5cense 585> Homecoming (Singapore > Malaysia > Hawaii > California) in times of war (1991)

[July 3—Rome
Dear Inurnet, we walked to Castel Gandogolfo along Appia Antica this past weekend, otherwise nothing else to write about, we'll cover that when we roam the Celio rione, where Appia Antica starts. So we'll carry on w/ journal transcribing, picking up from where we left off in Malaysia, January 1991 as the gulf war was breaking out + Ulysses loses steam + bids a hastey retreat home before reaching the Himalayas. At that point we ended 1 journal (red) + started a new green 1

photo of 1991 journal taken from where i sit writing this in 2018

+ here's a scan of the opening page:

[cont from above... huge Cro-Magnon with a majestic mane of dreadlocks, ethnic traveller vest, ring in] his nose, intricate tattoos all over his arms, big Maori bone necklace, sweat shorts + big black oi oi boots. He's been bumming around the world for 3 years—his self-proclaimed goal is to take massive amounts of drugs + party in different cultures around the world. We got into Singapore, past the sprawl of neat + orderly apartment complexes. Then thru immigration... you can bet that i distanced myself from the tribal Kiwi at this point + checked my bag to make sure no one stashed anything. Signs everywhere warned "death for drug smuggling". Immigrations officer sees my US passport + asked if i had been drafted. I said no, but left out the bit about how i never even registered in the first place. Not sure why he would care anyway. Met a funny man that said he had a place to stay... Singapore has a "crash pad" network, fly by night places where people throw mattresses on their floor + charge a few bucks. Highly illegal but there is no other option for budget travellers, hotels are $40 at minimum. He already had 2 clients in his car, some preppy couple that took one look at the tribal Kiwi + I + said they didn't want to share their ride w/ us. Well fuck u too. So A + I went to "Chinatown" which is kind of a funny name considering Singapore is 80% Chinese. To some high-rise that looked more like an office building. Took the elevator up to some apartment chocked full of makeshift bunk beds. Seems everyone here are refugees of some sort, laundry hanging everywhere, whole families squatting on the floor eating crackers + sardines out of cans. We were greeted by 2 belligerent men who seemed stressed out, yelling at the tout who brought us. They were Arabs that obviously didn't like the look of us. I signed the book + the 2 names above me were from Iran. By this time it was past 11 + A + I went out to get fish ball soup at some food court. The guy was yelling/talking at us, the usual shit, "how about Iraq?" What are you supposed to say? "Do you like Saddam Hussein?" Then he told us that the U.S. had launched the first bomb an hour ago. He seemed half-crazed so we took it with a grain of salt until we saw some TVs showing the news. Sure enough, we were at war. And here i was just bumming around the world. What was i doing here? At an an illegal flophouse for middle-eastern refugees working in Singapore. We went back + hung out on the roof w/ this other guy, G, from Oz. Stayed up until 1 a.m. staring at the city lights below, having depressing conversations about the war. Then too our bunk bed next to the 2 Iranians.

