I keep running into people around town who want to know where I’ve been. They are, of course, assuming that I’ve been somewhere adventuresome. Folks around these parts are used to me jaunting off to faraway places, I guess. It is true that I have been lost in the woods of Michigan and Wisconsin as of late. But I’ve done all that mostly without leaving the house.
Yep. That’s right. I’m working on a new writing project. One that I’ve been researching for the past three or more years. It’s an odd thing, researching parts of the country that I am pretty unfamiliar with. Thank goodness the National Park service provides those interactive maps. I can sit in my home in Oregon and pretend I’m picking out a campsite in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
I remember a while back when I read Sonny Brewer’s excellent novel POET OF TOLSTOY PARK. Sonny’s main character was from Nampa, Idaho. I’m familiar with Nampa primarily because I pass through it on the way to Boise when traveling with my brother-in-law, a veteran, to the VA hospital there. (When you live in rural Oregon sometimes the closest VA is in another state). I asked Sonny if he had traveled to Nampa as part of researching the novel. “No, dear,” Sonny replied in that professorial voice of his. “I just Googled it.”
Sonny had done such a great job of capturing Nampa, I had a difficult time believing that he hadn’t actually been there. Maybe it’s the journalist in me. I simply want to be boots-on-the-ground as part of my research. Sonny, however, doesn’t fly if he can help it. Me? I’m the female version of Have Suitcase, Will Travel.
I was once booked into the county jail, orange jumpsuit and shackles, just so I could have the experience for a column I was writing. That was enough to convince me that I would make a lousy criminal. As my daughter used to say, “I don’t like confided spaces.” Konnie is a product of whole language teaching. She was taught to guess at the right words to use. She gets it wrong in the most hilarious of ways.
In reality, I’m kind of like Baby Jane, that creepy woman who hangs out upstairs and is rarely seen in public. The grocery store being the exception to that rule because all writers crave fresh fruit and chocolate while writing. Unless you are my friend Sarah Thebarge who consumes something that only be described as green-goo when she writes. Sarah doesn’t like to waste time eating when she could be writing, whereas, I write so I can have an excuse for distracted eating.
Distracted eating is not a new phenom. It’s been around at least as long as Judy Jetson has been getting dressed on a conveyor belt. Obesity is killing us all, according to the CDC, who keeps issuing warnings about the obesity crisis in America. Like we don’t all own mirrors and can’t see for ourselves?
In my next home, I’m going to have one of those conveyor belts installed in my dressing room. I’m going to get me a Rosie the Robot, too, so she can help me get dressed. I’ve read that Mark Zuckerberg owns dozens of the same t-shirt and jeans, kinda like a dress uniform for Yuppies on the Rise. Zuck never has to worry about what he’s going to wear. Imagine if a woman tried that? Wore the same thing to work everyday for years? Somebody would report her for mental instability. Heck, I used to work at a uniform shop during my high school years. You’d never imagine all the many different ways that white polyester can be sewn to trick buyers into thinking it looked like something other than white polyester.
I don’t know what that has to do with anything but it seemed important to point out.
The thing I like best about taking adventures without leaving my office is that I never get bit by snakes or mosquitoes. And I don’t have to hide from any tornadoes either, the way some of my Georgia friends had to do this week. (Glad you all are okay).
And let’s face it, this time travel gig is a whole lot cheaper than Uber, even.
Madeleine L’ Engle was on to something with that tesseract.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of the upcoming CHRISTIAN BEND (Mercer Univ. Press, 2017).