[4 June 2021> Flashing back to 1998 in our journels, picking up from post 878,
in Portsmouth, NH but then we moved back to Tucson, AZ...]
April 9, 1998 — Portsmouth
I haven't written an entry for April and it's already the 9th. First thing we saw this morning were three little dolphins cruising around the bay by the tugboats. By little I mean they couldn't have been more than 3 feet long. Rupturing the calm glass surface every thirty seconds or so with their dorsal fins.
Finished writing a kind of avant-garde short story called "Juggernaut". I turn around and read something like the best-seller "Cold Mountain" and it makes me realize how out there my writing can be. I would like it to me more accessible without sacrificing my vision of how the story should be. But I think a lot of the experimentation comes with the frustration of not being able to put certain images into words. Or my obsession of juxtaposing concepts that are seemingly unrelated, getting them to fit together. It's like I have a cast of characters (words and concepts) who are all friends of mine and I have to figure out how to get them to get along. I'm writing a new story now—"Quarantine's Sanctuary". I start with a brainstorm, an obsession over certain words (and what they represent or conjure), entries from my dream journal, come up with a governing plot and then try to fit them all into the shortest place as possible. But I guess what's important to me is not the plot but the theme— in this case plausible explanations of the origins of life (comets, soup of life kind of stuff) and that the idea that "that which giveth taketh away" (a comet or meteor may have spawned our origin, but it may be a comet or meteor that will wipe us out (and did wipe out the dinosaurs). I have no intention of making this a factual scientific paper. I start off with the desire to make it coherent and flow like a "story". But the more I re-write it, the more I want certain ideas to be represented, and like now, I look at it and don't like that the sentences run on back to back so I will pull it apart into sentences. It becomes a poem, which allows for more freedom and doesn't require a built-up "plot," but what I really wanted it to be was a story that read like a poem, not a poem that reads like a story.
April 19, 1998 — Portsmouth, NH
Last weekend [bedder-½] and I went hiking in Franconia notch. Just to get to a decent hiking area is about two hours! Past outlet malls, trailer parks and car dealerships. I'll be happy to get back to the west coast. Not to be cynical or anything— the hike was beautiful. We went up falling waters trail. Lots of waterfalls as the name would imply. Lots of snow still. Made the going hard as the snow was crusty and icy and you had to walk flat-footed. I had hoped to make it up to the ridgeline but poor bedder-½ pooped out at shining rock. Took a couple of falls right on her tailbone. Shining rock was a big slab of rock that was covered with dripping sheets of ice. It was pretty cool. I still want to come back and go all the way up the ridge, it's the only place in New Hampshire that looks like you're on a mountain, exposed and barren. As it was, we were in a dense thicket of trees most of the time and couldn't see much except the trees and waterfalls.
Bedder-½ went to San Francisco on Thursday night. Mom picked her up at the airport, but of course mom was probably hiding in the car with the lights out or late or something because bedder-½ couldn't find her and called me at two in the morning (NH time) wondering what to do. Oh well, I'm just glad I didn't have to deal with that shit, bedder-½ is my correspondent for my annual appearance. She did get to meet Granini though. Said she was all decked out with lipstick on etc. Then she went up to Santa Rosa to visit Annika, David, Diane and Thayne, etc. Said David lost some thirty pounds and cut his tail off.
I took Scott climbing yesterday. It was pretty much his first time, and my first time since last fall! Got to squeeze in some climbs before its black fly season. We went to Cathedral ledge. Figured I'd start him out on the practice wall. I led Child's Play (5.6) which was pretty fun considering I haven't climbed in a while. Just nice to be on a nice slab of clean granite with cracks in it. We were the first people there, but after we started climbing at least a dozen people showed up. Everybody on the east coast seems to go with a guide, and almost everybody wears helmets. Scott did good on child's play. So we waited to get on Kiddy Crack (5.7) which was a little harder then its name would imply. I actually slipped off the deck on the slippery layback crack. There a puddle of mud at the base and it was hard to start with dry shoes. It was a decent climb, great layback at the beginning and a nice finger crack to end. Scott did alright on it, though I think it fried his nerves and he didn't want to do another climb after that.
I was going to go hiking today but it's supposed to rain and the drive to the White Mountains sucks. I'll try to get some writing done. Weird... I was just leafing through Kevin's writings and read this story "Clay," about some guy that never stayed anywhere for longer than six months. The last line reads "He maintained the farce of a running habit well enough, in fact it seemed like he was always going off for or coming back from a run, dressed in his Adidas sweat outfit and New Balance shoes." It's been a year now. I guess I'm glad I also didn't go with bedder-½ to SF because there would be too many reminders. Now that Kevin has died there really is no reason to go back there.
hiking in the White mtns
April 26, 1998 — Portsmouth
Not much doing this weekend. We were going to go climbing today, but bedder-½ is working on a paper and with a forecast of high in the 50's with a chance of showers it's not too enticing. We went to Boston last night. Well, actually Newton and Cambridge. Kim was in town for a convention of some sort with the new company she is working for. We met her in Newton and then took her too Cambridge. People we're driving like maniacs. This one guy was tailgating this car so close that he actually hit it (then swerves into my lane and I had to slam on my brakes). Boston drivers are insane. It's just a reflection of their warped minds. We finally found a parking spot (the last space in the last six-story garage). The good restaurants were packed so we went to a little hole-in-the-wall Italian place that had a fast food atmosphere but had some of the best pasta I'd ever had (il Vicoletto).
The cigarette smoke is so bad from our neighbors below that my eyes burn and I have a sore throat. Can you tell I'm sick of the east coast? Iggy Pop's Raw Power is just the answer, just crank it really loud and blow our neighbors below into the ground. Haven't heard much of our new neighbors to the side. They are too quiet. Makes you wonder if they are alive.
