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continuing notes: california (or, mountain lions, dude)

we went down to ukiah to try and find a friend’s mom, and when it turned out that we couldn’t find her we called people to say as much but the phone lines were clogged with smoke and fire. we kept going because that’s what you do, but to be honest, i knew it was a waste of time from the get-go. we’d gone to the two fire stations in town to ask what we could do. they were like, “lol nothing.” but whatever. it wasn’t my people who were in trouble and i was happy to tag along if there was any way i could help. hopefully that means i’m grown now. even if i’m a cynic at heart, i try to be goddamn earnest.

when pearl and i were chatting earlier she asked me where i wanted to end up. we’d kind of gone over my chronology briefly — montreal, portland, boston, new york, back to boston, here — kinda just the bigger moves — and she was like, so where? and i was like, “i don’t care, really. i kind of love wherever i end up. so far.” because that’s the story you tell. but in most cases, it’s true. i’ve never really been a christian, but i sure did internalize the jesus-y parts.

in the trailer there are basically three things to worry about. 1) mountain lions. 2) norcal serial killers. since the latter is most likely not an issue, you pay attention to the former. let me show you:

there have been something like 11 deaths by mountain lions in the united states since records have been kept. that is a vanishingly small number. i’ve read up on this significantly. i’ve watched youtube videos. the problem is that there was this one guy whose house i painted in 2008 or so, and who had built that house that i painted — so, y’know, big burly fuckin ken kesey Oregon stereotype — and he had this story about being stalked by mountain lions that’s never slipped. apparently he was hunting in the winter, things got quiet, he circled back and saw mountain lion tracks just behind him and left.

granted, this is some fucking archetype with a gun so he would’ve been fine. it’s that the archetype with a gun was targeted at all that worries me.

mountain lions, dude.

 

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bluffs and other things

the obvious reason to go down to the bluffs is that they’re beautiful. tangerine told me this morning as i was returning that she’d never heard anyone refer to them as “bluffs,” and i thought that was weird, since that’s what they are.

but you go down the hill, and among the redwoods and sequoias and doug firs and trucks and coastal california vacation homes and tourist traps and water towers and fog, you get the bluffs. rocky and majestic and filled with caves connecting all the beaches, and oh so much poison oak. you go down the hill and there is finally quiet. the bluffs. scary and dangerous and tempting and sexy. will said all the cliff faces were shit rock and he wouldn’t deign to climb them, but remember, this is the kind of dude who calls trees he doesn’t like “garbage trees.” opinionated, is what i’m getting at.

the bluffs are great because when there’s only this one beautiful thing to look at, it really doesn’t run out.

 

brief notes: california

one day you’ll wake up in california, and this will actually happen so pay attention, and it will be 3:21 in the morning, and christ trump hasn’t even crossed the mississippi since he’s been president, and now you have to read his bullshit tweets on a time-delay, which of course you do, but you’ll be in this beautiful bed with two beautiful people sleeping in the room next to you, and you’ll remember that time you spoke at their wedding, when donald trump wasn’t the president and you didn’t wake up every morning fretting about everything.

and then they’ll leave with their wonderful child for whom you have a stupid nickname and you’ll be starting to withdraw from booze and just walk until your best friend of many years has passed you on the bus and you’re going back to his place because what else have you got to do but kill time? he’ll text you and say he saw that you went too far on your walk down geary and that you can cut up to california on spruce and you’ll just be, like, i dunno, really grateful. and then you’ll get there and drink and wait and drink and wait and wait and drink. you’ll shave and look in the mirror and remember what ted told you, which is that there’s no escaping the mountains.

after that, you’ll shower, except you won’t because you don’t know where to change the tub into shower mode and fuck it your ass smells enough and that’s bath-worthy. and you’ll remember those naked baths you took with some girl, and christ yeah, it’s been almost ten years, and how good she looked naked. and how you did, too, comparatively speaking. when you’re kind of like, “my junk is clean,” you’ll dry off and put the towel on their washing machine and be like, “should i do this laundry, or will a bottle of wine as thanks be enough?” and you won’t have an answer, because what do you really say to the people that have saved your life over and over except “thanks, here’s some wine and a stupid note”?

later on, you’ll talk to another couple of people and they’ll be confusing and you’ll be like, “maybe i should just grab a bus and go,” and then you’ll be like, “or play guitar for twenty minutes,” and if you’re really lucky, and you’re all alone in an apartment in san francisco, you’ll do the latter.

last night i dreamt about waking up. over and over, i woke up in my dreams, and i looked at a phone that was ostensibly beside me, and the clock said 3:21. which was weird because i’m pretty sure that’s when i went to bed. i woke up and smelled coffee, but i didn’t see alexandra for reasons unknown and went to smoke on the back porch, because even though matt requested i only smoke out back at night i figured it was still dark enough.

i’m sorry, matt.

