(backdate 7/28 3:30pm)
I should be boarding a plane right now. I should be. Instead I’m sitting at Gate 22 in the San Francisco airport, waiting, with about a hundred and fifty other people, for a flight that will leave an hour late.
A girl sitting near me has a shirt that says ‘I’m not with Stupid anymore.’ I’m glad. Not that she’s wearing the shirt—I really don’t care what she wears—I’m glad that she’s not with Stupid. People ought not be with Stupid. Stupid should be left alone to fend for himself. He shouldn’t be hanging out with other people who have to advertise his presence on t-shirts.
But enough about that.
I’m headed home with a notebook full of ideas, a stack of new books and a broken keyboard. (My ‘enter’ key is off kilter.) It’s been a good trip. An intellectual vacation of sorts. I didn’t really have any time to kick back and relax. Days lasted 12 to 14 hours: nonstop learning and socializing. Even dinners were networking events. We talked shop over great wine and (mostly) great food. Sometimes the food sucked. Sometimes the conversation sucked. Sometimes I wished I was home, curled up in bed with my dog. Sometimes I was so tuned in to things that nothing else existed.
We headed over to San Francisco last night. It was a short trip, much too short. We took the Cal-Train and got there within 45 mintues. Then we hopped on a bus and headed through Chinatown into Little Italy. I saw this cool, creepy mobster-looking place called Tony Vito’s and really wanted to have dinner there (I mean, why wouldn’t anyone want to go in a place called Tony Vito’s?). I imagined meatballs as big as my head and Chianti and baked ziti. I imagined Tony Soprano hunkered over his plate, dabbing at red gravy with hunks of bread. I imagined guys in the back room terrorizing some poor schmuck for not paying up. God how I wanted to go in.
Instead, though, I followed the group into this little Italian place that was mostly empty and had no character. I had bad antipasti and worse fettuccini. So much for a mobster meal. So much for a taste of San Francisco. I’d set my expectations far too high, imagined trolleys and big hills. Didn’t see any of that. No trolleys and only mediocre hills.
We did, on the other hand, hit City Lights Bookstore. It’s a cool little place, packed tight with books and creaky wooden floors. I picked up Kerouac’s On the Road because, well, I was there and what else was I going to buy?
I love bookstores. And more I love those places that have history, places where there is, or once was an energy, a fervid writing life. I tried to imagine Ginsberg in there, hanging out and arguing about the political climate, or maybe reading or even writing part of Howl. I know little of the beats—just haven’t gotten around to reading them yet. But now my interest is piqued. I’m ready to explore their world.
I also picked up some postcards, all black and white photos of big time authors. I was careful to buy pics of only those authors who’ve affected me as a writer. Auster, Oates, Beckett and a bunch I can’t remember right now. What I do remember is that they all spoke to me when I browsed through the rack and I wanted their faces near me. I want to put them in my office, to remind myself why I’m there, why I do what I do, why I write and teach others to write. I need to stay on this edge. I need to keep with this motivation, this drive. It means to much to me to see it slip away again.
Mostly, though, I’m tired. This week has left me beat. Exhausted. I’m ready to get home, back to my bed, back to my dog, back to my space and time to sit and reflect and recognize where this week has taken me, how it’s transformed my outlook on writing and my career goals.
But there’s an hour left before I can board my plane. And there are miles to go before I sleep.