I Want To Live At Wardenclyffe (aka More Tesla)

Remember when I went to celebrate Tesla’s birthday last year? Yes, cake and everything.

This year, I took a tour of Wardenclyffe since I can’t go to his birthday. I’ve decided that I would like to live there. Sure there are plants growing out of bricks, and none of the buildings are habitable.

Side Note: Brace yourself. I just looked up the word habitable to make sure I was using it the right way. What has become of my lazy-writer-MO? Oh, wait, I’ve been doing some proofreading gigs. It’s that grammar stuff.

Side Side Note: I still have like five jobs.

Anyway, Tesla! I love him! Here’s why. [All this is from notes I took in 90 degree heat in the blazing sun, so, you know, “facts.”]

The Bauer House

The Bauer House was originally a shoe shop before prohibition. Then it (allegedly?) became a speakeasy. There are tunnels leading out that were probably built to avoid police raids. The last time Telsa came to Wardenclyffe, he sat with the Bauers, speaking to them in German. German, y’all!

Tesla’s Coil

Tesla’s coil uses magnetic and/or electrical fields and can play music when hooked up to a keyboard if it doesn’t first give out so much energy as to render the keyboard inoperable. The first solution to any technology that isn’t working is: Turn It Off and Turn It On Again. I didn’t catch the name of the volunteer running the show here, but he knew, like, everything. Lots of stuff about induction and resonance. We listened to the coil play the theme song to Game Of Thrones.

Did you know that if you play a note on a stringed instrument next to another stringed instrument, the other instrument will play the same note? Yes! Because waves of some sort.

[Again, it was hot, I was sweating–yes, I know, I’m always sweating, but this time it was from the heat–and I was following science the best I could, and I’m not a science idiot but I’m also not Tesla or this very knowledgable volunteer and I don’t play violin, so let’s just accept my “waves of some sort” as accurate. Also, I don’t know if I spelled knowledgable right; it looks wrong. Back to being lazy].

Then we moved onto the Van de Graaff generator. It’s the thing that makes your hair stand on end if you put your hands on it. However, humidity can put a damper on all that electrostatic, lit-er-al-ly. So while the VdG generator messes your hair up in a fun way, humidity interrupts the fun and messes your hair up in a not fun way. This is why everyone moves to Arizona. The dry heat.

Finally, someone played the theramin. It’s an electric instrument that works without touching it. The inventor, Theramin, was from Russia and also invented things for ships to help them with navigation. Possibly.

Teleautomaton

Tesla created the first remote-controlled machines. Like, robotics, y’all. In 1898, he presented his teleautomaton at Madison Square Garden to the crowd at the Electronics Expo. Some people accused him of occultism and that bad magic. Some people thought he had a monkey inside his machine. Because somehow that’s more believable than scientific inventions.

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Is there a monkey in here?

Tesla’s Tower Of Power

Tower To The People is a documentary directed by Joseph Sikorski about Tesla’s Wardenclyffe dream. Sikorski offered some insights into the story, complete with sound effects of buildings crashing down when he got to the part about destroying Wardenclyffe. Basically, after Tesla’s friend Astor died on the Titanic, his estate pursued back-rent for Tesla’s living at the Waldorf Astoria and kind of not paying sometimes. Somehow, destroying Wardenclyffe led to getting the money they wanted.

Also, here is exactly what I wrote in my notebook after all that: Telefunken in West Sayville = other huge LI tower.

Discuss and get back to me.

Induction Motor

There were Teslas there. Like, the cars. They look like any other cars but they run on Tesla technology (not monkeys). I don’t know much about cars, but I do know a scooter built for two is the epitome of everything life is meant for.

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Train Spur and Lab Chimney

The train spurred off right to Tesla’s lab. It doesn’t do that anymore. The decorative cap on the chimney is called the wellhead. That’s about all I gathered because I was distracted by the plants again.

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Lab and Tunnels

The lab has tunnels running out from it to where the tower was. These tunnels were to get water and air to the tower and for steel and copper electrical grounding rods.

That does not sound right at all, but these were words I heard. Feel free to continue to play around with them until you find an order that makes sense to you.

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Isn’t it pretty?

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I wanted to get a Tesla pin, but all they had were t-shirts, so I instead donated some money and headed out.

