By Jane Shore
"Name the eight states that begin with the letter M,"
Mohammed, my driving teacher, says.
I'm forty-one. Am I in school?
I glance at the rear-view mirror, glad I can't see
my embarrassing STUDENT DRIVER bumper sticker.
I spread a ghost-map across the windshield,
scroll down the east coast, top to bottom.
"Maine. Massachusetts. Maryland."
Sweaty left hand gripping the turn signal,
I step on the gas, edging out
into congested Nassaue Street in Princeton.
Twenty years since I last drove a car,
twenty years since I was a passenger in the red VW Bug
my boyfriend Jeremy totaled on a Vermont back road,
twenty years since plastic surgery
fixed my broken cheekbone and eye socket,
my double-vision, but not my fear.
"Are you hurt?" the priest has asked,
standing over me as I lay dazed
on bloody gravel, waiting for the ambulance.
Last rites? He'd just happened to be driving by.
Where am I? It's as if I just woke up
and found myself in the driver's seat, steering
the company car onto suburban country roads
past ugly half-built multi-million-dollar mansions,
muddy sub-divisions, my right foot
on the gas, my cold hands at the wheel
nailed at ten and two o-clock.
"Minnesota," I say, "and Michigan,"
stopping inches from the crosswalk.
An orange hand flashes DON'T DON'T DON'T.
I check the speedometer, fuel guage--
dash board lit up like a cockpit.
"Mississippi, Missouri. Mobile, and in mobile,
as in automobile
," I say. "Get it?"
Bearded Mohammed frowns, not in a joking mood.
Strip malls and luxury town-house condos streak by
as his sneakers tap-dance around his safety-breake.
We lurch. Stall. Cars behind us honk.
"Montana. Have I named them all?"
"Next lesson, I'll teach you how to park,"
Mohammed grins, adjusting his turban.
"Now, name four states that begin with the letter A."
I rev my engine. "Alabama, Arkansas."
At sea, I'm seasick in the Bible Belt.
"Arizona. Oh God, I almost forgot Alaska!"
"Relax," Mohammed says. "It's like I told you.
While you drive, you can keep your mind on
more than one thing at a time."
Another relatively uneventful day. In the morning I wrote a review of "Time Squared"
, and either all the complainers are on vacation or I wasn't controversial enough in discussing it, because there are no scathing complaints about it on the TrekBBS yet, heh. It's a good episode, particularly in the context of the use of the same themes later in The Next Generation
In the afternoon my parents invited my kids and myself (since Paul had to work/go to the optometrist) to go with them to National Treasure: Book of Secrets
, since they hadn't seen it yet. It holds up very well upon a second viewing even after having watched the first National Treasure
earlier in the week; the ridiculous history is still ridiculous, the similarities are still pronounced and Sean Bean still isn't in the sequel, but it still has lots of good actors looking like they're having a great time and Ben is still adorable as Abigail and Riley team up to try to make him a better boyfriend. After the movie, Paul met us and we went to Hamburger Hamlet (well, I had fish, not a hamburger).
Here are a few more pictures from Mount Vernon.
A line of people wait to enter the groundskeeper's house on the way to the mansion.
The back porch seen from the hill sloping toward the Potomac River. If you saw National Treasure 2, this is where the party took place.
This is the view of the river from below the porch. You can see Fort Washington -- for many decades the only defensive fort protecting Washington DC, completed in 1809 -- across the river.
As a historic farm, Mount Vernon has cattle...
...and rare Hogg Island sheep whose wool is sheared, carded and spun throughout the month of May while visitors watch.
At this time of year they work as natural lawn mowers, grazing through to sunset in the fields.Friday Fiver: I'll always be true
1. Tell us something you love:
The ocean.2. Tell us something you know to be true:
If you drop a marble on the kitchen floor within hearing of a cat, it will take you a very long time to get the marble back, and that's assuming you can get to it at all before it is batted under the refrigerator.3. Tell us about someone new in your life:
An awesome woman wrote to me about my Barbie Tarot
deck. She's a graphic designer and said that she'd love to try to print a set for a friend of hers who's a Barbie fan, and I said it was fine with me but would love it if she printed an extra for me and I'd be happy to pay for materials. She sent me The Fool with a holiday card as a sample and a promise to send the rest when she had figured out the best way to reproduce the whole deck. I am completely psyched about this and so grateful to her.4. Who can you never please?
My poor starving big yellow cat who never, ever gets enough to eat.5. Friday fill-in: You know I ___.
You know I never know when to shut up.The Friday Five: Totally Random
1. When did you "lose your innocence"?
This is absolutely none of the readers of a meme's business. Sometimes I really wonder why I bother with .
2. Would you say you have an accent? Other people tell me that they can tell my parents are from Brooklyn.
3. Do you hope to be married (married again if divorced)? Happily married, thanks.
4. If you could take one technology to a desert island (the obvious satellite phone excluded), what would it be? A spaceship.
5. What is the last activity you bought a ticket for? National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
Fannish 5: What are your five top hopes for your fandom(s) or your fan activities in 2008?
1. More fun, less wank.
2. A certain character's scenes cut entirely from the Star Trek movie.
3. A swift end to the writer's strike that benefits the writers.
4. Doctor Who schedules synchronized on both sides of the Atlantic.
5. Brilliant inspiration.
We're going to my in-laws for New Year's but won't leave till Sunday because they're flying home from my brother-in-law's in Oregon tonight and their flight was delayed getting in and out of a Chicago stopover due to weather conditions. So Saturday we will be getting ready and watching the Patriots-Giants game. Friday night, Maryland met Oregon State in the Emerald Bowl and the Terps played the Beavers in a very balanced game for three quarters, but then the Beavers went ahead and Maryland just couldn't catch up. Oh well!