Monday, July 25, 2005

My Note to the Mechanic

So I was driving along in my Subaru Outback and the check engine light came on and I know what to do if the little oil lamp light comes on—pull over immediately or the engine will explode or something—and what to do if the little electrical thingy light comes on—drive straight to Goodyear without turning off the car because if you do it will be dead as a post and I’d have to call Triple A where if I get it to Goodyear I can just call Bob—but I didn’t know what to do if the check engine light came on. So I looked at my odometer and it said 63333 which seemed fairly significant, I mean, maybe it’s like the call maintenance light on a copy machine but I was thinking I had gotten my 60,000 mile check or maybe that was Bob’s car but later on I found out it was my car so it wasn’t the 60,000 mile thingy. And I was on my way to lunch with a friend and I didn’t have my cell phone because I forgotten to recharge it so the phone was basically like my car would have been if the electric thingy light had come on and I had shut it off—by which I mean dead as a post—so I couldn’t call my friend and my car wasn’t acting weird or anything so I just kept driving, you know? So I get to the lunch place—some dive she likes in Macedonia, food was boring, service was terrible, don’t go there—and my car hasn’t, like, burst into flames or anything and I tell her about my check engine light and she says that her gas cap says that if you don’t put the gas cap on right the check engine light will come on which is obviously stupid since a gas cap is nowhere near the engine unless you have one of the old VW bugs and they didn’t even have heat much less a check engine light but we go look at her gas cap and yeah, that’s what it says so we take my gas cap off and put it back on but the check engine light stays lit. We have lunch anyway. (The check engine light isn’t lit while we have lunch because the car is off.) And then I drive the car to Goodyear where the guy tells me that it isn’t cosmic unless the car is, like, running rough or something, but I should bring it in soon. So that was Friday and I drive it the rest of Friday and Saturday and Sunday—but almost not on Sunday except I have to go get dog food but Pet’s Mart closes at 6:00 on Sunday so I could have not driven it—and on Monday and when I start it up after not driving it for a bunch of hours the check engine light isn’t on but after about ten minutes it comes on. So now it’s Tuesday and could you check it and tell me what’s wrong?


Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Coming Out Party

Cooking, if I haven't mentioned it before, is something of an obsession for me. And I like to cook for people. For many years (with the occassional missed year) I have had a big dinner in July. Cleveland State has a yearly writer's workshop called the Imagination Workshop and it is run by Neal Chandler and Karen Joy Fowler. One night during the workshop, Karen and Neal and sometimes one of the other workshop instructors come to my house to have dinner and party with the locals. So yesterday I had dinner for twenty at my house.

For me it marked a return to normal life. I cooked a huge amount (I always do) including a standing rib roast, a leg of lamb and half a salmon, poached. For an appetizer I had bhel poori*. Lots of varieties of roasted vegetables and sides. And then the house filled with smart, literary people who ate and drank wine and chattered and put up with my dogs. There was so much talk that at times it was difficult to hear the person I was talking to, and all the conversations sounded so interesting I did that disconcerting thing of finding myself trying to listen to the person I was talking to and eaves drop on the conversation behind me.

Of course, I didn't get to talk to half the people I wanted to talk to. But I never do.

I'm home from Planet Cancer and all my friends are here and it's feeling just great.

I will admit, today I am so tired that I can barely move. But it's a happy kind of tired.

*bhel poori is an Indian street food. A vender will have bowls of puffed rice, sev thin (fried chickpea flour noodles) poori chips, diced potatoes, chickpeas, tamarind chutney, mint chutney, tomatoes, onions, chopped coriander, yogurt, cayenne, black pepper and chili powder. They start with the puffed rice and chips and you point to what you want mixed in and they mix it all up for you and you eat it from a bowl with a fork standing at the cart. I put out all the ingredients and people made their own. My tamarind chutney could have been sweeter (I didn't make it and it was more spicy sour than I would have preferred) but bhel poori is great.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


I am so impatient. The whole Hodgkins things seems so far in the past. But today we went for a bicycle ride (fourteen miles down, breakfast, and then we road back on the Cuyahoga Valley railroad. It was great.) And afterwards, I was wiped.

And I still don't have enough hair to quite go public.

You'd think someone with a possibly fatal illness in their near past would have learned something, wouldn't you? I mean, you'd think I'd be grateful for each day and brimming with wisdom. Not a shot. I am working and happy to be working, but no more able to just take things in stride than I have ever been. I want to be thin. I want to work out more. I want to work more. I want to travel more. I want to do everything.

And I'm still taking naps, goddamnit.

(We saw deer, muskrats, herons, Canada geese and song birds. At one point a little flock of Canada geese complete with half-grown goslings, blocked the bike path. As we rode through, a couple of geese stepped forward agressively and hissed at us, their beedy black dinosaur eyes fixed on us menacingly. I went ARRRRGGGHHHHH and they stepped back, and then Bob went RAAAWWRRR. From the road, two guys in spandex--serious bike people--yelled, 'Bark like dogs!' But we were already through the flock. I can't wait until the next time. I'll bark.)

Monday, July 04, 2005


Back home again. Syc Hill was great. We were on top of a mountain in North Carolina at an artist's retreat with no television, no radio, no phones in the room, no internet and no air conditioning. It's a beautiful place. It rained most of the week which made me happy because it kept it very cool. The mountains around us would appear, then disappear in the mist and clouds, then appear again. The shingles behaved and are pretty much gone and other than a day or two where I was grindingly tired, I felt very good. The twelve of us at the workshop shared the the artist's retreat with the Florida Society of Goldsmiths and they easily outnumbered us six to one. They were busy learning to forge, granulate, fabricate, and bond, hammering and using little torches and generally doing really fun stuff.

Because we were in the middle of nowhere, we ate in the dining hall. The food was contemporary southern. This meant that deserts often included something like cool whip.

While I was gone, Mothers & Other Monsters came out and my mother turned 90.