The night before flying, and all through the house…

Packing and unpacking and repacking and mind-changing and general disarray. For all my dedicated readers (r-i-g-h-t…) I thought you’d like to see my bags. Those are piles of small bills arranged on top of the stuff in the suitcase on the left.

For those who are keeping track of things: T minus 1 day!

Preparing to prepare for take-off

This is a little anticipatory blogging. On Thursday night, when I’m actually pulling into Newark airport, (a) it’ll be dark, and (b) I’ll be too excited to (c) take pictures of boring old Newark International Airport. So, just to kick off the trip, I decided to post a picture of my starting point.

My airline seat is assigned, my suitcases are out, clothes are being arranged in stacks, last-minute purchases are being made, various itineraries are printed out, drugs are collected, and lists are being made. The most critical list for me, given my recent sudden onset Alzheimer’s, is the “oh my god don’t forget to do THIS!” list.

T minus 2 days….

Find the Fish Head: Tonight’s Food Research

So you can tell where our minds are: Tonight’s research is brought to you by a restaurant called Cha Cha La Vong. Doesn’t it look wonderful?!

The details are falling into place; I got my backpack, he’s organizing all the rest, including paperwork and meds and food and … well, everything else.

T minus 3 days.

The Long Haul

Our trip looks something like this:

Singapore Airlines A340-500 ultra long-haul flights present operational challenges.
While Charles Lindbergh’s recounting of his battle to stay awake on his epic 33.5-hr. flight from New York to Paris in 1927 is probably of little interest to the passengers on Singapore Airlines’ ultra-long-range flights, it still is fundamental to the success of the operations, which since February 2005 have offered travelers the only nonstop service to the Lion City from Newark. Average flight time for Singapore-NY is 18 hr. while the trips home clock in at 19 hr.

But we’ll be traveling in comfort, even though the flight is so damned long:

And we’ll fly over the North Pole…how cool is that!

After a few hours hanging around the (apparently) luxurious Singapore airport (I know, but that’s what “they” say), we fly to Hanoi:

T minus 7 days and counting…..

i’m not the kind of girl who gives up just like that

Oh no-o-o-o!

So, yeah! Music is really jerking me around right now — oh so sad, singing my broken heart, and oh so upbeat, singing my hope and huge world of possibilities. Coming on the heels of the previous post, with water under the bridge, today the tide is high! Whee……

This morning Katie and I drove to the far side of San Antonio to pick up my new car. Wanna see? It’s an adorable little Toyota Prius c, which is the low end of the Prius spectrum (they call it the “affordable” end) — but it’s mighty great for me. And the little screen in the dash reported that I was getting 52-54 miles per gallon all the way home. Take that, you gas and oil hijackers.

When I get settled — probably at the beginning of the year, since I’m going back to NYC Dec 13-17 — I’m going to join the local chapter of the Threshold Choir. In Austin, there are 6 women in the choir, so come January there will be 7. I can’t wait for that. And I’ll need to get started looking for a book club, and I’ll start the process of organizing a poetry group. 

Things are looking up. I now have keys to something, and soon I will have keys to my new home. For 48 hours I didn’t have a key to anything or any place, and it was not a nice feeling. It’s funny how that feels, and by ‘funny’ I mean not funny at all. This was a theme in Another Bullshit Night in Suck City — keys and homelessness — and I thought of that book during my brief bout of keylessness.

I know there are all kinds of soft spots that I don’t know about, potholes, hidden hard things that I just haven’t thought about, like the loneliness of a Sunday afternoon (I’ve heard widows say that is the hardest time of the week), but after the past month, I feel like I can handle whatever is still ahead. I’m feeling more optimistic, and stable. I am going to be OK.

precious object

The copyright year on this sweet little book is 1965, which means I received it when I was just barely 7 years old. And oh, I remember opening the present as clearly as if it happened a month ago. My dad’s mother, whom I called Mamo (pronounce it ma’-maw), gave it to me for Christmas because I was the bookish grandchild. She’d placed it in an old cigar box, along with a new pair of underwear. I don’t remember the wrapping paper at all, probably because I was so thoroughly dazzled by the book inside (or maybe because that was 47 Christmases ago and I’m doing well to remember where my keys are). A real chapter book, a hardback book, a book of my very own, to keep. She’d taken me to the library when I was 4 so I could get a library card when I visited her in Tyler, and I was a serious borrower-of-books. I remember walking with her to the library, sweating in the incredible east Texas summers, but really just so eager to get to the library (and then home again with my stash) that I didn’t mind the heat too much. My dad was also bookish, so I think she felt that connection to me.

Honestly, I have no idea how in the world I still have this book. I’ve moved so many times, and for a couple of years I was homeless in high school. Where did I keep the book then? I can’t remember — maybe in my locker at school? I lived in a 1964 Nash Rambler one of those years, and I know my few books were stashed in the back seat. My car possessions included a few books, an agate chessboard and pieces from Mexico, some clothes, and a portable record player and some records. Many years when I was growing up we were constantly on the move, and in some cases, I just had a small shoebox of my belongings, ready to go at a moment’s notice in case we left without our stuff. That’s always where I kept this book — along with a pair of underwear, a hairbrush, a bottle of pink sparkly nail polish, and a toothbrush. The essentials.

In the years my kids were little, whenever we moved to a new place Katie had a couple of items she put away first, so she felt like she was home: her Barbie Dream House, and a little painting of Jesus. For me, it was this book. I’d place this book on a shelf somewhere in the house, and I was home.

The pages are brown and crumbly now, and I hold my breath when I turn them. But I do turn the pages and remember down in my very bones how it felt to read this book when I was a very little girl, how I identified with Jo (and still think about reading books in an attic with a bowl of apples like she did), how entranced I was by a boy named Laurie, so close to my name but for a boyhow heartbroken I was every single time I got to Beth’s death. I longed for a mother like Marmee. I read the books that came after, including Jo’s Boys, but none were as meaningful to me as Little Women.

These kinds of little objects, so incredibly precious, can never really communicate to anyone but the owner. My kids know about this book, and know what it means to me, but it can never mean very much to them except as a book their mother loved. But to me it holds my child’s heart, my sweet little dreams and joys; to me it’s one of the few warp threads that’s been on the loom since the beginning, and even though it’s frayed a little bit, it’s still mighty strong. It’s the only thing I own from my childhood. I have a few small things that mean a lot to me, but except for my children’s baby things, this one means the most.

I’d love to hear about your most special little thing . . .

good thing of the day: being able to make really good food for myself, like last night’s dinner of rosemary chicken, jasmine rice, and fresh spinach.