Woke up + listened to the BBC broadcast in silence—the U.S. had bombed the hell out of Bagdad, supposedly to disable missile sites targeted at Israel + destroy chemical weapons factories. We went downtown to see if this place was for real. Took the tube, "MRT"—very modern, spic + span + efficient. Downtown is basically a massive complex of malls, hard to even get out on the street. Absolutely no bearing to the "natural" world. Went to the zoo, which was okay as far as zoos go. Stared at the orangutans for hours. Mesmerizing, but also sad as hell having just seen the free ones in Bukit Lawang. These ones looked bored, acting basically how i would act if you put me in a cage on display. Went back into town + got pizza + A + G were going apeshit buying gadgets they said you couldn't get elsewhere for this cheap, electronics, cameras, binoculars, etc. To me the prices seemed the same as the U.S. But it was fun hanging like hobos in these spotless places, A the tribal Kiwi w/ dreads + tattoos, etc. G looking like a used car salesman, greasy hair + boxer shorts (w/ hearts on them) hanging past his ripped shorts, surprised we didn't get fined by the fashion police. $500 fine for littering, smoking or spitting, $1000 fine for not flushing a toilet or jay walking, etc. The land of laws. Some good, some bad. Sure, it's clean + efficient cuz of all the driving restrictions, 3 million people + 1 million cars. Everybody has a job, if you don't they create one for you, minimum $800/week. All of this at the expense of freedom of lifestyle. It's like group capitalism, all in it together. A left for the airport, to go back to NZ to see his family he hasn't seen in 3 years. Boy are they going to be shocked! G bought a plane ticket that included 1 night at some ritzy hotel so i went to hang out w/ him there, pretty posh, even a telephone in the bathroom. Watched CNN + then ironically a hideous American TV drama about Vietnam. Haven't learned from our mistakes, at it again. Then we went + got clay pot beancurd, talking the while about politics, economics, life, death + the absurdity of it all. G's off to L.A. tomorrow to relive "On the Road" and "Fear + Loathing in Las Vegas." I returned to my refugee camp where the new tenants in my room are a shell-shocked Taiwanese family, which beats the angry Iranians. There's 2 geckos on the fluorescent lights that are fucking + have been at it quite a while. He's biting her neck + jerking in spasms, doesn't look like they're having much fun. [followed by glued-in tickets + postcards of city scenes, Hindu Art,etc.]

our camraw was messed up so most of the pics from this trip didn't come out

Jan, 18 [1991]
Tubed it to Raffles then to the Marina then back under to Central City. Modern buildings + malls everywhere, 1 continuous complex of escalators, marble, metal, mirrors, all flat + clean, perfect angles. Hard to get out on the actual street, except in "Little India," then suddenly bombarded by smells—spices, flowers, curry + incense. Cheesy pop music blaring from every shop, everything bright + colorful + gaudy, tacky Hindu temples, every square inch covered w/ animated scenes of Shiva, Ganesh, bulls, buxom goddesses, etc. Chowed in a southern Indian joint, superb, metal plates piled w/ 9 different dishes + metal bowls w/ rices, chutneys, roti, etc. Clean nicely dressed Indians shoving food into their mouths w/ their hands (right, the left they leave under the table, and everyone washes their hands before + after). Then strong Indian coffee that you pour as high as possible w/out splashing, then pour back + forth from cup to bowl to cool down. Some did this up to a dozen times. Then buzzing w/ coffee i went to the Albert Complex + looked around in high tech shops + watched a Chinese puppet show + street opera. Very tacky + (to me) bordering on sarcastic, the singing incredibly loud + out of key (on purpose) accompanied by cymbal crashes + tinny keyboards. The props were intricate + colorful. Spent the whole afternoon just riding the tube + getting off at random spots. Now i sit on my rooftop haven in Chinatown. On the next roof over a guy is wielding a giant spear while another guy is kicking a bag. [various stamps of colorful fishes from the middle east + Africa]

Jan. 19
Atop Mt Faber w/ a cloud of impending doom about to unleash torrents of rain but i'm safe here under a little shelter. My great view of the city is now shrouded in gray. Woke up w/ the intention of going  to Tioman, but listening to the radio there were all these reports of riots + hostilities towards American in Muslim countries, including Malaysia. Weird enough here, radios blaring from every shop, groups of men reading headlines, seems to be on everyone's mind. Change money (all the money-changers are Muslim here) + the guy slams the money down on the counter, glaring at me. I don't think i'd feel comfortable waiting 9 more days in Malaysia, just for the Thaipusan festival. So I went to the train station to see about a train—takes 2 days, switching trains 3 times. WHOA! A tremendous lightning bolt struck the hill i sit upon. The loudest lightning I've ever heard, scared the shit out of me. There goes another! You know it's bad when there's no delay between the flash + the sound, the deafening crackle rippling across the sky. Anyways, the train is $120 bucks at cheapest, 2nd class no air-con. I checked airlines, Pakistan air for $200. The only problem is i have to wait until monday for the Thai embassy to open. So i took the 143 to the "World Trade Center," saw some dumb Guinness book of world records exhibit. Then took the cable car over to Sentosa island which was intense, dangling above the harbor w/ all these ships + the city below + way off into the distance. I got there + discovered it cost $8 just to go on the island + it looked stupid so i took the next cable car back + continued on the sky tram to Mt Faber where I am now, stuck in this monsoon w/ nothing better to do than read Video Night In Kathmandu + write in this dumb journal.