when the kid woke up he was in a bad mood which, for a person that doesn’t have kids, is charming. let me be clear: i am glad that i don’t have kids, but i love the hell out of them. they’re so fucking stupid, it’s great. and then they yell and scream and the parents get them ready for stupid shit that babies and toddlers do and they speak sign language and you’re like, “huh.” so you re-remember the sign language alphabet and that time you helped the deaf dude get a drink at the bar because you could sign the alphabet, and you’re like, “meh, i’m definitely not a great person, but at least i’m better than napoleon and he’s got buildings named after him,” because really, let’s be honest, most great people never get buildings. it’s just not how history plays out.

later, if you’re lucky, you’ll get an overpriced sandwich and look at photos and wonder how much it cost to frame them all.

when it’s time to go, as is tradition, you’ll be heartbroken. why is anyone’s guess, but it’s been the case for about ten years so you’re used to it. you’ll admire stupid plants that any stupid idiot could have grown and wonder why you didn’t grow them. you’ll admire the sea and hope for no earthquakes. and if there’s an earthquake, you’ll hope it takes you right the fuck out.

wicker chairs and baby clothes and high ceilings and people who still kind of care. care enough to prop a photo from your college graduation on their mantle, anyway — maybe, you suspect, just cause you’re crashing at their place for the night and they’re nice as hell and way more considerate than you’ll ever be. and that is divine. that is sacred. it’s all heaven, and heaven. heaven is a place.

scott

when you meet extraordinary people, they’re often in the shit.

scott was probably the most extraordinary person i ever met. imagine sitting in the june drizzle without socks on, outside of a brick building that looks like either an old prison or a former hospital, no shoes just socks that you washed in the sink the night before because you trusted climate science, and oh by the way you’re in detox and that makes things weird in general, and having that guy ask you how you were.

because that dude was not doing well. and i am fine, comparatively. by most possible metrics. but this beautiful person just said, “hey” and it was the beginning of a week of growing old with an old man and me feeling like “oh, maybe this is exploitative” and then “damn dude really likes when i bother to wake him up for our smoke break in the morning.”

and other such moral qualms that are only interesting to people who don’t care about much.

scott was one of two scotts. don’t get me wrong, the other scott is a contender for awesome scott, but he didn’t quite cut it. awesome scott was just this guy who hung out, and who had a hell of a life, and who i promised i would drive to malden if he needed it. and i meant it. took the day off from work, looked for a call from a random massachusetts number. just really wanted to say, “hey, let’s do this drive, you’re greater when you aren’t feeble.” but he never called, and i can’t actually call him, either, because he’s homeless and just gets burners.

but he said to the people at the detox, “look, if you can’t get me to new hospital, i’ll end up dead on my ass. and they said we are looking into that. and he said look into your marketing material because they actually promise that. right there.

and they said, okay. because they were all underpaid and understaffed, and that’s things.

i talked to scott the first time because i was shaky. i don’t know if you’ve ever been shaky from alcohol but it’s a pain in the ass. first there’s the part where you’re doing this thing you can’t control and creates a lot of anxiety. then there’s the anxiety part, where you’re like, “gosh i really hope people don’t notice and judge me,” and the part where you’re like, “ah, this isn’t okay” takes over, and your body is like, “are you dying?” and your mind is like, “maybe. actually, probably.” and your mind is also like, “good work doing some basic research and going to detox.”

and then someone like scott shows up and says hello.

and you’re like, fuck it, there’s all these weird cliques developing, and i just wanna talk to the person who isn’t a part of any of that shit. and he’s like, can i bum a cigarette? and you’re like, dude, if i’m still talking to you in a week, i’ll drive you to malden. have all the cigarettes you need.

and of course you’re still talking to him in a week because christ the cliques are strong in detox, and because you feel fucking bad that he hasn’t made his own, and because this other dude who probably feels similar joined in. and because even though scott doesn’t go to any of the sessions, you’ll still wake or rouse him for smoke breaks. because you, other dude, and scott can play uno. because scott is basically just a “how’s life” guy, and you’re like, “pretty bad,” and he’s like, “same but i guess we’ll try anyway.”

the interesting thing about detox isn’t all the absurdity so much as it is the flattening. you’re all here, motherfuckers. this guy’s a lawyer from boston who can talk a good fucking game at .26 (but can’t handle a hangover for shit). this is a creeper hitting on the hot women, who’ll never recover from a broken leg sustained in an accident ten years ago. this is some kid from lynn who’s just getting off the taper, and the sweat is just pouring out, and good fucking god. you’ll make it.

and the people who won’t. sorry, christian, but when you said you spurned a drug test at the hospital, i officially stopped believing in you. sorry, dozens of others, i hope you make it, but i don’t think you’re going to. for what it’s worth, i don’t think i’m going to, either, and this isn’t an attempt to throw shade.

scott, though. i doubt he’ll make it, either. i just want him to more than anyone. i gave him my number. i answer random calls now, hoping it’s his new obama-phone.

i wish it was. i got out of detox really quick, and i did not give that dude enough of a hug.

letter to a friend

anyway. i don’t know. i’m kind of wondering about hitchhiking. just, what if i don’t ever hitchhike across the country? or some stupid shit like that? just, like, banal americana shit that doesn’t involve a house and a white picket fence? and that hopefully isn’t as banal as that kid who died in alaska. (i’d rather die in the american southwest, to be honest.)

