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Dolphins, ostriches, pissing on hydrants, karmic gambling + marathon training for the book of dead


[22 June 2021> Flashing back 22 years in our journel archiving to the end of 1998, in Tucson:]

October 6, 1998—Tucson
This is the first entry written on my new computer! And it's Y2K compatible, too! i.e., my new naming scheme would be like "YYYYMMDD Title" [we're referring to the doc files we pulled this text from]. I haven't moved stuff off my MAC yet but will little by little. I have it set up next to my Opus computer, so at times like right now, when I am waiting for the stupid computer to reboot or reinstall or compile, I can plug away on this computer. I also have a blackjack program on this computer to hone my skills for our trip to Vegas this weekend (My running tally is up to $10,000, keeping my bets between $10-$100.) Things are looking up a little.
     I start a new job tomorrow with Cartwright and associates. Technical Writing. I had an interview last week, and at the end of the week he asked me in for a secondary interview. But this interview was more an orientation and planning session. It's only $15 /hr. and it' s part-time, but I figure I will keep my Opus job as long as I can get away with it (double-dipping) and then maybe switch over to PT with Opus (assuming they would go for it.) And also, my nagging Gary Yanker paid off, he wants to start me on a trial basis (being paid ½-time). Might suck at first at first, but a good way to get my foot in the door and get contacts in the publishing world. We'll see how it goes, he never returns my calls, but if I'm persistent he seems to be willing to give me a chance.
     Didn't do much last weekend. Went out one night to the Pub Crawl or Mall Crawl or whatever they call it, where all the bars on fourth and downtown have local bands and you buy a wristband that gets you into all the clubs. I don't understand the appeal of going out, go into some crowded and smokey oppressive room to have weird people stare at you (or in one case they accosted J for not smiling and then tried to kiss me and then J, drunken idiots.) Shot 18 with Scott. Sunday,[ J] and I went for a bike ride that turned out to be epic. We rode up to the Rillito and tried to follow the patchy network of paths along the river (would be nice if they had one path along the whole river!), stopped at the mall to eat lunch. And then we were riding through the graveyard on the way home and I got a flat. There were hundreds of birrs in my tires. J took of to go home and get the car, but ½-way there realized she didn't have her keys. So she came back and I took her little bike and rode like a madman back home to get the car and go get her and my bike.
     Beginning to enjoy Yoga more and more. Planted some more stuff in the garden. That kind of stuff.

October 14, 1998 – Tucson (Vegas)
Started my first week with Cartwright and associates. Haven’t told Opus yet. That editing job with Gary Yanker—he flaked on me, still have to do the test thing (for $8 bucks an hour). That remains to be seen.
     Friday we flew to Vegas. Cabbed to Golden Nugget. First time I’ve flown to Vegas and stayed. What can you say. We gambled, we complained about the smoke, we ate, we sat out by the pool, but mostly we lost money. Limited myself to $100 a day and that’s pretty much what I lost. Saturday we took the bus to the strip. I was going on no sleep. Cup of coffee at the blackjack table while waiting for J to wake up. The bus took forever so we got out to walk. Saw all the Casinos, saw Siegfried and Roy’s magic garden, which was the highlight of the trip. Hung out at the edge of the dolphin tank watching the dolphins. I was having major déjà vu (see dream from 10/9/98 where I was looking into a dolphin’s eyes and then saw two black jaguars). Dolphins are so cool. They come up and look at us, then play around. Then we saw the white lions and tigers and the black jaguars, while listening to Siegfried and Roy’s hilariously new age commentary on the headset. The albino tigers are amazing animals. Won $150 at craps after that. I always have good luck at the Mirage.
     Went to the Forum at Caesars and ate at the Stage Deli. Had a Pastrami sandwich, I don’t know what I was thinking. This was the beginning of my demise. More smokey casinos, lemonade and ice cream, cigarette smoke, burning eyes, etc. . . Saw the Bellagio which is just about to open, incredible. Steve Wynn’s latest project. He’s outdone himself. Cost something like a billion dollars. The Artwork alone in the gallery (part of his own private collection) is worth $300 million. Continued on to New York New York to ride the roller coaster. I took the camera on to the roller coaster. I wasn’t feeling too well to begin with. Was trying to take pictures while screaming down the tracks above the city, the camera wasn’t working, I was trying to get it to work, holy shit, jostled upside-down and all around, everything a blur, acceleration, deceleration, sharp turns, I was starting to feel sick. Got off the roller coaster and just felt really tired. Incredibly tired. Like I had to sit down and put my head on the table to sleep. Tried to throw up but nothing came out. Just a nasty vinegary pastrami taste, dry mouth, acidic taste. Then I saw someone eating a disgusting slice of pepperoni pizza and that set me off. In the bathroom of NY, NY on my knees, gripping the porcelain, it poured out of me like a firehose. Chunks were stuck in my throat, the next bout would clear them, acidic pastrami chunks up my nose, sticky spit, it was not glamorous. And it wasn’t over with that. I was still feeling sick and went through it all over in ten minutes. Meanwhile J is drinking a beer in Central Park. Cab ride from hell home. Worse than the roller coaster. Slept a little bit and felt a little better. Good enough to go out and lose some more money after eating Chinese food.
     Went to the strip again the next day. This time we went through Excalibur and the Luxor. The Luxor is pretty cool, I would stay there if I ever go to Vegas again. The whole scene is a trip. I think of what it would be like if our civilization went down and archaeologists from another planed excavated the strip and wondered what the hell we were thinking. Trying to replicate all the wonders of the world out in the middle of the desert.
     We took the shuttle to the Rio. That place is for losers. We tried to get out of there but were trapped. Couldn’t walk over the freeway, so we had to walk back and stand in some ridiculous line for a cab. The second you get out of the casinos, Vegas sucks. They make no attempt to fix up the city, the sidewalks, etc. to make it a nice place. Only in the casinos. Oscillated up and down gambling. I was losing at blackjack but was making up for it at craps. Then I started losing at craps, won a little at Caribbean Stud poker, started winning at blackjack, but the motto of Vegas always holds true. By the time you leave Vegas, the casinos will have your money. Without fail.
     We spent a good part of Sunday and Monday just hanging out by the pool. J was studying for a test she has today. I was reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead, trying to repent for my sinning. Feeling lousy for losing money, but still having a good time. Monday was J’s B-day. I gave her $100 to see how fast she could blow it. Took her less than an hour. But it was fun. We were at a craps table, she was rolling, the dealers were rooting for us, but no luck. What is luck anyways? There’s almost a spiritual or psychic quality to luck, you’d think. You’d like to think it would have something to do with Karma. But it’s always the people who don’t deserve it who have luck. All us others have to work hard for everything. I guess in the end, I’m glad I’m not lucky, then I might have a gambling problem or something. I’d rather work hard, be of good health, etc. . . even if it sucks being in debt. Gambling is only fun if you’re in debt and that’s when you shouldn’t be doing it, but isn’t that always the way it works?

