4 Mar 2020> Sent Textiloma to the printer yesterday! What a weight lifted, 23 years in the making. Now we're free to move on w/ our lives. While we were writing Textiloma we were transcribing our old journels... actually, from this point forward they don't need 'transcribing' as we started logging our diary digitally, but we had to go into the files to extract the relevant text, wich wasn't that easy since at the time we were using Claris or some other word prossessing software incompatible w/ whatever our Mac uses now. We didn't use much of this in the book, mostly it was just to give us perspective, what we were doing at the time when our brother was going thru living hell in L.A. with his drug struggles (which is really what Textiloma is about). This picks up from end of 1995 in Tucson, doing geological field jobs around SW Arizona mostly + still ironing out our differences w/ our bedder-½ Zo.
January 6, 1996 — Tucson
I woke up on New Years day and cleaned everything. Swept the living room floor, mopped it and swept it again. Scrubbed the bathtub, the stove, . . . stripped the bed and took the towels and all laundry to the laundromat. Four loads. I also went to the mall to find a present for Zo but couldn't get anything. I got mom a journal. Finished Nexus. That night Zo came back from New York, what a nugget. Never did get a chance to do any writing while the house was empty and quiet. I've been working pretty much everyday since then. Getting too wrapped up in it. I got Frank hired and he went out with me on Wednesday. What a strange guy, he's so quiet. By Thursday he told me he didn't think he would make it. He was too used to running around after owls and other furry creatures. I don't blame him, if I could make more doing that kind of stuff I'd do it. Supposedly I was going to take friday off so we could work today on Asarco land. But ended up working most of the day anyway, filing out those stupid sample sheets. I guess the idea was that Asarco people wouldn't be there on the weekend. We parked the truck in the graveyard so nobody would see it and then we had to find a brass cap to tie this random mesh of infinite lines that never end. Ever expanding. When you finish the lines, more grow. Thursday we finished line 8, which was the last of the vertical, original lines. Even though Clarke said it would go against the grain of his techniques to do horizontal lines, Jim went ahead and plotted out these multicolored maps and got new bags. He's making this into some insane life project. One line is about ten miles long and goes all the way into Asarco's land where there is already a known deposit. I guess that's good science, see what you're supposed to be getting. The only thing is he wanted to do it without their permission. Frank and I snuck in and played cat and mouse for a while before I heard a truck coming as we were right in front of a 'no trespassing' sign. So I turned myself in willingly. I wish I didn't have to work. Why can't I just write? Dad died fourteen years ago, that's as long as it takes for a baby to grow into adolescence. I was going to have a beginning of the year journal entry with all my resolutions and what not. That will have to wait as tomorrow is sunday, my day off, and I have to wake up and be at John G's by 6:45 to go to a stupid ATV training session. At least I get to sleep in an extra hour and fifteen minutes.
January 10, 1996 — Tucson
One o'clock in the morning insomnia. Haven't had any time to really sit down and write. Can't let the cycle drag me down. The events— Sunday, went to the ATV training session at the Pima county fairgrounds with Jim B and John G. Kind of entertaining, this couple was running it and they had this underlying tension of bickering between them whilst trying to maintain a professional air. The whole thing reeked of bureaucratic trivialities, they kept asking the same questions over and over, like "what happens if you approach a bridge and it's rotted out?". What did they expect for an answer? "Uhh, just ride across." And it was hours before we even turned the ATV's on. "This is how you mount your ATV, left there, right foot on the peg, swing your right foot over, back straight, center of balance over the seat and sit straight down." It was incredible, he or she would demonstrate a few times before trusting us to try it on our own. Jim and John took it all very seriously, it was hard not for me to laugh. "Good mount!" or "ooh, improper dismount!" if you dismounted to the right, and they would scribble something on this form. Eventually we got to ride around in circles in this flat dusty field, around cones and what not. If only they could see the kind of shit I pull out on the desert. It was a good thing I was being paid to do this.
Saw "To Live" on Sunday night. I don't know where I was when this came out in 1994, probably some backward ass place like South Dakota, but what an incredible movie. Also saw "Betty Blue" which, if anything, is worth it for the opening scene. Interesting to see Jean Hughes when he was so young. But "To Live", talk about depth of emotion and just a movie about life as it is for most people in this world.
Zo is speaking in tongues from the other room. So strange the way she speaks, I haven't figured out what or why. It's like she's this little creature, she mutters and whines, and if I put an arm on her she sniffs it in her sleep to make sure it's me. And she says I'm like a creature with paws that dangle when she watches me sleep. And she's always sleepwalking around. I go to follow her and she'll be standing there in front of the refrigerator in a daze. I'll ask her what she's doing and she gets all flustered and says I don't know and doesn't remember how she got there. Another night she went out to the couch and was crouched up in a ball out there and doesn't remember going out there. I'll get to have more fun with my cubling in a few days as Sather is finally moving out! Yes, the cubling laid it on thick saying that me and Sather just had dramatically different and contrasting life styles and that we just wanted to live alone. Should be refreshing, it has been one of my biggest complaints about my well being, is my living situation with her.
Interviewed this guy, Qui N, a recent graduate of U of A in geological engineering. Obviously qualified in technical respects, we'll see how things go as far as common sense and physical shape. After that I was stuck at Jim's office doing shit, as the truck was in the shop (we rode in it on sunday and of course Jim thought every little noise was something wrong). Ending up going with him to this meeting with architects, etc. at the new office space. After eating a salami sandwich that Mardee brought us. Didn't want to say "I'm a vegetarian, . . ." so I just shut up and ate it. I ate swine. The new office space will be a much better set up. That's another big headache is working with John G's house as a base station. Tomorrow I'll relocate everything into the warehouse and build a ramp to drive the truck in. No one else is moving into the office's for a while, the plans have to go through the architects and all the shit, I'm sure it will take years.
Went climbing with Frank today. We originally had planned to do Wily Javelina, but I just wanted a mellow day off since it was my only day off. Am I getting old or is climbing a lot like work? One of the main things is that I want to start writing more on my days off. Stuff like that. We went to Chimney Rock and he started us out on Mistaken Identity (5.9). It was nostalgic of the days when Chawn Harlow and I would be skipping class, "'s'climb?!" I figured I'd let Frank do the leading since he seemed to be leading stronger than me. Next we did FIUTT (5.10)(2 pitches), except I didn't Fuck It and Used The Tree. I did the bouldery direct start and we followed the thin 5.9 dihedral. I started to do the next pitch, but decided to not even waste time with the effort. (I was at the traverse at the bolt). Frank went up and flailed then A0'ed through it. When I went back through that move I found the hand hold I was missing and it was easy. Next we did the illustrious Crow's Nest (5.10-)(three pitches), what an amazing route! Overhanging, slanted and convoluted dihedral. Weird stemming and underclinging, all sorts of bizarre moves. The second pitch, Frank just ran out of steam and aided through the last twenty or thirty feet of it. I followed it without falling, pretty amazing considering my strength these days. Back to the den to speak in tongues with my cubling. Last night I dreamt I was the wharf master and there was a storm over the whole planet.
[your correspondant climbing on Mt Lemmon]
January 13, 1996 — Tucson
Moved into the big offices. Big enough to drive in with the trailer and turn it around. Much better base station. Thursday I went out with Qui. A little boring and not to motivated but he'll do alright. The west side is a lot slower going. Lots of washes thick with Palo Verde and Catclaw. Not much Creosote so you have to travel hard to find it. Mark came in late Thursday night and this girl Ashley that Clark sent down also is here to help us for a week. So friday it was all four of us. A little hectic orchestrating that. Had to teach Ashley how to sample, teach Mark how to survey and keep an eye on Qui all at the same time, and also get over fifty samples done, mostly walking, as there was a fence in the way so we couldn't get the ATV over.
The responsibilities of this job are starting to stress me out. All in all it's a valuable experience about running your own business. Just simple things like going out to get claimposts at the lumberyard or going to get the topofil fixed at a surveyor's store. Big difference in businesses that solicit products for other people's businesses, as opposed to working for people in restaurants or consumer stores. There's more of a mutual respect and you get a small glimpse into their working life, and they sell you a product with a curiosity as to what you do. The lumberyard has a bunch of Pascua hood types working there. That's their life, working with saws and wood. That could be my life. They help me load the posts, wondering what I'm going to do with these posts that they probably spent all day working on. It's easy to take things like that for granted, but I like to think of every element of work that went into every tool and product that I use, especially the human element. When I pound a post in sometimes I think about all the work that was put into it and know it's just going to sit out alone in the desert marking a point. And does a worker in a Yamaha plant in Japan imagine that this product he's assembling, the Kodiak, will be used by some random person, that happens to be me, to drive around in the desert hauling samples around through washes and bushes and will eventually lead to a copper mine. Or did he think about where the metal came from to make this Kodiak. It's a chain that loops back onto itself. Another thing I'm learning about is the role of significant other's in their work, i.e. observing the way Jim and Mardee work together and support each other. I was talking to Mardee when she was giving me a ride, and I'm sure she was surprised at how much past dirt I knew about the history of Jaba. But she was giving me her side of the story of the downfall of Tom, pinpointing it all back to a July fourth weekend when Tom went out of town and when he got back his wife had gutted the house and left him. After that he just wasn't the same. Men can just fall to pieces when they lose their wives or girlfriends or vice-versa.
It's saturday and I'm at Bentley's waiting for the cub to get out of a class at the medical center. I don't want to hang out at home because Sather is moving out. The last week with her was torture. Almost like she was rubbing it in. Talking all night on the phone and having her lame friends over to watch "Friends", the Cub would cook dinner for her and Gwynn (because they would ask) and then they would never do their dishes. Even thought they sit around all day and have nothing better to do. Maybe she would do her one dish, but it never occurs to her that it takes pots and pans to cook and you have clean off the counter and stoves, and put the dishes away, etc. I'm so fucking glad she's moving out. And to top it off I get the front room as my new office, new inspiration.
January 20, 1996 — Tucson
Sather moved out last Saturday so I moved my office into the front room. I have two desks, one for writing and the other for work and other personal affairs. Since I have an unfinished office at work I moved most of that paperwork and stuff over there. I'm starting to feel a little more organized to write except I'm getting bogged down in work. Trained Andrew this week and sent Mark off alone with Qui and Ashley. They worked on the line down through the Mammoth wash area while Andrew and I took on the line from hell into Asarco property. Jim finally went through the proper channels and got permission. The terrain there is insane, we have to pack out the samples over steep ridges and outcrops. The going is slow, on top of it there's a huge mag anomoly out there, like 12-15 degrees, which had me all turned around. I had to put the compass away and go off topography alone. But on the third day we finished the line, and our reward was a split second glimpse of a bighorn sheep that peaked his head over a ridge to look at us then darted away.
