Monday, April 5, 2010

The Gloaming


Several months ago, my friend John told me that he had a belated birthday present for me from last year's birthday: He had tickets to go see Avenue Q in Cedar Falls, Iowa. At the time, that seemed very far off. We had an entire winter to endure and survive first.

John is the friend who turned me on to both Rent and Wicked. He had a long grudge against Avenue Q when it beat Wicked for the Tony.

We stayed with John's parents. I felt like a kid again, because his mother made us dinner (bacon/shrimp quiche, strawberry pie!!!) and we went with them, in the back of their mini-van, to the show. His mother also baked us cookies to take home with us. But John stole my cookies.

I had had reservations (no pun intended) about the show, which I shared with John ahead of time, because all I really knew was that there were muppets. I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy it, because I don't like cartoons, generally (i.e., The Simpsons). I needn't have worried-- I loved it. Of course, in addition to being a good (if not one that will endure for the ages) show, the cast was phenomenal. So much energy and talent. They acted and sang their little hearts out, and it was such a pleasure to watch.

I am now following some of the cast on Facebook and Twitter. John and I speculated that they probably went back to their hotels after the show to sleep and take care of their voices-- but I found out that they had gone to a strip club. They must have gone to Waterloo (that is an Iowa joke).

Then, we went out with some of John's friends from High School, and went back to his parents' house very late and ate strawberry pie.

I slept in the next morning. John and I went out for tapas, and then we shopped some of the city's boutiques. I was charmed into buying some replacement wine and cocktail glasses for our birthdays. This is my entire birthday month, by the way, LOL. I can justify many things.

The Hy-Vee there has an olive bar, so we went and got so. many. olives. They were Dereck's Easter present. Then, we got some cheese and crackers and huge Diet Cokes for the ride home. The ride home was just beautiful. Why is Iowa so much prettier than Missouri? I told John on the way up, "This is my favorite light-- the purplish light when the colors are all very vivid-- the Gloaming."

John was stunned not only that someone else had noticed that light, but that there is actually a name for it. I was stunned too when I found out about the Gloaming-- I think it's one of the coolest things ever. You see it after rain sometimes, as we did  Friday, but I used to catch it daily when I was in college. I would be on my way to Ellis Hall for poetry class with Wayne Dodd, and I somehow thought the magic light was connected to that magic class, to the experience of being young, in love with poetry, in love with Spring, in love with a man I later divorced. Isn't the grandeur of everything we love, though, somehow linked to its impermanence?

When I got home, we chilled with some friends and drank some wine I'd picked up in Cedar Falls. And then it was Easter.

Usually, I try not to eat before running, but I couldn't say no when Dereck offered to make Easter brekkie. So, he made us some bacon he had braised the day before in HONEY BOURBON. He also made us an egg in toast, but did I tell you about the BACON? The only thing that kept me from eating more of it was the fact that I was going running. But that did not stop me that night. Sinfully good.

Carol and I had planned a 5-mile run for Friday morning. We went three. I went 5 Thursday evening. Then, on Easter, we had again planned a long run, and we did 3. We are both a bit creaky right now in training (though hills are getting easier). We decided to hold off on a long run til this weekend so we can make sure we don't get injuries. Chafing season has begun too. Yay!

Then, I made bread dough, went to Hy-Vee, got eggs, boiled the eggs for decorating that we never got to, and cleaned a bit, showered, dressed in a dressy dress, and our company was arriving and bringing yummy wine and yummy deviled eggs (they made the yolks with roasted red peppers, oh yes they did) and dirt cake. So good. Dereck grilled some of our grass-fed steak and we had olives (of course) and cheese, asparagus, lentils and tomatoes, and a lovely salad. It was a great meal. And my body has hated me all day today for what I ate this weekend, but I would do it again.

