Day Twenty

As I write, I'm eating, and each bite is like another round of some kind of sick "I hate myself and I want to hurt myself" game. It's excrutiating. Even after giving and birth and having surgery this year, this rates in my top- maybe- 2, worst pains. The top one was probably my three births, combined. Which is why it's a little embarrassing to say that the cause of all this pain is only a canker sore on my tongue.

But really, this canker sore is a small very painful wound, and with every motion of my mouth a pointy part of my tooth jabs into it. When I eat, tears spring into my eyes. I can't talk properly. Can you imagine any other situation where this would be okay? Like if you had a big hole in your leg and you just continually poked it with a toothpick? You wouldn't do that. But this is what is happening in my mouth. Just so you know.

I also am in LA right now, meeting lots of new people and speaking to them with my slurred thick tongue. It's very embarrassing for me. But it's been really good, I'm hanging out with my friend Sheri and she's a great host. Some highlights:

1. Well, this actually happened before I even left, but as I was driving down to San Francisco from the Land yesterday I was having a great time. Spring has finally come, it was actually sunny and warm, the Scotch Broom is blooming, and I even caught sight of some Lupin. I felt liberated, as I began to drive through the vineyards north of Hopland, like I hadn't even known I was caught in the prison of winter until I happened to step outside.

I may have been driving a WEE bit over the speed limit. I was coming to the crest of a hill when a friendly soul gave me the ol' "flash of the lights--psst-- there's a cop on the other side of this hill." I slowed down and sure enough, just on the other side, there he was. Whew. A narrow miss, but for a little while I imagined how our conversation would have gone.

"Ma'am, do you realize that the speed limit is 55 here?"

"Yes, but, Officer, it's so HARD to drive only 55. The road is so straight. And the Scotch Broom is blooming."

"Ma'am, this is a stretch of road with several vineyards and wineries along it. If you hit one of Sonoma County's best winemakers and knock him off, Napa will be all over us in an instant. We can't jeopardize our grape-growers."

"Are we in Sonoma? Or Mendocino?"

"Uh--I'm not sure, but I do know the speed limit. I'm issuing you a citation."

(I fall out of the car door) "Noooo. Please."

"Ma'am. Please take your hands off of my ankle. Ma'am."

2. This also happened before I got here. I was in the airport, waiting for my plane to board. (Actually, getting through security wasn't so easy. I was carrying Leaf in my wrap-around carrier, and the officer told me I'd have to take him out of the carrier. And then she said I had to take the carrier off. But I can't do that with one hand. And then she said she couldn't hold him for me. What was I supposed to do? Lay him on the floor? Put him in one of the trays? I ended up enlisting the help of the people around me.) My phone rang. A strange number. I answered, and the most beautiful melodious voice in the whole world said, "Rae?" "Chinua?" I said. My heart leapt into my throat and I almost started crying, right there. Actually, maybe I did cry, a little. It's amazing what a short absence does. Like the way I check my email these days, the way I did after we first met and we corresponded for a year. Both of us were crazy about each other, but neither of us were admitting anything. We wrote nice and deep and sweet emails for a year, and checked our boxes thinking "Did he? Is there a letter.... no. Or, YES!" It was so good to hear from my superstar husband. He'll be home on Monday. It's almost over.

3. It's weird, after living in San Francisco, LA seems kind of thrown together. All the buildings don't seem to go together, and the signs are rag tag. It seems kinda... shabby. It a cool sort of way, but I think I prefer the well ordered buildings and amazing hills of San Francisco. Although it may be hard to judge, after only being here for a day. I definitely feel more at home in Northern California though. In So-Cal I always feel a little bit like I landed from a different planet.

4. Yesterday I went to a recording studio on Sunset Blvd where an old friend, David, was recording his new album. I was there to hear the music so that I can get an idea of what I'll be working with next month, when I paint for the live recording. I'll be doing art as worship, something that I love, something that I feel born to do. I'll probably write more on that later. It was a little loud for the Leaf baby right in the studio, so I was hanging out in the lobby and ended up getting a tour of the kitchen and hanging out with the cook, Curtis, for a while. He chatted with the baby and told me about all the places he's been and lived: Chicago, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia... and on the list went. Another of the workers bragged about all of the bands that come and record there. "Next week it's Sheryl Crow, today Van Morrison's here, sometimes Maroon Five, Weezer..." He went on, too. I didn't ever see Van Morrison. Just his gear. The studio was funny. They're obviously pulling in a lot of money, so why do the carpets look that way? It was very LA shabby.

5. Who needs to be a star when you have a baby? Everywhere I go, people point and smile, stop and talk. It's great. I forgot about this part of having a baby. It's like it opens people up. They trust you. They feel warm. And Leaf smiles back and talks to them, opening them up a little more.