Singapore harbor

Jan 21
On the train again. I'm addicted to the movement, my head numb + buzzing, hair standing on end, for no reason just because... + more-so because there is no reason. Goodbye Singapore, back to Malaysia. I'm torn between the feeling of travelling + the longing to go home. But the straw of all this war shit broke the camel's back. I mean, who would think Bangkok of all places wouldn't be safe? What the hell does it have to do w/ Iraq? Evidently some 4,000 members of the Japanese Red Army in Bangkok have threatened to blow up the U.S. embassy + restaurants frequented by Americans. Why the Japanese Red Army, who knows, but the U.S. embassy in Singapore is advising Americans not to go there, as is the Thai embassy. Newspapers call Bangkok a "logistics center" for terrorism, that all these weapons are being smuggled thru the Iraq Embassy, including bazookas capable of taking down an airplane. I'm sure it'd be fine, they're just terrorists trying to instill terror, but i just don't feel like dealing with it, the wind is blown out of my sails. Feels weird travelling around, especially now in a Muslim country, when the general consensus (rightfully so) is that Americans are war-loving imperialists. Even Europeans i encounter despise me when they find out i'm American. I could say i'm Canadian like seems a lot of people are doing, but that's silly. The more people hate me for being American, the more i'm proud to be American. It's all a vast hypocrisy. I haven't seen a single other American since the war broke out.[embedded in the pages are a number of clipped out newspaper articles]

I could go hang out in the Philippines—where my plane home will go thru—but some man w/ an Iraq passport blew up there yesterday while carrying a bomb to the U.S. embassy. Terrorist alerts everywhere you go. And here i am in an Islamic country, tho the govt is trying to calm the masses, saying they support the "allied forces"... doesn't do much good against fundamentalist Islamic principles, all it takes is one nutjob. I'm being paranoid i know but i don't have a reason to be here except to enjoy myself + how can you w/ all this shit going on?  So yah, went to some bucketshop + got a 1-way ticket home for $350 bucks, thru Manila + Honolulu. From Kuala Lumpur... so here i am on this train, i had to walk past all the 1st + 2nd class couches full of A.R. tourists, Chinese + backpackers. Not a single other "backpacker" in 3rd class, just me + all the Muslim Malays. Black fezzes for the men + black veiled headscarves for the women. I'm sure they assume no American in their right mind would travel in here. Fuck those other travellers saying to tell people i'm Canadian. Guys ask me where i'm from, then when i say America they say i shouldn't tell people that + walk away. Well fuck you, you shouldn't ask. I'd rather be blown up then say i'm Canadian. At least i reserve the right to hate my country. Canadians are way too patriotic, drunk on their own Kool-aid. What's happening to me? Getting sucked into all this hate. I walked around in a daze the last 2 days. Mall after mall, never seeing the sky except in India-town. Had dinner at Komala Vilas—excellent south Indian food served on a banana leaf [then we described the food in detail]. And not only that, it was free. Some business people sat down next to me + must have felt sorry for me cuz they insisted on footing the bill (after they bragged about how much money they make). Watched some festival then went to see a movie... quite an experience. First of all, you book in advance + get an assigned seat # that you choose! At the door was a sign saying thongs or shorts weren't allowed. "Hey, listen mister, I don't have a pair of pants to my name + they didn't tell me when i bought my ticket." Inside was like a meat locker, icy cold + incredibly clean + plush reclining seats + the ads before were longer than the movie, I was frozen to death before the movie even started + the subtitles were in Malay, Mandarin + Sanskrit... so much for an escape. Passed the U.S. embassy by chance + it was like a warzone, under intense security. [postcard of durians + rubbings of Malaysia coins]

