slow wednesday night--always slow during the week before big events like halloween and thanksgiving. so slow one-word amywalker is hoping to beat the eight bucks she made on tuesday and the kareoke dude lingers sadly by the back door. delicious supper makes me hungry and in conversation with the sportsman an idea is born. better than the jagersteak and the grandslam drink--the deep-fried twinkie dog.
n produces five bucks, the sportsman runs to hardings, and the deal is on. for whatever reason, people aren't looking forward to it. the words summon the gag reflex.
the sportsman arrives back from hardings with dissapointing news. the fat cashier (as opposed to the pock-marked cashier, the mean cashier, the purple-haired cashier, and the bald cashier) says she loves deep-fried twinkie dogs "fried in fat." then behind him in line, our friend johnny-- itinerate play director, frequent shopper, sometimes referee, and wearer of 8-guage nipple rings--says he' had them too: "it's a southern thang" (supply appropriate drawl). a quick check of the trusty internet says these two are liars. the invention and all subsequent rights are ours. i claim it in the name of the sportsman universe (where soul insurance is always on sale).
after selecting the proper weiny and cutting it down to size and the required dirty jokes about the dogs being too big to fit, the deed is done. delicious. like a new and improved corn dog. put a stick in it and we're millionaires.
bring the history channel to record the home of the deep-fried twinkie dog and hear our tales.
words and art. i've had a vision of what i've wanted to create for years. sat is just a proving ground. i prefer prose comic; uglyangie is after the po-art (my new phrase). soon it will all come together. i like graphic novels like persopolis and blankets, but i'm tired of the giant whiney coming of age crap these loser cartoonists produce in the name of autobiography. i have a book that reminds me of angie. i will find it tonight and put it in her mailbox tomorrow. there's one publisher of possibility.
pollyanna was in early this morning during my make coffee and think time. she asked me how my weekend was. she always does, though i do nothing to encourage questions like that. i don't care if you notice i got my haircut either. she apologized for not going to the minnow on friday and asked if anyone was there. she meant anyone from work.
there's always someone there, i said.
i remember when i was the sort of person who needed to meet people places, who needed to know that other people were coming. now i simply have a destination. i sit and the parade comes. i never know who will show up. i'm rarely disappointed if someone doesn't.
this friday: bar was full, so we sat for a while with jake from work. some gossip and he left. bar seats open up. we sit next to the mailman who is celebrating the birthday of a woman sitting next to him. they are older and resistent of shots with funny names; they prefer straight liquor shots. and then shot-and-a-beer carol shows up, back from his vegas trip. we chat with him about his debaucherous trip until his to-go food comes and he's home to mommy. an old aquaintence shows up and cries to me about her friend's husband's suicide. she seemed concerned that the friend get a cleaning job. bartender reggie complains about her after she leaves because she demands an itemized bill. people with money are cheap. our friend merlin takes carol's place at the bar and butter sits next to me. odd conversations until the rockstar shows up and takes a liking to me. big burly guy in fender jacket with the single ugliest girlfriend ever. he buys me a shot. then he buys the bar a shot. then he buys me another. we kill the bar's supply of wild turkey. he grabs me by the shoulder and tells me to look into his eyes. he yells something about vinyl and tells me he's going on tour the next day. see you in three years, he says, so we go home.
without time to even think how stupid i was, i was completely under water--except for my arm that held the bottom of the overturned kayak. it seemed essential not to lose the kayak or the paddle. it also seemed essential to hold onto something, anything. my feet could find no bottom. the sides of the river were steep and muddy.
i didn't yell as much as took in air in a noisy fashion. the cold immediately made it impossible to breath. a couple giant breaths came in, but nothing came out. i sounded like those guys on the fire breathing chicken commercial.
i heard lisa say something about letting go of the kayak and paddle. as slippery as the bottom of a kayak is, i was willing to claw myself into it rather than let go. it was the only land in sight.
finally i found some footing, walked up to knee deep water, and made a new series of freezing noises. lisa helped me dump out three quarters of the water. i got back in to try to paddle to a better shoreline to get the rest out. having gallons of water sloshing in the bottom of the kayak made the short trip to the opposite shore very unstable. i was pretty sure i was going in again.
i didn't. we got most of the water out. we switched kayaks so lisa could sit in my damp one while i dampened her dry one. it made sense at the time.
