Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Christine and Ron settle into Ann Arbor

Well, we're now down to the last few boxes, thank God. We've stacked our pictures in the office, shoved our 17 boxes of books in the spare closet, and propped our rolled-up rugs against the basement wall.

My life is like a Memory card game, punctuated with Ron's wails of "Where's my backpack? Where's my EMU mug? Where's my birth certificate? Where's my blue sweater?" If he keeps this up, his next question will be "Where's my sleeping bag?" because he'll be sleeping in the car.

Ah, the car. Yes, we did buy a car -- a VW beetle. The color is a newfangled "platinum gray," which is a fancy name for um, dark gray. I fret sometimes that it blends in with the highway pavenment. We pulled the daises out of the bud vase on the dashboard and keep pens in it instead. I like to name my cars, so we call it George after the singing Beatle.

When I'm not tooling George around town, I'm nursing my wrists in preparation for National Novel Writing Month. Thousands of people all over the world have signed up to write a 50,000-word novel between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. I've signed up (I actually arranged it with a friend in Detroit last spring) and plan to write a science fiction novel. I plan to write 2,000 words a day. Wish me luck. Better yet, sign up! It's I even ordered a T-shirt.

Why am I doing such a crazy thing? John Longenbaugh of Seattle Weekly said it best:

"For one month I wanted to be a novelist. I wanted to drink too much and wander the streets contemplating plot points. I wanted to ruthlessly strip-mine my friends' lives for events and gossip to work into my fiction. I wanted to sulk and have tantrums and be gloriously self-obsessed."

Sounds right up my alley. One NaNoWrimo write plans to bring in talking animals to pad his word count -- first a talking walrus will walk in and comment on his characters and the action, then later on a zebra will add commentary on a plot twist, and so on. I plan to start every chapter with a chapter heading, a subtitle and a pertinent quote.

And if I get really stuck, I'll just throw in some ninjas.

People ask me if I'm more relaxed these days, away from the frenzy of Bay Area life. Actually, I feel like I'm permanently stoned. Everything moves so much more slowly. I laugh more, I listen more, I draw more and I feel like a little kid skipping school. When I wake up in the morning, I can't wait to get started on something, anything. I talk to my houseplants and my potholders and to the little green Buddha guys on my mantle.

I also do my yoga and I'm trying meditation. Meditation doesn't really work for me, though. There I'll be, sitting crosslegged on the carpet going "ohmmm," and suddenly I'll think, "Which Gabor sister was on the TV show 'Green Acres?' Was it Zsa Zsa or Ava? Wasn't there another Gabor sister? Wasn't there a pig on that show? What was its name? Wilbur? No, that was 'Charlotte's Web...'" and on and on.

Then the bell chimes and I'm screwed. I haven't been gathering my energy inward, my controlled breathing's shot to hell and now I'm wondering if Arnold was the husband or the pig. Damn.

In my more lucid moments, I'm taking more of an interest in the world around me: I ponder the day's temperature, the threat of war on Iraq, why the neighbor's cat likes our deck so much, etc. I read three newspapers a day and yell at the articles I don't like. I call up my friend L. if I'm really steamed:

Me: Did you read the Detroit News? They ran a full-length article on recliners on the features cover!
L.: I like recliners.
Me: But is that really appropriate? Look, there's this
fawning illustration of a dozen $600 recliners, a
graphic showing the 14 things to look for with
recliners and interviews with idiots describing their
favorite recliners!
L.: I like the new ones with the built-in coolers.
Me: It's a flagrant surrender to corporate advertisers!
L.: Who gives a shit? (hangs up)

Well, at that point, there's nothing to do but shop. I'm buying most of my fall clothes at Target since I don't need professional clothes. Picked up some bell bottom jeans at Express just to make my sister crazy. Then I ran over to Target and grabbed a dozen $14-dollar sweaters and shirts from the Juniors/Misses section. I feel like I'm on the Style cable channel.


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