Sunday, March 09, 2003

Regarding Influenza B:

JM (Japanese Mother): Don't go out from your house anymore. There's terrible flu epidemic. Everybody getting it. Influenza B. I been so worry you going to get it because you always going out so stupid with head uncover and let your feet get wet so catch cold.

AH (Artichoke Heart): So in between the winter Influenza B epidemic and the summer West Nile Virus epidemic, when, exactly, am I supposed to leave the house?

JM: Well sometimes can't help. Like you have to go meeting or teach class. But you always like go do unnecessary thing like watch movie or go out eat restaurant. Best thing is not ever leave house if you can help it.

AH: So you're suggesting that I should encourage my already problematic tendencies toward occasional agoraphobia, is that it?

JM: I don't know if that's what they call it or not. But see, I told you so! You see on news or whatever, but I already going to tell you what do. Best thing not be stupid. Stay inside and don't leave house.

Regarding Big Snowstorm:

JM: Your father and I been watching and watching weather reports all day long and Big Snowstorm heading right straight your direction! I so worry about if you going to stay warm enough and maybe you have to drive somewhere in snowstorm! You better stock up on groceries and don't leave house. Do you have warm hat to wear during blizzard time?

AH: Yeah, I have lots of hats. I have fleece hats.

JM: [Suspiciously] What . . . is that so-call fleece warm enough?

AH: Very warm.

JM: Well, I never heard about that. I don't know. Are you have warm enough coat? Maybe your father and I, even though on social security now, should look around garage sale this summer and see if can find you warm enough coat. But even if we find nice coat, then maybe you not have good taste enough to understand, so you not like it and don't wear it, so go to waste. And I have no idea how much you blow up like big balloon or not, so I don't know if anybody make one big enough to fit you . . .

AH: Mom! For chrissakes, please . . . I'm warm enough! I own a fleece-lined Columbia Sportswear coat. I live in South Dakota, remember? Believe me, I know how to dress myself in the winter.

JM: [Suspiciously] Are you been spending money like Rockefeller again? Is keep you warm enough?

AH: Very warm.

JM: Huh. Well . . . I never heard of it before, so I don't know.

Regarding Transmission of Rhino Virus:

JM: I been so worry about you catch Influenza B. You go to school and all those students sick and bring their germs to you, and I know how you are, you stupidly going to always catch everything they bring to you. I wish you could wear rubber glove and make them spray with Lysol all their sneeze-on, coughing-on paper before they turn in to you, but I guess you can't do that if you want get tenure.

AH: Uh . . . no, not really.

JM: Make sure first thing you do when get home, though, is wash hands and gargle with salt water. Your father and I everytime leave house as soon as we come home we wash hands and gargle with salt water. And sing "Happy Birthday."

AH: Sing "Happy Birthday"?

JM: Yeah. Sing "Happy Birthday." [Singing into phone to demonstrate for me, because I am, of course, such a fuckwit in my mother's eyes that I clearly require demonstration of the "Happy Birthday" lyrics."] Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear SOMEONE. Happy birthday to you. So make sure you singing "Happy Birthday."

AH: Uh . . . okay? Now wait a minute. Why???

JM: That way you washing hands and gargling long enough until germs are dead.

Regarding Reading in Fresno and Post-Reading Weekend in Mean Streets of San Francisco:

JM: You have to be very careful when go to San Francisco. I don't want you wander around all by self at night in lonely alley and get murder. You look like Country Bumpkin, you know. So everyone target you.

AH: Uh . . . the streets around my hotel are really pretty crowded and busy at night, actually. I have been there before, you know. Several times.

JM: Crowded? That's even worse. [Apparently evoking a mental image of Dickensian urbanity replete with London street urchins.] That means there going to be pickpockets. You have to be careful about the pickpockets. Chicago O'Hare Airport full of pickpockets too. I wish you not try go anywhere by yourself in San Francisco. You just stay in hotel unless with someone else, okay?

Regarding Book Prize and Publication:

JM: [After making squealing happy whooping noises in phone.] So you one of two winners . . . are you first-prize winner, or second-prize winner, or are you tie?

AH: [Thinking to self . . . . shit, here it comes.] Second-prize winner.

JM: Second-prize winner?

AH: Yeah. Second-prize winner.

JM: Why you not first-prize winner?

AH: [Starting to get all prickly and defensive.] I dunno . . . I was named second-prize winner. Does it really matter? There were well over 500 entries, my book's going to be pubished, and if I were to get to pick a press of choice for my book SIU Press would definitely be one of my top three picks. I mean, there were five winners named the year I won the National Poetry Series with my first book and that didn't seem to bother you. What's wrong with second prize?

JM: I don't want second prize. I want first prize.

AH: It's not your prize. It's my prize, and I was unbelievably fucking lucky to get it.

JM: Well. Don't tell anybody is second prize. Just let everyone think is first prize. That's much better. Okay?

Reconsidering Prior Day's Conversation Regarding Book Prize and Publication:

[In other words, probably following a conversation with my father where he's reminded her that I've always been "oversensitive" and that I have a "thin skin," and suggesting that she back off on the second-prize thingy.]

JM: [Yelling into phone] I soooo happy! I sooo relief!

AH: Yeah, I'm really happy too. And relieved.

JM: I been so worry about when your next book going to come out. Your father and I been every day talking about and can't sleep at night, and then during Happy Hour [Read: Diet, Caffeine-Free Dr. Pepper and Peanuts] we been making special good-luck toast and magic joo-joo [Read: What the fuck?!?!] for publish your second book. And see? Finally work! You should say thank you to us . . . only next time we make sure do harder so get first prize instead of second prize.
Posted by Artichoke Heart | 4:02 PM |
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Books by Artichoke Heart
Beyond Heart Mountain
Year of the Snake

Poems by Artichoke Heart
Songs for a Rainy Season
Toothpick Warriors
Snake Wife
Happy Hour
Girl With A Bowl On Her Head

Pillow Book Courtiers Of The
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