[1.28.2020. D.C.—Getting into chapter 8 of Textiloma, which covers the time period July-Dec 1995, which we haven't transcribed yet here... not that our (Telemachus) perspective has much bearing now, except where it overlaps w/ Ulysses (Kevin). He's deep into his struggles now, between L.A. + S.F. + we're living in Tucson, working as a field geologist + in the growing pains phase of our relationship w/ Zo... still young + idealistic + wanting to be footloose + free like a typical male, a gnarly climber-type, not wanting to be tied down in a relationship, so there's a lot of venting in this entry. It picks up from here (where we called Zo Prisca).]
Sept. 6, 1995—Tucson
Finally got some "work" today. Went to the offices of Jaba, Inc. There was 9 of us to go on some field trip. A few investors (decrepit old farts), the president J.B. who always has a cell phone glued to his ear, the biogeochem consultant C, T W (Land Status), Bob (geeky hillbilly) and even S who's only job was to document the trip on video. Caravaned out in 2 Isuzu Troopers to Tombstone. I had no pre-conceived notions, the slightest idea what to expect. I get the full personal tour of the Tombstone mining district. Everything is pointed out to me by T. He has a keen interest in pointing everything out and asking my advice like I'm some sort of consultant. Wild Goose hunt, we were kind of following J. Went to this location where we shot some video where C demonstrated how to take veggie samples and explained all about biogeochemistry. Then he demonstrated soil sampling. We ate lunch at Nellie Cashman's (?) then more wild goose chasing over 4wd roads through storm clouds and lightning, through Sierra Vista only to be turned back at fort Huachuca to take the long way to Patagonia where we dug more holes. Incredibly beautiful site. Rolling pasture land streaked with wildflowers at the headwaters of the Santa Cruz river. I'd have a serious moral dilemma doing prospecting work there. Then through Sonoita and back to Tucson. Tom was about to dismiss me with a thank you for coming along and no mention of further jobs when I gave him a 'what the fuck?' and he went into an hour long spiel about the mining industry, every aspect of it, from the investors to the bureaucratic bullshit and gave me all sorts of praise about how keen I was though I didn't do shit all day except ask questions, learn some geology and botany and enjoy the view driving through country I've been meaning to hit on a day off.
Sept. 4, 1995—Tucson
What the hell is going on here, I'd like to know. The heavy weight of day to day living thinking it will amount to something. Maybe the garden will always be dead. Uproot a happy ocotillo and try to transplant it and what do you expect? A dead stick in the ground, and you can water it all you want and give it all your loving care and you can't change the fact that it's dead. Like the strawberries I planted when I was young. Somebody told me if you sing to plants they grow better. So I sat there in the garden, while the other kids were playing street football, and passionately sang my heart out to those strawberries. Everyday I'd sing to them and water to them. A few days later they just died.
I want to punch the soil with my bare fist. I want to plunge my hand deep under and rip out the guts. Yesterday on the reservation we saw a lot of roadkill. Dead dogs, cats, sheep and even two cows. There was this one smooshed sheep with a black crow pulling the stringy intestines out of it's asshole. I want to kick the shit out of dead bloated sheep. Flog a dead horse til it disintegrates into nothing.
Nothing doing—my job with Jaba or whatever was postponed for a week. They gave me the run around about taking care of some business 1st and how it was all confidential, blah, blah. So another week trying to write but not being too inspired. Reworking old stuff like "Threshold Wound" and "Propagation of Error", but it feels almost mechanical and desperate. Like if I don't sit down and type something, I'll just want to take an ice axe to my skull. That's all writing is a long drawn out suicide note, trying to get it all down, grasping for some sort of meaning. A conversation between yourself and your alter ego standing 600 feet up on the edge of Canyon de Chelly wanting to jump, trying to talk yourself out of it. Canyon de Chelly, with it's winding fertile fields lined with red sandstone cliffs. All your life compressed into about 10 seconds of free fall. I'm such a loser I've been sitting here for 10 minutes trying to calculate in my head exactly how long the free fall would be but I get answers that are way too large. Commons sense and experience prevails. Whoever said I wanted to be a physicist anyway. I'll jump off the abyss and just time first-hand how long it takes. Why study it and make theories about it?
So once again Zo wanted to go climbing so I forsake "hardman" climbing proposals for a labor day roadtrip with her. Why do I have so much hope? Why do I think I can make things work? I tried to plan a trip that would accommodate her, was thinking Red Rocks, but the guidebook is out of print. I don't know what was wrong with the dragoons. I guess I just wanted to take advantage of the 3-day weekend, and not kill her with long bushwhacking approaches. I weighed everything out and it seemed Tahquitz/Suicide Rock was our best bet. We were bickering before we even got on the freeway, I don't even remember about what, it doesn't matter. She just parked the car somewhere (her car, of course, at her insistence) and told me to take it and she would just walk home. Boy, we were off to a good start. I talked her back into the car and took the wheel. We were one hour outside of Phoenix when she's all fidgety and making excuses like the car smells funny. "Isn't there somewhere closer." I told her from the beginning that the road to Granite Mountain was closed, but she kept questioning my knowledge (including the driving time to Joshua Tree, even though I've been there at least 20 times). So whatever, Granite Mountain it is. So she sleeps while I drive back to Phoenix and then to Prescott. And of course I brought all the guidebooks and got info on another road in as a backup because I figured she would be all wishy washy. Found the forest service road to the backway to Granite Mountain, but Zo was freaking out with every little bump on the road and telling me not to drive next to blades of grass because it would scratch the car. And I'm driving two miles an hour trying to accommodate her as much as possible.
As always the road is just a metaphor. I can drive as slow and careful as possible, but the fact is it's a bumpy road and if your not willing to put your foot to the pedal and risk dropping your muffler or scratching your paint then your just not going to get anywhere. And it's hard for me to be understanding because I'm a "what the hell it runs" type of guy. And the metaphor is better yet because it's her dad's car and that's why she's so stressed. And all I can think of is clean solid granite and all the climbing I could be doing. It's 3 in the morning and I figure we may as well just pull off and sleep on it and decide in the morning. Get the sleeping bag out (that are zipped together) and lay them in a field. Zo confesses that she has never seen a falling star so I make her sit and stare at the sky until she sees one.
I'm on the verge of sleep when she starts expressing her worries about "what if it rains?" when there's not a cloud in the sky, and how would we get the car out. I know these are superficial worries for something down deeper, but whatever, if she's worried about it, than fine—we can go get a hotel room at the St. David's at 4 in the morning.
Woke up in Prescott and walked around some stupid arts and crafts festival crowded with middle aged and old stupid people. Nothing I hate worse, especially when you can see Granite Mountain off in the distance. I try my best to keep a good attitude. She wants to go back to Tucson and there's no way I want to go back, because that would be it between us. We opt for the alternative of going north through Jerome. Pottery shops and more arts and crafts shit. And then through Sedona. Look at all the other couples in their cars. In their shells admiring the view, but inside they are all bickering. Why do people subject themselves to such shit all in the name of love? We swam in the river with a bunch of pot-smoking hoods then tried to find a campground and finally just camped on BLM land up by the overlook. The whole time Zo wants to talk about the relationship and "are you mad?" and "you don't like my hair." Always needing affirmation of some sort. "Do you still love me?" every hour as if it's something I can suddenly change my mind about. I know it's me that I'm just not cut out for this, and when I say things like this she takes it as a "we're not going out anymore" and keeps drilling it in every second. [...]
Next morning we hit up the Overlook. Her eye was hurting and I kept saying we could just go back to Tucson or wherever (after all I'm taking her climbing and if she's not going to enjoy it I surely don't want to waste my time). But she keeps insisting. So we ended up doing Duck Soup (5.6) a decent little climb following double cracks. As I was racking up we were bickering about piddly shit when these guys come up. They ask me some questions about the routes and what not and I tried to be friendly as possible, but was short with them then felt bad. Is it really worth it? Couples that get so wrapped in love that they can't be courteous to their fellow men. Not that I give a flying fuck who these particular guys are but that's in my nature to please people I don't know. That's what writing is all about. It's when you love all of humanity almost on a personal level. It's the strangers, the audience. Whereas Zo is a family and friends type of person. I don't have strong bonds with my family and no base of friends really, so I guess that's why I resort to think of humanity as a whole. All the potential locked up in that sea of faces. I want to give to people I don't know what Raymond Carver or Henry Miller or Ernest Hemingway have given to me. But at the same time it's love/hate because I easily get fed up with humanity. I need validation from someone and I seek validation from those I don't know, and those I sometimes detest. Sure it's a cop out because I can't handle intimate relationships. And the audience is just an egotistical projection of my internal potential. Reality is just never good enough. Zo insisted on being the martyr, belaying me with blurry vision from a screwed up eye. And she bitched the whole way up about the rock being hot or whatever. So I rappeled down to get the gear and we left.
We drove through Flagstaff and had lunch and decided to go to Canyon de Chelly. Beautiful drive through the reservation, monument valley. As we were getting out to see Canyon de Chelly, Zo decides that she wants to go all the way back to Tucson that night. She got out of the car briefly, worried about the time and how we needed to get on the road right away and go back to Tucson. Hi Canyon de Chelly, bye Canyon de Chelly. Been there done that. I should of jumped.
The mad drive all night to get back to this? There's a big frothy smear and broken glass where someone threw a beer bottle at my windshield. "Someone". That's what kills me. If knew who it was I wouldn't care as much but I try to envision the little shit who did it and I feel sadness towards humanity. I won't clean it up so when I drive I must look at it and constantly be reminded of it. I drive around in the heat of Tucson. It's really no different than my homeless days. I go to coffee shops to write. I go to check my mail. I finally decided fuck this, I pay rent. I should be able to feel at home in my place. At least lock myself in my back room. But as serendipitous as my luck is I forgot my house keys. Both their cars were there and I lowered myself to the status of knocking and having to beg forgiveness for not kissing her before I left, but they weren't home. All for the better, just hit up a new coffeeshop where it's cool and I don't know anyone.
Sept. 9, 1995—Tucson
Thursday I woke up and decided to go to the Rincons. I had talked to Kevin the night before and he said he was going to try to come out to Tucson. I offered to meet him out in Joshua Tree but he was being all sketchy and his voice was shakey and he had just been back from a N.A. meeting. My final words with Tom after Wednesday was that he would probably get me working the 1st part of next week but nothing definite. What does that make, 2 weeks of work in the past 2 months? If only I knew in advance and could take a long vacation. This sitting around waiting for work is getting to me. So I decided to take a quiet overnight trip up into the Rincons, at least till Kevin knew what he was doing.
Drove to the end of Speedway and started up Douglas Springs Trail. It was hot as shit (100°+) and the trail didn't start going up right away but stayed down in the desert. I was caring 10 quarts of water, along with my pump. Drank 4 quarts right off just from sweating in the heat. My muscles were already freaking out when I got to Douglas Springs campground (6 miles in), but it was ugly and I really wanted to get up into the pines. I grueled uphill for another 3 miles to cowhead saddle (which looked more like a camel). There was no water there so I figured I would push on to Manning camp. The trail kept going up and up like it would never stop. I was in pain with every step and had to rest a lot. 4 miles later I finally got to Manning Camp. I hadn't seen a soul this whole time (only fresh bear shit on the trail) until I got to Manning Camp.
There's a cabin at Manning Camp that some lady (Manning) built as her summer home and even had a piano up there. I really wanted to see the cabin just to imagine the piano up there. Some sketchy dude named Bill was in the Cabin and there was about 8 horses and jackasses in the coral. How's that for a name? Jackass. I'm not even sure if there's a proper name for them. Not only do you have to be a jackass but you can't reproduce. One way street. So I scammed some water off of him and talked to him for a while but he couldn't look me in the eye and it was freaking me out so I went to set up camp. I was sore all over and barely had enough energy to open a can of lentils and eat some pretzels to try to replenish my salt. Crashed early but kept waking up to see the full moon through the Ponderosas, savor the feeling of being bundled and cold (8,600 feet), listen to the weird sounds of the horses in the coral, watch the mice crawl over my stuff looking for food and imagine the ghost of a piano from the cabin.
Had my coffee and ate sunflower seeds to try to get more salt intake. Hiked the 2 miles to the top of Mica mountain (highest point in the Rincons at 8,666 ft and then Spud mountain (much better view though 50 feet lower). I had 13 miles downhill into the heat to look forward to and I was already hating life. I had to play all sorts of mind games to deal. Mile after mile, quart after quart of water. I thought I would never arrive, that I couldn't take another step. When I finally got back to the car and stopped using my legs, they turned to rubber. Went home and there was a message from Kevin saying that he wanted to go to Joshua Tree, but there was no way I was going to move. Today I didn't do didley shit except spend two hours making breakfast, going with Zo to get her car washed, go to the climbing gym for a few hours (I was going to climb with Sean, but storm clouds were brewing and sure enough, they hit hard).
Sept. 13, 1995 —Tucson
Interesting job opportunities are slowly starting to emerge. My patience has paid off. Or my lack of patience. Monday I waited for Tom W to call me. Finally I called him and left a message. He didn't return my call so I said fuck it, I need work, so I called Terri. It didn't take her long to hook me up with a job, two weeks of lugging core samples up to a geologist and look over his shoulder while he analyzed them. So of course once that is squared away, Tom finally calls me back and wants me to go to Reno for an all-expense paid trip to visit the Biogeochem labs and see 1st hand (with Clark) how the plant samples are processed. It was hard to pass that one up, so I arranged for Terri to find me a replacement.
I'm still going to work for ASP (carrying core samples) but only tomorrow. Friday I'm going to learn claim-staking at Silverbell. Monday I go to Reno for 3 days. In the meantime, J called me and told me that her brother N can possibly hook me up with National Geographic. I'm supposed to send some writings, but I'm still not sure what and Norman hasn't returned my call with the details. Wouldn't that be the shit? Writing for National Geographic.
Just to get by I've been tutoring Rebecca in her calculus. I'm reworking Strip Mine, so I can give it one last shot then lay it to rest. I feel I need to organize what writings are in a finished state and send another wave out to magazines and contests etc. Finished a new poem, "Last Will".
Have a membership at the rec center so I can work out now and Zo bought me a pair of Pegasus. There was a riot across the street at Tucson High, 300 kids fighting and 120 police to break it up. I guess the most important event is that the Ocotillo is sprouting leaves. Stick a stick in the ground and it will spread roots and sprout.
Sept. 7, 1995 —Tucson
Starting to get more into a routine here, working and climbing. Except I still feel out of shape. Thursday I did a job for AMT, moving a bunch of warehouse supplies (big benches and compressors the size of two refrigerator and a bunch of miscallaneous seemingly worthless crap) to their new site at the Magma mine in San Manuel. Pretty dull, having to drive out there and eat lunch with these old farts.
