Thursday, April 30, 2009

Road Trip Recap

Now that we've been back for a few days and I have unpacked *most of my things, I can take a breath and recap our recent cross-country drive.

Anyone traveling in a rental truck towing a car with a dog in the cab will quickly learn it's going to be a long, slow journey. You will be passed by 18-wheelers going up hill (that's when you know you're
slow), you will be boxed in between trucks at rest stops, you will pay $25 in tolls to simply drive across the "great" state of Indiana, you cannot go in reverse without blocking traffic for 15 minutes (cities are NOT your friend), and even places that are pet-friendly charge fees and confine your pet to using certain back doors. The best routes are flat, open roads and the best places to stay will have plenty of parking, restaurants that allow carry-out options and they will have a patch of grass for your dog to roam on. Our route was slightly revised early on and we ended up staying one night in the following places:

Days Inn, Cedar City, Utah —>

On the way we ate at the Mad Greek Cafe in Baker, California which makes really good hummus and flat bread.
It was a long day of driving so we didn't get to see much besides the long road ahead of us.
Econo Lodge, Rock Springs, Wyoming —>
Salt Lake City is on the way here—we managed to find the Utah Capital building and lawn but somehow missed the tabernacle...despite the fact that everyone says "you can't miss it."
We stopped at a state park/rest stop in Evanston, Wyoming which had a big rushing river through it and a field of bison Maya seemed to mistake for a dog park with really big dogs inside it. Next time I would drive past Rock Springs...happily.
Best Western, Fort Collins, Colorado —>
Tommie and I were intrigued about Colorado and planned to drive down to Boulder but then decided to save time by going to Fort Collins (slightly North) instead.
There was a quaint college downtown area nestled between the mountains. We walked around the Colorado State University campus and got some yummy take-out Thai food.

Best Western, Omaha, Nebraska —> Admitedly, driving through Nebraska is not the most exciting tour but the clouds in the sky against the open fields can be pretty. We were diverted off the freeway around Sidney due to a smoking accident—I took the time to enjoy a delicious mint oreo blizzard from Dairy Queen. Our Best Western Hotel in Omaha was one of the nicest places we stayed in and it had a Perkins restaurant attached to it so we could get some real food after our D.Q. pit stop—though I'm pretty sure I could survive on blizzards alone.
Holiday Inn, Muscatine, Iowa —> Stopped in Des Moines, Iowa for lunch near Drake University. Everyone we met in Des Moines was intrigued by Maya the wonder dog. A little off the beaten path, Muscatine is along the Mississippi River.
Comfort Inn, Elyria, Ohio —>
We drove a lot this day and lost another hour in Ohio—time is also not your friend when driving this direction.

Holiday Inn Express, Schoharie, N.Y. —>
New York started to look "like home." There were lots of pretty rivers running under and next to the road with people canoeing and camping. The hotel was practically deserted and in a quiet location where we could walk to a Dunkin' Donuts and hear the peepers at night.

Home Sweet Home

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Greetings From The East Coast

We made it. It was a long, slow journey from west to east but 7 days later we arrived at our final destination (much to Maya's happiness) in the Northshore of Massachusetts. The truck moved at a snail's pace along I-15 to I-80, then eventually getting on the I-86 and taking the I-90 towards home.

Maya's fear of trucks got worse when she realized they seemed to be everywhere we went (truck stops and hotels right off the highway)...just as she feared, they were coming after her. She spent most of the trip shaking in her paws, but I managed to document her adventure in some photos—kind of like the lawn gnomes people steal and take pictures of all around the world:

Maya goes Mormon, Salt Lake City, Utah
Maya meets bison, Evanston, Wyoming
Maya enrolls in Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
Maya on the Mississippi, Muscatine, Iowa
Maya in "the wild," Scoharie, New York

Sunday, April 19, 2009

End Of The San Diego Chapter

Our little lives are packed into a Penske truck and we're ready to head back East first thing tomorrow morning. I'm tired, anxious, excited, nervous and probably a little crazy for doing this at all. Sometimes you just know you're not quite where you belong and need to make a change to start to get there.