Bedder-½'s trip to SF went well. I saw videos and heard stories. I'm glad she went "for me". She hung out with my Mom and David and Leslie. Diane and Thayne even came down from Napa and stayed with her for a day. Same old shit, though. David and Leslie's life is so "normal," it's good reinforcement therapy to never have kids or want to live a suburban life. (And luckily bedder-½ gets just as physically ill as me.) Not that I have a large base of friends to replace my family, I guess I just don't need anybody (except bedder-½).
I did get in contact with Jesus. Bedder-½ brought back a U of A physics newsletter that said Jesus was going to France in the fall. I e-mailed him to congratulate him but he was already in France (the newsletter was from last year and my mom had never sent it to me). It sounds like Dr. Pando is doing well. So the only friends left in Tucson are Bruce and Sean (and the other Chawn, I guess). It will be good to hang out with Bruce just because I don't know any other writers. I've been living in a void. No feedback (besides pre-fab rejection letters).
May 3, 1998 — Portsmouth
Foggy drizzle. I watch the "Bait Bitch" pull up the lobster traps (with new binoculars that I bought). The lines get caught up in big rusty chains. They throw back about 8 out of 10. I can barely see to Maine it's so foggy. Haven't been out of Portsmouth much.
Yesterday we woke and it was raining, otherwise we would've gone climbing or something. It was Kentucky Derby day and I've never really sat down and watched one, so I made a point of it. We weren't really into the "Mint Julep" thing, we modified it to beer and nachos, followed by Mint Chip ice cream. The underdog "Real Quiet" one. And what better thing to do after that? Go for a long run. I ran the whole Newcastle loop (10.7+ miles). Started the usual run to Newcastle, over the two bridges and the isthmus. The air was sea-saturated and fresh. I passed the graveyard, the looming castle on the island. Through the town of Newcastle with the old wooden homes whose front doors are practically on the road. Past the lighthouse point (we explored around here the weekend before, poking through the seaweed and tidepools for critters). Then looping back. At one point I could see the breakers of the open ocean. Past the abandoned decaying mansion, across two steel drawbridges, meeting up with Highway 1 and then past the big cemetery and into Portsmouth from the backside. Swarms of people everywhere. I'm not going to miss that. Doing laundry and getting groceries is such a hassle. Even just walking down the street is a hassle.
I grabbed a copy of "Portfolio" as we were leaving Coat of Arms last night (or only real justification for eating here is that it's on a side street and is not inundated with tourists). I had sent "Quarantine's Sanctuary" to them a few weeks ago (just because it was kind of about Portsmouth and it had to be between 1,000 and 1,500 words.) It's kind of a pretentious and trashy magazine. Before I had sent them my story I had thrown it in the garbage in disgust (after reading some of the fiction and poetry) they had. To be honest, it's like a school newspaper. But I pulled it out of the garbage and jotted down the address, just because if anything I could say, hey I'm a published a writer, in "Portfolio: the magazine of art, theatre, music and literature on the New Hampshire Seacoast." Anyways, I'm walking up the stairs to our apartment and I say to bedder-½, "wouldn't it be funny if they published me and didn't tell me. I open up the magazine to the first page and had this weird sort of deja vu as I scanned the words. Then I looked at the title and saw my name in writing, reformatted and everything. But it was my name and my story. That's a weird feeling, and I guess it's a first. Regardless of how shitty the magazine is. The quality of the rest of the magazine definitely made it anti-climatic, almost embarrassing. But hey it's got a circulation of 10,000. Weird to think people at Opus might come across it. It's a little on the strange side, but nothing obscene. Published along-side such poetry greats as:
Hairy Nosed Wombat
Shooting stars and creepty black cats,
Four leaf clovers and things like that.
Show me something, just give us a sign.
Something earthly or perhaps divine.
A clue to tell us just where we're at.
Good grief, not a Hairy Nosed Wombat!
... and it get's worse. Do I want to be associated with this? Guess this must be the caliber where I belong.
[We hunted around but couldn't find a copy of this 1st publication, but here's the 1st paragraph from a soft-copy we found still on our harddrive:
It came in the cargo bay of a ship—a milky puddle suspended on the tensile surface of crude oil. The self-replicating ooze entered Portsmouth right about the time that Hale-Bopp grazed the night sky, spitting and cursing like molten lava when it curls under the seas debris, tending to it's own germination. The suspended medium's life essence was fully realized, much as the barnacles groping and scabbing the outer hull of the Λότκα-βολτέρρα.The barnacle hydra floated the seas in larval ontogenesis until they encountered a solid object, such as a Humpback whale or a harbor-bound oil freighter, and attached themselves, and once secured they no longer had use for their brains, their only need was to filter nutrients from the tides. Their brains atrophied and were digested for supplemental nourishment. It was ships like the Russian freighter Λότκα-βολτέρρα that posed a serious threat to many species of migrating whales. ]
I'm working on a new story, "Marco Polo". Still reading Neruda. Re-reading Carver. Have also been typing in Kevin's handwritten journal. I'm getting a lot of practice writing in Spanish. I am the main contact with Posadas. They finally sent us data. I have to write 3-5 e-mails a day in Spanish. One to the technical people at TCA, describing the issues we have the data. Another sort of daily progress report to the Posadas people. And a translation of this (with uncensored comments) to the relevant OPUS personnel. I asked Mark whether my continuing to work for OPUS remotely was a definite thing and he said yah.
