Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Monday, September 29, 2014
Sunday, September 28, 2014
The point in a blow job when he pushes your face hard into his grinding crotch and orders you to take all of it and you wonder if it's just playful sex-talk or if he is really asking you to do the impossible because you've already taken all of it. Exit 31. Because he sure sounds serious, he sure sounds angry. What if you've taken all of it and he's still not happy? What if he isn't satisfied? Indiana Dunes. National Lakeshore. South Bend 48 miles. Slower Traffic Keep Right. Daddy?
Emergency Stopping Only.
Michigan City. Westville. The only thing left to say about human beings is what it is actually like to be one.
The things no one wants to admit. The things no one wants to hear.
Somewhere in western Indiana an hour disappears just because they say so. The way one's mind can drift off with a cock in one's mouth. You come back to yourself at the moment of orgasm. Is that what it means to be in the present when all is said and done? Orgasm? On the radio: Born to be Wild. Diesel Lanes. Food and Fuel. Wind rocking the car. Collapsing farm buildings. Mishiwaka. Elkhart. Exit 92. Notre Dame 2 miles.
Holy Cross College.
Exit 77. EZ Pass Only. $5.99 Take-a-Bake Pizza. Pick-up Trucks Wanted. Big & Tall Shop. Bristol 11. Goshen 21. RV/Motor Home Museum. Actia. Constantine. Middlebury. Meijer. Shop for more. Shoppes at Fremont. Crampton Road. Eat Like You Mean It. Historic Howe Military School and Chapel. Motorcycle Injury? Call the man with the bike. Brooners Christmas Wonderland.
Finding terrorists sexy.
Emergency Stopping Only.
Argon refrigerated liquid.
Cedar Lake golf course.
The humility of acknowledging you'll never be as good as Virginia Woolf or Samuel Beckett. The egomania that is revealed by making such an observation an occasion for a display of humility.
Corn, just not as much of it, or as often.
Orlando switching sexes in the middle of his life in the middle of the novel Orlando.
Check brakes. Welcome to Ohio. So much to Discover. Entering Williams County. Fasten Safety Belts. Cash Accepted All Lanes. Reduce Speed.
Abandoned barn faded to the color of surrounding fields but still clinging to the memory of once being red. Move over for stopped vehicles.
Two silos, one slightly taller than the other. Corn in a light rain.
Entering Lucas County. Speed Limit 50. Yield. Corn; are we never done with corn? Ohio Turnpike Emergency dial *990. Toledo Airport. Swanton 1/2 mile. Exit 52. Pampas grass, the corn of the northeast. Maumee 5 miles.
Why does it have to be an emergency to park here? Why wait for things to get that bad?
Another pen out of ink and what to show for it? This? Ha! Everything, sadly, comes to eventually look like New Jersey. Addressing the reader directly from the middle of the text. Greetings, dear reader. I wanted to address you directly because to tell the truth you have not been very much on my mind while writing this text. It's not that I feel any animosity towards you. But the presence of you in my mind as I write would only hamper what it is I really want to say. I must speak as if to myself because only to myself will I confide the truth as it amuses me to tell it. I'm sorry if this leaves you feeling left out or disappoints you. But not sorry enough to change my tactics, I admit it. In the hours preceding my death, where will you be, dear reader, and what will your approbation or condemnation, your attention or your neglect mean? In those trying hours, during my personal Golgotha, I'll have only one voice to truly comfort me and only one audience—and both will be, as now, my own voice and me. I hope you can understand; I daresay that it will be to your own advantage to do so. Sincerely and with all my best wishes, the Author.
Exit 64. State police car monitoring traffic. Elmore 17 miles. Reapplying lipstick in side view mirror. Hiking up skirt so truckers looking down can see. Elmore. Woodville. Gibsarburg. Portage River. Entering Sandusky County. Fremont. Port Clinton. Fangboner Road. Sandusky River.
Do Not Pass Lane Next 5 miles.
Do Not Pass on Shoulder.
Single Lane Next 5 Exits.
Rest stop. Mint chocolate chip ice cream. Hello Kitty. Lorain. Clyria. 80 East. Cleveland. N. Olmstead. N. Ridgefield. Entering Cuyahoga County. Miracle Stone.net. Deathbed: though it's supposed to be a comfort and the reward of a life well-lived to be, as they threateningly put it, "surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones" at the moment of one's passing, but I can't imagine anything so horrible when you're trying to take your leave of the world than to be surrounded by representatives of the past? Isn't that precisely the time when one would want most to be unencumbered, undistracted, left alone? Isn't that the best part of dying, to finally be done with the burden of others? You come into this world alone and leave it even more alone; a lot of unnecessary bullshit in between can be avoided by always keeping that in mind.
