Today I ran into my reader, Randy, who mentioned that I haven't posted in awhile. Considering that Randy is not in my employ and thus is not contractually obligated to read these posts, I take his recognition of my blogospheric absence as high praise.
Which it probably isn't. Still, I want to apologize to those of you who may or may not be following this blog to explain (briefly) what I've been doing in my long absence:
Teaching, grading, fighting with arts administrators, sucking up to university administrators, getting a renter, losing a renter, getting said lost renter back, figuring out how I'm getting paid next year, getting a new passport, getting all my shots, getting all my dogs' shots, getting my car/phone/insurance settled, badgering an Art Historian into fixing Ling Ling, changing out my bank, changing out my credit card, getting the utilities switched over, getting a new form of birth control (YOU try to convince the pharmacy to sell you a year's supply of Orthotricyclin Lo. No, really. Try. The idea that any woman could need more than a 3 month's supply of birth control at any one time is a medical impossibility to the insurance system, since of course the first thing any woman with extra birth control would do is grind it down and sprinkle it over her boyfriend's cereal, snort it like coke, make meth out of it, or swap it for some starving Ugandan baby in a third world airport, not, of course, TAKE SAID BIRTH CONTROL HERSELF because that thought is, unlike the woman's womb, inconceivable to certain insurance administrators), suffering through the side-effects of the new form of birth control (when the doctor crouched between your thighs looks up and says, sweetly, "This IUD might induce a tiny bit of bleeding, dear," you better hunker down with a steak and spinach salad, pad up, and pray for daylight), cleaning out my closets and beginning the slow excavation of the refrigerator--processes which involved going through ten years of taxes, old letters, dead poem drafts, 30 random jars of condiments and some sort of salad that turned to liquid and then--over the course of a few horrifying weeks--gelled BACK into solids again, all to discover that I am the type of woman who has no family photos but always keeps 15 UNUSED BOXES OF BINDER CLIPS on hand, and whose culinary skills are based entirely around Miracle Whip, Hoisin and Prosecco.
But at least I am not the kind of woman who will be swapping out her pills for any Ugandan babies.
So basically I've spent the past month bleeding and cranky, cell phone perpetually screwed to my head as I weep at various administrators about why I really, really, really need an extended prescription.
But frankly, this was as all flim-flammery compared with the really pressing issue of my coming travel year, which is:
WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR?
As I write this today, May 21, 2011, it strikes me that the Evangelicals must also have been obsessed with this particular travel problem, and found it so flummoxing that their end plan for the Rapture was to decide that all good Christians should immediately be denuded upon their arrival in Heaven. (Ironically, I used to have a recurring nightmare I called "Packing for the Apocalypse" in which everyone on earth has two hours to pack up and flee their homes before the tsunami/earthquake/meteor hits and I spend all night sorting through my laundry and dog's toys and book drafts, trying to figure out whether or not to take my third grade stamp collection with me, until I look up and realize everyone on earth has escaped to safety while I'm left alone, clutching a fistful of old receipts and a box of dog biscuits.) The Evangelicals' ideas of the Rapture is yet another reason why I will never believe in God or this particular version of traveling to God since a) most people look like crap naked, and b) the last thing I want to do is spend eternity in a nudist colony for morons. Also, I love to shop. Which is, in between doctor's visits and end of semester insanity, just what I've been doing.
Perhaps this humiliating confession (though having begun this post warning poor Randy to "pad up," what really can you expect?) of my weekly treks to Sephora to buy tubs of moisturizer to (unconvincingly) mask the fact I'm 40 would be better confined to a diary than a public blog, but I've committed myself to telling you what it's like to think about traveling the world for a year and, sadly, stocking up on cheap American cosmetics is part of that process. As, too, are my continually composed lists of outfits I might wear, where to wear these imagined confections, what other new and possibly inexpensive additions I might find to enhance them.
This, as the vain among you might imagine, takes up a LOT of time.