It was pretty wild doing that line, knowing we were going over a known deposit of a few billion dollars worth of copper. There was a lot interesting rock, crisacola and malachite. Mark did a good job on his own, so next week he's going to go out with Qui on a different shift.
JABA went public on Wednesday. Jim had a cocktail party and invited me and Zo, didn't invite any of the other field people. They started out at a dollar a share on the Vancouver or Ontario exchange and by the end of the day they closed at 2.30 and sold 700,000 shares. And they've stayed there and are selling up to 100,000 more shares a day. That's a lot of capital, so I don't have to worry about where the money is coming from. And to top it off, yesterday Jim invited me over, and I kind of sensed what was coming. He gave me 10,000 shares of stock options. This stuff is all new to me, but it's kind of fascinating. What that means is that he's putting down the $10,000 bet for me and two years from now I have the option of seeing whether it won or lost and then put forth the $10,000 myself and claim the winnings or not put forth anything if it's lower than a dollar. i.e. if I wanted to sell out right now I could fork over $10,000 and get $23,000 back! It's not that easy to do right now, I have to wait two years before I can just sell it all. It's not unusual for successful companies to get up to $80 a share after a few years. That's $800,000!!! A nice little egg to let sit in the nest for two years and see what hatches.
January 26, 1996 — Tucson
Monday went down to Tombstone with Mark and Qui to retrieve a bunch of junk. First we had to move everything out of the warehouse area of the new offices and get a pressure sprayer and scrub down the walls and floor. Then we rented a huge U-haul and grabbed some burritos and headed out. There's these old crap-filled mobile mini's near Jaba's mine site in Tombstone, what a wasteland. And junk scattered all through the tailings surrounded lots. A white trash dream. Tuesday we were supposed to go back and get what we couldn't fit. But it was really cold the night before and the U-haul wouldn't start. So we sat around waiting for a mechanic that never showed up so I called them for the last time and told them to just come and get there crumby U-haul that they fucked up our day and it was too late to use it anyway. But they had to have someone around to pick it up and they had the nerve to try to charge us for that day. What a pain in the ass. You have to be an asshole to people sometimes to get any respect. Went into the field on Wednesday, Andrew and I started another crossline on Asarco land while Qui and Mark continued the line they were working on. The day before Jim bought a new Chevy truck so that made things more pleasant. A stereo to fill in the silence, comfortable seats.
Andrew and I got over this ridge expecting to do another ten samples over the top and the whole valley was filled with tailings. It was totally flat on top, a huge expanse on top with 60,000 ton dumptrucks and pipes of acid flowing into the tailings. Unimaginable amounts of earth uprooted. Obviously we couldn't finish our line. We would have been up on the tailings, being washed in acid. What am I doing? On the way back, through the old rubble, broken glass and rusted pots and cans from the old mining days, I saw a shape in this dark alcove. I pointed it out to Andrew since he studied owls. "Is that my imagination or is that an owl in there." It was one of those little recesses full of pack rat debris, I thought maybe it was a piece of gnarled ironwood. It's one of those quantum field theory things. Where I imagined something and I really wanted it to be there and when we snuck up close it was there, a little screech owl. We couldn't tell whether it was sleeping or not, it was just sitting still as a log. Suddenly it woke up and was off in an instant.
Yesterday Qui suddenly informed me he was going to California for the weekend, so it was just me, Andrew and Mark. I sent them off to finish the line we were working the day before and I went to go survey out the line coming up from Mammoth wash. I picked up where they left off and went smack through the old Silverbell cememtary. There was some graves that had been freshly untombed. Like, you could see where the soil was moist and underneath where it was really dry. It didn't bug me very much as I don't understand why people want to bury corpses anyway. I put flagging on one of the crosses as a line of sight. Talk about no respect. And another grave was the center point. At least I didn't have to take a soil sample there. Somebody will. What if that was where the anomoly was?
So I kept going and was starting to doubt these new-fangled eight hundred dollar binocular-compass that Jim bought so I basically ignored them and went off topography. I got into an interesting area that had a different feel then the other areas, hard to describe, the rock was like blue shale and there was globular crystals everywhere. I went up on this little ridge and spooked a Javelina. I only saw one but I'm sure there was more. He went off snorting and huffing and puffing. But he kept coming back and snorting aggressively like he was trying to scare me away. It was flat up on the ridge, a well beaten like it was the Javelina's, or some other creatures lair. There was these rocky knobs here and there. I ended up on one of the knobs. And went to check how I was doing with the USGS corner marker. I was exactly in agreement, down to the last foot or so. So much for that compass. I went up and sat on the knob and ate lunch.
I got out the binoculars to see if I could see Mark and Andrew. I saw the truck, or what looked like the truck. Then I saw a Suburban pull up behind it and these guys got out and started circling the truck.
"Hey Derek, you got a copy?"
"Yah, go ahead sweaty balls."
"Looks like we got company."
"Yah, I can see that. I'm up on a hill looking down on you, a mile west of you."
"It's a suburban and . . ."
"A grey truck."
"Hey, get your hands out of your pants. I'm watching every move you make."
"I'm going to dig a hole, over."
I went to flag the hell out of the top of the mountain so I would be able to use it later as a foresight. I discovered I had been sitting on a broken pot the whole time. I checked on our visitors. It looked like they were removing the tire.
"Hey Sweaty Balls, you still there."
"Yah go ahead."
"It looks like these guys are putting a boot on the tire or taking it off. No joke. You better see what they're up to."
"Roger, what do I tell them?"
I tell him the spiel, as he talks while he walks toward them, I can make out his progress. But he disappears before he gets there. There just happened to be another truck just like ours parked within a quarter of a mile. Our's was hidden behind a knob. I finished that line then started a claim corner line before I ran out of flagging. I flagged the USGS corner marker and then went a mile over to the other corner and sighted back and sure enough, those new binoculars are four degrees off.
Friday I worked doing piddly shit in the morning. Jim decided he was too busy to interview so he handed all the resumes over to me. Qui also turned in his letter of resignation. I guess I scared him off because the day before he said he wanted to be back by five and told him no way, that he had to choose between this job and Pizza Hut (why he had to be back). I guess he chose Pizza Hut. And he has aspirations to be a geologist. I had been doing a lot of thinking about the quality of workers in this country. Seems like most people need you to hold their hands and tell you exactly what to do. The second you take your eyes off of them they slack off. Very frustrating. So in a way I was glad Qui quit. The stack of resumes Jim gave me weren't very promising. Chris Savage's resume was on top! Yah right, what a loser. Mark still gives me a lot of shit about hiring Brian. I'm getting desperate enough to even give it thought. So I picked up the trailer and was out to lunch with Zo when Terri gave me a buzz on my cell phone. How embarrassing, I'm turning into a yuppie.
She had this guy, Roddy M, up there that was in town from Prescott to see if there was any work. I ran up there to interview him. His resume was incredible, had been working in exploration geology for over twenty years. An older (mid 40's) Scottish guy that came over to Canada to get involved in fur trading but ended up in exploration. He took a couple of years off to get a degree in photography. It was too good to be true. I interviewed him for about an hour, trying to figure out the catch. He was willing to even accept the eight dollars an hour that Jim told me to offer him. I even probed into whether he drank a lot or had any problems like that. He knew all the technical shit about surveying, geophysics, I even spoke to him in Spanish! He was either a pathological liar or he was perfect for the job. I got a reference just to be sure and told him we'd start on Wednesday. He has to move down to Tucson, he's kind of homeless now. I called his reference, Ken Lovstrom, evidently a well known geologist that was a student of John G's. Jim knew him well. I called Ken and he spoke very highly of Roddy. Then he started trying to sell his services to me. He consults in biogeochemistry and has data on the Silverbell area from his days with AMAX. I'll run that one by Jim.
I started thinking of making a second half of Strip Mine [our 1st unpublished novel] which is the reality of what actually happened, like the making of the movie kind of thing.
January 30, 1996 — Tucson
Saturday we didn't climb. Not sure what we did. Sunday we went up to Phoenix. In the morning we went out to check out these Chihuahuas. This lady was a breeder and had a bunch of them. Expensive little buggers, $500 a piece. Told her we'd think about it. Went to hang out with Zo's mom. Looked up another Chihuahua deal and it was much better. They were too cute and they were two for $350 with all sorts of extras thrown in. We told her we'd pick them up after the Super bowl. Kim was having a Super bowl party with her house mate. I didn't know anyone and neither did Zo. Lots of good food and beer and wine and stuff. Went to pick up the little buggers, went through a bunch of names, Chi Chi and Hua Hua or Chi Chi and Chuy, or Cheech and Chong, or Chato and Chongo, etc. before we decided on Chico and Gabriel (Gaby for short). Chico Mendez Fanzo is a short hair that looks like a little doby, apple-domed and wide-eyed. Gabriel Garcia Angel White is a tan long-hair that's a little pudgier and has softer features. Two brothers from the same litter. It will make leaving them alone a lot easier as they have each other. Zo is like a concerned mother, she's cute as shit.
So of course that Roddy guy was too good to be true. He got a better offer, $15/hr. to do Geophysics in Chile. Don't blame him, I knew he would slip between our fingers. I reviewed all the resumes and wasn't really happy with any of them. Terri gave me a call, had some guy in her office from Olympia, Washington. A primatologist that climbed, had worked in Forestry, on boats, as a garbage man, etc. Didn't take me much time to hire him. Brian was still calling me and asking me what up. And Mark kept encouraging me. I was almost tempted just because of the quality of resumes I have, but finally I told him point blank that I didn't think it was a good idea, the mixing of social life and working environment. Looks like rain this week.
February 3, 1996 — Tucson
The first winter front finally swept through. Mark and Andrew went out on Tuesday while I stayed to pick up the blue truck. They parked at the cemetery and when they got back to the truck, the department of agriculture was there waiting for them. They questioned them about the unearthing of the graves. I'm sure they didn't look very inconspicuous with shovels and picks in their hands. When the Aggies gave up on the idea that they were the satanic grave robbers, they questioned them on whether they had permits to be clipping creosote.
The next day we went out and I set Mark and Andrew to the task of finishing the cemetery line while I surveyed in the claim lines. As I was walking out to the corner marker I heard voices and went to see what it was. When I got over the top of this hill there was a bunch of people digging and sifting dirt in a wide open flat area. I wandered in and saw the structures of old buildings. There were archaeologist making sketches. I introduced myself and was taken to their leader, some lady named Laurie. They were contracted by the BLM land before the BLM leased out the land to Asarco to dump tailings everywhere. I made sure what I was doing didn't interfere with what they were doing, then went on my way. When I got on the other side of this large drainage I found a really nice arrowhead. I hesitated and then took it back to them. They got pretty excited about it. Said it was Hohukum, San Pedro to be exact, and dated from about 100 a.d. I let them keep it, she thanked me saying it was very important to the site. After that another cool day of surveying by myself. One of those days where everytime I got to a corner I would tie in with a brass cap to within a few feet at most. Even when I ran out of topofil thread and was pacing, to the nearest step! By late afternoon the clouds were rolling in. I ran over and helped Andrew and Mark finish the line.