The stupid things people say to alleviate the terrible rupture of death. Silence isn't only preferable, it's the only fitting response.
The dying, in my experience, want to be left alone, says someone I read recently who agreed with me, but I can't remember who.
The long journey back.
Back? To what? To where?
Watch for ice on bridge.
Posted by mw at 11:48 AM
1. She of the long-face, the dolorous countenance. Poster-daughter for creative depression. Prototype of future celebrity suicides of the female literary persuasion, i.e. Sexton, Plath. Dour downer, star-subject of Michael Cunningham's novel The Hours and celebrated film of the same moniker in which Nicole Kidman embodied everyone's idea of Woolf if not already then from this day forward, the archetype of the tortured, over-sensitive, tragic artistic genius. Woolf as grim, saturnine, always a day or two from filling her pockets full of rocks and wandering off into the nearest river. Goodbye cruel world, glub-glub.
It's hard to picture Virginia Woolf any other way. It's certainly unimaginable to think of her as the life of any party, as a cut-up, as a barrel of laughs. In fact, it's hard to imagine her laughing at all, shaking her belly like a bowl full jelly.
Who would guess based on the common (mis)perception of Virginia Woolf as a spinstersh sourpuss, a repressed lesbian in a closet still scented with Victorian mothballs, an Emily Dickinson with a husband, that she could write a novel as hysterically funny as Orlando?
2. But she did. Orlando is a madcap picaresque novel that playfully masquerades as a biography; its written on the fast and loose model first drawn up by another anachronistic rebel-scribe, Laurence Sterne, (Woolf herself credited Sterne as an influence)whose Tristam Shandy pioneered the practice of practically every trick in the postmodern playbook, leap-frogging several ages and literary movements not yet invented to do it.
3. Orlando, the subject of this faux biography, never existed, never could have existed, but by the end of the novel, you wish could have existed. You wish it so thoroughly you're almost convinced she did.
When we first meet Orlando, he is a young noble born in Elizabethan England. He lives three centuries, becomes a court favorite of Elizabeth I, spots Shakespeare in a scullery, changes pronouns in the middle of the story from he to she, gets married, has a baby, becomes a famous poet, and is still alive and barely thirty-six years old when you reach finis in the year 1928.
How the hell did that happen, you ask yourself.
3. It was, I believe, her effort to see things as they were apparent to other people that wore her down. The bus, the lamp-post, the teacup—how formidable she found them, everyday things! said Elizabeth Bowen.
But within the realm of the novel, Woolf was at home and at peace. Within the novel, she was happy, even playful; she could do anything. If writing is a magic spell, and it is, she wove a reality out of sheer enchantment. She was the life of the parties she threw between the covers of her books. Here, if nowhere else, she was alive, more fully alive than most. And she was, when she wanted to be, a laugh-riot.
4. Orlando, Woolf writes, pushed away her chair, stretched her arms, dropped her pen, came to the window, and exclaimed, "Done!" She was almost felled to the ground by the extraordinary sight which now met her eyes. There was the garden and some birds. The world was going on as usual. All the time she was writing the world had continued. "And if I were dead, it would be just the same!" she exclaimed.
The problems start when the novel ends. The problem is life as it's lived by the consensus. Life can be so much more…well, lively. That one can imagine a life so much richer, exciting, and varied than the single, well-proscribed one we're allowed in reality puts one at risk for madness; at the very least, it leads almost inevitably to chronic frustration and thence towards depression.
5. In the course of this fantastical narrative Woolf compresses history and time, twists, if not altogether defies logic, injects philosophical asides and literary criticism, and breaks fictional convention by talking directly to the reader. She employs many of the techniques of the meta-novel that are often (mistakenly) believed to have been created in the last thirty years or so. Orlando was written fourteen years shy of a century ago.
