Dallas Uber Alles
I went again. Just got back last night from Dallas. The week before, I was in Clinton, South Carolina, at Presbyterian College. This week I was at Southern Methodist. On Friday, I'll be at the First United Church of Christ in Champaign/Urbana. I guess the good Baptist types from my ol' Tijuana mission days who sent me e-mails that I was in league with Satan because of Teresita will be vexed that I'm this season's Big Bogus Bono for the Believers.

This is what it's like: I taught on Thursday. Went to U of I to see the football game (Eric, of course, is in drumline). Sunday, fly to Dallas. Two strangers pick me up at the airport and drive me to a very nice and semi-swanky hotel I've never heard of and couldn't find again if you paid me. They dropped me off and I went to my cushy room and fell upon the king size bed (awesome mattress, y'all) and called for room service. I'ze hongry. Watched cable. Up at 7:00. Shower. Was going to iron my clothes--oops! No iron! Ben Johnson, only a semi-stranger, picked me up for breakfast. There, we met two strangers. After that, Ben and I went across town to the NPR station, where I met a bunch of other strangers. Then we did a live call-in show where strangers sent messages and made comments. I shook hands with all the stranger there and Ben took me down to SMU where he handed me off to a new collection of strangers. These strangers had a nice lunch set up in a room packed with young strangers who watched me chew and asked me questions. I stopped eating after 1/8 sandwich because I felt like a freak. The students were extremely nice, however.

I was dropped off at the campus coffee shop for 45 minutes of reading and iPod abuse. A small crowd of students spied me through the window and came in for autographs. It was a highlight of the day. Megan, Amrita--I remember you! And your pals. Then, strangers collected me and dropped me off at the big theater for my talk. Pat, my former sister-in-law, was there. Along with her were 900 students and faculty. The joint filled up all the way, and the overflow crowd spilled into a room next door with video monitors. I wrote to my publisher that I'm starting to feel like Hugo Chavez. There were so many people there that my cuz, the Mexican Consul General, Enriqeu Hubbard Urrea, and his delightful wife, my beloved Mariana, couldn't get in! They had to watch me on the TV sets--my face, no doubt, swollen to the size of a boiled hamhock. But they forgave me.

After the event, I signed books for a bit, but had to rush off to--supper with strangers. I dragged the Hubbard clan along. We sat in a room with folks we didn't know, and all I could eat was a styrofoam bowl of salad and garbanzo beans tossed on top. Gack. But, again, everybody's asking you all kinds of inisgthful questions, and it won't do to burp, snort, spill, or get stuff stuck between your teeth. After supper--a lecture to: strangers! And: questions from strangers. Wow. I live my life in places I do not know, on schedules I do not make, with people I have never met and will never see again. I never know when a Mexi-hater Immigration Warrior will appear and pop off like a roman candle.

After this event, the Hubbard clan and I got lost, wandering from parking building to parking building in the dark, Enrique saying, "I parked on a flat level, and this level's not flat!" Finally finding the consular scary black monster-wagon, we made off like gangsters to the massive consul's manse. Yee-haw! Their dog, a poodle named Mr. Anderson, after Neo in the Matrix (you are learning amazing secret details about the Mexican gov't here, Minutemen!) is a real lover and licked the terror sweat off my forearms from the day's events.

Mariana heated me up some yummy food and we gossipped and laughed and I went to bed under the blessed AC and had strange dreams. In the morning, it was shower, pack, b'fast, into the black death-mobile, back to the airport, back on the plane, back to O'Hare listening to the Pod and reading the astonishing new book coming soon from Little, Brown [this is an unpaid endorsement], The Horse Boy by Rupert Isaacson. You must read this book, no shite. If you at all enjoyed Hummingbird, watch for this (and the concurrent movie) and snap it up. I'm reading it in galleys because I have to write a blurb for it. It's a mind-warping true story about a dad, an autistic son, and a horse journey across Mongolia to meet shamans to see if they can heal the boy.

Suddenly, I was home, and Cinderella and I were rushing off to get lunch, talking about school and grades and O'Bama vs Palin and the in-laws. The current in-laws, I mean. I was looking around thinking: Where am I? Who am I? I was a Talking Head for a second: This is not my beautiful house! I was already struggling to hold on to memories of South Carolina, and the whole wildness of the American University gig in D.C. seemingly nine years ago was fading fast. All I can tell you for sure is that people at all three gigs were saying, "Rock star" behind my back. And what about Bread Loaf?

Ha. Rock star. I wish. I'd have shiatsu, a bus driver, and mo' money. Wait--I'm getting the mo' money part. I forgot. I'd be skinnier, though.

I don't know what to do about the strangers, though. In Dallas, I went to pee, and about six young guys started saying, "That's the dude!" At least nobody at the next urinal turned around to see and peed down my leg.

What a wonderful, vexing, nerve-wracking, utterly pedestrian, blessed, irritating, confusing, delightful, exhausting phase of life. I have stumbled into a dream. Playing the Big Game, seeing how much we can score before time out.

I went to getChayo at dance class. Gonna eat cereal for supper because I can't stand food no mo! Up for class in the morning, then, you know, on the road again. Going to preach it at the Church of Christ.

See ya--L

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