30 April 2012 § Leave a comment
Jason and Kim just drove off for their honeymoon.
Well, they have to buy dog food first, and then drop off Chompy the decidedly unvicious Chihuahua, and Madame Mauser, the coolest cat since Macavity (and perhaps más suave), but then they’ll be off for Honeymoon, Part I.
The wedding was a masterpiece; planned entirely by the bride, with the help of her parents and friends (I don’t know where credit is due, so if you deserve it, take it), it went off with only the minor inconvenience of rain. The Lauderdale air show was canceled due to this lovely bit of cold wind and skywater, but miles west, her wedding commenced in a manicured jungle tiki hut.
Months ago she volunteered me to the position of Usher, which traditionally means I’m to lead beautiful women to their seats. That day, however, it meant I carried the chairs to the women, for the rain was come, and dresses cannot ruined by pesky weather.
I admit my twinge of disappointment for not being chosen as a groomsman. The honor went to Jason’s closest, who are around far more often to support him than I. It was the right decision, and I hold no negative feelings about it. On the upside, I was able to elude the requisite photographs – and the white suit. Me alegré. I got to make a speech, anyway, and the emcee even gave me props for it.
Kim’s wedding dress lies on the bed where she sleeps. Two days ago, it stunned everyone into permanent smiles, gathered compliments like boondock Alaskans collect car parts. She’s gone from it, took the beauty with her. It’s a fat corpse in a white body bag. To be cut down, colored, revitalized and worn later to cocktail parties of venture capitalists who fund her new husband’s genius project (I’m not allowed to tell you the idea behind it).
My suit is headed back to where I got it from. Much as I’d like to hitch across the country in a pinstriped suit with a lime green tie. It’s hanging from a noose in the living room. This house is full of ghosts now.
So. They’re married. It’s done. Over with. Enjoyed, talked about, paid for, eaten, drank, and captured by paparazzi who demanded a second kissing of the bride (I think the groom was happy to mind the request).
And with this morning’s departure of Jason’s Scion, so passes the planned extent of my Central America adventure. As well as my reason for returning to the U.S.
(my second favorite question)
A good traveling friend introduced me to putting “stamps” on trips. We summed ours up in a few words; a haiku to wrap up the Illiad. My favorite stamp from a trip was “an open-hearted expedition in the wrong direction.” She called the same trip purple.
On my trip of the last nine months or so, which had a blurry beginning and has no foreseeable end, I stamp: “Being Left: A How-To Guide (incomplete).”
I’m a southpaw liberal who lost count of the people and places I’ve departed from. It was fitting that I learn to be left. Now I get to leave. Again.
27 April 2012 § 1 Comment
The idea is them getting married. The idea is running away. the idea doesn’t expect interruption, but thrives on it. We are entering a new life, tomorrow at 5 p.m. – a part of my past is evolving, no matter what I say about it. Jason and I debate as much as ever, in friendliness and challenge. He won his first logical argument with me the other day. It had something to do with time. Tomorrow, Kim’s father hands her off to Jason. I feel that tomorrow, I’m to hand my best friend off to Kim. Whether I like it or not.
I’m not around enough to qualify as a groomsman, however slighted I feel for it. I’d like to think that he thinks of me how I think of him, but that’s the nature of relationships, isn’t it? To strangers I call Jason my brother. For nine months traveling I told people that my travels end when my brother gets married. Today, in the ghetto barbershop (which wasn’t too unlike the movie) I told my nearly incomprehensible barber, a handsome, thirty-something black man from some local hood the same thing. He gave me my first straight-razor shave, and I look something like a white rapper would, if only they came in size 6-foot-4.
The idea is to Go, after. They go on their honeymoon and I go on mine. I’m hitching a ride on a moving truck to South Carolina, and thumbing it up to Asheville, NC – my old stomping grounds. I did a lot more than stomp there. I recorded some things and stole others. I borrowed this and that, and neglected what was important. Learned, tons. Tone. How tons can equal tone if you find their resonant frequencies. Cried too little, showed up late and sometimes never, and stayed too stoic too often for it to last. After it got better, I left. Came here. Left again.
I’m cyclical. Haven’t returned to my favorite places in the world, but I come back all the time to the places I hate the most.
Wait. Do I hate place?
Why not return to Scotland, Croatia, Iceland – now? I can run from weddings in any direction I choose, drink fabulous wine – such as this 2007 Tenuta de Trecciano Cab Sauv (girl, if you haven’t found this beauty yet, you’re missing out) – and write and write and write, while others make their life plans inside of picket fences. You could say I’m feeling contemptuous today. Sometimes I don’t want to see the point. I want to go. I want to keep the knowledge that the little big world I explore is the only one there is, and I want to believe that if I turned into that neighborhood in Davie today – despite the jittery feeling in my chest like the one I had in Cristo Rey – everything would have been okay.
