[15 June>Flashing back to summer of 1998, picking up from post 883, right after we moved from Portsmouth back to Tucson.]
July 1, 1998 — Tucson
The days are running on end. June of 1998 will go down in history as the month I did nothing (and got paid for it). But supposedly all that will end tomorrow. The best thing is that the World Cup has been on and I have probably watched every single game so far. I have also been sick for the past week. I don't know when it all started. I had gotten into a routine of hanging out and watching World Cup. Started sending out a few resumes a day just to cover my ass in case they fire me. I would go work out in the afternoon and use the computer at the library to check my e-mail and then I would just surf around on the web. One day about a week ago I got sick of hanging out inside (did I mention I bought a cool little "mad max" bicycle? Mottled black with no stickers, no brand.) So I went for a hike. I went to the Butterfly Canyon (?) trailhead, I think it was actually the last hike that [J] and I did before we left Tucson last year. Anyway I went much further than before and blazed my own trail until I ran into another trail and saw this huge rock that looked like it had good climbing. On my way over there I ran into this old couple that asked me if I had seen the plane wreck. I kind of blew it off and forgot about it. I was bushwhacking over to the rock to get a good glimpse of it. When I ran into the wreck. It was cool. The old man said it was an old "F-4" that crashed in the 50's. It looked pretty old. I found the cockpit, the engines, various scraps of airplane aluminum, pipes, etc. spread out in a gully. There was even a gash that looked like the impact crater. It was near the base of the rock (which I believe is called Sykes Knob? I'll have to check a map). I kept bushwhacking up to the rock, but by the time I got up there I had a terrible allergic reaction, my legs and arms were burning (I had this weird rash the week before). And I was sneezing and dripping like crazy, so I didn't really feel like scoping it out too much (it was all way overgrown). There was one face that could probably have some pretty wicked sport routes on it but there was a pair of nesting Peregrines on it, that were flying around and squawking. There was a detached pillar that was cool put the rock was crumby. The backside was low angle, of better rock quality and looked like it might have a good moderate route or two on it. I'll have to go back sometime. I could see the telescope on Mt. Bigelow, figured I would just head for that rather than go all the way back the way I came. But the bushwhack up the hillside was hell. Finally I hit the trail that led back up Mt. Bigelow (saw a rattlesnake). It was further than expected, ending up walking a long way on the access road and then two miles along the highway, but it was better than 6 miles on steep up and down terrain. I don't know if that hike was what got me sick though. Got this wicked bad sore throat, where it hurt like hell to swallow. It wasn't that bad until I decided to work out when I was kind of sick. Then it got terrible. Oh well, got nothing better to do. Watch soccer when I'm sick and it's 110 degrees out. Been working on "Figures on a Landscape" and have selected which pieces will go into it and which order. I feel like it's a culmination of a period. A sort of period of experimentation. Each piece has a unique style. It was hard piecing them together, trying to find a common thread (Sub-chapter headings were like "Tectonic Frontier", "A Survey of Substance" and "Continental Drift".) I feel a closure, like I learned how to write short stories and know I've got my style, my voice, (actually I've pretty much lost my voice at this point). I've wiped the slate clean and pieces from now will probably lean more to the "dream-journalism stream of consciousness-style". What else. Took care of Janice's dog, Scott. Read Martin Amis's "The Information". Seen a few matinees, "High Art", "The Opposite of Sex", "X-Files Movie", . . . The fun is going to end tomorrow. I'm almost looking forward to working at this point.
[remnants of the F-4 (from Inurnet)]
July 7, 1998 — Tucson
The monsoons are here in full glory. They actually arrived on July 3rd, and as is what seems like the norm for the first week or so it's been overcast and drizzling. Along with the occasional dark cloud and lightning.
There's this woodpecker that pecks at our stovepipe. He does it every morning and periodically throughout the day. I don't know why he does it as the stovepipe is all metal. But he keeps doing it. Every time it reverberates down the pipe and throughout the house. I kind of dig him even though he's annoying. There's something metaphorical about him, kind of like the Beatles song "I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in and stops my mind from wandering, where it will go . . . " Speaking of which, we also have a leak and the water is puddling up on our living room floor.
[K and R] came this weekend. We took them out to the mission San Xavier. Mass was going on so we couldn't look inside. But it was still cool as usual. We went to 4th on 4th to watch the fireworks but it was kind of lame. They spent the night and left the next morning. Finally got my computer. Gateway 266 MHZ, 64 MB with two 4 GB hard drives. I don't know why I am even using this computer. I imagine I will convert everything over at some point. Especially since I am putting together "Figures on a Landscape," good excuse to convert everything to RTF as this laptop is getting old and if I have everything in MAC format then I would be forced to buy a MAC. Anyway, it's a pretty cool computer and I have a lot of software that came with it, like Expedia Road atlas and "Bookshelf" encyclopedia not to mention unlimited Web access. Need I say, I've stopped sending out resumes? The computer is incentive enough to keep this job, not to mention they also sent a brand new printer out and I'm learning RoboHELP, which is closer to "writing" then any other job I've had. And the freedom to work when I want. Take breaks to watch Brazil vs. Holland or go work out.
