Monday, December 31, 2007
The wind before the wire rolls
in a high cicada hiss,
Graceful lines bore through night,
with a murderous look.
Into the coffin went the truth
and threw out the corpse.
Many widowed are still many—
no alternative but helpless.
The law rewards the last resort.
A million visions
drifting away thousands of miles
to focal paranoia.
Debt into sand.
The kingpins of tin-poisoned arrogance
anxiously worship the game.
seek maps for the right disaster.
Profit exists in chaos—
in waste after overthrow.
Soldiers given crowns without swords,
warfare without battle,
bare, carbon nobility.
Left as hanging meat for the desert.
Pain is its own end
when compassionate rape is law.
But to the river a voice, into a dragon.
Chaos spent for sake of change.
To opened minds the echo,
to human, to frail sanity.
To hear is to know the whole.
To choose, the road.
not as things, not as postmortem,
not to more power,
not even to see,
but to put on the sound of hope
and dance the dawn.
Monday, December 24, 2007
a.) I've been facing a crisis of conscience regarding, what I see as, the rampant, unabashed consumerism that has engulfed the holiday and my own participation/revulsion in/at it.
b.) I've been facing the prospect of spending Christmas day alone.
First, the consumerism is unsustainable--it may not happen this year, next year, or even 10 years from now, but one of these days, in the not-too-distant-future, we will have successfully shopped ourselves out of a planet to live on. OK, I realize this isn't the jolliest of thoughts to be having on x-mas eve. In fact, I'm totally conflicted about it, and, therein, lies the problem. I'm not some Thoreuvian minimalist living in a cabin on a pond. I'm very capable of brief (and monumental) moments of economic insanity. And this, I guess, is my problem with Christmas--the obligation of it;the lack of spontaneity. Historically, what I want for myself, I purchase for myself. What I want from others and, hopefully, what I give to the people I care about, is love. Gifts are nice, don't get me wrong--it just seems so manufactured this time of year--so coerced. I was really going to protest the gift-giving thing this year and actually did with my biological family, as we (mutually) agreed not to exchange gifts (whew, fat man in a speeding sleigh dodged!) but then there's my other family--the friends I've chosen to share a household and a life with. Maybe I thought by taking a cross-country drive I could somehow avoid Christmas this year--my guilty feelings about being conflicted about it, the crowds at the stores, and, because I'm a bit challenged by it, wrapping presents. I came back from my trip, however, and damned if Christmas wasn't still happening--and there, under the tree, were gifts with my name on them. I talked to them about my feelings. I even pleaded my case but, in the end, I felt like Scrooge. I sucked it up and went out and tried to find gifts for them I know they will appreciate and use and, in that, it made me think about who they are and what they mean to me and, you know what? I realized that's really what this time (well, actually all times) should be about anyway--gratitude.
Second, the past few days (until today) I've been in a funk. Some of it, undoubtedly, was the above mentioned angst regarding the consumerism aspect of the holidays, but most of it, I think, was the fact that, for the first time in recent memory, I faced being totally alone on Christmas. I haven't talked to Nikki about her plans for the day (although we had a lovely evening watching "Elf" last night). I think it would feel strange to celebrate together (as we had for the past decade +) since we're now living apart. Cindy and Pete are off visiting family and, here I am, all alone (except for my dog, Poe). Even though I felt very little control over it, a part of me seemed to relish the "poor me" aspect--it seems so cliché; "alone at Christmas." How Dickensian of me--please, mister, all I need is a crutch. Well, today, my gratitude met my reality--that I have a number of options on Christmas to spend time with family and friends--should I choose them. Since I've ended my little pity-party (table for one), I've decided to embrace the day. Sleep in or have breakfast at my cousin's house? My choice. As is the choice to have Christmas dinner with my beautiful friends, Annie and Jeff, at Annie's mom's house (I think I'll take them up on it, however,--not to assuage any feelings of loneliness, but to have a great time with some of the most wonderful people I know). Tomorrow night I may call another friend, who is also facing being alone on x-mas (although she's not nearly as angsty as I was about the prospect), and see if she wants to hang out, drink some wine, and watch a movie. Alone and lonely are not the same thing--hopefully the past few days have taught me the difference. And now, oddly (and finally), I can't wait to celebrate a belated Christmas with Nikki, Cindy, and Pete (after they return from their trip)--not so much to open gifts, but to tell them how important they are to me.