John Glenn was suppossed to come out the following day to be trained. It started raining the night before but I figured we could stake claims. So the next morning we made up posts and stalled to see what the weather was doing. It wasn't too bad so we left and when we got up by Red Rocks, it started pouring. The road was almost washed out. We retreated and packed up the samples. Mark and I went to drop the trailer off to have the wires extended and then take the truck in to have the engine rebiult. Within ten miles of the trucks final destination it conked out on Ajo in the middle of a rainstorm. The lights on the trailer didn't work so people were almost rear-ending us. Called a tow truck and had it towed to Howards. Mark went on the bus to get the other truck. They needed to do work on that as well so we ate Vietnamese food. We went to get the trailer that we had to abandon at the sheriff's compound facility of all places and then went ot Oasis RV where they got the trailer in more of wiring clusterfuck. Meanwhile Jim is making Little Outfit arrangements and trying to get me to get the ball rolling on that when I was the one who had been asking him all along when that was going to happen. Maps, bags, vehicles, accomadations, etc. trying to get all that good to go. When it rains it pours.
Now it's Saturday afternnon. The little puppies have been asleep all afternoon. I don't really care to go anywhere. Scott Hughes called to go bouldering. So did John. I saw Sean the night before and he asked about climbing. I almost feel like it's work. But at the same time I almost feel guilty that I'm not keeping up with it. That's not any fun, is it? Maybe we'll go play miniature golf or go bowling or see a movie. We just saw Jason and the Argonauts. I love it. The golden fleece.
Zo in our 8th st house
February 8, 1996 — Patagonia, Arizona
Sure is a nice change from Silverbell. Pretty hectic getting prepped to come out here— Monday I was running around getting supplies, maps, stakes and bags and the trucks as well as going to a boring meeting with the new land man at Gary B's smokey house. Tuesday we left around eight. Actually we had to wait for the banks to open so I could cash the expense checks and dish out the dough. I talked to Andrew on Sunday night and he wasn't thrilled about going to Patagonia and couldn't work on Tuesday so he's basically been retired. No big loss. So it was just the three of us— Me, Mark and John Glenn in the blue truck. Got into Patagonia and checked into the Stagestop inn then went out to Little Outfit Ranch to get oriented and take about forty soil samples. Beautiful rolling grasslands with oak woodland on the east end. It's a pain to dig as it's mostly clay. It's also hard to survey as their is a big four or five degree mag anomoly running straight through the property. Luckily it's pretty open space so you can get a backsight and a foresight on the horizon and go with it. Wednesday the inevitable happened. I had noticed that some of the sample sites on the map are on private land and one of them goes really close to a ranch house. I wasn't thrilled about the prospects, but oh well, it's my job. We didn't even get to the private land. We were on state land (that JABA supposedly has an exploration permit on) when we were accosted by this rancher from Vaca Ranch, Bob H. Spit out a mouthful of tobacco before he spoke to me, black cowboy hat, big ford truck, weathered skin, . . . asked us what we were doing and said we were supposed to have his permission to be on the land. I got the map out and said we had a permit to be on the state land. He was pissed as hell calling us and the state god damn cocksuckers (spit) and kept whining that all he wanted to do was ranch and all these god damn cocksuckers keep meddling in his business. I just kept saying "hey, we work for a temp agency. We were contracted out to do this soil sample survey."
He slipped us a little slack once he realized there was no use bitching to us but he was still pissed as hell. Even tried to bribe us as he was walking away "how much would it take for you boys to dump out your samples and give them bogus samples."
I just said "sorry, there's no way." Needless to say he made it very clear that he didn't want us on his private land, that he would call the Sheriff on us. So that's almost 100 less samples to do.
The town of Patagonia is not too exciting. We've sampled all the restaurants. Typical meaty and greasy American food. I've been tempted to try a steak of a hamburger just because of all those healthy cattle we see freely grazing. But haven't quite got the nerve up, though I did have a bite of Mark's Top Sirloin. The service is terrible so by the time I take a shower, talk to Zo and settle in, I'm too tired to read or write. Still trying to finish Don Quixote. Today I was surveying by myself on this line out through these spooky oak woodlands. There was this windmill making creepy creaky sounds combined with the gurgling water. It sounded like some beast, I can see why Don Quixote mistook a windmill for a dragon, or whatever he mistook it for. Something about automated machinery, like the idea of the boat that eat's lirio on lake Chapala that doesn't need to be manned.
Today we crossed through a cattle graveyard. Some place where the rancher dumps dead cows, I presume. Our line went right through it. There was one cow that was fresh and stinking, it's butthole exploded out and it's mouth fixed in a grotesque display of death. There was a fully intact cow skull amidst all the bones. What a find. We only have a half day left tomorrow and then it's back to Tucson. We decided to abandon the Chihuahua idea. Way too much constraint on the footloose and fancy free. My last night in Tucson was the worst. They woke me up periodically throughout the night and wouldn't stop whining. I wanted to strangle them. We're also looking to move out. It's too much and we don't use half our space. Bon nuit.
February 11, 1996 — Tucson
Spent the weekend looking at houses and getting rid of the Chihuahua's. We didn't get any calls for the Chihuahua's so when a mexican family from Nogales finally called, we gave them both to them for $200. Of course after that we got lots of calls. But we were just happy to not have to worry about that. We've looked at probably 60 houses this weekend. Most of which were complete shit and we didn't even slow down when we were driving by. A few in the barrio that we're snagged right away or that we're across the street from a school. We narrowed down to a nice one bedroom near Campbell and river thats actually part of a great house. Up on its own driveway, lots of statues and stuff, the guy, Carlos, is an architect. And another place near 1st and prince that was fantastic and cute, sleeping lofts, mexican tiles, etc. but it isn't much cheaper than what we have now and it's not a great neighborhood. The one on river and campbell is $540 and includes utilities.
Started to get frazzled from looking at so many places. But it gives a new perspective on things, driving around Tucson just for the sake of imagining yourself living in certain areas or houses.
I feel very frustrated, but at times I feel on the verge of something incredible happening. A new mindset. I'm having a hard time focusing on writing. Lack of subjectivity and lasting impressions. Concentrating more on bettering my standard of living, but where does it end? We thought life would be grand if we had little doglets. Or we thought life would be grander if we kicked Sather out and had this house to ourselves. Or if Zo stopped working for the evil Dr. Jerkins and worked for Seamus. Now Dr. Li is getting her back to nutritional sciences to do her masters over there. I oscillate between liking this job and burning out on it. Little Outfit was nice because it was like a project that I started and finished. Silverbell is just so overwhelming. I wish it would just be over.
February 16, 1996 — Tucson
I'm getting really frustrated with this job. At times I enjoy the power to give people jobs or raises but it's frustrating because you really learn that good workers are hard to come by. I finished up the paperwork on L.O.R. and sent in all the samples. It's so nice to just start and complete a project. Something tangible, a sense of closure. I looked at countless resumes and was not impressed. I interviewed two people on Monday. One guy, Steve W. had an alright resume but he was kind of sketchy, he never looked me in the eye, had weird twitches and what not. Very unstable and untrustworthy. I just had a bad feeling about him. Then I interviewed this guy Bill Ryan. An older guy that just didn't have any enthusiasm about anything. He seemed willing to settle for anything. He didn't apply for a field position through Geotemps, and didn't seem cut out for it. Meanwhile the 3/4 ton is having all sorts of problems, even after having the engine rebuilt. I almost feel like I work at Howard's garage. I know all the mechanics on a first name basis and loiter around shooting the shit with them. I took my van in to get a new master cylinder as the brakes went out. I love that word and concept behind it "master cylinder". That which pumps fluid to the rest of the system. And then there's the guy at the upholstery shop. What a creep. Like some used car salesman disco freak. Weird I was thinking that, and then I saw a disco ball in his shop.
Tuesday I worked with just John as Mark had a soccer injury. It was raining, a storm front that sneaked up from Baja California. We managed to get all the random claims in, up north out west and down south in Mammoth wash. Covered the whole area. I saw some wild burros up in the northern claims. They took me totally by surprise as I had no idea there was wild burros in Arizona. They stopped to stare at me and me at them. It was a beautiful day, all drizzly and rainy and then a patch of sunshine. Everything was wet and humid and smelled strongly. John got lost for a while when I first dropped him off to lay the corners, but otherwise I think (hope) he works out.
I interviewed this guy F. Gonzalez on Wednesday while Mark and John went out to survey in some lines. Frank (Francisco) seemed responsible and eager enough, and was presentable. He had experience as a foreman for five year working with marble. He spoke spanish, etc. Figured I would at least give him a chance besides that fact that he looked just like Manuel Noriega and seemed pretty large. So we all went out on Thursday. Of course the 3/4 ton broke down before I got more than a mile away. The brakes went out. There was this hose connected to a booster of some sort connected to the master cylinder. Yes, the master cylinder. The connection was severed almost like it was deliberate sabotage. So we all piled into the blue truck. Had Mark drop us off and went off to finish off lines 155-56. Francisco was so incredibly slow. It was really uncomfortable. It was like working with Manuel Noriega, really. He seemed so out of place. So out of his element. I don't know what I was thinking. I decided early on in the day that he wouldn't work out. I could of done more samples by myself. I would survey, do my side, take the notes, wait around then go down to his sample site to help him, collect his lag sample. And I was going slow as shit. He would try to keep up with my slow pace and be all wheezing like he was going to have a heart attack. At five o'clock Mark and John weren't at our designated meeting spot. Waited until it started to get dark, and finally they showed. Something really surreal about just waiting by the side of the road in the middle of the desert. Some guy in a cheesy old corvette drinking a beer drove buy, I asked him if he'd seen a blue truck and he looked at me like I was a serial killer.
February 19, 1996 — Tucson (Yavapai st.)
Palo Verde and the rap beat pulse
The large grey cat sniffs at my wheels and then
is seen walking over the top and
down the windshield.
When I stopped for gas this morning,
I had to squeegy the smeared birdshit
off the windshield.
Zo and I got in a fight over breakfast
while listening to Supertramps "Breakfast in America"
She said it was a bad habit to not look at someone when speaking to them.
I just wanted to relax and have my coffee.
She said my whole family has this "bad" habit.
I like to stare off into space when I'm thinking
Or just some times
Blah blah, blah, blah blah
Her final words before she stormed out were "i've even given you my family,"
The driveway really sucks,
very narrow can't
get around the buildings
I went out tail light first and then she got back in.
