Saturday, May 19, 2007

Don’t Wait For the Water

I am not a professor this week.

I am not a bride, either.

I'm not a job applicant, a credit score, or a frustrated astronaut.

This week I am a writer.

A dehydrated one. I have grown weary of my own hastily slapped-together paragraphs. I am utterly drained by student emails that totally lack capitalization and announcements that I am an inflicting some sort of massive crime against humanity because I won't accept an assignment that was due in February.

"And I must confess, I could use some rest. I can't run at this pace very long... I've got to head this boat south pretty soon. New album's old and I'm fresh out of tunes ," wrote Jimmy Buffett, who, I must point out, also wrote "I like mine with lettuce and tomatoes, Heinz 57 and French fried potatoes." You have to be careful, with Jimmy.

Five years ago I turned in my MFA thesis and ran away to Florida. My vestigial eight-year-old wanted to go watch space shuttles. She's had the run of me, pretty much, and now it's time to reacquaint myself with the big girl who wrote that thesis, wrote it in longhand for hours and hours at a long table in the college library. She wasn't half bad. I miss her. I don't know if she's still around.

So I applied for, and for some reason was granted, a writing residency in Arizona. I won't say where, exactly. I am hiding. I am hiding from my life, and from me.

The well is dry; has been for months, and please God the desert will fill it again. I haven't been to Arizona in two decades or so, but have hugged it to me all these years anyway-- the cacti, the cracked earth, the turquoise bolos. Yes, bolos. I shall wear a bolo before the week is through. Perhaps also denim in the form of a long skirt. I was a child of the ocean for a while, but I never let go of the cowgirl who wrapped a sunburned little hand around a Colorado saddlehorn. Maybe I'll find her as well. We shall see.

There's a pool where I'm staying. I was excited about that, initially. One of my fondest childhood memories is of Western visits to my great-aunt and being permitted to swim at 10 PM, since my sister and I have skin types that burst into flame in direct sunlight. But then I read the following in the community rules about the pool: "Nudity is up to you." I am not excited about the pool ANYMORE.

There is also a cat that hates me. My only contact with pets may be easily documented in the form of several goldfish skeletons currently resting in a Biscayne Avenue backyard. So any pet needing air is horrifically intimidating-- you might as well ask me to feed, clip, and spay a pegasus. And when the cat came in my room, it started wandering around, sniffing things, and I was terrified. This was not my pet. What if it started having kittens, just shooting out an entire litter of kittens right there on my thesaurus? What if I broke somebody else's cat?

So I politely asked the cat to leave and it didn't. I tried shooing, and it just shooed to the other side of the room. Finally I picked it up at arm's length to take it outside, and I guess cats don't like being picked up where I picked this one up, because when I deposited it outside my room it arched its back and glared at me and was all, "HHHHHHHHHHHHCCCCCCCCC!" I've never heard a cat hiss before. I'm thinking this was it. I found it very disturbing. I always thought hissing would be-- I don't know, hissier.

Too bad, cat. I'm taller than you, and I know how to lock the door. Perhaps you would enjoy the pool instead. I've got enough to keep me busy here.

I don't hate sand at:

Friday, May 18, 2007

Josh The Flight Instructor

Right now Tink is on her way to Arizona for a week-long writing fellowship, so I will be stepping in once again as guest contributor until Memorial Day. Here's a little something I've been working on...

Last month I passed my FAA Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) test. This has little to do with my career as a controller, other than I work for the agency that has certified me to teach people how to fly. I found this to be a nice little advantage during the test. The examiner, Jerry, and I spent the first hour of the oral (sounds dirty but isn't) portion of the test discussing how much money and time is wasted by our agency's bureaucracy. I think this rapport made him less inclined to fail me, like most people do the first time they attempt the CFI test. I'm expecting a conflict of interest lawsuit anytime now.
Actually, there are many controllers like me who are also pilots and/or flight instructors. We simply have to make sure we don't use our position as controllers to gain an advantage over other pilots. For example, while we're flying we can't ask our controller co-workers to give us priority handling over other pilots.
I've waited almost four years to get this certificate. It was five years ago that I passed my Private Pilot test and it took me a year after that to get my Commercial Pilot certificate. Ever since then I've been training to be a CFI. It usually doesn't take this long, but on two occasions I had to put my training on hold for many months at a time, so each time I resumed I was basically starting all over again. I finally have it, and I am very appreciative that now when I fly I'm getting paid instead of going into debt!
In the coming days I'll post some pictures of the airplanes I'm flying. The great thing about being an instructor is I get to fly about four different airplane models. I'm truly beginning to understand how each airplane has it's own personality. Thankfully so far I'm getting along well with them, except last week one of the Cessnas threw a fit (the radios were static-y), so I punished it by not letting it fly. I'm supposed to fly that same airplane again tonight; hopefully it's done sulking and will be ready to fly right.