I'll be MIA for a week or so as we make our way along I-70...that is, if Maya and Tommie can get up after a rough day of packing...

Thanks to the people and places of San Diego that gave me so many good memories to take with me.

A new chapter begins...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

National Poetry Month: Charles Olson

In preparation for my journey back to my hometown of Gloucester, Mass., I have chosen Charles Olson as the last poet to blog about during National Poetry Month.

Olson, the author of a well-known epic poem about Gloucester, The Maximus Poems, grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts but spent his summers in Gloucester before relocating there in his final years. The Maximus Poems, which he began in the late 1940’s and continued to work on until he passed away in 1970, captures the historical effects of industrialization on a place such as Gloucester, which was once (only) a small fishing community. Olson mixes his own personal knowledge about Gloucester and mythology with the research he gathered about Gloucester’s early history and settlement to express his concerns about the gradual movement of human beings away from a more modest and simple way of life.

Bk ii chapter 37
By Charles Olson

I. Beginning at the hill of Middle Street the city
which consists mostly of wharves & houses
reaches down to the sea. It is bounded
on the one side by the river Annisquam,
and on the other by the stream or entrance
to the inner harbor. In the Fort at this entrance

are the images of stone and there is another
place near the river where there is a seated
wooden image of Demeter. The city's own
wooden image of the goddess is on a hill
along the next ridge above Middle Street
between the two towers of a church called
the Lady of Good Voyage. There is also a stone image
of Aphrodite beside the sea. 2. But the
spot where the river comes into the
sea is reserved for the special
Hydra called the Lernean monster,
the particular worship of the city,
through it is proven to be recent
and the particular tablets of Poseidon
written on copper in the shape of a heart
prove to be likewise new.

the rocks in Settlement Cove
like dromlechs, menhirs
standing in the low tide
out of the back of the lights from Stacy Boulevard
at night

out of the back of the light,
from Stacy Boulevard on the water
at night

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

No Longer Numb

I'm not even home yet and I can already feel myself filling up with all kinds of emotions that I haven't experienced since living in California for 3 years. Living out here was "easy." I escaped here right out of college. Tommie moved out here six months later. For the most part, we have lived harmoniously with little distractions from the outside world. Sure, there were times I worried about my parents and sister or they drove me batty, and I had stressful moments at work but otherwise we have been isolated out here. (Not to mention the perpetual nice weather makes it difficult to be upset for longer than five minutes tops.)

But now, on top of worrying about the open-ended questions like what will I find for work (will I even find any at all?) I have lots of people back in my life; I have extended family, friends, neighbors...people who know my life story and who bring out different sides of me. It's no longer only about the future because no one knows my past...back home they know my past; they are my past. I'm finding myself having trouble understanding my own feelings at the moment because I haven't had to think about feelings for a while. In a way, I feel as though I have been pleasantly numb for the past 3 years and now I'm suddenly and quickly getting feeling back in me (and not always good feeling) as if some part of me had been asleep this whole time. I know this is is not easy. We are social beings who, like it or not, have other people and situations intersecting our lives. These people challenge us. These situations test us. This is reality...I just hope I'm ready to face it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

San Diego Scrapbook

T minus seven days before departure. I have actually found it more difficult to accept leaving San Diego than leaving my hometown. I knew that place would always be my "home;" I knew I would visit as often as possible; I knew I had ties there, but San Diego doesn't have a clear label in my was a place I spent 3 years of my was where I had my first real job, where I had my first apartment, where I had plenty of adventures. I am leaving with much more than I came with...more perspective, more memories and more things to miss.

