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Monday, June 29, 2009

The Lost City of Philville, a Missing Memo, and Everything OK Anyway

Issues pertaining to the missing city of Philville—a tannish, mid-sized, dome tent that housed my nephew (Phil, of Philville fame) and son in the mountains of PA and the rainy wilderness of Maine during the summer of ’08—consumed the first leg of our trip to Creation 09. My sister had generously offered Philville to us on loan when an episode of frenzied, pre-trip planning revealed a shortage tent housing in my own jurisdiction. So I left my house with tents for my husband, daughter, and myself, and drove to my sister’s house to pick up my son and bonus son (who’d spent the night at her house), and Philville to shelter them.

Moments before pulling out of the driveway, however, it became apparent that Philville had gone the way of Atlantis. A quick recap of last summer yielded a scant lead or two, but no hard evidence of Philville’s current status. At present, the fate of Philville remains unknown.

In the interest of time and replenishing our own stock of tents, we decided to pick up a new one enroute. Unfortunately, our pastoral path offered us few options for wilderness outfitting. Our TomTom GPS system assured us that if we overshot our destination by a full 11 miles, we’d arrive at a Wal-Mart where we could certainly hope to resolve our equipment deficiencies. I was immediately skeptical, as our GPS has failed us so often as to have lost credibility with even my longsuffering husband, which is saying quite a bit. Having dumped us repeatedly at the doorsteps of homes billed as Dunkin Donuts and vacant lots bearing no resemblance to desired destinations, my husband has even silenced the system’s sound, using it as sort of a backup directory of suggestions, rather than the voice of authority.

True to form, TomTom guided us to a dilapidated stoop in the heart of a hick burg where we were momentarily buoyed by the sight of a familiar department store sign. OK, so what if it was a Sears instead of a Wal Mart—no matter, we thought, until we stepped into the a one-room showroom not appreciatively larger than the lower floor of my home. In stock were a handful of tools and a state of the art washer and dryer combo, but nothing of apparent use in the field. After equally low-yielding forays into dollar and hardware establishments, the boys waxed grim.

Fortunately, as a child, my husband read a how-to book about tent construction, and was able to formulate a plan C involving some tarps, twine, and a tie-in to our rain shelter. The breezy lean-to that resulted actually kept the boys dry during one of the two storms we encountered, but I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

The hours lost in pursuit of basic shelter caused my prospects for hoped-for press conferences with Relient K and Skillet to go as damp as the boys’ post storm two accommodations, but there I go again on fast forward.

I eventually checked in at the on-site media trailer only to discover that I hadn’t missed any press conferences. In fact, even if our quest for shelter had taken all weekend, I wouldn’t have missed a single one. Why? Because there weren’t any press conferences scheduled for Creation 09. According to a memo I never received, the long-standing press-conference formula was replaced by pre-arranged interviews, of which I had none.

Friendly, fast-acting staff assured me that all was not lost. Although I had no hope of face time with any of the headliners—no follow-up on my mid-00’s Relient K spread in YS this year—I just might be able to speak with some up-and-comers. An up-and-comer myself, I decided that this was a fine idea, especially as I’d be getting exclusive material. I ended up with highly publishable interviews with newly minted Goatee recording artist Stephanie Smith, and The Sunflowerz, a chick-duo from Colorado.

Of course Regular Readers inclined toward the mathematical arts will likely note that two interviews falls short of the six stories I hoped to glean from the event, but I’m OK with that, especially as I may be able to parlay the material into multiple articles with varying angles.

And the boys? Even though their shelter was eventually blown asunder in a swift Friday storm that left them camping in the van, I don't think they'd have traded the experience even if TomTom himself managed to guide us straight to Philville.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mug Shot


Today, I drink from the mug.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

No Beach Balls

On a recent sunny Friday I gathered up some reading material— riveting articles such as “The Eight Components of Sheltered Instruction,” and “Language Acquisition: The Pidginization Hypothesis”—and headed beachward.