[J w/ dolphins]

October 28, 1998 – Tucson
Haven’t been writing in my journal because I have been too busy working. I quit the editorial assistant job with Gary Yanker after only working there one day. I drafted up this legal document, trying to read his terrible handwriting. Then he sat me down with a directory of Hollywood movie-houses and had me go through one by one and cold-call producers and top figures in the companies trying to sell them on sci-fi thriller scripts. He wanted me to call up as high as possible and not waste time with the assistants. Needless to say, it sucked. Not my idea of a good time. I stuck it out for the day, partly because I thought I should overcome my fear (I dreaded having to cold call people), partly because I thought it might be good for me in marketing my own writings and partly because I felt sorry for Gary Yanker. I heard from this other trainee that his wife had recently died of cancer. That would explain why he is trying to be a U of A law professor, write books on walking, run a publishing agency (“Multi-Agency”) (with a post-office box out of NY just for the effect!) and take his kids to soccer practice, etc. all at the same time. But once I got home and thought about it I realized how much it sucked and how much I didn’t have time to be doing this shit. So I blew him off the next day.
     I already have my hands full with Opus and Cartwright. I propositioned Opus about working Part-time and the idea got shot down. As a compromise I will continue working for them until I finish up the Internal Doc project I am working on, which I estimated to be around Nov. 30. Until then I will get paid full time. But obviously I can’t really put in full-time hours (and I warned Mark of this) being that I am working 30+ hours a week for Cartwright. So until December I am not going to have a life, work weekends, etc. . . but I will making mucho dinero to pay off our debts.
     Been going to San Manuel a few times a week for my Cartwright job. Interviewing heavy machinery operators and such to extrapolate info for these manuals, witnessing the in's + out of the copper smelter. It’s interesting work.
     Had a few visitors last week. John was in from Hawaii, we went over to his sister's house for a potluck thing. He’s lost weight and acting scattered. But his parents were there along with all sorts of other people like Wayne’s family and stuff. Weird scene. John is still obsessing over the Wayne thing, feeling sorry for himself about how much his life sucks etc. . . and here he is in a 12-bedroom house in Maui and never had to work in his life. Kind of hard to feel sorry for him, granted he's been HIV positive for 15 years now and that kind of sucks, but man, get over it. Stop smoking so much pot. We had him over for dinner later in the week, I stuffed him with burritos and home-made apple pie to try to fatten him up. And of course he talked about his problems the whole time. Told us his exploits of how he followed Wayne’s new boyfriend around town, took pictures of his car in front of sex shops to blackmail Wayne. Then went inside and grabbed the guy’s crotch and dropped to his knees and pressed his lips against the guys pants, etc. . . all to get even with Wayne. He’s a little deranged, but guess he always has been.
     Diane and Thayne dropped in on Saturday. Kind of weird to see them here. They were in Phoenix for some car race. We took them out over Gate’s pass and down to Mission San Xavier, etc. It was a good time
     Back to work.

