Monday, August 3, 2009

Adventures in Laurieland

It's very windy at this minute. A gale whips through the plants along the breezeway and threatens the screen, threatens to slam it closed over my typing fingers. But the wind feels good on my skin.

This morning, after Lizzie got onto her school bus, I tried to walk out of campus and down to a big shopping center strip mall, along a busy street, Katipunan. But somewhere along the way, I must've taken a wrong turn, because I got going down C. P. Garcia (which I seem to remember Cynch saying is the way to go) and after passing a lot of squatters' settlements on either side of the street, and a lot of fenced off UP fields with menacing NO TRESPASSING signs, I made it to the Vet Med Center and the Red Cross Emergency Center and hit a snag: no sidewalk, running water and garbage piles in my way and bleating trucks vrooming past me on the other side. Literally, my courage quailed inside me--I felt a little trembling in my stomach that spread out into my arms and legs, then fingers, and I realized that the sun was pressing down on me like a big wet, smoking hand.

So I turned around and made my way back into campus. On reflection, I realized that I probably went drastically in the wrong direction, and that if I'd continued on C. P. Garcia past the obstruction, I would have ended up on the crazy 6-8 lane freeway that fronts the main entrance of the University, and would have had to navigate my way back into the homebase through a snarl of Jeepneys.

That was my adventure for the day. I got back after my long, hot walk by passing the University COOP shopping center, and bought myself some mayonaisse so that I could have a good oldfashioned tuna fish sandwich on wheat for lunch. When I took off my backpack, I discovered that I'd sweat through the back of my shirt and along the strap. I won't even go into details about my khakis. Suffice it to say, I did laundry.

At this moment, the khakis are probably dancing frantically on the clothesline, threatening to break free and whirl into the ventilation shaft in the middle of our building, down onto the blue tarp stretched across half the enclosed patio below, never to be worn again. I'm not sure I'd really mourn their passing.


Speaking of clothing, I need a pair of shorts. I thought that the Philippines, in the absence of any knowledge, would be like Mexico--where the wearing of shorts is done only by clueless tourists, with a slouchy, black socks aplomb that practically screams "I have no idea what I'm doing!" So I didn't bring any shorts, and now I'm paying the (sweaty) price for that assumption. All I've got is a bevvy of skirts. I'm wearing the skirt I traded the khakis for, earlier, and I feel like an imposter. I'm NOT a skirt woman. I think skirts imply a sort of femininity that I can't embody.

Or won't.


I entertained the idea this afternoon, after slogging through the Faulkner stories for tomorrow's American Lit class ("A Rose for Emily" and "Barn Burner") and thinking about how alien and silly the American south of the 1920s and 30s might seem to some of my students here, and thinking further that the American south seems even more alien and silly to my Wisconsin students back home, of hopping into a taxi and heading back to the mall for a shopping excursion sans Lizzie. ("If you get lost," she said this morning, when we first contemplated the possibility of a solo trip to the mall, "just text me when I'm on the bus and I'll have to text you directions out of there." She likes to be necessary to me, my own personal compass and company.) Then I decided that I'd rather remain on my couch with Flannery O'Connor, our Thursday meal, who makes no apologies for portraying her American south as both silly--corrosively absurd, at times--and fundamentally alienating.


A boy is sitting in front of the cable TV here in the breezeway, laughing out loud at something on the tube. It's "I-Carly," one of Lizzie's favorites at home. I can almost imagine that I'm typing this at the kitchen table on Reed Street, looking out over our pathetic backyard into Ruby's clotheslines and the well-tended flowerbeds she coaxes along between baleful glances at the tumbled down piles along the back of our rotting garage.


In other news, I am now able to scrape half of my hair into a tiny pony tail, about the size of a child's thumb.

Also, a mosquito has bitten the soft skin on my upper arm, the white fleshy part closest to my breast. Sneaky little bugger.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Laurie,
    I have been following your posts and the rain descriptions remind me of my time in Costa Rica. I remember ironing the cloth diapers to dry them during the rainy season and the mold growing in the closets.
    We have moved into the Mulva Library and it is absolutely beautiful.
    With Corazon Aquino's death, I was wondering what is going on in the Philippines. We haven't heard much on the news here.