Power Trip

Before I left for last week’s trip to Missouri and back, I told my brother
that the deciding factor would be whether I could withstand spending this
week as a drained, lethargic puddle of ineffective, unproductive goop. So
far, so good.

Ph. and I left for Detroit on Tuesday evening, picked up my brother, then
continued through the night so that we would arrive in Kansas City by late
morning or early afternoon. That we did.

Fifty-one miles north of Indianapolis, at 3:30 a.m., I drove past a farmer
plowing a field in the moonlight. Wondered whether he was up late or up
early, an important consideration given that I could not decide whether I was up
late or up early. 3:30 a.m. is the precise moment at which nighttime and daytime
hinge (forget midnight; it’s too early). Soon after I spotted the industrious
farmer, I began to count words on billboards that also appear in the tagcloud
for my dissertation. I quit that game when I came up on I-465, the loop
around Indianapolis, having counted seven.

Of the 98 hours from the time we left Syracuse late Tuesday afternoon until
we returned early Saturday evening, 42 were in the car. More than 2,600
miles. Seven states (NY, MI, IN, IL, MO, OH, PA) plus Ontario. I hope never to
spend 42 hours in a car over a four-day period again. I don’t enjoy
driving that much. And this also means that I ate like crap, guzzled
caffeinated beverages, and developed countless kinks and aches from the long hum
of the road.

Still I was glad we made the trip. It was important for us to be there,
even if our stay was only for a day and a half. The funeral was–as all
funerals are for me–emotionally intense. My cousins seemed mournful but
poised in the memories they shared. About funerals, I have begun to understand
them as thickly layered with every other funeral that has come before. In
other words, there is a stinging build-up in the return to any funeral home, in
lifting the casket of a loved one, in the family-scale socialization of sadness.
I mean that it is not a fresh experience but one that is something like a
funereal "chronotopic lamination"–a faint-trace sequel bearing out
continuations of every similar event ever before it. This is more
pronounced, I suppose, when loss is frequent, when family members pass away
often enough that reunions and funerals are no longer separate. Maybe not.

As for the work I am trying to feel justified in avoiding, by late May, I aim
to 1.) revise and return an article, 2.) have an RSA paper presentation-ready,
and 3.) begin giving Ch. 5 its shape. Among the smaller and easier stuff,
I have another 5.5 hours to spend this week in the Writing Center before my
semester there is complete. Y. has a vet appointment on Thursday.
D.’s cell phone is broken. Ph. needs to be fitted for a tuxedo for a mid-May
promenade. Tune CCCC proposal. Dentist. Shake this nasty cough I picked up at
one of the filthy rest areas along the highway. Tomorrow. All of this and
more starting tomorrow.