I want to go back, though. There’s something about that place. There are spirits. It hums with something special. So if I could just live there, you know? To soak up all that vibration day after day.

I know. I’m aware that my idea of camping is watching Naked and Afraid while wearing clothes under my ceiling fan. I’m aware that living at Wardenclyffe would mean living without modern day advances like plumbing. Also, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to live there.

So, here’s the deal. I’ll keep visiting whenever it’s open. I’ll keep taking my notes and writing my poems. I’ll keep falling in love over and again with this inventor. My collection, Tesla, My Love, Our Everything, will one day be complete and published, and then maybe it will win an award, and then maybe I’ll get rich and famous and then I can refurbish the Bauer House and live at Wardenclyffe. That’s the plan.

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It’s Summer When

Yoga In Times Square Mind Over Madness. Done!

Summer Solstice in years past have been scorching hot. This year, monsoonish. The class before me got drenched in a downpour. My class saw some drizzling. I wore my socks for part of it. I got to lie down on my back in Times Square once again, and this time, it drizzled all over me, and somehow, that was magic. Catherine Cignac has the best sequences. I try to memorize them as we go so I can take them home with me and luxuriate in them. Another reason the rain was fantastic? No lines! I walked right up and went right in. No waiting around for anything. Somehow, the yoga village afterwards was jam packed, but otherwise, it was so spaced out and roomy. For FREE, we got mats from Aerie, water from Propel, tea from Pukka, and a bag to put it all in.

 

Kicking off a tour of all the museum exhibits I’ve been wanting to see. Done.

Who doesn’t love the 80s? The Nassau County Museum of Art has an 80s exhibition. I was all set for neon vibes all over. I didn’t much neon. Instead, I saw a lot of artists who died too young from AIDS. It was really depressing but also stunning. There was a Jenny Holzer, and I love her work because she uses a lot of words. Added bonus–my friend who met up with me told me about meeting Holzer and that was fascinating.

Bonus Bonus: We went to a bakery afterwards and I FINALLY TASTED RHUBARB and I LOVED IT.

 

Attendance at poetry readings. Done.

This past Monday saw no rain, which meant the Gazebo Reading was on! I went to listen to some good stuff and heard some good stuff.

Sunday before that, I read at Industry. This reading? My new favorite venue. I wanted to buy everything there. Sciency stuff. Quirky stuff. Artsy stuff. All my kind of stuff. Also, they had pretzels. Mmm, pretzels.

So the moral of this story is that everything I do involves some sort of food or beverage.

Happy Summer.

I Walked With Whitman

The Walt Whitman Birthplace invited me to host and read and sign books as part of their Walking With Whitman community reading series and it was exhilarating!

Some things that happened:

I made sure everyone knew it was National Donut Day.

A small workshop of poets introduced each other and read poems aloud using the skills they are developing in the workshop.

First Poet Laureate of Suffolk County and Writer-In-Residence George Wallace introduced me.

Former Poet Laureate of Suffolk County Robert Savino was there.

More than several people who didn’t know me before the reading were clearly trying to find out my age. Instead of asking me how old I am, they were asking all the questions I usually get when I know someone is trying to figure it out. The most obvious one is How long have you been teaching? Usually, I say Forever, which is of no help. Then several people also told me, You’re too young to remember but…. And I nodded because sure, why not still be too young to remember? Which doesn’t make any sense when you think about it. To be clear, I’m not annoyed when this happens. I think it’s funny. I have no concept of age, and I frequently forget how old I am if I’m not in a rounded-number-year, like 50. So let’s call me 50 for now.

Two comics were there and were inviting people to come to a maybe-maybe-not-super-secret-speakeasy that was also a hip hop recording studio. A discussion of this venue led to a discussion that confused Jake Tapper and John Taffer, which I very much enjoyed. Since I had plans for coffee because I may or may not be an old lady or child out past my bedtime, I had to decline checking out the venue, which is a pity because stand-up comedy is one of my favorite things in the world. Also, one of them asked if I thought I was funny, to which I responded, Yes, I’m hilarious.

[Sidenote: During one of the year-end student readings, a student from another class asked me if I do improv because I’m funny. Who needs the potential flopsweat of improv when you’ve got a captive audience in a classroom?]

As usual, I held court because I. Cannot. Stop. Teaching.

