Thursday, August 27, 2009

The past week has been frantic, dreamy, and red-eyed: my experience seems to belong solely to me, is fragmentary, is impossible to reproduce in words. Here are some key points, anyway:

1) I drove 1,983 miles in three days, stopping over in Loveland, CO and Winnemucca, NV. The next time I attempt such a drive (or anything approximating it), somebody stop me. I'd never driven through the west and it is beautiful - Utah, especially, bleached and treed - but long. So very long. To amuse myself during the trip, I listened to the big stack of mix CDs Ali burned for me, listened to Dave Sedaris reading his own work, and thought of amusing potential resumes for various musical artists whose songs popped up in my shuffle.

Winnemucca was marginally sketchy; my hotel was attached to a casino, as were all the hotels in that town, and it was strange to see people gambling at 9:00 on a Sunday morning. The casino itself isn't what made me uneasy about the hotel, rather, the fact that I found 1) a yellow peanut M&M just under my bed and 2) a HAIR on my bedside table. Unsanitary! Naturally, my fear of potentially-unwashed hotel linens prevented me from having a good night's sleep/enjoying my shower the next day.

2) So far this week, I've had two actual job interviews, one interview that I canceled, and one interview that canceled on me. I've been offered two jobs, both of which I'll have to turn down because they aren't practical - but I'm off to a good start. (!)

3) I love the fog, the disproportionate number of Bernese Mountain dogs, and the preponderance of neon-hued leggings and Ray Bans here. Also, I ate the best burrito of my life.

4) Wrapped in an oversized hoodie, shivering into the night breeze, I smoked a cigarette on the fire escape. I feel solid about my plans.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Friday I leave for California. It's a prospect both exciting and terrifying, this new life plan of mine: on one hand, I'm thrilled to be relocating to an excellent city (or, excellent in my limited experience of it, which included sea lion sightings, five ice cream cones, several hours in Chinatown, and a massive hangover). On the other, I'm worried that I might become a pauper, as my dad suggested. Scratch that: there shall be no pauperdom! Indeed, I have a job interview the day after my arrival, and another potential employer called this afternoon while I was napping. 

The bad news: I think my car is falling apart. This morning, I took the Golden Chariot in for an oil change, and afterward the mechanic told me that, actually, truthfully, my car needs massive repairs. The conversation went something like this:

Mechanic: So, yeah, we did the oil change, but there are some other problems...
Me: Oh?
Mechanic: Well, there's some corrosion on the battery, and your alternator belt is massively cracked, and also, did you know that your check engine light is on?
Me: Yeah, it's been on for a year.
Mechanic: Well, the light is there to signal a problem.
Me: [Staring sternly] Yes. I took it to the dealership a few times and had them shut it off.
Mechanic: So, the alternator belt...
Me: I'm in the middle of moving, so I'll think about it.

At this point, I grabbed my keys and ran [walked briskly out of the lobby]. Haunted by visions of being stranded in the desert, surrounded by vultures and tumbleweed, I took my car to my mom's [reputable] mechanic to get the alternator belt replaced. If all else (or anything else) fails, I have AAA.

Ali (who was there to witness the entire above-mentioned exchange) posits that the mechanic was actually hitting on me, to which I must respond: the worst way to hit on someone is to tell them that their car needs $500 of repairs. Word to the wise.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I haven't felt very update-y lately, though a lot has happened in the last month. A lot has happened: I broke up with Eric and called off the move to Madison. Slowly, a new plan is forming itself. 

I am typically loathe to blog about anything too personal, but the above seems appropriate, succinct. I am reminded of how much more reticent I've become, though no less ruminative. This week I have been frantically productive: job searching, editing account histories, unpacking, sorting, repacking. I finished everything on today's to-do list, and am drinking a gin and tonic. I discovered a partial bottle of Lorazepam among my toiletries. My pedicure remains intact. 

The days are easier than the nights. 

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Chicago after its fire

Here and northeast of here lies the vast Chippewa Valley. At the start of lumbering in Wisconsin it held one-sixth of the nation's white pine. Surveyors estimated the total pine stand in the state at 136 billion board feet of pine lumber. Lumberman considered the supply inexhaustible. 

Chippewa Valley white pine helped built the homes and cities of the corn belt, the great plains, Chicago after its fire. This valley made strong men, record log jams, tall tales, and prosperous cities, all while wasting 60 percent of its pine in stumps, slashings, culls, sawdust, slabs, and fires. The harvest here that began in 1838 with 5-foot diameter trunks 160 feet high ended 80 years later taking 5-inch logs.

Today the Chippewa Valley is green again with farms and pine. Reforestation began before 1920. Early plantings are now merchantable timber. In time the Chippewa Valley will again stand with mature pine.

(Plaque at the Chippewa Valley rest area, Wisconsin)

Planes screamed overhead. Sometimes I could not hear what you said, with your face pressed against me. I could not ask you to repeat, I would have felt ridiculous, and anyway such things are usually not repeatable. But what if you asked me a question, and hearing no answer were unable to ask it again? This possibility tormented me at a later time, when I wanted to give you every hoped-for answer.

We both trembled. We barely managed it, being overcome - both of us, both of us - with gratitude, and amazement. The flood of luck, the happiness undeserved, unqualified, nearly unbelieved-in. Tears stood in our eyes. Undeniably. Yes.

(From  Alice Munro's "Tell Me Yes or No")