Things I'll miss most about California:


Citrus trees

Sushi Deli

Dog Parks
/Dog Beaches


Calls from base

Steven Jekyll Webb


The fact that rain dates don't have to exist

Everything being "10 minutes away"

South Park and our apartment

Craftsman Houses

The Adventures

Exploring the West Coast

La Jolla Shores


Gay pride

Being 3 hours behind everyone else

And, of course, my family

Saturday, April 11, 2009

National Poetry Month: Rita Dove

I was lucky to hear Rita Dove give a reading at my college a few years ago. She read mainly from her collection "American Smooth," and half-joked that reading her older poems made her cringe. Like any writer, she was overly critical about her earlier work. But I had developed a deep interest in mythology that year and loved poems that mixed these ancient stories with our modern world. Dove's older collection of poetry, "Mother Love" explores the relationship between mother and daughter by interposing the myth of Persephone and Demeter in modern locations and scenarios. Here is one of my favorites about the moment "Persephone" goes missing, along with an excerpt from another (longer) poem from "Demeter's" perspective after her daughter has been living in "the Underworld."

Persephone, Falling
By Rita Dove

One narcissus among the ordinary beautiful

flowers, one unlike all the others! She pulled,
stooped to pull harder—

when, sprung out of the earth

on his glittering terrible

carriage, he claimed his due.

It is finished. No one heard her.

No one! She had strayed from the herd.

(Remember: go straight to school.

This is important, stop fooling around!

Don't answer to strangers. Stick

with your playmates. Keep your eyes down.)

This is how easily the pit

opens. This is how one foot sinks into the ground.
The Bistro Styx
By Rita Dove

She was thinner, with a mannered gauntness
as she paused just inside the double
glass doors to survey the room, silvery cape
billowing dramatically behind her. What's this

I thought, lifting a hand until

she nodded and started across the parquet;
that's when I saw she was dressed in all gray,

from a kittenish cashmere skirt and cowl

down to the graphite signature of her shoes.

"Sorry I'm late," she panted, though

she wasn't, sliding into the chair, her cape

tossed off in a shudder of brushed steel.

We kissed. Then I leaned back to peruse

my blighted child, this wary aristocratic mole...

...She swallowed, sliced into a pear,

speared each tear-shaped lavaliere

and popped the dripping mess into her pretty mouth.

Nowhere the bright tufted fields, weighted

vines and sun poured down out of the south.

"But are you happy?" Fearing, I whispered it
quickly. "What? You know, Mother"—

she bit into the starry rose of a fig—

"one should really try the fruit here."
I've lost her, I thought, and called for the bill.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Intuitive Travel Plans

In 8th grade I had an English teacher who was told she would also have to instruct her students in math that year due to a teacher shortage. It was clear from day one that she was not happy about this. Not only was she unhappy, but she was just as lost as we were when it came to x + y = 47. As an English major who seems to be missing that chunk of my brain which comprehends numbers, I understand her disdain and only wish the principal understood what a mistake it was to ask an English teacher to mix algebra with Shakespeare.

What my teacher did to cover this section of her forced curriculum was cleverly disguise writing assignments as math assignments. The one I remember most was planning a road trip. We were to create a budget (this was the only math component) and write a report on where we would go and what we would do. Without hesitation I decided I would take a Winnebago with all of my friends across the country to the San Diego Zoo.

I sent away for free brochures and dreamed of palm trees and panda bears. Little did I know that eight years later I would be making that very trip (minus the Winnebago full of teenage girls) only it would be to live there. I still wonder sometimes if that choice in 8th grade was led by some strange intuition. Of all the places to travel to in the U.S., I chose the very place that, years later, my parents would tell me they/we were moving to. When I was having lunch at the zoo with my sister after first moving here, I couldn't help thinking how strange it was to be there, exactly where I had imagined myself only in a different time and under very different circumstances.

