bb does Spring Semester of Grad School (part 1)

Top 40 Things from the First Half of the Spring Semester

  1. Moving to Dover. The house is a beautiful old cavern with huge windows covered in plastic to keep out the cold. My room is at the front and my headboard is a boarded up brick fireplace. I make things while looking out the window and listening to music. I can walk to two coffee shops and a few bars. The river goes through the center of town, and there is a bus I can take to school. A lumpy mill town, teaming with hipsters.
  2. Very cold rain.
  3. There is a night when Theo and Sam and I go out and wander around Portsmouth. It is cold and I have on my black puffy. We see a bad band, and then go to another bar, and then to Gilly’s where we eat fries at the back.
  4. Petsitting in Sanbornton for a week. 1 chinook, 2 cross breeds, 1 spunky cat, multiple chickens.
  5. Cancelled plans.
  6. Writing on the typewriter to Ugly Cassanova.
  7. Writing to you.
  8. Writing for me.
  9. Getting picked up by the guys in the truck while walking on the side of the dirt road
  10. Driver gives me his number and texts me a lot about the road conditions
  11. Sam and I running around the property and exploring the workshop near midnight, the chinook jumps in the boat and becomes captain of the sinking ship
  12. Tilton Diner, waitress tries to serenade me but I don’t notice and she gets offended, throws two tootsie rolls at me and also gets mad at Sam for talking about her
  13. Henna hands
  14. Telling the story of my bike trip at the Book and Bar. How it takes two beers and a cigarette to get it out of me. Hello world, I am here, speaking. I like the sound of my own voice when it is this loud.
  15. Chaos moon, full moon.
  16. Flirting.
  17. Hiding in a dead car at the side of the bypass, crying
  18. Riding to the car garage with the tow truck guy who’s ringtone was David Archuleta’s “Save the Day”
  19. FINALLY, I get my period.
  20. I learn how to take the bus to school. The first time I blow past the driver and everyone stares, then I realize I’m supposed to show him my student ID and so I rush back to the front and flash it. Back to my seat, headphones on and shrugging my coat off.
  21. Mom, Ana and I go to the Peabody Essex Museum. Georgia O’Keefe’s fashion and her art is on display. We love it and Ana takes a photo of every single piece of art in the museum 😀 We watch a guy painting a buffalo burger and I ask him questions while Ana gets embarrassed and mom films us with her phone from across the room.
  22. Weekend passes. Homework in a coffee shop.
  23. Learning my car will cost 2,000 to fix.
  24. A call two days later. My car will cost 3,500 to fix.
  25. More crying by the pond in Durham.
  26. Transferring money into my checking account. Phone calls and confirmations. Waiting.
  27. Giant Nor’easter hits and we lose power for the morning. School’s cancelled and the world stops.
  28. Looking for new cars online.
  29. Setting parameters and casting spells. Money is sexually attracted to me. I love money.
  30. Buying a new car at the Honda dealership where they have a used Fit that used to be owned by the woman who owns the Green Elephant in Portsmouth. I sense good karma or something like that. There is also a bulldog name Charley who I can pet while the saleslady figures out where I can finance my purchase. Charley’s owner tells me she is known for frog legs and being a clown.
  31. First thing I do is drive to the ocean and draw, get out of the car and walk along the shore. The waves are massive and the sea is greener than the sky which is a pale gray flecked with lighter gray clouds.
  32. Forty things is hard. Maybe twenty is sufficient.
  33. Petsitting in Northwood. Pepper the cat and Pepper the dog are battling and I think the dog is winning because she’s take Pepper the cat’s couch cushion and Pepper the cat is giving her an evil glare from the floor.
  34. Reading Lynda Barry.
  35. Reading Jeanette Winterson.
  36. Reading Alison Bechdel.
  37. Reading Annie Dillard.
  38. Carrying around a tiny notebook to document images from the day while the day is happening.
  39. Visiting a cafe in Trashua and trying to find the abandoned town while listening to emo rap. Sam and I see so many ghosts on the road but they’ve moved the town before we can find it. We turn back home.
  40. Lunch with Dad in Laconia. Cafe table filled with car purchasing documents. Thinking how lucky I am to have someone to help sift through them 🙂



“You set before me a space uncluttered by association. It might be a void or it might be a release. Certainly I want to take the risk.”