Christina M. Rau reading

Photo by George Wallace

The open mic included the musings of Tom D’Angelo, Russ Green, Mary Healey, Dan Brown, and several other poets who were simply wonderful souls.

As usual, I made a crazy poet face.

Crazy Poet Face

Photo by George Wallace

The band 1 Step Ahead played, and they are brilliantly talented and everyone should book them for everything.

The Q&A was basically me mentioning 2001 A Space Odyssey about 2001 times.

There were snacks. I ate grapes. They were good.

I ran out of copies of Liberating The Astronauts. Never before have I seen such an engaged audience and sold that many books. Poetry! Is! Lucrative! (not really, but it’s nice to not have to carry back home such a heavy bag of books).

[Sidenote: if you would like a copy of For The Girls, I,  WakeBreatheMove, or Liberating The Astronauts, check out my books page for information on how to do that. Are they sold on Amazon? I have no idea, but instead of Amazon, maybe order from the small presses or from me directly.]

I am so grateful to WWBP and the people who came out to share an evening of words and music.

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Photo Courtesy of Robert Savino

Best of LI Nomination!

I’ve been nominated for Best Author on Long Island through Best of LI. Hooray!

You can join in the fun of voting if you wish. Here’s how:

  1. Go to http://bestof.longislandpress.com/
  2. Sign up or sign in (just your email and no spammy stuff).
  3. Select the Arts Category.
  4. Select me! Christina M. Rau
  5. Submit your vote.

If you have that much fun the first time around, then it gets better. You can vote every day!

Mark you calendar for this coming Monday, October 1! It’s fun! Voting is fun! It really is!

Otherwise, it’s fantastic to be nominated.

Tesla, My Neon-Bright Love

IMG_1068Nikola Tesla invented. From his mind circa the 1880s came electricity. Okay, not exactly, but his inventions harnessed power and revolutionized technology. Also, he’s been popping up in my life in various ways. Remember that time my brother and I went daytripping in StonyBrook and stumbled across the Tesla exhibit? Remember that time I trounced around NYC and stumbled across the random street sign for Tesla? Remember that time I was on vacation and the hotel tv was playing a series about Tesla non-stop? Remember that time Tesla opened for Def Leppard at Jones Beach? Okay, different Tesla, but still. And but really? Is it different? Anyway, Tesla needs me. Maybe I need him.

In fact, if you’ve been at any of my recent poetry readings, you know I need him. I’ve been writing about him. If you know this, then you also know he’s the basis of my next collection. Poetry needs Tesla, too.

The best way to discover why our mutual affinity has been growing was to attend his birthday celebration. You might say, But wait, isn’t he, like, no longer among the living? To that I say, What’s your point? Wardenclyffe is still standing.

Out in Shoreham, Tesla did some things. His lab is there along with the remains of his tower of power–just the base squares in a circular pattern on the ground. The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe plans to reopen the grounds as a science center. Right now, it’s still kind of desolate, but it serves quite nicely as a place for a birthday celebration.

This year, they held the Neon Birthday Expo. The expo included tours of the grounds, robotics demonstrations, tables of local artists and science-related clubs and organizations, a neon tent dedicated to neon things, and a PSEG table from which I scored another new pair of free sunglasses. All my sunglasses are now sponsorships. Tesla cars lined up and showed off.

I was in my nerdy geeky techy love glory. Moseying along the nature path. Moseying around the perimeter of the grounds. Moseying through the neon tent and then moseying quickly out because it was about 1000 degrees inside. (All the moseying was due to the day being really hot and we were all in direct sunlight. Which is actually a good thing because it was a birthday celebration and birthday parties should be sunny. )

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Find Clayton Orehek for all your neon art needs.

The keynote speaker was Gregory Olsen. Um, you guys, he’s an astronaut.  This totally made up for my not being able to find the astronaut at BEA. 

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Kyle Driebeek played Happy Birthday on the theramin. If you don’t know what that means, click this link because the link is better than any way I might attempt to describe it.

Then, there was cake. I shit you not. They had two sheet cakes complete with Tesla’s face on them.

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I’m looking forward to the day when we can head out to Wardenclyffe when it’s all decked out as a science center. It’d be one step closer to meeting the man himself. In the meantime, there’s always Belgrade.

Oh, and this. Because I like to amuse myself.