November 7, 1998 – Tucson
I’m just starting to get caught up with work work to the point that I may get some personal work done. I am starting to transfer all my files from my Mac to the PC. Lots of dream and journal entries, each one I have to rename and add the “doc” extension (because only eight letters gets transferred.) It will be worth it though because it will be easier to zip and store and e-mail, etc, not to mention easier to work on a PC [if we hadn't done that then all this may have been lost...]. Getting a lot of done for Cartwright, I’m using Quark for him, so my MAC is being put to use. Actually it’s Kevin’s old Mac (Chaulky or Big Mac) while J now has the little “Mac-a-roni” which was my original Powerbook 150. It’s like musical computers (on top of it, I still have Opus’s computer and printer.) All together, 4 computers and 3 printers! I need to transfer a lot of stuff from each computer, but I am almost there.
     I may get involved with Rob doing website development stuff. I’ve started an e-mail dialogue about that. Had planned on going up to Phoenix this weekend to talk shop and check out the Egyptian exhibit at the Phoenix museum of art, but [K and R ]are fighting so we strategically aborted. Which leaves even more time now this weekend! Wow, I might get some fiction writing done! Maybe I will even get to go climbing! We went for a short hike last weekend in Pima Canyon and found two cristate Saguaros!! Pretty cool ones too. J practiced taking pictures with her camera. Saw a blue-collared lizard too.
     I finally got a reply from Roger from an e-mail I sent him months ago. He asked to see some of my writings so I sent him “Our Mother the Fish”. I have my fingers crossed that if he can’t at least hook me up with an agent, that maybe he’ll be impressed enough to do some ghost writing. I really need to do some work that my heart is into. Now that I writing manuals for BHP (just finished a 65 page front loader manual) it would be nice to have a creative outlet. I also talked to Eric. He isn’t Roger’s P.A. anymore but is out in North Carolina helping Donald make a micro-budget film. God, why can’t I just have a few hundred thousand laying around to do something like that? Here I am letting a $15,000 dollar debt hang over me for almost 2 years. Now that I am double-dipping I am making a significant dent in it, maybe I'll get it below 10 grand by the end of the year. My goal is to be out of the hole by Y2K.
     I’m rambling now. Haven’t really been writing enough so I am neglecting to mention ½ the stuff that is going in my life. While transferring my journal yesterday, I was reading random entries and it made me appreciate the value of keeping a good journal. Life can just slip you by. Another thing I noticed is that I tend to (or I think it’s safe to generalize that most people tend to) write (bitch and moan) when things aren’t going well. The truth is things are going pretty good right now. I am healthier than I have ever been in my life. Have been working out every day, am getting stronger and fit. Taking Yoga twice a week (J too) and we love it. Not only do I physically feel healthy, but my mind feels very clear. I have a great relationship with J and live in a beautiful home. I take joy in simple things like working in the garden, cooking, etc. And even though I don’t enjoy working, I realize I am fairly lucky to be doing what I am doing, it could be worse. I have a lot of freedom, work at home, etc. The downfall is that nobody wants to hear about that. People want to hear about trauma drama, people with drug problems, people with miserable lives, etc. I guess I don’t feel as inspired to write when things are going well. But it’s enough just to live. I have nothing to prove to anyone. I am content with myself and don’t need others to know that.
     Another observation is that when I was transferring journal and dream journal entries, I realized that before 1997 or 1998, I had a lot more journal (reality) entries than dream journal entries. But somewhere around 1997 or 1998 that shifted. Now I usually remember about a dozen dreams a month, where I only have maybe 4 journal entries a month. There is not much going on in the world around me, or at least I don’t have much interaction with the outer world. But I am in a phase where I am looking inward more. Exploring my own psyche.
     Or did I mention that we saw the Whirling Dervishes a few weeks ago? It was a little boring, but something about their movement is very beautiful like they are emulating subatomic particles. Or did I mention that we saw the King and I and I actually enjoyed it. Especially the play within the play. Or did I mention that I had a couple cavities filled without novacaine to prove that mind is stronger than matter (in actuality I can’t stand needles, especially in the jaw). Or that we saw a great Italian film last night (It’s a Beautiful Life). Or that tonight we are going to see the Arizona ballet do a “Dia de los Muertos” performance? Or that I had an interesting discussion with Fred about the phenomena of the Earth’s poles shifting? Or that I operated on Nandi [our car] and replaced her starter? Or that I have been reading Science mag every week? Or that I voted? There’s just too much interesting stuff to learn about and not enough time to do it. How can people be bored? Even watching Hockey on T.V. is pretty cool. Or surfing the net. Or riding bikes around Tucson. Or clearing weeds with our neighbor Max. Or watching a show on hibernating bears on TV. Or writing in your journal. Or reading old journal entries. . . which this will someday be.

[cristate saquaro]

November 23, 1998 – Tucson
Actually it’s really November 24 as it is past midnight. I am waiting for my final dump, my final 56K digital crap back to New Hampshire. Tomorrow I will ship the computer back and that will be it for my stint with Opus. The extra paychecks will be missed, but it’s time to move on.
     My birthday was yesterday, the big 32. I think time seems to be slowing down. It feels like I should be 34 or something, not because I physically feel that old, but because it seems more time has gone by. The late twenties and 30 and 31 went by pretty quickly. J got me a guitar for my birthday. She actually got it for me a few weeks ago and I have been playing a lot. My fingers are quite used to it. I haven’t touched a guitar since 91 or really more like 90. That seems like a lifetime ago. Like another life. I don’t know why I just abruptly stopped making music. I mean, I know why. I gave up. It wasn’t rewarding enough to just make tapes for myself. It’s almost like what I’m experiencing with writing. In a way making music is a much more fluid and emotional. From the heart. Whereas writing is more visceral, more analytic. I miss playing music in some ways because the results are more obvious. When you stumble upon a cool riff or chord progression it’s a great feeling. I guess writing can be like that but it takes more work, and you have to obsess and think about things rather than just let it effervesce like a spring from within. And having J sing is a bonus. Singing is one of those things that you just have to be born good at. [We don't remember having this guitar or what happened to it and don't remember J singing... little did we know we'd someday (20+ years later) become Sound Furies].
     We saw “Rent” the other night. Pretty good for a musical. Maybe the only musical that I have enjoyed. Weird that the guy died a few weeks before the premiere. Especially considering the foreshadowing of some of the songs. He must have been a junkie or had AIDS. At least he left his mark before he went. Then again, what’s the point? Who cares if people think you’re brilliant if you're dead and can't experience people’s reaction to your work, or see it in the final form. For every person that leaves a brilliant piece of art behind before they die there’s hundreds more great minds that are complacent enough that they don’t have to piss on fire hydrants. They take their works of art to the grave.
     What else has gone since I last wrote? I have had at least 15 dream entries this month. I’m reading Haruki Murakami right now. Good stuff. I can just relate to it in this point in my life. There was supposedly a meteor shower, we drove out to Gates Pass but didn’t see much. Played racquetball with Tim today. Ate at Sakura for my birthday, with Tim and Gwynn, Scott and Liz. Had a grill to ourselves. Liz is in town from Portland, staying at our place. Right now her and J are in Santa Fe visiting Laurel. So I have the house to myself.
     For my birthday I got Chi balls from Tim and Gwynn, I got golf balls from Scott. A nutcracker from J, and of course the classical guitar. Went hiking in Sabino yesterday and found yet another Cristate Saguaro. I should start documenting them. Seems like something else major happened but right now I am too tired to think.