It goes without saying, I’m sure, that I found my beach reads so engrossing that I did not immediately absorb the shoreline ambiance. I was focused on fossilized language development, psychological distance, and sundry other hypotheses that diverted attention from my sandy environs.

After awhile, though, I sensed that all was not well on the beachfront. Something seemed decidedly off on the periphery of my secluded haven of shells, shore, and sea. Instinctively, I turned to my right and dropped my literature as a fond dream instantly went the way of low tide. I blinked, but the scene didn’t shift—it was true. Readers, I am sad to report that my Future Studio of Art and Society has been reduced to nothing save a cement slab.

For years running, I’ve been certain that somehow, someday, I was destined to purchase the charming little weather beaten house on the rocky seaside hill. It had only been a matter of when, but in my mind alone, the plan was certain.

By day, the little saltbox habitat would house unbridled artistic revelry. In the mornings, I’d pen lively works in my oceanfront writing studio. After lingering lunches of teas, fruit, and finger sandwiches, I would dabble in the visual arts. Doubtless, I’d have a kiln.

By night, I’d throw terrific, Gastby-esque parties, where friends, guests, and artists would mingle amongst my mosaics, sculptures, and hand-crafted d├ęcor sipping spirits and nibbling cheeses before heading shore side for a bonfire that would burn to embers at sunrise.

It was all so good. I loved it so. You would have, too. Under different circumstances, I might be posting little save-the-date-style blurbs, encouraging you to keep an eye on your mailboxes for an embossed envelope. But alas, we are left to gather here in this simple online forum. At this point, I can only hope that the written glimpse into the inner workings of my Past-Tense Future Studio of Art and Society has been at least as absorbing as the literature with which I arrived seaside.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Little Like Limbo

The dilemma here at Running With Letters for the past couple weeks has been whether or not to lower the bar for the sake of a new post.

I am of the mindset that blog posts should be reasonably well-crafted and at least semi-polished, sort of like pottery with a rustic patina. Of late, I haven’t had time for witty commentary. Writing prose that reads breezily and appears effortless is really a laborious exercise in illusion.

So I’ve let the cobwebs begin to accumulate—a decision that comes with a set of consequences perhaps more lethal to the would-be up-and-coming blogger than slightly off-kilter copy: silence. Whisper-low hit counts, the same screen echoing two-week old commentary. Not good.

Which brings us, real-time, to the current post: hardly groundbreaking, but yet functional; a utilitarian message just to say I’m alive, and that I can still string a few sentences together. But sometimes functional and utilitarian is all you’ve got—and I’m a great believer in working in the tangible medium of the messy present. Even if it is a little rough around the edges.

In Other News:

T-5 days until I drink my morning coffee from the alumni mug.

I’m officially moving the much-desired Art Job to reside among the ranks of Things That Would Have Been Nice, rendering my status as Unemployed and Without Prospects.

Hypochondria is currently at bay, but hovering slightly beneath the surface

I secured my press credentials, and will be covering Creation East June 24-27. I claimed in my official paperwork that I “believe I can reasonably expect to place about half a dozen articles” based on this year’s press conferences. Fulfilling this ambition will require a significant hoisting of said bar to accommodate the raising of my game.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Midterm Report

I'm interrupting the extended awkward silence with a word of explanation. I'm smack in the middle of one last, stiff dose of academia in the form of a month-long pair of summer classes that are as intense as they are swift. I'm holding my own, but suffering some pretty nasty side effects which include an inability to perform intellectually-based tasks outside of class.

In other news:

My recent publishing portfolio is so slim as to have called into question my ability to secure press credentials for an upcoming event I hoped to cover.

No word on the aforementioned art job at the desirable locale. I'm actually starting to think the whole notion was just a vivid dream.

These days, I don't read anything that isn't written in a dry, jargon-esque tone capable of inducing instant slumber.

I signed up for a summer painting class at the local art gallery.

I recently underwent the penultimate procedure in my staged hairstyle reconstruction plan

Summer can't get here soon enough.

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