So it goes
In no particular order, the above are elements of my upstate NY trip from last week. I left Colorado early in the morning on July 11th and arrived in Vermont early in the afternoon of the same day (that seems to have to be stated these days). Seeing the familiar greenery and terrain of the Northeast was like salve to my soul. My folks (dad and stepmom) picked me up and we headed to New York. I spent a week there. I left New York and Vermont July 18th. And again, the day after that. Air travel was severely backed up on the 18th, which delayed lots of flights. My flight. I stayed at a crappy hotel run by nice people (the Ho-Hum Motel) with no air-conditioning. In the upper 80s, muggy. I stayed on the second floor in the building behind the pool. I stayed with one table fan, two dead and (half-inch-sized) unidentifiable bugs shaped like those kernels of candy corn, a disgustingly dirty mattress and pillow with unidentifiable stains and black hairs under the bed sheet, and one live (and Daddy-Longlegs large) spider that went off somewhere I know not where and is surely still having the run of the place. My flight out the next day was again delayed. Due to “a mechanical” (nose gear failure). We left about 45 minutes late. I got to O’Hare. The short story of my flight out of O’Hare went something like this: three gate changes, three plane changes, 2+ hours of a “quest for a plane.” Through all of this, I’d been re-reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. I began reading it in an airport in Colorado, and I finished reading it in the air over New York State, just minutes before crossing Lake Ontario. I was reading the 1977 paperback I’d read in high school. My Fight Attendant out of Vermont was a blonde German-sounding woman, named “Siggie.” But she could have been Norwegian.
So it goes.
I will write a handful of posts about my trip, whereupon I visited a couple of cemeteries, a waterfall, and took in a “wild walk” through the Adirondack woods. I also visited a bookstore (Corner Stone) and explored a small community (Chateaugay), which included a cheese factory (McCadam) and antique store (Ann-Tique Anny).
I’d decided to re-read Slaughterhouse Five because I loved that book and its cool time traveling shit and I wanted to see how Mr. Vonnegut handled writing about his funky time-traveling shit. See if I could employ any of his techniques. I think I can, said the train.
I’ve tried to read some late-model novels (car people say “late model,” so I thought I’d try it with books) over the past couple years, and across the whole I have to say I’ve been roundly disappointed. Sometimes it was the writing, sometimes the story. Many times both. I’d even tried to read some other science fiction novels I’d absolutely loved when I was a kid…and had again found myself severely disappointed. And these were great names, on the order of (because I don’t point fingers, I am giving the kinds of names these authors I’d read were, and am NOT saying these were authors whose work was terrible) Pohl or Zelazny. When I’d reread some of the above, I was positively stunned at how poorly written I’d found them to be as an adult and as a writer. Perhaps what I’d read was early in their careers. I hope so. But, wow, Slaughterhouse Five, which I’d read in high school, however, did not disappoint. In Slaughterhouse Five I’d found an incredibly well-written novel that eschewed traditional structure and incorporated “author intrusion” to its benefit. And Vonnegut’d employed “small words.” Amazingly so. Slaughterhouse Five impressed the shit out of me. Made me interested in reading fiction again. That’s why the classics are so-labeled, I guess. Maybe that’s what I should start [re]reading. The classics.
And so it goes.
I’d written the longhand draft of this post over Lake Ontario, Canada, Michigan, and Indiana, I imagine. If you get right down to it, over the clouds over these places, really. And I’m finishing it over the carpet in my writing office. As I’m currently inputting these inked words into the electronic, I feel curiously displaced, much like Billy Pilgrim. I feel myself still in the air…yet in my office. Tripping through time. I like flying. I like writing. I like tripping through time, Tralfamadorians be damned. I came out East (as I usually do) to visit my folks, my dad and stepmom, and another set of characters, the Adirondacks. I haven’t been to many places outside this country, but I have traveled up and down, left to right across this country, and the Adirondacks is where my heart is…perhaps to my Colorado wife’s dismay—though she does enjoy visiting with me. I went alone on this trip. Wife’s schedules. So it goes.
I was also a tad stressed when I left July 11th. From writing. Working on Voice and trying to meet my self-imposed deadline that was already shot because of other schedules…as well as some other, non-writing-related issues (as I wrote this section on the plane, we passed an interesting cumulus cloud that resembled a lamb lying upright…its head the shape of that alien monster from Alien; this singular cloud rode atop all the lower, horizontally lying clouds), like just trying to get a fare on a certain airline that “awards” frequent flyer mileage for loyalty…then gives out only the suckiest of pairings.
But…I got there…am here…was heading home.
There’s more to come.
I felt the plane descending into O’Hare.
So it goes.