I didn't win either night. Didn't make it to the second round. And tonight, I read with more comfort than I've felt when there were points on the line than I have since I stopped doing this in 2001. In fact, I read the same poem tonight that I read at the finals in Long Beach in 2001, then reading intentionally long so as to put myself out of the running for a nationals team. I haven't timed that poem since then. I read it tonight, with a mention to the audience beforehand that I don't memorize shit anymore. I read off the page. And I went over time and got penalized.
I don't care. I had fun. That's all this is--a glorified open mic with scorecards to guarantee ourselves an audience. Not winning doesn't mean you don't get a dude outside saying, "I really appreciated that. I'm Nigerian, and your mention of Yoruba touched me." And that's better than a 10, as far as I'm concerned.
But really, right now, I'm mostly glad about a decision I made on the way home. Two weeks ago, I bought a new car. I took my old car, Moxie Sputnik, in for a smog check before sending in the fee to renew her registration, and she didn't pass. Since I'd already gotten a quote a week or two earlier from the Downtown Oakland Toyota dealership on a Yaris, because Moxie Sputnik was old and glitchy and I didn't want to spend more fixing her than I had buying her, I drove directly to the dealership. I wrangled a good deal out of them. The only thing remaining was a name.
I've had several cars in my past. I've never named the newer ones, just the old, used cars I bought. My first car was a 1976 BMW 2002. I settled on Hattie as her name, for my favorite poet hattie gossett, just hours before she hit first one freeway wall and then another on Friday the 13th in November of 1999 when my boyfriend grabbed the wheel of the fishtailing car on 80, traveling from Ithaca, NY to Syracuse. The next car I named was Nellie, as in "Whoa, Nellie!", a 1985 BMW 538e I bought from my boss. She didn't have good shocks and vibrated like a Wahl whenever I hit the brakes. My last car before Moxie Sputnik was Inga, a 1986 Saab with low miles and a Saab story. As a present to myself, I donated her just after my birthday in 2003, deciding biking and BART were the most reliable and least expensive way to get to work.
It wasn't until I moved to Oakland and needed to drive my grandmother to dialysis three times a week that I considered buying a car. Moxie was a good car, but her time was up two weeks ago.
I've finally settled on a name for the new 3-door liftback Meteorite Metallic Toyota Yaris with a manual transmission. In honor of Ada Lovelace, whose celebratory day was yesterday and for whom I have a tattoo on my right arm, and my great-aunt Ada, whom I never met, I name this car Addie.
May we cruise the blacktop together in comfort and safety.