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UD/ Belly of the Beast
January 10, 2008 - 3:14pm



I'm absurdly early for my flight to Nashville because Mr. UD insisted on my being here way ahead. I've had some Kung Pao chicken at Ronald Reagan Airport [UD has friends who refuse to use this name], and I've connected my laptop to the outlet next to my table, but I don't seem to be Wi-Fi enabled or whatever on this little white Averatec.

One of the reasons UD's not a team player, like the team players she'll encounter in Nashville at the NCAA convention, involves her peculiar relationship to her consciousness. It's not accidental that she teaches literary modernism. She experiences her consciousness as endlessly interesting and hopped up -- it's always flashing, always on, always taking things in, squirreling around in one thought-pile, kicking up a fuss in another...

UD calls herself the Unsinkable Molly Bloom. She's a stream of consciousness girl.

Not that you don't have a consciousness. I'm sure you do, and a fine one. But like a lot of writers, UD's got a peculiarly hyperactive one -- always observing, always registering aspects of the world, trying to give them language. She observes herself; she observes others.

I'm now on board a spottily attended American Eagle flight to Nashville. This is one of those planes that's half a plane. As you look around for your seat, you feel like an Oliver Sacks patient who's had a lobe removed.

Announcement: "There's tons of extra seats in the back - stretch out and enjoy the flight."

Back to consciousness. UD doesn't claim to have a remarkably interesting one, but it's very active. You might call her high-strung. There's a certain mental relaxation you get from watching tv, drinking alcohol, attending football games, that UD doesn't seem to want. Terrible hypnosis subject, UD.

A typical writer, though. Writers are always looking around, locking away impressions. The woman at the airport lounge who looks like UD if UD makes it to seventy: her wild gray hair, her moldering blouse... This image goes somewhere. UD doesn't snap it with her digital camera; she tucks it into consciousness and lets it lie there and become part of something bigger.

...Hell - we seem to be under a tornado watch. It has suddenly gotten very dark, wet, and thundery outside my hotel window. I think I'll put off getting on the shuttle to the convention. Looks dangerous out there.


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