Too schmaltzy? TOUGH! Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, New Year, oh, screw it, HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Peace on earth, yada, yada...and, for Christ's sake, go tell someone you love them--do it right now, before you forget...
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
of ice-cold Gatorade in the Mojave Desert than affordable gasoline in
Southern California. The way Sedona's poor little Mercury Tracer is
sucking up the fuel pulling the U-Haul trailer, I may have to start
selling my body to Japanese businessmen just to get home. Now, I know
what you're thinking--"Start?"
We decided to have one last hurrah before heading home, so we took a
little detour into San Francisco and, like everything else in
California so far, it cost us dearly. Toll into the city pulling a
trailer: $6. Parking for the car and trailer at parking meters for an
hour and a half: $8. Trying to find two adjacent parking spaces we
could pull the car and trailer straight into in downtown SF:
priceless. Obviously we didn't glean anything from our experience in
Nashville, where we learned (and as U-Haul Inc probably notes in their
rental agreement), you can't get the trailer into a parking garage--it
has something to do with violating the laws of physics. Actually,
considering the chutzpah it took to even attempt such a foolhardy
feat, we did pretty well finding said parking--except we were outside
of our desired goal of Chinatown with no time to get there via public
transit. Playing the hand we were dealt, we wandered around until we
found a promising Chinese Restaurant, called, oddly enough, Canton
Restaurant. Despite the fact that the place was enormous, the
proprietor sat us next to the only other people in the restaurant--a
college-aged girl, her boyfriend, and her very Russian parents who, by
the sound of their accents, were fresh from the motherland. As we sat
and discussed Sedona's just-ended relationship, we stopped to listen
as the Russian mother listed the things that were most important in a
relationship to her daughter. "Love," she said in halting English,
"love is the most important thing." Sedona and I smiled--I think
she's going to be OK. Our meal was quite good and, breaking our
streak rather than the bank, was quite reasonably priced. As we were
leaving, our waitress, a middle-aged Chinese woman wearing a red Santa
hat said, "Happy Holidays." "Happy Holidays to you too," I said
Next up: Homeward Bound.
into California. In restrospect, Vegas would have been the cheaper
option. Our first experience in California after crossing over from
Arizona was at the agricultural inspection station. If Tennesee is
wary of people saying "happy holidays," California is downright
paranoid about out-of-state flies. My recollection of the reason for
this is, some 30 or so years ago, there was an epidemic of alien
fruitflies that devastated California's crops. A law was passed
mandating these stations at all of the major border crossings and,
even though they've long outlived their usefulness, they're still
here--annoying and delaying all visitors to the state. OK, my
experience at these stops has been, when they ask you if you have any
fruits or vegetables, you say, "no" and they wave you through--advice
I gave Sedona (who was driving at the time), despite the fact we had a
cooler full of Georgian apples, pears, and one precious sharon fruit.
Well, as luck would have it, much like my "special security screening"
way back at the Medford airport, we were in for a vehicular strip
search. The woman working the station had Sedona pop the trunk and
open the u-haul and began going through the accumulated leaves on the
lip of the trunk with a pair of tweezers. When she was satisfied that
there weren't any nefarious insects lurking there, she popped the
question, "do you have any fruits or vegetables?" Sedona, apparently
rattled by the invasion of privacy, cracked faster than the spine of
an Arizona triceratops and blurted out, "we have a couple of apples."
