6 Nov 2019> In Balimore, our home away from home, but we din't plan so well, din't bring much to work on so figgered we'd ketch up on our journel archiving... last we left off it was 1992 when we still journeled by hand + those hardbound diarhees are back at home, but after 1995 we journeled on our laptop, which we got a back-up off on this laptop. We archived the 1st half of 1995 already, but will pick up now from where we left off in May 1995 in Tuscon, or Nevada, where we was doing field work a lot in those dayzzz. Weed reunited w/ our bedder-½ (who we called Zo or Prisca) but still wasn't ready to commit...
June 3, 1995—Eureka, Nevada
The last monday in Tucson I went to Bobo's to meet Rebecca and Todd but Bobo's was closed (Memorial day) and she flaked anyway. It was getting to hot too bum around in my van so I got a room at Hotel Congress. Took a shower and napped under the overhead fan. The rooms are all old-fashioned with old phones and radios, feels almost like the wild, wild west—but there's this weird techno-hip twist having the club on the ground floor, as well as The Cup. I rounded up Heather after a while and we ate at Congress Grill which was killer (french fries with omelettes). Ran into Bruce and Judy there also. Afterwards, Heather and I went to get Killing Zoe [movie our cousin directed but we'd never bothered to see until then] and watched it at Terri's with their French-Canadian cyclist friends. I was impressed, it actually had a good story line, though at first the dialogue was poor. Then I went to a BBQ at Jesus's, after stopping at Zo's to get some sultry hot affection. There was a bunch of boring older graduate students at Jesus', but I had to wait til it wasn't impolite to leave. I stopped by Zo's again. She was sleeping on her couch looking serene and divine. I had already told Heather and co. I would be at Club Congress for disco night, but Zo didn't want to go. I was torn about what to do. It just seemed too right, everything about her. The one shining star in my world of bitter hopelessness. But I fear Zo will burst my bubble and make me realize how unreal my life is. And I was due to leave for Nevada for a few months. I finally left as a matter of pride and because I already had my room. I sat in the corner drinking Whiskey Sours and when Heather and Todd and Terri and co. showed up I pretended I didn't see them. I actually left and started to drive to Zo's house before I changed my mind. I went back and once I started dancing I wasn't so depressed. They played all the nostalgic classic disco hits. I saw Gretta Cohen dancing with that psycho communist girl. I said hi and of course she didn't recognize me with my bald head. She joined me later for a drink when I was sitting down. She finally came to her senses and dumped Stefan (or vice-versa). At closing time they (Heather, Todd, Terri, Adam, this other friend of Todd's and the Canadians all stormed my (single) room for an "after hours party" before the desk clerk came up and told us to quiet down and then everyone realized that hanging out in a small hotel room isn't that exciting. I slept for a few hours then decided to do the right thing and go wake up Zo. She answered the door all sleepy eyed, buck naked with a blanket wrapped around her. I jumped in bed with her for a while and finally talked her into getting up to get some coffee. I went into her walk-in closet and picked out a dress for her—basically just a large T-shirt. That's all she wore. No bra or underwear. Just a large shirt and sandals. Something about that turns me on immensely. She's so comfortable with herself. She's really growing on me. Not only that but she's been very understanding about this coming and going thing and me being so wishy-washy and uncommiting.
Off to work for another month. Went to Zonge and we spent a while getting gear straightened out and packed. Didn't get on the road til about noon. Me, Jeff and Greg. Cruising through the desert to Vegas. Stopped at the Excalibur and got a room on the 19th floor. Had the buffet at the Luxor, the giant black pyramid. Vegas is a trip. So much waste. So many people. So much money. Figured I'd try out my acquired Black Jack skill from all those nights at low stake tables in Deadwood. The only double-deck tables I could were $5 limit, so I cashed forty and preceded to win about $150 over the course of a few hours. I had to take a piss so I got up and left my chips on the table. When I came back to what I thought was the table (these casinos are a huge mindfuck with mirrors everywhere) it was empty. I went into a panic thinking it was a conspiracy between the dealer and the players. Finally I found my stack of chips, the dealer and all the players were different. After that distraction, I lost my edge and proceeded to lose it all over the course of about an hour. I was feeling pretty down and out, figured I'd take a walk. They make it so hard to walk in Vegas. They funnel you into casinos and make it hard for you to leave. If you find a sidewalk, there are handbills everywhere for "entertainers" with 'actual photo's. My curiosity got me. On impulse I called one up to see what it was all about and this women answered and said she would send the girl over to discuss it and before I could say anything she hung up. Holy shit! I went into a panic. It seemed the girl was over right away with a faint knock at the door. I answered it, feeling very far removed from reality. This woman (Lorna?) non-chalantly walked by me asking where I was from while she threw her keys on the table. She took a seat and made herself at home. She had a nice body and all but was really cheap and worn looking. She had on tight jean shorts and a halter top. She acted all businesslike like she was selling me encyclopedias. She told me that for $150 she would give me a "table dance". While she was talking I was looking on her lips, it looked like she had a chancre sore covered with lipstick. I told her that there was a misunderstanding, that I called cuz I was curious and never agreed to anything, that I made a mistake. She said the agency wouldn't be happy, so I called them and explained then sent Lorna on her not-so merry way. I felt bad for wasting her time and felt really cheap and disgusting for even thinking about it, an impulsive reaction I think to self-sabotage myself in my questioning of my willingness to commit and for the experience of it, for writing material. I think I got enough of the idea to placate my curiosity.
After a few hours of sleep, woke up early and had breakfast at the MGM while playing Keno. We left for Eureka at around 10. What a beautiful state! Pristine and wild and open. Lots of snowcapped peaks and water, not what I expected. We passed some basalt cliffs and I was driving #50 so I slammed on the breaks and so did Greg who was in #46. Jeff just said 'I don't care' so we grabbed our shoes and chalk and ran through the fields to the cliffs. Amazing crack lines reminiscent of Devil's Tower or Paradise Forks. There was one amazing crack that had anchors on top, and also another thin line (aid?) with a few bolts. We bouldered the first few moves of all the cracks, running around like excited children. Next to some graffiti we saw some petroglyphs that looked very authentic. One scene was a bunch of bighorn sheep and another petroglyph looked like space aliens. Amazing to just find shit like that unexpectedly. It makes the world feel less lonely, imagining some Indians at some time long ago, hanging out at the base of these cliffs drawing pictures. What motivated them to do this?
After 7 hours of driving through next to nothing we hit Eureka. Their slogan is "Loneliest town on the loneliest road." No joke. When we got to the hotel where the Reno Zonge guys were at, there was no vacancy. For that matter, there was no vacancy in the entire town except for this one dinky motel. Pretty low budge, especially after a night at the Excalibur. Walls of thin fake wood paneling, buckling formica, barf-patterned carpet, no telephone, a toilet that doesn't work—all in a puke orange color scheme. There was a bunch of college girls here the first night, all archaeology students from Reno. Greg and I had our dinner at the Owl's club, sitting at the bar. They actually have Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Negra Modelo (though the bartender couldn't pronounce it). Woke up at 5:30 to get greasy breakfast and watered-down coffee then met the others at 6:30. It's a half hour drive on a desolate paved road, then another hour or so on a dirt road. We're talking out there. Beautiful landscape, sagebrush-covered plains with many brilliant colored wildflowers. Just below snow-capped mountains. We got the scoop on the repeater, parked on top of this hill covered with iridescent purple flowers. When we went to the transmitter, Jeff Ball (who we call J.B. cuz one of the Reno guys name is Jeff, the other is Steve) realized they didn't load his computer with antenna offset or something like that. So he had to go all the way back to town for a phone to call the office. All we could do is hang out and wait and find out what the particular quirks were for this transmitter. Greg stayed with the transmitter and we went out as 2 teams. Me and J.B. on one line, Steve and Jeff on another. The rain started coming down hard along with thunder. We got a reading or 2 in and bailed.
June 4, 1995—Eureka, Nevada
The routine's a little different on this job. We got 2 receivers and only 1 person to help out. Also, the grid hasn't been surveyed in-between setups, I have to run ahead and survey. The first 2 days I helped Jeff. Today I went along with Steve. (Quite a character, complaining how he moved from California because there was too many laws and restrictions, "hell, half of my guns would be illegal in California"). I think he wanted to check me out because I overheard him talking to the Reno office on the cellular, saying "yah, he's pretty sharp". But he told me he would have me work with him rather than run the transmitter and mentioned having me run the receiver. I don't even want to run the transmitter since this routine is so much fun—drive out there in 3 cars (reading Plexus on the way while they listen to Rush Limbaugh or some libertarian or conservative a.m. talk shows). The trans-fag (as the Reno guys call them, and I'm a "hire-a-fag" being that I'm employed by Geotemps) takes #50, sets up the repeater and then sits at the transmitter sight all day giving us frequencies. Steve and I park up in a cloud on some muddy road (it's been rainy and cold every day so far). We try to hit the line by the map, walking a mile or so in, with lots of gear. I pull two 200-footers and two 100-footers for 800 feet and dump them at their respective sights, plant double pots and wire them up. Then I read ahead with the Brunton (kind of a tricky little bitch, getting it leveled aligned and lining the aiming rod up in the mirror) and sight a feature of the landscape at 42° East of North. I take the string box and tie it to a stake and start walking, back sighting or busting out the compass to make sure I'm on line. I flag the line as well. After 200 feet I pound in a stake and write the coordinates on it. After 800 feet of this (eavesdropping the frequency report until I figure I have enough time to cruise the 1600 feet all the way to the end of the previous line) I pick up the pots, carry the mag coil and pull the wires and do it all over again. 6 times a day. Meanwhile wild horses and deer run along and in the distance is a herd of sheep sounding like a holocaust. The first couple of days the grid was surveyed so I had spare time in between readings to look around for gold. Instead I found many magic mushrooms (growing in cow shit) and another white arrowhead. Then at the end of the day we take the long muddy drive home, dump off the gear (maybe make the market before 7) put the boots on top of the heater, get the compass out and undress and check all over for ticks, using the compass mirror to check near asshole and under balls. I've seen many ticks crawling on my clothing or neck and hands but luckily haven't found one who has made myself his home. Ends up Jeff's in California with Lucas. Evidently when Ñandu and Jeff asked Lucas what he wanted to see when he came to America (Disneyland? etc.), he said he wanted to go climbing with Uncle Derek. Had his bags packed a month ahead of time. Shit, if only I had more time off (if I can even manage any).
