I spent a large part of today battling with my smoke alarm. I was determined to roast a chicken, but our new place’s smoke alarms are extremely, as J. would say, tichy. The whiff of smoke from a pan is enough to send them off. So there I am, roasting my chicken Barbara Kafka style at 500 degrees, and people shout at me from the street to see if I’m OK. First I try disemboweling the alarms (ie taking out their batteries), but this accomplishes nothing since they are also hooked up to the electrical system. I throw the breaker and get on with my chicken, sort of, but really I burn the potatoes. Then I flip the breaker back on and the alarms make a little chirp for three hours, and J comes home and fixes it but not before discovering that I almost shocked us to death by not turning off the power as we fiddled around.
Why did I roast that chicken? Because we need provisions. We are going somewhere far away, and we’re not going without food. I bought two different kinds of beef jerky, 5lbs of trail mix, wasabi peas, I froze two tupperwares of chicken and green beans and beets, I may make some fresh rolls and there’s leftover salmon for a salad, maybe I will bake muffins? Because somewhere over the Pacific, we could get really hungry and die.
The first time I went to Europe was with my Catholic high school, and my mom got me a bunch of new clothes to wear for traveling because I was going somewhere. We acquired a beefy suitcase and loaded it up with sensible black pants and comfort shoes and some really ill-fitting drapey teeshirts. And I was restrained. Girls came with matching floral luggage and different un-hip sundresses for each day in Italy. When I traveled in college with friends, I brought the same giant suitcase and sensible pants and comfort shoes and was thoroughly shamed when I discovered that in Paris the rest of my friends packed in duffels and dressed like themselves.
But Bali is, like, really far away. I can’t wear my ratty cut-offs in front of the Balinese. And I’m going to a wedding. Had to get a dress But now shit is metastasizing. My freaked-out brain is convinced I require a new bathing suit, or maybe a good shirt, or surely I need some statement earrings for the dress. No, really what I need is five pounds of trail mix and a chicken leg, thawing under my seat. No, actually I just need to chill and return to the dreamy feeling I had when I flew to China by myself at nineteen and wrote poems about smoking cigarettes outside LAX and drank green tea served by smiling Japanese flight attendants and allowed the plane to propel me forward.
I have to confess, I’m pretty sure that where I’m going is imaginary, and that you all might never hear from me again. There are too many airplanes involved, and everything sounds a little too perfect. Tomorrow I email off my last paper and finish, formally, my first year of an MFA. And then I get on a plane, and then another plane, and then another, and I end up somewhere else.
“In rereading Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” (1929) for the first time in some years, I was astonished at the sense of effort, of pains taken, of dogged tentativeness, in the tone of that essay. And I recognized that tone. I had heard it often enough, in myself and in other women. It is the tone of a woman almost in touch with her anger, who is determined not to appear angry, who is willing herself to be calm, detached, and even charming in a roomful of men where things have been said which are attacks on her very integrity… No male writer has written primarily or even largely for women, or with the sense of women’s criticism as a consideration when he chooses his materials, his themes, his language. But to a greater or lesser extent, every woman writer has written for men even when, like Virginia Woolf, she was supposed to be addressing women. If we have come to the point when this balance might begin to change, when women can stop being haunted, not only by “convention and propriety” but by internalized fears of being and saying themselves, then it is an extraordinary moment for the woman writer — and reader.”—
Adrienne Rich, “When We Dead Awaken.”
Still marveling at how much this lady figured it out, by the way.
Oh blog, I am digging my way out of the semester slowly. I feel like I’m digging my way out of a lot of things. Like, for the first time in forever, I listened to the radio, because I was in my girlfriend’s car, driving down to school. Did you know Britney Spears and Rhianna have a song about S&M? Yeah? I’m like, man, how can you even feel transgressive about something if a record company spent millions of dollars making it into a single? It’s really unfair.
I also finally heard “Born This Way.” I loved it, even though I don’t believe in God or that we’re necessarily “born” any “way.”
Now I am off for tacos, I am perpetually off for tacos, I live a taco-based lifestyle here in the ATX. Blog, in less than a week I am going to Bali. You will be hearing things from me. Including completely un-called-for whining about hating airplanes, and maybe some stories about monkeys. One of my classmates told me that when she was backpacking through Bali she got attacked by a money, but only after she hit it in the nose with a peanut by accident, twice. This is the only concrete advice I have so far: don’t hit a monkey in the nose with a peanut twice.