November 30, 1998 – Tucson
I feel like I will explode with creativity. I’ve just been living day to day, paying bills. Waiting for a break in the action, to run with it. But when you stand around waiting for a break in the action, your muscles atrophy and you almost forget what it’s like. Not that I ever knew, haven’t written a word of fiction in months. I broke the record again for the number of dreams recorded, 17. And probably broke the record for the least real-life journal entries, only 3 this month. It maybe the Ginkgo Bilabo, but J told me it thins your blood, or whatever you call it when your blood doesn’t clot sufficiently, so I’ve been easing up on it a bit. I finally have time to start writing as my stint with Opus is officially over today. And finally we have the house to ourselves.
     Kayo and Tommy came the night that Liz left (she was here a week). And Mark Eberbach called out of the blue. We all went to Club Congress and saw “El Vez”, a latino Elvis impersonator, I guess you could call it that, but he only did like one Elvis song. I don’t know what you would label “El Vez” as except as definitely original, clever and entertaining. Mark hasn’t changed much. Same old mark with the yin yang ear stud and talk of some business venture with his dad. He’s going to be here for at least a month before he goes back to the Philipines so I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of him, may even have him ride with us out to California. Not sure Kayo and Tommy enjoyed El Vez, can’t imagine that they understood any of the humor, as it was in Spanglish and usually about Latinos, but good for them as they lead a somewhat sheltered, latino-phobic existence in L.A.
     We left Saturday morning for Phoenix and Kayo and Tommy ended up staying at our house. We went to see R and K. Didn’t really do much except hang out and go shopping on the busiest shopping weekend of the year. Phoenix (Scottsdale, really) is a completely different world than Tucson. It almost felt like being in Vegas. Modern malls, hip restaurants with three hour waits, Hard Rock Café, yuppies in Lexuses, girls with poofy hairspray hair and tight low-riders, Virgin Mega-store, Tiffany’s, Versace suits, just lots of everything and lots of water that comes from who knows where.
     Got some rain yesterday and some cold weather. Up until then it was still in the upper 80's.

December 6, 1998 – Tucson
Wrote my first story in a while . . . . Evaporated Milk is what I think I’ll call it [not sure what this was + there's nothing by this name on our harddrive]. Time is slipping by. Not sure where it’s going. It’s getting cold. Below freezing and snow on the mountains. I went running in Sabino Canyon the other day. Did the phoneline trail loop, about 10 miles in about 1:25. And steep and rugged at times, uneven terrain. I’ve decided I want to run a marathon. But when I went to see if there was one in Tucson, I discovered it was the a few days away (today, actually). Oh well. There’s one in Phoenix in February, I’ll train for that one. If my knees can handle it, I definitely can. I like to think that if Kevin was up there somewhere watching he would be proud. Running in Sabino was definitely a rush. Surrounded by cliffs, the river below, exposure. I want to run a marathon and I want to do the Tour de Tucson next year. J wants to run a ½ marathon.
     Played golf in the rain yesterday with Scott. Shot a 97. Need to play more often to get better.

December 8, 1998 – Tucson
Goal: 9 mi
Accomplished: 9.7 in 1:35 (walked one of the miles)
This will be the first official entry of my marathon log or running journal. J and I are going to run the Desert Classic Marathon (J will run ½ marathon) on Feb. 14, 1999. That gives me less than 10 weeks to train. I found a 12-week training guide. I’m just going to loosely follow that and jump into the deep end (start on 3rd week).
     So today I ran up Tucson to the river, followed the river and came down Mountain. Figures that at the furthest point away from home my right calf cramps up. I stretched and massaged it out, walked a few blocks then tried to run but it started to cramp again. So I walked all the way past Roger (about a mile), and then figured it would take all day to walk home so I just started running. Managed to finish almost 10 miles in 1:35 despite walking a mile and stopping to stretch, etc. I left at 10:00 a.m. and it was a cold morning.
      Here’s my tentative training schedule:

[table of our running schedule which didn't really transfer]
Week of Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun Week Total
Dec. 7-13 9 3 8 4 0 12 (2:00) 36
Dec. 14-20 3 6 6 10 6 4 13 (2:00) 48
Dec. 21-27 5 6 6 10 6 4 15 (2:15) 52
Dec. 28-03 6 8 8 11 8 0 13 (2:00) 54
Jan. 4-10 7 9 9 13 9 2 16 (2:30) 65
Jan 11-17 7 9 9 13 9 5 18 (2:45) 70
Jan 18-24 7 11 9 13 9 7 20 (3:00) 76
Jan 25-31 7 11 7 13 7 3 15 (2:00) 64
Feb. 1-7 7 11 7 13 7 3 12 (1:30) 61
Feb. 8-14 7 9 7 5 3 0 26.2!!! Marathon!!