May 9, 1998 — Portsmouth
It's been at least twelve days since we've seen the sky. It's been drizzly or foggy or outright raining for days on end. It doesn't appear to be letting up. I don't care at this point. As long as Memorial day weekend is sunny. I'm just looking forward to getting out of here. I should try to document this life as it is. Weekends don't even matter. Everyday blurs into the next. Days that I don't work are even more boring. They just go by wasted in regret. Except today we did do something kind of different. We went and saw a lame Hollywood movie as usual (Deep Impact) and there was a bowling alley next to the theatre, so we figured we'd go bowling. When we went into the bowling alley, it had the smell and sounds of a regular bowling alley but on closer inspection everybody had these little balls and the pins were these funny looking thin sticks. It was almost comical, it was like something I might dream about. We were approached by one of the employees and I asked her if this was temporary and when they planned on putting the regular pins back up. She said (with overzealous pride) this was how they bowled in New England. It was "candlepin" bowling. As I was asking her the rules it was hard for me not to say things like "that's like REGULAR bowling" which was only pissing her off further. How could we not try it? It was very frustrating. The balls a lot smaller and the pings are lighter. You get three chances and the fallen over pins aren't cleared away in between balls. It was hard. Neither of us got a strike (I never saw anybody do this) nor a spare. Only a couple of times did we get all three down in three shots. Listen to me I'm getting all excited about Candlepin bowling... only in New England.
I've been reading Celine . . . Castle to Castle . . . this is how he writes . . . raving monologue . . . stream of consciousness . . . like he must have sat down and wrote the whole book in one sitting . . . I'll write in this style. . . I won't stop to think or edit . . . just pure stream of consciousness . . . except I think three periods is limiting . . . I think it might be kind of cool to put however many periods depending on how long you stopped to take a breath in between thoughts. . . because we do thinks in little chunks like this. . . I had to finish the last sentence. . before I knew what was coming next . . I mean I sort of have an idea where this is going . . I'd like to . . . I was interrupted . . prompted to "save as" . . and lost my train of thought . . . as I read Celine I think I would like to write like this . . what you sacrifice is dialogue . . . a certain objectivity . . as everything is point of view. . . I think it might work for "Navigating the Senses" it may be the frame of mind I need to keep in mind—except I'm kind of in into the dashes — dashes because my father used dashes — thought the periods look pretty cool . . . they punctuate more . . little dots . . like the discreteness of time . . I dig it . . . . but as I said . . he need to control the number of dots. . . . . it's so natural . . it's the way we think . . not necessarily noun and verb . . . but in little chunks . . . maybe our brains can really only process little discrete bits of . . . information . . at one time . . . before it can move on . . especially when it has to process. . . so what I'm trying to do is warp a stream of consciousness . . . and you can pull longer and harder . . . so what if Celine invented it . . . whoever invented conventional grammar everybody copied him. . . I'll copy Celine. . . I can go on to describe a typical work day . . . before my work days are changed . . . (once I work out of home with a greyhound at my feet) . . . the documentation thing has been on hold . . . trying to deal with Posadas interface . . . the perpetual mañana . . . here's a typical day . . . I come into work around 7:45 . . . I check my ccmail (inter-office) . . . then I check my e-mail. . . then I start my dial up networking and dial into the computer in Monterrey, Mexico and see if there is any new data . . . if there is I suck it back through the phone lines and . . then I import it into a local database . . . dialing in can be slow . . . TCA (the company that made Posadas' PMS software) . . . are kind of slackers . . . so usually I don't have new data . . . nevertheless I have to write up a daily interface report . . I have to write three different versions . . the first (in Spanish) is to TCA . . . it outlines what issues I found with the data, in technical language . . . specific to database and the fields contained in them . . . . . . when I stop to take a drink of coffee that's an extra few dots . . . now where was I . . the e-mail to TCA . . Technical spanish . . then I have to write an e-mail to Posadas (who run the hotel) . . . it is a progress report in laymen's Spanish . . . outlining what I found and what I reported to TCA and the status of the interface . . . and then I write another daily update to Ron, Randie and Mark in English . . . it's challenging . . . three different voices . . . in the vendor case (TCA) I have to be technical and have to get on their case to get a move on . . . in the client case (Posadas) it still has to be in Spanish but it is in a formal business Spanish . . . and of course by the time I get to the internal English version it is a relief . . being able to spout off . . not only in English . . . but I don't have to strain about formalities . . . so in other words I spend two hours documenting six hours of testing . . that's a lot of overhead . . . in may spare time I try to learn RoboHelp . . . Okay, I'll try to be more specific . . actually fuck it . . this is saturday and I don't want to think about work. . . this rain sucks . . . it's grey and dreary . . there are lucid moments like last night sitting in the living room at twilight . . . with the lights out . . . the lighting was yellowish . . it is something that can never be put into words. . . Celine is a genius. . . a simple sentence like my mother died. . . all he does is say something like "my mother died" . . . but he says "my mother died on a bench" all he does is add the on a bench part . . . and it adds so much. . . she didn't just die . . but she died on a bench . . . that eliminates 98 percent of the visual images that come to mind . . . what else is there to say in this journal entry . . . time is ticking . . there is no going back . . this is now . . in Portsmouth . . . I may be reading this elsewhere . . that is the basis of writing is frame of reference . . . of trying to capture time . . but as I said . . dialogue is a problem . . . .and it may go rambling . . you just have to know when to stop.
May 16, 1998 — (Monterrey, Mex.)
After all these mañanas . . . postponing my trip to Monterrey, on Monday (after more broken promises on TCA's side) . . it was decided I would go to Mexico on Tuesday. Got everything together and the next day bedder-½ drove me to the airport. . . I flew to Chicago, a first, and saw the Great Lakes for the first time . . . from the air anyways. . . it was kind of cloudy so I couldn't see that much and I was little disappointed that I didn't see the Chicago skyline . . experienced the largest airport in the world . . . got on a direct flight to Monterrey . . . sat two seats in front of these two guys . . I couldn't help to eavesdrop . . one guy was the hot stuff veteran business man . . the other guy was a young freshman . . . I was eavesdropping at first because the veteran was going on about how he had this company and was looking for guys that spoke spanish . . . basically offering this guy a job on the spot . . . oh, yah, you could expect to start off at 38K . .