I have to give her credit though, she sacrificed our apples but held
on to the rest of our produce. After the apples were confiscated and
we were back on the road, we laughed about the experience and
celebrated the martyrdom of those brave apples by eating pears and
tossing the cores out the window. We weren't laughing when we got to
Needles, CA however. Gas in Needles was upwards of $3.90/ gallon--
and I'm not kidding. Still blessed with a half a tank of gas, we
decided to gamble on finding cheaper gas at a truck stop on the way to
Barstow--we lost. Our last chance for gas ended up being at an out-of-
the-way place run by a surly ex-biker, where regular unleaded cost
$4.70/ gallon--let me repeat that--$4.70! We spent the night in
Barstow and were happy, as we drove out the next morning, to pay only $3.66.
Our experience in California so far has inspired me to come up with state mottos for all
of the states we've passed through on our journey (based, of course, on my very narrow interstate highway perspective). Here we go:
Georgia: Three Cops for Every Traffic Stop
Tennessee: Cold Beer, Fireworks, and Diesel.
Arkansas: God Loves Us Most
Oklahoma: What Happens in Oklahoma, Isn't Really Worth Mentioning.
Texas: Home of the Biggest Roadkill.
New Mexico: Whew! New Mexico.
Arizona: More T. Rex's Per Capita Than Any Other State - 40% Off.
and, of course,
California: The Fuck You State
More to come...
Monday, December 17, 2007
about billboards and roadkill? Well, not in Arizona, that's for sure.
Arizona boasts some of the most, let's say, creative advertising to
get travelers to stop and purchase authentic Indian jewelry 40% off.
I drove through this strip of Americana with my family back when I was
10 and, since then, the billboards don't seem to have been so much
upgraded as just embellished. Dinosaurs are a big theme east of
Flagstaff because, I guess, the Petrified Forest is here and petrified
kind of rhymes with fossilized, and, well, DINOSAURS! It starts with
childlike paintings of prehistoric reptiles mingling with the
childlike (and kind of unfortunate) drawings of Native Americans,
morphs into large, rudimentary replicas of dinosaurs that resemble
Barney's distant cousins, before culminating in enormous, realistic
statues of the ancient beasts--and here is my problem...the
triceratops is always on the ground being shredded like a Texas
roadside deer, not by a passing automobile, but by a frighteningly
authentic looking Tyrannosaurus Rex. Arizonans clearly have no regard
for the loss of their plaster Triceratops population to what seems to
me to be a veritable plague of toothy Rex's. Now, for me, the violent
death and dismemberment of a fake dinosaur won't get me to purchase
authentic Indian jewelry 40% off--but, of course, that's just me...
Aside from the overly obnoxious 70s era kitschy billboards, Arizona,
like its neighbor New Mexico, is incredibly beautiful. The sunset
tonight reminded me of melting into someone's eyes. California here
heartland--and not just because the landscape becomes almost
immediately more interesting; it, literally, smells better because of
a conspicuous lack of roadkill. I can only think of a couple of
reasons for this. Either, a.) the animals in Oklahoma, Texas, et al,
are throwing themselves under the wheels of speeding cars on purpose
(and, let's be honest, who can blame them) or, b.) New Mexico has some
crack agency like a department of roadkill cleanup that swoops in and
removes offending smears before the tourists spot them. There are, on
the other hand, an inordinate amount of roadside memorials dedicated
to people who've died on the interstate. Fewer dead animals yet more
dead humans--hmmm...I'm not suggesting Wile E. Coyote is behind it,
just that it's a possibility.
We pulled into Albuquerque early enough to get some r & r in; which,
thanks to some insider information from Cindy (thanks Cindy!), we did
at a place called The Flying Star Cafe in the Nob Hill area. You may
remember me mentioning our great breakfast at The Flying Biscuit in
Atlanta, well I've decided from now on I'm only eating at restaurants
with "flying" in the name (tough luck Taco Bell--I'll be back when you
change your name to Flying Taco Bell). The place was awesome--a super-
cool atmosphere packed with velour-backed booths, swell southwestern
pastel colors, and a variety of hipsters in horn-rimmed glasses and
college students banging away on their MacBooks. After our roadside
religious indoctrination in Arkansas, this place really was heaven.