Mon, Sat – mellow jog
Tues, Wed –sprints mixed with jogging
Thurs – Try to improve times
Sun – More concerned with keeping steady pace, run for time, not distance

December 9, 1998 – Tucson
Goal: 3 mi
Accomplished: 3 mi.
Didn’t set my sights too high as this morning I could barely walk. But I made myself run, a mile to the rec center, a mile around the rubbery track and then worked-out (the usual 5x13 pullups, 5x15 dips, 5x10 curls, 150 crunchies, 40 leg drops, etc.) then ran the mile home. My calf actually feels better. I think I can get back on schedule by tomorrow.
     I have a job interview tomorrow with Bell + Howell. They are into information access and distribution, like mail processing systems, etc. They’re looking for a tech writer. It comes at a time when I’m having a hard time motivating myself to work at home. I’d rather go sit in an office for 8 hours and when I came home I would know I am home and could relax and write, etc. Then again, I’m sure once I was in a 9-5 office setting (assuming this job is like that) I would probably realize how good I had it. I guess the bottom line is that if they pay me more I would take it. It’s a company with an international reputation so it would probably look better on my resume, I’d have job security, health insurance and all that. Okay, maybe I’m getting a little presumptuous here. I did get a lot of writing done working for Opus, now that I think of it. Haven’t done much writing. Don’t know where the time goes, as I am not even putting in a 40 hr. week for Cartwright (he’d probably bug out if I did anyway.)

December 10
Goal: 8 mi.
Accomplished: 8 mi in 55 minutes (7 minute miles!!)

December 11
Goal: 3 mi.
Accomplished: 3 mi. (jogged one, ran one mile at the indoor track at a 6:10 pace and then jogged another)

December 12
Rest day, though I played 18 holes of golf at Enke and shot 101 (tough “island course”). Shot 46 on the back 9 which wasn’t so bad, but botched the front 9.

December 13
Goal: 2 hr..
Accomplished: Ran 13 mi. in 2:03. Went running in Sabino with J. She ran the tram road in preparation for her ½-marathon. I ran the tram road (3.8) miles and then just kept running until my hour was up, which at that point I was at the intersection with the west sabino fork trail, then headed back. According to one sign that was only 2.5 miles from the top of the tram road. But I was at some pools so maybe this was the infamous Hutch’s pool, I don’t know. Or it was just slower going because the trail was steep and rocky and I was concentrating more on not wrenching my ankle or stepping on rattlesnakes. I made it to the first river crossing so if I ever run the same trail I will have an obvious reference point at which I turned around. Now I am sore all over but not in any particular place, which is good. No achey knees or crampy calves. So I am halfway there, I suspect if I ran a flatter course (not to mention the uneven trail)—the altitude gained was well over 1000 feet—I could probably run longer and faster. Pretty confident that I could keep under a 8 minute pace for 26.2 miles. At least by the time February comes around. So my initial goal to shoot for is a marathon in 3½ hrs.
     My job interview with Bell + Howell went well. Met with this guy Ralph Anderson. For a fortune 500 company (or offshoot of) he seemed pretty kickback. I wasn’t too nervous. I guess it’s different when you have nothing to lose, when you already have a job to fall back on. Being a tech writer is also cool in the sense that there is usually only one per company, therefore they can’t really drill you with questions but have to pretty much accept what you say. I could picture myself working there, whereas some interviews you look around and think “god help me, do I want to work in this environment”. When I called Tekwork (the agency that arranged the interview) to tell them how it went they said they already got a call from Ralph Anderson and said there was no need for a secondary interview (which was usual procedure) that they liked me a lot. Ralph told me he would probably make a decision by Monday. Tomorrow. Which leaves me wondering what am I going to do about Steve Cartwright. I don’t want to completely blow him off, but if they make me a better offer, you got to do what you got to do, and Steve’s paying a decent wage but it sucks that he can’t promise his employees full-time work.
     Been working a little more on “Condensed Milk”, whose working title has now changed to “Eating Halos” [no record of these either]. Been reading the “1998 Best American Short Stories” to see what’s what according to the mainstream anyway. Pretty boring stuff for the most part. No risks, no experimentation.

December 14, 1998 – Tucson
Goal: 3 mi
Accomplished: 3 mi.
I shouldn’t have, but I did. My knees were hurting from Sunday’s trail run in Sabino. I wasn’t planning on running, but I started walking around the track, then slowly jogging and that felt better than walking, and soon it felt alright to run so I picked up the pace. But I went home and after a few hours my left knee was killing worse than ever.

December 15
Goal: 6 mi.
Accomplished: 0
Didn’t run, even though my knee feels alright. Better give it another day.
Still no word from Bell + Howell. Getting a little anxious. Once I have my sights set on something else it’s hard to sit down and work on this Cartwright stuff.

December 16, 1998
Goal: 6 mi.
Accomplished: 10 mi.
Knee was feeling better so I figured I would try to make up for lost mileage. Ran the first 9 miles in 1:14, taking into account that I waited at intersections for around five minutes, that’s under 8 minute miles (around 7:45/mi.) I must have been mistaken last time I ran the same route (when I said I was running 7 minute miles). Stopped at the rec center and worked out, 65 pullups, 75 dips, 40 bench press, 30 curls, 150 crunchies, 30 rowing, 30 ab curl machine, etc. Slowly jogged the last mile home. Legs hurt a little bit, but not too bad.
     Got home and called Tekwork— I am starting work tomorrow for Bell + Howell and evidently they are going to pay me $25/hr!!! I can’t believe it! Finally a break, now I just have to figure out what to do about Cartwright, but at this rate I could just blow him off. I’ll have more details tomorrow.
     Clinton bombed Iraq a few hours ago. Coincidence that his impeachment vote is tomorrow??? It’s very embarrassing to live in this country. I have this impending feeling that it will come back to bite us in the ass.

