'm going home to Michigan or Minnesota. Lots of native New Mexicans seem to believe that everything above the Mason-Dixon is basically Canada (including New York, Miss Brown). Living in different regions in the country helps me to remember/realize how regional we all are. When I lived in Boston, I heard "I've only ever been on the coasts" over and over again. Far worse, of course, was the "I have a hard time believing that people actually have lives out there!" On the other hand, there are a lot of midwestern transplants out here, so there's almost always someone with whom I can talk about Precipitation Envy.

....Which is to say that I am jealous of all of you snuggling under blankets of snow!! It did snow in the East Mountains the other night, so I got to make a snowball yesterday morning and go on a snowwalk with Jennie & Hito in the afternoon, but it has not snowed at all in ABQ. Furthermore, though the parking lot was still rather icy today, it was warm enough in Moriarty to go without a coat this afternoon. As usual.

I've had to supplement the lack of snow in my life with this snowglobe. I'm not even going to admit how much it amuses me, and for how long. I especially like it when the Christmas Carols are interrupted by screams.


In other news, the reports of my father's death are greatly exaggerated. Apparently he was listed as deceased in a recent edition of his fraternity's newsletter, so now people are calling him up to ask, "Dude, are you, like, DEAD?"


It's been a Heatherrific week! I spent most of Monday night talking to Miss Heather James, the brilliant young writer and aspiring doctor, catching up on years of gossip about friends and men and tatoos and, you know, Jebus. Then today, I heard from Miz Heather Moore, who just finished reading The Giver. Fun! I look forward to seeing her & the big, bad 8th graders at Berg Middle School (next week!!).....

05 December 2003

Friday morning

This is my life right now:
It's 8:24 am on a Friday morning in December, and I'm happily breakfasting on leftover chicken enchiladas with blue corn tortillas & green chile from this tiny little mom'n'pop place whose existence is a secret carefully and jealously guarded by locals. The dog is sleeping in a patch of sunlight on my bed, and I just broke the second bowl in under a week. The first one I didn't even mind breaking, because it made such a satisfying smash on our Mexican tiles, but the second one just made a thud on the linoleum. I'm listening to an old Hot Dish show -- 7 March 2002, I believe (also known as the "animal episode") -- on tape. "Hot Dish for Lunch! (with Mary and Molly)" was my radio show -- with co-DJ Mary Hoeschen of Duluth, MN -- on Grinnell's radio station, KDIC. Happily, I have most of our shows on tape, and have taken to listening to them on bleary-eyed mornings. I'd much rather listen to senior-year-Mary and senior-year-Molly (and sometimes special guest stars s-y-Dan, s-y-George, s-y-Kevin, and Beck) joke about the West Side Diner, Norweigan statues in northern Minnesota, the Pub, evading campus security, tiger alarm clocks, and other such nonsense than listen to shrill "shock jocks" on crappy morning radio. Any day. Of course, I prefer the selection of music that Mary & I played to the "selection" most radio stations play (with the exception, perhaps, of WMMM in Madison and KUNI in central Iowa). Plus, almost all of my Hot Dish tapes has the first ten minutes of Chris Rathjen's & Nick Wagner's show, which had a ridiculously long name -- "Chris & Nick's something something Smileytime de Vida, (fiesta extravaganza bonanza ole!)." Their show came after ours, and always made me laugh. Every Thursday after our show, Mary and I would go to Dairy Queen for lunch, then I'd drop Mary off at work and go to Bob's Underground Cafe. I was the manager of Bob's then, and on Thursdays I'd meet the delivery guy, inventory & put away the week's supply of Tofutti Cuties & other organic stuff, and do the bank from the previous night -- all the while listening to Chris & Nick's show, sometimes laughing out loud, often calling in to joke with them.

Anyhow, to all the angry people who emailed me saying "Update your goddamn blog!" I extend my sincerest apologies.

Oh, and CONGRATULATIONS HEATHER JAMES for surviving the big NaNoWriMo challenge! Very proud of you, darling.

So it's December, the special time of year when you can't even get an oil change without having to suffer through yet another rendition of "Santa Baby" or "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer." I made the mistake of saying something at work about how it still seemed a little early for so much xmas, and one of the thrift store girls stared at me in disbelief. "Molly, there are only 3 shopping weekends before Christmas." Uh, sorry.

Here's the problem: it's too warm to be almost-christmas! The mornings usually start off with a chill, but by mid-afternoon it's almost always warm enough to run around in a tee-shirt. A tee-shirt! It's not time for Christmas until it's too cold outside to do anything but run from your car to whatever building is closest, even if it's your neighbor's house. My northern friends keep telling me about snow, and I am one jealous girl. It snowed once, about three weeks ago, but only in the mountains, and it all melted the next day.

However, I did go to Colorado for Thanksgiving, and got to play in a little bit of snow there. The drive to Pagosa Springs from Albuquerque was just amazing. It's only 200 miles -- less than the distance from Grinnell to Oregon -- and (no offense, Iowa and Wisconsin) it's a far prettier drive than the 240 mile stretch of 151 I know by heart. Driving north on 84, you pass through chain after chain of snow-capped mountains, which grow ever more wild and breathtaking as you go. The land around Abiquiu, too -- the part of New Mexico where Georgia O'Keeffe lived at her "Ghost Ranch" -- is just stunning, with its rocky cliffs striped in reds & oranges. And then the last hour of the drive -- from Chama to Pagosa -- was just incredibly picturesque (in the old-fashioned sense of the word), and for a while I thought of the Romantics & their sense of the sublime --- until I caught myself & forced myself to think along less intellectual lines.

I have more to report, of course, but I need to wrap this up or I'll be late to the day-long meeting I have to attend today. BO-ring!

Until next time, here's Anna Karenina (Or, Like, Most Of It), a sestina.