6. For all the antic fun, Woolf exhibits her usual verbal virtuosity, so Orlando isn't exactly an easy read. No more than Beckett is, though the mordant wit is much the same. In between the yucks, Woolf has important things to say about life and literature, gender and sex, mortality and immortality. She's the sort of writer who can make you laugh and think at the same time. It's startling to realize that a novel like Orlando would have a hard time finding the ready and appreciative audience that was waiting for it back in 1928. What would readers today make of a novel where the main character changes sex and lives three hundred years without aging and without being a vampire and without stepping into a time-machine; in fact, without any authorial explanation or concession to rationality at all all? If they didn't object to the transsexuality one suspects they'd object to the irrationality. Have we as a culture really become so dull, so intolerant, so earthbound, so unimaginative, so orthodox, so blinkered to alternative, so much the slaves of consensus reality, so indoctrinated into worshipping that supreme fiction dubbed by the Priesthood of Accountability as The Truth, so, dare we even say it…un-fictional?
7. Of Orlando, Woolf writes: She had, it seems, no difficulty in sustaining the different parts, for her sex changed far more frequently than those who have worn only one set of clothing can conceive; nor can there be any doubt that she reaped a twofold harvest by this device; the pleasures of life were increased and its experiences multiplied. From the probity of breeches she turned to the seductiveness of petticoats and enjoyed the love of both sexes equally.
Girls will be boys and boys will be girls, sang the Kinks.
Lou Reed: Holly came from Miami, F.L.A., hitchhiked her way across the U.S.A., plucked her eyebrows on the way, shaved her legs and then he was a she.
Woolf said it all before. She writes, He stretched himself. He rose. He stood upright in complete nakedness before us and while the trumpets pealed Truth! Truth! Truth!we have no choice left but confess—he was a woman.
And that's that. As simple as that, Orlando goes from man to woman. He to she. Husband to Wife. It's all so mind-bogglingly simple one wonders why people still don't get it. Men and women are a lot more interchangeable than society allows itself to admit.
Like the other leaps of imagination in Orlando, Woolf doesn't explain but rather announces this rather extraordinary turn of affairs. She says, The change seemed to have been accomplished painlessly and completely and in such a way that Orlando herself showed no surprise at it. Many people, taking this into account, and holding that such a change of sex is against nature, have been at great pains to prove (1) that Orlando had always been a woman (2) that Orlando is at this moment a man. Let biologists and psychologists determine. It is enough for us to state the simple fact: Orlando was a man till the age of thirty; when he became a woman and has remained so ever since.
Too bad that even today we can't allow people a similar ease of fluidity to express the various sides of themselves, nevertheless leave it to an individual to decide for themselves what suits them best.
8. For Woolf, identity is multiple. One can be one person in the morning, another in the afternoon, another at tea, another while taking a stroll through the garden, another while in the market, something entirely different by dinner time, change again in the parlor by the fire, and the exact opposite of all that when slipping between the sheets at bedtime.
And still, through all those metamorphoses, not be "one-self."
9. Orlando falls in love with a Russian princess who breaks his heart, runs away from another woman to become ambassador in Constantinople, escapes a massacre during a Turkish uprising, meets literary luminaries such as Swift, Addison, and Pope, lives as a woman among the gypsies, returns on board ship to England and falls in love with a sea captain. The episodes follow so rapidly upon one another, the years pass, the centuries changes and it all happens so smoothly, in the blink of an eye, from one paragraph to another before you even realize it's happened. This is the magic of Virginia Woolf. It all seems perfectly plausible, this gender-bending-time-bending act. This is Virginia Woolf playing your imagination like the virtuoso she is.
10. Reality, so-called, is intolerable to such as Woolf for precisely the reason that its not allowed to operate with the freedom of the imagination.
For Woolf, the novel is nothing less than a model of the human mind and, as such, a model for the way we truly perceive and experience "reality." In the life of the imagination a man can become a woman, a life can last three hundred plus years, one can travel to any exotic place on the planet past, present, or future, meet any personage alive or dead or not yet born and still be at one's place at table in time for dinner. Woolf's novels work the way the mind works: compressing, extending, slowing down time, reconstituting memories, inventing and altering character according to one's own desires, not according to the clock or convention, and certainly not according to the demands and expectations of other people.
Other people seem content—or is it misguided, brainwashed, repressed?—to live one life with one name with one identity. For Woolf such a life is not only not enough, it is an intolerable hell. She argues that we each have a thousand lives imprisoned inside, a thousand voices, each of them clamoring for release and expression. We'd need at least three centuries to exhaust all the possibilities. A life fully lived so that each of those identities is allowed it's head would last—or at least would seem to last—three centuries. It would be a far richer life than those most people have ever dared to live.