December 17, 1998
Goal: 10 mi.
Accomplished: 9.6 mi.
Ran west in a light drizzle, out St. Mary’s under the freeway, along the Santa Cruz river, up to Grant and then back down to Speedway, to railroad tracks, to 4th st, to the Rec center, 8.3 miles in 1:06, that’s barely under a eight minute pace, I’ve got to pick it up. Worked out than ran a mile home.
     Started work at Bell + Howell, I’m actually only making $23/hr but still, that’s a big boost. Told Cartwright that I quit, that I wanted to wrap up what I was doing for him. It was hard to do that, but he kind of expected it and knew it partially his fault for not hiring full time employees with benefits, etc.

December 18, 1998
Goal: 6 mi.
Accomplished: 5.5 mi.
I ran down to Reid park which is convenient because it is a one mile by ½ mile block with a path around it. I sprinted one mile in 6:06. I meant to run earlier but the car broke down (the power steering belt just popped off while I was going around a corner), so by the time I ran it was dark. I jogged for another ½ mile then wanted to break the 6-minute barrier. I was running along Country Club in the dark, booking it. I saw a branch so I hopped down off the curb to get around, when my leg disappeared into a storm drain. I thought I was going to fall in. It hurt like hell, all this gravel embedded in my shin and ankle on both legs. I limped for a quarter of a mile before I just sucked it up and ran the rest the way home. Scraped the gravel out and poured alcohol all over it, followed by neosporin.
     We’re going to California tomorrow, a real vacation! Mark came by tonight, we went to Bob Dobb’s and then out to eat at La Fuente. Then Scott and Kayo and Gwen came over and we exchanged gifts and all that. That’s about all for now, it’s late and I need to sleep . . . long drive tomorrow.

Dec. 20, 1998 -- Monterrey, CA.
Left Tucson on Saturday morning. Stopped at K's place in N. Phoenix to get R's golf clubs, presents, etc. that they didn't want to carry on the plane. Continued onward across the desert. Incredibly windy in Palm Springs. Hit a traffic jam in L.A. -- the 101 was completely closed because of some accident. Huge clusterfuck of cars, complete standstill for at least an hour. Continued on, stopped in Santa Barbara to eat Thai food and walk around downtown. Continued on to Buellton (Split Pea Soup town) where we sacked up in some dive.
Projected goal: 2 hours (15 mi.0
accomplished: 40 minutes (5+ miles)
     Woke up the next morning and ate breakfast in Morro bay, then drove the spectacular Big Sur coastline. Nothing is as big and overpowering and majestic as the California coastline. Especially when you are way up and you can see way out onto the horizon. Even more exciting as J had never seen it. The weather sucked though. It was driving rain at times and very windy and cold. Actually, at a few points today white stuff was falling from the sky thought it wasn't sticking. There was snow barely above us in the hills. We stopped many times just to gaze at the splendor. Stopped in Big Sur for the Henry Miller memorial library. Stopped in Carmel for lunch and to poke around.
     We drove in the 17-mile drive. I think that was the first time I have been back. Can't believe I went to school for a year in that environment. So decadent, so filthy rich. I hardly recognized the school itself. So much new building going on. Couldn't find my dorm, though I found Kevin's. We drove along 17-mile drive and saw sea otters and big storm driven waves, etc. Ended up in Pacific Beach where we are staying at the Lover's Point Inn. Right on the cove where I first learned to dive (Lover's Cove). So beautiful here, so much of it taken for granted. Lots of stuff I almost had forgotten about, surfacing. Went running even though it was freezing. Pretty much had given up on my long run day of 2+ hours. Still, ran for 40 minutes (5+ miles) even though the wind was unbearable.

Dec. 21, 1998 – Menlo Park.
Projected goal: 5 mi.
accomplished: 15 mi.
Had a nice dinner next door to our hotel in Monterrey at the Tinnery. Slept in our freezing hotel room with a view of the ocean. Woke up early and ran along the ocean of Pacific Beach, all the way into 17 mi drive (to Bird Rock where all the seals are). Probably about 15 miles, but then again, I was trudging so it could have been less. It was a nostalgic run, and beautiful, even though it was cold and windy as hell.
     We went to the Monterrey bay aquarium after that. Still the best aquarium ever. They had a new section which had some great jellyfish. Continued on, stopped briefly in Santa Cruz. Just showed J around mostly. Drove over 17 and we had time to kill so I showed J Mountain View High School [where we graduated from]. Weird. Showed her where I used to park, where I got a D in physics, etc. Then drove by the old condo in Mtn. View and then the Cowper street house in Palo Alto.
     Same old stuff going on that old house. Aunt Mary was there so we stayed in the middle room. D came by and we went out to Afghan food with Eric and his new girlfriend Michelle, who was kind of a snob, but seem well suited to Eric. When we got back to the house Arthur and Andrea were there, but Kimi never showed. Just hung out mostly by the fire and talked. And that’s really about all I could stomach. Sickening to think how much money all the Avary’s have (and mom?) and how they don’t work for any of it. Granini has got a stupid ass basket in her living room appraised at $35,000 and a lamp worth even more than that. And the house. I tried to ask mom where she gets her money from and she insists its from her $12/hr. job. Yah right. Trips all the time to Mexico and Argentina, all the drugs, new cars, etc. . . . I just hope she dies with something left for me wherever she gets her money from. But whatever, let them have their jellybeans.