~Jeanette Winterson

“The ravings of a madwoman.” That is an insult unless you are like me and aspire to be regarded as mad….not mad in the unstable and manic way, but mad for believing dreams can become real. Mad for seeking out all the possible realities, for creating disturbance and watching the particles settle again. Everyone is just the right shape for defiance.

Between Tucson and Sonoita

Earlier in this series of posts, I mentioned meeting the landscape photographer who led me to Las Cienegas Conservation Area. These are his photos. This is his website.



bb’s First Bike Tour: Day Eight

The final day! I wake up at 5am to drive back to my Tucson. The drive is shorter although it still rings in at 4 hours with rush hour traffic in Phoenix. I return the F150 25 hours after renting it, with 650 more miles on the odometer. I am famished and hole up for a few hours in a coffee shop where I get some writing done. A lot of stories are bumping around after twelve hours of driving. I write a bit, and get caffeinated, chat with the barista about cactus alcohol.

I start feeling too smelly to be in town, let alone at a bougie coffee place. Eventually I have to bring my bike back to the shop where they’ll pack it and ship it back to New Hampshire, but I have a few hours of daylight left. There’s one more road on my mind: Gate’s Pass.

The locals have recommended it and I’ve been itching to move a little bit more, to see one more epic view before I leave. I head out of town again, pedaling uphill gradually at first, then steeper and steeper. Cacti rise up like gatekeepers of the heat. I stop at a wildlife museum where the attendant tells me to keep going. Three more miles.

Up and up until I can’t go up any more, and suddenly the road kinks in half, flanked by two mountains. This is it! I know it is, and I’m walking my bike now because it’s so steep but I don’t care. I’m pep talking to myself about how lucky I am to be here and how strong my legs are for getting here and how it’s only a little bit further. Chest heaving and tights burning again. I make it to the top and stop talking. At the pass you can look away from Tucson to the west, toward L.A. or whatever’s out there: a whole bunch more sand and javelinas and plants built to defend themselves from foreign objects.

The way down is breezy, sweat cooling me, then drying. Down down into town and laughing, so happy to have escaped the cold east just for a bit, to have one last day of freedom here.

Curious how all this touring business got started? Read from the beginning.

bb’s First Bike Tour: Day Seven

I arrive at the car dealership ready to pack my bike into a compact car like the one I reserved the previous night online. It’s a three hour drive to Sedona from Tucson and I should be able to fit my bike in the back with the seats down, just like I do at home. I pull up in the enterprise lot and see two compact cars and one big truck. The clerk flirts with me, trying to get me to take the truck, a shiny white F150. “It’s going to guzzle gas.” I am pretty bad at flirting back, but I smile anyways and we walk over to the little sedans. I wheel my bike over to it and open up the back seat of the first one.

“Do the seats fold down?”


“What about in that one?” I point to the other sedan.

He checks inside the back. “Nope.”

“I guess I’ll take the truck.”


With a full cab, my bike (now named Negu after the fluffy gray cat from my Air BnB) can fit inside and  throw my panniers in the back. I planned to have time to ride the red dirt that Sedona’s known for but I get horribly lost somewhere in Cococino National Forest.

It’s a good thing I have the truck because I accidentally turn down a closed dirt road and end up descending into a canyon. I drive in a circle, up and over craggy mountains covered in dark pine trees, back down, through a town where the only thing the gas stations sells besides gas is beer. Eight hours pass in stunning monotony despite the dramatic landscape. My eyes feel tired from moving so quickly through everything. I miss my bike, my back aches, driving is lonely, and the cost of gas guzzling is stressing me out!

I fly by the red rock formations of Sedona at dusk as I pull into town, and resolve to return to Tucson early the next morning after spending the night here. Back to the land of cacti, friendly hipsters, and bikes!