July 22, 1998 — Tucson
It's either been a while since I last wrote or I stored the last one in some strange place. I'm in the process of trying to get everything over on the other computer, actually I'm not sure why as I'm rip-roaring fast on this keyboard. I guess the main thing is that printer is much better. And if something should happen to this computer it would also be nice to have everything in RTF. I can spiffy it up over there and send stuff out via e-mail. I gots to get me a PC, they're so cheap these days. Either that or just keep this Opus job. I actually saw an ad for a technical writer for Atmospherics, Inc., a company that makes lightning detection equipment. Doesn't hurt to send out a cover letter, right? I got to get with a more interesting application. I like the writing part, learning RoboHelp and all that. I just am a little apprehensive when I have no interaction with the mother ship, no responses from my e-mails. It's almost too good to be true. I could be off hiking or writing fiction every day. As far as I know they haven't been reading the updates I've been sticking on the network. Guess they trust me, as they should, as I don't slack off unless I make up for up in the evening. Last week I'm sure I worked more than eight hours a day. I have to be careful, to just to stash that stuff away and get my own writings out in the evenings.
The weather has been unprecedented. I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't make it to 80 degrees today. And rain that is not the typical monsoonal downpours, but a steady rain, tropical drizzle like Hawaii or something. Matter of fact, I just checked the web and it only got up to 79 degrees today!! I went running in Sabino Canyon and it was like a typical winter day. When I got to the first river crossing, the river was so high I couldn't cross. So I backtracked and ran up the Esperero canyon trail. Ran up the Esperero canyon trail. The weather was perfect. The air was moist and thick with plant and animal pheromones and pollen. So thick you could taste it. The sunsets have been so defined the past few days. They are always unbelievable, almost causing a panic like you should somehow try to capture it, until you realize there will be another one tomorrow evening. This is what I miss about Tucson. It's not the place but the sky above it.
July 31, 1998 — Tucson
Been writing in my dream journal more than I've been writing in here. In altered lucid surreal state. Working and watching the little geckos and lizards running around the house. Working out. Went hiking last weekend on top of Mt. Lemmon. We made love in the meadows on top. We analyzed the bugs and fungus in the afterbirth of fires. I saw a pigeon get eaten by a little hawk. I've surfed around the net. I had an interview with StarNet. Not with Steve Uurtamo, but with this guy Rob. I could get into that job, we'll see how that goes. Not much else to say.
August 3, 1998 — (Puerto Peñasco, MX)
On a whim we went to Mexico Friday. J got off work early and we just packed it up and left. On the same road that J had her accident on. Through the reservation, by Kitt Peak, through "Why". Through Organ Pipe Natl. monument, beautiful for its rugged peaks (Ajo peak) more than the supposed Organ Pipes. Across the border at Gringo Pass and we were in Mexico. Only another hour to the coast at Puerto Peñasco. Three hours from Tucson and we're on a Mexican beach. Can't believe we didn't take advantage of this more. We drove around a bit before we settled into a hotel out on this rocky point. We had brought camping gear, but there was just no way, it was too hot. Watched the sunset drinking beer beside the pool and eating shrimp. Next morning we went towards Cholla bay and went snorkeling. It was okay, not spectacular, but still worth it. The roads around Pto Peñasco and Cholla bay are very random, sandy roads leading almost to nowhere, splitting off and rejoining, some just for ATV's. We drove along "Sandy Beach" and found a secluded spot and swam in the waves, collected shells, and got some sun. Too much sun. Got scorched.
Back to our hotel. Walked around this shopping area but it was out of control hot. Like the hottest weather I've ever experienced. Hotter than 120 degrees in Tucson because of the humidity. We took shelter in some restaurant for ceviche and lemonade and flan. Swam in the pool. We went snorkeling by the hotel. The waves made the entry difficult. I was holding J up and trying to walk her backwards over jagged rocks while waves were crashing against us. And once we were in it was too murky to see much. The swells were bobbing us up and down. I never imagined that they would have waves this high up in the Sea of Cortez. We had to get out of the water which was no easy chore. J got scraped against the rocks and dropped her fins. I was trying to hold her up and find her fins in the white water at the same time. If anybody was watching they would have had a good laugh I'm sure.