The freshman responds, "you would be willing to hire somebody without a degree" . . almost stuttering, nervous . . and the veteran rattles off about all the benefits, about what a great company it is (electronics) about all the travelling he does . . . about how great he is . . . "I know this business inside and out . . . hell, I designed my own web page" . . and at this point he's trying to get the stewardess in on the conversation . . . (as she brings him another bloody mary) . . . "hey what's your name? Elizabeth, meet Jerry" . . . he introduces the excited and nervous freshman, who is just blown away at how cool this guy is and how much money he'll make and all the chicks he'll get . . and things get progressively louder and uglier . . to the point that people 3 seats aways, 5 seats away . . . 15 seats away were looking back like ay yi yi and the veteran is pushing all the right buttons . . "and with your spanish, you could go a long way . . I was just never bueno at espanyol . . don't get me wrong . . I have a lot of respect for the Mexican people . ." . were looking back like 'oy vey' . . and other passengers looking at me and shaking their heads side to side . . a mutual understanding of disgust . . but the freshman was into it . . he wasn't accepting all the offers for more drinks . . but he probably thought he was milking this guy for a great job . . as we got nearer to Monterrey the veteran started making repeated references to cigarettes . . . and how screwed up America was because they were so anal about smoking . . "I was at this baseball game . . open air stadium . . and this guy next to me, (in a slighter lower, but still lower voice) . a black guy . . he has the nerve to ask me to put out my cigarette . . couldn't fucking believe it . . that's why I love Mexico . . they don't care where you smoke . . . viva mexico . . I love this country.” And as we were landing he's got his cigarette out . . yelling and hollering . . "it's Marlboro time! Grassy-ass a dee-oz!!” It was the epitome of the worst person you could imagine having to sit next to on an airplane.
Finally through customs . . then the taxi ride from hell . . I know everyone says that . . but this was almost comical . . the guy was weaving in and out of traffic at 80 or 90 miles an hour . . with only his wrist draped over the wheel . . through all sorts of backstreets . . construction zones . . Monterrey has got to be the ugliest place I've ever been and the next morning when I saw it by daylight only confirmed this . . granted they had these fires in Mexico that made it hazy and smoggy . . Monterrey is supposedly famous for it's mountain . . but I never saw them . . just a pale orange orb of the sun trying to break through . . but it was hot and humid . . the day I landed it was 100 degrees in the evening hours . . . a hell on earth if there ever was one . . industrial factories . . road construction . . stray dogs . . shanty towns . . abandoned roads . . everything covered in a inch of dust . . not trees anywhere . . plastic bags and garbage strewn everywhere . . a smog as thick as fog . . .
Then again I never left the hotel in three days. . didn't see much from my 8th story patio at the Fiesta Inn to inspire me to leave . . . finally met the infamous Hector guy . . nice to have a face, to know the guy has a wife and kids, etc. . when I'm dealing with him . . got everything resolved . . matter of fact, I was bored most of the time . . I would meet with him late morning (he was a late riser) . . I would report problems . . he would spend the afternoon correcting them . . luckily there was a gym at the hotel . . so I would work out . . watch HBO . . I missed the final Seinfeld for this . . one of those "where were you during the final Seinfeld?" . . I was in a slight oasis in a hell on earth . . having to work in cramped stuffy quarters in the computer room . . getting sweaty and uncomfortable . . trying to explain things I could barely explain in English in Spanish . . Hector didn't speak a work of English . . though I kind of suspected he could read it . . he never attempted to speak . . i might not speak Spanish that well but at least I'm not afraid to try . . I did nothing but speak Spanish for three days . . it must have shown because when I came back through Dallas the woman sitting next to said just started talking in spanish to me not realizing i was American . . so another three hours of making small talk in spanish even though I was sick of it and was looking forward to speaking english . . listening to this lady's life story . . . going to visit her son in Boston . . dogs . . the university system in Mexico versus U.S. . . how her father was this great nutritional biochemist . . . her trip to Europe . . my neck was hurting from having it cocked to the side . . my ears and brain hurting from straining to understand Spanish . . . then finally to Boston with the knowledge that we only have two weeks left here and bedder-½ meeting me at the airport and today we're going to Zacker's camp in the White Mountains . . more later.
May 19,1998 — Portsmouth, NH
Went to Zacker's "camp" on Saturday. That's what they call it in these parts. It's actually a functional house on a lake with a bunch of other functional houses, called "camps" where all the neighbors spy on the other neighbors with binoculars. It was on a lake called Cook's lake which was near Winnapesaukee, but of course everybody referred to it as "the lake". Got out of the car and was instantly swarmed by mosquitoes. This was all about experiencing a New England "camp". After dousing ourselves with bug spray, we got the boat out and I attempted to put the engine on, but it turned into this big ordeal, and by the time I got it working Laurie was freaking out so we just said screw it and got the oars out. Rowed around the lake. It was pretty cool. Chloe (her white lab) was also with us.
We returned to shore and made guacamole and played boce balls. Her brother-in-law came and put the motor on but it was really an excuse for him and his buddy to take it for a test ride (may as well cast a few while we're at it). We saw some serious beauts, white trash. I caught some salamanders and even caught a crawfish. I went swimming in the lake too, though it was freezing. Only Chloe came swimming with me. We swam out to a granite boulder that almost rose out of the water. The water was clear. Made fajitas and watched a taped version of the final Seinfeld (first time for me). Slept in the dark, quiet cabin.
Next morning bedder-½ and I left Zacker to study and drove to the top of Mt. Washington. Even got the sticker to prove it. Cost $20 and is a major tourist trap, but what the hell. Up to 6,200 feet, highest point in New England and claims to have the worst weather in the world, though their record of 231 mile an hour winds was just broken this year. It was barren on top, we were past the tree line, where the pines looked like bonsai's. There was lots of buildings on top and even an old railroad track. Not much of a view as were above the clouds. Fog rolling about.