11. And so Woolf's unstinting belief in literature. Not as an escape from reality, but as an escape into reality itself, into the concretization of the actual workings of the mind and the experience of consciousness. Apropos, she has Orlando turn her back on the "manly" worldly actions of her forbears and devote her life to the pursuit of letters.
To Orlando, Woolf writes, there was a glory about a man who had written a book and had it printed, which outshone all the glories of blood and state. To his imagination it seemed as if even the bodies of those instinct with such divine thoughts must be transfigured. They must have aureoles for hair, incense for breath, and roses must grow between their lips.
He soon perceived that the battles which Sir Miles and the rest had waged against armed knights to win a kingdom were not half so arduous as this which he now undertook, to win immortality against the English language. Anyone moderately familiar with the rigors of composition will not need to be told the story in detail; how he wrote and it seemed good, read and it seemed vile; corrected and tore up; cut out; put in; was in ecstasy; in despair; had his good nights and bad mornings; snatched at ideas and lost them; saw his book plain before him and it vanished; acted his people's parts as he ate; mouthed them as he walked; now cried; now laughed; vacillated between this style and that; now preferred the heroic and pompous; next the plain and simple…and could not decide whether he was the divinest genius or the greatest fool in the world.
12. Of course, this kind of a life poses a problem for the biographer and Woolf has great fun playing the aggrieved author of Orlando, watching in frustration for a now literary Orlando to actually do something.
Thought and life are poles asunder…she writs in mock exasperation, Orlando sat so still that you could have heard a pin drop. Would, indeed, that a pin had dropped! That would have been life of a kind…Or suppose she had got up and killed a wasp. Then, at once, we could out with our pens and write. For there would be blood shed, if only the blood of a wasp. And if killing a wasp is the merest trifle compared with killing a man, still it is a fitter subject for novelist or biographer than this mere wool-gathering; this sitting in a chair day in, day out, with a cigarette and a sheet of paper and an ink pot.
Thought and imagination—are of no importance whatsoever. If the subject of one's biography will neither love nor kill, but will only think and imagine, we may conclude that he or she is no better than a corpse and so leave her.
The only resource now left us is to look out of the window. There were sparrows; there were starlings; there were a number of doves, and one or two rooks, all occupied after their fashion. One's mind begins tossing up a question or two, idly, vainly, about this same life. Life, it sings, or croons rather, like a kettle on a hob, Life, life, what art thou?
13. Yes, it's always that in the end: what is life? That is the most important question of all and it is the question that most people have no time or inclination to ponder, and most novelists and poets, pandering to them, have no incentive to try to answer unless they care to be doomed to obscurity.
14. And what of obscurity? Woolf who always had mixed feelings for fame and success asks this question throughout her work, and never more directly than in Orlando. Her heroine spends three centuries laboring over her poem "The Oak Tree" only to question whether the recognition she at last received was worth the seeking.
What has praise and fame to do with poetry? Woolf asks through Orlando. What has seven editions to do with the value of it? Was not writing poetry a secret transaction, a voice answering a voice? So that all this chatter and praise, and blame and meeting people who admired one and meeting people who did not admire one was as ill suited as could be to the thing itself—a voice answering a voice. What could have been more secret, she thought, more slow, and like the intercourse of lovers, than the stammering answer she had made all these years?
15. The world outside us, then, is of far less importance than the world inside us. It might not even be an exaggeration to say that the outside world is of almost no significance at all except as it provides us with the raw material with which to weave our own and the identity of the person we were meant to be within it. Its a world of words that Woolf weaves, a magic spell, and, if she left this world we can only presume that she did so because this world hadn't enough magic in it and I find that to be as good a reason for leaving a world as any.
Posted by mw at 9:22 AM
Saturday, September 27, 2014
::A special thank you to DeVillo Sloan who discussed my trashbook at his MinXus-Lynxus site. MinXus-Lynxus a fascinating place to visit full of provocative work. I highly recommend it, my own appearance there notwithstanding. That said, I'm particularly gratified to have anything I do hosted at the Mink Ranch.::
Posted by mw at 10:11 PM
Friday, September 26, 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Zip up bag, check drawers one last time, bathroom, unmade bed, then glance in the mirror. After a week of hotel living, you can't help feeling like a call girl or a serial killer; it's not an entirely unpleasant way to live.
On the road before 11, after the hotel laundry. Speed Limit 65. Iowa Military Museum. Veterans Hospital. Exit 135. Polk City. Easter Seals Camp. Ankeny. Gas. Diesel. Food. Lodging. Des Moines. Minneapolis.