[not sure which arrowhead we were referring to, but here's 4 white ones we found from around that time + place]
June 6, 1995—Eureka, Nevada
I think I found my calling—I love this job. Way out there with the wild horses and open space. Sunday I herded sheep, a big flock of at least 500 were blocking the road. They've been roaming around us in the huge highland hills. Yesterday we moved the transmitter site. Had to reel in the wire, it wouldn't pull because there were too many trees, so I hiked in and tied half a mile of wire to me in sections and drug it out. Steve sent me out to survey while they set up the transmitter. I don't know what it is, but I love surveying. Grab a compass (Brunton), a string box, a topo, flagging, a walkie-talkie, at least 50 wooden stakes, a hammer, all the wire to set up at the first set-up, a lunch, water—and you're off for the day. It was nice and sunny when I left, so I only brought a light rain jacket. Sight ahead on some tree or feature. Walk toward it, til you're about to lose sight of the previous flagging, check the topo to make sure it makes sense, backsight until you're on—either lining up previous flags, or back-sighting with the compass, pound a stake, flag it, grab a new stake, write the next coordinates on it so you don't forget, and you're off. After a few 1000 feet it started to get really windy and it was hard to hold the compass steady. Dark clouds were rolling in. Then it got mellow and quiet, the wind died down, and then I felt a few snowflakes alight on my arm. I was surprised as it felt warm out.
Next thing I now is it's coming down, full-on blizzard though it wasn't doing a very good job of sticking. I didn't have much clothing on so I had to keep moving to stay warm. Things became very lucid almost as if I was dreaming. The surveying was becoming almost mechanical, meditative. It was an intense rush just to be out there by myself. It meant something more than it was, I have these incredibly vivid memories of back-sighting the pink flagging in the snow, visibility was a few hundred feet, maybe it's the feeling you get when you move back and forth like a lizard until you get on line. Or the sense of validation when you check the topo and sure enough you're supposed to pass 30 feet south of the top of a hill, or you're supposed to pass through a saddle—as if some higher force is looking down on you guiding your way. A sense of belonging to the landscape, a topological dance. My peaceful (yet cold and wet) meditation was being interrupted occasionally from gripes and complaints coming through the walkie-talkies, and Jeff's complaining about some cliff at 3200 East, and I started at the same time and I'm at 6600 E, but I'm not consciously aware of what I'm doing, I'm just doing it, entranced by the falling snow and back-sighting and finding my trajectory according to the topo. I wouldn't have it any other way, it was glorious. So much wildness and open space around me. I had no watch or concept of time as everything was white out. I just knew I had to keep going or I would freeze my butt off. I ran out of stakes at around 9600 and starting flagging stonehenge rocks, or dead logs. Magic mushrooms everywhere but I was too focused to pick them up. When I got to 11,600 E Steve came on to the walkie talkie and told me it was a day (still snowing). I had 2 miles of bushwhacking back to the car, or I could continue for half a mile and get to a road that looped out. I packed away my gear and started running to get circulation in my feet and hands. I got to the road then ran all the way back to the car. When my hot blood started circulating through my body I felt incredibly invigorated and full of life. The snow had started to stick and everything was dusted. And then once back at the truck, plug in the Smashing Pumpkins, crank the heater and 4-wheel and blaze out on the snowy muddy roads, splashing through streams. It was all a rush.
Today was even more snowy. Steve told me to work the transmitter since I haven't worked it yet, and since I had line 7 surveyed so far ahead and it would be easy for Greg ( I guess Greg worked his line one day and St4ve realized how slow he was). Before we even got to the mountains it was coming down hard and sticking. They had troubles getting the generator to the mid-point the day before (dismounted the engine block on #46 in the process) and decided to put the generator close to one of the electrode pits since that was the only place accessible. Me and Jeff went up onto this high hill to change the battery on the repeater. It was insane, it felt like we would slide right off the hill, the road was all skewed and steep, the snow was in drifts towards the top. It tool a while to get the transmitter up and running but finally we did and they left me alone with Plexus to read. I arranged it so I could sit in the cab and every time they would ask for a new frequency I would poke my torso through the back window and adjust it and give them the new current. Still, the snow was collecting all over the transmitter and the frequency controller box and I had to wipe them off to see.
I fell asleep and it was weird when J.B. called back and I woke up and opened my eyes and it's blizzard conditions out. They did one more set up (I hadn't even heard from Steve and Jeff) then just called it a day since it was too heinous (Steve's receiver wasn't even working). The drive back was so beautiful. We'd get into a patch of sunny blue sky with all the frosted mountains and clouds mingling around. The weather has been so weird. One second it's a blizzard, the next second it's sunny and clear. The cells come in wave after wave. Even here in town at 6500 feet, it was blizzarding for a while. I was walking around in it, eating snow flakes and letting them splash on my face. At times they would be drifting out of a sunny blue sky, with no clouds above, like some sort of surreal precipitate. So we only worked eight hours today and it feels like a half day.
The snow kept coming for 4 days. It wasn't so bad the first 3 days because the snow was dry and bounced off, but by the fourth day it was turning to rain and everything was wet and cold. Had to work out in it with everything getting soaked. That night Jeff and Lucas showed up, what a trip! Haven't seen them for like 5 years and to see him here in Eureka, Nevada, of all places. I got them a room next to mine in this new hotel were staying in, which is more like this old fashioned boarding house. A lot of water under the bridge—Jeff is an Argentinian now, and a father. The first day they stayed they both came with me to work. I arranged it so I could work the transmitter that day, and Jeff and Lucas followed me up there in the Bronco. We hung out though the 2 groups were out of sync and I was transmitting with hardly any breaks. Just visiting time with a loud generator going. Greg and Jeff finished early (to finally pick up #46) and Greg relieved me so I could go. Went back and started walking around checking out the town. There's a lot of old abandoned building from the mining days. We went into the courthouse and the whole place was empty. We just walked straight into the court room. It was all old-fashioned like a movie prop or something. Then we hit up the bars asking where the hot springs were (rumor I heard from the archaeologists that were in town.) Finally met Tina at the big red Saloon. Quite a spectrum of characters there. Mention the word hot tub and it starts off this banter. "Hmm, well who told you to ask me?" The lady at the Owls club did. She sizes up, brings us our beers and meanwhile some other scruffy types with ex-felon registration cards, lots of facial hair and crooked teeth start pitching ideas—"what about them hot springs on the duck water reservation?" So they gave us directions and Tina thought we were all right because she brought Lucas a Shirley Temple on the house and told us where we go to this all you can eat spaghetti feast for $3 (to benefit bringing back some train). We went to that (at some bar called "Little Stiffs") and what a treat. Just like home cookin'. Sat at a big communal tables and made small talk with all the locals. Me these 2 guys Tom and Jeff from Rapid City. They went to the school of mines and were surprised to hear that I worked at Oriana's and knew Bob, Daren, Roxanne, Scott, etc. (now I'm daydreaming about the Black Hills). We went to Ratazzi's after and played pool.
Got up early next morning (still on this up at 5:30 mode) and went out to this place out on the duck water reservation. The hot springs were out on the middle of this plain "before civilization" ( a few trailers?). If it wasn't for the fact that we saw these three big Indians with a12-pack of beer, cranking Van Halen and staring down at the ground, we probably would have never found it. Sure enough, we drove up and they were just drinking their beer and staring at this aqua blue water issuing from the ground into this big pool. I took off my shoes and jumped in on the insistence of the Indians, who then told me that I could swim into the hole a ways and then get pushed back out by the current. I thought they were joking at first, but sure enough. I swam down and opened my eyes and there was a big hole like a cave. I swam into it where I could grab a hold of this rusty ladder to keep from being blown away. It was eerie, a hole going to the center of the earth. The water wasn't really hot, it was lukewarm, like 90°. The sides were lined with clay banks that you could mold and sculpt.
[don't got many pics from this time period but think this is the aforementioned hotsprings w/ us taking the plunge]
We hung out there playing with Lucas, giving him rides around the pool and basking in the sun. Yes, the sun finally came out. We kept going on fish creek road until we got to Currant, then we decided to follow this other dirt road. We saw a fork heading off towards these mountains with cornice ridges and big granite faces. They lured me like a magnet (I was driving). The road was getting pretty heinous (blazing through a trail of brush not as wide as the Bronco. Then we started going up this steep section, and everything was all right until I came over the top of this one section and was instantly in this mud bath. I tried to keep going through it and up this steep hill, but the hill was too steep ( I guess I'm used to our V8, real 4x4's). I tried to turn around to no avail. It was thick mud, like quicksand. Water was running off into it from snowmelt from these big snowfield glacier—like couloirs that were right above us. We got out and were instantly swarmed by these evil gnats. We made a few feeble rushed efforts to get out before we realized how serious the situation was and decided to get the jack and chains out (all we really had to work with.) It was a shitty jack so we had to jack it in stages, slowly getting the Bronco out of the muddy rut. After about 2 hours of jacking with a makeshift handle, digging with bare hands in the thick mud and makin’ numerous trips to this stream to get flat rocks—we had the chains on and rocks packed in the old ruts. And finally I popped it out of the mud. Whew! We were at least 20 miles from the main road, which probably only saw a few cars a day pass through. And hardly any water or food. We went home through Ely and had mexican food. Almost went to a monster truck tractor pull, but it was too expensive.
Being away 5 years shows. I would look at Lucas sometime and it would trip me out that he was of the same blood. Especially when you have to speak to him in Spanish. And even Jeff seemed distant (or is it me the one who's distancing myself?) It definitely gave me a reality check, about what the hell I'm doing and how easily I could've ended up as a furniture maker in Argentina. Having Jeff and Lucas along made me see how this kind of work looks to an outsider. Not that I've been doing this long enough that it's second nature. But moreso the types of people I'm working with. I mean, Jeff thought it was quaint and American, and deep down he's pretty conservative though he's been trained to be a good little California-gone-Patagonian liberal. But I'm at an immersion point where I'm no longer a tourist and there's some traits that I just have to leave behind or I'd be hindered by being judgemental or hypercritical (not to mention getting my ass kicked). Helps that I got a buzzcut, but I'm getting good at swallowing my tongue and fitting in... these rednecks have no idea what a weirdo liberal I really am. So really I guess having my brother here causes me to take a hard look at myself, like what am I doing with my life? And Lucas, what a treat! It's not too often that I get to hang out with little kids, let alone one that is almost like my own son. I'm definitely not ready for my own, but it sure was fun laying on my back on the grass in the sun with Lucas jumping all over me like a dog, or like we were the monkey's that we are. To see his tiny-toothed smile and hear him call me tio. So they left back to the Bay Area and I resumed work. It was sunny but now we’re being swarmed by these evil biting gnats. They could drive you absolutely insane. And the terrain was steep and full of trees. Tomorrow we will finish and head straight to Carvers.