Today was very low key. Ran 3.3 miles, and we had leftovers for dinner while Dereck got to go eat sushi with a guest speaker. Then, after dinner, Christian and I took the puppy and headed out for the gas station to get pop. As we were passing the run-down school we live across from (that the university owns), I saw Tommy standing, his group of female-12-year-old friends sitting in a circle, and a university police officer writing in a notepad. So, I headed across the grass toward them. I said, "Can I be of assistance?" and she looked at me like I should butt the hell out, so I pointed at Tommy and said, "I am the young man's mother."

She ran my driver's license, which irritated me, but I guess that is what you get when you walk up and say, "I am responsible for HIM." Apparently, someone had called and reported Children! Playing! With large metal pipes! And hitting a concrete wall! and going down some stairs! Oh my!

The cop took down our information, wagged her finger a bit, but ultimately was nice to the kids before letting them go. Yeah, nice to them after one of them had had a panic attack (I discovered later) and another one was still in tears when I got there. The kids were all slightly traumatized, and I don't think they will touch stuff over at the school again. I have to admit, I was slightly impressed with Tommy for standing his ground and literally remaining standing when the girls were sitting.

I have no idea why that was or whether it meant anything at all, but if I were writing a story about Tommy, he would be standing at his full height, arms folded, trying to be cool. That would really say a lot about the character of Tommy  in the story: A little bit of cheek (he may have been asked to sit and refused for all I know), and bravado. He was nervous and scared, but ultimately ready to defend himself. He told me after that he could have outrun the cop. This is true. And she would have asked the girls where he lived, and then he would have really been in trouble, and I told him this. I said, "You should be freaked out by this. And don't make me nervous by trying to tell me that you're not." I also explained that even though the kids hadn't damaged anything, nor had that been their intent, it wasn't their property. Even though the school appears to be abandoned, it is not.

Tommy said, "I never thought this [shake down by the police] would happen to me until I was about 23."

I said, "Well, maybe now it won't happen when you're 23."

One can hope.

The cop told the girls she wasn't going to talk to their parents, but in hindsight, after I then went over to check on H, who was home alone and freaked out (I gave her many hugs, told her they hadn't done anything wrong, invited her to come with us, but she was fine staying home), and then called another girl's parents, I thought maybe the cop hadn't realized that a bunch of freaked out kids were going to go home and tell their parents anyway, so maybe it would have been nice to make a little call to explain? I don't know how to reach the parents of two of the other girls, but another neighbor does, and so it goes. Small town. Tommy also remarked, "I wish all this didn't happen so... publicly."

Yeah, no kidding. Small town.

Last week, I drove to Quincy, IL, and back two days in a row to pick up (then drop off) a grad school friend of Dereck's from the train station. He gave a talk here. He got to hear all about how much I hate Missouri and Kirksville on our ride. I said, "I'd show you where you're staying, but that will ruin most of Dereck's tour."

Later I said, "Maybe you guys should bike so it will last longer than 5 minutes."

I'm a terrible person. There are so very many reasons I am going to hell.

But I hope you are well.

The Time of the Roly Polies Has Begun

My six-year-old passes seasons by their bugs
and tells us
April is the time of roly polies.
My three sons and I
walk down to the lagoon,
stop for newborn leaves curled around their branches
like the inner petals of the artichoke
heavy with butter
we ate for supper last night.

The two older boys run to hide til I
burst after them, an elephant,
clump through yellow grasses, boom and bellow,
swipe with open hands.
Overgrown bushes and
clumps of young elms
stand to watch around the dried and leafy oval.

Across the clearing,
the spot I just left,
green and white cloth moves
against the gray-barked trunks.
Two-year-old Tommy, lonely with the sentry trees,
strips his shirt sleeve, calls me back with
one bare arm,
pale as the artichoke
cut at its alabaster heart.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

White Chinook

Often you wake
surrounded by sleeping forms

husband, baby, child
and it is dark.

Wind is blowing
from the back of the house,

you hear bells
on the front porch,

windows shut, front door locked
your bedroom door is closed.

No one answers when you speak
sees you sitting in darkness.

What you hear is sleep
breath and chimes

sound the wind carries
all the way over to the house to you.