At sunset we hiked up this hill. It was great to just be near the ocean and see the pelicans and seagulls. And the rolling water. We swam and snorkeled some more the next morning and then drove home. Now I am sunburnt and J has diarrhea so bad that she's shitting blood and mucus. It was probably something that she had before Mexico, aggravated by Mexico I'm sure.
August 10, 1998 — La Quinta, CA.
I'm in Sonny Bono's town. This is actually my second trip to California in the past couple of days. We flew to San Francisco on Saturday. I tried my best to have a good attitude, but I don't know why I feel I need to return to the bay area (even though it's been almost a year and a half, since Kevin died.) There really is nothing for me there. It is just not my idea of a good time. [D] picked us up. He looks really good. He lost thirty or forty pounds and cut off his tail. We drove to Menlo Park since we were in the area. Granini had dinner waiting for us, leg of lamb. Just like the old days. Except no Kevin. And no [E or A, D and D, or K], Mom and Granini were there. And of course the random person that you don't know who they are (some French woman named Carol). I ended up calling up Mom at the last second to at least let her know we were coming and of course she cut her trip to Mexico short to see us. I just don't want her to have an excuse to come visit us in Tucson because that would be a lot worse. Besides she said she was going to bribe us with stuff, and I'm at a stage where I will take anything that is offered to me. She gave J all sorts of jewelry. Most of the stuff that we got was mine to begin with, stuff I collected in Indonesia that I didn't have room for before. She gave J the engagement and wedding ring that Dad had given her (which caused a big ruckus with [L]). And I finally got some of Kevin's ashes . . . for what it's worth. It's probably random crap that some janitor swept off the floor to appease people but nevertheless, it's the idea of it. There sure was a lot of it. Probably a good five pounds of it. It looked like sand from a shelly beach. Very fragmented bones. Very weird to think that that was Kevin in a box. Mom had already dispersed a lot of it out to [R, K, D] etc. pretty much everyone except for me. And I had to ask for it because she wasn't about to offer. So now I have a handful of Kevin's ashes in a zip-loc bag. For what it's worth.
The dinner wasn't half bad. We fulfilled our obligation and set up to the wine country. It was a long drive and it was late by the time we got there. [A and L] were sleeping. D's house is pretty cool. A lot nicer than there other one. Big yard and there's a stream beyond that. We stayed in the guest house. Northern California does have its advantages. It's nice to have variation in weather. To sleep under blankets in the summer. The smell of the air. The thick snarl of trees spreading up into the sky. It does have a certain feel, but for me it has been corrupted. I had problems sleeping even though the air smelled good and it was cool and I was tired.
When I awoke and went into the house the next morning, A was up and playing. Weird that there's this creature that is related to me. 1/4 of me. She's cute but still hasn't changed my view on kids. A weekend around them only reinforced it. It was fun playing with her. We must've played all morning because the day just dwindled away. We had breakfast. We played. A did headstands, swung her in her swing, played soccer, played tag, played with legos, etc. Mom came by and then we went out. There wasn't room in the Explorer for all of us so I had to go with Mom (didn't want to subject poor J to that, not that going with D and L was even better). Mom is really losing it. She's like a bag lady that has a car instread of a shopping cart. She has her needs taken care for her otherwise she would be on the streets. Her car was filthy even thought D had just cleaned it as a Mother's day present. All sorts of bits of lunches and other food items, just unidentifiable crap. I drove, and I had to keep the window down the whole way even though it was cold. That car is a breeding ground for diseases as is she. I tried to enjoy the circumstance, to take a step back and just be an observer, because it's not every day that you come across somebody as unkept and unhealthy as my mom. She's definitely far from ordinary. And this woman spawned me, egads! This can't be my mother. How did I turn out like I am? Anyways, she'll ramble on even if she isn't getting a response. New age mumbo jumbo drama junkie babble. And her use of the english language is sorta like she is hillbilly white trash. She can't speak a complete sentence. Even if she could piece the words together I don't think she has the lung capacity. She wheezes like she has emphysema. Her head rolls around aimlessly, she never looks at you. I just took a step back and took the attitude that I was going to observe and document. I wish I could've had tape recorder to get exactly how it was. The subtle nuances, I don't think I could recreate how amazingly inarticulate my mom is, though you can infer the meaning. She told me the story of Kevin and the Cheshire cat which I really wish I could just record as is and turn it into a short story. I will try. But now I am tired. I'll finish this later.