Only seven days of work left, in this office anyway. It's been a little hectic. But then I think about it in the scope of life and who cares. The weather has been great. Ate paella and clam chowder on the docks. Ate lunch in the sun in Market Square. It's a shame that we don't get to spend the summer here, but then again. . .
on top of Mt Washington
May 26, 1998 — (Acadia Natl. Park, ME.)
Thursday and Friday I was helping Scott remotely (he was in Monterrey). He was basically a remote controlled puppet. Me or John or Chris were doing all the work, dialed in remotely over PCAnywhere. It was like Scott was sitting in front of the keyboard pretend-typing, so the client would think he was doing the install. We even ended up sending all the files via modem (1.3 GB!) because Scott left prematurely with the wrong files. Anyway, Friday afternoon rolls around and I really want to get out of there, and after John and I had spent the morning getting the database set-up, Scott did something to screw it all up and was asking for help and it was like high level oracle stuff that I couldn't help him with and I was trying to find John to dump him off on, I finally just left around 4:15. Bedder-½ had the car all packed. We were out of here.
Memorial day traffic. Stopped somewhere near Bangor for dinner. Headed out to the island of Acadia. Set up the tent in the dark and no batteries for the head lamp. It was freezing the first night. But I think this was the first time sleeping outside on the east coast. (Even though it was car camping . . . and national parks on the east coast are weird, there's houses and towns inter-strewn in the park and it doesn't feel much like a park.)
Woke up and went into Bar Harbor. We were up before anything was open so we stalled for time, ate breakfast. Then we made a sea-kayaking reservation for Sunday, got the climbing guide to Acadia and were gonna make a whale watching reservation but it was leaving right then so we quickly downed some dramamine and got on board. We knew we were taking a risk as this was the first trip of the season and when we asked the captain what the chances were, he said, well we saw whales off of Cape Cod . . . technically it was a "Whale, Puffin" trip so all we had to do was see one or the other and we wouldn't get our money back (though if we only saw one, we could go again). Cruised out of Frenchman's bay, saw all sorts of birds, cormorants, loons, gulls, turns, etc. went by lighthouses. First destination was an offshore lighthouse. (I think they were trying to get the puffin part out of the way.) Sure enough, there was three puffins, though you really couldn't see them from such a distance. It was almost like the guy grabbed our head and forced us to look, made us sign a waiver to verify that yes, we indeed saw a puffin.
We plodded on from there out to Bar Harbor Rocks or something like that. It was a long haul and though the boat was pretty fast, it created for a very windy ride and it was cold. I was watching out for whales, but nothing. We made it to the rocks, there was a lighthouse out there too. More birds and this time seals, harbor and grays. We cruised around the islands looking at them as they looked at us. Then back to shore. At this point the dramamine started to kick in. bedder-½ was out and I was dozing in and out. We passed a breakwater and saw a bald eagle. A first for me. But no whales.
We went to eat after that and bedder-½ had a lobster . . the first for either of us. She even wore the bib and all. I'm just not crazy about lobster meat, and the way its presented . . . it's like eating a giant cockroach. We thought eating might cure us of our cold lethargy, and though we warmed up, the lethargy remained. We drove the loop road and saw the sights . . sand beach . . the precipice . . i was so tired i could barely drive. . we stopped along the cliffs near thunder hole and just laid down and took a nap right there we were so tired. . . and this was the non-drowsy dramamine . . can't imagine what the regular was like. We woke up on the cliffs surrounded by Japanese tourists stepping over us, they probably thought we were junkies. I had a bad taste of bile in my mouth and a sore throat. . . I tried to get us going again. Could barely drive. Explored around some more in a zombie state . . through Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor and Seal Cove and who knows what else. We were in quite a state. Needless to say we slept okay, but bedder-½ couldn't get up the next morning. Even when I got her up she was still drowsy. I guess she weighs 2/3 as much as me and also had two pills.
We went to go climbing at otter cliffs. It was quite the scene. There was only about 15 climbs and there were people cued up for each. Climbers everywhere and it was a choss pile, though it was overlooking the ocean and that's cool. We tried to find an open climb to no avail and didn't have the time to cue up and didn't really have the desire to. So we just bouldered around and explored all along the shore and it was probably more fun than we would've ever had climbing. Laid out like seals, explored tidepools, I found some great bouldering problems over crashing waves.
We had an afternoon sea kayaking appointment. Went to bar Harbor and joined the crew. Had to do it as a group. Couldn't lie and say I had experience sea kayaking. To be continued . . .
We were supposed to go out in Frenchman's bay but it was too windy and the bay was too choppy so we got in a van and went to the other side of the island. We had two guides, one of them was a younger guy that was pretty cool, the other one was this older guy that looked like Don Rickles that was an annoying motormouth. He had a joke for every occasion and just wouldn't shut up. We put the kayaks in the water, we had a tandem kayak, I was in the back and bedder-½ was in the front. One thing I didn't know about sea kayaks is that you actually steer them with these foot petals that control the rudder. It wasn't too hard to get the hang of, and it was pretty much impossible to do something like flip the kayak (the water temperature was around 48 degrees) unless you were a real idiot. We cruised around looking at islands and swooping in close to get a closer look at things, urchins or sea stars or birds, etc. The only thing was our motormouth guide who just wouldn't shut up. Bedder-½ and I would try to go off ahead but he kept telling us to wait. Not like we were exerting ourselves or anything, we would just get on a steady clip and look back and we were way ahead of everyone. I think we went about five miles around the island to another cove. We got around once to "stretch our legs,". . . bedder-½ and I poked around in tidepools and saw all sorts of neat stuff including a sea cucumber and little eels. When we got to our destination the van wasn't there to pick us up so we explored this inlet that got narrower and muddier. It started to rain . . . the sound of rain pattering all around us was amazing. After kayaking we changed and had a real nice dinner in Bar Harbor, on a balcony overlooking a park. The temperature was just right. Everything was right. Went back and slept in our cozy tent.