long story short. cold. underwater. stayed cold for hours. woke up the next morning with a sore tail bone, but i don't think that was related to my near icy death.
all conspired against our planned trip going as planned. we were determined, though, so despite losing our driver (for easier pick-up and drop-off), despite time limits, we did it; we made our last and longest kayak trip of the season--down the dowagiac river. we had gone down a short part of the river a few weeks back--sink road to dodd park--and that made us want more.
this time we put in at dewey lake street, down a steep embankment to a concrete storm drain we used to steady ourselves before getting in. i commented that a wrong step there would make for a long, cold, wet trip. we all got in fine. there are very few easy access points along the dowagiac.
the first hour and a half took us through the most log obstacles. none of them forced us to leave the river, but many required lots of scooting. they were puzzles. the woods along this part of the river are mostly breakers in the back of fields. we encountered more than a few barrels of god knows what dumped by farmers. other than those sad reminders of humanity, the river is natural and beautiful. we irritated a heron. it would fly down river when we approached--again and again. we tried to explain to it that it should just stay where it was or fly the opposite direction, but it was suspicious of our advice.
the next couple hours was cleared more. foot bridges and deer blinds spotted the river's edge. the ground was flatter, less undergrowth. forrest stared down a beaver.
the most beautiful part was near the end, when we were in the middle of dowagiac woods. there the light is forced into shafts by the dense woods. by this point, four hours in, we were tired and sore. we had gone under the last underpass and would soon be done.
it was then, after avoiding any danger when going over and under big obstacles, i went to make an easy turn, hit one tree, and was nudged by another log somewhere underneath me. the next thing i knew i was under water. under very cold water.
i think it might need a snappier title, but non-fiction fairy tales works in the meantime. it's a perfect definition if not the best label. it is growing on me like moss.
i was going to try to write something this afternoon, but the attempt has ruined my ability. i seem to write the most when i'm grading papers.
my next will not have me as the narrator. i will be an iranian woman feeding her children with tears and blood clots, or a waitress devastated by the sadness of lonely eaters, or the light that travels all the way to earth just to hit us on an overcast winter day. first i must write a murder mystery for deep. by monday. i'm not sure i know how. someone gets killed, but that's all i've got so far. that's not right. someone also "done it." five characters. maybe one will be an iranian woman, another a waitress, and . . .
stray books are becoming a nuisance in my neighborhood. they sleep lightly on my porch dreaming i'll open the door. sometimes one will flee from under my car when i start it up in the morning. their guant and rugged appearance makes me sad.
one neighbor wants to lure them into her garage to burn them. another lets them into her back porch where she stacks them in the corner of the almost house.
i've got my own books inside, nicely shelved and dusted. i have several first editions. why would i want to let the ugly outdoor books in? many of them carry diseases, you know.
i blame the rental house transients who take in a book "for the kids," and quickly realize they have no interest in reading. the books are left by the street with cracked scooters and headless barbies after the renters' clothes are loosly boxed and dirty mattresses are tied to the tops of friends' cars for transport to the next house.
the abandoned books roam but rarely find a home. we prefer ours store bought and clean.
the dolly parton yodeling commercial just came on. i was safe because lisa the yodeler is out of town. still, i miss the game of exaggerating the pain when a yodel comes from opposite the tv. dolly has no idea about the duets she is inspiring. all across america women affect a high-pitched yodel and men wince like scalded dogs. it is the sort of pain that brings people together.
wild gypsy from nowhere nuzzles his head on neighbors like a cat. his buggy eyes stick to your arm. he cocks his head back and sings a falsetto. he carries a painting with him to the bathroom. the story of the gypsy will be told in full this weekend. i'm thinking the next sat will be a full-length story centered on him.
the sportsman says that when meeting a new person you should ask what the person does the first hour they're awake. knowing about the person's first hour is knowing the person.
my first hour during the week is generally the same. i wake, grab coffee, let the cat out, sit with lisa if she's awake, shower (and if she wasn't awake before the shower, sit with her after), walk downstairs to put on clothes i set out the night before, grab my work stuff, kiss lisa goodbye, and drive to work, where i open doors, turn on lights, and make coffee for everyone. that's my hour. what does it say about me?
i have a hard time opening things, but i don't have the foresight to carry a knife. i fear my eyes are growing farther apart and my legs closer together. if i left the room, someone who doesn't know me might say, "who was that nervous guy standing on one leg?"