Clear prop! at:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A NEW CAR!!!!!

The only thing I've ever found remotely wantable on The Price Is Right was cash and a trip to Australia, both of which were given away on tonight's final broadcast, so perhaps it's best that Bob Barker is stepping down.

I am grateful, however, that Jim The Small Child Nephew was able to experience Bob and his stupid skinny microphone, which for some reason increased in size even as technology insisted upon presenting ways for Bob to go wireless. It took Jim almost a year to get out a "Mommy," but "Come on down!" he got by the first wheel spin.

Perhaps I'm compelled to write about this because my main childhood Price Is Right relationship was concerned with it being over. When the Showcase Showdown was done, it was time to go to afternoon kindergarten.

I did not anticpate the Showcase Showdown.

Maybe that explains my aversion to dinette sets.

plinko at:

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Drawing Room A

My concept of train travel came largely from White Christmas, in particular the scene in which Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, and Vera-Ellen's voice double sing about snow to a club car menu.

Imagine my sorrow when I discovered that the AutoTrain had no club car. It had a lounge full of old drunk people demanding refills on their merlot. But no club car. There would be no making a mountain scene out of parsley and a blue napkin that night.

I was also horribly misled by the vastness of White Christmas' train. How wide was this train? Did it completely round down the Appalachians on its way to Vermont? Because our roomette on the AutoTrain was this wide:

Not nearly as wide as one single, svelte Friendboy Andy.

Well, maybe it only looked small with the seats in the upright configuration. It would probably open right up when the beds were taken down.

Or... not.

So it was us, the old people, and the merlot the lounge bartender pretended he had locked up. There was pretty much only one way to deal with that:

The AutoTrain offered entertainment other than walking up and down the cars and pretending we were in a full-motion nursing home; it offered a movie--two showings, apparently to deal with the massive demand-- of a 2004 juggernaut entitled Chester: Hero of Central Park. I gather that some sort of talking dog was involved.

We were up late by AutoTrain standards, and turned in at 9:45. Because I am the bride, I got the top bunk.

I was held in the bed by the alleged seat belt-like netting you see in the turn-down photo. At first I enjoyed the netting, as it somewhat resembles what keeps the astronauts in place when they sleep on the shuttle, had NASA the desire to strangle its crews mid-orbit.

I passed a very pissy night. I'd drift off, the train would semi-derail, I'd wake up, and lay there unable to go back to sleep because I was so pissed about not being able to sleep.

At least the Bridesmobile passed a restful evening.

Andy wisely decided that my first introduction to the Beltway probably shouldn't come after four minutes of sleep, driving a car with stuffed animals piled to the rearview.

Andy is multitalented.

I can't parallel park my own body, let alone a sunken Corolla. Andy, though-- this man knows how to put a Master's degree to work.

yep at:

Monday, May 14, 2007


Everyone, I'd like you to meet the AutoTrain, America's most efficient manner of transporting old people and their cars. It is likely the only time you will ever see a Buick go anywhere over twenty miles an hour.

It's soooooooome happenin' way to travel.

But it's a very proper train...

...if a little frigid.

Friendboy Andy escorted me on the AutoTrain to DC, as he well knew that left to my own devices, I would likely misplace myself, the car, or the entire train; I'd fumble around various doors trying to find a bathroom, and suddenly find myself sucked right out and lying in a pile of pecans, mid-Georgia.

The station in Sanford looks like what might happen if an Amtrak executive sighed very heavily and said, "Well. We need a station here. I guess." Dirt was moved to make way for an actual paved road, then relocated to the gift shop. Andy and I stood in a long, bridge-playing line with the cast of Cocoon to pick up our tickets. The train was running late. This did not sit well the other passengers, who had condo board meetings to attend. Who was going to complain about people putting out garbage cans at 5:58 PM instead of 6 in their absence?

The Millennium Bridemobile departed The Swamp, Northern Edition, fully vacuum sealed like International Space Station cargo. Andy had to carry my wedding dress in his lap as we drove to the station. If he hadn't, either he or the dress would have had to experience a bumper tie-down, and I wouldn't have wanted to be in a position to make that decision. Andy's hair looks fantastic when the wind takes to it, is all I'm saying.

When a staff member drove the Bridemobile onto the railcar, I cautioned him to take care with my dress. I believe the words "die" and also "DIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEE" were used.

He totally tried it on after he drove it onboard. I know it.

the "cast of Cocoon" line is Andy's at:

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