Dec. 22 |
Projected goal: 6 mi.
accomlished: 5 mi.
Woke up and ran in the Stanford Hills in memory of Kevin. Still freezing, literally. The day before, J said we’d be staying another day in Menlo Park, I don’t why, but I had to set the record straight. Said we were leaving because [D] wouldn’t come down to Menlo Park. Went to Santa Rosa (stopping to show J Sausalito). Pretended to have fun with [A] and exchanged gifts and then went to Sushi. I know it means a lot to D that I see A and that’s really the only reason I even go through the motions. But still can’t stand Leslie. Not a life I am envious of. It’s just not enjoyable hanging out there.
     Continued on to Mendocino driving up on 128 (still snow on the roads). Had Pizza and wine at the Mendocino Hotel. Hung out with R and M, G and R were also there.

Dec. 23, 1998 – Mendocino.
Projected goal: 6 mi.
accomlished: 10 mi.
Slept on the hide-a-bed. Woke up and ran up Little Lake rd. until it turned into a dirt road and then turned back. Went down to the shop and hung out and walked around downtown. Mendocino is such a cool place. I could almost see living there. S and S showed up in their Land Rover from driving all the way from Seattle. Same as ever. J and I went down to the beach. R and K showed up a little after that. One big happy family. So much more enjoyable hanging out with them than my family. We had a big spaghetti dinner and just hung out playing games.

Dec. 24
Projected goal: 10 mi.
accomplished: 6 mi.
Ran down Little Lake road and then all the way around the Mendocino headlands. Absolutely beautiful run. Rugged coastline, arches and caves and kelp forests and seals and sea otters. The trail hugged the top of the cliffs. Then back up the steep hill to the house. This was the guys day to go play golf. R, S, R, R and I piled in the car to go. Reminiscent of the movie I saw recently, “Very Bad Things”. The course was still frozen so we were asked to come back. We were at a loss of what to do, but eventually got espresso drinks and then played pool. What a motley crue were we.
     Eventually played golf. Played terribly, think I got a 56 on the first 9 and then something like 47 on the back 9. But R and I still beat R and S. R is pretty good, but S pretty much sucked worse than me. Finished just at sunset. It was a beautiful course, though the greens were like tundra.
     Had Xmas dinner. R started to say a toast and got choked up. R and M work so hard that when they get something as simple as their family together it means so much to them. But they are so stubborn. Before we left, M accepted J’s offer to get a student loan for them which shows they must be desperate for money. But J didn’t qualify for it. We offered, almost insisted to just give them $1000 but they refused to accept it. R was getting at 4 a.m. to work another job before going to the shop. M was considering interviews all the way in Ukiah doing admin assistant jobs for a measly $9/hr. They are genuinely great people and I love them as if they were my parents.
     The family dynamics were a little weird. S and S pretty much dominate conversation and have some sort of inferiority complex driven by who knows what, but it’s almost like they have something to prove. I guess the one thing a college education will do is give you confidence so you don’t have a complex. R’s quiet so he doesn’t get a word in edgewise. But he is just very agreeable, as is K. G and R are as weird as ever. While you have to respect R’s patience in dedicating his life to taking care of his ailing mother, you must ask why?

Dec. 25, 1998 – Mendocino.
Projected goal: 6 mi.
accomplished: 11 mi.
Woke up Christmas morning and went running while everyone else (except J) went to Church. Ran to Van Damme St. Park hoping to be able to see the infamous pygmy forest that Eric was telling me about, but my run was getting longer than I reckoned for (though I did make it a way up “Fern Canyon” before I turned back.)
     Opened up presents. Got a cool satchel from R and M. Got a book on the greatest movies and $30 in video credits from Blockbuster from R and K and other misc stuff. R, K, R, J and I went to Russian Gulch State Park after that to go for a walk. Went down to the ocean and climbed around and played. Explored a little ways up into the woods. Can’t wait to come back in the spring or summer.
     Oh yeah, finally got to see the infamous tradition of the Turkey dance. Before the Turkey went into the oven, M dressed him up as Rocky Balboa and we all sang the Rocky Theme while she flexed his muscles and made him box. It was classic. We ate Rocky later. Watched the Grinch who stole Xmas and other typical Xmas day activities.

Dec. 26 – Blythe, CA
Projected goal: 4 mi.
accomplished: 0 mi.
Started the drive back. It was hard leaving. R and M got choked up when we left. No sight-seeing on the way back. The only objective was to get back. We raced on. J took over at the Grapevine and got us through L.A. traffic sucked and we saw a terrible accident outside of Palm Springs. Decided to stay in Blythe only because I wonder if it rhymes with writhe or life?

Dec. 27, 1998 – Tucson
Projected goal: 2:15
accomplished: 16 mi. (in 2:08)
We woke up in Blythe and pressed on to Phoenix. Stopped at R’s to drop off their stuff and hung out with R and K for a while. Stopped to see the ostriches on the way back to Tucson. They are so weird. We fed them out of our hands and J got to stand on an egg to show that it wouldn’t break. Living dinosaurs.
     J dropped me off at the Cortaro road exit off the freeway. I wanted to run along the river but I ran into a dead end. I stretched and reset my watch then ran down Silverbell. It was hot and hard running. I did 15 miles in exactly 2 hours which I am not too happy with as it is a 8 minute pace and I would like to get down to 7:30 pace. Legs were a little sore all over. Only had two bagels for lunch (and no breakfast) which was not good. Have to be more conscience of my diet.

Dec. 28 – Tucson
Goal: 6 mi.
accomplished: 5.7 mi.
Went into Bell + Howell today for really my first real day at work, sitting at my own desk, with my own computer and all that. Just went through this old manual for the “Operator Console” and got the operator console installed on my computer so I could play around on an emulated system so I could check the manual. I split a little early as I wanted to get some work done for Cartwright but Nandi was acting up so I had to take her in. Came home and went shopping and then went running in the dark. I’ve got my route figured out, it’s pretty much lit all the way around Reid Park, and it’s exactly three miles around (and almost 1.4 miles or so to get there), so I can easily patch together routes of varying distance, and can time myself on mile segments to boost my pace. Ran almost 6 miles in 45 minutes. 1998 is coming to a close.

