I wrote these journal entries during my trip to visit my sister and her betrothed in Cincinnati the week before Christmas. I thought it would be an easy way to work myself back into the habit of posting in this journal regularly. The personal journal entries end abruptly, so don't expect some grand objective/retrospective look at the totality of my stay in Cinci. I actually started writing what I think may be my first novel in the middle of my regular day-to-day journaling.
As I make my descent into Cincinnati's Lunkin Airport from a tiny little prop plane, I'm reminded of why I'm so attracted to the water. From ten thousand feet above land, everything that's paved or settled looks so linear--just a bunch of interlocking pieces of nature, tiny terrariums subdivided and demarcated like dioramas by men. But the bodies of water are different. They are awkward and unruly, curved and seductive, rippling and sparkling circles amidst an otherwise stoic and rectangular landscape of olive drab and brown.
The water appears in different shades, the deeper, the darker; the rougher, the whiter. I'm the only passenger on this plane and I feel like a celebrity. The captain says "ma'am" to me in a slow drawl over the intercom in the cockpit. The flight attendant, Debra, offers me a sundry assortment of food and beverage, but I decline. It's only an hour trip.
I wonder what her story is as I see her black trunk shift under her seat as we make a smooth landing. Stickers from London, Vancouver, and Honolulu grace its weathered skin. She is wearing a white turtleneck and glasses like mine. I imagine that she and the steady, long-legged pilot are lovers.
To save my ears from the uneven pressure in the noisy cabin, I'm chewing a folded-up drinking straw that my friend Cory playfully presented to me two nights ago. I'm fairly positive that I left my pack of chewing gum on the living room floor before I left this morning.
I laugh audibly at a particular house, surrounded by a white picket fence that is clearly askew from up here. I can see all of your imperfections, suburbia. And they are much more calculated and precisely awry from up here. Height--distance--is a truly great objectifyer.
First day in Cincinnati felt a little bit like a homecoming, only the kind of homecoming where it's the people who are familiar while the setting stays foreign. Down here I get overly excited when I see restaurants or stores or streets that I remember from prior visits.
Yesterday we shopped for hours and Natalie spent a record $22.00 at the Dollar Store. We bought some fabulous puzzles, one with a mythical beast fight scene that looks something like this:
[WILL TRY TO SCAN DIAGRAM SOON!]
Unfortunately, this gift is being forfeited to the family "Yankee Swap." I'll have to beat up my kin for it, I suppose. [Update: My cousin Derek has since won the puzzle. We all assembled it on Christmas day and I will add a picture of us with it. It's fab] Anyway, we assembled a 100 piece winter-scape puzzle and started a tragically obnoxious train puzzle (500 pieces and just as many similar shades of green to contend with!) We drank champagne (good stuff, from Michigan I reckon) and then went with Seth to eat Mediterranean at a swanky place called Andy's. Delicious, delicious! We destroyed a sampler platter filled with tabouli, hummus, baba, and ludmeh (?) (I'm also definitely destroying the spelling of these names, I'm sure.) I ordered fattoush, and it was the best I've ever had in my life (don't tell the Vajskops!)
After dinner was the Over the Rhine Christmas Concert with friends Christie and David--charming folks. Christie is a truly earnest and friendly girl in an adorable tweed cap, boyfriend David snaps unlimited candid photos on his miniscule digital camera. He wears a corduroy vest that's a size too small over a boyish striped rugby.
Just passed a place called "Unicorn Miniatures!"
Must go tomorrow!
?/12/06 I don't know the date
Today saw bumper sticker: "Your child is a Honor Student, Mine is a Marine." Get it? "A" Honor Student? How about "An" Honor Student? Sounds like that Marine's parents are on board the Ship of Fools.
I can't concentrate on anything in this coffee shop. There are two college-age kids in jeans and button-down shirts, with hip haircuts, who sat down and immediately began talking "business" which apparently translates to pretentious dissertation of the latest James Bond movie.
Now they're debating which Bond girl is the hottest. They're actually quite eloquent. I like the curly-haired one's Pumas.
This place is charming, but not too charming.
Now they're discussing the finer points of the VHS-DVD conflict. Part of me wants to jump in and say something clever about how the gentle hum of the spinning heads of a VCR help soothe me to sleep. I'll win them over, they'll ask me to co me out with them tonight for an art film and a beer, and then I'll decline and let them in on my "out-of-towner" secret.
The folks at this place roast their own coffee daily and it's very rich and bold, but never burnt. Today I'm drinking Guatemalan. I'm allowed one free refill. I'm a sucker not to take it.
Everyone who works here is hip--pierced, tattooed, vintage. The clientele doesn't seem to mind with their bifocals and their sweater vests and moth-eaten age. I think there's an English professor one table beyond the film geeks. He's wearing denim, clicking away diligently on his slim Sony laptop, glancing occasionally over his cluttered array of textbooks, one of which is the "Best American Essays of 2004." I imagine that he is a creative writing professor and that no one in his class gets anything higher than a "B+." He's saving his "A's" for the next O. Henry or O'Connor. I should pass this journal to him so he could...(insert self-deprecating comment here.) =) [Edit: That smiley face is upright in my journal.]
P.S. The Mocha Java is great!
On the next page, I began writing my novel.
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