Tires on Gravel
Bottles in the window
The dust in the carpet is giving me allergies.
Prince and First ave.
214 E. Yavapai #1 to be
February 23, 1996 — Tucson (Yavapai st.)
Total hectocity in my life right now. Let me start off from where I left off. Went out into the field on thursday with Manuel Noriega, I mean F Gonzalez. That didn't work out and I had to call him the next morning and let him go. I interviewed Shaun E later in the afternoon. He seemed alright. That's bullshit, I don't know what I was thinking. The dude was very presentable but fake. He seemed eager enough and I figured it didn't hurt to give him a try. He came off as a psycho aryan loving fratboy, but I didn't want to misevaluate him. Stupid mistake, that's what interviews are all about, and its all vibe. The vibe wasn't fully green but I didn't paid heed. I'm learning.
Zo in Finger Rock Canyon (tho might have been a different time)
That Saturday didn't do much except Zo and I did go for a hike up in finger rock canyon. Nice to hike on a trail for a change. I wasn't used to wearing running shoes and slipped and fell into a patch of shin daggers. Got them all in my arm and hand, three of which I couldn't get out. My hand was getting numb and weird feeling, so we stopped at Mark's to get a needle and tweezers. Brian lives there now. Ended up going to sushi with Mark. Sunday was the big moving day. Shuttling back and forth with my van, three or four loads, just dumped it out in our new place. Anxious to get out of the old place, though technically (with foresight) we could have stayed out the month. Guess we were just excited to move in. The vibes never settled in. Everything is so cool about it, technically. At least the interior. Took a shower with Zo in the tiled shower and then made love in the loft. Then we started noticing stuff, like the religious book, "Will America Survive?" she left laying on the counter for us. ('Perhaps the most controversial and provocative books of the century) and the tiles in cross shapes. And then came the loud rap music late into the evening. Police sirens. That kind of shit. Nevertheless, the next day I went and filled out a change of address form. Tuesday I went out into the field with Shawn. From the very start he was testy and manipulative, seeing what he could get away with. "Do you mind if I smoke."
"Actually I do."
"What's wrong? Does it bother you. Here, I'll tell you what. I'll just light one up and blow it out of the window. You won't even notice. If it bothers you let me know. So what do you think about the bulls?"
And I was stupid enough to let it slide. But when we were leaving in the evening and he started to spark up a cigarette, I was forward and said— "look, I really don't want you to smoke. That's the rule. I told John he couldn't smoke and I can't make an exception for you. I think it's a disgusting habit."
That shut him up. Which was good, because up to then he was Mr. motormouth divulging all his fucked up secrets about his personal life. He has this obsession with a motorcycle accident he had six years ago which his foot never recovered from. "I'm no stranger to pain" —he kept telling me melodramatically, as if that would make him look better for the job. Actually his foot has disabled his ability to hike, which is beside the point. He told me all about his burning desires to cuddle up to the large breasts of girls he just gets glimpses of and never forgets (even though he has a great relationship with his girlfriend). How his 2.1 year old niece bucks her little vagina against him and tries to slip him the tongue when she kisses him. And then he would throw in male bonding shit like about how his girlfriend first made him break down and cry. Or his shower fantasies about his new neighbor at the Scotia Club apartments, how he fantasizes about answering the door naked the next time she knocks. And the piddly shit him and his girlfriend argue about. I just listen and make no remarks. Maybe I turn on the radio, in which he might get inspired to say something like "I'm not racist, but Deon Sanders is a n*****." Or when I was telling him how once you make the switch from one species of plant to another in the biogeochem sampling you got to stick with that species for the rest of the line, he said— "that's like that f***** thing." When asked to elaborated on this, he would add— "not that I would know, but I can understand if some guys have fucked up mothers." Or he would tell me about the top secret knowledge he has about what's going down in Sante Fe, how it's all a toxic dump site, glowing red on the map, and how he'd write a book about it except he would have the FBI at his door. All these stories, his valet days at a horse race track in New Mexico where his 45 year old woman boss tried to psychologically fuck with him and their screaming match in a trailer in front of his girlfriend and parents, his trip to Germany to drink with his relatives and get back to his roots, etc. . . while all interesting just revealed his "nazi punk" psychotic nature. The frat boy on acid, the clean cut all american boy (but at the same time very anti-america) child molester. Once I said "I like being white" when we were talking about wearing sunscreen or a long sleeve shirt in the field and he gave me one of those twisted looks like— "I hear you, brother." Oh, what was I thinking. You live and you learn.
All during the three days he kept telling me what to do, undermining my judgment and authority. He would get back to the truck and sit there reading the sport page and smoking a cigarette. I let him do this for twenty minutes and when I got up to start packing up the gear he just watched and said— "do you ever stop to rest."
I said— "no, not really. That's not what we’re paid to do."
We drove to the next point and he kept saying— "where are you going? Why don't we stop here. Here's a road." As if I hadn't been working out there for almost six months now and didn't know my way around.
I just kept saying— "because we're going to do twenty samples, drop them off at this road and then twenty more and that will leave us right here, close to the truck." But still he would give me useless advice. Saying shit like— "I disagree with your judgment about bringing the ATV on the reservation. We could of gotten away with it, we haven't seen anyone out here."
I felt like saying— "I didn't ask your opinion," but instead said—"that's not the point. The point is were not supposed to be out here, and I want to have the least impact as possible. There's no point in attracting attention to ourselves." As it was I was surveying without flagging, and was filling in the holes and burying the stakes.
And I gave Shawn a compass but he refused to use it. He would wander off, twenty degrees in the wrong direction and even after I would correct him he wouldn't use his compass. He would just say he knew intuitively.
So we stopped and I got out and starting preparing and he just sat there reading the sports page, "forty two and five. Did I tell you the bulls were forty two and five."
"Yah you already told me. Now let’s get to work." No mister nice guy, giving suggestions rather than commands, hoping people would just work as a team cooperatively. We got into a big spat and he looked like he was going to punch me, but he reached around me and grabbed his water bottle out of my backpack. Then sat back down in the truck. I walked off and after a while looked back and he wasn't following me, but I heard him off in the bushes on the other side of the fence. In the reservation. I envisioned him wandering off and getting lost but I didn't care. If he didn't show up at site center he would be field terminated. He did show and the rest of the afternoon all I said to him was— "profile?" and he would describe the hole. Every once in a while he would say something like "this would be a perfect day to go flying" and I would say nothing back. It was very uncomfortable. But it was productive because we got forty samples more done in the matter of hours. Sixty six in total before it was even three. I wanted to get out of there to make sure I got a hold of Doty.
This is the weirdest thing about the whole day. The whole time I was envisioning seeing something that would break the uncomfortable silence. An animal, perhaps, that would surprise us and make us forget about what was at hand. Just like Zo and I seeing the desert tortoise in the midst of an ugly spat in Sabino canyon. As we were in driving out the Avra valley I caught a glimpse of a pelican. I couldn't believe my eyes. I stopped and backed up and sure enough there was a pelican just standing there on the shoulder of the road, his head hung low. A pelican standing in the middle of the desert, five hundred miles from the California coast and three hundred miles from the sea of Cortez. He had no fear of us. He just stared back. It was like an omen. I said to Shawn— "maybe that means one of us is going to be a father."
He said— "well hopefully it will be you. Me and Andrea use the rhythm method." He wasn't joking. They didn't want to use anything 'unnatural'. It worked for them because they knew eachothers cycles so well. What an idiot. But the pelican, it still has me shaking my head. When I got home after packing up all 785 pounds of the samples (forty boxes) I called Jim and he confirmed my instinct to just terminate Shawn before things got worse. So I got up the nerve to call him up and explain this all to him. He questioned whether it was me that had the 'power trip', and I explained that I never had this problem. "Just turn in your keys into Terri."
His final words were— "peace."
Now back to this housing situation. Zo was complaining about comments form the peanut gallery, the railing of the apartments where guys lined up drinking forty ouncers in paper bags. She said she didn't feel safe at all. People screaming at each other, cops all the time, people honking, playing their music, . . . Zo and I were going out to dinner and were passing under the railing of dudes drinking forty ouncers and Zo looked up at them and they said— "Whatya you looking at, you think were going to rob your sorry asses?" This is bullshit. No respect. I work hard to be treated like this. So we were thinking about moving out.
I had a bunch of shit to take care of Friday morning, total mess up with the samples, had to figure out what happened. Mark told me (after they were all boxed up) that John said there was a sample missing. Major headache trying to figure out which one it was without opening all 40 boxes. Dealt with that and waited for the other truck to be reupholstered. Then I interviewed this guy Joe Kalmen. More than fine, he has a masters in earth sciences, seems fit and presentable and was willing to do this kind of work. What's the catch? We'll find out. Mark was with me this whole time as his van was in the shop. We met Zo over at River and Campbell and looked at some different apartment complexes, Rio Cancion, . . . all looked alright and were definitely convenient. That was definitely what I was leaning toward, cheap, convenient and safe for Zo, without binding ourselves in some lease with a big deposit.
February 25, 1996 — Tucson (Yavapai st.)
I tried to contact Bill and Penny about us moving out but they weren't home. Zo and I went out friday night to go see Royal Crown Review and decided that maybe it was a bit rash to move out just because of that. But I just had a really bad vibe about this place, cute as it is. At this point I was getting really fed up with the whole situation.
Before Royal Crown review we ate at the cup. When the check came of course I'm pulling out my wallet and it struck me that I had the slightest idea where all my money was going to. Zo is always broke so I end up paying for meals, deposits, the rent for Yavapai, the Chihuahua's and their shots, etc. . . just bad judgment calls. I was feeling really trapped, even at Royal Crown Review I was always with her and she would just stare up at me while I was watching the band, and her eyes were glistening and she was beautiful, but I just was annoyed at her always looking at me and wanting me to touch her and hold her hand.
That night definitely set us (or at least me) straight about moving out. I woke up at 4 a.m. to a car honking and a woman screaming. I looked out the window and there was a white trashy couple having it out. She was screaming and slapping him and from what I could make out from her rantings, he had cut up her hands. The cops came and there was more screaming and cars in the parking lot under our window. I told Penny the next day.
Zo and I were out looking at houses and apartments and we were driving down Pima and I was still at wits end. She kept putting her hand on my knee and it was annoying me. She sensed this and said— "why don't we just find separate places." That was what I was thinking all the night before was the better thing to do. So I agreed and of course this led to a fight but it wasn't too bad. I thought it had nothing to do with love but she's suddenly telling me she thought she loved me but the passion's gone and she thinks I never loved her. That kind of shit. I didn't have the energy to agree or disagree, I just wanted to deal with this living situation and see what happened once the dust cleared. It seemed the healthier thing for both of us. She looked at the guest house behind Sather's and loves it. Is going to move in next thursday. The landlord made it clear that he didn't want me living there, because he's reducing the rent to $450. Me, I started to look at long term hotels down town. That's the only place I feel has anything for me. Either that or just live in my dog house on wheels.