Somewhere in Malaysia or Singapore


same w/ these next 2 somewhere in Malaysia/Singapore, probly Penang


birdcage cafe

Jan 23
Train pulled in, coolest station ever, ultra modern, like Victoria stn on the inside + the Taj Mahal on the outside. The architecture in Kuala Lumpur is really intense, contrasting huge mosques + minarets against crazy modern skyscrapers + shanty Chinatown. Was approached by these guys who had a room, Muslims. Of course right away they ask where i'm from. America. They told me i should lie + say I'm from Finland, but assured me Malaysia was safe, the govt has an ironfist stand against anti-U.S. demonstrations + sees it as political, not religious. They ended up being really cool + the guesthouse is great. Sharing a dorm w/ A + J who keeps saying "I could really use a big steak" over + over but wouldn't eat at some place w/ the Malay flag hanging out front. [drawing of Malaysian flag] The Malaysian flag has the Islam symbol embedded in ol glory... weird. Ate at some expensive (by hawker standards) restaurant then went on a walkabout until midnight. All sorts of Geisha-girl like nightclubs + "folk" clubs (no alcohol). This morning i walked around the city, Chinatown, downtown, G.P.O. then hit the museum, pretty run of the mill except for an exhibit on "skulls + heads in human culture + history" that had all these cool shrunken heads, skulls + headhunter artifacts, trephination, induced skull deformation you name it, mixed in w/ modern stuff like "Eating Raoul" movie + Misfits posters, a blackroom full of dayglo skulls, day of the dead stuff + the history of skinheads, etc. Walking around K.L. is insane, road work + overpasses make it impossible to get anywhere. Things seem relatively okay, a few hostile stares, but some Muslims smile + say hi even if they know you're American. You can definitely tell the war is on everyone's mind. Holy shit, tomorrow I'll be in America! Halleluiah,... though i regret not hitting Thailand. Another time.    

Kuala Lumpur

Jan. 24, 1991
In transit Manila > Honolulu
Full circle round, once again over the Pacific. Woke up w/ a stiff neck from that lump of a pillow, took a squat shower, had last coffee at roadside stall. The guys that run the Faiz are funny, the disheveled fat one always rubbing his eyes + holding onto his sarong to keep it from falling off. And the skinny well-groomed intellectual one that keeps asking me to point out Little Rock Arkansas on the map. The English Bloke screwed me of the $5 key deposit, said he left it + i could pick it up. The skinny one said not to worry about it, and no reason to get to the airport early, why not stay + have tea w/ us? He's got a point, the tea hit the spot. Then the skinny one took me to the airport in his beaten up Datsun, telling me all these stories about tourists at his guesthouse that were drugged + robbed.... never listen to anyone saying "my sister is going to your country, maybe we could sit + have tea + talk about it?" They serve you tea or coffee + the next thing you know is you wake up on a park bench without your wallet or passport. High security at K.L. airport, full body frisking. And then it ends up my plane went thru Singapore! Even tho it didn't say so on my ticket + they didn't tell me when i bought it... + i took the train to K.L. cuz it was much cheaper then flying from Singapore. Weird. On the plane to Manila finished the last 200 pages of Video Night in Kathmandu, it got redundant after a while. Manila looks like a massive flat featureless city, like L.A. Got off the plane + some man approached me + said "Mr. White, I hope you don't mind but we have to give you a seat in the executive class." Executive class?! Do i mind? Hells yah. This is too nice. I was seated in a huge plush seat w/ like 6 feet of leg room + handed champagne + a toiletry kit, which even includes a pair of socks. Then she brought me a moist towel to "refresh" myself + a deck of cards, then a menu. She whispered to me "i'm sorry, but we have to treat you like a 1st class passenger to not make the others uncomfortable." Can't imagine what they paid, probably thousands + i paid 300 bucks. On the menu was filet mignon + all these other things. Plane takes off + she brings more drinks + hor deurves, cheese plate + caviar, on a silver platter + crystal glasses. Always smiling. [we go on more describing the service + food + general decadence of 1st class]. Far cry from those hellish bus rides in Flores or Sumatra, crammed in a beaten up filthy bus w/ a pig jumping around under your broken seat, packed full of men smoking cloves wrapped in cornhusks, stifling hot putrid air smelling of smoke, milk, dust + diesel exhaust. But that's real + actually i'd rather be there. Not that i'm not enjoying this luxury, but it's something you can't get used to, a fleeting illusion. Spose i should be reflecting on what i got out of this trip but instead read Hemmingway's Torrents of Spring all the way non-stop.