August 14, 1998 — Tucson
Continuing where I left off . . . San Francisco, or rather north of there, we went to the beach, I don't know, somewhere near Bodega bay. But first stop to eat clam chowder . . . watch A dip her hands in ketchup and wash them in her water glass, grab food, drink the gross water, backwash into it, etc.. . listen to L say about how selfish it is not to have kids, in whiney voice . . "I was selfish once, but I got over it," like we will someday aspire to her heights. I must be a mutation as I have never had the slightest aspiration to have one of those things. Not that I'm not thankful for being here . . . I just don't think this world needs any more people, especially somebody with my genetic persuasion. Luckily J shares my sentiments. If I died today, I would die happy knowing that I found true love. Whoever said don't put all your eggs in one basket is an idiot. My motto is put all your eggs in one basket, go for it completely . . . and treasure and sow those seeds to endless germination . . so yah, we went to some beautiful beach. Nothing beats California for miles of spectacular coastline. Spectacular to look at anyway. It's not very interactive. Speaking of active, mom has serious problems, she couldn't even walk down the hill to the beach so she hung out in the car. I am not going to worry about it anymore. We collected sea glass and walked around on the beach. The water was freezing. The ocean was a very cold, dark and inhospitable place . . . and beautiful and powerful because of it.
We drove back through Guerneville and mom continued on with her monologue and freaking out about running out of gas. When we got near D's she was questioning whether she would stay at D's. I was just assuming she wouldn't. We eventually dissuaded her from staying and called up Diane and Thayne and planned to meet them at the Sonoma county fair. I don't know what their trip was but they no-showed. Diane was freaking out earlier in some e-mail about how they would see us if it was just me and J but didn't want to deal with the excess baggage of L and Mom, etc. Understandable. In a way I didn't want to deal with her because she would just talk negative about mom and be the drama junkies that they are and I've gotten to the point where it's easier to just be very neutral and observe rather than fight it. Some things you just can't change.
[@ the beach w/ our niece]
August 17, 1998 — Tucson
Bruce came back into town last week. Last weekend we went climbing and managed to squeeze in Luke Slingwalker (5.7+) before we got rained on. I led it and found it to be pretty run-out and scary, I'm just not into that anymore. J came along but didn't want to climb and was being poopy. It was hard to have a good time because of it. When we found her after the climb she was doubled over in the rain, sick. It's hard to deal with her "being sick" all the time as it's almost like a psychological reaction or defense mechanism. I love her to death but I find it very hard to carry on a normal social life outside of our relationship.
I had a weird call a few days ago. M [childhood friend from Oregon] called. I don't know why she keeps tracking me down. She had left this message saying she heard I go married and congratulations and that she was happy for me and all that, but it still sounded weird. I called her back in Oakland . . . she got her engineering degree, she builds bridges, etc. she started asking me about my family and I told her about Kevin and she didn't take it to well. I probably should've just lied about it at this point. The last time she kept trying to call (two years ago) I wouldn't return her phone calls and told Kevin to (since Kevin was single and getting over the Jordan thing). I guess Kevin had called and made a date but then blew her off. Anyways, it was an awkward conversation, she was saying things like how she was writing me this letter and saying that I was different than the other kids on the block, different than Mary Koneceny and Scott Threlfall, and for some reason she keeps trying to hang onto me. I felt uncomfortable even talking about this and told her this and tried to ask her what her intentions were. She was beating around the bush and not talking very coherently, referencing Henry Miller and Anais Nin, like she had some pre-planned speech but had botched it up. She didn't really get to the point, she didn't give me an excuse to tell her not to call anymore, she tried to make it seem like it was a friendly call, but I sensed there was more. Finally she asked if I wanted her to keep in touch, and I said no. That I didn't feel comfortable talking to her, that it wasn't necessarily personal, but I didn't need to hold on to the past, I didn't want any reminders. That I had created a great life for myself, had a perfect relationship with J and didn't want or need anything else in my life to jeopardize that. So that's that.
August 24, 1998 — (San Diego)
This past weekend we flew out to San Diego. Flew out to San Diego early Saturday morning. R and M picked us up and we went and hung out at Land N'Sea down by the Marina. Later in the afternoon we went to hang out with R and his new Cigar shop called "La Habana Cabana". It's right on the boardwalk of Pacific Beach. Cool little shack with a walk-in humidor. Fits R well. We just hung out and people watched and had burritos and then we rented a boogie board. The water was cold and the surf was up, riptides. Not only that, but it was crowded. I was trying to get J to ride some waves but she kept running into people. And then she would have a hell of a time getting back out through the surf. So she went back up on the beach and I took the boogie board and swam out to the big breakers. It was quite a chore getting out, and then once you get out, they stop breaking and you just hang out waiting, think you are too far out, start to go in, then the big ones come and crash too early. But it was worth it for the big ones I rode. The feeling of being propelled by a wave is such a rush. I stayed out until my hands and feet were numb and losing sensation I was so cold. Laid out on the beach with all the steroidal men and surfer chicks with boob-jobs. Slacker types just hanging out, getting leary and drinking bud light.