Added to this is, of course, is my running assessment of items I already possess that I might also take. Like my newest, very butch wardrobe staple, the knee brace, which I was positively thrilled to get a few months ago because it makes me look like I have an actual SPORTS INJURY. Considering the worst thing I suffered as a child was a paper cut on the webbing of my index finger from staying up all night reading The Stand, anything that makes me look like I could have passed the Presidential Fitness Test makes my heart go all fluttery. Never mind the fact this knee brace is not the consequence of any actual sports event but because, in the immortal words of my cheerful orthopedic doctor, Amy Powell, I have "a weak ass." Literally. My ass muscles are evidently so demoralized they can barely support the regular functioning of a KNEE. It is a miracle, according to Dr. Powell, that this ass is strong enough to let me walk. For those of you thinking about going into academia, let this be a warning to you. Over the years of reading term papers and student poems about dead Irish grandmothers, your ass will liquify in your pants, turning the gluteal muscles into something that resembles what I had to clean out of my refrigerator. Nevertheless, I tug that knee brace on, strut into the gym, wince exaggeratedly as I mount the Stairmaster, and declaim loudly about the pros and cons of various analgesics.
Because I, my friends, have a SPORTS INJURY.
So no matter what, that knee brace is traveling around the world. As are my pink suede sandals, my blue leather jacket that makes me look ten lbs thinner, my extraordinarily expensive haul of unguents from Sephora, four tank tops, three new sweaters, one warm but strangely thin long winter coat, that cute dress I got off Etsy, four pairs of pants (still debating whether or not to bring the leather ones: they would be perfect for that Cabaret-like threesome I'll have in Berlin), two skirts, a week's worth of gym clothes (to accessorize the brace), a pair of walkable but very cool black boots, two sunhats, a swimsuit, one black strapless dress (what all right-thinking lapsed Christians wear should they be summoned by God) and various bits of jewelry that won't cause me grief after they've been yanked off my neck in a Roman subway by a pack of gypsy children.
I am, however, open to other suggestions. As I am open to trying out the various travel suggestions you've made (mostly via back-channels so far), I am open to certain items of clothing that you think particularly necessary for a country, appropriate for specific occasions, or just mind-bogglingly fetching on me.
As I end this post, I want to take a moment to offer up some sympathy to the Evangelicals. This is probably unnecessary, as they are assuredly not reading this blog; however, they are also assuredly NOT hanging out naked with God, either. This must be--whatever you think about their beliefs--a HUGE disappointment to them. For years, they've been packing and planning, some probably selling off their homes and pets and cherished possessions in anticipation of this glorious day. And to what end? I, too, believe in a coming glorious day, a day when I'll start my year traveling around the world, bleeding and impenitent, cackling over all those Christians sulking in trailer parks. Sadly for them, their travel plans didn't come to fruition. But perhaps mine won't, either. Here I am, blithely packing and re-packing my suitcase (to see if I need to buy a new bag for all my swag, natch), while the world ticks and ticks on like a bomb, regardless of my schemes and the offer of the grant, secretly knowing that all human opportunity is--as all forms of happiness are--ultimately tenuous. Christ may not be coming back to pick a fight with us left-overs, but there could easily be another 9/11, an earthquake that decimates my city, financial collapse, or (don't even think it) a family emergency. I'm packing for my own kind of Rapture, with the assumption that I, too, am one of the chosen, that sometime soon a world of glory awaits me. I'm more (statistically) inclined to believe this will happen than an actual biblical apocalypse, but still. Perhaps my maniacal packing and shopping is a way for me to assume some small control and assurance over a thing that, in the end, I will have very little control over at all. Even with, or without, your readerly input.
In the meantime, I have my tubs of salacylic slather, my knee brace, my new birth control. With these things, I hope to become the MacGuyver of world travel, able and willing to outwit any of the nefarious forces that attempt to subdue me. Luckily this IUD is some pin-like contraption that has strings hanging from it. Besides the fact that it resembles some crazed, anaemic catfish, I bet it can TOTALLY pick locks.
And now I suspect Randy is no longer reading me. Let me take another moment to offer up my sympathies to Randy.
Onwards and upwards,