Altoona. Bondurant. Minimum speed 40. Do not pick up hitchhikers. Corn fields, then fields with other stuff growing on them, then corn fields again. Trainland USA. Touch of Holland. Exit 155.
Petty reactions to petty events is how Marjorie Perloff describes most mainstream contemporary poetry. It's hard to say everything you need to say to the person you love most in your life in the front seat of a car in ten minutes especially when you know in your guts that you will never see that person again. Jasper County Museum. Exit 164. Newton. Monroe.
Iowa Speedway Exit 168. Kellogg 7 miles. Exit 179. Oakland Acres. Rest Area —>
Grinnell. New Sharon. Exit 191. Tama. Montezuma. Diamond Lake Park. Brooklyn 8 miles. Riverside Casino.
Framed in the car window everything looks like Wyeth's Christina's world without Christina.
Assuming one is a misfit all one's life because one hasn't been lucky enough to have found the people among whom one would have fit. A bruised sky above empty fields and abandoned-looking houses. No birds. The moment the driver slams on the brakes cursing and you look up searching the visible field in what may be the last seconds of your life for the oncoming car, the fallen tree, the meteor, the person you're about to run over, the god-knows-what that will kill you but it turns out to be nothing, just a missed exit. A white clapboard church with steeple and a small graveyard beside it plus a cornfield beside that, tidy and tight as an equation.
Cedar Rapids. Amana Colonies. What you could have said if you hadn't said what you said and then you would have left what you said unsaid and regretted that. 12.37pm. Rest Area 1 mile. Next Rest Area 34 miles.
A white cross planted by the side of the highway where someone was killed.
The sun not quite breaking through the clouds. The autumn equinox. Scheels All Sports. Target. Visitor Information. Firefighters Memorial. Lake MacBride. Solon.
Feeling reflective but not reflecting anything.
Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum. Sharpless Auctions. Always being the one to give in based on the rationale that life is too short to hold onto anger and resentment and self-righteousness to the point of always becoming the doormat others wipe their feet on so that it's better to give up being with people altogether to protect yourself from further abuse. The irony being that one never needed other people all that much to begin with.
Speed Limit 70.
Exit 267. Tipton. Moscow.
Taking a few moments to be consciously grateful that one isn't suffering a blinding pain deep inside one's skull. 1:20pm. Rock Island. Molina.
Being among the first conspiracy theorists in recorded history: the Christian Gnostics.
Parkview Family restaurant: no view of any park. Egg and cheese on croissant.
Sky the color of a napkin you use to absorb the water out of a watercolor brush after cleaning it in preparation for using a new color. 2:44pm. All the colors for which there are no adequate names. All the things for which there are no names at all.
Words leaning on other words like sticks to prop up a makeshift sentence with which we build a rickety shelter of meaning that falls apart every time.
Road work ahead.
Chicago 177 miles.
Buffalo Bill Museum—it seems every state has one.
Illinois Welcome Center Next Right.
Obey Lane Signal.
Exit 4A. East Molina. Sterling Rock Falls. The rain stops. The sun comes out. The rain is back.
Colona 4 miles. Rock River.
Everyone dies, no exception: imagine a movie in which that is the case, or a book. Illabi Zoo Exit 9. Peoria. Life is a book that keeps tacking on pages, deferring the end indefinitely. Joliet 128 miles. But you're not in any of the later pages.
T.S. Eliot saying Poetry isn't expression of emotion but an escape from emotion.
A parent's unconscious rage when they don't see themselves in their children—and when they do. The knife your father holds to your throat when you're ten because you said you wouldn't write your grandma a thank-you note for the birthday card she sent you. T.S. Eliot saying, Only those who have real emotions would understand the need to escape them.
Corn—and one feels compelled to point out: still no farmers.
Did your other grandmother really believe that if someone crossed their eyes or made a hideous monster face they were in any actual danger of staying that way? Patriot Renewable Fuels. She never made you believe it but she could almost make you believe that she believed it.
Arrow Truck Lines. 3:27pm. Everyone dies: you cannot say this too much.
Right lane closed.
The right lane is often closed.
Men in orange vests and white hard hats working on a bridge in a light rain. The birthplace of Ronald Reagan. Feeling fondly toward the state of Illinois because two people I've never met but with whom I've exchanged mail live here and eagerly looking out the rain-splattered window hoping to catch sight of the name of the cities in which they live on a green highway sign and the utter stupidity of feeling and doing that. All the emotions for which there are no proper names.