Jan 26
Hawaii -> SFO
The sea is a metallic grey sheet w/ fungal clouds cling-on clouds. The horizon fades from misty maroon to red, yellow, green, then blue, bluer... + i'm on my way home! Hawaii was definitely a shock. I'm probably biased as i only saw Waikiki but it was nothing special. Beautiful island covered w/ cement + populated by fat ugly people. I forgot how obese + pasty most Americans are + this cross-section was a prime breed, trailer trash from the Midwest or dumbass capitalist yuppies. Being used to tiny healthy Asians this revolted me, all the chunky cottage cheesy thighs, jiggling flesh + vericose veins, men w/ sagging tits + bulging fat tires around the midriff, blueish white bulging skin on the verge of popping, sagging tired faces, red bulbous noses, ugly body hair, hairy backs, etc. All quite shocking. I arrived in Hawaii at 7 a.m. after my luxurious 1st class flight. Good thing i have a small bag cuz they didn't allow people w/ big bags on the bus, to downtown Waikiki. Skyrise hotels. After considerable confusion, found my "hotel"—an apartment  whose owners decided to make some extra money by cramming 30 people into a 2 bedroom apt. Packed wall to wall w/ people + bags + only one bathroom for everyone. And this is still $14/ night, what a rip-off. I went down + crashed on the "world-famous" Waikiki beach. Woke up in the mid-day sun, surrounded by tourists that made me gag. All disgustingly fat + unhealthy looking, toting video cameras. I decided to stay only 1 more day in Waikiki cuz it's such an expensive shithole, the only thing to do is surf, which was fun for a few hours. Long-boarding, like in Gidget Goes to Hawaii, where you ride forever, walking around on the board. Woke up early to rush to the airport on a crowded bus only to find out my plane was delayed 7 hours. So I read Old Man + the Sea + played chess on my chess computer i got in Singapore. Now watching Xmas Story, which feels weird cuz it still feels like summer to me. "You'll shoot your eye out!"

Jan 31, 991
Been back a few days + already bored. D + L picked me up at the airport then saw E + J + we went + got Guinesses in the city. My skin quickly peeled, exposed raw skin that quickly iced over + cracked in shock. Hard to reach equilibrium. Slept at D's, couldn't sleep, wide awake at 3 a.m. Been working out, watching David Lettermen + now i have this cold, probably from the shock to my system, or that i got on the plane. Went up + saw the Bs, everything the same` old same old. Then to Santa Cruz, surprised A who goes there now. Met up w/ T + S. The campus was weird, pretty much the same but replaced by new faces. Ran into E + she almost had a heart attack. Same old story. Had sushi + went bowling w/ her + A. Went to Berkeley the next day. Peace "protesters" getting belligerent w/ police + anyone w/ opposing views. Why did i think i wanted to go to grad school here? I couldn't anyway until fall of 1992, missed the deadline. Shit, I don't know... I'm trying to find a path instead of lingering, wandering, something constructive, maybe work instead of racking up more debt in school. Maybe move to S.F.  

