Thursday, March 31, 2011

From Jonah to Mona

Normal is living and dying.
Normal is not placing yourself in a bait bucket
awaiting turn to be devoured
by a winged whale - "now taking seats B-1 thru B-30."
Great I'm B-1
(and I'm supposed to be happy with that)  seems a repeat
of high school..always missing an A by one nor there now;
I going in  -
(one of those first come first serve seating airlines) wiggling my way
down the esophagus of this monster; envisioning Jonah
being swallowed by that whale; stuck for three crummy days.
Finally I find myself settling in a F seat,
always seeking fame and a window - window yes, I like to look out on the landscape in case
this baby surfaces on uncharted territory -  scoping out the area that
my eternal soul will haunt, once lost.

I settled in along the walls of
this whales belly, iPod - Check, Phone off - Check, Water - Check.
Grandma White takes E next to me, figures out how
to buckle up, pulls out
picnic basket of homemade dills, lady fingers
and sliced apples. (why didn't I think of that)

Up this mother whale ascends - I feel elated
plug in earphones; tune in my iPod to a downloaded
podcast of Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac
await room service, in time they arrive.


"Diet Coke"
E asks for orange juice - looks at me and starts in
"I get bladder infections and can not drink coke anymore"

"Oh really?"

"Really", she says then continues, "What do you do?"

"I am a writer."

"Writer now interesting, novels? I like novels."

"No, poetry."

"Poetry, lovely.  Are you famous?"

I look straight into her dill pickle face and ask,

"You don't recognize me?"

"Well, now that you mention it" she said.

With that she went back to her ladyfingers and I to Keillor, until
this whale finally beached herself at MSP and began belching....finally
my area is purged.  I head past the gates, thinking
I should stop and take an Alka-Seltzer ( later,
I thought just get to a taxi).

"Taxi Mam?"

"Embassy Suites, St Paul"

"Yes, Mam"

Once over the river and into St Paul I suddenly start feeling the
aire of the 30's, Italian mafia, U of M, St Paul's Cathedral
and The Fitzgerald..the real reason
I am the Embassy
I check in, "Are you here on business or seeing family?"

"A bit of both" I said. "I looking to meet up with an area writer to collaborate on a book."

"Oh, that's nice.  Your in room 824 take the elevator just to the right"

I headed up to my room thinking, he did not seem to impressed.
Oh well, I had my plan, check out  the Fitzgerald to see if Keillor
was hanging around or at least find a frequented coffee shop
maybe drink out of the same cup he did. 

Finally I get loose of bags and books and head out to the street move towards the famous landmark between Wabasha and Cedar sucked in the air and the moment.  Did not want to appear like a Keillor groupie so I pretended that I still lived in the area though I had been gone for a few decades and even when I lived here farm girls like me did not go to the city often. 

I took my time strolled through the shops, picked up some postcards at the Trattoria De Vinci, one of  Mona Lisa and one of The Last Supper, but figured Keillor would probably not be eating there so I kept my eye out for a coffee shop and for red shoes hugging the sidewalk.  Then with my iPhone camera ready I settled into a cafe not far from the Fitzgerald and feasted on some potato cheese soup and a Reuben sandwich.  I finally muster up enough nerve to ask the waitress if she had ever seen Garrison Keillor come in here. 

"I don't know him, but let me ask the cook."

I said, "No, no don't worry about it." 

"Are you sure? It's no problem."

"No it's OK, really."  I figured the cook probably did not know him either.

It was starting to get dark and I thought well so much for my publishing deal and what was worse I could not even think something up to pen highlighting my gamble that did not payoff.  So I headed back to my hotel room thinking about the events of the day, about Jonah and his stay in the belly of the whale.  For three days Jonah was in there and now he is famous being in print for thousands of years.  I called down to the front desk and request two more nights stay, what the hell I thought - it worked for Jonah.

Pulled out Mona Lisa and addressed her to my sister in Idaho.

copyrighted 2011
Posted for Magpie Tales

Note: this was one I started after my last plane trip in January ...and thought I would finish....bkm


  1. Oh, how I loved this Magpie! I lived in Minneapolis for 24 years ... I've been a part of Garrison Keillor's audience many times. Those extra two nights should do it for you.

  2. Thanks Helen...I was raised in listening to Keillor recite poetry...then you understand this culture...and Wisconsin cheese

  3. You betcha! I loved this return to Minnesota. I lived there 30 years raising my two kids.

    Who knew?

    Loved the analogy and humor.

  4. Wow my gnome knows maybe we are related...bkm

  5. I loved this Magpie. Did GK ever turn up?

  6. Superb. A joy to read and mull over long after the reading.

  7. Well I'm not from Minnesota, but I loved your story. I bet she was embarrassed she didn't recognize such a great poet. ( nice magpie) I have been so busy with work lately I haven't hard time to do much writing or visiting, but glad I stopped by here. nice write.


  8. Glad to learn that Garrison still has an interested audience. Well written...

  9. ha. this was a delight to read bk...

  10. I read right along with this on my last business trip to St. Paul in '08 -- your description of latter day plane travel pitch-perfect, squeezing down the plane's esophageal to be wedged in one seat of bowel ... And the parallel with Jonah is perfect when it comes to answering the Call, following your bliss while trying to make a buck off this trade in water and fire. At least you landed in St. Paul, which is a far prettier locale than some of the airport hotels I've been belched into. Hotel views are strange vantages on a city -- so antiseptic, apart from the very Ninevahs they inhabit. And you can't scream the truth of God very well from their thick-paned glass. But such visits do provide a unique chance to wallow in the writing. (I have 30 or so convention poems, written from the vantage of travel and hotels like you describe here.) Go deep, go far, enjoy the view, think of loved ones far elsewhere: there's a certain independent thrill amid the sadness of distance. Luckily for you that whale has a return-trip seat. - Brendan

  11. This was so pleasant to read. I loved it, and wish you would have met Keillor.

    (I read your previous post and now know your husband is having some health issues. It sounds like all will go well. Blessings to you.)

  12. I couldn't stop reading...excellent! You have the plane experince nailed perfectly.

  13. Wonderful write, B. Your last line is a nice wrap. Keillor's the best.

  14. beautiful words...

    love the ending line.

  15. 2:15 a.m. and after reading this greater-than-above-average magpie I will turn in, as this one seems perfect to dream on. You and Helen both from MN is so fun to know. It is a state dear to my heart as my grandparents immigrated from Finland and settled in Duluth, where my birth father (who did not raise me) lived and died. My half-brothers live in Duluth and Mankato. One niece has made Minneapolis her home.

    Saw Keillor and his gospel group at the Oregon State Fair one year for our anniversary. We were in the front row, which was simply wonderful!

    Your analogy of the plane being a whale is one of my favorite things I never thought of until I read it!

  16. A Mona Lisa postcard? Crafty way to link in to this week's Magpie!

  17. I feel as if I journeyed home with you Bkm!....So glad you finished this made a perfect Magpie! :-)

  18. What a wonderful read! It sucked me in and I was sad when it ended. "don't you recognize me?" lol - that was great.

    love the new blog look, btw :)