Friday I went out to help Brian C. and this other guy Gary do some claimstaking for Jaba. Brian is a quiet, fine arts major whose dad happens to be some great geologist so he has a lot of contacts in the field. Gary is this strange guy who studied creative writing and has had some short stories and poems published. Can't figure him out, says he writes in the western's and fantasy/sci fi genre. So these are the guys I'll be working with if I go on with Jaba. More interesting than most of the redneck types at Zonge. The claim-staking was easy. We had a brand new ATV to play with. Brian is more sloppy at surveying than I'm used to, but oh well. I'm sure I'll be working more on my own.
Saturday I went climbing with Sean S, Dave D and this guy Frank. Sean and I went to do Rupley Route on the Fortress (5.9, 3 pitches) Fantastic route. I'm glad I went back to finish it as the 3rd pitch is classic, possibly one of the finest 5.9 pitches on the mountain. It started raining and lightning on the 3rd pitch, but Sean kept his cool leading it.. Frank and Dave did yo-o pinnacle which topped out next to us. Than we figured we'd try this (5.10a) on the Fortress. I drew the short straw so I had to lead it. My head was not into it at all. Got to the 3rd bolt and chickened out. Couldn't get the nerve to even try it and fall. Sean finished it off. It wasn't too bad, I didn't fall following it. Nevertheless I'm still ball-less.
That night Rusty was having a masquerade party. I wasn't really feeling like dealing with that whole scene or anyone, but I went anyway. I wore a paper bag over my head that had some plant leaves stapled to the top. I was kind of into the idea of having a bag over my head. It had a little cut out smile. I could just observe and nobody would know how I was feeling and most people wouldn't know who I was. It was a disasterous experiment. Most of the people were wee-wee freshman want to be alternative, the Orb playing in the background, graffitied walls and gothic curtains. I decided to just sit on the couch and observe but it was hard to see and really uncomfortable under the bag. I saw all sorts of other people with masks on. So Mark's sitting next to me and he's all pointing out some guy that's getting all touchy with Zo and she's sitting there talking to him holding his arm. Than she would jump up and say "oh, there's a boy I kissed once" and run off to find him. Mark and Sather disappeared who knows where and I'm just wandering around bored not knowing anybody except Rusty the joe-cool boy. Zo was deep in conversation with some other guy so I just left and strolled down 4th avenue. The whole scene just reeked of the lame undergraduate parties 3 years ago where I'd walk in and see Zo sitting on guys laps or joking about kissing them, or going home with Seth. Oh, and earlier in the afternoon she was going on about how Seth called and said he still loved her and wanted her back and how it's so hard for her because she feels sorry for him.
When I got home Zo was already there and was all irate about leaving the party to come look for me. When I mentioned that I didn't want to bug her because she was talking to guys all the time, she exploded and decided she was going to Phoenix then and there and she swore she wasn't flirting or touching any guys. I had to chase her around the streets of Tucson and talk her into just going home and I'd sleep in the van. I don't know, I absolutely hate this sort of shit, it's so humiliating wasting mental energy acting like fools. Is love really worth it if it makes people lose their pride and self-respect? Can't it just be a simple sharing of each other's time, sometimes. And she's crying in frustration because she's trying so hard to make things work and she thinks she's not making me happy and she doesn't realize that all I want her to do is not try so hard. I want for us to just be and not have for it to be a constant struggle. And I don't know why I keep trying so hard for this to work except for the simple fact that I'm in love with her and at times there are emotions that you just can't experience on your own. Like afterwards we ended up making up (interrupted by some drunk friend, Christina or something, knocking at our door at 2 in the morning and finally calling a cab, expecting us to insist on taking her home). Than we made love, the mattress coming off the frame, the nightstand ending up by the door. During round 2 (at 3 in the morning) Sather and Mark came home —coitus interruptus. Hopefully things will start to smoothen out, we can definitely afford to get a little bored of each other and not be so intense. So of course we didn't wake up early enough to do Black Quacker like we had planned. Instead we had breakfast at Bobo's and did the Standard Route on Chimney (5.7, 4 pitches). Once again, the rain and thunder flirted overhead, but it made it pleasant and cool. Tomorrow I go to Reno.
Sept. 18, 1995 —en route LAX to Reno
Another layover at LAX. It is becoming my holding dock of judgment. I finished "The Fall" while waiting for my plane. It's inspiring me to go back and make amendments to "Strip Mine" with the consideration of judgment in mind. The culmination of the Indian being hit, being a resulting judgment day, a surfacing of all our "sins" and exposure of the foundations of this country. The whole "love story" bit is the harbor, or at least false security of one. It is an entrapment a way from freedom from obligation. But in the end we all must be judged in our roles of this constant cycle represented in the dung beetles. We must rid ourselves of this ball of shit. So what is right and who is to judge? What is so wrong with lying? That's what fiction is all about and I don't do enough of it—lying. And in my personal life what am I getting into. What is the harbor of Zo leading me away from? It is an inherent quality in woman that they lead you astray? Or more accurately it is not the woman themselves but the needing of them. The sacrifice's one must make. Camus talks about giving up gambling for women. Is it really that different than giving up climbing? I mean sure I go out and physically climb. But have I given up on gambling with death? Is it something you can still do while involved in a relationship with one that you care for and love? That's what that whole day was about the 1st time I took her climbing. She made me make that choice, and I chose the risk. I chose free-soloing, forcing myself to face my own fears rather than opt for the safety of the flesh, the pleasures, the security of having someone else, besides yourself, love you. Why am I hesitant? It is like a forced instinct, engrained by society? Engrained by a purpose rather than self-absorption?
Sept. 20, 95 —Carson City, Nevada
Flew over the Sierra Nevadas and landed in Reno. Got my rental car and drove on down to Carson City. Tom told me to stay in Reno because there was more of a nightlife, but I didn't want to spend their money driving back and forth to Carson every day. Found a motel then went up to Clark S's place, Meg Labs. It's on this farm, horses and chicken's running around the yard, a dog named Mr. Boo and cats. Cool setup in the Washoe Valley. His labs are in these barns.
1st thing we did was he took me out surveying right in his backyard to get some plant samples. I wasn't paying much attention to the surveying part as I figured these plant samples were just for practice and was paying attention to just taking the veggie samples. He was very nitpicky about everything. Then he wanted me to go in a rectangle ad towards the end he wanted me to close out. He said Tom asked him to see how accurate I was. Shit, I wasn't even trying for accuracy, but oh well. I closed out the rectangle and was about 2½ feet from the mark. And I was using a Sunto sighting compass that I'd never used before.
The next morning I worked on processing the veggie samples as well as a bunch of creosote samples he had received the night before. Put them in the washer, bag and all, to wash off wind-blown dust. Then (after they had dried all night) cut them open into a porcelain dish. Put them in a microwave on high, checking it constantly to make sure it doesn't catch on fire. Then what's it's fairly dry put it on low for about ten to twenty minutes until their crispy dry. Then put them through a wiley mill, a $20,000 dollar piece of machinery that all it does is pulverize the shit out of the sample. Collect it into a paper bag. All this is done simultaneously with about 8 samples at a time. Pulverizing the sample while you're waiting for the microwave. And you have to be keeping track of the number on the original cloth bag, which dish it went in to, and put the right sticky label on the paper bag. If you get just one mixed up, you're fucked. Clark was watching over me and egging me on to go faster and faster, being extra nit-picky. I guess if you've been doing the same thing for 20 years (that you could teach someone in 10 minutes) you'd be anal-retentive. Then you have to weigh out exactly 30.000 grams of the dried weight into a petri dish (once again keeping track of that number) and put it into a kiln for thirty 6 hours. I'm still waiting for them to come out to see what I do with them now.
There's was nothing I could do after that so I took off early and drove over the grade to Lake Tahoe, driving in my rental Dodge Intrepid, feeling like a yuppy. I went to Emerald Bay to check out Lover's leap from a distance. Seems pretty cool. Then I found Cave Rock. Parked and walked along the shore and found all the climbs coming out of the water, contrived with bolts going over these overhangs. Then I found "the" cave, kind of right on the road. Nobody was climbing. It was just this severely overhanging cave with quickdraws hanging everywhere. Bouldered around a bit then split back. Too many cars.
Today I processed some soil samples, about 100 of them to be exact. He had me logging them in on his ancient Compaq 240 using a lotus spreadsheet. I don't know how a lot of this stuff is supposed to help me in my field work but whatever. Actually he kept making innuendos about how he would hire me, and finally asked me if I would work for him for what he pays his helpers. ($4.50 an hour plus commission per sample, comes out to $7 or $8 an hour) and I said no way. Then he had me make up all these sticky labels using the computer and then sit there and stick them on these little envelopes of various sizes. (132 x 3 = 396 in all) He was all trying to show me the finer points of how to most efficiently stick labels on the envelopes, using his left handed, ring finger, then press with thumb technique, but I could really care less. I wasn't about to be rushed doing this shit. I'm sure glad I haven't been sitting in my house doing this for 20 years. Strange guy. He opened up his desk to get something and there was all these Victoria Secret catalogs. Shit, I don't blame him, he must get pretty damn bored. Something about just struck me as really funny, some balding, middle-aged guy jacking off to Victoria Secret catalogs as a break from his work. I also had to sit there and wait while he talked to his accountant. Guess he doesn't care for privacy, he was telling the accountant his gross earnings and expenditures, his write-offs ("you know, a new car for the wifey-pooh"). All in all he barely broke even this quarter. Then he was talking to some girl Gigi in poor French, and when he hung up, he commented, "just another one of my girlfriends". She called back again, and he spoke in baby talk to her and then referred her to his wife's work number. Geez, I'm getting all the dirt on this guy. And I'm supposed to be getting the dirt on dirt.
Went out to the soil lab and prepped all the samples. Kind of cool, now when I'm taking soil samples (or veggie) I have an image of where exactly they go and what happens to them (this is the only prep lab of its kind in the country). Matter of fact, I was trying to get him to go through his paperwork to see if he processed the samples I did for BHP, but he hasn't gotten them yet. Anyways, cut open the sample bag, sift it to "60" (micrometers?)(pretty damn small, essentially powder). Twirling and banging this metal pan. Meanwhile there's this huge vacuum unit collecting all the dust. Sometimes you have to take the sample and put it back in the bag and pulverize it with a rubber mallet. Than measure out 10 grams into 2 separate bags that you staple shut, than the rest (100 grams) into a bigger bag. Once again keeping track of the numbering (duplicates and standards crop up throwing everything off). Pour the rest back into the original bag and tie it back up, then you have to clean everything with a vacuum so you don't taint the next sample. Lots of banging, the loud noises of vacuums and dust in the air. Definitely not a glamorous job.
Some pimply faced high school kid came in after school to help. Now I have a face on who deals with these samples. I was thinking it would be interesting to put little surprises in the bags to give them a good laugh, break up the monotony. Maybe a fortune cookie fortune or something. So that's that. I guess tomorrow I go in for ½ a day to learn a few more details and then it's home. For now I'm going to try my luck at gambling.
Addendum: So after I finish this journal entry I get a call from Zo. I had called earlier and left a message, rather spontaneously, that I had lost everything gambling, that I had maxed out my credit card, that I even put the deed to the car on the mainline, and that I was hitch-hiking home. Before I had a chance to say "just kidding", the machine cut me off. I figured they would tell by the tone in my voice I was kidding and kind of just forgot about it. Evidently both Zo's took the message seriously, Sather called Zo at her lab and she said she had been crying. So this is while I'm out the door to get some dinner and try my luck at gambling. I strolled through some casinos and was watching these people play "Let It Ride", a poker like game. This man would get a full house and win $66 off of $6. They seemed to be winning a lot in general. So I ate some Chinese food and was trying to compute the odds in in my head, i.e. 52 x 51 x 50 x 49 x 48 = about 300 million the way I figured it, for a specific hand. The number of royal flushes is 4 so what, the chances of getting a royal flush are about 1 in 74 million. So if you played 200 times a night for 100 years then you'd get a royal flush. And the pay-off was 1 to 1000. This is what I was considering when my fortune cookie came. I was also thinking that maybe it would be a fortune I would consider putting in a soil sample bag that gets sent in as a meaningful message. But mainly I considered the fortune as a divine message about whether I should gamble or not. The message read "Possession of knowledge is worth a thousand pieces of gold". Not only that, but when I was strolling back, content with the fact that I wasn't gonna gamble, I decided to stroll in to a casino just to observe. At the entrance (Carson Nugget) was a display of gold in all sorts of brilliant forms—in leaves, strings, nuggets, crystals, etc. It got me to thinking about a story about a prospector who spends all his time looking for gold, obsessed with the potential value he could uncover, and then he finds a big beautiful nugget. And what it symbolizes to him, his whole quest, is embedded in it's form. It means so much to him that he can't sell it. He keeps it as a memento.
Sept. 24, 95—Tucson
My last day in Carson I went out to Clarke's and took the plants out of the kilns and weighed the ash. Something about it was eerie, like weighing out cremation ashes. You have to be very delicate or you'll blow it all away. Then I took the ash samples and compressed them into these wafers that would be sent away to be dunked in a nuclear reactor and analyzed by NAA (neutron activation). Then I took the soil samples and packaged them in 30 gram capsules and put eleven of these capsules together into a large disc, also to be analyzed by NAA. After that I took these large rock samples and crushed them to powder in three steps. 1st in this huge loud machines and finally in this centrifuge like thing where you stick some gravel in this tortilla holder thing with these metal co-centric rings, then strap it down this thing that shakes it like crazy, and presto, rock powder. My plane didn't leave til 5:30, but I had to return the car by 2:00 so I wouldn't be charged for another day. So a lot of time waiting in airports, reading Stephen King's "Inosmnia". It was nice at 1st to be away from Zo for a while, but I got to missing her by Wednesday night. She's a gem.
