This blog is welcome to anyone and everyone, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Unless you don't like writing short stories or smelling bear. Or if you voted for the other guy. Also, I don't really like it when you leave up the toilet seat, so could you stop doing that? Muchas, muchas gracias.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Where The Hell Is Kalamazoo?

It's somewhere up north in a state that's shaped like a mitten, that's where.

Man oh man, it's cold in Kalamazoo. Cold and leafy. It's all due to this one huge lake nearby, which affects things like temperature, precipitation, and daily astrological forecasts. Brrrrr. Pretty leaves, though!





During the majority of this trip, I was tired. I guess the jetlag thing threw me off. Plus, Michigan is pretty fast-paced: the residents of Kalamazoo drive as though they're late for a wedding. Despite the weather, which ranges in temp. from freezing to sauna, people there get out of bed and do things. Where I'm from, we spend hours preparing to do what we should do by analyzing whether or not we should do it. Kalamazoo people rake things up, take things for walks, harvest things (out of which they make jars of things), write books, and work full-time so they can pay for things. I don't know where these people summon the energy to also be hospitable.

Most hospitable was ginab's dog, Beatrice, who isn't used to people snoring away in the living room (or is she?) I think Beatrice remembered me a little. Because unless you're its owner, the dog doesn't get much out of you besides a good petting. But ginab's dog spent every night on the couch next to my bed. Maybe I'm friends with a dog. (A farting dog named Beatrice.)



Sometimes Beatrice farted alone at home while ginab and I ran around town, doing things. One evening, ginab took me along to observe her class. She's having her students write a research paper about fame. We watched scenes from a documentary about Marilyn Monroe, and afterwards the students discussed the things they saw and their own definitions of fame.



We were invited to a Halloween party. I was self-conscious about showing up, since I'm not in graduate school now -- I finished a few years ago. But I'd never turn down a party.

On our way to this party, we stopped at a supermarket to buy a sixer. We were waiting in line when ginab decided that we needed masks and headdresses as well, because ginab knows how to have fun. I just love it when people inspire me to do things I wouldn't normally do.

As soon as I stepped inside, I was glad I'd costumed up a little, since this was a serious Halloween party, featuring smoke machines and round glowing balls and something in the bathtub that scared the shit out of me every time I went to pee. Among the attendees were two young ladies wearing those seventies running shorts with the contrasting piping, disco shirts, and roller skates; Hulk Hogan in some mighty fine pants; a hula-hooping ladybug; and an adorable bear with a bad attitude. The host was 100% convincing in his werewolf costume while the hostess, who was dressed up like an ice-queen, was not convincing at all because she looked like the queen of sweet sugar.



At the party I ran into an old friend who urged me to call my ex-roommates -- they, the ex-roommates, have a baby daughter now, and I've never met her. I ran out of time (short trip) and didn't get around to visiting or even phoning. I regret this, because both of these people are very dear to me. I sure hope this wasn't my last chance to see them. I'll send them a Christmas card.

But I did get to see my teacher, the bone-eye. She called ginab's to ask if we'd come over for a home-cooked meal. At B's place we ate bright yellow eggs laid by her own chickens, her brother's apricot jam, bread, crackers, apples, cheese, biscotti, and bacon. A royal spread. B asked us about our writing. Right now, I can barely keep up with this blog, but when I was in graduate school I wrote like crazy -- in a typical semester I'd pound out five awful stories for every good one. When I took B's class, I had a lucky streak, and everything I turned in was decent. Now, I've become a slow writer, and much less prolific. B brought up how important it is to take risks in fiction, and then I remembered why I was so productive when I had her for a teacher. And she said I might sign up for a workshop, since I'm not in a writing group. That sounded like a good idea.

I think B's husband put off leaving for work so he could see us. That was awfully nice, and I wish I could've spent more time talking to him. He seems like a super cool guy. He'd taken a really great photo of ginab -- it was up on their dining room wall.

Why, oh why didn't I bring my camera?! I guess I was tired & wasn't thinking.

One of the nicest moments of the trip was when Ginab took me to check on some flowers.

