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Passport April 14, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Last night I had a dream that involved me, a friend, airplanes, taxis, Paris, and a missing passport. My missing passport. The dream was so anxiety provoking that I had to make eye contact with said passport immediately this morning—which was when I discovered that I’ve had it for more than six years and haven’t used it once.

This is possibly more disturbing than my dream.

The last time I renewed it, it had expired a month or so before. At the time, I was nervous about the several months during which I would be unable to leave the country. That Bush was in office no doubt played its part in this unease. I breathed a big fat sigh of relief when my passport arrived (quickly, I might add) in the mail.

I thought I was someone who never let her passport expire. But in lining up the four passports of my lifetime, I’ve discovered that I’m someone who always lets her passport expire—in fact, that 3-month gap was my shortest period of forced U.S. confinement. (Of course, until fairly recently, one didn’t need a passport to cross into Canada.)

In those six-plus years, I haven’t even been to Canada. I live four hours by car from Montreal, and I always end up in New York City.

There is a Canadian stamp on my last passport, from when I flew into Halifax and traveled over to Cape Breton. Also, a bunch from Italy (plastered all over the nearly-empty book—customs officials seem only to find blank space without concern for chronology). I know I went to Mexico, but there’s no stamp. There’s one from Scotland, one from Belize, one from France. In fact, that French stamp may be my last venture abroad. I think it says 2002. That can’t be right, can it?

It is. But Halifax is two months later.

I need to get to Montreal.

The Lottery April 11, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Two nights ago, I finished one of the books from the towering to-be-read pile. It was a good read, a fast read. But now I’m at an awkward reading point. I will soon leave for a trip to Arizona. If I start a novel, I will want to take it with me. If I’ve nearly finished it, I won’t want it to take up precious travel space. If I haven’t finished and I leave it behind, I’ll lose the thread. (No, I don’t have an e-reader, and no, that isn’t happening anytime soon.)

So I feel I must turn to collections of short pieces so I don’t get too attached.

And last night—finally!—I read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”

I’ve been meaning to read this story for years. Possibly decades. Sewa Yoleme gave me a wonderful collection of Jackson, and there it has been, sitting in that towering pile.

It’s a little masterpiece, disturbing in all its calm nonhorror until the very end. It’s so short and straightforward that I’m convinced that I’ve read way more about this story than its actual length. (If you don’t know it, read it, or read all about it online.)

What was more surprising to me was Jackson’s 1960 essay, “Biography of a Story,” which included the well-known facts of countless letters she and the New Yorker received, canceled subscriptions, etc. But she quotes many of the letters, which demand both answers to what the story means and names of actual locations where events like this take place.

I realize the story was written in 1948 and I am commenting from 2013 (when The Hunger Games and Survivor could be accused of being derivative). But my reaction is, What do you mean what does the story mean? and This is fiction! and Could you really be that stupid?

But the answer, of course, is yes, they could be that stupid, because people are today, so why would 1948 be any different?

Yet I have my prejudices about who reads the New Yorker, and I assume it is those kind of people who have always read the New Yorker, and I don’t think of them as stupid. Maybe my assumption is stupid.

Maybe I am the one who is stupid, taking a story to be a story.

“It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,” I scream . . .

Ten (Possibly Surprising) Things I’ve Never Done April 9, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

For Bridgett and Mali on a Tuesday

  1. Jello shots
  2. Red Bull
  3. Ridden a horse (once, as a small child, I may have been led around on a pony)
  4. Seen The Godfather (but don’t worry, I get the horsehead and the cannoli references)
  5. Gone downhill skiing
  6. Deliberately killed a fish (being omnivorish, I’ve obviously paid others to do it for me; being flyfisherish, I desperately hope I’ve never mortally wounded one)
  7. Watched American Idol
  8. Been to a prom
  9. Run more than 2 miles (I ran 2 miles once, in the ’80s, in Rock Creek Park—it nearly killed me and I’ve never attempted it again)
  10. Seen a painted bunting

2BY6: March List April 1, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

March, as previously hinted, was a much better birding month than February. I added 13 species, which brings my total to 53 (13 ahead of last year at this time). Oddly, among last year’s 40 species are a bunch (nine!) I have yet to see this year.

The helpful bit was heading to Portland, Maine, for my birthday. At last, after a 15-month hiatus, I was back in the land of great food and shorebirds (and I got to hang with some great friends, too). Added: northern mockingbird, common eider, common loon, red-breasted merganser, fish crow, long-tailed duck (oldsquaw), house finch, and white-winged scoter. I heard/saw my first red-winged blackbirds and killdeer on March 10—oddly, I listed those two species on the same day last year (March 3). It took the rest of the month for me to add turkey vulture, great blue heron, and song sparrow.

Tim and I had an encounter with a pair of owls one evening, one landing in our neighbor’s tree, but it was too dark to ID them positively as barred or great horned. My gut said great horned—they seemed huge—and I need that for my list. Alas.

This month we head to Arizona, which I’m hoping is way more productive in April than Colorado was in September.