13 Degrees Of Preparation

19 Jan

chair in snowThree days before take off. Or. . .push off, since I’m driving.  Woke up to snow and thirteen degrees cold.  Shivering and alone, but thanks to the tanning gift certificate from Noah, not too fish white.   Thanks, Son.

Though I have been planning this trip for 6 months,  in the last two weeks  I have been paralyzed. Unable to pack. I have been trying– organizing a little cutlery, say, then suddenly lost and blue. That always leads to thinking about Jon Hamm’s jaw, which leads to lying on the couch and watching 3 to 4 episodes of Mad Men.

But today had to be the day.   I already did the other stuff:  got the car checked  out–Prius is sound ( though  mechanic had concerns about the driver.) Went to several doctors where I was weighed and prodded;  certain parts were pressed between glass, other parts surveyed like geological terrain. . .all well, or at least passable, that terrain. (Might get better because– along with changing my name to Kitten while I’m in in the city of Angels– I’ll also become a vegan. ” KITTIE VEGGIE”.)

REASON BEING:  my friend Natasha–the one who convinced me to move to L.A.–is enrolled in a  raw food culinary institute.   And  I expect her to cook for me.  It’s the  least she can do, given that I’m forsaking a cold, loveless Upstate New York existence to  fritter away hours at Santa Monica Beach under palm trees singing Cheryl Crow songs.   Natasha, you do see that  you owe me, Sweetie?   The selling of my soul will cost us *all*.  Plate that kale/carrot/wasabi/pomegranate cake will you?

The reason that packing is  hard is because it is REALLY unpacking. A life. Loss Writ Large. With My Name On It.   There is all the disorganized paper work from my disorganized writing career. Fine. Then there’s the box with my mom’s cremated body, for which I still haven’t found a proper container.  Mom. I’m so sorry.

And the letters my dad wrote to me when we couldn’t talk, because he felt I’d betrayed him as a daughter. I felt like he stopped treating me as a daughter when I was ten.  And now, in a drawer,  there’s that photo of him and Noah at three–laughing together. Noah in Batman underpants. My dad looking at his only grandchild. He had three more years to live.

And the  marriage stuff. My second husband’s Finnish flag.  A poem he wrote.  A postcard my first husband wrote to me with a witty comment. He was, and is, so damned funny.  How can  I go forward when I’m surrounded by the Detritus Of The Sad And Strange?  Down on the couch.  Mad Men. The Jaw.  Betty is getting, unbelievably, fat. With that sweet older husband, Henry.    Do I throw away my former fat clothes, or the  former skinny clothes? I’m in the middle now. I will be vegan. And raw.

The real elephant in the room is the genius’ s portable electric piano.  He bought it  when he said he’d be here every month, and we’d set up some kind of life for the future. I was touched. He gave Noah a lesson.  He also talked about his Grammy every time we met a friend of mine.   My friends like glamor and fame well enough.

I have been unable  to lift the elephant ; it weighs like 500,000 pounds. The genius was sweet when he occasionally  actually looked at me, talked to me.

But then I called  a move,r and the elephant got shoved into the back of a storage space. Probably playing torch songs back there.  I was ACTUALLY going forward.  A few hours later I was in the line for auto-banking, and a song came on the radio– I had to ask the teller to wait while I wrote down these lines from  “The Fairest of Them All”: “Oh let me be in the city of angels/Yes this is what I want/To put on my dress and some red, red lipstick.”

Like I said. Going. Forward. Next step will be in the  dress (which arrived from Neiman’s today) and red lipstick (more gold than red.)

Never mind that the girl in the song ends up snorting coke and acting like a freak. I happen to be too old for that. Thanks to my son I have a tan line, thanks to friends I have a sense of humor, thanks to my mom and dad I know that while there’s no place like home, there’s always somewhere else you might belong. Another self, another life, and there’s always the storage space.

Leave in two days.


17 Responses to “13 Degrees Of Preparation”

  1. Alwaysreiding January 19, 2013 at 7:13 am #


    I have been eagerly awaiting your new post, and this one is so funny, raw, and real… You are a fabulous writer and even more fabulous person. Fuck 20 degree weather, enjoy LA. mazel tov! Keep em’ coming!

