In Washington I sold thirty books, or so I hear. In Naperville I sold twenty more. Luis and Cindy Urrea came to see me and I spent the night in their house. I had a reading planned in my foster sister’s apartment but she cancelled it, which was fine with me, I was getting sick. Also, she’s not really my foster sister but I moved into her mother’s basement nine months before going to college, so it’s basically the same thing.
I got a note from someone who had tried to buy my book at a store where I had given a reading. They didn’t have any, the person said. I got another note from a professor who liked my book. Those notes mean a lot to me (also notes about The Daily Rumpus). I got a note from a friend asking if I would tell her the truth if she asked. I said probably. People take the truth for granted, as if we all had perfect knowledge of ourselves and telling the truth was just as easy as turning a faucet. And like a faucet there is only hot and cold as opposed to thousands of faucets located in strange places, located all over, and painted different colors.
I’m sick with something. A minor case of the common cold. I got a note asking if I could stay somewhere else instead of where I was planning to stay next week. I’m reading tonight in Pittsburgh. I really like Pittsburgh. Then five days off for the holiday. Then two events in Missoula, Seattle…
Last night I went to Moody’s Burgers with an old friend. “How’s it going,” he asked. I said fine, except for the sickness. Before that I saw my real sister. She said, “Your expression’s not changing.” “I’m tired,” I told her. I hope that’s all it is, tired and sick, though sometimes I suspect it’s something else. Before that I watched some football with my little brother.
I waited until my foster sister and her roommate were asleep then snuck into the apartment and laid quietly on the couch. Sometimes, when I wear out my welcome, I get what I can out of what’s left. It’s like driving on fumes, I guess, or sucking one of those plastic slivers of listerine between beer and onion rings. Anyway, I kept my jacket over my face when my foster sister got up in the morning. She gets up early and I figured if I didn’t move or say anything she’d be happy to see me in two weeks. Then she left and I really fell back to sleep and missed my flight. An expensive mistake but bound to happen sometimes.
So here I am, on a United jet from O’Hare to Pittsburgh where I’ll do a reading in an art gallery. I can feel my common cold leaving me, or at least I hope. Because usually I like people but when I’m sick I don’t like anybody. My sickness is misanthropic. I try to engage but just want to be alone so I can think about my ex-girlfriend. I focus on how she looked and walked and the games we would play, instead of the conversations we had. Because I never understood what she was saying, and I didn’t understand her goals. Still, I’d rather see a movie with my hand resting between her thighs (not moving or doing anything dirty, just caught there). And we once spent four days in bed together until finally, on the fourth day, she broke up with me and left to meet her husband in the mall.