Feb. 10
Went down to L.A.—last Saturday, just hung out w/ Kevin [a.k.a. Chaulky] doing nothing. If you suggest doing something he just says "that's boring" or "it costs too much." Rode bikes around Pasadena w/ C [his roommate], the pock-faced alcoholic or played w/ the cats, Taco + Helen, the deaf one. Went down to La Jolla + saw S [our X], met her under the pier. She was nervous + jittery. Weird how we can still be awkward around each other. Went + saw her apartment + her roommates killer ferret. Put on wooly sweaters + had one of those Swiss-mocha coffee commercial kind of walks on the beach. Then went + got Thai food. Getting back in the groove of California culture i guess, but it's weird. We snuck into the hotel next door to use the hot tub. Late afternoon rolled around + didn't want to deal w/ the awkwardness of sleeping on the floor, or her saying, don't sleep on the floor + then falling back into a routine since neither of us have anyone else. Not that i wouldn't mind for 1 night, but it would come w/ consequences. So i split, thought about going to Arizona, but resisted the temptation. Passing thru Hollywood i impulsively pulled off + got some leather shoes + a tweed coat, along w/ the new Mazzy Star. Went back to Kevin's but he wasn't there, so i went w/ E [another roommate] to the Art Center to watch some old B+W movies + hang out w/ R.H. + other film majors talking about art, etc. Then the whole gang went to some bar to see the "mystery band"... rednecks w/ dreadlocks + overalls.

xmas tree in front of Chaulky's apartment in Pasaena (in February)

Next morning drove back (via Anderson's Split Pea Soup). Next day met B for a day in Berkeley, mostly doing errands + talking to people in the physics dept. Got a free lunch in the faculty club out of it. B had a colloquium to humorless grad students. Met w/ an advisor who told me i could do concurrent enrollment + take classes in the fall. Met J + M + got Thai Food. D + L came over the next day + we cooked + played dominoes + hot-tubbed. Yesterday i went to Santa Cruz, looked at the career center listings. Saw an interesting job at he Natl center for atmospheric studies in Boulder + another at Lawrence Livermore. Guess i should get my resume together. It's all so confusing... I'm not ready for a "career job". Would rather go back to grad school or travel more if i can. Went + found M in the camper lot + chilled, just like the old days, eating potato pancakes, black beans + chocolate cake + catching up w/ all the physics + math dept drama since i've been gone. Then i hunted down A + got pizza w/ him until he had to go to class then ran into T, on his way to a "village hands-on" drum circle. Joined it for a bit, but it was sort of weird, don't feel i belong in this community anymore.  Feel like the graduate that just hangs out not knowing what else to do next. Went back to bug M some more, while he tried to work on his thesis. Then went to Upper Crust w/ B + C + got J + went to some new hole in the wall smoky bar behind the town clock, w/ a pool table. Listened to Hank Williams on the jukebox + watched Sugar Ray Leonard take a beating. A + J came by + met us, we played pool until we were the last ones left + the owner wanted to close early so we went to Denny's. A told me how he took LSD during the eclipse up in Montgomery Creek. Now i'm sitting here drinking Peet's coffee... I feel motivated, i just don't know to do what.

along I-5

Feb. 15
Montgomery Creek, Ca. [mom's house in Northern California]
This is where i was before i left on my trip. The feeling is almost the same, the nostalgic smell of my camper. Feels like last July + especially since it is so warm now (February!). Nice to be back in Wally [our camper we lived in Santa Cruz]. He is my little home away from home. Matter of fact, I think i might continue to occupy him. So i impulsively decided to come up here. Called K + coincidentally D was coming up that afternoon. Hopped the train to SF to meet him + we were off. Someone broke his window trying to steal his stereo so it was cold + windy the whole way. Everything dry + barren, gray + dead. Permanent autumn going on summer. For 10 days the temperature never rose above 14°—the pond was frozen solid, A walked to the middle. But now it's very warm. Wally's full of mice turds + nests. Sara [our VW bug. below] had a mice nest in the roof lining, looks like some animal tried to seal the windows w/ mud.

