Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hot Dog

Josh and I are on our way to Chicago. We're on the Megabus. Our driver's name is Maurice and he makes jokes like, "Excessive profanity is prohibited, but you can cuss a little." I would cuss, but there's nothing around here to cuss at. We're in the middle of Illinois. People make fun of Kansas, but I mean really, what's the difference? I guess Chicago's the difference.

The bus is a double-decker. We're on top so we can look down into the big trucks we pass and assess the drivers. I've seen one hot truck driver, which means there's a first time for everything. He had a ginger beard and, well, the Megabus was going too fast, but I think we made eye contact. His name was Roy. Like I said, we talked with our eyes.

We just passed some wild turkeys hitchhiking on the shoulder of the interstate. A guy in front of us said wild turkeys roam around in packs of 20. It made me think of chicken nuggets. All I used to eat was chicken nuggets. The only vegetable I ate as a teenager was corn and I don't even think corn is a real vegetable. It's just sweet golden nibblets. The point is: these wild turkeys were just looking for a ride and the Megabus did not stop.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I didn't get my driver's license right away. I was afraid to take the driving test when I was 16. When I finally took the test at 17, the tester said, "What are we parked on right now?" We were parked on a hill and I'd forgotten to pull up the emergency brake, but I said, "We're parked on...asphalt?"

Just to put you in the mind of my driving history, I had the same car from 17 to last week. A 1999 black Toyota Corolla basic. It had a slot for a dashboard clock, but there was no clock. That basic. I loved that stupid car. And now it's gone. The engine died and that's all. The end. I'll get another car when I need it. I've been taking the bus, and that works, too. It's been a while since I've been a passenger. I used to love driving, but lately, I've hated it. Maybe it's not so bad on the bus.

I'm just kidding. The bus is awful. Someone please surprise me with a car.

There's a party on Friday and I'm taking the bus there. I think that's pretty funny because I live in Kansas City and everyone I know has a car. People here are idiots for cars because it's the Midwest and everything is so spread out. I will be hard-pressed to ask for a ride from my friends. I hate asking for rides. I would rather walk. This is the sin called "pride," but I don't really believe in sin, so.

Yesterday, I knitted with Katharine Cobey and some of my former teachers. My teachers treated me like a master knitter and crocheter. I've been writing so much I almost forgot I'm really good at knitting and crocheting, too. I wouldn't say I'm a "master" because that implies I care. I don't care enough about knitting and crocheting to make it my life. For a few years after college, I thought I might care that much, and I tried to care that much. I had some gallery shows and then I admitted to myself I wasn't really making art. I was making glorified stuffed animals and wall hangings and kitschy sweaters, but they didn't mean anything to me. It was just cheap yarn and some stuff to put around my house. Maybe I'll feel differently in some years, but that's how I feel now. I crocheted a unicorn with a banana split sitting on its back and what the hell is that supposed to mean?

Back to the knitting with Katharine Cobey. We sat around some tables and practiced some techniques I already knew. It was fun anyway. Some students were knitting, too. There were some guy students and they were so good looking. I mean, really. A couple of them were dressed like they were going out for the night and I just laughed to myself because NO, they weren't going anywhere. They were sticking their arms in dye pots and pulling out ugly/pretty fabric and maybe breathing in some questionable chemicals. One guy came back from lunch and his eyes were red, red, red. I'm just saying. We're all knitting again tomorrow, so I'll have to ask him if knitting is better or worse that way.

But anyway. We were all knitting and there was a camaraderie since we were all doing the same basic technique in different ways. There were cracks about men and how they ruin everything. One of my former teachers touched my shoulder and said, "We're just joking!" And I was like, "No, you're right. Men are awful." Katharine Cobey sat there knitting faster than anyone. She said, "Men aren't awful. They sometimes just make trouble is all." AMEN.

In other news, show my beautiful friend, Ethel Rohan, some love. Buy her books and tell her how they make you feel. We both recently cut our hair. Walk by us in the grocery store and see if you know us. See if you're surprised.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


My mother's mother, Pearl Trent, died last week. Josh and I went to Kentucky for the visitation and the funeral. My grandmother was quiet with Alzheimer's for 13 years. Half my life and there I stood looking at the casket trying to remember my grandmother ever saying my name. I couldn't even remember the sound of her voice. I do remember one summer I went to live with my grandmother for a couple weeks on the farm. There was fishing and cats and land going back and back and back. I remember the farmhouse like a wood paneled dream and how the carpeted floor popped in places. I remember the smell like the land was in the walls and that somehow the walls were very old and still very alive. There were noises all night--the coyotes screaming outside and neighbor dogs barking back like they could do a thing about it. And my grandmother. Quiet as far back as I can remember. She was so at one with the farm that to remember one is to remember the other, and to go back to the farm now would be like visiting a grave. I didn't even think about driving out there. I should have.

My mother's family doesn't get together often, but there was a reunion around my grandmother's body. It looked little enough like my grandmother that I had to keep telling myself what we were there for. She was so preserved and clean. I knew chemicals and makeup were doing that. They were keeping an image of rest. My cousins kept saying how my grandmother looked asleep. She'd lost a lot of weight and you could see that
in her nose. It had the sharp flares of an orchid. The lighting was a soft red so my grandmother's skin looked like it still had blood running under it. I have seen recent pictures. My grandmother has not looked that way in a while.

One of my uncles didn't get far from the casket. He didn't say much until after the funeral when it seemed like all of a sudden he realized other people were there. The grieving was like that. My mother spent a lot of time looking at her hair and nails and arranging every little thing in the room. One of my cousins fainted. Another was fine until she wasn't. People were talking about old cars and she just sat in the middle of them and cried. I didn't know how I felt until we got back to Kansas City and I remembered everything like I had seen it in a movie. I don't remember how anything smelled. I don't remember being cold or hot. I ate, but I don't know that I tasted anything. All I did was see everyone else.

Bringing up all those memories and seeing those people I hadn't seen for so long made me sick with guilt. I drove back to Kansas City with a cold. There is an entire branch of my family I have ignored for going on a decade and they were all there saying, "Remember when?" I pulled up those memories and they looked like trees grabbed at the roots by a tornado. How dare I put one arm in the ground and try to walk away from it when my grandmother had no choice but to be buried little by little until she was all gone with no way of coming back? I'm only here because she was here first. Oh, Pearl.