Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I walked Phillips in downtown Sioux Falls one last time and took photos. The 4th of July was spent in the clubhouse and backyard in Wakonda, where we watched fireworks and talked about crimes after dark in the small towns around the southern parts. One in particular tugged at me, the murder of a young woman who was left to die in a ditch. I wasn't drinking that night, because I had to drive 2 states the next day.
I was sitting in the hotel this morning in Iowa, thinking about how I never mentioned seeing Mt. Rushmore here on Book Meets Road. I meant to write about it, about the weird feeling I got when I saw it, like this feeling of pride, and it challenged my perceptions of how I feel about the states. During all of my time going back and forth across the country, I had never seen Rushmore, because I had either taken 80 across or it was dark when I took 90.
But driving up the road that goes to Mt. Rushmore, you don't see anything until you round a certain curve, then you see Washington's head staring off into space, and it's fucking trippy. For me it was a big deal because I had never noticed the work involved. I sat there in the van just inside of the security gate, which I had to exit because there are no dogs allowed, and I looked up at the mountain and thought about exactly how much work was there, the hours and days blending to months blending to years. I talked with the security guard for a minute. I wondered about his job. I mean, high echelon meets low echelon. But driving away from the monument, I thought that if I absolutely had to be a fucking security guard, I'd work at a place like Rushmore. There or the AVI awards.
The downtown library was closed, but I stopped off at Zambroz and they took two books off me, as well as some people I bumped into along the way.
One thing about this tour that I like is that it forces me to be more outward around people. When it comes to my writing I like to keep it to a minimum. When it comes to selling your writing and the writing of others for a living, it can't be so private. The trick is to talk about the product side of the work, not the mechanics and other such bullshit. I've found that people want to buy books from a writer, which is fine with me. And it's given me the chance to meet some good people. Michael Hay and the Sioux Falls crew come to mind. Another bonus about doing the tour is the chain of small towns, the rawness of them, the total separation from rush hour.
I spent a few days in total driving the fields and towns along the small state routes. It's weird to me that in one town everyone knows everyone else, knows their business, their weaknesses, their day to day life in detail. It would drive me insane, but after a while I'd probably get used to it, then it would be weird to be in a city where nobody says shit to each other...
I drove into Iowa, bound for Illinois, to see my family. Been 5 years since I've been to Peoria, and my sister and the girls are in town from Phoenix. I was driving thinking about how my lucky number is 16, how I was born in Peoria, grew up in Phoenix, and lived in Portland. P is the 16th letter in the alphabet. I was thinking about the number 16, and how I'd peaked in the fourth grade. Soccer number 16, homeroom number 16, my birthday falls on the 16th in the fall, and I had won a ping pong tournament there that summer. I was thinking about how it was kind of lame that I had my best year in the fourth grade, but then I laughed a bit at the thought, when my van let out a snap and the dogs and I were covered in white smoke. The needle was buried on the hot side. I pulled into a gas station off exit 220 and popped the hood. It was Sunday at 7 pm, and the only thing I could see was a hotel and a strip mall. I walked inside the station and asked for a phone book.