Samuel Beckett saying, Tears are liquefied brain.
Hennepin 2 miles.
Fox River. Chicago Zip Lines. Middle East Conflict Memorial, as if to say we don't know who we fought or why or who the enemy will be tomorrow which is a good way to sum up a situation that seems like a badly plotted novel where none of the story lines are resolved and instead new and more dramatic complications are simply added to avoid doing so.
You can't say it enough, everyone dies.
Des Plaines River.
Billboard: Jesus crucified, head bowed, crowned with thorns, Jesus is your only way to God.
Billboard: Skybox. We bare all.
Rail Safety Week:
Indiana straight ahead.
Dixie Highway This Exit.
Welcome to Indiana.
Crossroads of America.
Posted by mw at 9:02 PM
Back on the road by 9am. Johnny Thunders on the radio. Goodbye North Platte. Weigh Station. Exit 10. More fields. Hay bales like jelly rolls. Windsocks like empty condoms. Pony Express Station. "I'm living on the Chinese Rock, all my best things are in hock." Corn, in the cornhusker state. Eight foot tall white cross: Maranatha Bible Camp.
More corn. Road weather information 2 miles. Corn and where corn was until recently. Reflection of face with caption: Objects in mirror are closer than they appear. Pioneer Village 300 antique cars: sign weather-faded almost to the point of illegibility. Three silver grain silos.
Des Moines: 385 miles.
Original Pony Express Station. Exit 221. Speed Limit 75. Fines Double. Farnham exit 211. Gothenberg. Comfort Suites. Robert Henri Museum in Cozad.
Darr Road. Exit 231.
Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles. Elwood Johnson Lake. Convoy of desert-colored military vehicles. Nebraska Prairie Museum. Elm Creek. Holdrege.
Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer. Odessa 1 mile.
Robert Henri's given name was Robert Henri Cozad. His father was a murderer and his brother an arsonist. The family relocated to Atlantic City and dropped the Cozad from their name.
Next rest area 47 miles. Kearney Visitors Center. Archway monument. Pioneer Village.
Exit 29. Minden. Gibbon 5 miles. Shelton. Kenesaw. The obsolete and naive notion that art must be in some way autobiographical to be authentic—especially autobiography. Lincoln 106 miles. Omaha 150. Cheyenne State Recreation Area Exit 300. Nebraska State Fair August 22 to September 1 already over.
Mormon Island State Recreation Area. Doniphan Exit 314. Entering Hamilton County. Giltner. Red truck tractor pulling three identical red truck tractors. About to write the sentence No corn but expecting to see corn, then looking up and seeing corn.
Why is it considered better to wait to die in a hospital bed drowning in your own fluids, tubes in every orifice, crucified by needles, than to hang yourself with a belt from a doorknob?
Beaver Creek. Wind buffeting the car from both sides. More calls to Jesus on the radio. Milled surface ahead. Frock Brother's Trucking. Speed Limit 65. Henderson Bradshaw 1 mile. Welcome to York County.
Red Dodge pick-up, Nebraska plate 804-BkG.
Corn again. Uneven lanes. Drug dog in use ahead. Uh-oh. Speed Limit 75. York 5 miles. Trailer: big dark eye of white cow through slats. York, Geneva —> Petro. Corn. Waco and Lincoln 44 miles. Noon. Corn. Money: the root of all boring conversations.
Bug ricocheting off windshield: can it survive without what it left on the glass? Utica 1 mile. Cordova Exit 366. Seward 5 miles. Nature Valley Crunchy Peanut Butter Granola Bar. Nibbling the last of it.
Lincoln 20 miles. Drivers in passing cars turning to look at you as you turn to look at them.
Pleasant Dale 5 miles. Corn, and not even noting it every time one sees it. Crete 1 mile. Doane College. Exit 388. The illusion of a single unified identity: how it requires so much energy to maintain, how its used as a collar to control us. Homestead National Monument.
Frontier Harley Davidson. Rosa Parks Way. Coddington Lane. Pioneer Park.
Palpitations: the wild timeless panic of being out of sync with life, wondering if your heart will start beating normally again.
Pen running out of ink, throwing it out at picnic area in park where you stop for lunch. What sounds unmistakably like gunshots in the distance.
