Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Shiver of Sharks

Courtesy of deviantART
We lay awake thinking about where we'll be sleeping this time in say March. Lately, we lay awake coughing. Phlegmy but harsh, or dry and every 90 seconds. But soon the coughs will be gone, and we'll still be wondering.

He's two flights away from finishing flight school. So in February - unfortunately detracting from the time he needs to be spending in preparation for Valentine's Day - he'll receive his naval wings and become the hybrid animal many dream about, a flying fish of sorts.

But for a few more days - weeks - we'll still have a hard time quieting our minds about where we'll end up, no, where we'll arrive. And what kind of fish he'll be flying.

If I do manage to mute the issue, the other issue surfaces: Everyone I know is being impregnated. Not with some body-snatching alien, thank god (even though that would be kinda cool), or in a tricky knock-up situation, but with what will be a perfect mashup of their astounding, adoring parents. But still. Still.

The static between my ears as each announcement comes is unavoidable - the rush of blood to the head that isn't as thrilling as the Coldplay song makes it sound. Childbearing. The stage women love and fear. So in addition to wondering if we'll become East Coasters or San Diegans (AKA residents of "the whale's vagina"), or residents of one of the beautiful and tantalizingly far off naval isles of Guam, Japan, or Hawaii, we're peppered with the following questions, albeit on a lovable basis.

Courtesy of the Schwarze family blog
Are you pregnant? (When did this become okay to ask after every declined drink, roll of sushi - which I will still eat while pregnant since fish aren't caught with broken thermometers for hooks - or stomach bug?)

Are you pregnant? (Did the first jaw-drop not settle this?)

Are you trying? (You really want to know if we're humping like bunnies?)

Are you trying? (Has your cheek met the palm of my hand?)

Are you on birth control? (Is that not the same thing as trying anymore? Oh you mean trying is actually stripping away every shred of spontaneity and carefreeness from doing the humpty dance? 
Because at some point we became adults on the brink of barenness instead of biblically fertile young adults.)

Do you want boys or girls? (Oh is that technology available now?)

What names do you like? (Ishmael and Jose, because everything else will be either tainted, taken, or briefly mentioned and therefore the cause of the cold shoulder by the time we get around to knowing the genders of our unborn children.)

Did you know you don't have to have kids... (Wow.)

One question that gives me fuzzy insides when I answer is, What's it like being an aunt? Corbin James Pritchard is my brother's son, my sister-in-law's boy. He stretches and smiles now and was the most precious curled up potato bug I'd ever seen when I met him for the first time over Christmas. One day he might answer to Stretch or Corbster or bring some new, weird, wild and wonderful thing to our family like a contagious laugh or emo style. One day he'll have a big heart like his dad and be an unconditional ray of sunlight like his mom. And maybe I'll get to read to him and with him, show him a story for the first time, discover new ones together. Maybe he'll come stay with his cousins. The one thing I do know is that, that love is there regardless, more solid than anything; it's more sure than where you'll live or work or when you'll have another.

Since I can't sleep, probably like a lot of the superhero moms out there right now, I look through pictures of the Corbster that family have sent and consider myself well on my way to popcorn lung as the DVR'd Golden Globes play in the background.

Night turns into morning as I watch Felicity episodes and surf the Web, (I find out a group of sharks is called a 'shiver'), instead of writing like a good girl. The inspiration happens when it happens. Offspring, too.

In the meantime, I continue to want to chop off my hair despite the critics and blog about surfing baby waves on a beach in the Mariana Islands (forgetting about shivers in more ways than one). Or hole up and write. Or visit places like Kyoto and Godzilla Park.

And they can come, too. When they get here. There.

Courtesy of this|next

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reasonable Faith

If all the bookstores go away, where will we go? Where will I go? When time stretches out and it's okay to look at book covers, niche magazines - reading stand alone chapters somehow comfortable on the floor or in an obscene chair, sometimes on a wooden chair, text juxtaposed with a latte that's almost too sweet. Almost. How else will finding a first edition, or specially highlighted copy, be memorable?

Like brides, mail order just doesn't cut it.

But there is a time and a place for a Kindle. (It's proven itself worthy as an e-reader.) Backpacking across a continent. When your arms are so pathetically weak, you don't want to hold up The Deathly Hallows. When you need one hand to breast feed. But they still make you turn off the not-really-electronic-electronic device on planes, leaving your hands idle for take-off and landing. Blech.

Dicks like to ask me what it's like to be an aspiring writer in a digital age. (The difference between curiosity of opinion and seeming satisfaction is tone.) What do you think? That it gives me great peace of mind to know that people are caring less and less about piracy and the beauty of a physical book, magazine, or journal. As we move toward the end of the world, I realize a huge chunk of the industry will never be enjoyed in hard form, the smell of that literature gone forever. All for a lighter backpack.

Annie gives Miley edge.
Annie Leibovitz takes the most beautiful pictures I've ever seen. (I can't pretend to think Ansel's landscapes are as interesting as Johnny Depp and Kate Moss together in bed, unedited a turquiose hair tie discarded on the hotel room carpet. Annie's lover facing cancer from a New York terrace. John Lennon the day he died. Her daughters. The White Stripes. All with so much interest that a shot earlier lay untapped.)

But as I sat for hours looking through and reading A Photographer's Life, a birthday gift, I knew there was no better way to enjoy these photos, even without the din of a museum and potential crowd. Not even an iPad can properly digitize the ulimate coffee table book. And is The Paris Reviw really as good on it? Is a blog post as good when it's printed out on scrap paper, robbed of it's glow and clickability? No way, jorge.

I heard a rumor that Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon, was closing. I didn't even start to smile or laugh (as I sometimes do at the first break of horrible news; I know, it's awful). But my friend and I quickly searched the Internet and breathed again when we didn't find any substantiating evidence. Powell's is where my dad and I have gone together and alone, something in common shared for hours.
It's from where my parents sent me pictures of my favorite authors doing readings while I was overseas. It's where the rare book room has a book worth a quarter million dollars. It's where there are entire sections devoted to Pulitzers or Japan or graphic novels or audio books. It's surrounded by vintage clothing stores, Jake's seafood, gilato, and the rest of Portland. It's an oasis for even the non-reader.
Courtesy of Isak
So I still have heart. Or at least reasonable faith that I'll only have small regrets in my old age (like seeing the pyramids and not climbing them - whoa! What?) and a slight worry for future generations of readers. There has to be others out there who lived for the daily classroom readings of Hatchet and thus have to own a copy they can make notes in. Who want the hard copy of IQ84. Who want unique versions of Jane Eyre, Harry Potter, Nancy Drew mysteries, The Hunger Games, and vampire chotsky dotting their bookcases, spilling onto the floor and other areas of the house, behind curtains.

Who want every book that changed their life.

Rolling Stone Annie wouldn't lose hope or give up. Austen, Franklin, even Meyer wouldn't. So neither will I.

Because when we do give up completely, things like lightbulbs, modern art, Oscars, Facebook, and the magic of flight, never happen. Lists of wonderful things just wouldn't exist.