We walked along the beach and boardwalk looking at all the California types and watching the breakers. And all the bay watch life guards. M met us at the shop later and then we went back to thier apartment and had Nachos and beer and hung out talking about familial stuff. Picked up R at 8 when he was closing up the shop. Had Cajun food in P.B.
Sunday I helped R fix his new motorcycle. He got a good deal on it because it had been through an accident. We were trying to bend everything back in place and replace the broken parts. Like it was a typical father-son activity. Then we went to the horse races at Del Mar. The first time I've really been to horse races. We lucked out, we were standing around trying to figure out where to go in, when these people scalped us their "club" tickets. Not only that but we got a table! All for the price of regular admission. It was stylin'. Perfect location, white linen, wait service. We ordered food and iced teas and placed bets on the first race. There was about nine races, one every half an hour. You place your bet— all sorts of lingo I had to learn like exactas, quinellas, boxed trifectas, daily doubles, . . . look at the odds, read about the horses, it's pretty cool. Everyones dressed up like they are at the races. The smell of horses, the well-groomed track. The horses as they paraded in front of the stands and made their way to the gates. Trying to get them all in, and then they were off. Sometimes they would start in front but usually around the back. You can just see their smooth fast movement beyond the innner area. The announcer following their progress, his voice reaching a climax, the horses coming aroun their corner, dirt clods flying through the air, the jockeys whipping, and the final thrust as they hit the finish line. It's definitely exciting to watch. I didn't do very well gambling wise, actually none of us did, except maybe M. I picked the winning horse on the first race, but that was it, besides a few places. It didn't matter because it was a beautiful day and it was fun just being there. After that we just got pizzas and saw that Robert Duvall Minister movie which I didn't think was very good. Flew back to Tucson early this morning.
August 27, 1998 — Tucson
I'm burning out. This Opus job is too easy. Are not too easy, but it's hard to be motivated. I spend half my time looking for other jobs or writing or just wasting away the day. And the sad thing is I can get away with it. It's just a matter of time. I've been looking for other jobs and it makes me realize that I should be happy with what I got. $13,000 in debt . . . can't really afford to just quit my job and take another job for less pay. I should be taking advantage of it more to get writings out. I just wish I could be dedicating myself to something my heart desires and make enough money to not worry about having some other stupid job that I don't care about at all. Here I am getting all involved about rate hurdles and hotel shit, on the phone and I'm staring out the window at pigeons fucking. I just wish I could do research or something more scientific in nature. And I know I've got quite the set-up, I've got the computer, printer, software, internet access, etc. . . I've got the freedom to be a slacker, but I don't know how much longer I can take living a lie. It's not me. But there's nothing that suits me that I can make money at. Everything in the paper is just administrative boring, C++, enginerring crap that, I just can't get into. I'd almost rather be back doing field work. There's just not enough stimulation sitting at home all day. That's what I like to do when I'm writing, but now the distinction (as far as environment) between work and writing is a fine line. This computer that I write at (I still want to keep my journal on my little Mac for metaphorical reasons) is next to the other computer and stacks of documentation that I should be working on and I am just not organized enought to handle working, looking for another job, writing and marketing my writings at the same time. I've asked our neighbor Max [Max Cannon] for advice on getting published and he thinks an agent is key. That I can't handle it all my self. He's gonna ask around his literary friends if there is any agents he can refer me to.
I almost want to throw in the towel now, but I know that would be dumb. I should take advantage of this slacker job to find another good position. I've got a quarterly bonus coming up (a big one as we supposedly got the Starwood, ITT Sheraton account), I'm due for a raise . . . I just don't want to go to La Quinta again, and then to Virginia and then to Cancun. I complained to the mother ship about this, it's weird to here myself say I don't like travel, but it's just this kind of business travel, having to deal with clients and dress up and make an impression. It would be different if I was involved in something I cared about but I am living a lie. Is this the way most of humanity lives? I'd rather be a bean farmer.
I should mention that I've been playing golf and have got my scores under 100. It seems like a hyprocital thing to do for me, it's a decadent waste of resources and land, but I just love the interaction with topography. You hit the ball and it lands in a spot. You hit again. And you try to get it in this little hole. Going from long distance drives where you're just trying to cover ground, and then you're trying to narrow it down to the green. And then the little putt strokes which are worth just as many strokes, even though you might miss by an inch. It's like refining topography, and it's a good excuse to take a walk. What's become of me? I have some meaningless job and play golf, I'm becoming a regular US citizen.