Sara, our 66' VW bug, parked in our mother's garage

She started right up, after i pumped up a flat tire + doused the carburetor w/ starter fluid. Yesterday went on a walkabout... woke up + went left at the power lines, over what looks like a fault line, up to the top of the hill where i had a nice view of Shasta. I wandered around the back, ate breakfast, then went down to the creek + way upstream + across to the other side. Found a trippy meadow where someone had built tree platforms.  I chased Bandito [the dog] around. Then i got lost, hacking thru the forest.

at which we drew this map of our mother's property

Came back + made a pot of cajun Mexican spaghetti chili. Today played "Universe" w/ A [our young nephew]. The raft was our spaceship, the lake the universe. Organic material was our allies + non-organic the enemy. Especially plastic, our arch enemy. I pushed + paddled thru landmines (tennis balls) while A shot + retrieved non-organic matter. We ended up w/ a raft full of plastic toys, legos, bottles, cans w/ fishing line ("time thread"), stray pieces of plastic, etc. then we took all these up the bathhouse + made sculptures out of them. We had to remove the hinges of the bathhouse to get in (mom left the keys in Mexico), + get some stuff, like my stereo + CDs. A + I jammed on the drums, then i embarked on a new project... collecting all the junk + centralizing it in a monument to bad taste—so bad that it will be aesthetic. Collected rolls of rusted chicken wire, gallon wine bottles, plastic crates, rusted box springs, old weathered couches, transaxles + other car parts, etc. I went fishing + caught 6 little trout, kept 2 cuz they swallowed the hook. Then i wore a Mickey Mouse mask that made A cry. Those stupid dogs will bark all night, there are mice scurrying about chewing on the walls + my feet are cold as hell + the inside of my nose caked w/ dried snot + i'm farting like mad cuz i've eaten nothing but granola + beans for days. Feeling very pragmatic, not sure why.

Feb 23, 7:24
Menlo Park
Fractal oak branches outlined in the mist + the cooing of doves that remind me of grandpa Cal. I almost forgot last night's dream: I was at the beach w/ S + P (who was really that Indian guy in Komodo that couldn't swim) + some others + we went "snorkeling". We were teaching P how to swim. We got to a dive spot where people had Scuba gear (where i had been in  a dream earlier in the night). We went down, then i remembered there was a guidebook that said if we looked to the left at this certain spot we would see a "pumpkin wood" anchor. I looked around + found a hatch + realized we had been under for a long time + looked to see how P was doing but he had already surfaced. I lifted the hatch + sure enough, there was the nice polished "pumpkin wood" anchor (looked like teak) + just like the book said there was coffee beans laid out to preserve the wood. I realized i was breathing water, it felt light + airy but thought if i was drowning the euphoria of dying might feel similar. S + I could only "talk in metaphors" + i realized she was also breathing water, w/ the shrug of the shoulder. Then I saw a walking venus flytrap [sketches picture that looks sort of like Pac Man]. I was wondering  how we could breath water when i noticed a grill (we were in an underwater cave). I could breath the air through slots in the grill, thought it still felt the same as breathing water. I woke up before i surfaced.

This probably stems from a conversation I had w/ A + A + K (other divers) about mice breathing "heavy water" (water w/ an extra O). They would show a mouse swimming in a tank, at first panicking, then once it realized it could breath water it just swam around happily. I thought about the irony of how the mouse (the martyr guinea pig) was the one who got to experience 1st hand this sense of discovery. Only that mouse knew how it felt, that euphoria you must feel when you realize you can breathe water, almost like flying. This sense of 1st hand discovery is what's missing from science in most cases. Even something like the 1st man to walk on the moon.... when it came down to it, by the time it happened it was a technical endeavor, taking samples, communicating to the command center, concern w/ safety, etc. Did he ever have a private moment to reflect on [... the actual "feeling," the experience of being on the moon.]