Friday I had to do miscellaneous errands, pay bills and go in to Jaba to talk to Tom (which ended up taking ½ the day). Saturday I went climbing with Bruce. We started on Lightning Streaks (5.6+). Bruce had his eye on this one for a while even though it was 5.6 and the book gave it only a star (for it's surrealness). It looked cool. Bruce led up the 1st pitch, chimney, no pro. I got up to the chockstone and it was pretty cool being in there but the climbing looked stupid so I talked Bruce into bailing and going to do Yo-yo Pinnalce (5.8)(3 pitches) on the Fortress. I led the 1st pitch, chimney. The chimney was narrow and sucked so I bailed out of it after getting a camalot in, doing an exposed traverse onto the buttress. It was cool climbing up steep crystally face but there was no pro. But the rope that I clipped in the chimney was causing heinous rope drag so I just untied it!! I was trailing the other rope but there was nothing clipped to it. Free-soloed to the top of the pinnacle and belayed Bruce up, who seemed kind of freaked out that I just untied the rope and free-soloed the rest of the way. He admitted that he wasn't up to doing the 2nd, crux, pitch, so I led it. The rock was mankey and lichenous, and the crux was up this steep crumby headwall with a rusty quarter incher below. After that it was kind of cool and exposed, and I just ran it out to the end of the rope. The book described the last pitch as "choosing a line, the best one probably going up chickenheads to the left." Bruce was all freaked out, trying to tie off every chickenhead even though it was like 5.1. After a ½ an hour he got 20 feet up and was all freaking out and feeling sorry for himself. He went up a little bit and just stayed in one spot for a long time. I was getting cold as shit. He wasn't doing anything, just standing on a ledge. Every once in a while he would mumble about how he sucked. I was shivering. Finally he made a shitty makeshift belay and took forever doing a shitty job of piling the rope. I went up and relieved him. Took out the gear that wouldn't have helped him much then walked up the rest of the 5.2d section. We had ambition to make this the day of obscure routes and finish with the inner passage, but after that I had had my fill of Bruce. It was almost dark anyway. Poor Bruce, how did I ever forget why we had a falling out in South Dakota? And of course, on the way back down, he would say "hey, can you swing by Safeway so I can some cat food?" (The day before it was "hey, can you swing by . . ." some alternator rebuild place in south Tucson) and I just flat out said "no." There was a lot of traffic because of the football game. He tried to talk his way into eating dinner over at our place and I talked him out of it. "We don't have any food." And he wanted to know if we were going out. I said I didn't know. So of course he leaves his wallet in my car and has to come by to get it and sits there and drools over the pasta I made, so Zo offers him ½ of it and invites him out with us (for my sake of course, since he's my friend). I ended up not going out, but they all did.
Zo and I climbed Black Quacker (5.7) (4 pitches) today. Classic as always, besides the bee that stung me on the 1st belay and having to share the 3rd hanging belay with some lady Doug L (?) was climbing with that crossed my line, and into the crack I was in before Zo had come up. Zo had to climb under and over her rope then 4 of us had to figure out the jumble of ropes and carabiners. I quickly flaked the rope over Zo and she just hung there and I tried to climb out of there as quick as possible. It was a total clusterfuck. Doug had to help her re-pile it as she was belaying and I was trying to climb. But that pitch is so cool. All in all she likes the trad stuff better which is tres cool. She wants to upgrade to 5.8.
Finally got a return call from Norman, but nothing new developing except that he's gonna talk to his supposed contacts to see what the exact procedure is to secure a position with them, what types of writings I need to send, etc. I've got my fingers crossed.
Kevin checked into a methadone clinic in San Francisco. He also tested positive for Tuberculosis. Living with E + A in the Haight with no job or ambition. Borrowing money from Uncle Don or whoever will give it to him. It's scary how things turn out, his situation is getting dire. But at the same time it makes me appreciate what I have.
Sept. 27, 1995 —Tucson
Our floors are being ripped up right now. I was reading Barbara Kingsolver's new book of essays as I was banished to our front porch. Made more incredible by being in the same incubator as she. She talks of being in downtown Tucson, across the street from a high school with kids hanging out on her porch steps, and here I am, for all I know in the same house. And even more ironic is the 1st essay about the Hermit Crab. Brilliant! Inspires me toward "creative non-fiction" and what can be done with it. Bruce told me that the creative writing department at U of A was pushing creative non-fiction on the students as the upcoming new writing form. Not that I am into jumping the bandwagon, but maybe there's a grain of truth in that.
Anyway, the Hermit crab that she brought back from the Bahamas. She thought it was just a shell, but she got home to Tucson and when she dumped out her shells to show her daughter one of the shells starts moving around (in such a way as to remind her of herself trying to move a couch around the house by herself). Brilliant. She didn't even need to bring up the comparison of her coming from Kentucky to Tucson, but she does, just to make things clear. And then she takes things one step further by talking about a camping trip out in western Arizona where she discovered a Tohono O'Odahm cave and found the pottery and mortar and pestle grindings in the granite as if they were just there. Occupying the shells of the previous dwellers. The Hermit Crab. I'm inspired. Inspired by a sense of place incubating inside of me. I remember when I 1st came out here and how the desert was such a novelty. After visiting the university, I just wanted to drive into the desert, not a particular spot or national park or anything like that, but I wanted the random, the untouched and unvisited. No trails, no sign of civilization. I pulled off on some road and just walked into the desert. Now that scene is my everyday backdrop.
Yesterday working, I totally had a reality check of that memory and here I was smack in the middle of virgin desert out by Silverbell mine sighting my compass off of Saguaros and Chollas, bushwhacking through Acacia, Palo Verde and Creosote. Having Cholla balls stick to my legs, the needles driving in and drawing blood. Finding antlers and malachite, and little bits of ore. Seeing rattlesnakes, and six mule deer taking their siesta under a big mesquite tree. I have everything I dreamed of, I have realized my ambition, but as is usually the case I still want more. I'm not sure I like the feelings and emotions that familiarity instills in me, walking the streets to Cafe Paraiso where I know write. The houses I walk by, the Swisher sweets packages, circle K cups and Night Train bottles littering the monsoon washed gutters. The cactus in the yards. The familiarity of the people I don't know but am free to deduce and imagine. This is Tucson. Knowing that there is granite up in the mountains above waiting to be climbed. Knowing that there's petroglyphs on the welded tuff bluffs on the drive to Silver bell. There just there if you want to look. You don't need to go on a tour or into a national monument. Sometimes you have to go through people's backyards, but they're there for anyone to see. They are the markings on the shell we choose to occupy. I try on different shells and hobble around but something always leads me back to the Tucson shell. Kingsolver could of taken off with that idea, she could've made a whole book. She didn't even get to the image of a hermit crab without a shell and how naked and vulnerable they look, their tails curled up like a puppy after he's peed on the carpet. Looking for a place to hide. We always seek out different shells, but at the same time, deep down, we strive to muster the courage to shed all shells and walk in the desert naked. And what about ghost towns? Shells scattered across the desert. And why are they called "ghost towns" when all that's left is the shell on the dried-up ocean floors, and the souls have been banished?
It is September, the mild aftermath. It is still technically hot, 95 or 98 according to the mercury, but it doesn't feel that way. Though insomnia still prevails. The pollen is ever present, stuffing my head. It is not so clear. I am in a lull in my writing, feeling like I have no end products. I have butchered up my previous creations and have left the bits and pieces on the chopping block. I am still playing, experimenting, unsure. Dangling threads, ropes swinging by hot air balloons, dragging along the ground generating electricity. The basket and balloon are still adrift. I wrote something in the Vegas airport while waiting for my plane. For some reason it seems relevant here though I haven't gone back to re-read it yet, I'm letting it settle and age:
The night—a spell
broken by the majestic tunnelings
under breakwater's haven.
I am always awake, always searching
in the terminals
whose anonymity is safely tucking me away
whose structures are designed to vibrate
so as to not collapse—
it is a sickness
Rows of identical seats,
the same circle K sign on every corner,
the 120 cycles per 2nd humming
in every household's appliances,
one intertwined circuit.
Your kids will jacknife through the surface
and stay under as long as they can
before they realize
it is the air they need.
We compress it into steel tanks
to breath in under water
a dream of treasure chests waiting
beneath the restless white sheets
wake up to condition the air
blaming it for our lack of sleep
in case of cabin depressurization
the stewardess instructs how to place the mask.
On this plane I sit next to a professor
he will disspell the myths of
and the shapes of honeycombs
and how the laws of physics say
the bumble bee cannot fly
it's the air that's pushing up on us
by way of the earth—
the air that we breathe.
Why this reminds me of Hermit Crabs I'm not sure. Or hot air balloons. I just like the words and the images they conjure up. Chawn just walked by wearing a black shirt with planets on it and he was carrying a hack saw. He was "carrying" a hack saw, I wish I could describe the difference between the way he was carrying that hack saw and the way these students all casually carry their bookbags. Like he was going to chop up his girlfriend into little cubes. I'm drifting off course, perhaps, but it is just the distractions of my environment, in the same way dreams are sculpted by the going-ons in the environment surrounding your sleep.
October 2, 1995 —Tucson
Friday we started work on the west property. A lot of it has already been claimed, so we just went out and retagged them and moved the discovery monuments fifty feet out instead of ten. The cool part was that we just got to go out on our own for the whole day. I found a few old mine shafts, two of them had owls in them. One of them flew out into my face, the other just sat there staring at me with its big eyes.
Mark and Sather decided to tag along to the Dragoons friday night. We drove out after a quick, depressing Denny's stop. East side, slept on the ground with our sleeping bags zipped together. I had planned to take Zo on the Wasteland, but it didn't appear that that would be happening. Nobody wanted to wake up early and I wouldn't have known what to do with Sather and Mark. So I decided to do What's my Line (5.6 A0) instead. Some nerdy guy from Phoenix came up and invited himself to tag along. Zo started to get all uptight about that. I wasn't to happy about it either, but I was starting to feel like a tour guide responsible for everyone's well-being. Nobody wanted to carry anything, so I ended up carrying all the gear, hers and mine shoes and harness, 8 liters of water, all the food, and a rope (Zo finally offered to carry the other rope).
Even still they went incredibly slow and every time I stopped I would hear Zo making snide comments about how I was going too fast, or sarcastically calling me 'nature boy' or whatever. I felt unrespected. The funny thing is that in the process of waiting for them I was poking around under the boulders and I saw two different sets of petroglyphs that I had no idea were there.
So of course by the time we got up there I was in a bitter mood because I was doing all the work and taking responsibility for everyone's complaints, all for some climb that I'd done ½ a dozen times and wasn't challenging. Oh well, it was nice enough just to be in the stronghold even if I was the only one enjoying it. I got even more frustrated when I had to do all the ropework and when I tried to teach Zo the knots she wasn't paying attention. I was losing my patience.
Right now Zo is asking me what I am writing about. "And I told her—", she said.
And I said, "I was writing 'right now Zo is asking me what I am writing about.'"
Which brings me to the point that I fear my journal entries are going to become biased. [laughter from both]. Now she is reading the above paragraphs and probably going to get mad that I only write about the negative aspects. I don't even want to write about the positive things because I don't want to be writing something thinking it's not for me but to try to placate her thinking she might read this later. Call me stubborn. The sad thing is that there's a lot I'd like to say and don't just because. Because of the thought that I'd hate to write something because someone else wants to hear it.
Sunday I woke up and met Sean to go to the backside of the Catalinas (Oktoberfest at the top of Mt. Lemmon). We drove his jeep up the Golder Ranch jeep trail, up some really gnarly boulders and ditches that I was surprised his jeep would make it up, the crux of Dam Bureacrats (5.8+) (3 pitches) The approach wasn't too bad for the backside. We found this stone superhighway that helped significantly from having to bush whack through catclaw. I did the 1st pitch, beautiful crack. The 2nd pitch wandered on lichenous slab between ledges and gullies of cactus. It was pretty good considering. The 3rd pitch I had to run it out up shitty rock up a headwall to a bolt where the climbing got good and then up steep chickenheads to a belay in a gully. The next pitch got us to the rap anchors. All and all, lots of veggies and such but still a good adventure and not a soul in sight, considering Mt. Lemmon would have been a mess with the Oktoberfest. Zo had Eggplant Parmigiana waiting for me when I got back. I found out I didn't have to work on Monday. Woke up and Zo and I got into a mellow but serious fight. I was feeling really trapped and pressured. I was feeling like neither of us was making each other happy. But we ended up going to get Chinese food and then seeing a matinee (she called in and said she couldn't go to work because she had a test). At times I feel like something's got to change, but deep down I know it's right, that I just have to have patience. We can't take each other for granted. It just seems like a high price to pay, giving up a lot of self-respect and swallowing a lot of pride all in the name of love. When it's good it's so good. Nothing is better. Her skin, her touch. Rarely does a night pass when we don't make orgasmic love. Maybe I just need to keep certain things like climbing, in my personal realm, to some extent. We need to not be so addicted to each other. It's too good to be true, something's got to go wrong.
October 6, 1995 —Tucson
Another week of claim-staking at Silverbell. Things are going fast because there is a lot of old claims there on our same grid so all we have to do is repaper them, change the tags and move the posts out. I found a weird piece of metal with a spike on one end, a hole and a hook. Couldn't figure out what it was, Brian informed me it was an antique miner's candlestick and was worth a lot of money. It's funny how once he told me what it was it became a very interesting object. Especially with words like "miner's candlestick". I like the words almost better than the object.
Another day we stopped at this old smelting ground and hunted around for pieces of molten copper. It was like flat asphalt in the middle of the desert. We also stopped at this kind of ghost town ("Sasco"?), more like one large settlers hand-made of collapsing stone.
Today the truck wouldn't start (been acting up all week). So it was a sort of maintenance day. Took off early to just chill and write. Ha. Write. Misha talent agency asked to see "Strip Mine" so I am trying to get that in shape to send out. I would like to get a lot of stuff organized so I can send them out, not so much so I can get them published but so I can have a clear head to write some new stuff. Maybe send off some poems. Oh yah, heard from National Geographic and it doesn't sound too promising although I got the contact of the people at unsolicited manuscripts and they know who I am and are expecting to hear from me if I have any interesting ideas for an article. So I guess I should be inspired to write some non-fiction. Gary (one of the guy's I work with) sells non-fiction stuff regularly to small magazines for like 50 dollars a pop. Like articles on "Boxing Cowboys". While in one sense I'm jealous, in another I can't bring myself to write about something unless it instills passion in me and obsesses me.
route finding on Baboquivari
October 9, 1995 —Tucson
Friday the truck wouldn't start and neither would the ATV so it turned in to another maintenance day, for only ½ a day. In the evening I met Sean and we drove out to Baboquivari (Eastern approach). We didn't start hiking til around 8 p.m. but there was a full moon. The trail was overgrown so it was still hard to see and we were getting scraped up and lost the trail so when it came to the switchbacks part we ended up bushwhacking up a steep embankment of shin daggers. It was sheer hell, with at least 50 lbs of gear (both ropes, the rack, nine liters of water, sleeping bag, etc.) trying to get through that almost vertical field of shin daggers. I tweeked my knee somewhere along the line but we eventually found the trail and got to the saddle around midnite. Sean brought a tent and a pillow! I couldn't sleep cuz I kept hearing these footsteps that sounded like horses coming up the trail (we saw these cool horses earlier that started to follow us up). Then it got me to thinking about the tell-tale heart. Plus the moon was bright right in my eyes.