September 7, 1998 — Tucson
Broke my record for dreams recorded in August. Think it might be the Gingko Bilabo that I've been taking. We've been eating really healthy and working out, doing yoga, etc. Listening to Balinese Gamelan right now and it is inspiring. Wrote "Sleeping Plexus No. 6" last week. I felt good about but then J didn't like it. Usually the pieces you like while you are writing them turn out bad and the ones you don't like initially grow on you. I don't know. I have to learn how to be subjective about my own work. It is hard for me to read something and cut stuff out. I have a certain, what I think is zen attitude about my writing, which is really just arrogance. Every word that spills out of my mouth can't be good. I just have to learn how to, not sensor, but filter what is interesting to others and what is not. I have based my last few pieces on my dreams and I think this will be an increasing trend. I would also like to have them be the size of an average dream, but they usually end up being bigger. [don't remember what "Sleeping Plexus No. 6" is but this is definitely the direction our writing took + also funny that we say we wanted to learn Italian + move to Italy in below paragraph]
I would like to start learning Italian and need to include that in my regiment somehow. After J gets her PhD we'd like to go to Italy. I'd love to be able to just speak Italian. Played Golf at Raven today. I played really well, shot 91. It was a tough course and very nice. A lot of natural desert landscaping that you have to avoid. Played with Scott and his brother and father. His mother and J also tagged along. It was fun, we had to take carts. But it was decadent ($50).
Speaking of which, we really need to nip it in the bud to get our debts paid off. Need to become introverted, get enjoyment out of the simple things such as books, and less travel, eating out, movies, etc. I'd like to quit my job and do something more interesting, but I should be happy with what I have. Speaking of which, I have to go out at the end of this month for my review.
Next weekend we're going to San Diego again, and I'm taking the beginning of the week of to help R move to Mendocino. I'm glad that they were able to ask that of us. They are good people and deserve the help.
September 11, 1998 — Tucson
J was riding to work on Tuessay when she spotted a turtle in the middle of the road. She came and got me. He was still there sitting in the middle of the road. He was olive green and had little phalange things hanging off his chin like a Billy goat. I took him home and put some signs up around the neighborhood. Meanwhile I couldn't get him to eat anything. I kept in a crate but he kept trying to get out. So I let him have free reign of the house. I left him in the living room and was working upstairs and next thing I know, he comes huffing and puffing up the stairs!! He was able to climb up the carpet cause he to climb because his claws would stick to the carpet. He wandered around and then started going down the steps. I put him back down stairs and he came back up. That's all he wanted to do all day was go up and down the stairs.
I didn't have any luck identifying him on the internet, though I came across many other interesting stories. It seems that everybody that has a pet turtle has one because they found it on the streets. I know the only previous pet turtle I had I found in the cobblestone streets of Ajijic. Speaking of streets, I just put on U2, "Where the Streets have no Name" came on and it flashed me backed to this image of when I first heard the song and I was in Kevin's white truck and we were driving down the Pasadena freeway. It was when he was eager and enthusiastic and everything seemed new and exciting to him, any way this memory made me cry. It made me realize what a waste of talent his death was.
Any way, back to the turtle. No one responded to the flyers. Meanwhile I was having a bad week of work. I was cutting and pasting John Riddell's "Greek" documents into RoboHELP when it crashed Word and then my whole system and I lost my profile. Not much of Opus's stuff was lost, besides having to reinstall and reconfigure everything. But I lost all the writings I have been doing on that computer, including "Sleeping Plexus No. 6" which I will now have to redo. While this was all happening, the turtle was crawling around, as if in my subconscious, with one goal in mind and that was to find a way out. A way out to where I don't know. I guessed he was aquatic by the way he reacted when I gave him a dish of water (he ducked his head under and looked around). Maybe he was trying get "where the streets have no names". I don't know, but it was unnerving. Turtles make terrible pets. Eventually he found a place under the couch where he stayed for a while.
Finally I took him to this "Reptile Specialist" pet store. The guy was like an X-files character. He was sweating profusely and looked like he could've been half reptile. I shouldn't be so mean, I think he might of had a mild case of Down's syndrome, but anyways, he identified the turtle as a "Mud Turtle", he was native to Arizona, was aquatic and ate only snails. Luckily he couldn't sell him as he was native put he knew of a secret pond where other Mud Turtles lived, he said he would take him there and set him free. . . and then of course when I get home I finally get a reply for the flyer. Some woman found him and stuck him in her pond which was like three blocks away from where I found him. . . the little bugger sure was active for a turtle.
I'm becoming increasingly disgruntled with my job. I applied for an editorial assistant job, that sounds like a dream job. Doesn't pay much but I would probably jump on it just to get my foot in the door and start working towards a "career". At least it is in the writing field (it's with a publishing company). Got my fingers crossed.