We liked it so much we went again for breakfast. Albuquerque is one
of those places I visit and think, "I could live here" (until I
stepped outside and realized it was around 4 degrees Fahrenheit in the
sun). It's a beautiful city in the middle of a beautiful state; one
boasting grand arroyos, spectacular mesas, and those big rocks
balancing on the skinny rocks that the Roadrunner taunts Wile E.
Coyote from (betcha didn't think I could sneak Wile E. Coyote in twice
in one post, did ya?). We just crossed the border into Arizona...more
to come from the Grand Canyon State...
Sunday, December 16, 2007
*Actually the rest area, enormous as it was, was pretty cool and had some interesting information about wind power, canyons, and buffalo lineage. See, I can give credit where credit is due!
the churches are bigger than the Home Depot) we drove through eastern
Oklahoma in the dark--not realizing we were seeing the exact same
landscape we would have seen during the day. Oklahoma is a vast
landscape of flat emptiness, devoid of anything interesting save the
shredded plastic grocery bags lining the countless miles of barbed
wire fences. We did, however, have a stroke of luck with a motel in
Oklahoma City. It turns out that, since the ice storms last week,
many of the residents are living in motels. On our third attempt to
find a room we struck gold at a Holiday Inn Express--they gave us
their last room; one with 2 queen beds at a deep discount and the
cutie at the front desk even helped us to locate a parking space for
the trailer. We got a good night's sleep, worked out in the fitness
center, ate a decent continental breakfast, and struck out into the
void...did I mention there is nothing to see in Oklahoma? Even the
cows didn't seem satisfied chewing their cud. We couldn't even find
adventure when we went looking for it. Both Route 66 museums we
stopped at in western OK were closed. This state would be a good
place for a nap. Next up is Texas...
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Use a rod on your children and save their lives: Jesus Saves.
Make up your mind; Is it the rod or is it Jesus? That particular billboard made me a little nervous so it wasn't until we drove past another billboard advertising X - Adult Superstore that I was able to relax. Arkansasans can hold two opposing views in their minds after all--whew, what a relief! Since we pretty much just drove, I don't have much else to report except I noticed a difference in the roadkill between Tennessee and Arkansas. Tennessee seemed to have a lot more large animals splayed down the fog strip--coyotes, deer and such, and, strangely, large birds. Arkansas, however, seemed to have predominately smaller varmints' guts littering the shoulder. I'm not sure what this means yet, but I'm tired so I think I'll sleep on it. Next--Oklahoma is just OK...
the giant billboards featuring a character called Big Daddy. Big
Daddy is a big, fat cartoon with a creepy, clownlike grin dressed
either in camo hunting attire (think Deliverance) or like a pimp. On
one billboard, the hunting one, there are two Big Daddys--the
original, holding a shotgun, and his identical eviller twin, armed
with a hunting bow. They are facing each other like some kind of
surreal dualists advertising--you guessed it--Big Daddy's Sporting
Goods. But Big Daddy doesn't stop with selling normal items designed
to kill and maim--no, the other Big Daddy--the pimp one--is pushing
fireworks. This is, apparently, a lucrative business on the Tennessee
border because there are two of these enormous fireworks shops in
relatively close proximity to each other. The great thing about these
places is, in addition to feeding your need to make things explode,
you can also get cold beer and diesel. I'll let you draw your own
conclusions about the prudence of selling all of these items under one
roof. Even, more interesting (and telling) about Tenneseean values
than Big Daddy was the fact that the woman working at the welcome
center insisted on saying, "Merry Christmas" rather than "Happy
Holidays" and insisted on pointing this out to us because, I guess with
our piercings, we looked like Godless heathens to her and, you know,
"Christmas is about Jesus." As she wished us a Merry Christmas on our
way out the door, I had to refrain from throwing a "Happy Holidays"
back at her. I decided to leave her with her fantasies--both the one
about virgin births and the other one (Bill O'Reilly's) where us
liberal elites are out to steal Christmas from good, God-fearing
Christians, and just smiled and said, "you too."