It was freezing at sunrise but I got up and suffered the sacrifice of not bringing a stove to make coffee (I loaded up on coffee the night before, figured it would get me through the 24 hour withdrawal window). I kept having to pester Sean to get up. Racked up and stashed our gear. Then bushwhacked to the Lion's ledge and to the start of Don's Crack (5.8+) near cougar cave. I led up some broken rock to a bolt, did a weird traverse to double bolts, the route description said keep traversing to a ledge so I did. It was scary as shit, got to be about fifteen feet out from the bolt and it got hard and the rock iffy. No way was it 5.8+ but I didn't feel like downclimbing. I looked down at the tree I would have landed in and it shot adrenaline through my body. I had to do something quick because I was getting pumped out clinging to a little hold. I pulled off the move and it was still hard and then my reward was getting to a ledge with cactus and grass on it and more traversing around bushes and grass with shitty pro. I couldn't believe the route was this bad but I double-checked the route description and it was definitely it.
Sean even had troubles following it, took forever at the crux. We could see where pitch two was going and the next few pitches and it seemed more like a vegetated gully than a "crack". And we had the infamous poison ivy pitch 5 to look forward to. Needless to say, we retreated, rapping off a bust into the dense thicket on the ledge below. We continued to traverse the whole lion's ledge around to the west, then free soloed up Forbes Route (5.4), more of a hike, but still worthwhile. At least we reached the summit where we took a short nap and enjoyed the view.
Sunday I slept in, let Zo cook me breakfast, then we went to the desert museum. Haven't been there since they remodeled a bunch of the exhibits. Then we went to cafe milagro and to see "Seven".
October 13, 1995 —Tucson
Finished the job at Silverbell and probably my time with Jaba. Got back to Tom's yesterday and he told us that, due to pressure from the Canadian investor's, he is being forced to sell his interest in Jaba and that he would now longer be supervising. We had plans to go up to Nevada the following week to do some biogeochem, but who knows now. He said if he were us he would look for employment elsewhere. I took his advice, and was thinking the same thing before he even metioned it, and went to see Terri this morning but things look slow at Geotemps so she advised me to still work for Jim B if the offer holds. I'd rather not, so I'll just lay low and maybe look for a completely different job. I'm getting sick of all the politics and greed and the implications of my work. Also not looking forward to the prospect of sitting next to Brain and Gary all the way up to Nevada as they smell.
It has been hot as shit, still bordering on 100° degrees and it's October. I checked my mail (still being backed up) and found out my car insurance expired two weeks ago, so I had to fork over $120 for that. Also bought a rope and took Zo out to eat at Sakura's for her birthday. All this is fine when you have a positive cash flow, but the prospects of quitting, or not having work (the way I put it to Terri is that I'm jumping off a boat that's about to sink, got me to thinking about a story idea about a guy who loves his boat so much he won't abandon it during a storm) are making me edgy. In the meantime I need to get some writing out and get some new used books.
October 15, 1995 —Tucson
After reading the "Best of Tucson" and going to Tucson Eat Yourself (which is now called Tucson Heritage Experience (T.H.E.) I am decidely fed up with Tucson. It's going nowhere fast. Yesterday I went hiking in Sabino Canyon because Zo wasn't into a full day of climbing. I don't know what I was thinking, I figured Zo had never been there so what the hell. We did see a desert tortoise cruising on the trail the other direction, which was special. So we're hiking on thin ice and I'm talking about what it's like to pluck chickens and Zo interrupts me—"Oooow! I don't want to hear it." I say "Oooow" back and then she gets all huffy puffy saying I'm making fun of her and saying that was what Seth used to do, etc. And I'm embarrassed for us, stopping on the trail and arguing about such stupid shit, to the point that were blinded to our surroundings. When I say this she says that I'm trying to be Mr. tough guy and that it's not piddly shit but it's her feelings. Then she gets back on to her maybe we should just break up routine, and I can't help to agree with her, that if we get so wrapped in such bullshit than something is majorly wrong. But of course it's just her juvenile threats that she is just waiting for me take her up on and beg for her back ("I know you so well, I know you'll miss me.") It feels like an episode of "My So Called Life". Fucking embarrassing. Do we both need this? Is this healthy? I'm almost 29. It's got to the point where I can't put any more emotional energy into it. I'm jobless and in debt and have nothing going for me. She hates her job and wants to drop out of school and reapply for next year. Do we really need this extra hassle? Maybe we just shouldn't hike or climb together, that seems to be where most of our fights happen.
We skipped out on Hutch's pool, it was way too hot, and if she wasn't into it, I surely wasn't. Came "home" and worked on getting a letter and cover letter out to TNI for a position as an engineering tech at a geo consulting firm. Combination computer work/field work with international travel opportunities. Kevin called, is back in Hollywood, back on heroin. Desperately needs help, wants to either come out to Tucson to dry out for a few weeks or wants me to come out to Santa Monica. Went to T.H.E. with the Zo's and had Turkish Tabouli, a roasted corn, Spanish Paella, sweet potato pie, Costa Rican lemonade and Mexican Horchata while listening to Scottish bagpipes.
Finished editing "Strip Mine", wrote up a synopsis and cover letter to send that out to Misha Agency. Sent "Astyanax Jordani" to National Library of Poetry contest and "The Oregon Trail" out to Poets Guild for another contest. Zo would check up on me to remind me that we weren't "going out" and that it made her mad that I was being productive. Or she would return with a blanket and set it on my couch. And of course she comes in and wakes me up at 3 a.m. and says she can't sleep and that she wants me to return. Then she keeps asking if I missed her.
Going to Santa Monica sounds tempting. Get out of Tucson, get of this mess, help Kevin out and in the process feel better about myself or at least get wrapped up in his problems so mine seem miniscule. Get some fresh air and be by the ocean for a while. I feel trapped by my credit card debt and having a mailing address here. Funny as it sounds that's what stresses me out most about picking up and leaving. I'll just have to wait until tomorrow to see what develops on the job front and see where Zo and I stand.
rock-chipping for gold
October 20, 1995 —Beatty, Nevada
I am itchy giddy from poison oak and kind of spacey from Benadryl on an empty stomach and a 14 drive up here. I worked two days with just Gary, back in the west end of Silverbell, putting in corner-posts. Found a lot of pottery chards near the border of the Tohono O'Odahm reservation. Wednesday was the worst, carrying over a dozen posts on my back whilst trying to survey and get through heinous growth of Palo Verde and Acacia. Thick and spiney. Unpassable groves of prickly pear and cholla undergrowth.
The whole ordeal with quitting Jaba has been temporarily resolved, though I am still looking around and waiting. Talked with Terri monday morning and she thought I should stick with Jaba, that J.B. wasn't such a bad guy. But Tom kept venting his gripes, saying working for Tom was like "lean over and take it in the ass and suck someone else off at the same time." On thursday he told us we were only getting $20/day per diem and that we had to share a hotel room. Not only that but that we weren't supposed to work any overtime. The prospects of having to waste time away sharing a room with these smelly guys did not sound like my idea of having a good time. Tom was pushing it off as Jim's doing, so I called up Jim and gave him my piece of mind, that if he wanted to cut corners and save a few bucks he should do so on his gadgets (cellular phones and ATV's) rather than make field employees unhappy so they are less productive. I had to pretty much threaten to not go at all before he consented to my 3 demands; he increased our per-diems to $25/day, said we could work all the O.T. we wanted and that if I could find another room I could get it (he said there wasn't). He laughed when I said Gary and Brian reeked, that it was bad enough being crammed in the truck all day with them but then having to share a room with them . . . He was implying that I was a primadonna, that in this kind of work sometimes you get camp conditions, and "when I was doing this kind of work we ate nothing but spam and slept on rocks". I was just in a feisty mood because of my itchy poison oak and guess it paid off, because I think in the end it seemed like J.B. almost respected me because I was vocal.
We left Tucson at 6 a.m. this morning, went through Gila Bend, going out of our way on backroads to see things like bursted dams and look for more crestates. I guess I shouldn't say "we", if I had my way I would have driven straight through. Why endure the smelly, hot, cramped cab with vinyl seats longer than you had to. Especially with no tunes. I did bring my walk man and got absorbed in hypnotic gamelan music and Berlioz and Chopin. We stopped at these Basalt bluffs to check out these petroglyphs. There was also some great cracks, and they had chalk in them. Even a bolted route right next to some glyphs. Some people have no respect. I've never seen such an extensive lay out of glyphs, almost seemed like it must have been a novel. Even drove over London Bridge to get to Nevada.
posing as a ghost
Ocotber 26, 1995 —Beatty, Nevada
I'm so fucking itchy. It's driving me crazy and there's so much shit going on right now. Where to begin? I haven't written because I've been so itchy, too impatient. But now I have the new Smashing Pumpkins blaring in my ear, special delivery from my beloved cub. The walkman still has fake blood on it from when I was doing my medic stint with Mr. Stitch and was listening to Siamese Dreams to give me the courage to yell over my own voice. Now it's Mellon Collie and the infinite sadness.
So we go to Beatty with no clue what we were supposed to do. Luckily Clark was staying at the Phoenix and looked Gary and Brian up. Met the next morning to survey out the grid. The incompetence of Gary and Brian was exposed pretty quickly, Clark commented on it more than once. I'm glad it wasn't just me being anal. I measured my line against Brian's and it was 20 feet off. He assumed it was my error and just kept surveying (even though I checked it and he was off a few degrees.) I checked it against Clark's line and was right on, so we went back and found where Brian had gotten way off.
The next day Brian went to go work on the Sapo and Rana claims, but left us Gary to help on Providence. Very rugged country, striped and contoured with Rhyolite, colorful purple's and greens. The bullfrog mine is just over the ridge. The 1st day we were surveying I felt the ground shake and thought it was an earthquake. Than there was a massive explosion and boulders flying through the air. I started to run, than figured that was stupid and looked up into the sky to avoid any falling boulders. Clarke had called the mine and they told him they weren't blasting so he was pretty peeved so we went to the mine to bitch afterwards. Didn't get very far with that sort of bureaucracy.
We visited the ghost town of Rhyolite while we were in the area. Very cool, what used to be a huge town of tens of thousands, with three railway stations, dozens of saloons, hotels, banks, etc, was now just ghost structures with blown off roofs (blown off on purpose to make them exempt from property tax). Some guy lives there who, according to Gary, killed his father in self-defense as he came to beat his mother, and now he returned to rhyolite to make these weird sculptures. There was also a house made entirely of beer bottles.
On the 1st day out by himself, Brian rolled the ATV off a cliff. He did manage to jump off in time, I'll give him credit for that. But he totaled the ATV. I'd like to see J.B.'s reaction to that. I laughed thinking about all the extra metaphoric baggage that damn ATV carried. By the 3rd day we had the grid worked out and started the sampling. We took all three, plant, soil and lag. Lag is the most interesting in that it's an intentionally biased technique where the object is to look for interesting rock, as long as they are not basalts, but tuffs and rhyolites.
I was just getting over my poison oak but I think the sampling sparked it back up. The creosote wasn't so bad, but when that ran out we had to sample this oily, foul smelling stuff called Match Weed. And we stored the samples in my room so it became this sultry, pollen filled soup I was sleeping in. I'm going crazy. I have to tie up my hands to sleep, I can't wait for the suffering to end. Just to feel normal would be an extreme and decadent luxury. I can't even write.
Ocotber 27, 1995 —Beatty, Nevada
. . . I can't even finish a journal without their being a major swing in my enthusiasm and confidence. I was still on the sampling at Providence and my extreme itchiness, like bugs living under my skin, eating their way in. Just things were getting to be really shitty I would get these really lucid moments that are hard to describe. Kneeling and sifting and dirt, suddenly I wasn't me but a realization of my dreams that I was fulfilling but not appreciating. I was watching myself go through the motions, going how the fuck did I end up here like this? Not that it was glamorous or anything, but I shouldn't ask for more, at least for the time being. I looked around at the mountains and what I'm doing and realize that the hat is on my head. It's just like the western stories of prospectors that one would think are a thing of the past, but things are alive and well in this new gold rush. Even though the technology is changed it's still the same idea, and it's something I should live for now, and not for the retrospect.
When I got back to my room there was a note on my door that said "You got an agency for your book, call home as soon as possible." I couldn't believe it, it was too good to be true. But when I finally talked to Sather it was seeming 'They really liked my book, wanted to represent me, contract was enclosed, return it with a $350 contract fee. Whoa, hold on, $350 contract fee? Hmm. Skepticism creeped in much as I wanted to believe it wasn't a scam.
Today we rock-chipped up on the ridge to avoid error in the sampling due to contamination by throw rock from the nearby mine. Time consuming and tedious. When we finished we started in on removing the Radon and Mercury collectors. Our ritual 4:23 bomb blast was not planned but we didn't want to take any chances, left the rest for tomorrow. Actually I conned Clark into it so I could make some phone calls. Called Author's Resource Center but the number had been disconnected. Finally got a hold of the Writer's Guild. The guy looked up the Misha agency but it wasn't in their files. I asked him what his opinion was but he said he couldn't help me. He wanted to give me advice but it would be illegal, so he said. Other places I had numbers for were all on N.Y. time.
Then I called up Call and Nicholas, I guess I didn't mention until now, but they contacted me and I called them back and scheduled an interview. I called back again because I wanted to get more of an idea of what the job was all about. I had the job built up to be some great high-paying job with lots of travel experience. Not so glamorous. Mining engineering firm. They wanted me to do data entry and "occasional" field work for $9-$11/hr. Sounds worse than my current situation. So now I'm doubly depressed, like I've had the carpet laid out for me, and suddenly it's pulled out from under my feet. I'll just have to try harder.
Beatty Burro Races
Ocotber 29, 1995—Beatty, Nevada
Finished up Providence on Saturday morning in time for the infamous Beatty Burro races. What a treat! The race involved leading a stubborn burro around a barrel and back. Then you had to load it with a pick, shovel and canteen and lead it around the barrel again. Then you had to build a fire, cook some pancakes and feed it to the Burro. The problem lies in trying to lead the burros because they have a different mindset about where they want to go and are not so easily persuaded otherwise. They would drag the contestants around in the ring, except once they got a whiff of the pancakes they would mellow out a bit.