I have doubts. I don’t understand everything. I know far less. My way doesn’t work for everyone. And even though sometimes I just want to tell everyone that they should drop Mayan acid, go off the deep end on a dancefloor and find out from what stars they’re really made, I know that some would lose what tenuous hold on their reality they do have, and I would take responsibility. Perhaps I should remember that even though Going works for me, it might not for the person I tell it might solve everything.
But when has it not?
If you’ve dropped everything to go explore, then came back to your picket fence unchanged, let me know. What right do I have to look in the mirror and say “I love what I’ve become,” and not even know where my life will be a week from now? Tell me that someone out there experienced travel and didn’t fall in love at least once. Take me off my high horse, my point of arrogance, the feeling that I can look in the mirror and say “I’ve earned this,” and bring me back to the community of strangers that raised me up above it.
Many have worked harder than me, and earned less. For more chains. They’ve signed agreements just in ink and embrace complacency forever bitterly.
Cameron walked up to me at the end of the rehearsal dinner with a look that said much more than it was nice to meet me. He was genuine in ways he wasn’t two hours prior. He called me ‘interesting’, and for once it didn’t feel like an insult or an attempt to cover for the fact that he didn’t get it. He’s a music teacher. Get it?
I realize that my misunderstandings are mostly me. Perception is not reality – I learned that from an enemy. I’m still working with the truth in it.
Sometimes I wish I knew what was next. It wouldn’t be so easy then to go back and find the ways I’ve screwed up what I didn’t prepare for.
The idea is to get them to remember me without wanting to. Wit is based in prediction. Impressing someone’s sense of morality is a matter of tireless passion that is sometimes wrong in motive. When someone calls me intelligent I feel insulted – have you seen me read a book? I didn’t think so. I collect them so you’ll think I’m cool. I don’t know how I’m changing anything, but none seems to be the kind of change I wanted – because I wanted it in me, and that doesn’t always show up in the mirror.
This droplet of guilt I have running down my forearm to my elbow is about to fall to the floor with all the stories I should have written down to tell you. In beach sand they are forgotten, in forests I forgive myself, and wonder if that’s the same as if I ask for it.
I miss what wine did to me, then.
27 April 2012 § Leave a comment
I would love to say that Florida is a wonderful place. It’s not.
However, it is a good place to crash for a few days, to stay with friends, perhaps go to their wedding, and meet some of the people that help their world spin. Three times in three years I have used Miami as my landing pad – once in the first days of a broken long-term relationship, and twice returning Stateside from vagabonding abroad. In every case I’ve been broke and headed for Alaska. Now is no exception.
I rode the dog here for school – and a girl – eight years ago. It was a twenty-two hour bus trip from Albuquerque. I wore a leather trenchcoat, carried an electric guitar and pulled a rolling duffel bag without wheels. We hit Texas the first night. When I got off the bus, three poorly-dressed men tried to sell their shiny jewelry. Bracelets, all. Thinking of the dreamy female somewhere north of West Palm Beach, I made the mistake of asking how much. A fellow passenger, a mustachioed cowboy with a paunch that said he’d been off the ranch for too long, put his arm around my shoulder, told the men to fuck off, and led me away. I thanked him later, but didn’t say that I’d already given one of the men seventeen dollars for a bracelet. I feared he would have scolded me.
Many such lessons have taught me similar since. I’ve stopped handing my money out to strangers without souls.
In Louisiana, I started a ten-passenger debate on the historical merit of Christianity. My most fervent opponents were the fat cowboy and a young man who’d two weeks earlier gone AWOL from the army. They were both on the run. Turned out the ranch hand was a truck driver instead. Before life on the road, he’d been a teaching priest at a Catholic school in Florida. I lost the argument on more than faulty logic. The army guy told me to read more books. Sometimes I still follow the advice.
The conversation turned to music. With men, it usually does. At the time, I was playing guitar upwards of six hours a day. (It frustrated me still that I wasn’t any good at it.) The cowboy-priest-trucker told me a story about one of his students, from years before.
The kid was a guitarist, about to graduate from parochial school. He also played hours and hours a day. He played so much, he skipped school and sleep to work on a riff or a scale. The priest asked the musician to perform for graduation. He gladly accepted, and nailed Hendrix’ ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ in the gymnasium, spot on.
The other teachers hated it. Threatened to keep him from graduating. They told him “evil rock music” was a negative influence on everyone.
Student felt terrible, said the priest, until the mentor went to his house and announced at the family dinner table how awesome the performance was.
The guitarist was Mark Tremonti, of Creed and later, Alter Bridge.