It's little things like that that make me wonder if we listened to our gut more often, maybe we'd have a better, truer sense of where we were headed. Even though I'm not choosing to stay in San Diego, I feel very lucky that a creative "math" project in 8th grade turned into a reality that was better than I could have ever imagined.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

National Poetry Month: Mark Doty

If you have ever lived in a coastal town, somewhere where land meets water and water meets sky, you know what a strange and beautiful place that can be. Treasures wash ashore with the tide, storms can catch you by surprise, and there is probably no other place where the cycle of life is more evident. Poet Mark Doty, residing in Provincetown, Mass., wrote the collection of poems "Atlantis" exploring that zone between worlds: between land and sea and also between life and death. The imagery of the empty crab's shell in the following poem makes it one of my favorites:

A Green Crab's Shell

By Mark Doty

Not, exactly green:

closer to bronze

preserved in kind brine,

something retrieved
from a Greco-Roman wreck,

patinated and oddly

muscular. We cannot
know what his fantastic
legs were like—

though evidence

suggests eight
complexly folded

scuttling works

of armament, crowned

by the foreclaws'

gesture of menace

and power. A gull's

gobbled the center,

leaving this chamber

—size of a demitasse—

open to reveal

a shocking, Giotto blue.

Though it smells
of seaweed and ruin,

this little traveling case
comes with such lavish lining!
Imagine breathing

surrounded by
the brilliant rinse
of summer's firmament.

What color is
the underside of skin?
Not so bad, to die,

if we could be opened

if the smallest chambers

of ourselves,

revealed some sky.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dreaming of Home

Whenever I have something weighing heavy on my mind, like a giant move across the country, I start having vivid dreams at night.

A few nights ago I dreamt of driving along Highway 128; it was summer and the sun was shining brightly until I drove under a massive gray cloud and the trees were suddenly caked with snow. I had to take off my sunglasses. It was beautiful (I haven't seen snow in three years) but I started to drive slower than a snail...the roads had about three feet of snow still on them and I was trying to stay in other people's tire tracks to guide my car along. By the time I got to my exit, it was fall and all the trees were bright yellow.

The next night Maya ran away in the rolling hills of Magnolia (only the real Magnolia doesn't really have rolling hills). I kept asking if people saw her and telling them she was really tall and lanky (like a greyhound), when in reality she is a stubby little thing about 1 foot tall. I don't know why I kept emphasizing how tall she was.

And last night I was swimming in the Atlantic. I got out of the ocean and fell asleep on the beach; my stomach on the warm sand and the sun drying the salt water off my back...I was warm, comfortable and completely at peace.

I don't need a dream interpreter to tell me that these are symbolic of my memories, my expectations, my worries and my hopes about moving home. I sense some restless nights ahead.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

National Poetry Month: Lisel Mueller

In honor of National Poetry Month, throughout the month of April (in between frenzied moving activities), I will be posting some work from my all-time favorite poets.

First up is Lisel Muller. I came across her collection of new and selected poems "Alive Together" while aimlessly searching for a poet to review for a class in college. Her narrative style reminded me of my own writing and I instantly connected to her work. I have posted one of her poems before; the one below is another favorite of mine because it reaffirms my belief that the world should be a more peaceful place when we consider how lucky we all are to be here, alive together, sharing this world at the same time.

Alive Together

By Lisel Mueller

Speaking of marvels, I am alive
together with you, when I might have been
alive with anyone under the sun,
when I might have been Abelard's woman
or the whore of a Renaissance pope
or a peasant wife with not enough food
and not enough love, with my children
dead of the plague. I might have slept
in an alcove next to the man
with the golden nose, who poked it
into the business of stars,
or sewn a starry flag
for a general with wooden teeth.
I might have been the exemplary Pocahontas
or a woman without a name
weeping in Master's bed
for my husband, lost in a drunken bet.
I might have been stretched out on a totem pole
to appease a vindictive god
or left, a useless girl-child
to die on a cliff. I like to think
I might have been Mary Shelley
in love with a wrongheaded angel,
or Mary's friend. I might have been you.
This poem is endless, the odds against us are endless,
our chances of being alive together
statistically nonexistent;
still we have made it, alive in a time
when rationalists in square hats
and hatless Jehovah's Witnesses
agree it is almost over,
alive with our lively children
who—but for endless ifs—
might have missed out on being alive
together with marvels and follies
and longings and lies and wishes
and error and humor and mercy
and journeys and voices and faces
and colors and summers and mornings
and knowledge and tears and chance.