June 17, 1995 —Carvers‚ Nevada
It's mid-June and I'm huddled in poly-pro, sweatshirt, wool socks, . . in a room at the Jumping Jack Motel with my heater cranked. It's 6:17 a.m. and it's been cranked all night. And it was still cold. I keep reminding myself that it's summer. Not only that, but yesterday we were moving the transmitter site and it starts snowing, like full on whiteout. It was crazy, and today when we went up, everything was dusted with a few inches of snow and we were singing Christmas carols and decorating the trees with wires, flagging and pots. I'm sure my body is confused as I kinda cheated out on a winter, though I guess Southern France can get pretty cold. What am I thinking? It was quite cold, but nothiung like this.
I'm transcribing my last years journal onto the computer, mostly to give me ideas and to keep me in the habit of writing as I haven't had much inspiration lately. I remembered a dream 2 nights ago and it was the first one I've written down for months. I remember tid-bits, like just now I know I was up on this spire of dirt, and I was supposed to climb off on these tree branches (I was watching a show on Leopards before I fell asleep). Then I was supposed to jump off and do a "jacknife" into these pools far below (interesting to note things I'm "supposed" to do in my dreams, things that I didn't feel like doing, but for some reason felt I should, to build character.) I also remember seeing Serenity slabs (a 5.10+ slab climb in the Dragoons I've never done) and it was all lizard skin and the name was Serendipity slabs. Serendipity is serenity with a dip in it. There was a whole wall of climbs, come to think of it, it was like a dirt hill with climbs carved out like trails. They all started out steep and curved to a stop, not topping out. I guess I should be writing these down in my dream journal, but what the hell, break down the distinctions.
So Carvers. I like the name because of Raymond Carver. Actually it's a place Raymond Carver would like. The epitome of white trash. It's not even a town, but more like a roadstop for surrounding mining communities. Just the Jumping Jack Motel, a bar-cafe and a convenience store/car wash/ laundromat/gas station. Round Mountain is a big colorful terraced mine not far from here. We're sandwiched in between two snow-capped ranges of mountains which are beckoning me for a day off. This guy A.D. met us here. He's from the Tucson office, but he's leaning toward Reno. He wears a cowboy hat with rattlesnake trim, always has a wad of chew in his cheek at all times and all he talks and reads about is guns. He has another GDP-32 but no crew to support him, so we got these 2 Canadian guys from the client themselves (Calais). The first 3 days Jeff was getting A.D. up to speed on doing C.S.A.M.T. since A.D. is used to doing I.P. They sent me and this young guy Matt out to survey ahead since it was not surveyed like it was supposed to be. No problem, all we had to do was flag it, two miles of it. Great fun, just cruising through the trees and glittery rocks.
The next day this guy Dave (who calls himself the bosses "right hand man") told me my line was way off (like 300 feet off) That I had to go back and redo it and find out where "I fucked up". I was thoroughly confused as I don't know where I could have gone astray. So I go back and start cheating my line and reflagging it, but I kept checking it and it was alright as it was before. So I got my string box and started measuring between lines at different places and discovered certain anomalies that would qualify this sight to be a mystery spot. Namely, the distance between 4800S and 5400S was 800 feet. Hmm. This Dave guy further confused me by telling me that there was 600 feet between 5400 and 5800, just ignore the notation. In actuality he was digging himself deeper into a hole, and wasting out time by not admitting that he fucked up immensely. Oops, got to run to work.
8:43—in addition, I discovered that it was this other guy's Matt's line that was off, and after I mentioned it, it was admitted that it was his first time using a compass. So went the first few days—Dave thought he could survey by just boxing this weird shaped grid, and have us fill in the details. But when we'd come to the end of a line, we'd find that we were way off. I could consistently get within 20 feet accuracy (in two miles) of my other lines, so I knew that it was the right hand man himself that was an idiot. It ended up that not only was the baseline 700 feet off in the east-west direction, but it was also 750 feet off in the north-south direction. Never-the-less it was fun, just out there on my own and not having to pull wires or deal with these guys. I came across all sorts of cool shit, old miner's camps, old cars, bottles, bones, rocks, weird pieces of metal, mining equipment,... one of my lines crossed right over a huge pit, so that I had to go down into it. I would flag each terrace and go around and down. There was some red-tail hawks nesting on one of the terraces that got quite irate and started swooping down and squawking and trying to freak me out. They kept following for the better part of the day.
Today, finally went back to pulling wires. Finally got into a more productive rhythm going—two receivers going on lines that have been more or less surveyed out. Now we should be able to crank out almost two miles a day. Looking forward to getting out of here and working with a different crew. The dynamics of Jeff and Greg are getting two me. Jeff is almost like a little computer nerd kid gone lumberjack, Oregonian through and through. He just wants to get the job done and any question you pose is like a threat to his peace of mind. Greg is this deep-down very conservative and close-minded Deadhead from South Africa, who tends to do these irritating fuck-ups that are the source of Jeff, A.D.'s and my bitter amusement. He's always right and he's always "spacing" things. The more I hear about Zonge, the more I want to stick with what I'm doing. Why be a crew-boss at starting salary of $19,500 when I'm already making much more than that (at this rate upwards of $3000 a month). And more freedom, more exercise and less stress. I could hang low like this and wait to see what comes of my writing. By now I should start getting some replies, and of course they will all be discouraging, but that will be okay, cuz it will only make me try harder. I've concluded that waking up early and writing is the only way to go as I'm usually too beat by the time I get home. The only thing is if you get on a roll, then you have a time constraint as to when you have to leave. The only thing I've worked on lately is "Eskimo Pie", which I wrote mainly for the title. I've been thinking of a lot of short stories that are of the same era as far as the voice goes, namely just pre-adolescence. Maybe I should link them up, I don't know.
June 20—Carvers, Nevada
In a truck parked amongst a plain of sagebrush near Tonopah. A sticker on the rear view mirror tells you—"you're not in Kansas any more". No radio stations come in, just the howling of the wind and the smell of gas on your gloves. Your sodden pants trap the farts of last nights canned beans. You don't care as you are alone. The only communication is via walkie-talkie to other men that only want to say what they have to to get the job to done. There's a patch on the plain here the wind stirs the dust. A rip in the green fabric, a hole where you can plunge your hands and wring out this landscape, the perfection of the clouds slipping by. You long for a telephone booth, but you know it would only leave you disappointed. There's no one out there that will understand you now. For when the line clicks it will no longer be you but your interaction. The sagebrush flutters and oscillates but remains grounded. Outside your footprints in the soil, inside you only look and listen to nothingness.
(Another day of working the transmitter). The only day, after I finished Plexus I was bored out of my ass. Plexus was tame for Miller, and the ending was weak and pretentious. What ever happened to meeting Mona's Mother? Instead he goes into a high brow praising of all his favorite German and Russian philosophers. Now I've started Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. #50 died so we took yesterday off. (Ended up someone just tripped the kill switch in the glove box.) I wanted to lay low, sleep, write, nap, do laundry and write more, but Greg took up my earlier idea to hike up to the beckoning mountains. We figured we'd at least go up to boulder. Slowly made our way scoping out all the rock, then I said I wanted to turn back. Greg called me a woos, so I said fuck it, and started blazing up. Steep and rocky terrain. Got to a bottle with a message from some Canadians in 1990 who had reached that point, thought it wasn't that high (they said 9,000 ft.). The snowy ridge was still beyond. Though it was getting late we had to make a last push. We hit the ridge where the trees were dying out and the snow was. We peaked out on a crag, and though it wasn't the top, that's all we had time for. What mattered, was that there was a snow-filled couloir dropping below and out of sight. I strapped on some gators and hit it. It was plenty steep, steep enough that if you weren't careful you could get out of control. I tried to stay on my feet most of the time but would slide onto my but. At times the couloir steepened into a waterfall and we had to bail off in time. All in all we had about 1000 feet of vertical drop slipping and sliding down the couloir, great fun! The only problem is we ended up in this cliff lined canyon. We managed to climb down the cliffs and into the canyon, but even once down there it was not easy going. It was heinous. Thick brush near the river, and steep and loose talus on the sides. At times it would go into waterfalls and we'd have to be creative to find out way down, swinging in trees, climbing, bushwhacking. It was killer, and I was enjoying it in a masochistic way, exploring virgin territory. I kind of noticed Greg getting tired and he said he was getting beat. But then he told me that he was getting nauseous and fatigued. It was taking forever. At one point we got this drop off into a gulley where a bunch of waterfalls met. There just happened to be a series of steps down this steep cliff. I had to keep my eye on Greg to make sure he didn't make a stupid move and fall off the cliff, or that he didn't slip at one of the numerous stream crossings. It was almost epic, but spectacular.
June 24, 1995—Carvers, Nevada
Still in Carvers. I'm sure we'll be here longer still. I ran the transmitter yesterday, and the generator was coughing and skipping, barely making the input voltage. Not only that but the shock on #46 broke at the attachment. Spent the day working on shit. Dropped the oil twice on the generator, each time it had more gas than oil. I can't wait to get the fuck out of here. When I get back to Tucson I should have around $3000 dollars waiting. Enough to pay off my credit card bill and extra to spare. I still don't know how long I'll stick with Zonge. I'll have to see what kind of offer they make me. But at this rate I'm thinking of sticking with Geotemps and saving up for a trip. Who knows, maybe I'll get back to Tucson and actually make some money writing or get my book published. In any event, at least with Geotemps I have the freedom to work when I want or need.
I was even feeling nostalgic for the Black Hills the other day. There's this girl a few doors down that's working for Round mountain. She's from Rapid City and knows Bob and Darin and that whole school of mines gang. Still feeling uninspired to write. Well, I feel inspired to write, it's just that by the time I sit down it's 8 or 9 o'clock and I have to get up at 6. On the job, I read Saul Bellow's Something to Remember Me By. The title story is by far the best. That's the reason I bought the book. But still his style is nothing special, though not bad. Now I'm attempting The Iliad once more. It seems no matter how much we work, we always have a week left. The job was only supposed to be a week to start with.