I did get my deposit back from the religious freaky woman. She had me sit down and gave this spiel about the only solution was to go over to that apartment complex and ask the unruly neighbors to beg forgiveness and accept jesus christ into their hearts. Then she starts asking me about this, whether I need to be forgiven and whether I'm at an age where I need to wipe the slate clean. I just said I was at an age where I demand respect, took the $400 back and that's that. Clean getaway, except they called the cops on that guy and the cops wouldn't do anything. They went over to tell the apartment manager and he told them later when he confronted the guy (some alcoholic who loiters around his girlfriends apartment), he said— "let them come get me, I'll get a gun and shoot them." It will be definitely nice to move out. There was more rounds of domestic violence there last night, woman yelling "help!", cops were called, . . .
March 1, 1996 — Tucson
Finally moved out of the Yavapai place. I moved Zo into her little guest house. It's tiny, cute but dysfunctional. Lots of protruding jagged edges that bonk your head. The landlord is some older friendly gay guy named John that lives in the main house. I'm so sick of moving. Not that I have anything to move. That's the whole point, I've reduced my own lifestyle but I still have to deal with other people's possessions. Actually Zo got rid of a lot of her furniture as she just can't fit it in this place. So after I moved her I went back to the old new place and cleaned up the tile. Penny made a point of telling us how much the tile meant to her as she never had children and when she dies she wants her mark to be left behind. I can respect that even if she is a born again freak.
This last week I've been oscillating between looking at Zo and feeling to weak to do anything except to surrender my whole heart to love, and feeling the impending excitement of freedom. My brain tells me to stay strong and remember the ugly spats and sedentary feelings. But at other times my heart looks at her and nothing can give me that kind of happiness to live for. She's taken it pretty well. Of course we broke down a few times during this "last" week and made passionate love up in the love loft. And there's nights where she starts freaking out about our impending "break up". She labeled it that, not me. I just want her to live on her own and me on my own. I don't think love has anything to do with it. I think deep down we both now it's best for both of us. I just tend to ignore the situation and just wait and see what happens. She gets preoccupied, imagining the worst.
I was in a sort of limbo this week. Monday it rained hard and was cold. It snowed at about three or four thousand feet. I called Joe (the latest 'new' guy) the night before and cancelled. The next morning I got up early, bought a disposable camera and headed for the mountains. The Mt. Lemmon highway was closed all the way at the bottom (the top got 21 inches of snow). I parked there and walked a mile to hairpin turn then went up that canyon. Trudged full speed ahead. I lost sight of the snow and it was getting warm. Sweat was pouring down my face and it seemed that's what the snow was doing. Melting as fast as I hiked. But I kept plodding full steam. Just when I was about to give up I saw a patch on a barrel cactus. Then I got into patchy snow and it felt cool and invigorating in my lungs. Weird to see cholla, saguaros and prickly pear in the snow. It got deeper and deeper until I was up to my shins in powder and it wasn't melting. It was hard walking as I couldn't see the shin daggers below the snow. My sweat froze and I got really cold. Hung out up in the snow then dropped down another ridge. Spooked three Javelina and a mule deer out of hiding. Made it back to my van before 11:30.
Worked Wednesday and Thursday with Joe. It think he'll work out fine. We finished the line through the reservation and another shorter line through interesting terrain. Lot of colorful minerals, steep outcrops. I have this writers conference to go to in half an hour. First time I've been to something like this. Where will I sleep tonight?
March 3, 1996 — Tucson (Wild Horse Ranch)
Happiness is longing for what you don't have. When your dreams get realized they are no longer dreams. I feel so pent up. So lonely and unhappy that the feeling is like concrete in my veins. I don't know what I want, I feel I have nowhere to go. I panic about the things I feel I must do. Call mom, "get organized", write, . . . Most of all I want to call Zo so bad. It's been less than twenty four hours since I've seen her. I don't know if I can live without her.
Spent most of this weekend at the writers conference. Started friday night. Lots of older stressed out women with black tights and blazers with shoulder pads. And a hint of ethnicity, a Guatemalan belt or whatever. Lots of useful information and advice was given, stuff I already know, but I'm not sure I got much out of it. One thing that occurred to me is the question of whether I even wanted to be published at this point or whether I want to learn to write. I might check into some M.F.A. programs in creative writing, either here or elsewhere. I think the setting my be useful to encourage to write more and be more confident in my voice. They have these low-residency M.F.A. programs that are more like workshops you attend intensively for a week or so a few times a year. That leaves you more freedom to work or travel. Martha Moutray botched up my manuscript review thing, so Brian Laird never got one in advance. Ends up he was the head of the mystery and suspense panel. I met with him briefly, but he had just gotten the manuscript (I gave him "Night Dive".) Said he would read it and give me a call next week. I have a lot more to say about the conference right now but I'm too freaked out.
So Friday night I got out of the conference and went over to Zo's but she wasn't home. Ended up sleeping in my van in front of The Village Inn until some service trucks woke my up at four in the morning. It was cold and I missed Zo a lot. It seemed ridiculous that we were sleeping apart and we were in the same town. Moved my van to Albertson's and slept a little more. The first thing I realized when I woke up was that I forgot my ice axe at the Yavapai place, left it high in a cubby hole cabinet. Went over to get it and stopped by Zo's again but she wasn't home. The 696-1961 number wasn't working even though she said that was the new number. She still wasn't there at lunch time, but there was a note for me on her door telling me her new number (O-A-T-P-Y-L-E). I was just just driving around indecisively, unsure of where to go. Finally got hold of her in the evening and saw her place with everything in place. We went out to the Olive Garden and I ate a lot of food and was very cold. The inside of my body felt like a vacuum. We went back to her place and I was really tired from all the food. She made me tea and I tried to read (I'm starting Celine's Journey into the Night as well as still trying to finish Don Quixote) while she studied. But I fell asleep and she helped me up to her loft where I would be more comfortable. I felt like bags of cement, so tired and so happy to be in her bed. Next thing I know (it was an hour or two later) is that her hands are all over me and it felt so good. Then it struck me as weird, can't say exactly why, it was like kissing a sister, she felt too familiar. I told her it felt weird and instant coldness, and then tears, first from her and then from me. I felt so cold-hearted so distant from my emotions. I knew I was in love with her but my instinct was telling me something wasn't right. It struck me how unhappy I am with myself and how I have offered this world nothing. The reason I am so unsure of my love for her is that I don't love myself. I realized how trivial and meaningless everything was. I dig holes for a living. What have I ever done for anyone else? I can bear my sorrow alone but not hers as well. With her I close myself off to everyone else, and writers can't be like that. I said something like—"I'm the opposite of my dad in that sense. He could't live without women, I can't live with them." It seemed a strange and abstract thing to say. But unhappy as I am right now it's all my burden to bear. So I left that cozy bed next to my little cub and took to the streets. Slept near that water processing plant because I like the sound of running water when I sleep. Drowns everything else out. Went to the rest of the conference then looked for housing. Found this place called the Wild Horse Ranch. It's out in the desert near Silverbell road and Ina. Got a room for $100/ week. Cozy little room, part of an old adobe ranch. Kind of a retreat like place, very quiet and not pretentious. Out my window is the desert, cholla, creosote and palo verde. Every once in a while I'll see a rabbit or a road runner quietly walk by with no fear. Sounds of doves emanate from the eaves.
March 9, 1996 — Tucson (Wild Horse Ranch)
Sometimes I read the previous journal just so I don't repeat anything. It represents how I feel today as well. I'm at the end of the rope. I lack ambition. I'm starting to think lately that even writing is a vain pursuit. Just like when I was in South Dakota and I concluded that climbing was a vain pursuit. Am I fooling myself? The cause of most of my stress is that I feel I should be doing more of these things. I feel I ought to be writing. I feel I have to get climbing to get 'back into the swing'. The same with writing, why do I put so much importance on it. I have been given no indications that it’s something I should be pursuing (as far as making a living). Rejection letter after rejection letter. No wonder Hemingway put a shotgun barrel in his mouth. Writers seek validation way too much. Maybe I shouldn't generalize, but that's true in my case. If I'm constantly seeking validation, my whole life will be an unhappy longing for more. I'm having trouble figuring out what I really want. I've had ideals that I've formed about what makes me happy. i.e. travel, acquiring new experiences. And in this past year I've broadened it to accept things like a steady job, stock options, a steady girlfriend. I guess 'steady' is the word of choice. 'Steady' to make up for all my vain pursuits of the past. Making a buck then spending it. In order to get 'rich' you have to invest. Not just true in the financial world but in the emotional world. In order to have a rich relationship, you have to invest and make sacrifices of freedom. I find myself doing things I used to cringe when I saw other people doing it. Talking on a cell phone and stressing out in traffic. If I could only see myself. The problem is I do. And I don't care. I don't care that all I do is dig holes and tie bright flagging to plants. Clipping creosote doesn't bug me so much. I consider it pruning. But I see the results and know that they’re going to dig a huge hole in the ground. I know twenty years from now I'm going to have a breakdown over it. I'll regret my whole life and stick a shotgun barrel in the back of my mouth to shut me up forever. Someone joust me off Rocinante and make me humble.
I guess when it comes down to it my fundamental dilemma is that of 'home'. In every day conversation I might say something like— "I just need a place to put my shit" and it strikes me how loaded those words are. I spent countless time wandering in limbo with no nest to settle down. No place that I feel at peace. Raymond Carver talked about how it was at times like this when he did his best writing, but I need to have things taken care of on the domestic front. Or maybe I'm too repressed to write. I doubt myself way too much. So yah. Another week at work. I worked with John this week. He definitely doesn't bring out the best of me. It's that Washington-born stoney mentality. If I work hard then he makes me feel like a 'type A'. Saying things like— "hey bro, stop and smell the flowers and enjoy the company you're with." And I know these things are true, but it annoys the hell out of me to be told things like this. Just like I was telling Zo yesterday— there's nothing I hate more is when you're sitting on a park bench having an enlightening melancholy moment when some asshole comes up to you and tells you to —"cheer up, it's not that bad." The fact that they think they mean well is even more motivation to just punch the next person that tells me that. Especially if they also asked me whether I've considered Jesus. Or sitting in the front row of a comedy club and having the comedian say something like— "what's wrong with this sour puss." And you feel obligated to laugh. I hate jokes because people always feel I'm an asshole when I don't laugh. I can't wait until I have the right to be a bitter old man. Getting back to working with John, I'd much rather just be working my ass off and letting my mind wander, then have to stop every five minutes to consider whether I'm pushing John to hard. But I know that people just can't keep up and that's why they quit. But it's the rests that I hate because it reminds you how much it sucks to be working. We finished the last of the vertical lines and are on to the horizontal rows. Back down in the flats, me and John actually did eighty samples on Wednesday, surveying them in as well. But the work never ends. Jim has already said that he's adding land, sample lines, etc. It's the never ending project. It’s all a metaphor for what it is, digging a hole.