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The Cabin Reading That Wasn’t In A Cabin

DC’s Joaquin Miller Cabin Poetry Series has shared poetry for over 40 years. It used to be held in the actual cabin. I thought I was going to read in a cabin. I was ready to be sweaty and buggy. However, these days, the good folks who run the series project photos of the cabin on a large screen in an auditorium in the Rock Creek Nature Center, an air conditioned space with no critters abounding.

I’d like to reiterate: I was willing to read in a cabin with possible non-human living creatures and possible humidity that would frizz my hair out and increase my usual sweats tenfold. Gold star sticker for me please.

Really, this take-it-on-the-road poetry-reading thing becomes me. Meaning I dig it and I wish for it to continue. Not only do I get to share my work with people I don’t know, I also get to hear what’s going on in the poetry realm of others. Plus, sightseeing. This is all I want in life. Poetry and travel. And cotton candy without cavities. And these peppermint crumbly things you can buy in a bucket from CVS. And snow without shoveling. And Train concerts every night. And line dancing. And yoga. And tea. That’s all. Is that too much to ask?

The poets at Miller Cabin were delightful! Talented. Insightful. Witty. Open to my antics, which is always a plus. (If you haven’t seen the dog and pony show, come see it some time. You’ll get at least a sticker). I hope to keep in touch with them and maybe read there again in the future.

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Crazy Poet Face, Cabin Edition

As for the sightseeing, one of the officemate-friends took a ride down with me and together we saw some sights. We popped by Politics and Prose to hear Kim Roberts present on DC literary history. We also headed to the National Portrait Gallery mostly to see the Obama portraits, but then found portraits galore. And then found lots of art that wasn’t portraits, and I was confused until I realized that half the building is the portrait gallery and the other half is the American Art Museum. They’re both Smithsonian and they’re both FREE! The art gallery had an exhibit about redacted landscapes, so if you’re paranoid about conspiracies already, that might not be for you. Or maybe it is, if you’re looking for affirmation. All I know is that LL popped up in the portrait gallery, and that made my heart soar.

Also free is walking around the Tidal Basin. Not free is the parking unless all the meters at the Tidal Basin are all jacked up. In which case, you can call the number on the meter about its jacked-up-ed-ness, and then leave a message about it and then have the machine that takes the message say Thank You and hang up on you. We didn’t pay the meter, and we didn’t get a ticket, thankfully.

All around the Tidal Basin are monuments, most of which I hadn’t seen in my most recent DC trips. The FDR monument sprawls magnificently. The Martin Luther King Jr. monument stands starkly tall. Then there’s the Washington Monument that you can see from everywhere and the Jefferson Memorial that’s very cool with a cross breeze once you make it up the steps in the beat-down sun heat.

Georgetown had lots of good food and the waterfront is always pretty. I’m on the lookout for information about what tv or film was shooting on at the end of June and beginning of July. Some streets were closed, and crowds gathered. We were told to keep moving and not to “saturate” the sidewalk. The sidewalks remained saturated with throngs of onlookers peeking between parked cars circa late 1970s and early 1980s. My guess is a Back To The Future reboot. I could be very very wrong.

Ford’s Theater has a few free slots for presentations that we happened upon. You don’t get to go into the museum with the free show. That was fine. We saw the presentation which was given by a man dressed in old timey garb, claiming to be the sheriff on duty the night Lincoln was shot. This presentation was vastly different from the one I saw the first time. That time it was given by a park ranger dressed in a park ranger uniform. So now I want to go back a third time to see what else I might get.

Off the beaten path, kind of, we stopped at the National Cathedral. This is the perk of driving around all of DC. You see stuff that’s not on The Mall. It was gorgeous. Fact: An earthquake made pieces of it fall down. Still, it’s standing tall, and it’s got a garden, and the garden has bunnies!

The plan: continue driving across the U S of A, poetry in hand, taking in the sights, drinking tea, doing yoga, listening to Train, getting sticky from cotton candy.

 

Lost In The Mountains of NY

When Bright Hill Press invited me to read in Treadwell, NY, the invitation sent me reeling to days of slippery uphill walks to class, fuzzy wool socks, wearing coats upon coats, frozen snot (it’s a real thing), and gray skies for days. SUNY Oneonta, fifteen minutes from Treadwell, was my home for a few years during my undergrad days. I knew the drive there would come as second nature, as much as second nature could be for a gal who gets lost in parking lots. Not even a slight hesitation. I said yes yes yes, packed up some books and some outfits, and off I went towards the mountains of upstate New York.