June 27, 1995—Carvers, Nevada
It's 1:18 a.m. in the jumping jack hotel and I can't sleep. Awoken by my sleepwalking dream within a dream (see dream journal) and buzzing with MSG, I lay awake dreaming about Paris and South America, Buenos Aires and Brazil, . . . I'm nostalgic for the little things, not to visit France, but to live there and bathe as they do and eat as they do.
My sleep cycle is thrown off because we took today off and I took not 1 but 2 naps of at least an hour each. It was sheer luxury. And the rest of the time I just drank coffee and wrote. Mostly copying in journal entries from Paris, California and Mexico, but I'm also working on this piece that I'm not sure where it's going. It's one of the most vivid characters that has come to me, this guy Joe Dean who is this guy from Denver who defies categorization. He's kind of a redneck, chews tobacco and wears Wrangler jeans and boots but wear's a sweat-stained Colorado Rockies hat. He's got stringy long hair, long in back in a tail and short on top (blonde) and is pretty skinny and white. Beyond physical appearances he likes to surf and drives a Karmann Ghia. Matter of fact, he's like Miles in that he fixes them up.
The story itself is inspired by the earthquake episode with Miles and Celine. In this case the narrator is a freshman with no friends who gets stuck with Joe Dean as a roommate. At first he thinks Joe Dean is a redneck (kind of like Gavin McLoed from RLS), then decides he's alright. Even though he listens to country music, he also listens to punk, but his reasoning is that how many people do you know who listen to this shit when they're older, whereas people listen to country til they die. He teaches 'me' to surf and work on Ghia's and introduces me to Rory and Celine who I develop a crush for. It goes through some of their adventures, I borrow the episode from the rooster Tom, where they go to some bar and this older hot woman scams on him and he gives me the keys to his Ghia to drive home. But I'm still not sure where it's leading to, I know there's going to be an earthquake and Celene's friend get's trapped in the roasting company. (A premonition is we are surfing and hear ambulances and it ends up a horse jumped a fence and freaked out and started running down the road and some lady hit it and it killed her.) I've just met her briefly as we were getting coffee one day. (Call her Sunny).
But I guess the main thing the story is about is dealing with death. I'm kind of an outsider, milling about wondering what I should be doing. Miles and Celene are grieving for this girl that I don't really know, but I'm trying to do the right thing (the first line of the story is "My dad died a sudden death, but that's not what this story is about".) I guess what I'm trying to get at is the different ways that people deal with death. The narrator (which in a sense is me) is impartial to death and neglects it. He doesn't know how to react to his new friends grief. They react by having sex, I walk in on them. They are childhood friends, but never lovers until the earthquake and the death of their friend brings them together. This is a gradual process that is brought about, by watching the fireman dig out the body brick by brick, and the 36 hours of no sleep, waiting and how they start to depend on each other, and finally they found out about her death. I guess the success in the story is truly isolating myself, and not making it about me, like I have a tendency to do, but freely admit my inability of dealing with death and that gives the perspective of death as being a unifying force between the individuals left behind. Matter of fact, unlike I thought before, this is about Sunny, not about Joe Dean and Celine. It's about this girl that gave me a brief sparkle and died and manifested herself in the love between Joe Dean and Celine. Hence I think I'll call it Sunny's Requiem. [not sure what happened to this story (which is actually mostly true, based on the events around the earthquake in 1992 when we were living in Santa Cruz) we were working on, it must exist only on a crashed harddrive somwhere]
So yah, here I am in Carvers, Nevada dreaming of other places and finally obssessed with a story to write. (this one's actually been milling about for over a year.) Other than that, same old shit. Everything that can go wrong is going wrong. The generator is about to die and we milk it day by day to just get us through this job. I've calculated that I should have almost $3000 dollars waiting for me when I get back to Tucson, hence I will finally have my credit card paid off, and can start saving for a trip!!! It's 1:56 AM and I have to wake up at 5:40, I guess that's about four hours but I'm not looking forward to being tired tomorrow. Then again, I seem to dream most when my sleeping pattern is disrupted (those many nights of jet lag when I first got to France). Bon Nuit.
July 2, 1995—Tucson, Az
Back in the crib of Hotel Congress. A night in the dog house as la gata is up in Phoenix. This is starting to feel like home. Room 202. Before I had 240. Maybe after a while I'll go through the rounds. So yah, I calculated 5 more days and that's what I told Zo, but we actually got it done sooner than expected. The last 3 or 4 days we were getting these afternoon thundershowers, some of which were scary. One in particular dumped pea sized hail that stung and didn't let up. A.D. and I had to run for cover in an old abandoned ore chute.
Finished The Iliad and started working on the Sound and the Fury, (I just realized coincidentally that I think that's where Faulkner got the title, from The Iliad (?)) Also am reading some short stories, read this Scott Bradfield one that was fabulous, can't remember the name of it off hand, but then reread "Cathedral" and am convinced that it is a perfect story, the best. Speaking of Carver, we drove straight on through from Carvers to Tucson this morning, passing all the brothels on the lonely stretches of road, the Cottontail Ranch, the Shady Lady, the Cherry Patch, etc... and arrived in Tucson. Dropped Greg off (after taking him everywhere to find the right champagne and flowers for his wifey-pooh + weird, he lives in the same complex on University where we lived) then meandered around in 46 since I can't get my van out of the compound. Got a hold of Bruce and we went to the Crossroads to scarf Mexican food and shoot the shit.
Tomorrow morning is when I decide my fate. My time with Geotemps is up and I'm sure Zonge will make me an offer. I'm not sure I won't to be a crew boss as I enjoy the free time, exercise and lack of responsibility associated with being a simple wire puller (and about the same amount of pay). And I'm not sure I'd be into the commitment of a salary position. So we'll have to see what they say, and where they'll send me next. If they try to send me to Nevada again with Jeff I'd probably quit. There's something eating at my butthole, I don't know whether it's hemorrhoids or pin worm, or just from sitting so long in these trucks, but it's made me think of the rectum in a new light. Just had pancakes and coffee at the Congress Grill. Tucson definitely has my heart as the home away from home. Maybe I'll be blessed with the monsoon season premiere.
July 5, 1995—Tucson
Checked in at Zonge on Monday morning, cleaned up and shelved the gear and then had the Monday morning meeting. Bill Perry was giving more vague bullshit about upcoming jobs in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Australia, etc. . . All fine to dream about, but until I see the ticket, I won't count on it. They did vaguely recommend to me is jump on this job in Jerome and get some training on CSMT and TEM. I was hesitant, and kept asking about the South American jobs, but they told me I'd have more options and be more valuable if I could run the receiver. They have a point. Still no mention of wage or salary as I'm still under the auspices of Geotemps. The Jerome job was supposed to go out today, but I told them there was no way. I called this morning and I'll go up monday to meet them there for training. Got my paycheck and took in more timecards to Geotemps. Finally I'm more or less out of debt, though the paperwork has me confused, trying to let paychecks catch up with bank accounts, catch up with credit card balance. Terri was not in so I couldn't see what sort of backup options I have. Had a Chinese lunch feast then stopped by Zo's and she was there. We hung out then went to the mall as I was in a mood to spend some money. Bought mostly boxer shorts. Then we saw Bridges of Madison County. Maybe could've been a good movie if it wasn't taken on by old Clint. Zo made me eggplant parmesan (finally! Now its love) then we settled into some outstanding hanky panky and woke up to fireworks and water dripping from the gutter at 2:30 a.m.
Ate breakfast at Franks. That's when started to get tense. Well I guess it started at 2:30 when I made a comment about her watch. On the way to Frank's she asked me if I liked her sunglasses. I said I didn't like them, that I liked the pair she was wearing before better. She started getting all pouty and I of course became stand-offish. It escalated until she asked me if I felt comfortable around her, and I told her she was hyper-sensitive and high maintenance and that did it. She accused me of being mean and criticizing her personality. I didn't want to apologize because that's how I felt, and that's still how I feel. We'd already rented climbing shoes and we still drove up Mt. Lemmon. But when we got to the top, she was still all "if you're going to be that way about it, I don't want to climb with you". And frankly I didn't care, because if there was tension between us, it surely wouldn't've been a positive climbing experience. So she went off hiking and we agreed to meet in 2 hours. I went down to Rappel rock, feeling the relief of being alone and in the wilderness. When I got to the bottom, I had to take off my climbing shoes (that I put on on top to walk to the base) and had to psyche myself up and make sure I wasn't doing something rash or that I wasn't releasing steam in doing this, free-soloing. Well I guess I was but I didn't want it to be vain anger, because it would've fucked with my nerves. It felt like I was living a short story and I was trying to figure out what outcome made most sense. I was imagining if I fell and died how that would be, it was not an option. I wanted the rush of climbing, to forget the mundane, to put things in perspective. I started up Bender-Axen (5.8) and was pretty gripped. I looked down a few times and it scared the shit out of me. But I kept my composure and got up to the pine tree ledge. From there I continued up the standard route (5.5), the wall of chickenheads, 100s of feet off the ground. It was a blast. My emotions became malleable and tangible welling in my chest. Everything else became immaterial. No girl or other person could come close to giving me this feeling that I divined from the rock, wringing out my own insides. It was 15 minutes of extreme lucidity and certainty. The feeling lasted even after I got to the top, took off my shoes and sat in the warm pine needles eating plums and apples. And then back to the van with reinforced courage and self-pride (not that I was lacking any to begin with). Zo was still being pouty. My personal experience free-soloing Rap rock in that absence was purely my private pleasure, I didn't even mention it. We didn't talk the whole way down. The whole time I was just thinking about how I wanted to be alone. When I got to her house I layed down on her bed and she made some comment implying that I was using her for a place to stay so I told her "later". I had romantic notions of staying at the Tropical Inn on the cemetery, where we used to stay way back when I was a littler person, on the way driving from the Bay Area to Guadalajara. It was now a sleazy hotel with XXX videos and hourly rates, so I decided to stay at the Copper Cactus instead.