The wild horse ranch is just too far. I hate driving. Wednesday night I just crashed in the parking lot at Jaba. My alarm on my watch didn't wake me up but that's okay because they just knocked on my windows to get me up. Thursday went to the 'Dancers of Bali' with Zo. It rekindled my passion for Balinese music and dance. They covered the spectrum— Legong, Barong and even Kecak.
I miss Zo a lot when I'm not around her, but then I see her and I just want to break away. I oscillate between getting onto these ideas of saving a few grand and escaping down to South America, or going to the Phillipines with Mark. See, just writing that word 'South America' just set me into a whirlwind, suddenly making me realize how much I hate this country. That's what I have to do is save up some money and go down to San Martin and write a book. I've got to make these promises to myself. I can't get trapped into this lifestlye. I can't let myself get comfortable. This is what I wanted to do two years ago and I got sidetracked a bit. This is what I must do. Set ten grand as a good number. That will take me six months to save. It's March now. April, May, June, July, August, September. In South America in time for spring. That means another summer in Tucson.
March 11, 1996 — Tucson (Post office)
Things are going full circle to take me back where I was almost a year ago. I went climbing with John and Scott M on Sunday. Scott is a Zonger. Sounds like things have changed for the better at Zonge. I heard this from Scott H and A.D. Buck but now I'm convinced that I probably blew it. Well I don't know if I blew it because I had fun doing the JABA thing but I'm thinking now its time to go back to Ken Zonge with my tail between my legs and beg for a new offer. Scott Malone is at 30k salaried and they get two days off for every five working (one paid). It seems pretty chill, jobs in the northwest territories, South America, etc. . . It's a job with my name all over. Last July I had tunnel vision, well I guess it was largely a matter of pride. But now things are getting sticky because last night I got sticky with Zo. Told her that she was the girl for me and that if she wanted to casually date for the rest of my life I could hang with that. We went to a nice dinner at Le Bistro and just enjoyed each others company for a change. Except last night I couldn't sleep at all. I woke up at 12:30 (belly full of fifty one dollars of creamy french food, wine, coffee and tarts) and went downstairs to read Journey to the End of the Night by Celine. Every once in a while I would get tired and go up to the loft but I couldn't sleep and kept obsessing about quitting my job and moving over to Zonge. So then I would go down to read and then get tired and go up to Zo and [...]. And then go down and read some more. Great book. I finally finished Don Quixote last week. Someone needs to write a condensed modern day Don Quixote. Some Movie director that is off his rocker and doesn't now the difference between reality and his films. I don't know, the idea behind the book is fantastic but it was definitely drawn out. I'm glad I had the patience to finish it because the ending was cool, jousted to his senses and realizing he was crazy on his deathbed in a sort of atonement.
Did manage to get some climbing in this weekend for the first time in probably over a month. Off the couch and onto 5.10's with Sean Shaheen and Lonesome Pine Crag or whatever it's called. Top-ropes, granted. Got up Hundred Feet of Solitude (5.10+) and Lonesome no More (5.10+) as well as the 5.10- next to them, with no falls. Nice day with patchy snow on the ground and shirts off. Granite and pine. Sunday I went up with John and Scott M. We had originally planned to do something more ambitious on Rap rock but John was being flakey, spent the days before at Cochise with this girl Heather he's putting the works on. And he also invited the third which always sucks, so it was more of a social outing, not leaving til 10:30 and stopping to eat breakfast. Went to the Cornerstone and did Raising Arizona (5.10) on top rope after John lost his nerve leading it. It was a top-rope day. Then we TR'd Arizoner (5.10+) and I felt like I was getting into the groove so I led the 5.9 next to those to see how my lead head was and it felt confident. I have to take a shit real bad.
March 15, 1996 — Tucson (Bean street (Zo's))
Finally, a day of relaxation. Yah, right. Today was supossed to be my day off, running overtime. I'm getting fed up with work. John was being a weenie whiner. This job is like babysitting. Tuesday he worked the first half of the day, dragging along. After lunch he said he was wasted and needed to take a nap. So I worked the line by myself after lunch, but still I had to worry whether he would actually wake up and try to look for me, or not pick me up where I agreed. The next day we finished that line and Mark and Joe were having a day of fuck ups on their line. John was freaking out and attacking Saguaros with his pick axe [he had tourette's]. All I want to do is work. The clouds came in that night so we couldn't work in the field the next day. I would assume take the day off but Mark and Joe (and John, but he slept in and was angry that we didn't wake him up to work) wanted hours so I arranged to get some stuff done moving shit from the Wilmot office, got the U-haul and had to deal with Bob. When we got back to the new office, some guy was pushing the ATV onto the trailer. Said he was expecting a shipment of sheet rock and needed space. There was plenty of space. The ATV was out of the way, and not only that but we had taken the wheel off to fix it and he went through all the trouble of putting it back on. He was sweating buckets. I had seen him in their earlier (he works for Joe) so I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt but the more I thought about it the more his story didn't hold water. So today, I'm trying to coordinate things so these guys can get more work, moving stuff for John G. That fell through but Jim wanted somebody to go to Tombstone to pick up the rest of that crap. It's getting out of control, so much Junk. Meanwhile I send Mark over to Jim's to get the keys and the scoop about what to take and he's giving me this spiel about how his dad faxed him and he needs to go to Western Union, blah, blah and I already have Joe and John waiting for him. In the Interim, we move the crap around again to make room for the shelving units and then Mark calls saying that he scratched his eyeball and Terri wanted him to go to the doctor right then and there. Meanwhile I'm talking to the foreman about the ATV thief (who evidently is named "Manny" from the details we could put together about him). We move all the shit out of the way and what else is there to do. Mark still isn't there and why have me wait around, I'm on overtime. So I just bail to the Egg connection to get an omelette, lured there probably subliminally from it's proximity to Zonge. I called Paul back (he never called me back) and their being wishy-washy, mentioned work coming up in northern Canada, but wouldn't give me a definite reply. Now I called Ken Zonge directly, but he's in a meeting, so I'm presently waiting for him to call me back. Waiting,
waiting. Zo went to San Francisco for the weekend and is letting me hold down the fort. I've called a few people about climbing this weekend, but I think most everybody is on Spring Break because nobody is calling me back. And tomorrow I am meeting Brian Laird to discuss "The Night Dive". Why can't I just be a fucking writer and not have to deal with this shit? I'm going to get ulcers. Even when I'm not working I can't just relax. I'm sure they’re in Tombstone right now and all hell is breaking loose. They can't figure out where it is, they can't fix the trailer, they won't be back by eight when the U-haul has to be back and my credit will be destroyed. And to think I've got three more prospective employees to train. And where are these supossed stock options? I'm almost thirty and I don't have health insurance. This sucks. Fuck you journal. Fuck everybody for those sleepless hours between four and five a.m. Fuck whatever god damn monkeys mutated to the mistake of homo sapiens. Bad call. I'm throwing away my morals for this job. All those holes adding up to form a gaping hole within myself. Exploiting the fertile soil. I don't care any more. I would like to say I don't care and just take a meaningless minimum wage job, but it's too late. I've been corrupted. I met a thief first hand. Maybe I should be a thief. That was a very personal moment we stumbled onto. Manny sweating buckets trying to push the ATV onto the trailer. The first thing he said to me was —"this thing sure is heavy!" I responded by saying— "it helps to have the key." Come on Ken, Zonge me. Send me to do a helicopter job in Yellow Knife. The whiteness way up north, like heavan, will deliver me.
March 16, 1996 — Tucson
Met with Brian Laird this morning, wasn't very encouraging. Very vague in his "manuscript review". The only thing of value he told me that I shouldn't listen to him anyway no matter what he said, because I shouldn't change anything for him. Here, here. I've been brainstorming on this idea for a novel, and the more I think about it, real life rings truer than any fiction I can devise. The male dilemma between travel and women is very prevalent. It's ironic that here I am surveying and climbing (attention to geographic details) while Zo is studying, well not specifically, but let’s distort the truth a little and say that anatomy is her obsession. I'm looking outward, Zo is looking inward, and there lies the conflict. There's a novel to be made around this theme, along with my obsession with cartography and how it effects our perception of reality. Basically, I can't be sure a place exists until I've been there specifically. Until then it's projection, just like a map can be a distorted projection. Just as looking inward, anatomy is a distortion, I heard once that blood is blue until you get cut and it instantly gets oxygenated. It also extends even further to my 'dead particle' theory, or that physics is an autopsy of reality. Okay, I'm diverging a little, but most of what we know about anatomy is studying cadavers. It's perfect! Zo studying pathology, the effects of copper on the body, while I'm exploring to get it out of the ground. Totally counter-productive. Everything is there, more or less, except the ending. Only time will tell.
March 20, 1996 — Tucson
I'm throwing in the flag today. No more sleepless nights, burning eyes, dripping nose full of dirt, itchy skin because of creosote. No more babysitting, driving around Tucson doing "errands". I'm sick of being the donkey's ass chasing the carrot. Stock options, my ass. You'll be on salary by the end of the month. Yah right. That was January. Now there's no way. I don't know what offer it would take me to continue digging my grave out at Silverbell. The last hole I dug I lifted up a rock to pound a stake in and there was a scorpion underneath. I drove the stake through the scorpion without even thinking, out of fear. A coyote crossed our path on the way home. It was a miserable day, hotter than hell. Got a cholla ball in my calf that paralyzed my muscle. It was the rocky outcrop day from hell. And I sure hope it was the last. Now I have to summon the courage to resign. Van called from Zonge as I write this. Gave me an offer that puts me back to where I was last July. $8.50/hr. At this point I don't care. But I should be rash and not have the grass is always greener syndrome. Maybe go back and read some journal entries from back when.
(March 21, 1996)
I went down to Geotemps to ask Terri of her advice on the matter of quitting. She didn't even bat a brow when I told her, just picked up a manila folder laying on her desk and said— "don't worry, I'm sending you to West Africa to look for diamonds." That easy. Well assuming I get it. There didn't seem to be a doubt in her mind. She told me I needed an updated resume pronto and I said let me go out to my car. The position is for a crew chief doing soil and stream sediment sampling. It pays $200—250 a day!!! Leaving May 15. It's too good to be true. But I still had to take care of business with the man.
