Of Assassins and Literary Assignations

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

I think I left a goodly number of neurons firing into a great synaptic void over the Atlantic. I could be wrong. But then that would be judging, and that would not be seemly. Nonetheless, I am certain that we returned, my husband and I, from Merry Old England a week ago now, at an ungodly hour, the deep darkness spurning the sun — not even a wink or a catcall.

I brought back with me the notes of a lovely interview with a witty and dark debut British author, Erin Kelly (do read her novel The Poison Tree), and a viral gift from the driver who swooped us up at Heathrow airport in the inevitable black Mercedes and demonstrated typical British reserve, which precludes covering one’s cough. (If, when in public, one does not acknowledge one’s bodily functions, one can pretend they do not exist.)

Our driver was as prompt in his arrival at Heathrow as was his gift, which struck us the requisite five days later; in between, he deposited us into the welcoming arms of the Royal Air Force Club on Piccadilly, where my husband is always greeted with “Good to have you with us again, Colonel” and I am always denied the sumptuous full English breakfast with fried toast, coddled eggs, kippers, sausage, bacon and stewed fruit, because I will not doff my blue jeans.

Being a good Southern child, but for the déclassé jeans, I actually like that hearty breakfast, everything except the uncooked egg whites that eddy about the kippers looking disturbingly similar to snot. But, of course, I would never be so gauche as to say that in the dining room, were I allowed in there.

Back in Fallbrook, I can wear jeans anywhere — weddings, bat mitzvahs, quinceañeras. But I’m not sure what day it is, so if there are any such events on my calendar, I’m probably missing them. I miss my synapses, too, but I’m happy to be home.

Upon our return, we were welcomed with the start of a weeklong series of author readings — to celebrate our new Fallbrook library — and with the nation’s varied reactions to the crazed shooting at a political gathering in Tucson, Arizona.

Common people rushed in to the rescue, not taking the time to poll for possible reactions and craft responding sound bites.

Our president honored the fallen and damaged and called for unity, ever a gracious statesman.

Sarah Palin, the befuddled beauty who would be queen, fumbled with such faux pas as an online target map with crosshairs on districts represented by Democrats (one of whom was the target in Tucson, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords), a suggestion that her followers “Don’t Retreat, Instead, RELOAD!” and her faulty use of the term “blood libel” in unbecoming shades of Mrs. Malaprop. Surely Palin meant to say “bloodlust.” And surely she was projecting.

The authors’ readings served as a gentle respite from the raging bowels of Palinesque unrest. (I can write about such scatological things because I am not reservedly British.)

T. Jefferson Parker distracted us from armed political discourse with a new novel about the brutal drug war across the invisible line that bears devastatingly tangible marks, The Border Lords.

Laura McNeal read from the tender pages of her novel of innocence and love and rending loss, Dark Water.

Sue Diaz wove a wonderful blend of the contexts for essays from her poignant book about her son gone to war and the stories themselves — Minefields of the Heart.

Debra and Blaze Ginsberg gave us food for thought and the gift of laughter with The Neighbors Are Watching and Episodes: My Life as I See It.

And Rae Armantrout delighted us with her poetic success and the poetry itself, in Versed and Money Shot — and she treated us to new works, yet to be published!

I think. Or perhaps it was all a magnificent dream, the result of an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato or an overdose of cold medicine.

My thanks to Charles Dickens — and the authors who write so well.

But still I wonder when my cold and jetlag will hear my soft, moaning “Uncle” and abandon me that I might pursue my recovery.

And still I wonder when Sarah Palin will hear the soft-spoken sanity around her and abandon her armed cacophony that she might pursue peace.

Although I suppose that’s judging. Yet, I find I am actually quite comfortable with that. In fact, I think I feel a wee peedy bit better.

Love, K-B

© 2011 Kit-Bacon Gressitt