That Cheney never left and someday Barack will be looking for the Christmas lights in the basement and stumble on an unmarked cobwebbed door and Cheney will magically roll out in his wheelchair and say ‘Pay no attention to the adminstration behind the curtain!’ and Barack will go, ‘Dude. What curtain. It’s a door.’ And he’ll push past him and a whole secret basement chamber of the White House will be revealed with a glowing crystal orb suspended in the center, where they keep their evil in a gasoeus state, ready for its release in 2012.
Ok I want to tell you that this was everything I wanted, this was the last place I thought I would be — given all the inherent defects and all the crazy, the big stew of crazy that bathed us all in adolescence and afterwards, ok, me, maybe just me; those wobbly years, the realllllly wobbly Weebly ones not just these mostly ok ones with wobbles here and there — so this place makes me happy and so do you and thank you.
I wonder if re-reading A Wrinkle in Time would be a disappointment.
I saw my high school friend Erin over Christmas in Buffalo. We ran into each other in a bookstore and later met for coffee. Kindred-ly — We had each planned to meet with our respective bookish leaders: her yearbook advisor, my journalism advisor. And somehow we started talking about favorite books and favorite authors. We got misty-eyed over Madeleine L’Engle and Erin said she’d gone to the memorial service in New York. It made me want to dive back into the stratosphere with Meg and Calvin and Charles Wallace and learn again what a tesseract is. But I’ve heard that the re-reading lifts the veil of wonder and hurts the memories crystallized through a child’s eyes.
Maybe this. I’m not going to re-read A Wrinkle in Time or Ender’s Game or The Chronicles of Narnia until I am reading them to someone else.
My mother cries reading the newspaper: a child kidnapped; a family saved from a fire by their dog. Etc. Some of my earliest memories are of her kneeling on the newspaper spread like a prayer rug on our shag carpet, with tears streaming down her cheeks. I didn’t yet understand why people wanted to read newspapers, seeing as they usually lacked bright drawings of bears with umbrellas. I also didn’t understand why newspapers could make people cry. I asked her. She’d tell me that Alison from Cheektowaga had been kidnapped and they just found her. Who’s Alison? Just this girl in the newspaper.
So I thought that perhaps my mother was crazy.
I’ve apparently inherited a milder form of this trait. Give me a story about everyone pulling together to save all passengers after a plane lands in the Hudson river, and the tears will start a-flowing. They just spring up, while reading about the lifeless woman that divers lifted onto a ferry or how everyone shared their clothes while waiting to be rescued. Not from happiness, not from sadness, they are their own entity, these newspaper tears.
Last night was supposed to be a blizzard. In Buffalo a blizzard would be 1-2 feet of snow. Chicago sounded the blizzard warning for a potentially windy 4 inches.
Selected snow moments of the past:
-Sledding down a fairy-tale snowy hill in Copenhagen with my Danish host siblings
-Throwing the cookies I made with my first high school boyfriend out into the backyard, post-breakup
-Driving through a white-out in Gallup, NM with Amanda while going cross-country, following tail lights as best we could
-Hitting a stop-go-slush-slide snowstorm in the Rockies with Kevin, when we’d just come from the desert
Sometimes I dream about high school. The feeling of un-done, the crush of math homework that I can’t solve and the test that I have not studied for. Sometimes I dream about teaching. The chaos of bringing a roomful of people to attention, my throat straining for volume, the screen in my brain blanked to nothing but static, snow, noise. Last night I dreamt I was pushed to the front of a room of my high school classmates and told to take charge. No one listened and in fact they found joy in ignoring me. The combination of these two dreams must be a bad sign.
Annie Dillard writes in Teaching a Stone to Talk:
I like insects for their stupidity. A paper wasp – Polistes – is fumbling at the stained-glass window on my right. I saw the same sight in the same spot last Sunday. Psst! Idiot! Sweetheart! Go around by the door! I hope we seem as endearingly stupid to God — bumbling into lamps, running half-wit across the floor, banging for days at the hinge of an unopened door. I hope so. It does not seem likely.
So I’m taking a trip to Guatemala in February. (That’s the plan anyways. A nagging little voice keeps pestering: too good to be true? Are you really leaving Chicago in winter?) The cool parts: Taking a workshop with writer Joyce Maynard (made possible by a lovely scholarship); non-bonechilling temperatures, a lake and a volcano, and time to muse about things outside my little North Side Chicago bubble.
So I’m learning to speak Spanish, finally, thanks to the language tapes at the Chicago public library. I am learning things like how to ask where the bathroom is, let’s go to the movies, I want, I need, I understand, I don’t understand, excuse me sir, excuse me miss, I speak, you speak, do you speak? I speak Spanish a little. You speak English? Oh thank god. Let’s hold hands right now and… ooo, a unicorn! Let’s ride this unicorn into the sunset, but first, want to split this chocolate cupcake with me? Because I am SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU.
My sister Christina recently got a new Macbook, tricked out with a camera and Apple’s Photobooth application. She gathered me and Lisa in front of the screen to take some cute sistery togetherness shots of our faces, one after another, pretty and smiley. And then she showed us the filters: Make it sepia-toned! Or, whoa, you’re in a Warhol painting! This tour of Photobooth all seemed rather standard until she got to the funhouse-mirror style distorting filters, the ones that make your nose look tiny or your eyes look huge or your forehead bulge or your chin retract. These…. Cracked. Her. Up. Like, I have never seen anyone so far gone into hysterical laughter at the sight of her face made grotesque and ugly. She’d take one shot of herself with a tiny pinched face and then in the next three shots, her comically huge eyes would be brimming with tears of free-for-all laughter, tears running down her misshapen cheeks. It made me realize how rarely I truly appreciate the awesomeness of someone I love losing their mind with something they find funny. There’s a simple joy in being an objective observer to the process of humor hitting home. Plus, you know, it’s completely hilarious.