Went home and got a letter of resignation (as well as some courage) together to go over to Jim's. He just gave me the evil glare for a while, and tried to lay the guilt trip on me about how much he had invested in me, and how if I had just stuck around I would have had blah, blah stock options, would have done blah, blah more technical and mentally challenging work, and would of done more international work. I basically told him I was sick of living off promises, running myself into the ground with no health insurance, waiting for the day when he would give me these supossed stock options or put me on salary. I gave him two weeks notice. It's not going to be a fun two weeks. I talked to Mark when I got back, he ran the truck into a ditch. The new guy Greg, cracked the windshield with his head. He was alright but they spent half the day getting the car out of the ditch. Then I called Joe to hand off the baton, told him I heard about the mishap, and he was all— "which one?"
I said— "the accident? Mark running the truck into the ditch?"
"Oh that" —he said, as if that was no big deal. Compared to the spiel he was going to give me about how incompetent John was, how he almost rolled the ATV, how they ran out of gas, their disagreements on which way west was, . . . he kept pouring out his confessions of frustration.
I felt like saying — "now you see the shit I have to deal with."
March 24, 1996 — Tucson
I was too burnt to work in the field thursday. Did not want to deal with that. I felt like I was bit by a Tse-Tse fly, took 3 or four naps periodically thru the day. Zo was also feeling weird and she's never had allergies. Maybe it's sympathetic. My excuse to Jim was that I had to interview Carl M. I met him at the cup and just talked with him for about an hour. Didn't talk about the job that much. I probably discouraged him more than anything. He was too good for the job. We talked about climbing and other stuff. Cool guy. Had done a lot of interesting field work (mostly in geophysics and seismic stuff) and climbing. His wife was about to get her PhD in economic geology. Also sounds perfect for Jim. They wanted to migrate further north, Reno perhaps, where there was season.
Friday I did have to work and deal with the hell that broke loose over my two day mental holiday. Flat tire on the white truck, both gates were broken and falling over, cracked windshield, missing samples, . . ., total chaos. I'm glad I only have one more week. Joe is being sent to Reno to train with Clark. I gave him the scoop about general logistics.
Went climbing with Zo yesterday. Well we set out to climb. Supposedly there's this new climbing area above hairpin turn and I wanted to find it. I had mixed vague directions that I pieced together from a few people. Found where we were supposed to park. Got out packs out and Zo discovered that she was missing a shoe. Swore we looked everywhere. In frustration we put our packs in the trunk and shut it up. Zo's keys were in her pack. Realized instantly as the trunk was slamming. Hmm. Standing on the side of the Mt. Lemmon highway. No need for interjections. We both knew what had happened without saying anything. Getting into the car was no problem. I pulled back the window enough for Zo to slip her tiny arm through and opened the door. Getting into the trunk was another story. It was fairly to remove the bottom part of the seat. The back was clasped on and screwed down with special bolts. I scoured the roadside for a tool. Struggled pulling and pushing. The foam from the roof was getting all over us and we were sweaty. Finally I used the ice scraper to pry back these clasps that were holding the seat and with much effort lifted each corner and the middle out separately. Pulled it back enough that we could fit an arm through this hole and back into the trunk. I could feel my rope. Zo tried and got a hold of my pack. I tried again and found a shoe. It was her shoe wrapped in canvas material. One shoe, was it the missing one? I pulled the pack to the hole and we got the keys. When we opened the trunk we discovered that I had indeed found the missing shoe. If we hadn't locked the keys in the trunk we would have just driven back to Tucson since we had looked everywhere for the shoe. So we set out to find the "Hidden Jewel". We walked and walked. I was looking around for any crag. Explored down in this cool carved out canyon. It was really windy, so windy you could barely walk. We kept going til we got up to Jailhouse rock. I remember somebody telling me that it was near Jailhouse rock. By this time it was past one o'clock and Zo was complaining about needing to study. So we went back down to the smooth rock canyon and had a picnic and then fooled around. Bare skin against smooth rock and the sun and the breeze. On the way down I saw a cairn and told Zo I would catch up. I explored out this trail and found the Hidden Jewel. Scattered area of crags. Saw Carl Mitchell atop one, climbing with his girlfriend. Couldn't say much because it was so windy he couldn't hear me. And I had to go run and catch up with Zo.
When we got back to her place I was a little annoyed at spending another hot weekend in Tucson with the crowds from the street fair everywhere. I was just hanging around Zo's and I could tell she was on edge from me loitering around. I volunteered to leave and she freaked and asked for her key back. She was knocking on the window of my van and she still had her dishwashing gloves on. So of course that bugged the shit out of me so I got all my stuff and put it in my van. We came to our senses and realized that the root of the problem was that I don't have my own place, but in the process things are revealed like her reluctance to have me leave for two months, and my dislike of her lifestyle. Wednesday night we went to the Empire and "hung out". I just hate that shit and don't really have respect for the people she has respect for. And then Friday night we went over to the "slacker den" to watch the U of A game. Bunch of freshman sucking beer, smoking bongs and just saying stupid shit. There's just nothing in that scene for me. Just some of the things that Zo is into I can't relate to, like going to the Bush concert because they had backstage passes. Getting all excited to meet "famous people". Watching Beverly Hills 90210. Talking about who wears what or who's dating who. And that's all fine that she has her interests but when I'm sacrificing my interests and friends to "just hang out", not to sound new age, but we need to just spend "quality time together" and not just a lot of time.
So I left and was going to hotel congress but it was booked. Decided to just stay in my van. I couldn't get a hold of Shaheen. I had to make a decision about where I was going to stay. Still do. There's that option, but the room isn't available til May and I'm not so sure they're thrilled about having me stay in that front room anymore. I looked at the San Carlos Apartments. It's okay. Just don't want to deal with the hassle of hooking up utilities and having to leave my van parked out on the street if I leave for two months. Everything is just so up in the air. The only other thing I heard about the African job is that it's looking for diamonds with some company based out of South America. It's definitely not definite. If it was I'd just assume stay in a hotel or camp out in the mean time. Christ, talk about instability.
March 27, 1996 — Tucson
I got Zonged on sunday night. Just when I had given up on him, Ken Zonge called and made me a respectable offer, salaried at 30k. Talked to Terri the next morning to see how definite the job in West Africa was and it sounds wishy-washy, no need to spend my life waiting on opportunities like that, when I can be consistently employed by Zonge and sent off all around the world. Not to mention have health insurance and 401k plan and all that kind of good stuff. So that nailed down my employment and health insurance dilemmas, and more or less nailed down my living situation in the sense that there is no use in getting a place if I'm going to be out of town so much. I looked at a few offices and such, maybe that's an option. But weekends, like the one coming up, where Zo is not in town, I can just camp out or go somewhere. When she is here and I'm here I can just stay with her. And I can park my van at Zonge while I'm gone and it will be reasonably secure.
I still have to work out my two weeks with Jaba. I have no motivation whatsoever. I went out into the field yesterday. The creosote was blooming, everything is blooming, and while it is beautiful, it is burning me up from the inside. My eyes, nasal passages and throat are killing me. So I said no way today. Things will be a little tight financially for these next few weeks, especially since I want to treat Zo to a trip somewhere like Club Med, somewhere we can dive, hang out, etc. But it's not like I can't afford to rack up my credit card again, being that I just paid it off in full. Funny how that never lasts more than a month. I get it paid off and the first thing I want to do is rack it back up. It doesn't matter know because I'm under Zonge's wing, and I'm traveling with Zonge wings.
I'm staying at the Ghost Ranch. Mostly for Nostalgic reasons since it's near the cemetery. I'd stay at the Tropicana (the one we used to stay at when I was little) but it has hourly rates now. I ate dinner at Long John Silvers. There was a clown in there making balloon figures for children. He kept staring at me like he wanted to hit on me. Got me to thinking of story ideas. After eating his comped dinner, he came up to me and said— "I've seen you in here before."
I said— "I can garuantee you that I've never been in here before." Clowns freak me out. And some evil bitch went up to the counter and told on these kids that were eating pizza in long John Silvers. As if it were her business. The guy kicked the kids out and they told her that the cowboys sucked (she was wearing a Dallas shirt.) What the fuck am I doing here. Guess I had romantic notions to lounge around the pool with my shades on and a gin and tonic and try to get some writing done. Write what?
Woke up and took a stroll through the cemetery. Weird how cemeteries are so symmetric. How people put a "tombstone" to tag the spot of their dead body. They need some sort of false reassurance that they are occupying a point in space. And the symmetry of it all. Like a latticework of death. Couples laying side by side, as if they're sleeping forever. It's all romantic but I'd rather be cremated and my ashes scattered to spread and remingle, and possibly rekindle. You even see graves of people not even dead yet! Couples graves, both of them still alive, as if in a race to die. How depressing, could you imagine visiting your own grave site?
March 30, 1996 — Tombstone, Arizona
Still obsessing over this graveyard thing. Staying in "Tombstone" is just as a serendipitous occurrence. How exactly did this town get it's name? Wyatt Earp saying— "I'll either make it to California or I'll die." (?) Stopped over in Tombstone and discovered silver, or something like that. Well my version is that I say, I'll wander the earth, and the day I settle down is the day I die. So Zo will be my Tombstone. She will be my plot of land that will ressurrect my from the dead. Bring new life into this vain cycle of existence, whose only means of existing is existence itself.
I'm starting to get somewhere with "Navigating the Senses" [massive project that remains unfinished to this day]. Not totally set on the name, but I'll make it my working title. Definitely want to include the graveyard episode. Surveying through the graveyard and one of the sites landing on a tombstone. I guess what I'm really hung up on, (like clothes hanging on a hangar), is this whole notion of "tagging space". I think I have the interest to make this the main theme of "Navigating the Senses". Make use of all that philosophy of quantum field theory I used, those papers I labored on that were read once by— I can't even remember his name— and just given an "A" with no comments. Something about human nature makes people take security in thinking that space is substantial. They can't grasp space as being nothingness. Even solid objects like this bed I'm laying on are not so solid when it gets down to it. The "solidness" is forcefields. When we "touch" something we don't actually make contact. I start to trip out on things like this and then want to go back and get my PhD.
So I woke up at the Ghost Ranch and took a walk through the graveyard. Once again I did not feel like working. What's he going to do? Fire me? I was even thinking of putting down a full week of hours, thinking I would take justice into my own hands, because I damn well deserved a bonus. But I won't stoop that low for money. It's not like I won't have more than enough of it, soon enough. I went in to see Ken and handed in all my paperwork and he explained all the 401k thing and health insurance and other benefits. I like this 401k thing as far as saving money, they match your dollar and you invest in a portfolio that gains you around 15%. But the catch is you can only take the money out to buy a house, for college education, and a few other things, not including traveling around the world or buying a Toyota Landcruiser. I don't know if I'm into the retirement concept. Unless it's an early retirement. Like in five years. And then I can re-emerge back in to the work force when I retire from retiring. You got to have more than one retirement. Especially retiring when you're getting too old to do heinous rock-climbing or tromp through the Himalayas. Anyway's looks like I'm going to northern Canada on April 10th to do a remote helicopter job on a frozen lake. That should stimulate me to thinking about the concept of "solidness". It should also take care of my allergies. A brisk expanse of snow. "Brisk", yah right. I'm trying to be positive. It's going to be colder than I ever imagined. Mr. Derek "I've never been sub-zero." (As I huddle under the covers on a relatively warm morning in Tombstone, Arizona). Funny how people do that, try to give names or adjectives to a sentence. Back to the tagging thing.
