Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wuss in residence

Ever since I got here, I've been depending on other people's kindness to make sure I get home OK at night. I'd either walk back from dinner at 9:45, just before it got too dark (yes, it doesn't get dark here till after 10 PM), or I'd borrow Christine's flashlight. Last night, we all walked home before dark, but I made the mistake of going into the pumphouse "to check my email real quick." Two hours later, I walked out into pitch blackness. I left the pumphouse lights on, but it still got completely dark by the time I stepped a few feet away from it. So I walked to the bath house and borrowed a candle. Except the candle died a few feet down the road. So I had to rely completely on my internal compass to get back to my cottage. It was scary, the feeling that even though my eyes were open, they felt shut, but once I stopped imagining snakes and owls and coyotes, I was fine, and I got home. It felt good to trust myself.

My soul sista, Christine, AKA writer Y, left today and I am feeling despondent. Who will I get drunk and watch Galaxyquest with? Who will I do impressions of crazy people with? Who will I feel like an old lady at a bus stop with? Who will I walk to beach with? I guess I'll have to depend on me. If there's anything miss C has taught me, it's to like myself more. Ah, she will be missed.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hitchhiker in Residence

My adventures with Writers X and Y continue. Yesterday, we went to the beach and spread out a sheet on the sand. It was a warm day, and I was scoping out the hotties. Being around women has rocked, y'all, and at the same time, I miss men terribly. I had dreams the first few nights I was here about mundane moments with strange men, where I'd ask them if they were in line, or for a cigarette, etc. Yesterday after the beach-- where writer Y went to the water to wade, and writer X and I sat on the sheet and mulled our work, characters etc.-- we began our drive back to the farm when we saw a shirtless guy, big, sort of cut, hitchhiking on the side of the road. I said, "Hot!" Writer X, who was driving, said, "Should we?" And I screamed, "Fuck yeah! Do it." So we picked up the hitchhiker and drove him to the grocery store in town. The poor man was terrified of us. He told writer Y that he'd walked all around Mutiny Bay, and had been out walking since dawn. The whole ride over, I was dying to ask, "So...How did you end up without a shirt...Or a car?" But I didn't, just stole coy glances at him and hoped he'd appear later, in a not-so-mundane dream.

"Who you callin' Evil?"

I recently found out that the story I translated for the new anthology, Literature from the "Axis of Evil" will no longer be appearing there. As it turns out, all the Libyan authors who were slated to appear in the anthology have withdrawn in protest of its title. Can't say that I blame them...

The title has always left a funny taste in my mouth. Is it meant to be sarcastic? Ironic? Somehow calling something the same name that has been used as an excuse to launch a full-scale war and has caused the death of thousands and the ire of millions just to sell a few more copies or make an ironic statement just doesn't seem wise.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Braggart in residence

My story, "You Are a 14-Year-Old Arab Chick Who Just Moved to Texas," or "sei una ragazza di 14 anni che si è appena trasferita in texas" has been translated into Italian by Chiara Manfrinato. Check it out.

Underwear in Residence

Since I arrived at Hedgebrook, I've been getting emails and text messages from male friends wondering if I've gotten some tail yet. I think they have a fantasy about the "all-girls' camp". I am happy to report, though, that yesterday I was treated to a strip-tease.

It started innocently: we were talking about underwear and comfort. Then, the magic began. One of the writers in residence, Writer X, stood up and said, "I love this pair of underwear! They're huge, but I love them!" She unbuttoned her jeans and pulled her white grandma undies up over her belly button. Traumatized, I cowered in my love-seat.

"Those are cool," said Writer Y, "I love mine, though", and unbuttoned her pants and pulled them down, showing off her own semi-granny undies.

The cook walked in in her utilikilt, which was hot. She sat on the edge of my love-seat and chatted a little, then got up and turned around. Lo and behold, her kilt was pushed up... and her purple undies were showing.

Yes, dear reader: in the space of two minutes, I saw three sexy women's granny underwear. I lead a very exciting life.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Bees in Residence: Dispatch IV

A new queen bee was born today! We were in the farmhouse-- the dining cottage where we meet once a day-- for brunch and the orchard person came in and said the bees were swarming. Then they congregated in front of the farmhouse, then moved West, then to the back, and back East, in search of a new cavity with their new queen bee, who split them off from their old "tribe". I've forever been intrigued by the ideas of home and group-belonging, so seeing these bees hustle to settle down had me awe-struck. Here are some pics by Christine.