Other than that there wasn't much else to do on a day off in Beatty. Did some nickel gambling, went out to the old Beatty homestead and started ruminating for a children's story idea: Penelope Pack Rat and the Hot-headed Mole. This disillusioned pack rat from the Sonoran desert collects trinkets, anything she can get her hands on. Her favorite hunting ground is this old ghost town. One day she finds this piece of ice and becomes obsessed. It melts in her hands before she can steal it home. Her parents tell her that she has a cousin in Antarctica, the Hot-headed Mole who burrows in the ice and lives in a palace of ice. She burrows away, escaping predators such as owls and bats that live in the abandoned mine shaft. She gets her directions mixed up and has a series of adventures around the globe, coming across a Colombian Capybara that eats chocolate covered espresso beans and is all wired and intellectual. In Paris she meets up with couch surfing hibernating rats that live in the sewer systems. She meets up with diving rats that dive for treasure in Greece. In Alaska she gets swept up in a mass Lemming migration. In Australia she ends up in Coober Pedy where all the Kangaroo rats live above ground. In the South Pacific she comes up on an atoll. Finally she ends up in Antarctica she stows away on a ship, and eventually finds her cousin the hot-headed mole. She has a great time in his ice castle, the most beautiful thing she has ever set eyes on. It gets too cold for her and she returns, unable to bring the ice back with her. Maybe she brings a piece long enough to show her friends and family and the next day it disappears.
Today we joined Brian to work on the Sapo and Rana properties. Got a lot done, walked for miles in drizzly rain on surreal colorful landscape, repapering claims.
we started documenting crestate saguaros around this time (this 1 in the Rincons we think)
November 2, 1995 —Tucson, AZ
Dias de Los Muertos. For ½ of today I thought my computer was muerto but it works now.
Woke up yesterday at 4:45 a.m. because Brian and Gary wanted to see the sun rise over Rhyolite before we left. Not only that but we went to these springs that were way out of the way. I was just really annoyed at having to be stuck in a car with these idiots for longer than I had to. It got stormier and cooler as we got more south. I tuned out to Smashing Pumpkins and tried to ignore them, I was so excited to get home and see Zo. We got in around 8 or 9 and I drove my van home, but Zo wasn't home. Sather was home and told me to call Bruce.
He had the epic of epics in the Stronghold. Went up to do "what's my line" with this guy John Payne and his friend Marcus. After the climb, Bruce and Marcus had done the rap to the 1st ledge. When they looked up, John came tumbling down. Evidently, he had only put one strand of the rope through the belay device. He crashed on the ledge and tumbled past them, 300 feet down. And to top it off, he was carrying the extra rope on his back. So Bruce and this guy Marc were stuck on the ledge for 30 hours with this dead guy below them. They had just a little water and a power bar. All they had on were t-shirts and shorts, he left his poly-pro and jacket at the base. They huddled in a crack, taking turns laying on each other to keep themselves warm. The next morning Bruce was about to make a last ditch effort to string his webbing together and somehow lower to a point that they could downclimb from, when they saw two climbers from Colorado on their way to do Days of Future passed. They couldn't talk them into doing what's my line to get them down, but instead they went to get help. That was 9:30 and by then it had fogged up and started raining. Help didn't come until 4:00. Just as the Colorado climbers couldn't get them a rope, neither could the rescue people. They sent for a helicopter which came back and circled around, unable to land. It left and came back with some static line which they dropped to Bruce and Marc. This wasn't until 9:00. 30 hours stuck up on the ledge. They rapped down to the rescue people and they stuck I.V.'s in their arms and warmed them up for the walk out. Didn't get down until 2 a.m. and then they had to go talk to the sheriff and be admitted to the hospital even though they didn't want to.
I couldn't lend much of an ear or compassion to Bruce's story as I was wasted from the long drive back from Nevada and was hungry as a mouse in a mud bath. Cub still wasn't home, she was at SCUBA, so I cooked some pasta. She finally came home and it was like a dream. A long lost sister. Less than two weeks away and it's amazing how different she was. She was my Zo, like a sister. Her hair has gotten longer and she just looked so healthy. I guess you hang around ugly fat Nevadans and you forget what a beautiful creature really looks like. What a sight to come home to.
But my homecoming was kind of tarnished by the presence of Mark's stuff all in my room and Sather just surfing the couch in front of the T.V. in her pathetic insecure state. And minutes after the cub got in, Mark comes in and when the cub and I retired to the bedroom Mark comes through to take a shower, and of course we have to wait for him to take his long shower and go back through the room again. Really annoying, I wish I just lived with the cub in a secret hide-a-away den. Never-the-less, once we finally had our semi-privacy, Mark still right through the other door that doesn't shut all the way, her skin was so warm and soft like the most real thing there is. That gem is the gem of all gems that manifests my desire and longing. There can be nothing in life more precious.
The next morning was a frustrating, yet exhilarating ride on an emotional roller coaster whose theme was money, possessions and security. I started making calls to New York until I got a hold of these free lawyers for the arts. It was a law student and I told her my predicament with the Misha agency. She said she would consult a lawyer and call me back. Took care of some bills and my expense sheet. Mark was just hanging out, not doing much except he got on this grand project to kill the ants in our front yard. So he was boiling pots of water and adding cinnamon and salt. I helped him out by adding hot sesame oil and basalmic vinegar. It smelled like lousy chinese food.
I got my computer out and tried to use it only to discover it was totally dead. I didn't bring it with me to Nevada so they could use it and this is what I get? My heart sank, and I felt sick. It reminded me of when (I thought) my journal was stolen out of Roger's car in Nice. My most coveted material possession, but more than that, my chalkboard for projections. I guess it makes me realize how dependent I am on this box of plastic full of silicon and wires. It's a great tool. I guess the majority of the sickening situation was thinking that all my writing was on here and that I had no way of working on it, or writing like I am now, in my journal. As it is, I still have to go back and enter Beatty's entries which I just wrote on paper.
So I'm trying everything to get my computer working and Mark's trying to console me and it's just annoying me. He told me that Sather went into my room to plug in this broken lamp (the one she was trying to get me to fix before, that was like her long lost grandmother's or something like that). It blew the fuse out for that whole area of the house. Why she was plugging it in my room I didn't even bother to ask. I guess I'm just losing my patience with people that mean well but are just not with it, and leave a wake of shit; i.e. Bruce, Gary, Brian, Mark, Sather; or people that just aren't taking responsibility for their own actions and aren't making an effort to improve their situations and just free load off the rest of us.
So I thought my computer was completely blown, it wouldn't run on just the battery, or just 60 cycle. And meanwhile I'm juggling the phone trying to get Mark out the house before I punch him, I hooked him up with a job through Terri and sent him off with my van (his is still is repossessed and hence he can't deliver Pizza's). I talked to J.B. and arranged to meet him at his house. I was curious to see what that was all about. And the lawyer's called me back to tell me that it was not usual procedure for an agent to charge a $350 contract fee. My calls to Misha agency were not being returned. I was supposed to meet Zo at 11:00. When I had sent Mark off with my van I made sure I had keys to Zo's car, but what I overlooked was that I didn't have a key to get the club off the steering wheel. So I hopped on her little bike and rushed to campus to meet her, but I forgot this folder she called to remind me to bring. I was in a lousy mood because I thought my computer was busted and I was just going off about Mark and Sather, and cub takes that to heart like it's her responsibility. We outlined all our different possibilities for just getting out of this country. She's fed up with her job with Dr. Jerkins and doesn't like her program. Her parents are not supporting her on this issue evidently and are calling her a quitter. I could definitely use the change to get out of Tucson.
I got back to the house and there was a package from the Misha Agency, my manuscript with a note that they had received their maximum load of submissions for the year. I called them back and left a message that I wanted to know what was going on. I took another look at my computer before cub went and filed and insurance claim on it. I discovered that there was this last ditch reset switch that you can poke in with a paper clip and I heard the symphonic prompt and saw the diskette with the smiley face.
Some lady Lisa Hopkins finally called me back from Misha agency, and explained that they had received the maximum number of submissions for that year. She sounded very unprofessional and stuttered over her words. If it was my dime I would of hung up, but what the hell it was her dime from Kansas, of all the backward ass places I've never been, and I had some time to kill. Eventually I got her to consent, "okay, okay, technically there is no terms in the uhh, contract saying the uhh, agent has a right to refuse you, so we can make an exception and accept your uhh, submission, even though we've gone over our uhh, maximum workload." I laughed out loud, "okay, now we can talk about this $350 dollar contract fee. That's a very strange way of doing business. I've actually talked to a lawyer about this and they agree with me." There was some commotion in the background on the other line, and she's like "hold on a sec." Then she comes back and gives me this spiel about Misha not being like the big agencies, that their a small independent agency looking out for the good of the independent writers, not charging as much commission on royalties, etc. and explains to me about how they've been in operation since 1988 and have had a 70-80% success rate with getting their clients published.
"Really? Could you give me some examples?"
"Sir, that's uhh, confidential, if you were one of our uhh, clients, would you want us giving out your name?"
Fair game, but any legitimate agency would of just told me I was rude and wouldn't offer me their services. But I decided to see how far I could push her. "I just have a hard believing that you have a hundred people that have paid you $350 up front to an agency that, as far as they know is not legitimate. Hey, by the way, I called the Writer's guild of America and asked them about you and you're not in their records as a legitimate agency." A long pause and more commotion.
A dog backs in the background. I laugh, "is that a dog I hear in the background?" It becomes like this surreal joke, I can just picture a backdrop of a cheap piece of jet trash with a biker boyfriend next to her in some trailer in buttfuck, Kansas. The dog is a pitbull with a leather spiked collar.
She goes on to explain, stuttering, not being able to recall the proper terms, and pausing with statements like, "god, I just can't talk today", telling me the glorious history of Misha agency ending with that the fact they are dissolving and this is their last year in operation.
I laugh even more. "You're telling me that you have a 100 clients fronting you $350 dollars to an agency that is not only illegitimate but is dissolving? That's what, $35,000 dollars up front, why would you have any incentive to actually go about and find publishers for your clients? What sort of guarantee do I have that you would actually put an effort forth for me?"
"You wouldn't have any guarantee, but we feel it is our uhh, obligation to get all current uhh, clients uhh, published before our company uhh, dissolves."
"Well, listen, I'll sign the contract and send it in, but I'm not willing to front any money, let alone $350 dollars. If you want you can take it out of my 1st royalty check."
"Sir, it may be a year or two before you actually receive, uh, royalties from a publisher. We are dissolving at the end of the uh, fiscal year. As a matter of fact, we are not charging any uhh, commission on uhh, royalties for this last year, we are just fulfilling our obligation with our current clients."
"Then why are you willing to take on another clients?"
"Because we already sent you a contract and nowhere in the uhh, contract does it say an uhh, agent has a right to refuse a uhh, client." The dog barks in the background. This is too much, I've had enough fun. Interesting scam though. Preying on people's hope and desires. It's really sick actually. I'm sure there's hundreds of loser closet writers, like me, that would do anything for that glimmer of hope of getting published. There will always be that regret that maybe you just threw away a good thing. It's not like any other opportunities have come my way. Blatant as the scam was it was still hard for me to tell her I couldn't accept the offer and hang up.
I kept thinking of John Payne falling and bouncing off that ledge and plummeting 300 feet with the ropes, and having to witness this and then be stuck on a ledge for 30 hours to think about this. I talked to Harlow and Shaheen about it as I called them to find a climbing partner. Neither of them can climb this weekend. I really want to though.
At four I went over to J.B.'s. I had read him wrong all along. I was a fool to listen to Tom. Despite that him and his wife Mardee are total wanna be highfalutin yuppies, big toads in the small town of Tucson, he seems relatively honest and bubbling with enthusiasm. And he made no snide remarks about Tom, actually he really had nothing negative to say, even when we were talking about the ATV. We sat out on his porch in the immaculately manicured garden. He lives in some pretentious gated complex near the old Fort Lowell.
It was one of those talks that starts off with, "so tell me about yourself". So I have to give him an autobiography in such a manner that relates to him and what he wants to hear. He gave me his side of Jaba, far from the desperate bankrupt situation that Tom described it as. It's "going public" in a few weeks, a triple merger with all sorts of supposedly world renown geologists on the board of directors. He was excited about the future of the company and then went on a spiel, interesting in light of my developing theories of human nature, that people either have it or don't have it. And that from what he'd heard about me, from Tom and Clarke, and from just talking to me, he felt I had it. That I paid careful and meticulous attention to detail and that he likes that because in this sort of work details are very important. Then he said he like my computer background and wanted me to start doing some visual computer stuff with some sort of GPS interface, and he liked the fact that I spoke spanish.
I guess the crux of the hour and ½ long talk was that he wanted me to eventually assume responsibility of the field operations, as they slowly weeded Tom out. And I didn't even have to ask for a raise as I was planning on, but he just casually said, "oh yah, and I'll kick your wage up 2 dollars, I know it's not much but that's just for now, during this transition time." He went on to say that he saw a lot of potential in me and that it was up to me, and my level of enthusiasm as to how far I would take it. A good end to a shitty day. I took the little cub out to the little nest (Mi Nidito's) afterwards and then went and got her stuff for her SCUBA trip to San Carlos. She left early this morning. As I'm trying to write Mark is blabbing on philosophically about this square of light on the wall. "It's becoming this blob. This form, it's really strange."
November 5, 1995 —Tucson
So my precious Zo left me just when I get back. Figured I should probably spend some time with Bruce so we went out to Bobo's and he told me the epic story all over again. As a means to absorb him in something else I suggested we get the whole Star Wars trilogy and waste away our friday. We went home and Mark was there of course, surfing our couch, so he became involved in our effort, which had now evolved to include drinking games. We went to the store and got a six pack each of Guinness, Bass and Schlitz, and also a bottle of Jaggermeister. We laid out the ground rules:
• every scene involving the "dark side" called for a chug of Guinness
• every scene involving the force, or good side called for a chug of Bass
• Schlitz provided the continuity, i.e. comic relief, romance scenes, etc.
• Every time they went into hyperspace we would take a shot of Jaggermeister
By the time we got through Star Wars, we were fairly twisted and had no alcohol left. Sather came home and her and Mark went to go get more. Chawn Harlow happen to call, and being that he was a big Star Wars fan and could provide more climber compassion for Bruce I invited him over. Eventually Sather and Mark came back with a few more six packs and we started in on the Empire Strikes Back. We had to use Kahlua shots instead of Jaggermeister since we had used it all up. But they only go into hyperspace once in that movie.
After that was over we decided to go to the Buffet for a breather. When I ordered water the bartender told me they didn't want our business if we weren't going to drink, so I told her off and we went to the sssshanty. We somehow got on this pool table with these weird older guys that thought they were the shit. Bruce and I pretended we didn't know Chawn and Mark, and then Bruce told these tough guys that I was from Argentina and didn't speak much English. When we'd start to get rowdy in Spanish these guys would be "easy there. It's Friday night and it's still early." They said this like three or four times. They couldn't figure what the hell was going on. We were all pretty sloshed for pool so we graduated to Foos ball and more beer. I'm surprised we weren't kicked out as somebody kept lifting the table up. When we returned, we barely got into Return of the Jedi before we all fell asleep. Chawn had gotten picked up by Edie, but Mark and Bruce surfed our couches. Ate breakfast the next morning and I started in on trying to get some writings out. We still had Return of the Jedi so eventually got around to the closure of the day before.