[cant find photos of actualizaton, so this sketch will have to do]

Painted s'more on Wally. Had 3 dogs jump in Sara while i was driving across the Dam. Played newspaper football w/ Ar. Played heater singing w/ Am. He thinks every object in the bathhouse sings. "Derek make this sing" he would ask me. He would flick a button + i would dance spastically, chanting + going nuts for his amusement. There was a dial where he could increase the intensity (making me more spastic) or pitch + tempo, then flip me off w/ a flick of a switch + i would collapse to the floor. It's funny how you can go absolutely batshit primitive in front of little kids without them thinking you're weird. And although K [their mother] once said she had kids to teach her how to be 1 again, she has assumed the role of "adult" + can't have fun. Drove back to Berkeley  w/ D blaring Vincente Fernandez mariachi music + Jackson Brown. Got to Berkeley + he dropped me off + i took the BART to SF. [followed by a random collage of news clippings].

Had lunch in a greasy Mission diner then went to 9th to catch the bus, full of lunatics. Crazy smelly woman w/ a beehive hairdo carrying a rose + a bowl of rice. And high-schoolers making me feel old, did I graduate that long ago? [we graduated 5 yrs before]  Walked back to 2063 as Granini was pulling in, "my great aunt M died" she casually told me. Hard to be affected when i don't remember meeting her. Cooked stuffed tofu soup, ended up dumping the "stuffing" (for the tofu) into the soup + Pad Thai for D, A, K + A. It wasn't spicy to me, but i think they were overwhelmed + being polite. Went to Keplers + discussed chasing the solar eclipse down in Mexico on July 10 (the tip of Baja).

Feb 27
[More boring details about day-to-day, going to our brother's wedding shower, etc.] Yack, yack, yack, snack, snack, snack. Sunday? Wrote my resume at Sioux way [cousin's house] on the Mac + hung out w/ E, A, A + J. They have a cool set up in their barn w/ old brown + pink Denny's furniture (they gave away when they remodeled) + other decor. After "stealing" Nagel prints + a Taos vase from the Goodwill, we got hot spiced cider in swell fountain glasses. Monday went to Bezerkeley, looked at job postings + found out there is an "energy + resources group" at UCB offering a PhD program. Cool cuz it was interdisciplinary, not only would i learn technological aspects but the politics of it all, where most of the problem lies. Am i ready to sacrifice selfish intellectual pursuit for a more specific technical specialty that would be "accomplishing" something constructive? Being a "professional" in an area that i'd consider the biggest current problem in society [energy], that i'm somewhat trained for? Could i be creative in such a pursuit? That's my only worry, otherwise i'm excited about the prospects. But i shouldn't get my hopes up as they accept 8 every year out of 200 applicants. Yesterday i typed up a cover letter to send off. Shit, I'm tired..zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Feb 28, 1991
Is there a Feb 29? I feel like I'm travelling, sitting here at this outdoor cafe eating a scone, sipping coffee + writing in this travel journal. Bored housewives in their mid-20s come here w/ their babies.... the next generation is coffeeshop babies. Them + me, all the losers who don't work. Us happy few, us proud. Well, me proud anyways. Been sending off letters + resumes but not feeling too excited about it. Saw the one + only Douglas Adams last night. And we (E + I) brought towels  that we wore around our necks. He was reading from his new book, Last Chance to See, in which he travels around the world studying exotic animals, before we will them all. Most of the talk was about his adventures in Komodo, nostalgic, down to the fish that were jumping around in trees [we were just there a few months before]. We went up to get our books signed but he didn't notice the towels around our neck. I asked him to write something about Pac Man Frogs + chopsticks, which i said are a useful item to add to his list of must-haves. What? he said looking puzzled. "Techno bugs?" I started to explain to him what a pac man frog was + how the book was a b-day present + the crowd behind looked impatient, felt like that scene in Xmas story when he's on Santa's lap.  Oh, we have a CEASEFIRE! Finally, Saddam yelled uncle + Bush got off. "Come back, i'll bite you to death!" 100,000 Iraqi prisoners + casualties + only 52 allied casualties. It all seems surreal, like we are not getting the full picture. At least it's over.

sumwhere in California

[... continued back in California]

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