Friday, February 20, 2009

Navel Gazing at 73 mph

Monday was Presidents Day. Naturally, being averse to the idea of idleness, I completely expelled the information that we were off for the "holiday" and worked three hours before realizing that it was awfully quiet and emailing Gianna.

My email: subject: Stupid Question
Text: Dude, are we off today?

Gianna: subject: re: Stupid Question
Text: Yeah, so quit emailing me.

I spent the rest of the day hanging out with my sister and playing the Nintendo 64 version of Mario Kart (also known as "what I really majored in during my senior year of college). What I didn't do was pack for my trip to Oklahoma on Tuesday. Mario Kart is a cruel taskmaster. The Kart kept me out of Phi Beta Kappa, and the Kart kept me from departing at 8 am for my seven hour drive to OKC the next morning.

I was going to Oklahoma in order to sell books to two accounts--Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City proper, and Best of Books in Edmond, which is basically a suburb of OKC and recently in the news for the tornado that tore through town last week. (I'd called ahead and asked that they delay any future violent weather until after my visit.) After selling to these two stores on Wednesday, I drove to Plano, the Stepford of Dallas, spent the night, and then sold my summer season books to the large, new store that recently opened there, Legacy Books. And from Legacy I drove the 4+ hours back to Houston. Even though I drove more than 700 miles on this trip, this little three day excursion is actually a fairly easy trip in terms of road fatigue, so Gianna and I didn't travel together. Coincidentally, though, Gianna happened to be selling to the same accounts this week, just in reverse order. It's nice when you see an account just before her. I like to leave her little notes tucked into my buyer's catalogs, to be discovered when she arrives, or encourage my buyers to give her a hard time. And since my buyers are book people and therefore at least mildly deranged and sadistic, they often oblige (they are awesome).

So, I had about 16 hours worth of driving to ponder my existence while chugging along at 73 mph with the cruise control. Here are some random thoughts, observations, insights, statistics, etc.
  • Number of giant, inflatable creatures on top of buildings between Houston and Dallas, the dullest drive I make every season: 19
  • I wonder how many times the giant statue of Sam Houston, along the highway outside of Huntsville, TX, has been struck by lightning. I love ridiculously large statues randomly inserted along highways.
  • By far the coolest, most intriguing business I pass between Houston and Oklahoma City is the Oklahoma Horseshoeing Academy, South Campus. How many campuses are there?? And what sort of degrees do they offer? And don't you feel sorry for the horses used as their practice ponies?
  • After hearing this song called "Jesus Take the Wheel" on the radio, I email (while driving, which is a no-no) one of my buyers saying that I'm literally taking this advice. I learn that I need to have my tires aligned soon before regaining control of my vehicle. I also need to change the radio station.
  • Number of ways I imagined killing another driver while on this trip: 7
  • Dallas radio plays some Ryan Seacrest radio program every afternoon. This fact will join the one about the Texas Rangers being an American League team as two reasons I don't live in Dallas.
  • Why are they called "Sooners?"
  • I learned that Earth Day is also Land Grant Day in Oklahoma. I'm sharpening my stake for a symbolic property grab for this April.
  • Why do Texans feel the need to promote Texas while inside the state already? There is a whole series of Ra-Ra-Texas billboards along I-45 lauding the state. The King Ranch is bigger than the state of Rhode Island. Texas has two of the three largest universities in the US. As a Texan, I don't care. And I would think that Rhode Islanders don't care either. I mean, don't you think that they are hooting it up that they also get 2 Senators for their pint sized state and can therefore negate the second most populous state in the union by block voting against our Senators?
  • Number of times I had to rewind the audio book I was listening to (A Mad Desire to Dance by Elie Wiesel) because I was contemplating unusual roadkill: 2

Book news--I've started reading for our fall season and the fall line-up is pretty amazing. I just started the new Margaret Atwood novel, The Year of the Flood. One of the pros on my list when I was considering whether to work for Random House is that they publish Margaret Atwood. I love her. This new novel is very much like another of her speculative fiction, post-apocalyptic novels, Oryx and Crake. I'm not far into it yet, but what I have read I liked and I'll be spending the weekend reading this book.

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