Emptied out my van into the room and sorted things out. The sacrifices we make for lightness and mobility. All those postcards and letters, while just letters, are heavy, slippery and hard to manage. I feel freedom throwing them away, just like I feel a certain euphoric freedom, walking away from some girl like Zo, knowing perhaps I'm throwing a good thing away. When did this all start? When I left to South Dakota and almost filled a dumpster? Efficiency. Things that make me happy are efficient, like this computer. It's something I wouldn't dream of giving away. I cherish every byte that goes into it. That's all I want to keep. Yesterday I gave Zo my special mask I got in Bali and a few blankets from Indonesia. Today I gave Bruce all my climbing magazines and books that I've read. All my ethnic decorations and art I've collected in my travels all given away or thrown away. Last night I threw all sorts of stuff away, even photographs. Hopefully, if I travel enough and change environments I won't need to take photographs or buy souvenirs. All I want is to write about it (implicit that they are experiences that will be etched into me). I felt almost guilty that I wasn't thinking about Zo, after all we had a fight more or less and broke up. Hmmm. I didn't know what to make of it and was trying to imagine how upset she was. Suddenly I felt terrible about it, for being so cold-hearted. I can't go on living like this. I called her and apologized to her answering machine. She called back and invited me back over there, but this roller coaster lifestyle is not for me.
I woke up and called Paul to find out for sure that I'm going to Jerome. Then I met Jesus and Bruce for a brief Ch-ch-chia thing [what we called our writing group], but Bruce had to leave, so I hung out with Jesus and had lunch with him then got hot in this 105° so I checked into a room #202 at Congress and now I can write, read Jesus's and Bruce's writings, or pick up the phone and call Zo.
July 10. 1995—Tucson
Had a reality check and realized that I have to get over this bitterness and work at this thing between me and Zo, cuz when it comes down to it she's a swell girl and I really couldn't ask for anything better. After staying at the Copper Cactus, I roamed about in the stifling heat until I checked into the Congress. Got a hold of Zo and told her I'd take her to Torq's on the pretense that we were just friends. (I think we both knew we were fooling each other.) Then we got Coldstone creamery ice cream and got The Professional and went to her house to watch it. Of course it was like "we can't lay on top of each other like this, we're just friends" but there's no way. She's just too irresistible. We went back to Hotel Congress and saw Mia in the lobby, quite funny—"hey it's Derek... and Jess, back together, okay." It's all coming full circle. It was a weird night at Hotel Congress. White sheets and ceiling fan, lights from downtown and the club sounds throbbing through the floor and walls. We started to have sex and I knew then and there that I had to know the difference, to make the distinction between having sex and making love. I got all freaked out for a while then got over it. I think that was it, I'd be hard pressed to give her up as easily as I would have before. She's something I definitely want to put a lot of energy into. She's taken the bitter edge out of me.
The next day I met Jesus and Bruce for Chia again then went to see "Brave Heart" to escape the heat, then hung out with Zo. I called mom and she told me that Kevin had admitted to her that he had a problem with heroin. Didn't come as a surprise to me as I've ventured into Kevin's world (though I thought it was more recreational). So I called Kevin and sounded like he really wanted me to come out there. I had made plans to climb with Bruce all weekend on Mt. Lemmon and wanted to hang out with Zo. Isn't it always the case that when you're on a up, the people around will bring you down? And what an upper I was on, I'm getting so high on Zo. It feels so right.
Met Bruce for Breakfast at Bobo's. Talked him to going to Tahquitz/Suicide Rock so Kevin could meet us out there. Kevin was game which surprised me. After all day driving in 110° degree weather with no air-conditioner we got to Idylwild and I left a message on my machine for Kevin where we were. We were in a cheesy Karaoke bar that was taxing our patience. Kevin finally showed up and didn't waste any time pouring out all his problems, Jordan, money, drugs, no job, . . . What can you say? You can tell him to get out of L.A. at least on the weekends, to forget about Jordan, to take any job while he waits on movie jobs, etc. But he's down in deep.
We camped out in the parking lot, then woke up with Tahquitz towering over out heads. Had to stall for time for the climbing shop to open for Kevin to rent shoes (couldn't fit into my spare jumbos). There were L.A. types all over, yuppie weekend climbers. We went up and did Fingertrip (5.7) which was absolutely classic. Four pitches. A pretty hard climb to start Kevin on but what the hell, he needed it. He was pretty gripped and scared, but I think (hope) it made an impression on him. He wore a long-sleeve shirt the whole time though it was hot and sunny. I scored some major booty to boot, a #2 camalot some idiot L.A. kid left behind!! Took a lot of work to get it out, but it's in good condition. Also found a runner with 2 carabiners.
Kevin [a.k.a. Chaulky] climbing Fingertrip
Kevin + us (w/ coonskin helmet) on top of Tahquitz
We ate Mexican food and Kevin wanted to go back to L.A. so we decided to go with him, lured by parties in Hollywood and by the fact that Bruce had never really been. Drove into L.A. to Kevin's pad near Hollywood. Called Richard but he was sick and at his parent's house. Couldn't talk him into going out. So we went to the Lava Lounge for a gin and tonic. Then to another dank, dark, smokey bar, "The Room". Then we got Thai food at 1 a.m. and went home to sleep.
Left Kevin in L.A. even though he had nothing better to do. Oh well, at least he came out for a day. Bruce and I got a late start and when we got back to Tahquitz our high hopes of doing the Open Book were shattered. It looked intimidating as hell. I'm pretty upset with myself as far as climbing goes. I need to get up to par. We jumped on the Left Ski Track (5.6) which was about as classic as 5.6's get. Barely enough to prolong my addiction.
We got back into Tucson at around 2 a.m. It was still hot as shit though we drove at night (at 2 a.m. it was 91°). I went to Zo's on the off chance that she might be there or at least to sleep in her bed if I could't sleep with her. Her lights were on but her car wasn't there. Probably her Hasidic landlord's son-in-law camping out there in her absence and I didn't want to deal with that so I went back to Bruce's and invaded his privacy and slept on his dirty floor. Had breakfast with Bruce and Judy at the Congress grill then rushed to Zonge only to discover that we can't leave for a few hours because the window in the truck was broken. So here I am waiting it out at Bentley's trying to catch up with the events. Three months ago I was unemployed without a girlfriend and no money. Kevin was the one with the posh set-up in France with Jordan, lots of money and the promise of working on RPM. Now he's lost it all and I have the job–money–girl situation under control. And it's almost like I'm supposed to feel guilty for it. Going climbing seemed to do him so good, and hopefully he'll go again. Maybe I'm biased but climbing is therapeutic for everything. When all goes bad head for the crags. I just can't understand how Kevin feels although I've been there (except for the drugs part). He still is obsessed with Jordan and wants to go up to S.F. to look her up. At least he know she has a problem with drugs and needs to hang out with new friends for a better influence. What he doesn't realize is that he needs something to take the place of that needy escapist addiction. There's only so much I can say.
July 13, 1995—Tucson
It has finally cooled off here like the aftermath of a monsoon, though not a drop has fallen. The dark thunderheads formed a ring around Tucson, a blue-metallic black like I've never seen before. Yesterday Zo and I were making love in the heat of the afternoon then fell into a nap. We woke up with an emergency broadcast on the radio about a severe storm warning in the Patagonia area, flash floods. But not a drop here. Teasing us, making us beg. Not that any of this is metaphorical for what's going in the other news topics of the day.
The client up in Jerome stuck another survey crew on the grid so we have been delayed a week. I can't complain. I did spend part of Monday in the office working with Jesse, this guy that I'm going to Jerome/Sedona with. Interesting guy. I couldn't get a hold of Zo so I went over to his house or actually his brother's who is the guitar player for Piñata. After a while got tired of hanging out there so I made up some excuse and went off and saw a movie (bad enough that it doesn't matter what it was, just an excuse to get out of the oppressive heat.)
Went over to Zo's afterwards and she was finally home. It has been an incredible re-awakening. We make love in the morning, in the heat of the day, in the evening after dinner and late at night in the cool dark with the swamp cooler going and the windows open. Yesterday I took her to the climbing gym to "learn the ropes" and she enjoyed it. Last night rented Henry in June. Great movie (though not impressed with the acting job for Henry Miller). Anais Nin (Maria de Medeiros) was incredible. Amazing to see Henry Miller and June (who is obviously Mona from Plexus) from Anais Nin's p.o.v. I'm inspired. Inspired to write, inspired to make love. Last night, seconds afterwards, I opened my eyes to Zo with her head dangled over the bed, bathed in blue light, still panting with her eyes closed. An image of perfection. That glimpse bathed me, purified me, I know it's love. A love that's been in denial and is being re-released. I opened my mouth and said—"you speak my language" without realizing what I said. They struck me as words more powerful than "I love you". I am realizing I have been in a dormancy. Yesterday Zo showed me a letter I wrote to her (a card with a Gustav Klimt print on the front) 3 years ago:
Hi my dearest Prisca —Welcome home
hope you had an excellent time in Mexico. I wish I was here there) to greet you but we'll have to wait another day or so —actually I'm not really sure what day you're getting back—we'll be back Sunday night. Prisca, I missed you like you wouldn't believe. But in a good way. Just the thought of you makes me all warm and numb and tingly inside. Makes me want to rub my toes together. You are like a ghost whose essence continues to bewitch me even after you're gone. You've infiltrated my senses and still linger me full of good vibe. Prisca, I've become extremely fond of you. I love you. I seriously never thought I'd fall in love with you—but I'm falling. It's like that feeling when you're looking for something, always searching and looking, only to discover it's been staring you in the face all along. You've become overwhelming to me in your simplicity and purity. You are like a flower whose sweet effervescent essence fills my lungs and shoots to my head, encompassing me. It is an essence that can't be seen or heard, just felt. It is passion ignited in my veins. There's so much I'd like to say to you that I'll never be able to put in words, but hey that's cool—I just hope you realize how special you are to me and that I can't wait to see you 'en vivo' to fill this hollow aching in my breast that your absence has left me. I hope all this corny talk doesn't scare you off. Don't worry, Prisca. I don't need you—but I want you—there's a difference. And oh how I want you, I want to give myself to you. I want you to feel how you make me feel. I wanna see you smile, your quirky stylin' smile—I want to see you glowing and radiant cuz it fills me up. I'm so glad to know you—thank you for being you.
I couldn't believe I wrote that. I repressed a lot. I didn't even remember that her middle name was Prisca. I'm like an amnesiatic that is reawakening to the joys of life. It's all true.