    P.S. you are the best professor I’ve e ever had!


    • kwasson2012 January 19, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

      Dear Abby, Thank you so much for the very kind words! Miss you you. Wearing the scarf.


  2. Elizabeth Sachs January 19, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Glad the Prius is sound. I know driving is a necessity, not necessarily a preference (no “Up, Up and Away,” at the mo’–not literally, anyway) but driving to So. CA makes sense, anyway. I didn’t understand the place until I drove there. There’s nothing like those last miles, out of AZ (you’re heading the hypotenuese, I assume?) from the butes (or whatever they are–very large and red) into the desert (gas up, for sure–otherwise one glances uneasily at the gas tank. . . ), then hitting Bakersfield, and wondering who on God’s green earth would ever think this was worth heading to. . .and then the gradual greening, and the first, misty views of the misty/smoggy L.A. basin, and then the blue beyond and realizing: this place is, rather, magical. Esp. since you’ve got all those miles of memories to mull. Good, good luck.


    • kwasson2012 January 20, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

      What a great description, Liz. I would love to read your roadtrip annals. I will think of you just after Bakersfield (and before!) Thanks for the good luck. I’m gonna need it.


  3. Shawn January 19, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    love this, relate to this, similar to my own move which was only 2 miles away. you are a gifted writer – you’re going to do great things out there in LA


    • kwasson2012 January 20, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

      Thanks so much Shawn! It means a lot you wish me well on this adventure. I’m doing this for fellow single women “of a certain age.”


  4. sallyedithgreen January 19, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    Hey Kir, if you’re taking 70, stop by and spend the night here, about half an hour off the highway. I’m on sabbatical this semester. We’ll drink some wine and chat. I’ll see if I can find something disgustingly Western for you to eat before you get all clean… buffalo? rattlesnake? of course, this being Boulder, there’s also plenty of kale…..


    • kwasson2012 January 20, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

      Sally, I thought I replied to you yesterday, but don’t see a record of it. Thank you so much for the offer; it would be so fun to catch up with you, but I’m taking a more southern route. Will miss seeing you, and filling up on rattlesnake and buffalo. XO


  5. Lauren January 19, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    I love this. Thank you for sharing these most intimate thoughts. Safe travels and best of luck with your new life! Singing Cheryl Crow songs on the Santa Monica beach sounds pretty good to me.


    • kwasson2012 January 20, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

      Lauren, thanks so much for reading. I will sing a SC song for you when I get there. Fortunately you won’t have to hear it, since I can’t carry a tune!


  6. Nicolle Briscoe January 19, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

    Very poignant entry. Very. Loved it.

    It’s 78 and sunny here! hurry up!


    • kwasson2012 January 20, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

      I’m hurrying as fast as I can!! So glad you liked the entry. See you soon!!


  7. Barbara January 20, 2013 at 12:45 am #

    Wish I was driving out with you. Now, THAT would be a road trip.
    Love you!


    • kwasson2012 January 20, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

      We would have TOO much fun!! Thanks for being in touch!
      Love you too!


  8. Mary January 22, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

    Kirsten, by the time I catch up with you, you’re always miles ahead…as I’m coming to your departure-prep blog entry, you’re driving your first leg…seems to make sense somehow. I count on you to blaze trails we can laugh about and examine together! I really enjoyed this entry, especially in relation to the off-entry conversations we’ve had about your prep. So many angles of being you! You better bring back some sunshine for me. And some vegan recipes 🙂


    • kwasson2012 January 24, 2013 at 1:24 am #

      Mary, Only you and I know about the crying the morning I was to leave, and the sweet, patient hand holding you did over the phone. Well, maybe a few others know now. Thank you, Dear Friend. I’m in St. Louis. Exhausted. but alive!


  9. maw14747 February 4, 2013 at 6:40 am #

    Talk about baggage… Glad you left the elephant in the storage space. It would have been hard to explain the need for all that straw to the Motel Six people. But you brought everything else with you, including your wit and irony and self-knowledge and no-holds-barred honesty. Love reading you.


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