Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's probably time to show Mark's car, huh? I confess I've had trouble with it. I don't think there is enough contrast between the colors and the car itself, but other people don't seem as bothered by that as I am. Still, before I even got the car, I asked Mark to withhold judgment for a week. I've found that things grow on me. Every time I look at the pictures, I like it more. When I return from Kentucky I'm going to put a background -- yes! after the fact! -- on the hood.

Kentucky. This is Sunday. I'm leaving Wednesday. I'm tempted to panic, but to get ready for the Kentucky Art Car Weekend 2008 (, I really only have to ... finish painting one mailbox and maybe paint another ... go through my note cards and remove the Christmas ones (of course I meant the holiday ones) ... decorate the Healing Hand on the roof of my car ... use polishing compound on the non-new paint ... clean the inside ...

People always cup their faces and peer into my car. It's a disappointment, of course, because there's nothing in there but traveling and show debris -- my cooler, my backpack, empty mailbox boxes. The people are not being rude, by the way. Many car artists do amazing things to the interiors of the cars. I have a small string of Tibetan prayer flags and a wind chime, but that's just about my car, not my art car.

I have to spend some time with Mister MapQuest and my pal Randy McNally. I have no natural sense of direction, so I expect to get lost. I only get lost once I'm there, though. Like I think I might be going to my cousin Nickie's house in Louisville. I'll probably get lost returning to my hotel from there, but I'll make it from Florida to Kentucky just fine.

I'm seeing Nicolazzo cousins on Sunday and a Huckabone aunt and uncle on Monday. Christa K will be worked in there, too, hopefully Monday night. She's a young successful playwright and I'm only withholding her last name because I'm not sure of the spelling and simply don't want to go look it up. I used to call her -- just in my own head -- Christa Kriminettley, which was a swear word my mother used, although I doubt it was spelled like that. Perhaps it was never spelled. Perhaps it was only invoked verbally. Maybe swear words lose their power when they're captured in the sticky web of spelling, the way a god gets demeaned with definitions. Hmm ...

I won't bother you with all the details (for a refreshing change), but there was a mixup in communications one time, and Christa came over to my house thinking it was the writers' group night. It wasn't, but Mike and Fernando (from Colombia) were here. We ended up reading her play, which I later saw performed in Sarasota with the man who later fired me after fifteen years of loyal service. Ahem.

Christa's friend played Mike's grown daughter. He and I were middle-aged lesbian lovers -- so you see that Mike had to really reach deep in order to pull off that part; or maybe not: a sexual attraction to women is totally within his repertoire -- and Fernando was our five-year-old grandson. Since we "adults" were seated in a line on the couch (not to say anything about sitting ducks) and Fernando was on the floor at our knees and we had only one copy of the script between us, and since Fernando's English, while far superior to my Spanish, is not exactly on the tip of his tongue, the timing suffered.

Christa, of course, directed, which mostly consisted of laughing at us.

So I think I'll see Christa and her partner on Monday. Maybe I'll spend the night with them. Maybe I'll let them know about that ... And then I'll head home, stopping in Cumberland to see the Clarks.

When I was thirteen, I had thirty penpals. Most of them were from the States, but I had one from England, Susan Rudd from Kent. We wrote for a couple of years. She called apple seeds "pips," which was so exotic. Those Brits!

Another was a boy in Sweden, which was okay until he decreed that he'd write in English and I'd write back in Swedish. What was he thinking? Didn't he know I was an American?

Another one was Ima Clark from Cumberland, Kentucky. I'd always wanted to go to Oregon and to see the bluegrass of Kentucky. Now, "always" at age thirteen was probably about eighteen months, but still, a dream is a dream. So when some girl joined our school from Kentucky and had a friend I could write to there, I was delighted.

"Some girl." I thought it was Judy Oatman but Ima said just yesterday that maybe it was Nancy or Judy Carlson. Huh.

In any case, when I was fourteen, my parents brought me to Buffalo, where I boarded a bus bound for Hazard. The smell of diesel even now, more than four decades later, can still fill me with a sense of adventure and freedom, even if its coming from a big black pickup truck with a rebel flag on the back and a No Fat Chicks In Bikinis bumper-sticker.

The harried luggage-man with Greyhound asked me if I were going to Cincinnati. Well, yes. Cincinnati, then Hazard. So my luggage stayed in Cincinnati for two weeks while I shared Ima's clothes.

Despite having been penpals for a year at that point, we had apparently not talked much about our families. I knew she had an older sister who'd gotten married and moved out. So when the Clarks picked me up in Hazard, I couldn't believe how packed the car was. There were three boys and two girls. The mother was home cooking, else there wouldn't have been room for us. We slept three to a bed.

The dad was the only one who talked the whole two hours from Hazard to Cumberland and I couldn't understand a word he said. I tried to envision two whole weeks without being able to talk to anyone. My god! Now, I'd certainly heard a Southern accent on The Andy Griffith Show, but it was nothing like this. There was nothing to do but smile and nod and look out the window. The other kids -- even my Ima! -- were silent as stones.

Those two hours, by the way, may well have only been ten miles as the ruler measures, but it was one mile up and then one mile down ...

We got home just as Mrs. Clark was putting the huge Sunday dinner-type lunch on the table. The father worked in the coal mines. He had this giant meat-and-potato meal every day when he woke up just before noon, and then went to the mines.

Something happened to all our tongues at that meal. Suddenly everyone was talking and laughing including me and I could understand everything. You can't imagine my relief. I spent the next two weeks laughing, it seemed. They had a cousin next door, a perfectly handsome boy of the perfect age, named Billy Joe. My god! My time with them is the sweetest memory of my entire girlhood. Yes. I'm always at my best when I'm away from home ...

I saw them when I was twenty-one and again when when I was forty-nine, nine years ago. I would have said it was four years ago. So I'll swing off I-75 on Tuesday and go see them. That'll be so fun!

I confess I'm scared of the driving. When I was there in '99, Gordy did all the driving and I did all the looking out the window. I have that phobia about heights. I really think it should be called a Fear of Falling, not Fear of Heights. Anyway, half the time, I couldn't even look out the window. I just knew the rented van was going to tip over and fall a million miles down that mountain! How's it going to be with me driving? Well, I suppose I'll keep my eyes on the road, huh? Yikes. I can feel my back getting all creepy just thinking about it. Gak.

And now ... some pictures of Mark's car.


Mark said...

Thus far I've received almost all positive responses on my car's new paint job.
Apparently, there must always be at least one dissenter, & I believe this was engaging a conditioned, jovial jab at me rather than a considered critique of your art.
I, myself, love the artwork you've completed on my car. If you are able to put some finishing touches on my back bumper, I suggest that you include an identifying signature (or perhaps an email address which you could establish solely to market your talent) .

christak said...

I do have to disagree about the proud statement. Because, well, I use it. I do agree that in some instances, and probably so with McCain, it can be patronizing.

When I tell someone "I feel so proud" Or "I am proud of you" it isn't that I feel some personal pride for their acheivment, as in mother daughter etc. It is instead that what they have done, or do makes me feel pride in being a human being, who is blessed to know such a person.

And I think too seldom,which is a shame, do we get a chance to feel proud of belonging to humanity.

However, what was patronizing and showed his sexism when he was trying to show how unsexist he is, was when he said "and her husband a tough guy too." How often do male polotical candidates wifes get mentioned in that way? As in a statement of her. She is not just her. She is her husband, her children etc. An example of some good literature on this is Wendy Wassersteins (whom I don't particularly like most of her plays) play An American Daughter.