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2007-09-17 - 6:53 p.m.

My dad left this voicemail the other day. I was set to leave town and visit them for the weekend. This is very close to being verbatim:

"Hey there. Itís Dad. Itís about three oh seven Eastern Daylight Time here in Rawlings. Just checking in to see what your E.T.A. was for today. Iím gonna go out and mess around in the woods here for a little while. We had a heck of a big storm come through at 1 a.m. this morning and another one come through at 1 p.m. The one in the morning, in the middle of the night, was the worst one. Just a lot of rain this afternoon, but a lot of thunder and lightning in the middle of the night. Anyway, Iíll have my cell phone with me when Iím out in the woods, if you need to call, or donít call unless you feel like you need to. Anyway, Iíll figure on seeing you some time today. Bye bye."

Been saying hello to a lot of people up here, stopping by their offices and introducing myself. Helps to have connections and all that. Today, I stopped by a poet's office. He's a big, fit guy, who was wearing a button-down shirt and khaki shorts and Teva sandals, even though it was legitimately cold this morning. He looks like he rides his bike and lifts weights. Very nice guy who seemed genuinely interested in my story and how I got there and what I write. Every time I'd mention a writer I'm teaching or a book that I like, he'd go to this shelf because he'd have that writer's better novel or an anthology of essays about just that writer. He's read everything and has seemingly published scholarly stuff on half of it. Anyway, I said something about how writers wish more people would read their work, and he turned to his bookshelf for probably the tenth time and picked out an anthology of essays about Kurt Vonnegut. Turns out he befriended Vonnegut and had written a critical essay about him about three years ago. He sent it to him and Vonnegut read it. He liked the essay and the last thing the professor said about him was that "I'd sent him two copies before he fell. So I don't know if he ever got them."

That's pretty neat. I met the guys from Spoon, so that was pretty cool. I shook hands with Richard Ford and asked him if he'd ever lived on the Jersey Shore (answer: no, but he has good friends who do), and was about ten feet from George W. Bush at a press conference. That's about it. That sounds like something that would run in McSweeney's: A List of Famous People I've Never Met. I don't know if I can be witty and pithy all the time. It sounds like it would be draining. I bet the people who edit that magazine drink cold, day-old instant coffee. That sounds really bad. That should be a drink at cool bars, but with Miller High Life in place of the Folgers.

All right. I'm trying to finish a chapter. It's about being ten and trying to do manly things. There are assault rifles and pigs involved.

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