Monday, October 29, 2007

Nick Hornby, Hobby Center, Houston, October 2007

After interviewing Nick Hornby on Sunday, I have come to the following six conclusions:

1). We had good chemistry in fact and feeling. It was easy to talk to him, like falling off a bed.

2). He gave me two sets of temporary tatoos that will come out with the next issue of The Believer. "Isn't it a lovely magazine?" he asked me. He explained to the audience at the Hobby Center that the motto of The Believer is to never say anything bad about any one or any thing. Sounds like my kind of people. Is that why Dave Eggers repulses me? because he reminds me of myself? I remember in Graduate School, a fellow poetess postulated that the only reason we hate a person is because that person reminds us too much of ourselves. I must have reminded my fellow poet of the most hated parts of herself because she hated me. She is not the only one who has hated me. There are many (sadly) others. But, no worries. That is what I've learned. A good lesson, that.

3). Nick Hornby is sexier in person than in his photographs.

4). He is a "gabbler" -- his word.

5). For some reason, I was born to perform.

6). When I work with awareness, the universe opens up its arms to me and folds me in like a lover, a funny, yummy, surprising lover. Lucky life.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Save the Date

Our old neighbor, the Gypsy, has a bad heart. It's been stopping and starting with every beat. She called and told me in a message, so I called her back and we made plans to visit. I saw her Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday was a social visit, but when I asked her to call me if she needed anything -- if there was anything I could do for her -- she said that I could come Thursday and help her find the freeway where the storage place full of her mother's things is. I arrived on Thursday, and she was sitting in the asphalt lot, in the driver's seat of her friend's car, waiting for me.

"Get in," she says. "We'll take the baby and go in my car, because I don't want you to have to pay for the gas."

"We can't," I say. "Diego needs the car seat in my car."

"Okay, we'll go in your car." She got out of the Accord and got into my Chevy. Her keys clanged against the floorboard where she threw them.

"Where are we going?" I asked her.

"I don't know. I'm not sure how to get there."

"Get where?"I asked. "The Storage Unit?"

"Yeah. U Haul," she said. Her phone rang. "Go to 59," she said. She answered her phone.

"North or South?" I asked.

"I'll tell you when we get there." I headed South, because that was the general direction she pointed in. She blabbered some language into the phone: Gypsy, she later told me. She was talking to her adopted daughter, making plans to visit her in New York, where she lives. I approached the entrance to 59 South, and the Gypsy started crossing herself, making the sign of the cross, very quickly and semi-consciously, at least twenty times. "Yeah, get on here," she says, immediately resuming her unintelligible conversation over the phone. We merged onto the freeway, and within moments, the Gypsy yells, "Oh no! We're going the wrong way."

"We need to go South?" I say, merging back into the far right lane so that I can exit on Sheperd and turn around.

"No, I think it's another freeway," she says, "Mama, I'll have to call you back," she says into the phone then hangs up.

"It's another freeway?" I need a little clarification.

"I think it's --." She's confused, too.

"Is it 45?" I say.

"Yes. No. I think it's the 10 freeway, sort of."

Sort of? What could that mean? "Is it 290?"

"No. I don't know. You know, I've got the paper at my house. If I can find it, we can look for the address."

I imagine she means newspaper. I'm starting to think we're not going to make it to the storage unit, the one that she doesn't know where it is. "You have the paper at home?" I say, trying to lead her to some sort of detail.

"Yes. I have a receipt from them. I can find it for you and you can find the address on it." The Gypsy doesn't read, can't read. I remember seeing her once at the Kroger, handing her bills to the bag person in the checkout line to read for her.

We pull back into her driveway. She gets out and I tell her I'm going to get gas and that I'll be back. "Okay," she says. She looks back at Diego and squeals, "Oooooooo you're so cute, yrsocuteyrsocuteyrsocute."

When I pull back into her driveway after getting gas, she's sitting on her neighbor's stoop with a long cardboard box. She gets into the car with the box, opens it up and shoves it in between us. The box is full of envelopes of receipts and bills and correspondences. She digs through, every few moments pulling something out and holding it up for me to read. "What's this?" she asks.

"The car registration," I say.

"What's this?" she says.

"A traffic ticket receipt," I say.

"Oh yeah, I paid that," she says.

"What's this?" she says.

"Uhaul!" I say. I dial the number at the top of the page to get directions. The person who answers gives me directions, 34th street between 290 and Magnum.

"Let me talk to him," the Gypsy says. "I want to ask them if I can come Monday to pay the bill."

"We can go out there, now, and pay it," I say. "Unless you don't have the money right now."