Sunday I had made plans to climb Wily Javelina with Frank very early. I woke up at 3 in the morning and felt really strange. I had a bad feeling about climbing. It occurred to me that Mendoza Canyon was full of Poison Oak and last thing I wanted was to have to deal with that all over again. But it was more than that. I started making excuses for why I didn't want to climb certain climbs and then I had a bad feeling about the weather. Then I was thinking I didn't know Frank too well, I'd been out climbing with him, but had no direct experience with him. But it took me a few restless hours to realize that the plain thing was that I really just didn't want to climb. The memorial for John Payne was the following day, and when I told Bruce I was going climbing he seemed a little weird about it. I'm not sure what it was but I didn't want to climb so I waited til 5 a.m. to tell him. I was psyched to just sleep in and write the next day. The bed seemed really lonely without Zo. I couldn't sleep at all, I missed her so much. I put on Cocteau Twins and lay there in the dark. But the longing felt kind of good and warm. I am so in love with her, more than ever before. I woke up and got through the 1st four or five pages of Penelope Pack Rat and the Hot-Headed Mole and worked more on getting some writings out. It ended up being rainy and overcast. A perfect day to do what I did, drinking coffee, writing and anxiously awaiting Zo's arrival.
November 12, 1995—Tucson
Another week of work, though at least this time it was at $12/hour instead of $10. Sometimes it's like working with Laurel and Hardy. Wednesday I drove us in on this kind of gnarly road, but not even bad enough that you needed a four wheel drive. Tuesday I had measured in the new claim line since we didn't have posts, so we hit it in the middle and decided to split up. I went with Gary and we were lucky since we had the road following the line. So I would go off surveying and we would follow with the truck to pound posts. Sounds easy? Well the 1st D.M. I'm cruising along when I hear this loud crunch, followed by "FUCK!" There was a spot going through the wash that went up this six foot bank and I opted to go around this other way. I even mentioned to them—"Okay kiddies, remember this spot" (pretty much where we parked). But of course Gary decides to plunge head-first into the wash. The front end was buried and the back wheels were effectively off the ground, the car tilted about sixty degrees. It was totally bottomed out along the whole bottom. They thought it was a write off.
But no fucking way was I walking out of there. I started digging the front end out and eventually Gary helped. Brian just sat around trying to use the cellular. We dug and dug until the front end was free, then I drove it forward til the car was spanning the abyss. When I got out of the car there was a five foot drop to the ground. We had to fill up the abyss to avoid having the back end hang up. We got it free by noon. A great start to a day.
Then Gary and I go off through Palo Verde hell and we are 2/3 the way done with the line when we hear Brian yelling at us to stop. We had just topped out on this steep choss pile. So we turn back and he said I fucked up and labeled the stations wrong and that we would have to come back and shift them all forward. Then they were all saying like "it happens to all of us, we all fuck up," trying to include me into their gang of incompetence. Next day they dropped me off to fix my blunder but I discovered that it was right all along, that Brian had just missed a station (how can you go 600 feet and not notice that it's longer than 300ft when you 've been walking 300 ft spreads for years?) They found a horny toad later and Brian was talking about eating it so I said I would buy him a beer if he stuck it in his mouth for 5 seconds. He did. I was ½ wishing the horny toad would jump down his throat. He took me up on it right away and made me go to a bar right after work, even though I expressed a desire not to go. Than he orders a whole pitcher. I was pissed. I just sat there staring off into space. Gary even commented on it. I said "this is so fucking boring. That I was going home to eat." And left them there.
And Zo is going through hell at her job and her self-confidence is getting destroyed by this evil Dr. Jerkins. And I'm getting increasingly annoyed at this whole living situation. The insecurity and slackerness of Sather, her being unable to afford anything and us having feel decadent just for eating normal foods around her, or god forbid, pay full admission for a movie. But she hardly shops or cleans up and she always leaves the toilet running and turns the heat to 75. But they are petty grievances. But when Zo starts bitching about how annoying Sather is, that's it. I mean, the only reason I'm living with her is that she's Cub's friend. The whole situation is fucked.
Didn't climb this weekend. Matter of fact I didn't do anything and it was great. I chose to sit around and just write and hang. Finished the 1st draft of Penelope and her adventures. Worked on my Peace Corps application which Zo and I decided we might do together in six months or so. I'm thinking it would be a great opportunity to learn French if we worked in Africa and if not, well most of the places they send you are cool, and if not, then we don't have to go. It will definitely be nice to get out of this country and do something different by then. I applied for Forestry and 2nd choices were agriculture and soil sciences.
November 11, 95 —Sky Harbor airport
Sitting in the bar waiting for our delayed flight. Delayed because of some freak fog in SFO that is hanging over the airport. Zo and I are biding the time by drinking bloody Mary's and beer and eating pizza though it's not even 10:00 a.m. I had it up to my neck with the smelly guys, another weed working with them, and they were annoying me so much, that I was thinking if they didn't get fired I wouldn't be able to stand working with them.
But I got my wish, talked to Brisco and he is letting them go before Thanksgiving. Either I'll work alone from here on out, or I'll get Mark to help me. The week was more tolerable knowing I had a weekend in Frisco with the cub to look forward to. Finished the 1st working draft of Penelope Pack Rat and the Hotheaded mole to give to Kevin so he can start working on illustrations.
Zo got accepted to the epidemiology department and her job with Seamus is secured. She told the evil Dr. Jerkins to piss off. I'll ask her 1st hand what if feels like.
Q: How does it feel to have cast off the yoke of Dr, Jerkins?
A: The yoke? Interesting word, Mr. White. umm, I feel like a free bird. And now I feel like the world is my oyster, and I can get do anything I want, because with her I felt as though she held me back. I felt inhibited, like a fetus in the womb. Anyway, okay, please don't look it up [the word fetus] and we are having a great time. Ask me another question.
Q: How does your spiritual other fit into the picture?
A: Who is my spiritual other?
Q: You tell me. The significant person that you want to spend the rest of your life with.
A: If you are referring to my lover, my friend, my den-mate, that would be Mr. White. And he fits in the picture, in any way he wants to
Q: Well that's vague isn't it. I asked you how he fit in the picture. i.e how you want him to fit in the picture.
A: It is not vague, Mr. White. I would prefer to not choose what my significant other wants to do with his life, I would very much like it if he was in my life constantly but he must do what makes him happy. Not what satisfies me all the time.
Q: Okay. On to the next question.
A: let's talk about sex.
Q: hmm. What is your deepest desire at this moment?
A: to get on a plane and go to San Francisco.
Q: Are you nervous about meeting his mother?
Q: If the world was blown up and you could send one person into space (including yourself) who would it be?
Q: how does the advent of Quantum field theory bear on the perception of your personal reality?
A: I don't have perceptions
Q: do you believe in a higher force?
A: what do you mean by a higher force. There's forces above me, above five feet.
Q: something that wound the clock or is still winding it.
A: huh. yawn. no. Maybe. No significant evidence in my mind. It would be nice to think that, but it is just a human superstition. We are living off of our fear.
Q: fear of what?
A: Fear of the unkown. Fear of dying. Fear that there is no purpose, that this is just 75 years of meaningless shit.
Q: So what's the point?
A: of what?
Q: of your existence here.
A: there isn't one. Just hanging out just trying to enjoy my time. Just a victim of natural selection.
Q: So what is the guiding force of natural selection?
A: fit will survive.
Q: But why, why this will to survive?
A: Just the way we're programmed, that's the way organic molecules work.
Q: You say programmed, didn't something have to do the programming?
A: yah, inorganic gaseous molecules.
Q: But those are the players.
A: They are the players of their forefathers. But they're the programmers for the organic molecules to form through evolution. This is dumb, I don't want to talk about god and stuff. It's irrelevant.
Q: Then what's the point?
A: There is no point, we may as well kill ourselves.
Q: But don't you love Mr. White?
A: that's none of your business.
Q: But you are in love?
A: why don't you ask a question about my work and not my lovelife.
Q: Is your work more important?
A: This is boring, end of interview.
November 21, 1995 —(San Francisco)
The last day of my 29th year. Which means tomorrow I turn 29. We finally got to SFO after about 8 hours. Hung out on the ground in Phoenix waiting for clearance, then flew in circles over SFO waiting to land. Mom was there to pick us up. Kevin came into San Jose about the same time, so David was down there picking him up. We stopped and got sea food.
Weird hanging out with Zo and my mom. It changes my perspective, then I look at mom as how Zo would see her, the thing that made me. I don't know what we did the rest of the afternoon, just vegged and then met David later and we all went to Thai food. That night Zo + i couldn't get enough of each other, even though we were exhausted. Maybe it had something to with being in that house, or maybe it was the cooler weather and doing it in front of a fire. Or maybe it was because the bed was a single and we barely fit on it. Either way, we were up most of the night. Zo shared something with me that I won't even repeat in this. It was like confessions that couples give before they get married. All in all I feel infinitely more bonded to her. I think I could spend the rest of my life with her.
The next morning we got up bright and early to go to the city. Kevin tagged along for the ride, we dropped him off in the Haight and had breakfast their ourselves (Kevin was meeting Wendy and Tom). Then we spent some time finding the new Modern Art museum only to discover it wasn't open yet and we didn't feel like waiting. So we went to union square and I bought a bunch of clothes. Then we went down to Fisherman's Wharf and Zo took me out to eat at Alioto's overlooking the Marina. We cruised around Ghiradelli square and all that stuff and returned to the Haight to hang out at Eric and Arthur's flat and then the infamous bar that Kevin's been telling me about where he worked and met Jordan, and met the infamous Eric who is the French heroin addict that Killing Zoe is based on. Went home and Mom had moved downstairs and let us have her room. [...] sure everyone in the house heard us as the bed creaked a lot, but we couldn't help ourselves.
Sunday morning we went to Aptos to see Liz. We picked her up and went to see the Monarch butterflies at natural bridges. There weren't that many of them and it was foggy so they weren't active. But there were a few clusters. We looked into the tidepools and enjoyed the beach, then went to eat Spanish food downtown. The whole downtown has been rebuilt since the earthquake. But there was still a huge pit where the roasting company was. We even went through the campus and saw the trailer park I used to live in. Kind of trippy but I didn't experience much nostalgia for some reason. Went back in time for another big family affair dinner, everyone was there, Kevin, David, Mom, Eric, Arthur, Andrea, Donald, Daija, Kimi, and Diane and Thayne. Diane and Thayne came all the way from Napa. It was cool but my head was definitely being pulled in too many directions. Why are these family affairs so nerve-wracking?
November 26, 1995 —(Phoenix, Salt River, Queen Creek)
1st thing we did when we got back to Tucson was go to the Olive Garden. Then we went to the DMV to get Zo's new license (she got her wallet stolen last week). Always prolonging the return home. Actually, it's always nice to return home. Tuesday and Wednesday I finished up the corners of the Gap Tank property with the smelly guys. They knew what was coming to them I'm sure. I was just glad to not have to work with them anymore. Wednesday night Zo took me out to Terra Cotta's for dinner and then we came home and joined up with Sather and Mark to go to this new bar, the Empire. Downtown, tres chic. Lots of wood and high ceilings, and I really like the neon lights under the bar counter, lighting people's legs and feet. Bruce met us there, I guess that was the main initiative of the outing, being that Bruce is leaving town and we may not see him again. Afterward I went to his house with Mark to get his chapbook for his Master's thesis. He also gave me a book of poems by Lorca.
Had to wake up early on thanksgiving which really sucked. Hadn't had a decent night's sleep in a long time. I slept a little on the way to Phoenix, Zo drove. [...] No infamous "turkey dance" this year, where they dress up the turkey (last year it was Marge Simpson) and dance with it, before they cook it [...]
Then took off to Queen Creek. Went to the mine area and started off on Mama's Boy Goes Home (5.5) , a good short warm-up. Cool welded tuft with little pockets and lots of holds. Then we got on Tapping the Vein (5.6) also easy and short, but fun. Zo got up both of these fairly easily. Then we did Wake and Bake (5.7) which was longer and a little more challenging. Zo was tired by this point and was getting frustrated by this climb. The top rope was set up on this other classic Baby Sitters Taste Better (5.7) so I ran up that. A pretty good day considering we were both sick and kind of weak and hadn't climbed for at least a month. 1st time I've used the new 8.8 mm Mamut I bought a month ago. All in all Queen Creek is not too exciting a place to climb, I'm glad I live in Tucson and not Phoenix. We had originally planned to spend the night there but we were too sick so we drove back along 79 watching the sunset and got into town to eat at Ki-rin. I always like to prolong coming home like that.
December 2, 1995 —Tucson, Az
Sitting here in the dark at 1:30 a.m. with nothing but my thick corduroy jacket on. My nerves are like piano strings, gift wrap tassels that are frayed. The train is going by through the night. Things are happening out there, I feel it. But I'm not a part of it. Somehow I've gotten absorbed into my bitter and cynical world. Zo sleeps in the room next door, afraid that I'm going to leave her. I'm afraid I'm going to leave myself.
My 1st week as "boss". Not sure I like positions of authority, but I can see where male egos get off on it. Monday I met with Jim and we squared, or tried to square a bunch of things away. Fixed up the truck, new muffler, valve job. Bunch of errand type of shit. Tuesday I had off because the truck was being worked on and I had to get a field crew. Wednesday I went in and did more errands, took the truck through emissions and then I had to interview this guy Keith. The 1st time in my life I had to "interview" someone. Wasn't as hard as I imagined, matter of fact it's easy because you're the one sitting in the easy chair. His resume definitely reflected a lot of experience in geology. I just had to get that 1st impression gut feeling of the haves and the have nots. He kind of fell in between, very confident, too much so. But fairly well adjusted (compared to the smellies) and definitely enthusiastic. Can't be too picky, he'll work for now. He had already checked clean with Jim.
So we hired him on right there and he came with me to run a bunch more errands, got all our baggies and shit to start sampling the next day. Relocated all the shit to this guy John G's house near Oracle and Orange Grove. More convenient than Tom's. We were supposed to all watch that video that Clark made at my place, but no way I was going to subject my evening to that. Got a hold of Mark and he's on as well. So we met at 6 a.m. for the 1st day with the new crew. Mark was 15 minutes late, kind of as I expected. Keith wanted to stop at Smith's to get breakfast and I had to say no. Went out to Gap Tank, at least I was with different company and a different mindset, and we were sampling instead of staking claims.
