1. italo svevo’s Confessions of Zeno
2. hartley goodweather’s DreadfulWater Shows Up
3. barry crimmins’s Never Shake Hands with a War Criminal
4. luis alberto urrea’s By the Lake of Sleeping Children
5. wally lamb’s Couldn’t Keep it to Myself
6. jason deparle’s American Dream: 3 Women, 10 Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare
7. donovan webster’s The Burma Road
8. jonathan shay’s Achilles in Vietnam
9. roger bonair-agard, stephen colman, guy lecharles gonzalez, alix olson and lynne procope’s Burning Down the House
10. jonathan lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude
so my trip to sarasota (fla) to visit my father after 10 years of not seeing him. yeah. all in all a good trip. he picked me up from the tampa airport, and since i hadn’t seen him in so long, i was really worried that i’d walk right by him. and guess what? i would have had he not said my name. the years have shortened him! he used to be 5’11 or so and now – my height. 5’7. and his eye disease – the same one onassis had – changed the shape of his face a bit, although as soon as i really looked at him he was my father the way i remembered him. i stayed at his house, which is a very nice 2 bedroom condo. nice grounds, nice pool. he is the president of the tenant’s association, so he screens potential applicants – you can rent or buy a place – i think he’s stacked the deck with attractive younger people – especially women –
some things never change, i guess, even when you’re 73. we went out to chili’s for a quick dinner and then came back and talked the night away. i wanted to know more about the history of my family and the relationships that formed my childhood. he had plenty of stories. he was always a good storyteller. it’s quite amazing how many names he remembers from the past and instances that barely made a blip on my radar screen. he kept asking if i remembered this or that and i had to say no to a fair amount of them. my memory has these blank spaces and doesn’t become a solid bunch of recollections until year 11 for me. anyhow, we had a good talk, ate chocolate ice cream and cookies and called it a night at around 1:30am. i got into bed to read. i put my headphones on – i hadn’t listened to any music all night and that’s a rare thing – the orisha’s were calling me – and i settled into luis alberto urrea’s 2nd book about life in tijuana. when out of the corner of my eye i sense movement. now i know florida is big on insects. BIG insects, so i thought it was a june bug or some other obnoxious flying, walking, creepy thing. nope. i was wrong. it was a gi-normous brown fuzzy tarantula looking spider. i don’t remember breathing. just slipping out of bed, tip-toeing to where my shoes were, creeping like a ninja to where it was and whacking the shit out of it with the shoe. my NEW shoe. well, i hadn’t anticipated the guts of the thing to be as...substantial as they were. i just ruined my father’s beige carpet. shit. i slipped out of the room – thankfully he seemed to be asleep – went into the kitchen and found (what luck) and canister of resolve carpet cleaner. spider guts obliterated from said carpet. whew! saturday we were having brunch at a great place (i was assured) called The Boathouse at the Hiatt hotel with my cousin Mark. really lovely. good food too. Mark never showed. asshole. i haven’t seen the man in a zillion years – probably since his bar mitzvah - he’s 50 now -. then i got to drive the camaro over to Longboat Key which is where all the people with money (and there are A LOT of those) hang out. then out to Siesta Key which is where all the artist’s hang out. which Key did i like better? you don’t even have to ask. Siesta is a beautiful little hamlet. walked on the beach awhile – dad stayed near the bar – he doesn’t drink anymore though – he just feels more comfortable there i guess. dinner was at a fancy italian restaurant – cafe baci, i think. nice place. more talk. no more spiders. back to tampa airport sunday for my 12:30pm flight home. next time around, he’s going to come here and visit.
well, i guess that’s it. tomorrow is the orchid show at the Botannical Gardens.