July 17, 1995—Tucson
After a few days of indeterminacy, hanging out at Prisca's and becoming increasingly fond of her, I found out that the Sedona job had been postponed til the following Monday. So we took off once again to Los Angeles. This time just me and Prisca. I took her climbing at the climbing gym and got her a pair of shoes and she was into it. We took off thursday afternoon in the heat of the day and drove straight through to Joshua Tree. Camped on the east side of Hidden Valley. The moon was almost full and it was incredibly gorgeous. Prisca and I took a walk out to some flat boulders with a bottle of wine. It was unbelievable but then I couldn't get it up and I don't know why as I felt really relaxed and was really turned on. Maybe I was just shy about being outside in a place like Joshua Tree, I don't know what my deal was, but then we went back to thes pread-out blanket and made incredible love. We've been making a lot of it lately. Something I've been repressing and neglecting. It was so nice to sleep with her under the stars in the warm night.
The sun rose right into our face and the pleasant warmness became stifling heat. My stove was broken so we went into town to get breakfast. Then we returned to the trashcan and I set up B-1 (5.1) teaching Prisca how to lead belay and then climb. After that we did B-3 (5.3) and that challenged Prisca a bit more. I top roped some 5.10c next to the 5.3 and did it without falls though it was very challenging and slabby. Then I led this 5.4 (moving through the grades for her) and top-roped a 5.8 after that next to it. Then I talked Prisca into challenging herself and doing Tip-toe (5.7+), a pretty fun little lead up a crystally stairway dike. Prisca did it on the second try. She's really stoked about climbing which makes me stoked. It was getting way too hot to climb so we left, after coming close to a major booty score. These Finnish people left their rope and rope bag at the base of the cliff but I tracked them down elsewhere in the park and gave them their rope back. I did score a nut and a carabiner, though.
Prisca climbing in Joshua Tree
We drove into L.A. and stopped at Sather's house but she wasn't there so we cruised through Hollywood to Kevins. He had just popped a zit and was being all weird (when I called he sounded like he was on barbiturates or something). We got a hold of Sather and picked her and Brett up and went out to eat at "Mexico City". Brett was trying to talk shit about movies, hasn't changed much. We went to the Room afterward and Brett apologized for all the shit that went down concerning Mia. Kevin was being obnoxious and cynical all night and I felt bad that the others had to deal with him. We slept on Kevin's cat-pissed soaked cushion on his living room floor, didn't sleep much anyway. I had a bad allergic reaction to his cat, so Prisca and I would be making love and I would be dripping on her and sneezing and we just couldn't get enough of each other.
Kevin flew to SFO early the next morning for a wedding. Prisca and I slept in then met Sather and Brett for breakfast. Once again I spent the morning and the night before playing phone tag with Richard and just missing him at the Room, and we never managed to hook up with him. But it was an excellent breakfast of lox and eggs and then we went to Santa Monica and swam in the ocean, bodysurfing. It was glorious, I hadn't been in the ocean for so long. At first it felt awkward and cold and uninviting, but I jumped in the waves and the feeling swept over me.
Prisca and I were gonna go to Tahquitz but decided at the last second to go back to Joshua Tree. It was a beautiful evening. We had a bottle of red wine and made some pasta. We had weird neighbors that were having sex in the bushes basically in our campsite and doing beer bongs. We made more incredible love under the moonlight and it was so clear and perfect. Everything was clear and perfect, there was no temperature in the air, and everything was bathed in moonlight and Prisca was an angel with stars falling out of her eyes.
It started raining on us in the middle of the night so we moved into the van and it was still raining the next morning so we slept in. Woke up and left Joshua tree for a casual trip back to Tucson. Got back and went to Terra Cotta's for a nice patio dinner. Then after we made love I for some reason felt I ought to tell her about the private lap dance I almost got in Vegas and well we needed an emotional cry and all that, but afterwards we mated like hyperactive rabbits and all was well when we fell asleep and woke up the next day. And then I got to work and find out that the Sedona job was cancelled all together and who knows what the fuck is going on, but I don't care because it means more time to spend with Prisca.
July 23, 1995—Tucson
So now the deal is that I'm not going to Jerome either. Tim Nordstrom called me and invited me to do the Bolivian jobs with him. Two months minimum (visa expires), on three different jobs. One down int he Amazon near Santa Cruz, and another in the Altiplano at 16,000 feet. How could I say no? We ran around for a day making preparations, but now I guess the deal is that we’re going to do a quick job in Mexico first then go to Bolivia. But who knows, things change day by day. Prisca is the same way. One day we'll say goodbye because we think we won't see each other for a while, and then she (or I) will come back with changed plans, all beyond our control. She was supposed to go to Phoenix or Flagstaff to do some job, but then they get cancelled or postponed like mine. So we've had a chance to spend a lot of time with each other, but it's in a hot Tucson limbo.
I also got a call from Morgan Mason and have been playing phone tag with him trying to get in touch. From the message he left and the brief time I did talk to him, he sounded psyched about my book and wanted to introduce me to someone at William Morris to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. Prisca Sather and Brett came into town this weekend and we went out Friday night, but the Prisca's went home because Zo had a bad G.I. thing and so I had to babysit Brett. He was getting plastered with Todd (redhead). I hung out with Bruce, Judy and Erica mostly and checked in on Brett and Todd to make sure they didn't pass out in some corner. Eventually Brett lost his hyperactive energy and got sick and threw up and was mellow after that.
The Jesses have been looking at 2 bedroom houses, and we saw a really cool 3 bedroom today, so I volunteered to kind of rent a room myself so I could have a home away from my non-home, a place to keep my stuff and call my own. Should be a good set up, we'll see if it goes.
Went climbing friday with Bruce. Went up to The Fortress and I jumped on the first pitch of the Rupley Route (5.9) only to have to grab a draw to make a clip through the steep headwall. I'm so weak it's embarrassing. Bruce spent a while getting off route on the 3rd pitch and we didn't have a topo (Bruce said he was familiar with the route). He bailed and left a tri-cam of mine on the route. I wandered a pitch up and decided to just call it a day and had to down-climb down this chimney to get off.
The next day I went up with Sean and we were psyched. We got to the base of "Old Man" and we're setting up when I noticed my shoes weren't in my pack and as I'm looking over to break the news to Sean he's looking over at me with the same astonished look. We had both forgotten our shoes! We decided to go hike the Butterfly trail, but ended up on the Box Camp trail. Today in the paper there was a story about these two women that got mauled on the Butterfly Trail the same time we were up there, good thing we saw the Box Camp trail first.
I can't even finish a journal entry without tomorrow's fate changing. I gave Zonge an ultimatum ($10/hr. and I won't go on salary) and now I'm having my regrets that even that isn't good enough. They won't give me an answer. They are totally disorganized and I'm not sure I want to be out of work for weeks at a time while they get their shit together. So I'm thinking of just sticking with Geotemps. Especially in lieu of the events transpiring... Prisca is a few days late on her period. [...]
July 25, 1995 —Tucson
It's amazing how you can pass by certain objects in everyday life and not give them a second thought. It's only when certain events transpire that there becomes event associated with objects. And it's only a select handful of people who have gone through these universal events that can understand the objects. Take a pregnancy kit that you can buy at the pharmacy department at Fry's. There are shelves of them, and behind each box removed from the shelf is a story. I'd like to have a hidden camera on that shelf and follow people home that buy the pregnancy kits. They'd see me come up and analyze each box, reading the backs and selecting one. Non-chalantly pass through the register. While I was there checked my mail and got a paycheck for a measly $36. Go back to where Prisca is waiting, worried. I'm worried too, but I was trying to act the male, telling her not to worry and I had a lot of good reasons, for starters we always used a condom (though one time it broke). But why not convince yourself and take a pregnancy test? I thoroughly read the instructions to her, and then she went at peed on the end of this white plastic stick. There were two windows on it, one was a control window, to make sure the urine made it into the test area. It turned purple as it was supposed to do. Now we had to wait 3 minutes to see if the result window displayed a pink or purple line. The purple line would be indicative of hCG that body releases when it's pregnant. It started out kind of pink. And went to white. And the three minutes went by, my heart beating in my chest, and it stayed white. Whew! That was a close one.
Prisca went to work this morning in one of her cute little dresses with no underwear. [...] She is so adorable. I'm so in love. I'm happy she is not pregnant. For a while there I was freaking out on my job, and almost quit because I wouldn't have been able to handle going to Bolivia or wherever thinking Prisca might be pregnant. And they were being dicks. I gave them an ultimatum (no salary, and nothing less than $10/hr.) and they will get back to me as soon as I go into work, after I finish this entry. We got the house, checked out okay on references (not hard for me as I'm still on their records), and left the deposit. Got the job, got the girl, got the home. Well not so sure about the job, to be honest, I almost hope they don't accept my ultimatum and I can work Geotemps job. Still waiting for Morgan to call back as well. Maybe I'll call him right now.
July 27, 1995—Tucson
Getting hotter and still no sign of monsoons. Not even the teasing cells on the horizon. Just blistering convection heat, yesterday it was 116°, today it's even hotter. The waiting. The sleepless nights, the somnambulistic afternoons in front of a fan. Waking up at 3 a.m. with Prisca sleep-talking—"Derek, where are we?"
I grunt, "we're in central Tibet."
She rolls over restlessly and buries her head in the pillow, whining—"No Really! Where are we?"
I hold her—"we're in your bed in Tucson, Prisca."
She whines more—"where's your van?"
"It's outside where I parked it?" —I say, though there is a doubt in my mind.
Or last night I hear her calling my name and ignore her (getting used to this). After the fourth time she says—"Derek" I answer her and she says "there's a bug crawling up the wall."
I look on the wall and see nothing. I look over at her and she is sitting up with her head sagging down, not even looking in my direction. I'm afraid to wake her from what I've heard about waking up sleepwalkers (though she's not walking). "Prisca, you're dreaming."
"No, I saw a spider crawling up the wall over your head." Her head is still hanging down and her eyes are closed.
"Prisca, you're dreaming, your eyes aren't even open." I check everywhere for the spider just to be sure.
She collapses back onto the pillow and whines—"But I saw it! It was a big tan tarantula."
Then I lay in the hot dark unable to sleep, wishing I could dream. Driving around doing errands in the van with no air-con. Heat that weighs heavy with fatigue. Waiting for the monsoons. In the same manner I'm waiting for, not so much the inspiration, cuz believe me I want to write, but I'm waiting for the dusty conditions that seed the clouds to bring the downpour. You'd think the fires on the mountain would induce. It's the end of July. I wait.
