sheets of rain

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Sheets of rain this evening as I subway’d and walked back to the hotel from AWP. Rain even made it through my umbrella somehow. (How did that happen?) Maybe my umbrella is like, purely decorative, or maybe it’s a California umbrella that has its limits against weather. I leaped with great futility over rivers of water in the street. I soaked my sneakers. I hugged my purse against my chest–not like the usual New York reason which is to keep away from pickpockets, but because I wanted it to stay as dry as possible.

And I was only on the surface for 10 minutes of my 45 minute commute. The rest of the time, I was underground, in this massive hoard of people, desperate to get home and stay as dry as possible. The trains were late. They were packed. It was humid, in the way underground places get.

I still loved every minute.

It seems I surprise my husband every time I come home from walking these city streets. Today, I rang the doorbell of our room and he opened the door to me, dripping water in the hall. “Oh. Wow,” he murmured.

“It’s WET OUT THERE!” I chirped. He ran to the window and peeked out, seeing the water highlighted by the headlights of the cars below–swirling pools of water in the streets, sheets of water distorting everything in sight. Woo! He asked me about my day, the panels I went to, and I detailed them out, as I peeled my jacket, and everything dripping water off of me. Dry, dry, dry–I wanted to get dry.

Last night, I came home and rang the doorbell. I had a box of Ray’s pizza in my hand, a last minute detour I took on the way back from the conference. Ooooh, wouldn’t he be SO delighted to see the pizza?

The door opened. “What happened to you?” he asked.

“Pizza!” I pushed the box out at him.

“Okaaay.” He took the box. “What happened to you?”

Huh? “What are you talking about?”

“Your FACE.” He directed me to a mirror.

Oh. Somehow, there were streaks of dirt and soot all over the right side of my face. How DID that get there? Did a poof of exhaust deposit shmutz on my face? Being a bit OCD, I know I was careful not to smear myself in dirt–what happened? I don’t know. I told this story to Nova, who laughed and said it was a commentary on how dirty New York can be. I wiped the dirt off, and colored the white towel a dark gray brown. Hrm. The left side of my face, btw, was entirely clean. I was like two people in one face.

Of course, I had had no idea of this soot-on-face situation, that I was walking around town like a child out of a Dickens novel. I noticed that people were staring at me on the subway, but I thought, “Huh, maybe I look particularly good tonight, or maybe the ice blue jacket I’m wearing is drawing attention again.” And I focused on being nonchalant and ignoring the stares. No one really said anything. It was a nice delusion–I felt famous for a little while–ignorance is definitely bliss.

The pizza was cold. I guess carrying it uptown in freezing temperatures creates cold pizza.

Today–I went to Susan’s panel, then I went to a panel called “From Stories to Novels: Crossing the Great Divide,” and the One Story reading where the fire alarm kept going off during N.M. Kelby’s reading (and she handled it with great humor and aplomb–I would definitely like to have a drink with her for sure) and I got to hear Paul Yoon, and Brock Clarke and Ron Carlson read….and concluded with a panel on writing exercises and “stealing from the greats.”

In between all that, I got to meet Nova (and her “e”) in real life! I swear, having a blog has blessed me with so many friends–I feel like we’ve been friends for a very long time, much longer than what time has really transpired. It turned out that we had been going to almost the SAME exact readings all week, sitting in the same rooms. Ha.

Oh.  And I woke up late again today.  I can never switch time zones, it seems.  Still running on PST.

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9 Comments

Filed under Life, Travel, Writing

9 responses to “sheets of rain

  1. chaesq

    I hope this hits the right way when I say … WHAT AN AWESOME TWO DAYS. Cold pizza, soot on the face when all along you thought you were hot stuff, California umbrellas, and gleefully declaring that it’s raining. It sounds all kinds of wonderful and invigorating, with a lot of bizarre chuckles thrown in … glad that NYC is being good to you, humid underground and all.

  2. heather

    YOU WENT TO MICHELLE’S PANEL! YOU WENT TO MICHELLE’S PANEL! She led my workshop this summer and I adore her! Oh, I’m sitting on the couch with this darn cold and living vicariously through your posts right now.

  3. chaesq: it was a good 2 days. Now it is Saturday morning and sunny, and I have decided to take it easy. I could head over to one more day of AWP, but I’ve made a few personal commitments. Time to wind down…bleah, tomorrow I leave!

    heather: Yes I did! I didn’t realize you knew her–she is SO FUNNY. There was one line she said about her weird little cough (right after she coughed), “I’m sorry, I have this little cough that sounds like a sarcastic laugh.” Then she demo’d the cough in the middle of saying the sentence, “That’s (cough) really interesting.” It was SO funny that I wrote it down.

  4. heather

    Yeah, she’s a riot–and a very smart commenter, and a wonderful foodie after our own hearts…. I am still so thankful that she, of all people, took over our workshop. (I mean, you have to have some brass-you-know-whats in order to walk in and say, “Okay, so I’m not Dorothy Allison, and for that I’m really sorry.”) I keep going back to her comments, because I was straddling that very issue–short story, or novel, or both? You should check out her novel, You’re Not You. Not only beautifully written, but some great images of food–as she is a food writer as well.

  5. Ooh I wanted to go to the conference! was about to book when I got an email saying they were sold out. Fun post 🙂 it brings with it a whiff of Manhattan .

  6. jennifer

    Did you go to the Richard Yates Tribute panel by any chance? On February 2/08? Or do you know anyone who went? Please e-mail me at dicaprio_lover.com if you do. Thanks!

  7. sottovoco

    What a great day in New York! I love a good hard rain that washes us into someplace else — another time, another city, another thought. Your writing is vivid and delicious. Thank you for sharing.

  8. I just have to tell you again how incredibly awesome it was to meet you!!

    And I am so glad you posted the soot story. It was _hysterical_.

    And now that you say it, your umbrella was the most “California” umbrella I have ever seen in my life. So bright and happy — a good thing in the dreary nyc rain. Maybe I should get one?

    Wow, AWP was great, huh? Now I’m afraid I’ll get addicted and need to go every year. (I’ve already decided to try to go to Chicago next year, seriously.)

  9. heather: she had an amazing charisma, I think–one that made me want to read her work!

    harmonie22: there’s always next year! It was sort of amazing that they sold out.

    jennifer: No, I didn’t–don’t know anyone else who did, either, unfortunately.

    sottovoco: thank you for reading and for enjoying the words. New York always inspires me.

    nova: yay! Sooo glad we hung out. You were a brave New Yorker to hang out with a California girl in an ice blue ski parka and yellow and white leaky umbrella. 🙂 Let’s go to Chicago next year.

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