What to do on the final day of the tour??

bb’s First Bike Tour: Day Six

In the morning, my host points out to me that my bike has a flat tire. It’s a good thing I have people around who notice things like this! I have no technical knowledge of the mechanics of anything (bikes included), but I often have an intuitive sense about how machines come apart and fit back together.

I set about to yanking out the leaky tube which I discover has a very small puncture. Then edging in the new tube underneath the tire, squishing everything back into place, and pumping it up. I start pumping madly with my mini road pump. It’s really an emergency thing, not meant for this. At this rate I could be here pumping the rest of the day. Thankfully, my host comes out and offers me a bigger pump.

I like the way everything here is surrounded by mountains. It feels safe. Even when you’re in the matrix of city streets, you can see the craggy brown silhouettes rising into the blue sky. Very few buildings are more than two stories high, and the city sprawls out over 200 square miles. It feels like a small town until I try and bike out of it.

Now that my bike has two functional tires again, I head out for Sabino Canyon, the National Park that my hosts recommended I explore it’s a 13 mile ride there, and I make the mistake of trusting Google maps blindly. It routes me on a “bike friendly” road called Speedway. Unfortunately the thing lived up to it’s name and I am pushed nearly onto the sidewalk as trucks whizz by me. Luckily, my friend recommended some metal music to me before I left New Hampshire and that’s the only playlist that will get me through this shitty traffic situation.

Finally Google releases me from the dreaded speed road, and I’m off ascending a wide curving road, following signs toward the Canyon. I see a Snowbird in front of me and keep pace with him.

Of course at the Canyon, I lose my phone on a bench by the men’s bathroom and some nice ladies pick it up and return it to me when they see me looking for it. The Canyon is completely dry. The land is in a draught which explains the lack of water EVERYWHERE. Where the trails here are often impassable due to high water flow, they are now mere washes, sandy beds where javelinas travel in packs at night.

At this point I’m getting tired of my own inner monologue. This is a very strange thing for an introvert who often tries to escape social interaction nearly all the time. I wonder what happens when I rest in this discomfort a little longer.

I rest in it until dark, then give myself over. I text the boy and he picks me up so we can eat Mexican food and visit some bars together. The bars here are weird because you can pick out a can or bottle from a huge case or get something on tap. I don’t understand the difference because if you choose something from the case, you bring it to the bartender and he pours it into a glass for you.

We get drunk, I fall in love a little bit like I am apt to do. Driving through the night on roads criss-crossing the city, Arianna Grande on the radio, crooning. We end up at a place called the Shelter, an old fallout place that’s nearly empty. The room with the pool table is nearly empty and they play Jack White, exclusively.

“What song is this?”

“I don’t know. Do you?”


Only when you’re smitten by alcohol and dreams is a conversation like this revolutionary. I smile and put my arm around him. I’ve made a new friend.

Tomorrow I’m out of Tucson and off to see the dirty trails and red rock of Sedona 😀


bb’s First Bike Tour: Day Five

I wake up and decide it is a day for resting and writing. I spend the morning with my hosts who offer me pancakes and some advice about where to go. They recommend a place called Sabino Canyon on the outskirts of the city. It’s a rare place because the landscape includes cacti AND water. Usually the desert “trees” stay far away from the liquid of life. I’ll go there tomorrow.

For now, to the coffee shop, and biking is the only way to arrive in style. I remember Epic Cafe which I visited on my second day in the city, a homey local place where students go to study, date other students, and a bunch of old guys show up to shoot the breeze with each other. I snag a table by the windows and start typing, staring at people, typing, staring into space, drinking my coffee, and typing some more. Soon the whole afternoon passes.

I pedal back to my new home which is 30 minutes east. When I get home I get a tour of the composing toilet and outdoor shower, and then try to catch a glimpse of the tortoise under it’s dirt mound. I get down on my knees and look into a hole at the side of the mound, but all I can see is darkness. It’s too far submerged!

Next: Fixing a flat and the road to Sabino