Monday, May 10, 2010

Kalamazoo Diaries: It Begins Anew

It Begins Anew

And then it was evening
And then it was morning
Kalamazoo 2010.

This year, Michelle decided that she would rather go to Montreal for another conference. She claimed that her husband had to interview a 7ft Mennonite guitar player who, according to the tenets of his religion, could play guitar but not dance.

“So, you are trading up Hell with me for La Belle Hell with your hubby?” I asked accusingly.
Michelle’s face was toward her computer screen and I didn’t notice her white headphones.

I walked into my boss’ office.
“Michael, if Michelle isn’t coming with me to Kalamazoo, then who is.”
“I am.” In walked Anna. “I’m going with you. And so help me God, Nat, you are going to behave this year.”
“She’s right.” Michael said. “I don’t want to hear stories about you and monks and Stephen J. Rose.”

Stephen J. Rose. Stephen J. Rose. The pose of the Rose. The tattoo on his exposed flank. K-Zoo 4 Ever. It is all coming back to me now. An entire year gone. A move, a renovation, my son learning to read, my daughter learning to dance, Rob learning how to pick up his clothes, me learning how to brown beef in a pan without setting off the fire alarm---tremendous milestones disintegrating before my eyes and appearing clearly in their stead, the tattoo on the exposed flank of Stephen J. Rose: K-zoo 4 Ever. I feel giddy and lightheaded; the manic giggling about to erupt from my throat.

“WTF!!!” I cried out rubbing my forearm. “WTF!!!”
Anna unfolded her fingers to reveal a tiny disc.
“What the hell is that?”
“It’s a gizmo that is designed to bring you back to earth. When you get that look in your eye, I just have to put this on your arm and it shocks you to your senses.”
“That is not fucking legal!”
“It’s for your own good.” Michael said soothingly. “Really, I asked my brother who deals with people with extreme mood disorders and this sort of mild electric shock therapy works wonder.”
“I’m calling Rob. There is no way that you can do that in this country.”
Michael and Anna looked at each other sheepishly.
“Rob’s on board with this, Natalie.” said Michael.
“There is no way this side of hell that my own husband would acquiesce to this...this...this...TORTURE!”
“Rob, Rob. You are not going to believe this. Michael and Anna are planning to taser me.” My iPhone is on speaker.
“Nat, it’s not tasering. It’s...what did Michael call it...mild electric shock therapy. I did some research on the interweb. It’s fine. In fact, if it works, I might consider...”
“Rob. Have you lost your fucking mind! You can’t taser your wife!”
I looked at Michael and Anna. “I quit!”
“Nat, Rob is yelling into the phone. “You can’t quit. We need the money. We just did a massive reno. Whose going to pay for the six element stove that you don’t know how to use? What about the French door fridge? The Arts and Crafts backsplash even though you don’t know what Arts and Crafts is...or a backsplash? Come can’t quit.”

He’s right. I can’t quit. We need the money. For a moment, I think about a new career writing eloquent pornography, but this is not a realistic plan. What happens if my son sees first drafts all over my office?

“This is wrong.”
“It’s for your own good.” Said Michael. Anna nodded.
“Michelle said you were a mess last year. A mess even by your own unique standards.”
“It wasn’t that bad.” I say weakly.
“It was.” Said Michelle at the door of Michael’s office. “You were that bad. You should be grateful that it’s only mild electric shock therapy. I had suggested that they drug your morning Starbucks.”

Grateful, eh?

Kalamazoo Diaries.