Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Road Trip

I'm a zombie - a happy zombie - but I'm still running on reserves from a three day jaunt up to San Francisco. Instead of trying to cover it all in one entry, I'll spread it out over a couple days. That should keep a certain someone (he knows who he is) from griping that I don't update often enough.

Writer Kate Dominic (Cady) came along with me. We started at the butt crack of dawn Friday morning and hit heavy rain as soon as we got through the grapevine. The central valley, in case you've never been there, looks like someone ironed Kansas, sucked all the color out of it, and dropped it in the middle of California. After the third hour, I started appreciating furrows plowed in wavy patterns versus diagonals simply for the variation on the theme.

Two hours after we hit town, we were on our way to a reading at Varnish, an art gallery in the financial district. Michelle Tea has published memoirs, but she was reading from her first novel Rose of No Man's Land. She had the crowd's devoted attention. A taste of her novel wasn't enough, so I picked up a copy, as well as Rent Girl.

We also heard Katia Noyes read from her novel Crashing America. I'll confess I never heard of Katia before, but the excerpt she read was enough to get me to buy the book and I look forward to reading the rest.

The gallery was packed, and I had to go outside for some air. Okay, for a cigarette, but there was air around me too. I swear it.

It was St. Patrick's Day, so I watched people in various states of green stumbling by. A 20ish punker eyed me from across the street and came over. She asked if I had a spare cigarette and offered impromptu haiku in exchange. Even if it had been my last one and the shops were closed, it was too good of a deal to pass up. She took a deep breath, ready to recite her poem, but I pulled back the offered cigarette and told her, "Make it about a smoke." She frowned a little, stared up at the moon, counted syllables, and gave me a haiku about parking lots. Still smiling, but not in a completely friendly way, I reminded her that wasn't the deal, just to see what she'd do. I got a full ten seconds of eye contact from her. Long enough to make her think. Then I handed it over and brought out my lighter. She cupped her hand over mine and watched me while she inhaled. After that lingered a bit, I told her, "I think it's lit by now." She took a few steps down the block, stopped, and looked back at me over her shoulder. I grinned, flicked mine down to the sidewalk, ground it out, and went back inside to see what Cady was up to.

End of day one.

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