Vegas, Maybe

20 May

Hoover Dam. Photo by M.

M and I went to Las Vegas last week. We spent Mother’s Day there with our fathers. (Obviously, we’ll do something motherly on Father’s Day. ) My dad goes there quite often, on business; the last time I’d been was about twenty years ago, when we combined one of his business trips with a family vacation. Then, we rode the Canyon Blaster at Circus Circus and shuffled from 112 degree heat to the cool of Caesars Palace; I thought the ladies dressed as Cleopatra were pretty neat. We hiked Red Rock Canyon at sunset and drove through Death Valley, where I thought that if we opened the car door, we’d immediately crumple or explode.

On this visit, I felt unsettled by all that excess in the middle of the desert. M and I wondered why the city had to be built so far from Lake Mead.  I found myself wondering how much longer Lake Mead has and why the casinos and hotels aren’t totally clad in solar panels. (Happily, Las Vegas City Hall is.) I spent some time hiding from hotter-than-usual-even-for-Vegas heat on a comfy chair at the Bellagio, reading Diana Abu-Jaber’s Birds of Paradise, a novel which, among other things, explores urban development in Miami in the face of climate change and worsening hurricanes. Of course, it *is* an exciting city that is “going for it,” so to speak, which is what makes it so attractive for so many people. I just wish it was “going for it” in a way that is more obviously sustainable.

Speaking of birds, my short story “Raven in a Jar” received a Special Mention in the Salem College International Literary Awards’ Reynolds Price Fiction Prize, judged by Kate Bernheimer. Yay!

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