The more you travel, I theorized, the fewer degrees of separation between you and the people you want to come across.
At the time, it seemed important.
I arrived in Florida 21 October 2004. The next day, I wanted to leave.
Monday I depart.
24 April 2012 § 2 Comments
Kim, Jas’ in-four-days-wife-to-be, returned from Vegas raving about everything but the weather. She dropped no clues about her party. That’s how it’s supposed to be, right? Leave your Vegas stories in Vegas?
This morning she woke up angry. We hadn’t cleaned the house.
Nor had we finished drinking.
Three nights ago, I was a strip club virgin. (I’m not going to get into why, because only other men and ex-girlfriends seem to want explanations as to why I, at nearly 26, had never participated in retail sex entertainment.) Now, not so much.
The dancers amused me. They paraded around tables, up and down stages. Tux-clad bouncers stood at the stairs, took girls’ hands to help them manage platform shoes. To appear gentlemanly. A radio announcer said to pick our favorite for a dance. That two songs were one low price.
Jas’ brother, Justin, whose countenance said he’d done this a few times before, had explained the rules on tipping and lap dances: “Bring singles with you. And no licking.”
It’s funny how people follow their DNA. A group of Indian men all stared in the same sad way, bad haircuts and young bushy mustaches curious, eyes deprived, entranced. They tossed dollar bills at their countrywoman’s feet like garbage. Undid the top buttons of their shirts. Sweat bullets. I considered the difference between appreciation and waste.
Above another stage: a man I recognized vaguely leaned on the handrail, smirk sketched. I’d seen those eyes before, on wanderers and travelers who’d just found what they now had to have. He gestured with his bills for the dancer to come closer. He caressed her back, side, and torso, quick, with impersonal fingertips, as if she, with her dyed black hair shiny, artificial, were a souped-up Honda Civic at a car show. Ignition empty.
A girl sat on my lap, whispered her nickname into my ear. Her straight bangs auburn brushed my eyelids. “Seline,” she said with a lisp. “I like your style.” She tipped the bill of my hat with an affectionate smile.
“Thanks,” I told her, “but it’s not my party.”
My ratio of entertained:disgusted reached 50:50 about midnight. We went to Lauderdale, drank fishbowls of liquor, watched perhaps the only band who’s covered Tool and succeeded, and on the beach talked about what we knew until the sun came up.
My best friend is getting married, and I need to buy a suit.
24 April 2012 § Leave a comment
I’m not ready to be awake.
The world is shifting from peaceful to intentional. I am the cause of some things, and the effect of others. Consequences are not cut into little people holding hands, as in films and books, but into playing cards, and some are more kind than honest. They weave themselves waterproof, are strongest (even if not beautiful) when together.
The girl with scissors is ready to spread her arms wide, ends of a paper chain in each hand. An upside down arc – the same person, over and over again, holding his own hand – will bounce and sag down to applause, and she will smile, proud of her creation.
I decided that I didn’t have to know how many people would be holding hands when I was through, and cut the folds, precisely. Swift, confident ‘K’ sounds constant. The noise of paper dividing. Templates procreating. The short handbook featuring directions for a life well-lived, xeroxed like a high school geometry exam. My eyes are bad anyway, so making out the blurry numbers is embarrassing, at best. I don’t know circumference any better than I know calculus. I remember only that Pi goes on forever.
21 April 2012 § Leave a comment
I feel disappointed that my friend Jas gave up on audio engineering.
We both studied at SAE, not together but in succession, then followed the music and occasionally worked together. The peak of our collaboration was in the studio we pieced together with cables, mixing boards, and imported beer. The result was an album, Kampfstoff LOST, a mix of martial-industrial compositions made mostly by Jason, who has the potential as a musician to write film scores and symphonies, to conduct for orchestras, what have you. The album was never popular – it wasn’t meant to be – but was an achievement nevertheless, and represents for me, if anything, a good set of Saturday memories, mixing and writing and drinking. Not always in that order.
When I left Florida, 90% of the studio gear went to his place. Technically, we were to “split it,” and when I’ve visited in the past, one or two projects have gotten half-finished. Otherwise, our gear sits unused in his guest bedroom. The console tape from my last session (two and a half years ago) still lay across the faders of the old analog board, and his once-beloved AT4040 condenser microphone is still attached to the same sad round base stand it has been since 2006.
For years also I have done nothing with my education in audio. I followed the music out from behind the scenes, away from the studio, and out the door of the business I pretended to want everything from. I went traveling to find where and why it had escaped me. When I ended up back to university, I found something that I love more than setting up drum mics and emptying the ashtrays of rock stars.