I officially terminated my situation at Zonge. I gave Paul Burns an ultimatum, and they dicked me around for a few days, telling me to just hold out. And then they made a big production of meeting in the "vault", away from phones, away from windows. They wrote me out an offer which basically said they were only going to pay me $8.75 an hour (multiplied by 1.15-1.3 for overseas jobs) plus all the life insurance, 401k bullshit. Like why would I want life insurance or a retirement plan. A held my ground and said I would only accept what I was promised two months ago by Bill Perry. More on a matter of principle than anything. So that was that, and it's all for that better, because the next job they decided to send me on was the two month job in Mazatlan and then Hermosillo which didn't sound like a good time. Now I can have more freedom to pick which jobs I want and when from Geotemps.
Serendipitously, I also got a call back from Morgan giving me a contact at William Morris whose name is Bill Contardi. Kind of the big league, but what the hell, it's worth a shot. I sent out a copy of "Strip Mine" after making a few more minor revisions (but still not having the heart to omit chapter zero, even though, if they ever get past the distraction of that, they would probably ask me to take it out). So now all I can do is wait. Wait and watch the candles melt before you can even burn then. When will the rains come? [it's 25 years later + "Strip Mine" remains unpublished...]
July 30, 1995—Somewhere south of Albuquerque, New Mexico
In a cream-colored Buick Regal listening to Depeche Mode's 1st album, throbbing annoying tinny cheesy pop. Even Prisca (who for some reason put this on, I was sleeping) says—"they sure have gotten better." We're heading south. As usual New Mexico entertains with its clouds and skies, rivaling only Arizona. The big sky, always horizon to horizon, east to west, north to south.
Friday we were planning on going to climb at Mt. Lemmon all weekend. But we were at a crossroads eating Mexican before we planned on seeing Dread Zeppelin and Prisca was saying how she didn't have to be back at work until Tuesday, and well me... So we decided to go on a roadtrip and then started going crazy with the ideas of all the different things we could do, all the places we could go. I was so into new things that I decided to eat meat since I'd been meaning to do so. I ordered a few birria tacos and when they came all I had was 1 bite and it disgusted me. Juxtaposed with the lardy beans I felt like I was going to puke. We were thinking we would leave then and there but we were both too tired and sick to drive, and we were still ironing wrinkles in our relationship, bickering over minor nuisances. But we did manage to leave the next morning and it felt good to leave the oppressive heat.
We weren't really sure where we going—we'd thought maybe we'd stop the first night at the Chiricahua's or the Dragoon's but we kept driving straight through into New Mexico thinking we'd stop in Albuquerque to climb in the Sandia's. We pulled off the freeway and meandered around, then agreed that the true beauty (and cooler temperatures) didn't start until up in Santa Fe. We pushed the final hour and got to Santa Fe. We got a room at the St. Francis, a somewhat Ritzy affair. We only had clothes to camp and climb, but so what. We went out on the town and had a nice meal, bottle of Merlot and we're starting to feel pretty high and decided that we'd try to drink each other under the table. So we went to this 2-story bar that I can't remember the name of and matched each other round for round. The person who named the most tunes during the drink would have the next drink bought for them. I drank Whiskey Sours, she drank Gin and Tonic's. Except for one round where I decided to try a Martini. Some guy sat down with Prisca while I was getting a round. He was all surprised when I sat down and was apologizing and saying he would leave and we told him not to worry about it, and talked with him. I had been keeping my eye on Prisca and she seemed to be getting less drunk than me. But she suddenly whispered in my ear an urgent, let's go, not being able to finish her last drink. All together we had about $50 in drinks, a $60 dinner and a $110 dollar hotel room. Earlier we had found a brochure on river rafting and decided to give that a go, $84 for that. Spending money is so much fun when you don't have it. If you have it saved up than it feels like you're depleting your savings. But when you don't have it all, there's a certain crazed out of control high to just spending it carelessly. So we stumbled out of the bar and into the streets of Santa Fe and into the Hotel. We had to ring for the night porter, and before he got there, Prisca tried to straighten herself up and slurred to me—"be personable". I started laughing so hard that I fell over. We got the door open and fell all over each other ripping each other's clothes off, [...]
I woke up early and it was quite a sight, desecrating such a nice room. Prisca still wasn't feeling so hot. I went and got coffee and she threw up and still was dizzy and saying there was no way she could go river-rafting. I went to the plaza to tried to find bread. There was some crafts festival going on, and people were up bright and early eating BBQ beef and carnitas, burning meat everywhere. I grabbed a breakfast burro and continued my quest for pastries only to get really annoyed and how unpleasant and unfriendly the locals where. I could never live in Santa Fe. Way to pretentious. It just reminds me that Tucson is where it's at. It's got the same skies, but the Sonoran desert to boot, and not tons of lame tourists gaping and gawking at your new age lifestyle.
I managed to get some toast and water into Prisca and convince her that she'd be okay. Made it to the pick-up sight. This guy that looked like Hollywood Hans Florine was our guide. The other people in our raft were this pastey fat couple from Chicago and an anorexic boney-backed mother with a bratty child. The water was low and it was only class 3 (they weren't running the Taos Box because it was too low), but hey it was fun. We probably could have driven ourselves up and floated down the river without a raft and had more fun, though.
We got back to Santa Fe and had lunch (bad Pozole) then we're walking around Santa Fe during the arts and crafts festival and I had this strange feeling that something was going to happen so I told Prisca that we should wait around a bit longer. We we went to the institute of American Indian Arts and checked out the exhibit. When we got it was raining. We ducked into a coffee shop for a bit than walked back toward the plaza and it started unleashing and we ducked into the arcade and watched it come down and then there was a crash like dynamite that made everyone duck and I looked up into a tree across the street and a branch was falling. The lightning had struck the tree about 40 feet away. There was more very intense blasts and driving hail, we waited til it mellowed out than ran for the car. Prisca needed to get back by Monday night so she could do some research so we decided to go back then and there so we could climb at Mt. Lemmon. It's sunset, the red splashes on falling gray clouds, black masses on the rear horizon, fluffy billowing clouds everywhere, and we are driving, me and Prisca.
August 3, 1995—Flagstaff, AZ
Hanging out in the back seat of a state vehicle while Prisca and Tony are doing the runs. We got back to Tucson after a day in Santa Fe and we woke up the next morning and went up to the Ridgeline and did some 5.7 and maybe a 5.8. Not too bad, Prisca got good practice. Still no word from Geotemps and it was still 110° or so with no rain. So the next morning when Prisca and Tony spontaneously dropped by (I had already said goodbye to her) and invited me to go to Flagstaff with them for a few days, I couldn't say no. Grabbed my computer and a change of clothes and we drove up to the cool country smelling of pine. We had Thai food at my favorite restaurant but it wasn't that good.
The next morning they went off to do their respiratory science survey's and I just took off walking towards the radio tower hills. I had to get through some neighborhoods first and it was a pain. I could see the hills but there was rows of houses in the way and roads that didn't go straight. Finally I just cut through someone's yard and hit a network of trails and went up this canyon lined with basalt cliffs. A very distinct flavor to it. The canyon became cliffs and I had to do some exposed third-classing to get up. Matter of fact, I got a pretty good arm work out from climbing because I tried to go up rocky slabs rather than tree filled gullies. On the summit were grassy meadows and radio towers. I went down this ridge that was like Devil's Tower fallen over. Basalt Slabs with cracks. I got back to the hotel and it was 12:30 and I was supposed to meet Prisca and Antonio at Beaver Street Brewery at 1:00. It was about three miles away but I set out anyway. They saw me on route 66 and picked me up. We ate and the rest of the afternoon I hung out at Stacy's coffeeshop brainstorming for "Propagation of Error" [also never published]. After that they picked me up and we drove up to the Grand Canyon in time to see the sunset. The gaping hole, the belly button of America.
August 7, 1995—Tucson
Time has substance and the space is heavy—laden with the heat that penetrates the skin. The pores in my hands itch and sweat and then peel like dried leather. Fatigue and insomnia are inescapable, they saturate this blistering air we breathe here. In limbo for a month. A month of "time wasted" I say in quotes because that is how it appears. Who else in their right mind would endure this agony. No one can climb. Every time we set out the heat weights us down before we even set foot on the rock.
Shaheen and I went up on saturday. I suggested we just go to windy point so we can actually get some climbing done. Ideas were tossed around, driven by indecision. Whatever happened to the days that you wished would never end? When you couldn't wait to get to the base. The days of clean granite, solid placements, a chalked up finger sliding into a crack, pulling yourself up a gneiss face, your feet in sticky rubber, and the difference between hot and cold. The exhilaration of reaching the top, pumped and out of breath. So now, in the summer of 1995, the summer when all climbing plans were foiled, we decided to try out Spencers Fins. A place in the backcountry guide I had overseen. A place I had never heard of any one having been. It had some two star 5.8+'s and 5.10a's. It didn't warn us about the 2½ hour approach. Started on box camp trail and ventured off at a ridge. Followed vague directions, finally gave up when we saw this beautiful face of rock. Scouted it out, great climbing if you climbed 5.11 and had a Bosch. We figured we would continue along this ridge until it dropped into the junction of Palisade and Spencer canyons, and suddenly we were at Spencer Fins. We bush-whacked through thick manzanita and brush scouting out the climbs, but they were complete shit. Even the 5.8+ with 2 stars was about 15 feet of worthwhile climbing through a roof you could almost touch from the ground. Thunder was rumbling overhead and we were on an exposed ridge. It didn't even seem worthwhile to get our climbing shoes on. The only reason I would ever return is if I got sick all the sport climbs at windy point and decided to buy a Bosch and put up hard routes. The hike back was insane. We were famished and soaked in sweat, my arms and legs were covered with scratches, my insoles were aching from uneven ground, having to dig into steep slopes covered with pine needles, fighting through limbs and bushes up steep slopes, rocks sliding out from under your feet and tumbling down the hill.