Upstate New Yorkers, would probably frown upon my description of the Oswego area as upstate. For me, a life-long Long Islander, anything above the Bronx is upstate. However, those on the Canadian-US border are kind of more upstate than where I was headed. I was really going to Central New York. Unless this territory-debate has changed over the years. You can see it’s kind of ingrained in me.

Anyway, at three and a half to four hours depending on traffic, I set out for a day or two of hilly mountain driving. I stopped in Sloatsberg for a quick bite. I stopped in Roscoe because you have to stop in Roscoe. The Roscoe Diner is there. It’s like a law or something. I didn’t eat at the diner. I visited the parking lot and moved on.

Then came the part of the trip where I veered away from the Oneonta route and headed to Treadwell instead. There were huge trucks that sometimes drove behind me on one-lane roads. My car was doing really well on the vertical roads, but I still panicked every time one appeared because I didn’t want them to think I was going too slow. I didn’t feel like I  was going slow until cars passed me. I kept telling myself that slow and steady wins the race. Then I would counter my own self with we’re not in a race.

Then I passed a milkery and knew that I was very much in the country.  What’s a milkery? It’s a very large factory where milk is made that appears out of nowhere on the side of a mountain. Many of the large trucks were coming and going from here. I figured this is where a lot of the cows I saw were sending their milk. That’s how it works, right? Right.

Rounding a bend after hours of clutching the wheel, I came upon a sign at the end of a major road that had four arrows at the top. This was not a street sign. Instead, the arrows indicated: Franklin, Oneonta, Delhi, and Walton (I think these were the four). Ahh, I was in the area. Then I followed my GPS turn by turn and then the last turn came and I missed it.

No big deal. This is the reason I have a GPS. It’s not so much for directions to get to places. It’s for directions for when I screw up. So I waited for the recalculation, and it didn’t come. I took a quick glance. There was a wide blank space on the map and a blue dot hovering in the center. I’d lost GPS. I’d lost all phone signal. There would be no phone calls. There would be no artificial intelligence. There would be only me and my brains.

No big deal. I’d pull over and turn around. Ummmm, nope. When you’re on a mountain, there’s nowhere to do that. If you miss a turn and have no GPS, you really have no idea how long you have to keep driving  until you can turn around. It could be a few minutes. It could be an hour.

And that’s when I did what any self-respecting adult would do. I started drive-crying. Crying at the GPS. Crying that I was lost. Crying that I just wanted to get out of the friggin car. This is me and my brains working it out.

I found a road, finally, and turned around. I found the turn on the way back. Then I found that I was too early. What’s a gal to do? No cell service to call or message. No nothing. No one around. No place to ask anyone in person. So I headed back over to that four-arrow sign and decided to drive in the direction of Oneonta.

The road. To Oneonta. Was closed. I shit you not.

So I did some more drive-crying, only this time, it was more of sit-in-the-motionless-car-crying. Then I chose the next best arrow. Delhi. I had no idea how long it would take me to get there. I just drove and drove, passing cows, passing farms. Drove and drove until I heard a bunch of dinging, which mean I had emails arriving, which meant my service was back on. I kept driving until I saw the sign for Delhi and then cried because I’d found Delhi. I parked on the main street in Delhi and walked around a bit. Then I saw the time and decided I needed to eat and change and get ready for my reading. From Delhi, the road to Oneonta was open, so I headed towards the Southside Mall.

Up and down and twisting around, the GPS stayed on the whole way. I rounded a mountain bend and saw a sign and started drive-crying again, this time because I was all nostalgic because this was the turn to Oneonta. Oneonta has a Panera. Oneonta has wi-fi. Oneonta is technologically advanced, at least more than Treadwell.

I ate. I changed. I messaged. I called. I charted out my way back. I realized that the way back from Oneonta was the street where I’d turned around when I missed my turn, which means that only one road to Oneonta was closed.