Dec. 29 – Tucson      
Goal: 8 mi.
accomplished: 8 mi. (in 59:45)
Dropped off the car at the dealership on Speedway and Columbus. Ran up Columbus all the way to the river. There wasn’t really a trail and I had to cross the sandy wash back and forth and climb rails, until I got down to Dodge. Took Dodge to Glenn and Glenn to Tucson, Tucson home. All in all, over 8 miles in exactly an hour (59 minutes). When you take into account, time spent waiting at lights and crossing rivers, pretty damn close to 7 minutes miles, at worst 7.5 minute miles. Legs a little sore, but not bad. Wounds from falling in the storm drain almost healed.

Dec. 29 – Tucson
Goal: 8 mi.
accomplished: 7.7 mi.
Did 1-mile sprints, with jogging in between. Did 3 of them, with times of 5:46, 6:02 and 5:59.
     Picked up the Trooper, besides having the vacuum lines all crisscrossed, they did a compression check and said the 3 and 4 cylinders were dead (30 psi). Whatever. Not about to pay to go through that all over. It runs. Also took Mom’s wedding ring around to get estimates but nobody will give me more than $250 (though it was roughly appraised at $1000).

Dec. 31, 1998 – Tucson
Goal: 11 mi.
accomplished: 11.7 mi. (in 1:23)
Getting faster! Was keeping a 7-minute pace most of the way. I know had a 7-minute pace going after about 5 miles. But then I had a “second wind” and I thought I was running fast, but then was surprised at how much my pace had slipped (down to about 7:30 pace). I think the mythical “second wind” or “runners high” is a psychological trick your mind plays to make you think that you are invigorated and running faster than ever, when really you are slowing down. My legs ache a little and my second toe on my left foot is killing (it’s blue underneath the nail). Anyways, I managed to pull off the 11.7 miles in 83 minutes. That’s about a 7:08 minute pace! For almost ½ a marathon. If I could keep up a 7-minute pace for a full marathon I would be pretty happy with myself. If I could break the 3-hour barrier on my first marathon I would be pleased. That’s not an unrealistic goal. This is my first goal or resolution for 1999.
     My next goal is get out of debt by the end of the year, which shouldn’t be hard to do as long as I keep my new job. $11K+ of debt to pay off, that’s about $1000 a month, it can be done. It will be done. And maybe a little extra so by this time next year we can go on a nice little vacation. I’ll save my resolutions for the first entry of 1999. The last entry of 1998 is when you are supposed to look back and reflect. This time last year we were in Portsmouth. Just back from Christmas in NYC. In the cold, watching the tugboats, working at Opus. It seems like a long time ago. Trips to Maine and Vermont, another trip to New York – my first official publication, I guess, not much to speak of -- skiing a on ice – lots of lovemaking in our loft – waking up to the seagulls over our heads – many weekends spent indoors watching the rain or snow, at least I got some writing done, though still not enough – the trip to Monterrey, Mexico, probably the most hell forsaken place I have ever been – managed to tolerate my first office job, learned a lot about programming – our trip to Acadia – climbing in the white mountains – long, cold runs along the water out to Newcastle – playing basketball at the Portsmouth Athletic Club – long lunch hours – day trips to Boston – seeing the concerts in Portland – nothing really too traumatic to speak off besides firemen busting down our door and annoying neighbors – and then our journey back West – via Niagara Falls, New York State, Iowa all those kind of places, Kansas, Oklahoma, the Pan Handle and increasingly more familiar territory into the Southwest – and how once we were back in Tucson it was like we had never had left – staying at Hotel Congress while we looked for places and dealt with people like Lester the molester – Hot summer in Tucson, the World Cup – working at home, not having my computer – afternoon naps – going out to La Quinta – putting in the Palm Spring airport while waiting for my plane – playing golf with Scott – not really having too much of a desire to climb – doing Slippery When Wet and burning the hell out of my back – climbing up top with Bruce and thinking how utterly stupid it was – Bruce, whatever happened to Bruce? Not that I really care – new people in our lives – J’s lab mates – our new neighbors – making risotto – quitting my job with Opus – helping R and M move – actually, I’ve driven the length of California 3 times in the last 4 months – our trip to Mexico (Rocky Point) when it was hot as hell – Another trip out to California in July to see A et al – working for Steve Cartwright – lots of trips out to San Manuel – hanging in the refinery, the closest thing to hell on earth – speaking of all this driving, I took poor Nandi in, they fixed her vacuum line problem, but evidently compression on 3 and 4 cylinders is around 30 p.s.i. so really she is running on 2 cylinders – working out at the Rec Center – and of course training for this marathon – our recent trip out to California – Big Sur – Monterrey – traffic jams in L.A. – Mendocino – but that is all in recent history. What is there really to say about 1998? Maybe it was the year when I realized I should just quit trying to be somewhere else and just kick back and watch the world revolve around me. And what better place to do it then in Tucson with the big sky. I’m reading Henry Millers Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch or whatever you call it and that is his theme. He settled there after all his travelling in Europe and decided to stay put and watch the world go around. “Why drag one’s carcass around?” This really goes against everything that I’ve believed previously, how our bodies evolved to carry our eyes around, which existed previously.

[... Jan–Mar 1999]

888 <(current)> 890> Meowing a dead links course to the Gowanus canal
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