Got off to a good start, taught them how to do veggies and I just did all the soils. 150 feet to either side of the end centers and corners. Did 42 sites on the 1st day. Drove back in the dark. Dropped off Mark and Keith and took all the samples over to the offices of Jaba where Jim met me. I had a list of stuff we needed or needed to be done. Went to his house to get some more tools and such. By the time I was done it was a fourteen hour day. Came home in time to order a pizza and crash except I woke up at midnight and was wide awake and couldn't sleep for hours. Up at 4:45 to get there at 5:30 (take advantage of all that daylight). Did more of line 1, it was harder, more craggy terrain, had to take the ATV around the outcrops and through the Chollas. Digging holes like a madman, running between both sites and orchestrating things. Once again I had to drop the samples off, another 14 hour day.
Got home and there was weird vibes between me and Zo. Took her our to eat at some Mexican place with Mariachis. I think I was freaking, tired and dehydrated and just kind of frazzled by my new responsibilities. But Zo was seeming distant and different. We got into this tangle that was frustrating beyond belief, I felt like just giving up completely, on the verge of a nervous breakdown because all I wanted to was relax and sleep, and now this? Things work themselves out after a bunch of games, she went off to the Empire. Ends up she saw Mark and Keith there. Everybody was there. Everybody but me and that was okay. I didn't even hear her come home and take a shower. Now I can't sleep again. It's 2:16 a.m. and I'm not too concerned. At least we're not working tomorrow. My eyes burn. Why am I so unhappy and stressed? I have everything I would of wanted months ago. Now it's just a game, this job, and I'm going through the motions. It's not my realized passion. I'm doing it for the money. It's humiliating to think of what this work will lead to. I just want to write. Write. Write what? Something that is crafted like perfect gem, each word in place to create an experience. A work of art. Words. Fucking words. I try hard to imagine the format that most resembles the train of thought. Like right now, am I thinking in sentences with verbs and nouns? It's more like emotions and associations. But what are emotions? They are like colors in that it's something we've agreed upon. Like anger, lust, they are words that we all have different associations with. Whereas verbs are a little more universal. Something that expresses relationships. Kind of like Bosons and fermions. We have a list of nouns, the players in the game. And a bunch of verbs that describe their interaction. Me, sleep. What is that acting upon. Dream.
Dec. 9, 95 —Tucson
Another week at Silverbell. We got into the rhythm of the sampling business and increased productivity dramatically except for one day where I screwed up and we started sampling the wrong line. I was really distracted because Mark kept getting a message on his beeper from San Francisco. He tells people there's a importance code of 1 to 9 and they would follow the number with a lot of 1's. When I called it (on the cell phone) I got a weird answering machine in French and I was really worried that it was that French heroin addict that Killing Zoe was based on. I was worried for Kevin. But that's why got distracted and didn't double check the line. I did discover it before it got worse, though.
I think I'm allergic to creosote, because once I got in on that my skin started itching. It was hard to sleep at night. I'm not sure I should be doing this shit. And for a while there I was pretty sick. Like I had strep throat. I was thinking maybe I had valley fever. I was reading this article and it's transmitted by soils in the Sonoran desert. And there's a 50% chance that your average joe living here has been exposed to it. That means that I've been most definitely exposed to it, considering I've inhaled far more Sonoran topsoil then your average joe. But most people don't show symptoms anyway. I guess I'm just being psychosomatic. My skin itches because it's symptomatic of how I feel inside. I want to break out of here. I want to molt, metamorphize.
So yah, 13 hour days with not much time to do anything by come home and eat, spend time with the cub and sleep. Friday was supposed to be my day off but I was had to go to the storage shed to package up the samples and send them off via UPS. Keith was supposed to meet me, but he called 20 minutes after. Sounded like he was in bed, hung over. Told me he had a "personal" problem. Yah right. Jim was right there. Asked me what was going on. I told him. Added that Keith had a wild side, like to go out. Maybe I went a little too far in telling him that he met Zo and didn't even remember it. I don't know what my problem is, I just don't have any tolerance for that kind of behavior.
Anyways, this work thing is sucking me up a lot more than I'd like it to. Ended up working almost 16 hours on friday, but at least I was getting $18/hr. Had to go down to UPS with the twenty 24 pound boxes stacked in my van. It was Christmas rush, all sorts of old ladies sending pound cakes to their sisters in Manhattan and that kind of shit. They made me stand in line and bring all the boxes through. It was ridiculous and hectic. I had a peace corps interview at 2 and it was ticking past one. Hadn't eaten all day and had to go home and change, and I was in that fucking line and they fucked up my paperwork, got the boxes confused and the lady just took her break ½ way through helping me. Finally got that shit off then couldn't get to our house because all the roads were blocked because of the street fair. Made it to the interview. It was a joint interview with Zo, part of the deal was to see how well we'd do as a married couple. Ha-ha. He said we did alright and that he'd send us up into the next stages of the lengthy process, sponsoring us when a position came up in January. We'll let that one rest for a while. A little egg that we laid and are letting it incubate it to see what hatches.
judging by the date-stamp this is Zo (w/ pixie haircut) rappelling off In Lightning
December 11, 95 —Tucson
December in Tucson. Talk about perfection of state. Weather, anyways. Just cool enough to wear a jacket in the evening. We actually went swimming on Saturday and laid out in the sun. It felt so good. And yesterday climbing. Zo and I went to the Druid. Somehow managed to get ourselves lost. Guess I wasn't paying attention last time I was there with Todd. Anyways, it was nice to be bushwhacking around on a carpet of pine needles with the cool smell of pine and granite outcrops, rather than the evil creosote-encrusted desert that I've had it up to my neck with. We finally made it to the Druid and did In Lightning (5.7+) which was pretty fun, nothing challenging, but it was just nice to be on rock. And it challenged Zo plenty. It was steep and sustained for a 5.7.
Came back down in time to go to the street fair and eat greasy food and people watch. Sat on the sidewalk eating greasy fries and looked at people's feet to try to predict what kind of person would be the owner of the shoes. All in all it's pretty lame considering the hassle of all these people parking all over our lawn. We were supposed to climb Saturday but we opted for a day of slouching and it was well worth it. Not even sure what we did. I don't know what the deal is. I need a new pastime. I still like climbing, but it's not the addicting passion it used to be. I need a change of some sort.
600 pages into Don Quixote I'm realizing it's quite a project. Started Nexus as something to alleviate the burden. Instantly pulled in to that as if it was a trash novel. Can't put it down. I think it's the whole 1st person thing, it's so believable. Even though Henry Miller's advice on how to write is to lie a lot. I need to tell more lies. Lying is freedom. Even in my journal, if I didn't do what I wanted today, why not lie about? Yah, I did Shriveled Penis (5.11+) on chimney rock. Piece of cake. And the Zo's can be Mona and Stasia. I did more or less finish "Night Dive". Haven't let enough time pass to know what I think. It's still not anything original, a rip-off of a story I wrote a few years ago. Added the part about them being brothers and sisters, even though I never mention it. Another ploy of mine. Think of something like that but never explicitly state it. It just gives a peculiar flavor to their interactions that only I know the "true" basis of and anyone else can read in what they want. After all, truth is boring. Lie.
judging by the haircut, this was also around this time, posing w/ saguaro ribs
December 16, 1995 —Tucson
Inside this room, with the blinds closed, the light changes. With each cloud going by, everything dims in and out. The heater is on. December in Tucson. Tucson in December. Everything is so solid, so real. Everything has its place. Something as simple as the changing light stirs me deeply. I can't even see the clouds, but I can feel them floating by overhead. My day off and a front's coming through. The Jess's are out shopping. It's so peaceful and serene. Reading Nexus and getting absorbed. If only I could write that good. How could he have so much vision? Did he have that all planned out? His writing stirs up the most human of emotions without resorting to cheap tactics, plot, action. And there is nothing forced about it. No sign that he is trying to write. No awkwardness. Such a good liar.
Screwed up big time on Wednesday. Cranked out 24 samples by 11 O'clock and was in good spirits. Clip, Clip, Clip. Stuff, stuff, stuff. Once you're in a rhythm it's almost soothing. Reach an end center between discovery monuments. Shoot off at 77.5 degrees. Pace to the target 58 paces. Turn around and shoot back at 257.5 to double check. Find a suitable clearing for the hole. Find a rock to pound in the little stake. Get the quick scoop on the creosote around. Head for one and start clipping. Approach the bush with a selective eye. Looking for that certain diameter and healthy looking branches. When you get a handful, bend them and scrunch them and stuff them in the bag. Circle around the stake. By then Mark shows up on the ATV. Finish stuffing the bag. Pack it on the ATV and grab the bag for the next site. Angle in to the next end center and do it all over again. But anyway, Wednesday we went to start on line 4 and when we got there I realized I forgot the bags in my van and felt almost sick. What a brain fart. Luckily part of line four needed to be surveyed in.
I surveyed ahead and sent Mark and Keith off to tag the sites flanking either side. We ended up way short of the fence. Oh well, that's how all the D.M. lines were. When I called Jim to face the music, he was more concerned about coming up short of the fence then with me brain farting and forgetting the bags. He had me come over and he pulled out the big maps and poured it all out, told me all about his reasonings as to there being copper deposits and where. It definitely put a nice touch on my work. Makes me feel more important that so much is resting on this sampling, that it's the "fulcrum" of a weighted upside triangle (as Jim puts it) and if it gets fucked up, the whole triangle collapses. Now when I walk around out there I'll think of big ore deposits resting under a few hundred feet of soil. So Jim gave me these maps ("don't lose them or discuss them with anyone") along with all sorts of other personal items from his cache (his field vest, leather scabbard for cell phone, measuring rulers, etc.). Didn't even mention my forgetting the bags.
Earlier in the week Keith got reprimanded heavily for not showing up that one day, and Jim was on the verge of firing him for it. In the end he just docked his pay. He seems so iron-fisted with most people but for some reason really trusts me. Well I think I'm trustworthy, it's just surprising that he sees that. I think business is far more complicated than I ever imagined. It's all subtle power trips and communication nuances. It's never just a matter of selling a product or providing a service. A human element perseveres through all the business transactions and negotiations going on around us, and the clever ones are the ones who realize this. I'm not quite sure what I'm talking about as this is all to me, but it's intriguing. It's also fascinating how easy it all really is. It's so easy to please people. Just tell them what they want to hear. Why can't writing be so easy?
Thursday I went off on my own to remeasure the lines and make them go flush up to the Tohono O'odham reservation fence. Wednesday, Keith found a great big arrowhead that was broken in two pieces. A brilliant find. Actually, I found a fragmented red arrowhead the day before, the 1st one I've found at Silverbell. So yah, I just rode along the fence with the ATV trailing the topofil, which turned out to be the most frustrating thing. God damn topofil string kept breaking and sticking. I was praying for it to work, and when it would break, I would almost cry in frustration because it was such a pain in the ass to rethread because it was all windy and cold. Like threading a needle in a hurricane. But it was almost out-of-body, because I got a glimpse of myself, alone in my frustration, as an outsider who happened upon the scene would see me. Something about being along that reservation fence.
Now, were getting somewhere. There's a story. Surveying along the reservation fence, like you were being watched. Prospecting. I know there's a reason for doing all this. Because there's a book in it. Even though I don't feel it know, I have this gut feeling about the serendipity. It's always in retrospect that the meaning shines through. I shouldn't even say 'meaning' because I know the meaning, intellectually. But I don't feel gripped by passion yet. Like a fine wine, that needs time to settle out all the details and create a work of art out of it that will be universal. Maybe it's the longing. I'm blabbing on now, but this is my journal and I'm free to do as I want. I can punch the lack of closure over and over into my dad's hand-me-down mitt.
Another creepy thing that inspires me to write is the whole Tom issue. I had to go into the office yesterday to get supplies and Bob was there. It was the 1st time I've been with him alone, without the presence of Tom looking over our shoulder. I had him targeted as a senseless nerdy geologist, bad hygiene, coke-bottle glasses, pen-liner in his shirt pocket, . . . But he just unleashed on me. Kept looking back into the office when he was referring to Tom, like his presence was still there. A sort of ghost. But the whole thing is about to break him, he seemed about to cry. Being in between the Jim and Tom thing. He thinks they have some sort of twisted love affair going. Of course he doesn't say this outright. But god, wouldn't that be a scandal. Tom has been 100% severed from Jaba, financially. He's had his keys taken away, he' sold all interest in the company. But he still shows up. Like he has nowhere to go. Like a computer gone apeshit, doesn't know how to face the world, outside of the world he knows so well. And he's driving Bob crazy. There must be a lot I don't know, maybe Jim and Tom fuck each other in the ass. Who knows, but it's twisted. The grown men of this world.
Zo in Calico basin
December 22, 1995 —Las Vegas
Sitting naked in room 7074 of the Mirage eating tons of chocolate and drinking Merlot. All we do is fuck, gamble, eat, drink and sleep. We tried going climbing one day at Red Rocks (I guess that's the reason we're here) but it just didn't happen. 1st of all we had to wake up early and that was lame. And we argued about it for a while. I couldn't get too excited about going and bushwhacking and having to be patient with Zo while we climbed some unchallenging climb.
When we did go, we found out the park was closed anyway due to those government immaturities. We were able to go to Calico Basin since that isn't in Red Rocks proper and did Physical Graffiti (5.7). It was actually a good climb though it didn't have the thumbs up rating. It was cold as shit. Nobody in there right mind was climbing. The 1st pitch was typical red rocks stuff, following a crack but actually face. Easy. The 2nd pitch followed a low angle flaring crack that was a little more challenging. Zo was freezing her ass off and it took forever to descend back to our gear. These two other older guys were climbing the same route. They were dealers at Caesars Palace. We talked with them for a while in the parking lot than went back to our love den in the Mirage. Funny, parading through the Mirage in our climbing grunge gear. We ended up staying here the whole time. Originally we planned to camp for two nights but when we arrived at the campground it was cold and lame and cost $10 bucks and didn't seem worth it. Somehow chilling at the Mirage sounded like a better deal. Valet parking and bell boys carrying our luggage to our room. Huge aquarium behind the front desk, white tigers, dolphins, . . .and the whole place is surrounded by this jungle canopy and Samba music. It's all a trip. So much decadence. Having shitty luck gambling. Lost $40 dollars the 1st night, but Zo made it up by winning a $75 jackpot. Today we gambled some more and 1st I lost some playing slots and video stuff, and then I played Black Jack for a few hours but was having the worst luck and lost $100. I was depressed as shit. We ate lunch at were on our way back to Caesars to see a movie at the omnimax when I was Dewey, one of the guys we saw climbing. He was at the roulette table. We said 'hi' to him and I put down $5 just to be social. Doubled it and played it a while, always putting one on an even or odd and a color and another on a number, meanwhile chatting with Dewey. When he found out we were going to the omnimax, he whispered something to the pit boss and said he'd spot us with free tickets. I put a fiver on even and a another fiver ½-way between 22 and 23. Dewey said 'yah, 23 is the lucky one.' So I'm watching the ball and it's falling no where near 23, but it fell on 22 (also even). We took the $100, the comp tickets and said bye and thanks to Dewey. What luck! It's twilight now and the lights are starting to come out. I think I'm going to take a nap so I'll be awake for Cirque du Soleil.