"I don't have the money," she says. Which shocks me a little because she was just saying to her daughter that she was going to call the airlines and make a reservation for New York for next weekend. That ticket's gonna cost at least $500. Maybe that's why she doesn't have the money right now. Probably.

It turns out that the Gypsy can pay the bill up until November 20 without incurring any late charges or property loss. She's elated. "We don't have to go now. But thank you so much for helping me."

I tell her she's welcome. I tell her that we have a new car payment due on that day, so I will help her remember the date.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cool Brains, Inaugural Reading

I'm interviewing Nick Hornby this Sunday, October 28 at the Hobby Center at 2 p.m. He will be reading for 20 minutes from his new novel SLAM, written for a Young Adult audience. Probably because of my background in teaching high school, Inprint, Inc. asked me to have a conversation with him -- on stage -- after his reading. They think we'll have good chemistry; that's what they said. We're both writers, and we're both have the music. That's what they said, "you both have the music." I'm assuming they meant like the music interests: I was in a band; he's obsessed wth bands. Actually, he's obsessed with songs, not bands. He's written a book called SONGBOOK where he writes around 17 essays or so about favorite songs. "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen is his favorite of all time. If he's heard that one 23,000 times over the past 30 years, he's heard all the other songs 500 times max. Something like that. In any case, I don't think Inprint meant that he and I have the music in the same way Leonard Cohen sings in "Chelsea Hotel" that he and Janis Joplin are "ugly but [they] have the music."

I'm sure Inprint isn't implying we're ugly, Nick and I. Although, I don't mind the comparison; it's the kind of unbeknownst-to-them compliment I cherish.

I've had to do a lot of reading to catch up with Hornby. Besides SLAM and HIGH FIDELITY, he's written a bunch of other books, and he keeps a column as well in the monthly literary magazine, The Believer: "Books I've Bought. Books I've Read."

In terms of music, I don't think Nick and I share the same passions. I prefer the poetry of Dylan and Cohen to the prose of Springsteen, but I think he's a good storyteller, and I'm looking forward to talking to him.

If you're in town, come hear us.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Here's What I Think I Know

The beginning and the ending.
The three disasters.
The three women at the center of the story (I threw in another one, in honor of my father).
The time period.
The setting.

The reason my throat has been closing for years.
The reason that it has to open back up.
The reason I fly out of my skin at the first chance I can find.
The reason I know how to fly.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm Good

Thanks for asking, AnaVerse.

I started working with a novel writing group again, and I have been thinking all day about the three disasters. What are they? I ask myself while I drive cross town to the mechanic's to pick up the Malibu. I ask myself while I sweep the food Diego has thrown all over the floor, and I ask myself as I pass the behavioral chart we've once again created for my daughter -- a reward system that merits her privilege, access to things she wants: cookies, to play, to sit next to us. It's horrible, the chart, but it's what helps us all get along. Imagine if I didn't reward her for the way I want her to be: then she would be left to her own divisives while being forced -- by one's job, say, or one's "community" -- to make decisions about how best not to harm one another. We call this enforcement of behavior Morality.

"You're such a good mommy," she says everday, stroking my face, looking me straight in the eyes. Is it real? I ask myself. Is this dream I'm living Reality. Then I remember that I don't have to ask that anymore. I know that it is -- this life -- my reality, real. And my life matters. To me, at least.

In the novel writing group, we're a small cadre of local writers, veterans of the Creative Writing Program, for one reason or another. Not heroes, no. The heroes are being vetted by the powers that be. I will not mention them here because they do not so much interest me. In short, they never have interested me enough.

My comrades in writing now met last night for the first time. We related our histories, blurbed them really, some of us more, some of us less. We gave each other our time to listen to the idea of the story each one of us desires to tell. Steve talked about Macbeth. I lit up. "A tragedy can be hopeful," he said.

"Macbeth saved my life! I love Macbeth." I didn't go into my rhapsody just then, but later we got to go to the bar and talk about it some more. Gemini had to go home because her five year old was waiting for her. But she was a light for sure, a beacon out over the dark waves: of sorrow, of new beginnings, of existential confusion, or even dismay. Though never really dismay. Let nothing you dismay.

Miah typed up the notes: five paragraph structure. "How many of us teach or taught writing?" We all had.

What are the three disasters?

Tonight I begin to think of the book as seasons, and as such I begin to imagine the sections of the book divided into four colors: red (the passion), orange (the past, the memory), blue. Green. The three disasters correspond to a color. They are tonal, as in colors in music. They are specific, adroit and horrible. They are monstrous. But what are they? What are these crimes of passion? What are ...

I'd rather talk about plot points, for that is what they're called in industry-speak. But disasters are so much more interesting.