The reading was fabulous. I read with Tom Clausen,  a poet who writes what he calls “little poems.” They are haiku and haiku-adjacent. The poems are very lovely; a lot of them read like tiny meditations. I read about space and sci-fi and vacations. I gave away astronaut ice cream and stickers because that’s my schtick. I crashed at Bright Hill because they have a room for crashing. Tom drove back home which would take about an hour, which is not long when you live up there. I perused their library. I wrote and read. I hooked up to their wi-fi. Life was good.

For breakfast, they left for me a bagel and a banana and some other breakfasty stuff, which was such a nice gesture. I wasn’t a bagel snob. I ate the bagel, and it was good. I headed out shortly after breakfast. The morning was sunny but chilly–probably not chilly for up there but it was for me.

I. Did not. Get lost. In the mountains!

Instead, I got lost in the Bronx.

But then I found my way home. Which is always my favorite part of traveling.

 

That DC Trip I Took

In April, I went to Split This Rock. I’d never been to this festival before. I wanted to change things up from the previous AWP conferences I’ve attended. This one was in DC. It was driveable. Also, it was a way to get my mom to go away because when I told my mom about it, she said, “I love DC.” So away we went.

Here’s the rundown about some of the readings and panels I attended and participated in. Not only did I present and pick up some good info for work, but also, I got some good stuff to write about for Book Riot. I’m multidimensional.

Outside of conferencing–or, actually, since Split This Rock is a festival–Outside of festivaling, I took in some sights and sounds of the DC area. One of the first things I did was get caught up in one of the many roundabouts DC has to offer in DC traffic time. On the plus side, getting caught in the traffic and veering here and there allows for a lovely scenic tour of the city and places you can eventually go if you ever get to where you want to go in the first place.

We stayed at a Hampton Inn which meant we got free coffee and hot chocolate ’round the clock in addition to free breakfast. This was fantastic if we could only work the elevator to get to and from the lobby. If you haven’t been to a hotel lately, they’ve been installing fancy secure elevators that work only if you have a room key or that go to only specific floors of your own choosing. All I know is that we rode the elevators mostly with other people so we could make it move.

Outside of the hotel, I saw the White House. I’ve been to DC before, but somehow, accidentally seeing the White House made it a bit majestic. I’m not getting into politics here. I’m not really even talking about architecture. I’m simply talking about pretty things that make me excited. There were flowers. There was the sun. There was a large white building sparkling in the daylight. Then at night, there was the moon and some moonlight sparkle.

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Additionally, I found a place called Wicked Waffle and I took my mom there to eat lunch and it was pretty much my favorite lunch in the world and I wanted to take them home with me. Not just the waffles but the entire place. Alas, they couldn’t fit into my suitcase.

 

It’s A Twister, Texarkana! Part III

After a long night of nothing followed by a morning of nothing, it was time to climb out of the bathtub, open the curtains, and start packing for home. The morning was sunny but chilly. Not that it mattered. My morning was to be spent answering emails and then heading to Shreveport. When I’d landed, I picked up a map of close-by things to see, so I figured I’d see some things before checking in.

Shreveport was pretty deserted on an early weekend morning. I wonder if it’s ever not deserted because it seemed more like a ghost town than a sleepy town. What made it more alive was the public art, which was really what I was there to see. I also became mesmerized by the passing trains. Once again, it was as if I’ve never seen a train before, never been on a train, and don’t have a train so close to my house that I can hear it sometimes pass by.

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This is art on art.

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This is me getting my fingers in the way of the art.

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I usually blur out license plates, but that would defeat the purpose here.

The art didn’t take all that long to see, so I headed to the airport. You know how they tell you to get to the airport two hours early? Yeah, that’s helpful if you go to an airport that has more than like 5 gates. Shreveport’s airport has like a one-lane road in and out that is wide open. I practically had a personal TSA agent going through security because I was the only person going through security. There were three gates where I was waiting, but really, it was only one gate. Only one door to the airplane with three different waiting areas for the one door.

Across the waiting area sat a group of men clearly going somewhere for a round of golf that day and most likely heading home later that day by plane. I waited a pretty long time since I was there so early, but that meant more reading time. Then I landed in ATL and read some more while avoiding all the people in the waiting area who thought putting bare feet on seats was an okay thing to do.

 

Then I flew home on a rather large plane where I realized I’d prefer an aisle seat rather than a window seat next time. You know, like next time I go to Texarkana and there’s no tornado and I actually get to read and talk to people about poetry. Some day, Texarkana, some day.