The next morning we did the "beehive" . . . this hike that goes up this steep ridge. Not sure why they call it the beehive. It's got handrails and stairs and stuff, sees a lot of traffic. But still, the exposure was pretty cool, especially when you look down and see the Sand Beach and the lagoon. After the hike we went to the beach and laid out, though the water was way to cold to swim. Meandered out of the park and back onto the interstate and home.
Final week in New Hampshire. Gonna back up my writings now and prepare for a new chapter. We even went up to the top of Cadillac mountain at sunset. Pretty exposed and barren for less than two thousand feet, great view. We were hiking around and this old couple in front of us stopped and were hugging, and the woman was crying and she said to me that this guy had just asked her to marry her. That was kind of cool.
May 30, 1998 — Buffalo, NY
Seems like forever since we knew we were leaving Portsmouth and now that we actually have. The weather was just starting to get nice, lots of people out on the streets, spring fever. Went to the decks almost every night our last week. One night with bedder-½'s colleagues. Last night with the Opus folks. Almost every showed up, and we were treated with the first squall/monsoon of the season. A full-on thunderstorm, winds came blazing across the river, everybody ran for cover. It was over as fast as it came. Didn't do much my last week of work except try to wrap up Posadas. Waiting for the week to pass. I don't even want to think about it. We're out of there. Got our U-haul, packed in a few hours, cleared out our account, $800 plus $600 cash plus $400 they still owe us, plus my uncashed paycheck for $1100, almost $3000 bucks. A much more comforting move than coming out here. Granted we are charging everything and our U-haul is $750. No matter. We made it all the way here to Buffalo and stopped because we want to check out Niagara Falls tomorrow. Upstate New York is scenic. Nandi [name of our car] is struggling with the load. It's liberating.
somewhere Xing Amerika
June 1, 1998 — El Dorado, Kansas
Woke up in Buffalo and went up to see Niagara Falls, understandably one of the natural wonders of the world. Pictures can't capture the immensity of it, all the water flowing. We parked and walked downstream. Ahead we could see the water just drop over a ridge and a cauldron of mist rising out of it. The scenery was also beautiful. Everything very green. Not too crowded either. It was early and was threatening to storm. It came into view. . . Holy mackerel!! watching the water was mesmerizing and pacifying. We saw Horseshoe falls then walked down further to American falls. Definitely worth the slight diversion of our trip. We got back to the car just in time. It was getting so windy that bedder-½ could barely hold her ground. She had to hold on to the railing at the falls. We drove through a thunderstorm that was so intense that I almost had to stop (and many others were). Actually, the next day in the news they were showing all the damage from this storm and nearby tornados. We were fighting the winds. Nandi struggled, through Pennsylvania along Lake Erie, through Ohio. Into Indiana and game 7 of the Bulls/Pacers game was on. Made it to Chicago and stopped but it was a dodgy area and the hotel was expensive so we kept going to a town called Joliet, which was still expensive but there was only a few minutes left of the game and it was late.
The next morning got up and left Illinois, lots of farms, everything green. Into Iowa and even more farms. Had a late breakfast at the largest truckstop in the world. Definitely the "Heart of America". By more farms and more trucks everywhere, the skies of southern Iowa were intense. The clouds had so much definition, ripples, looked like a tornado could just drop out of them. But instead rain dropped out. By the time we got to Missouri, things were very green and not so much agriculture. We stopped to listen to the almost deafening cicadas (?) in the trees and when we got back in the car, I could barely get it going and it wouldn't go over 35 mph. I pulled over and couldn't figure out what the hell was going on except I knew it wasn't Nandi, something was wrong with either the breaks or the bearings on the trailer. I added some fluid and drove backwards and it fixed it. Through the clusterfuck of construction and rush hour traffic in Kansas City. Into Kansas. very beautiful and green, lots of cows. But the wind was still working against us and while not mountainous, the road wound up and down and up and down. We almost made it to Wichita. We're in Kansas, Toto, weird.
June 4, 1998 — Hotel Congress, Tucson
Home sweet home . . . it's almost like this past year was a dream and now we've woken up . . . within minutes it was like we had just left. Portsmouth already seems very far away. Let's see . . after Kansas, we continued on. . inventing games to pass the time . . . besides the license plate game . . . trying to get all the U.S. plates (got all 48 contiguous states, not Hawaii and Alaska) . . . trying to find sequential Fibonacci numbers . . or trying to find three letter words, not personalized. In Oklahoma I started counting crows (while listening to Counting Crows), came up with 29 . . in the Texas panhandle we counted dead Armadillos, only got 9 (saw a lot more in Oklahoma) . . in New Mexico counted wind mills, 57 . . and in Arizona counted what else, "The Thing?" billboards (13?).
Drove well into the night into New Mexico so it was hard to count Wind Mills, stopped in Socorro for the night. The winds were still against us, and the next day was worse. . at times we could drive only 35 or 45 mph. . . the wind straight against us . . it felt like driving through molasses, stopping every hour to add clutch fluid. . . into Arizona . . going through Texas canyon I had this bad vibe, I had a dream a few nights back involving a Ryder truck with a trailer in tow skidding and fishtailing into an accident and piling into rocks on the side of the road. . . I saw a Ryder truck with a trailer in Oklahoma City and it kind of freaked me out (but it wasn't that much like the dream) (not to mention the Ryder overtones of the Oklahoma City bombing) . . but in Texas Canyon the landscape was just like the dream and there was semi's blazing by us . . when we stopped to eat in Benson I was literally shaking . . then again, all that coffee and a gallon of iced tea . . it made bedder-½ have diahrea that she quoted as saying it was too grotesque or non-organic to come out of a human . . so here we were, a three thousand mile trip (2909 to be exact) and only 33 miles to go, less than one percent . . and wouldn't you know it, we get into the car for the final push and there's this horrible grinding. . . very unnerving. . but it still worked so we plodded on . . the silhouette of the Rincons became recognizable and then the shape of the Catalinas . . the sky hazy from the fires in Mexico and dust blown from the wind. . we went to a U-haul storage place on Grant and when she told us that our voucher wasn't good there I had to freak out on her until she called her superior and they gave us the place, we literally threw everything in there and went to have the car looked at, but they told us to come back the next morning. . looked for a hotel and of course ended up at Hotel Congress because it's just the coolest and the cheapest, why go anywhere else unless you can't deal with rotary phones and switchboard operators or not having a television . . got room 212 away from the night club, maybe it was Dillinger's room.