September 17, 1998 — (San Diego--> Mendocino)
Flew out to San Diego on friday night. Starting to feel like a home away from home. But it will be no longer as R and M are moving. And this was the purpose of this visit was to help them move. We had a great dinner in San Diego's little Italy. I really like Jess's parents and actually look forward to seeing them. Weird to feel like that about family. We got to work early Saturday. R and I went to get the U-haul, etc. while J and M set to work closing up the shop and putting everything in boxes. It was a 17 foot U-haul and I managed to cram all the air-space full. And this was only their shop-related stuff . . . they have to hire movers for their furniture. I don't envy them, and I can feel for them, which is probably why I didn't hesitate for a second to use up all my vacation days on this adventure. Sunday was also spent packing it up.
J left early monday morning and I stayed. Monday morning was spent trying to get the huge 4-headed embroidery machine over to this other guy's shop who was taking over the lease. It was quite a beast. We had to take out these side-panel windows and get a forklift to take the beast down and then load it on a truck. The other guy (Frank) also had his shop on a second story. We had to dismantle this railing above a seafood supplier (guys in rubber suits slicing and dicing huge chunks of fish) and manuever two fork lifts to get this thing up and in. Needless to say, we didn't got on the road until noon.
It's been a while since I've done that drive--driving through Pasadena was kind of weird as usually I didn't pass through Pasadena without visiting Kevin. We dogged it up the Grapevine, had to turn off the AC to keep from overheating, and then into the boring central valley. Past the millions of smelly cows near Coalinga (the only thing to break up the monotony). As we were dropping into the East Bay we were pulled over for not having tail lights, so we figured we may as well stop for the night, but couldn't find a hotel room, finally settled for a crappy Super-8 that was like $100. Travelling with R was fun, though underneath his laid back attitude you could tell he stresses out a lot. He worries so much he doesn't sleep. And for good reason. Good breaks don't come often for him. Not that it's easy for any one to seek out an honest living in this country, but life seems especially unkind to them, though they are always grateful for whatever comes their way. If anyone deserves a comfortable life style and a good home, it's R and M.
We picked up the rental car in Oakland (so I could get back to the airport for my flight out). And then I just followed R up in my zippy little Hyundai. Traffic near the bay bridge was a complete clusterfuck. Everybody was trying to switch lanes at the same time and it all just came to a standstill. A serious log jam. I lost R in the clusterfuck but he pulled off near University Ave. in Berkeley and I caught up. Things got progressively less hectic the further we drove. It was like a metaphor for their lifestyle change. We eventually got off 101 and onto 20 to cut over to Mendocino. Through ominous and dark stands of Redwoods that were breath-taking. The road winding like a rollercoaster. The U-haul was weighted disproporionately due to 150 cedar planks we piled on one side (for the humidor) and the truck was rocking out of control at times. And then we emerged onto the coast. Unbelievable. Rocky and rugged with dark water and kelp forests. Different than the rest of the California coast in that there is inlets and bays. We went up to the house which is just a regular old, functional and clean, prefab home in an absolutely beautiful locale. Amongst the redwoods. We unloaded some of the stuff and took the rest downtown to the shop. Mendocino has a certain stark beauty. It's almost like you expect a community of witches to live there. Everything is quaint and kind of tourisy, but not really in a pretensious way. It's like they just took a snapshot of everything how it was forty years ago and said, let's just leave it like this, let's don't try to restore it or create an image, just a frozen picture that is probably never going to change. Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds comes to mind. There's this one looking building that is a bank but looks like a church. On the roof is a man with a sicle standing over a woman chruning butter.
The shop is in a great location, where the infamous Seagull bar used to be. We unloaded everything into the "Downstairs Room". Had clam chowder at the Mendocino Cafe. I could definitely see spending some time in Mendocino in the future. It would be a good place to write.
Monday the carpenter Ralph started working and we went to get supplies for him. And whatever else, before noon rolled around and I had to head back to catch my plane. I went 128 going back, incredible coastal scenery and then into more Redwoods. At one point traffic was stopped because they were repaving the road and you couldn't have picked a better place to stop. The first winery I came to was Handley's winery which I thought was ironic considering that R want's to carry wines in his shop (to go with the cigars). Have to follow up on getting them acquainted.
It was weird going through Santa Rosa and not stopping to see D but I didn't have time and he probably would've just been upset that I didn't stay longer. Back through the chaos of the bay area to an airport I'd never been. . . Oakland.