And so has he. He went back to school, too, and is about to finish his degree in computer science. Yesterday he explained to me that writing code and completing a program he’s designed gives him the same satisfaction and sweet accomplishment that he got out of writing music and finishing a song. That computer science, in its own way, is another form of music. It is his music – one he can make money from. (He could have made money from composing, but perhaps code fits him better.)
Why am I projecting onto him?
This is why: I am disappointed in myself for giving up engineering. I was fired from my jobs, and never jumped back in. By walking away from something I’d worked for as hard as I did – I held down four jobs on top of freelance live sound (a subtle form of self-punishment) – I felt as if I was quitting on myself.
I had never been sure that it was my calling.
That’s a lie. I knew it wasn’t. I just enjoyed it. It felt like my then-relationship did – that if this is the best the world can offer me, I’ll take it, even if it doesn’t fit what I’m set out to do. So, until something better came along, I made the best of it.
The next something better didn’t have the glamor of Music attached at the rear end to show off to the people I met, but Travel has its own frailties and loveliness. Writing, too, has its perks and downsides. For example, once again I have to sit in front a computer and do productive things. Wherever I land, I should not have an internet connection, because that would be bad for writing. Maybe I just need more self-control.
Jason’s move gave me permission to follow through with mine. He found another dream and pursued it. That was Rainier’s sage advice for those who find themselves with all their dreams come true: dream again. He said it came from his 11-year-old son before he died. Rainier says it a lot, hoping someone will listen.
It baffles me that I attach myself to some of my pasts and not others. Granted, some have been really fucking cool, and others not so much. At many turning points, after working toward something tangible and finding it, I think this is it – the good times are over, that I will never again have a new set of memories and stories to employ, to tell, to relax into my mind with. As soon as I accept that, I let it go. I don’t need it. That period invariably becomes one of those new sets of memories.
One of those turning points was on a mild winter night some eight years ago, walking along Donald Ross Road with Emily. We talked about how living in the past hurt the present. It was more her telling me that I could not live the obituary of summer 2001 anymore, that there was more to life, that something came after, and why couldn’t I see that? Something about doing big things. In retrospect, I took what she said that manicured Florida evening, packed my bags, stuffed boxes, and moved into the future instead.
For being present then would have meant harder work than for which I was capable. It would have meant accepting that maybe I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, that maybe I should go to a real college after all, or that I should travel like I really wanted. But I’d hitched myself to Music, and refused to let it go.
I needed to graduate SAE, work in music for a while, and make it through the hardest parts of life and relationship to come to being me. All the while I was proud to take the difficult route through everything. Still am. I never listened to anyone who thought their advice could help. Though it may have been wise, and may have applied, I saw no value in a lesson if it was taught by theory alone. That they went through it didn’t matter.
Or did it? Did I listen to lessons from good stories? I must have. Aesop’s Fables and those told with morals and lessons didn’t fly far above my head. Reading them, I rather liked to think that the sun and the wind really did battle over a guy walking down a road, competing to see if one can get him to take off his jacket, and the other to put it back on. There was a moral at the end of the story, I’m sure of it, but all I remember from the end was that it got so hot that he went for a swim in the river to cool off. Did another cool wind come after that?
Of course. They always do. I’m a traveler, and learn things daily.
20 April 2012 § Leave a comment
The last thing I want to do, today of all days, is write up another logical and sound argument as to why Marijuana Should Be Legalized. Articles like that always come up around the 4.20 holiday, in blogs and syndicated opinion pieces written by cheeky thirty-somethings from New York, Boulder, and Seattle. They name at least one popular strain, investigate the origins of “4:20”, and someone, in typical journalism fashion, will drop the numbers. Pot gatherings on the quads of CU Boulder and UC Santa Cruz, as well as the inevitably receive mention
We are obligated to do these things, year after year, friend’s arrest after busted party, day in and day out. Otherwise, the Powers That Be will stop listening. They will fill that silent void with control tactics and propaganda that implies that jumping off roofs is smarter than smoking a bowl. Now, cool as Parkour is, it’s a strange thing for the government to endorse, and shows, in yet another ridiculous demonstration, how ludicrous the “drug war” has become. Governments are the only fighters in this war – their enemies are businesses who concern themselves far more with shipping and sales than battle tactics, but I’m sure the occasional cartel Don knows his Lao-Tzu.
Anyway. I’m not calling for the legalization of marijuana; not this time. I’m just going to sit here in my luxurious condo in Fort Lauderdale and lament the fact that so many people are willing to stand for Legalization of Marijuana, but are unwilling to fight for their most basic rights, to vote in political elections, to protest effectively. Take your weed with you, and figure out what you believe, regardless of what they say, or who pushes you around.
All that being said, if it’s for you, smoke weed every day 🙂