Looking for a house in Tucson requires a lot of patience . . there's definitely a lot of crap to wade through to find the gems. . we did find a few potentials in the Barrio which we have appointments to see tomorrow. That's the first order of business. Well the first order of business was eating at La Parilla Suiza . . we went there with Scott and Kayo. In some ways returning has been anticlimactic, but in other ways it is a very liberating feeling . . everything seems so clear and fresh and open . . there's really no other way to describe it except I feel more a sense of belonging.
June 11, 1998 — Tucson (301 Norton Ave.)
The dust has settled. I'm sitting here in the loft with the huge 20 foot wall of windows in front of me. I can finally take a breath and document our house hunting experience except I am tired. . . we ended up at Hotel Congress. . . we would eat breakfast at the cup and grab a paper, then we would go to the room and use the rotary phone to make calls . . then came the driving around . . most of the shit we didn't even slow down for. . . we were looking a lot in the Barrio . . I'm tired, finish this in the morning.
new digs on Norton ave
. . . we concentrated our efforts in the Barrio and around the University. Sure, we looked in the foothills and were thinking it would be cool to live out with the javelina and coyotes, but practicality got the better of us . . too far for bedder-½ to go to school, etc. We saw this one place in the Barrio that was cool but I had a bad feeling about. Seemed liked a sketchy area. Here you have true barrio dwellers rubbing elbows with yuppies with Lexuses thinking its quaint and hip to live in the Barrio. I guess we might be included in the later. There was two other places on Convent street, while still in the Barrio felt a lot safer. One was $800 for this really cool ultra modern place (complete with the Architects name at the entrance) that was like a cross between being in a museum and a prison. Once again practicality got the better of us and we realized it had no closets and was dysfunctional in the sense that once we moved we would have nowhere to put our stuff and it would end up looking cluttered. And the place next door . . it was very cool, like a true "Barrio" home, seven rooms, totally run down, crumbling adobe, it reminded me of mom's house in Ajijic, the owners were complete freaks, Julio the cool chicano artist with tatoos and badanas and his wife Judy who was a spazz. We ended up hanging out there for hours, just chatting and we were actually considering living there but once again, common sense got the better of us and why should we pay $750 to live in scummy conditions with kitchens and bathrooms that don't work. The place on the top of our list for a while was in the Presidio Barrio, north of downtown. It was very cool and brand new. Some artist guy from Oakland built it for himself but couldn't live in it yet. It was very efficient, made of some special styrofoam, ultra-modern with a lot of attention to detail . . the cool thing about it was that it looked utilitarian from the outside, it was surrounded by a sheet metal fence and the only windows faced south onto the enclosed patio. But it was $875. But after some of our experiences with looking for houses we were about to take it. . . take "Mister Lester". We called an ad in the Tucson Weekly for a studio for like $550 that was near Tucson. The guy (in retrospect bedder-½ said he sounded "normal") told us to just go down there, that his "partner" was there, to ask for "Mister Lester". When we pulled up we heard this awful voice, figured maybe it was some old homeless guy in the alley. Then he emerged with this couple that looked terrified. They were also looking at the place. The girl gave me a look of desperation, like she was trying to warm us without being obvious. And here was mister Lester, he smelled like a brewery . . . had his shirt off and his pot belly was baked red. . . the house was a pit and this guy was disgusting, no way in hell we'd rent but we were already there, what we could do. . he showed us around while giving us this spiel about how you had to go outside to get upstairs where the bathroom was . . how he was planning on taking the stove (which was this one burner thing caked with food and crap) with him. . the place should have been condemned. . . this guy needed a reality check if he was going to rent this place . . so I made the mistake of saying that for $550 we'd expect something nicer . . he started going on this monologue that lasted for about ten minutes that got increasingly louder and more psychotic in nature . . about how we could "fag" the place out or do whatever the hell we wanted and how he could milk $700 out of the place and "you yuppies come along from New Hampshire, wasting my time telling me you want something nicer . . well you can get in your Trooper and GET THE FUCK OFF MY PROPERTY!!!” By this time we were trying to exit off the balcony anyway, but the scary thing was he was following me so I didn't really want to turn my back and he was coming at me when I got into the car so I had to slam the door in his face while he was turning red in the face and screaming obscenities . . it was scary. So after this experience we were just like fuck it, let's get the nice place for $875, it's safe and clean . . we faxed off an application to the guy in Oakland who was super anal . . and to top it off, Gwynn's stepmother who lived in the foothills had some stalker trying to get into her house, he cut the phonelines and tried to ring the bell (after trying some windows) and she saw him hunched to the side . . of course the alarm system didn't work because it was hooked up through the phonelines . . the guy wasn't wearing a mask, so he meant business, i.e. dispose of evidence. . she got into the car in the garage opened the garage door and peeled out of there, she was okay, but still, it had us thinking . . this kind of shit could happen anywhere. . . Gwynn and Tim were staying at Hotel Congress at the time, a few doors down from us . . we were hanging out with them . . double dating for dinner and dancing downstairs as it would have been too loud to sleep anyway . . we were quickly reacquainted with Tucson . . Rusty came a knocking in the middle of the night to our room . . Mia told him we were staying there . . he was drunk and stoned . . some things never change . . to think these people have been at it all this time. Went to some Art opening at the same gallery where I went with Kevin to an AA meeting, it felt weird. The art work was actually quite good, though. So while we were waiting on the place in the Presidio Barrio (right across the tracks from the first place I lived in Tucson), we continued to house hunt in case we came across something better. That we did. First a place on 6th ave which kicked ass, all wood floors built in cabinets, it was only $595 but it was a quadplex and we had looked at a place down the street where the guy admitted he was moving because his truck was broken into twice and his apartment broken into once in the past six months. . and the story about Gwynn's stepmother fresh in our minds. Then we saw this place in Sam Hughes by the Rincon market . . it's great, living room with twenty foot ceilings, the whole north wall is all windows facing to the Catalinas, there is a loft up above looking out the windows (where I sit now looking out at the cactus and the palms and the palo verde and the eucalyptus to Pusch Ridge, Table Mountain . . if I tip my head to the side I can even see Rappel rock all the way on top!! It's going to be great when the monsoons come . .watching the lightning . . it's like having the sky in your living room . . it's got two patios, one enclosed within vines and trees . . it's got all the modern conveniences, air, washer/dryer, off street parking, etc. . it's perfect (as long as I continue making enough to pay the rent). . there's another house that shares the same backyard who supposedly Max Cannon is moving into next week (the guy who writes the "Red Meat" cartoon strip for the Tucson Weekly). The yard is kind of a mess, but it has potential and I've already planted some plants and cleaned it up (and landscapers are coming tomorrow to revamp the whole place). The landlords are both English professores at the U and they live in this mansion right downtown . . felt like we were in Savannah . . once we were inside their gates we were in these lush gardens and there house was amazing (though not suited to be in the "Barrio") . . maybe some good contacts to have for the future . . if I ever get organized and start sending more writings out or looking into MFA programs.