September 22, 1998 — Tucson
I quit Opus yesterday. Maybe the low-moral of this country, everybody calling for Clinton's resignation. It's contagious. I am sick of living a lie. Working just to pay bills and I am still in debt and never seem to get out of it. So now I am unemployed. Probably a stupid decision, I probably should've waited til I had another job. But I was dreading going on another install, or going back to Portsmouth for my review and for me to give a training class. I was literally sick to my stomach and pacing back and forth up here in the loft. All this indecsion, the vagueness, the unanswered e-mails and phone calls, the constant reshuffling of travel plans, etc. I couldn't take it for another day.
I had an interview last friday with Ventana Corporation that hopefully pan out to something. It for a technical writing position. The company makes "Groups Systems Software", basically software that organizes brain-storming think tank sessions of groups of people. It seems a little more interesting than what Opus does, they didn't have a problem with the $35K I was asking, and my role would be more defined, working with a interactive team of technical writers. I also have an interview this afternoon with a publishing company for an editorial assisant/researcher position. That would be a great opportunity though it only pays $8-12 an hour, possibly not even full time. It may be something in the interim just to gain experience and contacts in the publishing world. This might benefit my own writing.
Why does life have to be so fucking difficult. Why can't I just have a job that I enjoy, that I can live comfortably by? Is that too much to ask? Maybe most people don't enjoy their jobs, but that's their problems. What's the point, it's a vicious cycle. You work to try to get out of debt, to pay the bills. It's so far removed from survival that's it's an abstraction. We're not about to starve of lose the shleter over our heads. But there's this abstract quantity called money. Something you owe. You'll eat and have shelter, but you have this nagging feeling of being in debt to the world.
I don't have much time to rant about this as I have to find a job now. . . I was trying to be as polite as possible when I told Eric, maybe I should've just said that the situation sucked and Opus is one big clusterfuck. Anyway, I'm throwing in the towel. In two weeks the paychecks will stop coming.
Sept. 29, 1998 — (San Diego --> Mendocino)
Pretty much a repeat of my journal entry two weeks ago. R and M called thursday night and asked if I would help them move the rest of the stuff. I was out of vacation days and had a lot to do— let me back up a little further . . . I quit my job last week, but by wednesday or thursday Mark convinced me to stick around at least until I found another job, doing only documentation, no lousy installs! Of course I agreed. A big load of anxiety off my shoulder as I really didn't want to go to Cancun, but I didn't want to ruin a reference. But at this point I was well behind schedule as I hadn't done anything for Opus (except compose a resignation letter). So I had to catch up and then I get the call from Ron. I said I couldn't at first, but after I got off the phone I felt terrible because I know they wouldn't have asked unless they really needed help, and after all, what's Opus going to do, fire me? It's a lot better now that everything is laid out on the table. So they got me a ticket, and then I was thinking why doesn't J go, rather than me take pictures of Mendocino, she could come see for herself and help out. She eventually worked it into her schedule.
I guess it's just nice to be useful and helpful to somebody in such shitty times when I feel like none of my work is appreciated and I can't make a decent living. It's nice to help out other decent people who are in a similar predicament eaking out an honest existence. There's no room for that in this country. I guess maybe there's a side of me that believes in karmic retribution, that if I do something generous and kind for somebody in need, that maybe a good job will land in my lap. And part of me knows that that is a load of crap, and that is all just random luck. No one deserves anything, assholes end up winning the lottery, or publishing novels. So in the end, if my career is failing miserably, at least I can make a difference in someone else's life.
We know the routine by now, fly out to drizzly San Diego on Saturday morning. They had an empty 24 ft. U-haul outside in the street, two hundred yards and up one and half narrow flights of stairs and through a few narrow doorways, etc. Had to get couches, cabinets, glass dining room tables, shelving, boxes, beds, etc. secured into the trailer. Not to mention their Southwestern motif bedroom set into the pickup of some mexican family that bought it. Pretty much the whole day non-stop of shuttling possesions, my forearms were killing me. Humans are a weird race. They make huge cumbersome objects made just for sitting on, etc. and lug these possessions around in gas powered trucks in a strange nomadic life. So many possessions, so much weight. It was a good workout anwyay, I was sore as hell that night. Woke up early (still dark) and finished cramming last minute items into any nook and cranny I could find, and then we did the drive non-stop. We played musical chairs to make it a little more interesting. I drove the huge monster pretty much the whole way, through LA and Bay Area traffic, on the last windy highway 20 at night. Such a relief to have it parked in front of their house. Got a chance to see the remodeled shop, that Ralph guy did an incredible job! Looks like a completely different place.
Next morning, up at 5 a.m., finished unloading everything by 8:30, gave us a chance to eat a lesiurely breakfast and J got see Mendocino a little bit and we went to Fort Bragg and then R drove us all the way to Oakland to the airport. Went through Santa Rosa and it was D's Birthday. Oh well, better to just not mention it. Flew home via Las Vegas.
[... October—December 1998]