December 25 —(Vegas, Phoenix)
Luck turned out a little better the last day or two in Vegas. Good thing we couldn't climb cause it was cold as shit anyway. We saw Cirque Du Soleil on friday night. The things the human body is able to do! Those guys really pushed it to the limits, acrobatics and swinging around, playing huge Taiko drums suspended from the ceiling, comic relief, trampolines, trapeze, etc. . . It was intense. Did nothing but gamble the rest of the time. Did the whole circuit up and down the strip. Did the best at Caribbean stud poker. Great game. I was actually up like $180 so we went to a nice meal and I bought some presents for Zo's parents. Then gambled some more and lost and won, lost and won, had a lot of fun. At one point a few hours before we quit, I was up $140 again (after spending a bunch) and I knew we should have quit then, but I kept playing for another hour or so and lost it all ($10 minimum blackjack table and "let it ride"). Should have stuck to Caribbean poker. Some guy even got a straight flush (five card stud!) and won $4000 bucks. They made a big deal about it, even thought that kind of money to the casino is nothing. It was a good thing we lost as it was just way too much fun and I would have never quit. Even that last night at the Mirage I was dreaming about poker hands and gambling. We escaped without too much damage, went to Phoenix and had Christmas eve dinner with the folks. Then opened presents the next morning and that kind of stuff. Actually was kind of mellow and enjoyable. Had Christmas dinner and then I left Zo —won't see her for 9 days :( —and returned to Tucson.
December 30, 1995 —Tucson
An interesting week at work after some time off. I go in on the day after Christmas and Jim hands me a resume, it's none another than Chris [G—an ex-girlfriend]. He's all—"do you know this person?" I say—"yah..." Then hesitate. Trying to think of the best thing to do in these circumstances. "The problem is I know her too well. I use to be involved with her personally." Terri recommended her to Jim. There was a note attached to it saying that she was a 'neat' girl and that Chris said she was friends with me. I go on to say that I think it would be awkward to work with her. But Jim is more concerned about getting into some sticky business for not hiring her because of her gender or race [Native American] so he asks me to reconsider.
Chris G... I wish her well, as long as she steers clear of my life. She's a plastic explosive that attaches herself to the underbodies of things. I started thinking I could train her and then dump her on Keith, but then started thinking what a combination that would be. As Jim said eloquently—"I don't want anything but geochemistry going on in the field." As the compass needle turns. I figured I'd run it by Zo and see how she felt about it. That took a few seconds. Why think about it? Kill the idea before it spreads. I call Jim and tell him that in my personal interests it would not be a good thing.
The next day I go out with Mark and Keith. I had recommended to Jim that Keith and Mark split off as a separate crew (with Keith in charge). To see how this would work out, I decided to split the line-up. I took a 3rd of it, and gave Keith and Mark a 3rd of it to do together. We left the ATV since the terrain was really rugged. I finished my 3rd and I'm on top of a hill, they're now where to be seen. I found another arrowhead, this one a dull black. All this pottery and arrowheads has me worried. I go back to the truck. Blow up the ATV tires, rig it up. Drive all the way around the mountain and finally find them about ½-way done! The problem with me is I don't say anything. I figure it should be embarrassing enough to them. Mark realized it—"wow, you did you're 18 samples already? You cruised through that." I raise my eyebrows innocently in an expression I hope designates—"that's too be expected." Keith was feeling nauseous earlier, said he had the flu. (Yah right). On the way home he admitted that from 7th grade up to recently he drank every night til he got drunk. I say—"and you quit on your own? —That's hard to do." (What I really mean is 'yah right, you need professional help buddy.') He also confessed that he only had been drinking the night before work once. Mark was all —"I come home and have a beer all the time."
Keith continues—"I mean drinking," like to him there's no such thing as having a drink. Drinking where you pass out and have a hangover the next day. The next day, Mark and I wait and wait and he doesn't show. We waited a ½ an hour and just split. It was kind of nice, actually. Just me and Mark, extra leg room. And it relieved me of the burden of expecting it. I got into the field and called Jim. Jim said—"looks like it's the end of the road for him."
I gave Keith the benefit of the doubt and told Jim that he was feeling sick the day before, and that yes, he was working hard, trying hard. Hang up and do a few samples before the road. Then we're rigging up the ATV and I hear this rattling of metal. "Nah, that can't be Keith" —I answer to Marks question. It sounds like a beaten up pickup truck full of scrap metal going sixty on a bumpy road. "I sure hope it's not Keith for the sake of his car." Sure enough. Here comes Keith, skidding into place, like he finished doing a victory lap. He's all psyched—"it's like, I slept right through my alarm. I can't believe I pulled that one off."
I remain quiet. Continue preparing. Keith goes on, elaborating on his morning's adventures. Finally, he starts helping, doing some work. "Maybe you should call Jim and let him know that you're here."
"Shit" —his face turns white. "You told him already."
"I called him to get your number. If you don't call him back, you'll probably be out of a job." I rig up the cell phone on the ATV again. The connection in the truck is broken. Keith is standing in the middle of a field, finger to one ear, squinting like he's never used a phone before.
"Hi, Jim? Yah it's Keith. . . I just totally slept through me alarm . . . but I drove out here to meet them and they're just getting ready (yah right it's 8:15) . . . but I'm here and we're ready to Rock and Roll . . . okay, will do . . ."
I thought the 'rock and roll' thing was the funniest. The way he said it, like okay, buddy, buddy. What an idiot.
He hangs up and is like—"that's it I'm quitting. I won't give him the pleasure of one last day. He's going to fire me anyway."
Mark asks—"what did he say?"
"He said he wanted to talk to me later."
I reassure Keith that if he works today and talks to Jim, sincerely, he won't get fired. But Keith is too paranoid to believe this. You can see it in his eyes. You can see the 'yes! I can go home and drink and not have to worry about going to work.'
"I don't want to kiss ass for this shit. I mean, all were doing is clipping creosote for Christ's sake."
And I'm thinking—'yah, that's the beauty of it. That's all we have to worry about. We have it good.' But I say—"well if that's the way you feel about it, then go home. And here I just recommended you to be promoted a few days ago, how does that make me look? Jim is investing tens of thousands of dollars in to 'just clipping creosote'. Everything at JABA depends on us doing our job right, and it's so easy. All you have to do is show up, dig and clip. But if you don't understand that it's important. . . "
Keith is standing around debating. Mark is still encouraging him—"c'mon, you drove all the way out here, think of it as 80 bucks you can make today." But at this point if Keith decided that he would grace us with his presence I would ask him to leave anyway. I grab sample bags and go to my station. No sense wasting anymore time with this. I hear Keith mutter to Mark—"I can't believe he told Jim." He bitched some more than his final words were—"yah! I'm gonna go home and roll a nice big fat one." Yah, out of what, you idiot. This job is like baby-sitting high school kids. It's so much easier to shut up and work for a wage. It's so much easier to rent rather than to own. If I had my way, I would lease a car. Rent furniture and thrash it. Rent ski's and thrash them. Everything's temporary. Own nothing, lease everything. Work for a wage, invest nothing. Slight philosophical digression.
So Mark and I cranked off 88 samples after that (more than we did the day before with all 3 of us working!) Mark flew to New York the next day. I gave him little chocolate worlds to hide in Zo's food if they go out to eat somewhere. The little chocolate balls I've been hiding everywhere for her, in her clothes pockets, in her drawers. So yah, Mark's gone, so now I work alone until we can find people. I kind of like working alone, actually. Kind of meditative. I saw a fox trotting in a wash that stopped to stare at me. We stared each other down for a few minutes. If there was more than just me, we wouldn't have seen that fox. I also found an old bottle for Zo. 'Lucky Beer'. Not even sure they sell Lucky Beer any more.
It amazes me about what a good worker I am. It's like my conscious watches over me. I start to think, what would happen if I didn't actually visit the site, what if I just didn't dig deep, what if I clipped all the creosote from one bush. Who would ever notice. No one will ever come out to check. But I'm a scientist at heart. Every sample I'm thinking about the experiment. I wouldn't sleep as well if I knew that one was out of place or missing. I work as if there's a satellite above watching (there is a lot of planes that go over low, my only contact with humanity). I work hard, without many breaks, knowing that all my hard work will pay off. I got 50 samples done all by myself. I guess in the end it amounts to how I'd feel about myself if I slacked off and took a nap in the desert and just dug one big hole and filled all the bags from that, or if I did a good job. It's just more rewarding to have structure and feel like you're accomplishing something, even if it is just clipping plants and digging holes.
Jeff Segal called me last night. Wanted to borrow my crampons. Todd Shipman and Jeff are going to do Orizaba. Then he said—"Greg Crumb said you were looking to hire people." Yah right, buddy, I believe in nepotism but this is going a little too far. Mr. Jeff "I have a hangover" Segal that can't wait until 6 a.m. to go the Buffet to get a Bloody Mary. Initially when I asked him what he was doing (it's 8 p.m.), he said—"he was getting over a hangover so he could go out again." It doesn't take much of an imagination to picture what it would be like to work with Jeff Segal. But I don't know what to say to him.
"Uhh, yah. What kind of academic background do you have."
"Well I didn't graduate, but I was studying archaelogy and biology." This is actually good, if he only would graduate.
"Do you have a resume?"
"Uh, no. But I guess I could get something written up. Right now I'm working in a restaurant and it like, sucks."
"Get me a resume and I'll run it by my supervisor and he'll schedule an interview with you." Silence on the other side. I think this did the trick. The idea of Jeff Segal writing up a resume and going in for an interview is pretty far-fetched. If it doesn't scare him off, I guess I'll just have to tell him point blank, because to let him go in for an interview as a friend of mine . . .
I think my so called peer group is getting to this age . . . an age where you graduate from 4 years of partying and drinking, and haven't quite come to the realization that you're an alcoholic. Or a heroin addict. Or a pothead. It's all so glamorous in your early 20s, and you can handle it. But then you 'graduate' or supposedly grow up and realize that the real world is harsh and lonely and rather than deal with that, resort to what made you feel good before. What made you feel a sense of belonging with your friends before. They either have left or they're sticking around to party with you some more. And soon they'll all be alone. And I don't give a shit. People bring this on to themselves, it's no help to feel sorry for them. When I see these hippies hanging out in front of the food conspiracy sparing change, some even joke and say they want money for drugs, I always feel like "fuck you, get a job. You think I work my ass off to give anything to you?" But I'm sure if you told them to get a job they'd say—"fuck the system, dude. Fuck authority. I'm not going to buy into all that shit."
Ahh, fell asleep in front of the tv with a blanket, then moved into the bed and slept 10 hours or so. A day off, by myself. Kind of nice for a change.
December 31, 1995 —Tucson
I have 41 minutes left of 1995. I've been re-reading all the journal entries from this year. I'd like to make some grand summary, but I can barely keep my eyes open. One thing I can say is that 1995 will be the year of Zo. I noticed a change in my attitude from the beginning of the year, in France, in Mexico—roaming, disillusioned, unwilling to commit, even when I knew it was inevitable I would still kid myself, go off to the Salton sea or Nevada for 2 months at a time. It just happened, I'm not sure when. Looking back on it (reading the entries) it seemed liked we fought a lot, but it doesn't even seem that way. I guess I concentrate too much on the negative in my journal. I feel really good about this year. I feel good about myself, and I feel good about my relationship with Zo. Last new years, I never would have imagined it would turn out like this. Where was I? In a car trying to find a party in St. Paul du Vence. I had no direction. I was just letting the tide take me. 11:27.
Last night I dreamt about surfing. Catching waves, avoiding other people catching waves in front of me and having to avoid them. Or waves that break before they reach you and you have to dive under to not get smashed. It seems to be a recurring dream. 11:29.
So what did I do on the last day of 1995? I went to windy point with Sean and 1st I led Very Suggestive (5.9-). I went up the crack and got through the crux just fine, but then I got to the weird bulgy roof and screwed around trying to figure that out and finally decided to just take the original ascent way and go left around the roof, but I had heinous rope drag. Still, I was still happy since I haven't been climbing too much anymore and that was one of the last 5.9's with at least two stars that I haven't done. Sean lead R-4 (5.9) after that. I forgot about how good that climb actually is! Simply marvelous, great roof move and then up that crack.
Went back and vegged and then went back to Sean's. He was having a pre-party party. Jesus, Deerdra and Jennifer showed up. Along with other physics geeks, and geologist geeks, friends of Sean's roommate Andy. It was nice to see Jesus. When it time to go the other party I just wasn't in the mood. I'd rather come out and party with you, powerbook, in my dwindling minutes of 1995. 11:38.
Zo just called me from Time Square. She already celebrated New Year's. Sounded crazy there. I was so glad she called. She must love me. I think 1996 will be a good year, but I will leave for tomorrow's journal entry when I go over all my resolutions and goals, etc. For now, I reminisce on the past year. 11:41. Finishing up the film in Nice—a few marvelous days in Paris—buying my lap top—my retreat to Ajijic to write 'Strip Mine', amongst other things—buying van and returning to who knows where—running into Zo at Pony Espresso—realizing things were starting to make sense, especially in lieu of Zo and Seth in Strip Mine—taking a while to come out of denial—Doing the gravity job in Safford—tripping around the southwest—living in my van—the encroachment of Tucson summer—a month out at the Salton sea—The night of May 26—going off to Eureka and Carvers for two months—snow in June—Jeff and Lucas visiting me—getting back to Tucson in July and being out of work but living with Zo on Mountain—Monsoon season working out below Elephant Head—moving in to the 8th street house—starting work with Jaba—going to Carson City to work at M.E.G. labs—river rafting in Sante Fe—2 trips out to L.A.—Tahquitz, Joshua Tree—claimstaking at Silverbell—San Francisco with Zo—Zo meeting my family—me meeting her's over thanksgiving—going to Vegas over Christmas—and now I hear the starting of fireworks, 11:52. What crazy thing can I do in these last 7 minutes. I'll go outside to see if anything changes. Turn on the T.V. to see the ball fall at Times Square and thing about Zo there. I turn on the T.V. and get Cirque du Soleil. 11:57. Well, I think the clock on my computer is out of sync with the T.V. because it's history. I need to take a shit.