Opus has been haggling over which computer to send me . . I thought we decided this before I left but evidently Eric was trying to use his influence to give me his laptop (good excuse so he could get a new one) . . didn't sound like anybody was communicating . . Mark didn't know anything about this . . finally my PC was sent but not until thursday . . no matter, I was being paid since I was ready to work (at least they thought so) and they were holding me up. So I got the computer yesterday and hooked it up and was trying to hook it up to the internet but the computer was thoroughly confused about being in the Tucson desert and away from its Portsmouth Network . . tried to reconfigure it as a standalone machine but I was getting the infamous "blue screen of death" as Chris Delorme calls it . . hosed . . Mark told me to stick it back in the box and ship it back . . Chris Woofter will get slack for this, poor guy . . meanwhile I can't do much . . may as well write in my journal . . look at the want ads . . work in the garden . .
June 22, 1998 — Tucson
Haven't written (any fiction) since I've been in Tucson. Not feeling any inspiration. Not like I haven't had a lot of free time . . . my computer came but it wouldn't boot so I shipped it back . . . Woofter dilly-dallied . . . had it running, it crashed, . . . basically same story all week . . I was doing some research for George on "Knowledge-based systems" (artificial intelligence stuff) otherwise I was sitting around on my ass all day. Feeling a little unsure about how things will turn out with Opus so I got to hunting around on the web and sent out quite a few resumes. . . speaking of which, I want to run out and get a Sunday paper at the Rincon market before it closes . . be back . . .
Shit, it was already closed. So yah, Woofter still hasn't sent me a computer, last word was it crashed again and they are just going to ship me an altogether different computer. . I did get my paycheck, which was somewhat a relief as money is tight . . racked up three thousand dollars on my mastercard this past month, and now that we are paying $800 a month, if something happened with Opus I would be up shit's creek, jobs over 30K in Tucson are few and far between. Maybe that's why I'm not writing? Still feel unsettled and unsure about employment. . any free time I have I feel like seeing what else is out there . . I just need to make some cash and get out of debt . . maybe even get a second job . . anything . . my hands are burning . . I'm going through the metamorphosis . . they are peeling off . . so is my back from climbing last week . . but my hands . . I was cutting jalapeños early today for guacamole and it got into my already raw skin . . making guac for the U.S. vs. Iran showdown, Iran won . . had Tim and Sean over, played racquetball with Sean afterwards . . starting to feel like a regular old guy . . yesterday I went golfing with Scott and actually enjoyed it . . it's a good excuse for a long walk. . . met some of our neighbors, met the guy that lived here before us, some guy named Steve Uurtamo . . he gave us this killer rug that didn't fit his new place (he moved just across the street) . . we got to talking and ends up that he's a programmer and of all the people in Tucson, he's the one hiring for the one position I thought looked interesting in the want ads. . a position for a web programmer, programming in Perl . . I figure the sharing of information (the Web) is at least a more interesting application than hotel yield management . . and Perl and Java are good things to know for future jobs. . he's a pretty interesting guy . . we'll see how it goes . . he seemed a little reluctant to act enthusiastic about hiring me. . also met our next door neighbors, the house that's on the same lot as ours . . Max Cannon and I think his girlfriend's name is is Jenny or Penny or something . . anyways he's pretty mellow, not at all like his twisted cartoon would make him out to be . . our other neighbor, Jed, just graduated from Law school and is studying for the bar. . so what I've been doing is basically waking up and job-hunting/web-surfing. . . okay I'll be honest, the world cup is going on so I've been turning futbol on telemundo in the background to listen for the "gggggooooooooooooooooooooooooooooollllllllllllllll" to see the highlights . . but sometime in the afternoon when it's 2 o'clock and 5 (quitting time) on the east coast I'll take off to go work out and hack around on the computer in the library to do my research for George but I usually end up looking for jobs or poking around on the web. But no writing, what's up with that? It almost feels like when I just stopped doing music . . I'm getting a reality check as to how much I suck as a writer maybe. . it's sad, though, . . because what else am I to do with my life. . just having a wife and home and being rich isn't enough . . I need to create something . . I need to discover . . I need to travel . . maybe I'm just taking a needed break . . wiping the slate clean . . so I can start fresh . . going to get bedder-½ at work so we can see the new X-files movie.
[... July—September, 1998]