I'm having reality checks, evaluating the status of my friendships. Sometimes it seems I have been living a lie. None of my relationships have closure, they are all cheap (this is all besides Zo). No one really gives a shit about me for the sake of me. Even my own family doesn't care. I can't believe I have the inspiration to even write. I've finished a book and no one is remotely interested or has anything to say. Sure people say "it's good" just like I would say to some one who handed me some writing that was really bad, and I would just try to find something nice to say about it. No one has respect enough for me to say "hey Derek, this really is lousy. You have no hope as a writer." And I refuse to admit to myself that I am mediocre, though this is what any one who can read people's response to me would conclude. And here I am setting out to write another story. And if nothing comes of it I don't what else I have to offer this world. For I have tried for years before to make music that people would understand and respect, and be inspired by. But to no avail. All that effort was masturbation, the semen splattering into dust where it hardened into this shell. Like an insect suspended in amber. I have withdrawn, fooling myself to think I have been happy without my efforts being appreciated or even validated. Because in reality it's all a cheap lie. I am a worthless loser with nothing to offer to this world, no opinions but my own self-absorbed fantasies that are no better than your average plumber or health technician. But at the same time I think about a life where I can't be a writer, not so much that I can't support myself financially, but one where no one respects me—and it makes me not want to live. I am not strong enough to live just for myself, I thought I was. But I have to have some sort of support, for I have no basis of friends. And now I have given up my cheap lonesome wanderings for Zo. One lover, one friend wrapped up into a 95 pound nugget. Is that enough to make me happy? One egg in one basket? I'm afraid of the dependency, afraid of loving her so much that if something happened between us I would crumble. Afraid of milking her til she breaks. As it is now, we make love so much that she has been bleeding for almost 3 weeks. Her period is lasting forever, each time we do it it's like reopening a wound. We say we will stop making love for a while to let it heal, but we can not resist for even 24 hours. I love her so much that [...] The rain, it's almost upon us.
No, it will never come. It is all around. We can smell it and feel the drizzle but we still wait.
August 13, 1995—Tucson
Things were building up like dust in the hot sky. More time on the house on Mountain, unemployed and waiting to move. In limbo. The day to move finally came, and we actually moved the night before when it was cooler. Prisca and I went nuts buying furniture, plants etc. In the back of my mind was the lingering concern of my credit card bill growing out of control. I've been charging everything, even buying gifts, boots for Prisca, etc. I can't even guess how high it is. Prisca also cut her hair off before we moved. She cut it all off. It was quite the event. She looks even cuter without all that hair to hide her face, more elegant, sophisticated and professional and boyish at the same time.
We moved into the house on 8th street and it's definitely an improvement but my room is really stuffy and in the back and has no electricity so I still haven't etched out my place. So the day we moved in I went into Geotemps and Terri had a job for me. Zonge is now turning around to Terri and demanding backpay of $1700 because they are trying to tell her that they agreed to pay me $8/hour instead of $10. I had to compose this letter telling things how they were to bail her out. So Friday I went out with this guy Rob down to Arivaca to soil sample. Really harsh terrain, up and down through washes full of catclaw, mesquite, ocotillo, cholla, etc.—basically every plant with spines and stickers including these really evil plant that is like a leafy cactus with stinging nettles. The first day we just surveyed out the baseline.
I came home and the first monsoon finally hit. Garbage cans flying down the street. It eased up and I went out to go to Fry's and then it was like the storm reversed direction and gained momentum because it just unleashed. Rain like buckets of water being dumped from the sky. So strong the wipers couldn't keep it off the windows. I made it to Fry's and tried to take cover in the arcade and it wasn't helping. Everything had turned black and cold whereas 15 minutes before it was bright, sunny and 110°. The power was out and in Fry's people were barricading the glass doors to keep them closed. The guy let me in with a wet gust. It felt like being in a storm shelter. Everybody huddled in only the emergency lights. I couldn't get money because the teller machine was down and so were the lights in the aisles so I left once it mellowed out a bit. There were intersections full of cars stalled in 3 feet of water. I had to maneuver through businesses and whatnot and went to Reay's. I was shivering cold.
Came home and started to cook dinner. Prisca came home from being at Target. We were both tired and had been on our feet all day, and probably somewhat nervous and on edge about moving into together. We ended up getting in this ugly spat that didn't seem to offer resolution. I think it's a big stepping stone getting over this. The thing lovers quarrel about you can't put into words. They're always piddly things but the other reads into them unnecessarily. But this is the stage where the re-infatuation of passion gets replaced by a more sincere maturity. This is also the stage where Prisca dumped me last so I got a little freaked out, because her attitude was reminding of those days. We more or less made up and made love [...].
I worked another 12½ hour day from hell out in the hot sun, and no rain at all. Walking 200 feet. Digging a hole, collecting a few pounds of dirt, packing it up and moving on another 200 feet. We did 50 samples by the end of the day and had run out of water. I don't think I have ever been so dehydrated. Prisca left to Morenci this morning she'll be gone for 4 or 5 days. I was supposed to climb with Bruce but my fingers are trashed and dried out so we met at the Congress grill and exchanged some writings, then came over here. Somewhere the idea got started to rent Godzilla and make Orange Julius drinks and it escalated into getting Godzilla, King Kong, and Godzilla vs. King Kong and all sorts of fruits—pineapple, peaches, oranges, lemons, limes, strawberries, kiwi's—ice and a bottle of Tanqueray. We swung by and picked up Terri and Heather but they weren't really as enthusiastic as we were. They came and had a drink and watched Godzilla then left. Me and Bruce stuck it out through a few more fruity combinations of gin juice, clove cigarettes and King Kong vs. Godzilla which was not nearly as good as King Kong. King Kong was classic. Classic dialogue, classic production design and story development. Especially considering their resources and the fact that it was made in 1933. King Kong representing the dark male tribal anima. The fair white maiden. He fends off the other monsters for her and she softens him. And finally when they bring him back and try to take pictures of him, he snaps and breaks out to climb the ultimate phallic symbol of the industrial era with the maiden. There were 2 more huge cells that flirted very close, blowing dust in the street. But now they are lingering just east and just south. Big walls of grey with rainbows in them. Maybe now it’s time to watch Godzilla?
August 24, 1995 —Tucson
It's been 11 days since my last journal entry. Finished the soil sampling job the day before yesterday. Didn't take a day off since. Waking up at 5 a.m. was starting to get to me, especially the last few days as I was coming down with a virus. It started to get pretty monotonous, but luckily the weather was on our side. The monsoon season has finally arrived. There was a couple of days that were drizzly and overcast, and fog hung over the mountains making it look like jungle. 200 feet pulling the string box on a collision straight course, letting nothing get in my way, through bushes, over crumbly cliffs, back-sighting flags, at 200 feet find a spot to dig a hole, pick away at the ground to get it soft (ha-ha) then scoop away the excess, then scoop away fresh stuff from a foot under, scoop it into a white baggie, cinch it shut, throw it in my pack, reset the counter and off again. I'd bring home some plants or rocks for the garden, one time I even snagged a huge ocotillo.
So I'm finally sitting in my room. Finally had the time to organize and clean it (and finally got electricity). My room that faces south. My simple space with the big desk and couch. I've been feeling really shitty, mostly because of this cold, being fatigued, etc. Been spending a lot of time with Prisca, things are getting tense at times, but it always seems worth it. I've been feeling to insecure and inadequate to write. Even to write in here. I have a big mental block. Maybe I should delve into a subconscious brainstorm under currents backwards to break down the walls. Extreme juxtaposition of senseless, yet fruitful bandaged compartments . the hammering in the yard coming into play . fan rolling round and around, circulating the air . limited. by grammar . and words . a tablet of colors to choose from and mix when all you want is grey . the importance of boots, the boots the birds flying beneath the shingles of venetian blinds orange juice and tortilla chips, the word 'wistful' the heavy weight of existence the cheapness of spelling and honesty . still having faith that the truth can't be that boring, something must come of it . always hoping to snap out of it, the constant struggle to live for today for fear of tomorrow, but I wait for tomorrow, I wait hoping, not creating tomorrow . i'll snap out of it 1 of these days, contemplate suicide because nothing ever seems adequate . then I see a movie like Smoke and feel inspired, but so inspired I feel hopless, like I can never live up to that. Why such drive, and unrewarding ambition? Unrequited love?
The monsoons are here, the heat that builds up, the oppression and tension, swelling, amounting to something, billowing higher, then the discharge between the heaven and earth, the cloud becoming grounded, drops its rain. It's the classical hero's myth. A water drop freeing itself from the shackles of the sea, or from the drainages, the cycle of monotony, sublimates into vapor, unseen. Free to float into heaven, then the oppressive heat of accumulated souls builds and swells into something substantial like a body of art and all it takes is a spark to bring the drop to the ground to carve out the drainages. To pull the mountains down into the sea.
Got a letter from Bill Contardi at William Morris today. It said: "Thank you for the opportunity to take a look at STRIP MINE. It is unfortunately not for me." Back to the drawing board (or the writing desk). As they say, throw out the first pancake. I don't like to think much about where my life would go if I couldn't be a writer. Maybe I need to shed that desperation. Shed my ego.
Sather moved in yesterday. Went climbing with Prisca on Saturday, did the Standard Route (5.7) on Rappel route. She did great. The next day we went to Green Slabs and did Monkey Business (5.6) and Banana Cake (5.7R) My inclination is to be very short. Not that I'm feeling insecure, it's just that details don't seem to matter in the scope of things.
I've planted a lot of stuff in the garden. It's mostly kinda dead, or more like hibernating stuff. Plants or cacti that look dead or pathetic right now, but in time (with attentive watering) will mature into beautiful plants: Two ocotillos, an agave, a aloe vera, a prickly pear, a hedgehog cactus, some sort of white hairy cactus with pink flowers, two barrel cactuses, a few desert brooms, some wild grasses and monsoon flowers, etc. All that I stole from out in the wild, usually that were in the process of dying because they were in a trail where people were stepping on them, or on the roadside in a pile of bulldozer rubble. Maybe this is how I should think of my writing. I show people the garden, and say "yah, it looks shitty now but in a few months . . . when the bougainvillea has grown to cover the trellis." I don't know if it will be a matter of a few months as far as writing. Highly unlikely. I'll probably write a dozen unpublished books, then give up and kill myself—then I'll get published.
I don't even remember dreams. I remember that they are about water. I was navigating a river that I'd been on before. I was approaching some deadly rapids that weren't there before. I pulled myself out just in time. And then it's like we're in movie, like Mad Max but on a river boats, and since the 1st movie is called "Lobo" we call the sequel "Sublobo".
[... chronlogic continuation (Sept–Dec 1995)]