March 20-29

In St. Louis. Very pretty but chilly day. Not much to see in St. Louis except the Archway and the few riverboat casinos. Fundraising was, once again, very successful in the few days I spent in the area. I prepared for my workshop in Sedalia, which is in the very heart of Missouri. I planned on taking the Amtrak to Sedalia but I learned, while waiting in the ticket line, that the train had smacked into a big rig on its way back from Kansas City. So, rather than wait on another train, I took a rental car from St. Louis to Sedalia. I drove along historic I-50 west to my destination in about 3.5 hours. I was welcomed into a town with a population of about 2000. My big surprise was finding the workshop was to be held in one of the best cyber cafés I've ever been to. The Java Hut in Sedalia had T1 lines and 8 high-end computers available for only $5 an hour. In addition, they served some of the best coffee drinks and food anywhere. The owners are super customer oriented and very friendly to me and have let me use their high-end connection as long as I need while in town. I was also given a nice warm bed in a house around the corner. People here are very friendly and have been great to me and I've felt very comfortable here. The community residents that I've met have been very excited about the cinepoetry workshop and the way I create work on my laptop. Kids to seniors come up to me all of the time and ask questions about how to make a cinepoem and I'm all too happy to show them. I was so excited about the resources here that I dumped my entire collection of cinepoems (50 from the NPA archive) into the Java Hut server. Now anyone in the Midwest will be able to come here and see some of the best works in the genre. I've spent my free time driving around to Harry S. Truman Dam, the Lake of the Ozarks and Osage Beach. I drove up to Kansas City and was taken out to lunch by Debra Diblasi, a teacher, writer and winner at Cannes a few years ago. We shared ideas and she may write an article on the tour and the genre. It is very energizing to come across people in different places who are so interested in what I'm doing and the cinepoetry genre. Today, I went to Jefferson City with The Missouri Writers Guild people to meet the Governor who was giving them a special proclamation right there in his office. The Guild was being honored for its good work and I was allowed to go and participate in the festivities. Nice guy that Governor Bob Holden. I didn't expect to visit the Gov. nor see the very famous murals by the artist Thomas Hart Benton located in the Lounge room in the Capitol but it turned out to be a fun, interesting time and this was the closest I've ever been to any governor. In all honesty, I had the most fun taking with the good people of Sedalia, Priscilla and Sean McCabe opened their house and hearts to me and treated me like royalty. Priscilla is an extremely interesting person who once served as the first female MP (Military Police) officer down in San Diego. She not only taught me a little sign language, she also taught me how to rip two fingers apart. Talk about SIGN LANGUAGE! Sean allowed me to beat him at several games of chess and he also took me for a bike ride on the Katy Trail, which I learned, is over 200 miles long from end to end. We visited the Missouri State Fairgrounds and then had a very nice Chinese lunch at a restaurant owned by Spanish-speaking Chinese. Imagine! Afterwards, Priscilla took me to a Massage parlor and I was treated to a two-person, full-body oil massage with Enya playing in the background. It was a GREAT massage but I could never figure out what the two ladies where snickering at when I turned over to lie on my belly?! Fortunately, I didn't hear any out-and-out belly laughs. Again, thank you to Priscilla, Sean (and their pets Sassy, Penny and Beau) for making me feel so welcome and so comfortable during my stay. I miss them all already. When I wasn't driving around or at the house, I usually ended up at the JAVA HUT CYBER CAFE. In my opinion, the Java Hut is one of the best places ANYWHERE to grab a Mocha, Omelets-Croissant sandwich and access the Internet via their T1 line. Connection costs are only $5 an hour!!! The service is fantastic, the computers run great and the food is excellent. But my favorite thing about the "Hut" are the owners and the staff which are comprised of Perry Byerly, Roger and Mary VanWagner and their sweet children. Conversations with them always made me forget just how poorly my stocks are doing on E-Trade. If you ever, ever visit Missouri, be sure to stop at the JAVA HUT for all of the reasons above PLUS it now has the Midwest's ONLY and LARGEST collection of Cin(E)-Poems on their server. The Hut can consider itself one of the most unique places anywhere in the country to get coffee, computers, conversation and Cin(E)-Poetry!

March 30-31, 2001

I was offered the chance to visit Versailles, Missouri. Versailles here is pronounced (Ver-sales). When I expressed my reluctance to call it that, I was informed that my desire to call it (Verr-sigh) was a good way to start a fight with some of the townsfolk. Not wanting to cause a ruckus, I happily walked around, ate lunch and enjoyed visiting Ver-sales. Ver-sales is a neat little place that, in no way shape or form, reminds me of Verr-sigh. I think someone back in California tried to explain the difference to me and I see it all CLEARLY now. Ver-sales and Verr-sigh are pronounced very differently and that's OK! My peevishness has evaporated, I reckon! Afterwards, I conducted my workshop at the Java Hut. Later, I met a few people at a local restaurant and drank $1 margaritas, which was great except it took about 30 minutes if you wanted another one. I said my goodbyes to everyone and people seemed to appreciate what I was bringing to them. I enjoyed the company of everyone I met in Sedalia, especially Priscilla, her son Sean, Roger, Perry and Marian. I learned quite a bit about myself and about people here in the Midwest. I never met so many genuine, good-hearted people in one place. My hope is to come through again to see how everyone is doing and if anyone is making cinepoems anywhere in town.

APRIL 1-2, 2001

Priscilla sent me on my way after making a lovely breakfast of eggs, bacon and grits. The drive back to St. Louis was easy and I learned I had about a two hour layover after finding out the morning train was sold out. So I spent time checking out famous Lacledes Landing known for bars, restaurants and other entertainment. I caught the afternoon Amtrak to Philly via Chicago. I sat next to a very interesting young woman named Rachel who, I learned, is an environmental activist on Spring Break. She was born in Missouri but had already traveled to Chiapas, Mexico to hang with the rebels and to India where she lived for 6 months on a student exchange program. We shared many stories and she was excited to see her boyfriend in Knippa Knee, Indiana as she was bringing back a bridal bouquet from a wedding she had just attended. They may get married in a cave someday. I think I'm beginning to enjoy traveling by train most since the seats are larger and there is more room to spread out than on a plane. Plus, trains have electrical outlets so I go work easily and comfortably on a number of projects. Of course, I'm seeing sites outside the window for the first time, which is a nice experience. I thought that it would be kind of neat to live on a train for a year and visit different cities every other day or so and check out the people. Surprisingly, my wireless modem works when in motion so it is conceivable I could do work while on a train going from one destination to another. I think I'll look into it as I pass through Indiana and now Pittsburgh. Soon to arrive in Philadelphia where I'll visit Washington D.C, Princeton, my friend Belinda and of course Atlantic City for a little pre-tax deadline hoop-dee-doo.