Friday was my last day. Packed up all the samples as whiner Bob sat around an egged me on. Finally we handed him a tape gun and told him to tape the mailing labels on. Then we put together some of those industrial shelves. Cruised around with Mark and John while I waited for Jim to call me back. Finally I just went over there. Mardee was there and I had to shoot the shit with her until Jim got back. Handed in the last expense sheet (I had to pay). Handed in the keys, and my cell phone when Jim finally arrived. Cordially shook his hand and said— "it's been a pleasure working with you" (when secretly I said 'eat shit, capitalist swine').
He said— "I appreciate all the work you've done. Good luck." (when secretly he was stewing— 'glad I could exploit as long as I did, sucker. It's too bad you came to your senses.'). I felt so free as I was driving away. Even since I've quit, or even if I didn't work in the field, I still had this burden of responsibility. Of worrying about everything. But now whatever happens with the field crew is their business. I don't give a flying fuck. I told John for his own benefit that he should shape up his act (that morning he arrived over an hour late after we called him to wake him up). He got all defensive and said — "what about?"
"About being a slacker. About your temper." He looked pretty pissed. The bottom line, is I don't care. I was just telling it for his own good and if people don't want advice, fine. He could tarnish his geotemps reputation. Now I'm only looking out for number one. And I'm fucking free! I was free to be hanging out in Tucson in my van, or even staying at Club Congress on a friday night. But I had to get out of town. I called Shaheen to tell him that I would just meet him at the Stronghold. I got some food and stuff and blazed out. The road from the Trinity Monastery was gated and locked despite rumors I heard that it was open again. I had to go into Tombstone to notify Sean of a slight change of plans, namely where to meet. Decided to stay in Tombstone. Found a cheap motel, but I'm paying the price. The "office" was between their living room and kitchen. Full on white trash. It smelled so bad I just couldn't wait to get out of there. It smelled like someone sprayed milk all over everything and never cleaned it up. The room was a little better. Around midnight I awoke to a pounding disco music. I groped around the room, half asleep trying to find a clock radio. It was coming from next door. It was so loud I couldn't believe they were sleeping through it. I pounded on the wall. Nothing but Paula Abdhul at full volume on a shitty stereo. It was a sick nightmare. I went outside to the front door and banged on the door. The neighbor on the other side came out, some woman wrapped in a blanket, squinting the noise was so loud. We finally got the manager up and she went into the room. There was no one staying there, they must have set the alarm (full volume!) And if that wasn't enough, at five in the morning I was awakened again to what sounded like a broken alarm buzzer in the room to the other side. It wasn't as loud as the hideous evil disco music, but it was annoying as hell. I moved the bed away from the wall and slept the other direction. I was too lazy to go wake up the manager again. Time for some grub at Nellie Cashman's
April 1, 1996 — Tucson
I casually made my way to the stronghold. Explored the Middle March road over the pass just because I've always been curious as to what happens after that. Nothing spectacular. No more rock. Explored some defunct mines. Then went to the 'Isle of You', parked and explored up on the rocky ridge and down in the secluded valley on the other side. Seemed like a good place for the Apache to camp but I saw no petroglyphs or any sign. Found a few more routes. Made my way back to the van and parked it in a grove of trees. Read Celine until I fell into slumber peacefully. Glorious. The weather was perfect and silent. Until I was disrupted by rednecks in big trucks, sport climbers or rappelers. Then another family van come and parks right next to me. So much for peace and quiet. I moved van to another spot and continued to read and nap more. But the owner of the van comes knocking at my van. Some people can't take a clue. Older guy from Colorado trying to talk the hip climbing lingo, wondering where the sport climbing area is.
"That rock over there. Have fun."
"I'm not really a sport climber, it's just that my wife is not feeling well and, you know this late in the afternoon, I just want to crank something off really quick."
"The rocks over there. Have fun."
Finally Sean showed up, gets out of his Jeep and is having orgasms over Sun Dogs overlapping Halos. It was pretty cool. All sorts of rays and halos shooting off and intersecting in rainbow patterns. We got the ropes out and went to explore a route I saw in my earlier wanderings. An exposed arrete that looked do-able. I clipped the first bolt, after scampering up some ramp and traversing out to the arrete, and it started to get hard. Low angle but nothing to hold onto and it was all gritty. Another fifteen runout to the second bolt, no problem. But the next bolt was like thirty feet up. I don't thrive on terror like I used to. It just wasn't that fun. Made that bolt and then it wasn't too bad, another twenty feet to another bolt, and that was it. Fifty or sixty feet to the top with no pro. Low angle gritty beach ball slab. I guess it was a good route but my head is just not into this stuff.
As we were on the rock we could see our cars surrounded by these lowriders. Looked they were breaking into our cars. Not a good sight to see half-way through some runout route. When we got back to the car we discovered a gang of a dozen or so Mexican kids smoking pot, drinking beer and rappelling off a cliff over our vehicles. The Stronghold is just not what it used to be. All day long there was steady traffic on that dirt road. People everywhere, off-road bikes, gun shots from hunters, . . . it's getting out of control. But hey I was there.
We moved our cars to the Sheepshead parking area. Made burritos and hummus and watched the comet. Got into this discussion on the ownership of the art, and the idea of collaborating on a work of art. Better yet was our talk on identical twins. Now that's a weird concept when you think about it. Imagine what they think sitting on the toilet, or what if one wakes up before the other? All sorts of questions arise. Does each head feel a need for privacy? Are they sympathetic to each other? Surely they should be able, in a sense, to read each others mind. After all they occupy the same body. Do they fight with each other, or bother to talk to each other? And of course, how could they ever have a love life. If you loved on head, you would have to love both. If you had sex with Siamese twins, then who are you making love to? Would they get jealous? Bizarre to think about.
Woke up the next morning and hiked through the beautiful open meadows up the Sheepshead. That whole area is cursed. I started to get memories of that time I went there with Scott Jones and we ended up not even climbing because everything looked so intimidating. First I fucked up and guided us to the big sister, when "Mystery of the Desert" was on the middle sister. We scouted out the big sister, but all the routes looked vague and runout, just like I had discovered years before with Scott. Went to Mystery of the Desert and the sight of it reminded me why Scott and I hadn't done it before. Not so vague, but definitely run out and dicey. But Sean volunteered to lead the first pitch. He managed okay, except it took him forever to find a suitable belay. Following it, I concluded I would have backed off, even though this was the 5.7 pitch. Wasn't giving me confidence for the second pitch. Especially as Sean had gone out on the traverse and said it looked hard. Nevertheless, I took the sharp end and traversed. It looked worse than the first pitch. I guess the main thing going through my head was why? It just wasn't fun. It wasn't hard, but it just wasn't worth it. But I still did the traverse into the 5.8 crack, thinking it would just get better. Thinking I would get some gear. No such luck. And there was no going back now. I continued up, twenty or thirty feet over Sean who was on a sketchy belay stance. Finally got to some gear and big holds but I could see thirty feet ahead and looked thing and there was no pro. Sean wasn't willing to lead either. First pitch frazzled him. So at this point we were more concerned with how to get off this rock. I didn't want to downclimb to Sean. I put in two good tri-cams, and rappelled off. If I had gone five more feet I wouldn't have made it to the ground. Oh well, twenty dollars in gear down the drain. He went exploring up some gulley and I took a nap in the sun and then we bailed. I drove very slowly back to Tucson. Life in the slow lane, no where in particular to go, just enjoying the drive.
Got back to Tucson and had this hunter instinct to stock Zo's refrigerator. Some sort of primordial urge, like I had just gone on a hunting trip and I needed to come back with bountiful fruits to be validated by my lover. Also we've decided to be vegan so I bought all sorts of stuff to cook stir-fries, rice, beans, Thai noodles, etc. No way I will be able to consistently maintain a vegan diet out on a camp job in Canada, but at least I can balance things out on the homefront. Zo came home later. I also got her flowers and champagne and cooked up some pseudo pad Thai without eggs and sweet stuff. I'm more in love with Zo than I have ever been. Every day is like that. I'm overwhelmed by how beautiful she is. She is perfection of flesh. I never imagined making love could be so incredible. My love for is so overwhelming it's almost absurd or comic. Now I'm starting to wonder whether I will be able to handled one month away. I couldn't ask for anything more if it works out. To be able to travel, and live in other countries for weeks at a time, and always have Zo to come back to. All concept of home, spatial and familial, embodied into flesh. I could live out the rest of my life in such a balance. Each needs the other. In order to be able to travel a lot and appreciate other countries you need to have something to come home to. And for the health of our relationship it seems we need to be doing our own thing. Maybe not this extreme, but at this point (not being a published writer) I see no other options.
April 6, 1996 — Las Vegas
So much for a week off. I made the mistake of telling Zonge that I wasn't working that week. Of course they wanted me to come in and help ship out the supplies and learn some stuff. Actually, kind of cool to be paid to learn. To just sit down with geophysicists— Ken, Van or Paul— and discuss data interpretation and the physics of what's going on. I like the whole "James Bond" feel to the job, you meet with the computer expert who gives you the scoop on recent additions to the software or computer and things to know. Or meeting with the people doing research on the GDP and they give you advice about little quirks. Nice to be in a research atmosphere mixed with the field work. It's like they're the support crew. I just like the whole set up, not just the field work, but the interaction between the field people and the office people. And the fact that it's more technical, the idea of pumping electromagnetic energy through the earth, receiving it and interpreting it. I think it is a job that could challenge me and keep me satisfied for some time.
Friday we set out for Vegas. It was windy and unsettled. Dust everywhere. Never really rained hard, but was on the verge. In Wickenburg I ate a whopper at Burger King. My first red meat in seven years or so. Just wanted to practice for Canada. Over the Hoover dam and into Vegas around ten p.m. Checked into the Golden Nugget. Wanted to be in old Vegas. The Golden Nugget is pretty classy as far as old Vegas goes. We gambled all friday night. Lost and lost. No luck whatsoever. I don't why I'm so stupid to try. We lounged around the pool today and gambled more and ate. Walked around and got annoyed at how lame the people are, the cigarette smoke, how annoying it is. Can't wait to go to Red Rocks tomorrow.
[ ... continues chronillogically in this post]