A MIGHTY HEART, p. 191

The TV is on CNN, of course. I did my part. Right after my two classes, I went to the school on Topaz (I used to go to a church on Lowell; now, instead of senior citizens, I am greeted by high-schoolers) and cast my vote. Hubby went through all the propositions with me over the weekend. But now, I don’t remember a thing. Not one thing. Except that I must vote NO on Proposition 4, Proposition 8, and Measure W. And also that I must vote a straight Democratic ticket.

In my 8 a.m. class, we are talking about The Kite Runner. In the 10 a.m. class, we are talking about The Swallows of Kabul. In both classes, we discuss The Five Pillars of Islam.

“Why don’t you talk about the Sixth Pillar?” a student in my 10 a.m. class inquires. “It’s about jihad; don’t you think that’s important?” I let her talk about what she understands by the word.

At home, I resume reading A Mighty Heart. Mariane already knows that her husband is dead. She has found out in the worst way imaginable.

“How do you know? How do you know?” she keeps asking John Bauman, who assisted in the search for her husband.

To which he responds: “They had a knife, and they used it in such a way there is no doubt — ”

A page later:

Randall and the others head out to find the killers. I run after them. I grab an AK-47 out of the arms of a guard and declare to Randall, “I’m going with you!”

“You can’t,” says Randall. “It’s too dangerous.”

“Fuck you! I don’t fucking care about danger!”

Randall’s eyes fill with tears again. “Mariane, please.”

I hand the guard his gun and return to my room.

Self Wishes to Comment on the 2008 Winners of the AWP Award Series

Self is at home, trying to catch a little shut-eye before her 6 p.m. class. Last night, because she took too long preparing her course materials, she ended up passing the Rubicon of midnight, and then the Rubicon of 2 a.m., and then the hell of 3:30 a.m., and then the absolute misery of 6 a.m. having had only (as far as she can calculate) only an hour’s sleep. And then she had to get up, get dressed, wash her face, comb her hair, head out into the cold and drizzly day (which is manna for her plants, though, self shouldn’t complain), and parade her tremendous eyebags to the world . . .

But anyhoo, self was able to rest on the couch for a few hours after her morning class. For some reason she kept thinking it was 5 o’clock, when it was only 4 o’clock. And she’s mighty confused at that Wolf Blitzer, who’s been standing before a map of the United States all afternoon, spouting poll results as if they were election results (“47% in Indiana for McCain, 47% for Obama, 5% undecided . . . “) To calm down (as the weather is truly awful, and self realized she left her only umbrella in the City last weekend, and she has chosen today of all days to bring her class to Stanford for a reading by Edward P. Jones and already two people have e-mailed her that they are coming down with the flu and cannot make it), self is browsing through the AWP Chronicle. Self will admit that she rarely reads the articles, preferring to go straight to the “meat and potatoes,” i.e., the Awards and Grants section at the back of each issue.

But, on the way there, she lands on a full-page ad for this year’s AWP Award Series (she didn’t apply, out of cowardice) and — Holy Jesus! — doesn’t that Donald Hall Prize-winner in Poetry look like the spitting image of Anne Heche? And the winner of the Grace Paley Prize in short fiction looks like a really young, possibly “ethnic” version of Natasha McElhone (of “Californication”), not to mention that her name — Ramola D — definitely has that je na sais quois of intangible mystery, and the winner in Creative Nonfiction looks like she still has baby fat, for gosh sakes, and just when self is ready to gnash her teeth in endless frustration, she stops dead, just stops dead, all her nerve endings arrested by this one line in the bio of Goldie Goldbloom (Now there’s a writerly name, if ever there was one!), winner of the AWP Award Series in the Novel, that says, simply:

She lives in Chicago and has eight children.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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