Yellowjacket on sandwich wrapper, hair, weathered wood of picnic table, arm, the fevered heat of it's flight before it becomes visible.
Powerball 196 million. Rail-yard half-a-mile wide. Lincoln airport. West Cornhusker Highway. Thinking of how my silence and extreme isolation in high school would today be considered as a "warning sign," how it was a warning sign, and how I survived intact anyway. 2:12pm. Exit 403.
Hampton Inn & Suites. Abbot Sports Complex. Wahoo Fremont Exit 405. 90 degrees. Waverly 3 miles Omaha 50. Nebraska Crossing Outlets. A warning sign of what, I still wonder. The 7 warning signs of cancer: how you can always talk yourself into believing you have at least two or three.
Antique Mall open daily next exit. Exit 420. Ashland. The importance of living as many lives as you can within the single life you're given. Emerson saying, A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Wildlife Safari. Exit 426. The absolute artificiality of the "realist" novel. The omissions in nonfiction essays whose purpose is to prove a thesis. The system of lying that is known as the Platonic and Aristotelian tradition.
Single? Omaha.Love.com. Satellite Self Storage. Finish what you started without starting over. Depression if untreated can be fatal.
Des Moines Eppley Airfield. Ponca Smoke Signals Hot Prices. Henry Doorly Zoo. 29 North. Sioux City. Missouri River. The people of Iowa Welcome You. Fields of Opportunity. Horseshoe Casino. Peterbilt. Apple Barrel. Cracker Barrel Family Meals Homestyle where they fired that employee for giving free condiments to a homeless guy, haven't eaten there since. Council Bluffs 1/2 mile. All the men I've slept with, the women I can count.
Black cows on a hillside that for an instant look like buffalo. Des Moines 122 miles. Corn, even more than in Nebraska.
Neola 1 mile. Camping Exit 23. Kum & Go. Wondering why the contrivance of the K and then—oh, of course! Seeing cows lying on their knees in fields and wondering if cow-tipping really happens or if it's just an urban legend. Then wondering if you shouldn't more accurately call it a rural legend instead.
Corn going downhill, corn going uphill. Still not a single farmer in a field anywhere. In school being told how hard the farmers worked. Taking long solitary walks around the circumference of the schoolyard at lunch holding elaborate conversations in my head.
Avoca. Harlan. Wind farms on either side of the highway. Seeing a single blade on a trailer at least forty feet long. Prairie Rose State Park. Elk Horn 9 miles. Des Moines 11 miles. Iowa Welcome Center. Danish Museum.
Wiota 11 miles. Des Moines 70 miles. Anita Corning Exit 70. Knowing only one Anita and that Anita dying of breast cancer. Never being able to see the name Anita without thinking of breast cancer and that one particular Anita who I never think about otherwise. A stretch of road grooved in such a way that it squeals like a high wind when you pass over it.
Nothing Adventured Nothing Gained—the rest of the billboard too small to read. Guthrie Center. Greenfield. 4.11pm. Exit 93. Stuart. Panora.
Realizing now that my fear as a child that my father would lose control and kill us was greatly exaggerated but still not entirely sure of that.
Dexter 1 mile. Exit 110. Adel. DeSoto water tower. Another Kum & Go. Bob Feller Museum. My father, did he or didn't he? Well, let's put it this way, if he did it would have seemed he had every right, such was the atmosphere in that house. 8789 Plum Drive, Urbandale, Iowa. Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant. Exit 117.
Waukee. Bonneville. White Eagle Multicultural Pow Wow. Silos and Smokestack National Heritage Museum. I-35N. Polk County. Upper Iowa University. Hickman Road. Exit only.
Iowa Park. Douglas Avenue. Urbandale.
Huge gaps of memory missing, blank patches on the map, fences, armed guards, dogs, no entrance without authorization.
Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Guantanamo Bay, secret prisons, executive orders, enhanced interrogation, arrest without warrant or due process.
Even with a GPS there are still places you cannot find.
Everything that happened happened to someone else.
Holiday Inn Express. It is here we will stop for the night.
Posted by mw at 12:17 AM
Thursday, September 18, 2014
(Nebraska: almost nothing as far as the eye can see.)
Laramie in the rearview mirror, in the memory, already growing smaller. Vote Linda Heath. Fat-bellied military planes flying low in the sky.
Sere fields suddenly interrupted by green swath of a ground-hugging, unidentifiable crop. Square hay bales scattered over acres. Nothing on the radio between calls to come back to Jesus but static.
