Saturday, November 24, 2012

Texas Autobahn

Right now, the Buckeyes and Michigan are playing. Michigan is in the lead, and my scarlet and gray clad husband is nervously engaged. During breaks and commentary, he's been pacing and separating pomegranate membrane from seed that floats in a big bowl of purplish water. This is not the normal Saturday in our household, but it's a rather perfect portrait and what I had hoped for from our vacation. I am writing, my husband is relaxing and watching football, and we have some odd doings in-progress in the kitchen. I love this downtime and will soak in every minute.

Over Thanksgiving I think I might have gained back the pounds I lost a few weeks ago back, which I'm happy about. I'm feeling healthy; and in my own opinion, I haven't been looking it since I lost that weight. I've never liked the emaciated look. And, I really don't like the attention it gets from other too-skinny middle-aged women: "Oh wow, you look so good. What are you doing? Zumba? I started doing Zumba last year, and now I go four times a day..."

Nah. Nothing against Zumba. I actually want to try it, but I'd rather be the weight that does not invite such comments (healthy!), and I'm almost there again.  Thank you, healthy appetite; thank you, pumpkin pie!

Because my family is so spread out, and we have Christmas plans to visit, the husband and I stayed in Texas. A good writer friend, JP Reese, was generous enough to invite us and the dog over for a home-cooked meal. (Let's be honest here, my Thanksgiving would've been veggie lasagna had we stayed. And there is a 20% chance said veggie lasagna would have been store-bought.) So, we packed up the dog, drove five hours, and had a beautiful time with her family.

It was so cool to experience a family dinner without being part of the actual family dynamic--no pressure, just a lovely time. Her family is awesome, and I felt welcome and at home. That said, I missed my family a lot. I spoke to them at various times since dinner, and we all agreed it sucks we couldn't see each other but we were all making the most of it. Mom asked me outright to "kindly get really rich, preferably sooner than later," so we wouldn't have to worry about not seeing each other another holiday. Seeing as how I'm a teacher and writer, I made the promise with ironic optimism that sure, I'd get right on that.

During our stay with JP, her four cats and my dog bonded. Two of the cats, one almost as big as our 35 pound dog, followed him around; they smelled his ears, sat at the window while he looked around outside, and tilted their little triangle-shaped heads at him as he bullied us humans into petting him. Lucky for him, he's oblivious when he's well-fed and getting attention, so he made the rounds like an old family pet, cleaning the floor where people dropped bits of food and ensuring everyone pet him at least once. And he doesn't bark, so that kept him indoors. I don't think he wanted to make the trip back home, but thanks to a turkey coma that seems to still be in effect, we were able to tear him away.

Here, we come to the Texas Autobahn. In late October, 130, was unveiled. It is a toll road in Texas between Dallas and San Antonio that has the highest legal speed limits in the U.S. The signs said 80 mph when we got on, but after a stretch at that pace, they were raised to 85 mph. Let me tell you, I wanted a picture of a road sign that says 85 mph  but when you're going 85 mph, good luck getting one. As far as we were concerned, dog in tow, the stretch was well worth the $6.50 or so it cost us to avoid 35 through Austin. And, it was kind of cool to go that fast. The freeway was relatively empty and those that were on it seemed to be content to move at the designated limit.  

The drive was so smooth; in fact, I began reading Raymond Carver's Where I'm Calling From. I forgot how much I love Carver. I forgot so intently that I'd forgot I'd read many of the stories aside from "Cathedral," which is, of course, in almost every fiction anthology imaginable. Carver is just what I needed. His easy narrative style and subtle endings give me hope that works I'm drawn to and works I'm drawn to write, for that matter, will continue to be recognized. I find quite a bit of the work I read to be so forced, so over-the-top and gimmicky, that I sometimes forget to return to those writers I love to find home. As a writer myself, it's a good reminder, too, that I shouldn't force or try to fit in with a style. A narrative that feels easy is a lot of tough writing but it's also so, so worth it; and this is my wheelhouse.

Well, I'm off to watch the rest of this game and write, write, write. And figure out what the hell we're going to do with this pomegranate. Since I began writing this, the Bucks are still 5 points down. They have on new uniforms, and I have to say, they don't look comfortable. It's days like today that I miss Columbus but am also ever-so-thankful to not be living there. If you're a fan, and we win, don't go setting trashcans on fire; oh, and if you're a fan, and we lose, don't go setting trashcans on fire, mmmmkay? And, on that note, Go Bucks! (They're winning now!)

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