Animals in Residence: Hazy Cameraphone Dispatch III

I took a 3 hour walk today and had a fun meet and greet with the animal kingdom. The bunny always hops around until I take out the camera; then he stands still and poses. Work it, bunny.

There are also llamas and horses. So, so purty. (Lllama photo by fellow res Christine).

This poor guy was dead. He may be an ear-less rabbit...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Narcissist in Residence: Hazy Cameraphone Dispatch II

Before dinner, and after reading half a book and walking for 3 hours, I was dying of boredom so I took 32 self-portraits with my phone. Only four survived. Here's half of them; lucky you.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Wealthy In Loss: the hazy cameraphone dispatch

I feel lost, immersed in loss, wealthy in loss--it's a good thing.

All my worldy possessions (read books, clothes, art, toys, dishes) are in my only practical worldy possession: my car, which is parked in a musician's driveway (so they may as well be in flames). I feel light. I was sitting in my window seat, in my cottage, thinking about whether I would have been hit this hard if I hadn't gotten rid of all my things and flown the coop.

My cottage is called Willow. It has a blue dutch door and when you look out the window you see green green everywhere.

When you walk down the gravelly paths and look up at the trees, you are dwarfed by their splendor.
The island is full of noises indeed. Birds singsong all day long. After you eat dinner, you get a basket and fill it up with snack supplies for the next day, and a pre-made lunch. Then you can go into the garden, which is full of herbs and flowers, and cut some for yourself. When your done your basket is quite beautiful.

I feel like Gretel when I skip home with it in my arms.

I love walking around in the gravelly loop, and I love walking off the path over rocks and into leafy hidden places. I am not a person easily comfortable when lost. I have learned the past few months to feel more than comfortable with losing things, but that's different; when you throw something out, when you leave something behind, when your last pair of socks vanishes god knows where, you still know where you are. My son will one day write a memoir about the trauma he has experienced in my car, as on numerous occasions I drove frantically and tried to find the address of whatever place we were heading to. I hate being lost. But I am learning to like it, to like it quite a bit. I read that Man of the Wild Daniel Boone once said to his portrait painter, "I have never been lost in the woods my entire life... but I was bewildered once for three days." I am learning to be bewildered and to like it. And I am learning to totally lose myself.

When I was on the ferry, I noticed something interesting: I loved putting my face to the wind and watching as the island approached, slowly, but then, when I looked back at the shore I was leaving behind, I felt utter exhilaration. There’s nothing quite like the act of leaving…even if I have absolutely no attachment to the shore I leave behind. It's such a familiar feeling.
That said: I love it here—the place I left to. I never want to leave.
To stay forever, I could eat one of these flowers…I was told during my orientation that they give you a heart attack. But I won’t.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Heading Out

I'm off to Hedgebrook soon, and handing in the keys to my old apartment. I've packed my coffee beans and books and smokes and flask of liquor, and Penguin just sent me their great ideas series, and I can't wait to read Thoreau on a rock overlooking Puget Sound, an owl on my shoulder. Posts will be sporadic, and I'll be back after the 4th of July. Peace!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Story link

I just read Uwem Akpan's "My Parent's Bedroom," in the New Yorker's Fiction issue. Check it out-- I love the way his characters react to others, and how he abstains from judging them. Anyway, it broke my heart, and I cried all over BookPeople.

Random Weekend Video Links

Monday, June 05, 2006

Movin' Out

I'm currently in the midst of moving all my shit and getting ready to vacate the apartment in which I have lived for four years. I threw away/donated five bags worth of toys today. My kid actually didn't care. The only thing that's frightening me is that I don't have a place in Ann Arbor to move into after I get back from Hedgebrook. If anyone in Michigan knows of a 2 bedroom house with wood floors, washer and dryer, and yard in the Old West Side or Burns Park and wants to hook a sista up, drop me a line.

Friday, June 02, 2006

You must read this

Laila Lalami has written a fabulous and brilliant essay on Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji over at the Nation. It made my week. Check it out. (Also, notice its badass title.)