We arrived in Nashville just after dark and booked a room at the Red Roof Inn.
Then, thanks to my great friend Kaycee (YO KAYCEE!), we were able to find Nashville's happening nightlife (well, about as happening as it can be at 7:30). After some drama trying to park the car-pulling-the-trailer downtown, we wandered the strip until some music sucked us into a place called Legend's Corner. The band was on fire; playing everything from Merle Haggard to Eddie Rabbit to Dwight Yokum (hey, when in Rome...). The beer, however, was way too spendy and there wasn't much on the menu for a Godless vegetarian, so we headed out for alternatives. The only menu we could find that met my requirements was at, of all places, Coyote Ugly. As we ate I expressed my surprise at Sedona's apparent ease in the surroundings. She assured me she wasn't into what I called "deviant fun," just "normal fun." A few minutes later she was dancing on the bar. Thank goodness we didn't do anything crazy. Nashville was great! Check back--more to come...and, oh yeah, Happy Hanukkah!
(especially considering its geographical location), with more Mini
Coopers per capita than, say, Ashland. Sedona took me to, quite
possibly, the best breakfast ever at a place called the Flying Biscuit
and then to the Dekalb Farmer's Market. The place is HUGE--so massive
in fact, I whipped out my iPhone to snap a photo and was instantly
approached by a guy who identified himself as a cop (but who was
undoubtedly security) and started asking me all kinds of questions
like, for instance, "why are you taking photos in here?" Actually,
now that I think about it, that was pretty much the only question he
asked. I explained I was helping my friend to drive back to Oregon and
I'd never seen anything like this place and he explained that taking
photos in there violated some kind of proprietary law yada, yada, and
that, under Georgia law I could be arrested--he he. Before he could
cuff me, however, we started talking about fishing and snowboarding,
and he told me he'd worked there for 8 years and how the place was
120,000 sq feet and, if I wanted, there were brochures up front. And
then we had a good handshake. I still have that brochure too. Bob
from the Dekalb Farmer's Market, if you're reading this, I'll never
forget your warm smile, firm handshake, and friendly threat of arrest...
Next up: cold beer, fireworks, diesel, and Big Daddy and the War on
Christmas. Welcome to Tennessee!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Today we're going to hang out in Atlanta for a bit before setting off for Nashville. More to come as it happens...
Thursday, December 13, 2007
there, nothing more. As my friend Nathan says, "an airplane is a big
flying bus." I've never understood those who choose the window seat,
who "ooh and aah" at the clouds, or who compare vehicles on the ground
to insects; "Look Henry, those cars look like ants!" said with such
sticky sweet glee I have to refrain from throwing my empty 1/2" square
peanut wrapper in the direction of the offending voice. No, I prefer the aisle--no amount of enthusiastic offers of Sprite can shake me
from my mission; which is, simply, catch my flight, sit with easy
access to both the lavatory and my carry-on, and get off as soon as
the cheery, robotic voice of the flight attendant announces that it's
safe for me to do so--easy. I'm what you might call "a destination
guy." Today, however, crammed against the window due to circumstances
beyond my control; when the pilot announced the Golden Gate Bridge
would be coming up on the left, I decided to cock my head and look out
the window. The sun was just rising on the horizon, Venus still
brightly shining in the dawn sky--it was, I must admit, GORGEOUS.
This, I've decided is a good lesson for me--especially at the
beginning of a cross-country drive--to pay attention to the journey; I
may just see something spectacular.
called "Special Security Screening"--that, said the security agent,
"is what those 3 S's on your boarding pass mean"--and then she said
something about buying a last minute ticket almost guarantees it. SSS
(which sounds very third reichish) consists of being felt up gently by
an older gentleman with a grey mustache and having my belongings, so
carefully packed, dumped out and rifled through haphazardly and then
left for me to repack when I have been deemed sufficiently harmless...
Well, time to board for SF. More to come...