The Cusp of Flu

Somewhere above western Oregon in an aging Air Bombadier jet heading south to Fullerton. The skies are dove gray, powdered blue, layered in nimbus, cumulus, pockets of deep and fading distances. The rustle of today’s Oregonian belches SALE! Take an additional 25% off already low prices. Headlines proclaim the bank bailout. Aid for automakers. Walmart workers protest cuts.

Christmas songs barely audible in the Super 8 courtesy van shuttling our throng of shoe-horned aging adults to an unplanned layover. Luggage wedged between knees, against the seat, under feet, on laps, blocking the exit door. The woman on her way to Florida, first to the door, stops to remark to no one in particular, “Thank god no one had gas!”

Perhaps it’s Dayquilled fog or the fatigue of early waking to rush and wait in cattle pen antechambers sandwiched into seats too small amid the smell of anxious bodies that subdues frustration at another too small plane with knees pressed through the seat back, my own wedged in too tight by a reclining neighbor. Laptop cannot open, and it’s difficult not to wither in yesterday’s imported air like onioned exhalations, thick and rife with germs, and the ripe scent of idle, overheated bodies.

I am en route to a handful of days in the sunshine state of tinseled dreams and cocained illusions, homes cindered by wind-driven fires and hills sliding sliding sliding toward the Pacific blue. I’m headed to UC-Fullerton to teach media criticism and the skew of so-called objectivity to students indoctrinated into the Truth of inverted pyramids and balanced he-said/she-said reporting . The frenzied freeway drive through unwelcoming, mall-riddled, high-rise urban California does nothing to buoy my spirits as smog like sea smoke blots the sky.

Nov. 18, 2008

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