Gators Motel. Truck wash.
Rest area 2 miles.
Next rest area 55 miles.
No rest in between.
Speed Limit 75.
Pine Bluffs 1 mile. A&W All-American food. Windows on the Past. Windshield bug-splattered again. Tract homes in the middle of nothing. Nebraska…the good life. Exit 1. Home of Arbor Day. Jokes about escaping Cheney country with all organs intact.
Bushnell 7 miles. Travelers Information Call 511. Tractor trailer: Prima Express.
Nebraska, for the time being, same as Wyoming. A red pick-up speeding like a comet along a dirt farm road raising a long funnel of dust.
Bushnell exit right. No services. Nebraska not looking like Wyoming anymore but not looking like anything else, not looking like anything. Kimball 10 miles. Sidney 50. Otis Redding suddenly on the radio just sitting on the dock of the bay.
Kimball Exit 20. Information Center. Chimney Rock 45 miles north. A combine sitting motionless in a field. Where are all the farmers? In over 4,000 miles haven't seen a single one yet. Fur Trade museum 127 miles north.
I-80 closed ahead when flashing.
No mountains on the horizon. Remembering Camus's Caligula "I'm still alive!" as he lay dying in a Coliseum corridor, torn by assassin's knives. Gering. Scottsbluff. Black cow head-down in brown grass.
Dix 1 mile.
Passing prohibited next 11 miles.
Potter Motel Cafe Museum Gas & Repairs. Obama okays 53 million in aid to Ukraine; three minutes later an appeal for the Paralyzed Veterans.
Exit 55 Sidney W. entrance.
Three wooden crosses on top of a bare rocky bluff. Sexual fantasies of crucifixion. North Platte 123 miles. Green water tower: Cabela's World Headquarters. Writhing in mock sexual agony on rough wood watched by taciturn farmers and truckers with hard-ons in their scratchy jeans. Hospital Exit 59.
Sunol 1 mile.
Road closed. 11:56am. Passing prohibited next 7 miles. Roadwork. Tractor on overpass crossing over highway. Nebraska, briefly, looking like New Jersey.
How hard and long and ugly most people's deaths are. Do not pass. Do not resuscitate. Crossover 1000 feet. Lodgepole 1 mile. Suicide, so irrationally maligned. Why? Fear, denial of death?
1959 vintage Ford pickup.
People stupidly always taken by surprise by death, as if it were some unforeseen and not inevitable tragedy. Exit 85. Chappell. Oshkosh. Exit 9. As if they had a thousand years to live, make amends, forgive. Cowboy Capitol and Boot Hill.
So many Indian names on highway exit signs the only visible evidence they were ever here. Like tombstones.
Empty fields, as usual, fenced off.
Old fantasies of resort/clinics where you can contract for an assisted sexual suicide. Erotic euthanasia. Julesberg Exit 95. Truck parking 2 miles.
Scenic view next right.
Lunch: bread, cheese, sundried tomatoes, olive spread. Hair-whipped mouth, holding dress down with one hand while eating, squinting into sun. Cows. Long freight in the distance like a toy, fifty cars, at least. Winding ramp to top of concrete lookout. On this very day 137 years ago Sam Bass led accomplices on a train robbery in Platte, according to the plaque. Mooing back at the cows in the distance.
Back on the road within half an hour. Flying J gas. A flock of thoughts like crows scared up from a field gone too quick to record individually except for the last two: begging to come last night at the urging of fingers even more knowledgable than my own, Virginia Woolf's Orlando, how unexpectedly funny she can be.
Laughter and orgasm: two things, not abstract, i.e. family, children, work, religious beliefs, that keep suicide at bay.
Left lane closed 1/2 mile.
Land so flat you can see it looks like rain half a day away.
Brule 1 mile.
A mindless pleasure: untangling hopelessly tangled ponytail with fingers.
On the radio: four classical music stations in a row. Smell of cow manure penetrating air-conditioned car. Lake McConaughy. Hospital Exit 126.
For sale 185 acres.
Roscoe Exit 7.
Tractor trailer filled with cows passing on right. Vague fantasies of hijacking truck and letting them free.
Buffalo Bill Ranch.
Falling asleep, waking up, falling asleep, waking up.
Miles, signs, fields passing unseen. Asleep again, pen in hand, uncapped, touching page.
Waking to unidentifiable marks.
North Platte just ahead.
"I'm still alive!"
Posted by mw at 7:59 PM