I met my friend J for breakfast -- that was also quite nice. He told me about this struggle he's having and how well the struggle is paying off. I could tell just by looking at him. He looks wonderful, and he seems pretty happy. I was so glad to see it. I hope I seemed happy, too, because I am happy.



The second nicest moment was when the three of us (j, ginab, and ing) shared childhood memories of things we did at our parents' parties. I'll tell you mine later, and hopefully Ginab will tell hers. Here's J's: At a party his parents were throwing, J was overcome with a powerful idea, so he ran into the kitchen where he emptied all the the boxes of cereal they'd stored there.

While he worked, J couldn't rid himself of the vision that sparked his idea. The vision was from a Wrigley's Gum commercial, one that ran pretty often at the time: four young-adult males run across a beach carrying surfboards with the word "Wrigley's" emblazoned along their lengths.

Once he'd constructed his cereal-box-board, J ran through the party and out the back door, singing the theme to Wrigley's gum. Once he made it outside, though, he tripped and fell flat on his face and went from elation to despair.

* * *




Man, I wish there was a way to gather together everyone I know. Seeing everyone again made me realize how much these ties and connections mean. I hope to do a better job of maintaining contact with people in the future, even if I don't speak to them for a long time. It's so great to know that we aren't alone in this world, not by any stretch.

20 Comments:

Blogger lryicsgrl said...

you are not alone here, either.......so howdy and all that!!

the ties that bind, hmm, sounds like a good title for a song...ha ha!

actually, i still have close ties with two of my childhood friends, and through them, two more, and through them, more too....so, point is? oh yeah, all you have to do is reach out, even if only every few years....to say hi, and remember who we were....it is a good feeling..

1:08 PM

 
Blogger Ahva Rahn said...

And we read to know we are not alone. Great story, great warmth, great pictures. Grand.

6:26 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bea Bea is a poser! Unreal how she looks back at you. I look like a hard ass teaching (and in need of a hair brush--but we all know I won't think about a hair brush, not ever, not especially, not really!).

Beabs was your guardian angel. But did she really fart? oops!

I wish everyone were orange.

-gina+bb

7:23 PM

 
Blogger josh williams said...

I've been to Kalamazoo, "Hot and Now" burgers, that joint owes me. Class action junk food suit! Yep that town owes me...I will be in New Paris IN this weekend about 60 miles from Kalamazoo. Small world great report, write like your prof sed, you write real good.
Write, for crying out loud!
JW

9:08 PM

 
Blogger matty said...

In the end, I think life is all about the connections we make to each other. I think, those of us who are lucky enough to know you and count as a friend are quite blessed.

Dear Ing, you're never alone.

I love the picture of Gina in motion with her class. I'd love to sit in and observe. I think she'd be a great teacher -- inspiring thoughts and new ways of thinking. Bea Bea is so cute!!!!

I am glad, tho, that people here are not in such a rush all the time. That was really starting to weigh on me in Boston. I don't want that level of stress anymore. Mainly, I just want to chill and think. ...and laugh.

I don't think I want to see anymore movies about people jumping off bridges. I'd prefer to see them simply walk across to the other side next time.

Rainy season has started. Argh!

6:59 AM

 
Blogger sage said...

Sounds like you had a good but too short of a visit--yes, Michigan drivers are crazy, the weather is unpredictable, and Kalamazoo is the most confusing city to get around in except maybe the city right up the Kalamazoo River, Battle Creek, there must be something in the water. (I think my problem with W MI streets comes from having spent to long in Mormon Utah, where the one good idea Brigham Young had was to lay wide streets on a grid.)

8:29 AM

 
Blogger ticharu said...

*blink blink*
I actually read the whole thing, an achievment for me, I think it took about 15 minutes! Very interesting though. Sucked me right in.
We are alone and not alone but completely alone.
re-connecting and making new connections with people seems ever so important, I suppose those conncetions define us to some extent.

7:07 PM

 
Blogger ing said...

lyricsgrl:

I love it when you stop by!

I don't know why, but sometimes I'm hesitant to reach out. It's so counterproductive not to! I guess I feel the need and my own needs frighten me a little. Maybe it's how we're raised or conditioned. There's this idea that need is a sign of weakness. But we can't get what we want unless we express our needs, and needing company isn't necessarily a burden on others, because others need us, too. It's just finding the right balance so that the need doesn't get out of hand. It's tricky.

