Just so we're caught up

6/13/08: Mystery 8

About four weeks ago I was in Portland feeding $20 bill to a TriMet fare machine and getting totally buried under a pile of Sacajawea coins. Three weeks ago I had houseguests and got just a glimpse of the Pilcrow Lit Fest and had dinner with assorted amazing ladies (Jami, Zulkey, Diantha, and then Lauren and Dana the next night). Two weeks ago I planted a garden. Last week had another houseguest (Chris’s mom!) and we took her to IKEA. Four days ago I went to see Lynda Barry and buy her new book. And this weekend I made salads, did laundry, and took a whole bunch of junk to Salvation Army so that now, for the love of Jiminy Cricket on a cracker, we finally have room to fit the Christmas tree in the storage space where it’s supposed to go and will henceforth get it the hell out of the back sunroom where I’ve been keeping random stuff like suitcases and plastic milk crates and undiscarded boxes and spare crock pots and THIS BLOG. Hello! I’m sorry I’ve been treating this site like the Christmas tree.

But I trust you know that I’ve been alive, especially if you’ve been following me elsewhere. There’s been writing (not enough, as always) and gardening (in the sense that I put some seeds in the dirt one day, and a week later they actually sprouted, and I know I’m new to all this, but still, I did not quite expect that, and what speedy service this Nature thing has) and running (very slowly, so slow I can’t stand to see my sad shuffling shadow lurching shakily across the pavement and I’m sure that in actual 3D I look like a Ray Harryhausen animation or something). But it’s all for a better good.

It’s been hard to look at photos and news footage of the flooding in Iowa City this past week, because it’s even more extensive than what happened when I was there in 1993. It was the summer before I went to grad school, and the water went over the Coralville Dam spillway for the first time ever and eroded the floodplain down to bedrock and trilobites and dead dinosaurs. There were sandbags everywhere, and dead fish in the Hardee’s parking lot, and more than once the evening news urged everyone to stockpile jugs of water and fill our bathtubs at night, in case the floodwaters polluted the water supply the way it did in Des Moines. I had a hideous telemarketing job selling supplemental homeowner’s insurance to Sears credit cardholders, and there was a part in the pitch where I had to say, “What would you do if your home was damaged in one of the strong storms we’ve been having?” Shift to serious tone here, the script specified. I winced every time I said it. Somehow I talked the shift manager into letting me work the no-annual-fee Discover card campaign instead, because, GOD. Anyway, it’s strange to imagine that it’s even worse this time around. The flooding, I mean, not the telemarketing industry. And hang in there, all ye Hawkeyes. You too, Cedar Rapids folks—may the waters recede and your town go back to smelling like cereal.

Oh, and for the librarians and other publishing folks among you, I’m going to be at ALA at the end of the month. I’ll be repping the company I work for (Albert Whitman & Co!) at booth 2428. Stop by and say hi!