________________

avarahn:

Yes, that's why we read, and that's also why we (I) write.

________________

ginab:

Beatrice is an artiste.

You do look like a hard-ass when teaching, but you give a lot of sincere praise. The students appreciate it. There are clear expectations and boundaries.

Beabs didn't fart much. Just occasionally. Dogs fart.

Fiery orange -- everyone in Kalamazoo should experience this.

__________________

josh:

I will, I'll write! Take pictures in Paris and show 'em off!

_________________

Matty:

You would LOVE ginab's class. I really think so. You'd be one of her star pupils and I bet she'd inspire you to write some cool stuff.

Oh man, I don't like this rain. It's so dreary. But I don't have to water my flowers, I guess.

I'm still thinking about the movie. It was quite interesting. I'm still surprised that I wasn't more disturbed by the whole thing.

_________________

sage:

The trip was short, but I don't think I could have kept it up for much longer than I did. But if you think Kalamazoo is confusing, try driving in San Francisco! I got hopelessly lost last night and wasn't allowed to make any left turns. I ended up driving the wrong way down a two-way street, thinking it was one-way. You never know around here. There are all these special lanes for busses and cable cars, detours for bodies of water and hills -- it's insane!

7:21 PM

 
Blogger josh williams said...

Ahhh Paris, yeah I am charging the ole digital as I peck. Its a two day enduro and the camera I am taking is not suitable for action shots so I will if I have the energy after riding take a few and try to share a story of rare courage.

8:14 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I was again tonight thanks to Yale!

Would be nice if in this hardworking town the department (you know which one) provided anything in words (or in writing) what expectations there are though or really tools as they supply at Yale. My students=yalies!

I just wrote a noun phrase sentence fragment.

You are not alone tho as you know! So it was one week ago or thereabouts and it's just sunk in! Might be the Syrah here.

Vinegar is the bomb (you might remember!). But otherwise, applecider vinegar is the cureall, as is swimming--so I took and I did!

-ginab

PS: maybe I'll come visit for the xmas rush! ;-) lol.

9:47 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS: Kalamazoo means "Gibson".

9:47 PM

 
Blogger Mone said...

The connections we make through our life are very important, but sometimes I'm neglectant of them myself. Beautiful pictures! I think Michigan drivers are like drivers over here in Germany. I dont like nuts driving!

4:43 AM

 
Blogger matty said...

You know, the further I get from that movie -- the less I like it. It didn't really touch me. It did, however, inspire conversation. And, it made me think. I still don't think I like it.

But -- 51 Birch! 51 Birch!

check out the web site!!!!

6:38 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feeling seasonably leafy but without cropper capabilities yet liking the yellow of anonymity. thank you!

6:45 AM

 
Blogger sage said...

I've driven a few times in SF, without a problem. Mostly when I've been out there, I've stayed in Berkeley or Marin County and have used public transportation, Bart of the ferry from Larkspur, the trollies and cable cars get around in the city.

8:54 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Already we're steering up to being outside of two weeks and I'm saying to you, I'm swearing: IT'S HIS LOSS!

-ginab

2:20 PM

 
Blogger lryicsgrl said...

Hi Ing.....just coming to connect....and to read my reply.

Expressing a need to be with others can be very risky, indeed. What if we get rejected? Awful!

7:16 AM

 
Blogger Vesper said...

i've been lurking for awhile, now i'm de-lurking myself! hi! ;)

10:34 PM

 
Blogger bonniejo said...

Ing, it was so great to have you and Ginab visit in Kalamazoo. It was like having two hung-ver Audrey Hepburns visiting (a la Breakfast at Tiffany's), both of your with your clever talk and your laughing and your good-natured observations. The champagne is still in my refrigerator; I don't know when I will have a visit from any other sweethearts deserving of such light, bright treatment!

5:14 PM

 
Blogger Metalchick said...

Hi,
It's good to run into old friends, of course I always like making new friends. I finally met some of the bloggers at Rachel's show!
I hope we get to meet someday too!

11:06 PM

 

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