this is all super fucking boring. part of what i hate about crisis is how fucking absolutely, mind-boggingly boring it is. and then you get into a trap of being like, this is boring as fuck, and everyone’s like yeah, and you’re just like yeah that’s what i just said. and people are like, actually i’m having second thoughts about you. and i’m like, i’m onto third and fourth thoughts, thank you very much.
and it’s incredibly fucking boring. crises aren’t all 9/11. you don’t always get the photos. my friends have died in hotel rooms. and they got some shit obituary in the local paper, and that’s it, and it’s wonderful because people will be able to read that shit forever because there are archivists and librarians. but that’s it. and fucking obituaries cost money. that some poor homeless fuck with a full and wonderful life will never have. but i guess that’s fucking okay or something.
i guess i don’t know anymore, dude. we’re completely fucked. no amount of #resistance is going to save us. no accelerationism is going to save us. it’s just the falling action. minus the hot people. and maybe this was a dick move, but i told this to a wonderful woman who’s been checking on me (to keep me alive) yesterday, and i was just like, i dunno man. you guys really fucked up. and this is someone i volunteer with, at like a church, and is a quaker, and is generally wonderful, and christ on a cracker, i wouldn’t trade her for the world. but fuck, man. just, when do you level with yourself, as a people, and a society, and on and on and on into nuclear war. when do you say, i could have done a little better.
which is boring and banal. because, duh, we all could do a lot better, and regret and literature and fables and so on. but really, most people don’t regret shit. i hardly regret anything, because i’m a narcissist, and i want to Say Something Important, and even when it’s saying it’s boring, that’s self-involved, and boring.
let’s be clear, you seem to have more faith in american institutions than i. i love that about you. the arc of history bends, and so on.
but we have a greater than 50% chance of really not making it out of this. but
but
i hope to see you soon

sing it with me now

i went to detox, which was weird. my roommate, we’ll call him jeff, was an asshole. jeff stole the master key from the cleaning people, and wendy, to whom i addressed a letter at the end, called him out on it. he made a stupid statement about it on my last day there, which no one believed for a second, and we all made fun of him some more, because jesus. just, that’s why.

it kind of sucks to be in the middle of a breakdown, but that’s life and you just do it. my favorite thing in the world is watching, y’know? i once found a friend in the middle of nowhere and we went swimming. we had a sauna. we ate fish for breakfast.

if i die i won’t regret it. it’s been a-okay.

and when i don’t, i won’t either.

there is a song that goes like this. da-da-dee-da-da-dum-dum-dum.

sing it with me now

luck

there was this one time when i was super heartbroken and i met someone for the first time — and, like, really¬†met her you know — and that turned out good until it became shit. we were both shit to one another for a long time before it fell apart, and let’s face it, that’s the story of every relationship i’ve ever had. i bring out the worst in people and they bring out the worst in me. it’s fine. it’s just one of those things. i don’t even mind it anymore, i just try to avoid being shit to as many people as i can. which definitely doesn’t work. i’m still shit. you’re all still shit. this isn’t a pity party or a condemnation, it’s just simple fact. we’re all kinda shit. the thing is that you don’t beat yourself up over it. if you don’t think you’re shit, you’re wrong. if you do think you’re shit, you’re wrong. and this isn’t some moral resignation to let everyone off the hook to be all happy-go-lucky, it’s just, i dunno. i don’t really know anyone who’s not shit in at least one way. shit happens. and we make it happen. it’s fine. it’s fine. we all fuck things up constantly. deal with it. everyone else does.

it turned out that i’m shit at a lot more things than i anticipated, and so i wound up being shit some more. that’s fine. i should probably go talk to a therapist, but they’d be like, hmm thinkingface.emoji, and i’d be like c’mon. c’mon. just be real. we’re all fundamentally fucked up, and anyone who pretends otherwise is my neighbor who has a shit dog that is shit. here’s an idea shit dog, shut the fuck up it’s 6 in the goddamn morning and shut the fuck up. did i mention shut the fuck up? because i should have because it’s 6 in the goddamn morning. so shut the fuck up.

even when things are 100% shit (and oh lord they’re going to be for a while), you still sometimes get lucky. and i’m not talking, ‘oh wow, i got lucky last night,’ as in banged some hottie — male or female — i’m talking luck. because it’s a thing. i once hitchhiked from quebec city to chicoutimi in late november with my friend eric. our driver crashed in a national park in a blizzard. lucky doesn’t begin to describe how we lived. we got even luckier when a tour bus picked us up afterwards on the side of the highway. we got luckier still when jessika — the woman of eric’s dreams — somehow found us, took us out for a drink, and let us crash at her place.

that was the luckiest single day of my life. because i should be dead. nine times out of ten we’d have gone off a cliff.

i should be dead for a lot of reasons. i’m still here though. being lucky.

my favorite part about being lucky is part of luck is loving life. part of love is hating life, of course, but you love and you love and you love, and you hate a little bit less every day, because you just do. life is the great romance. which is trite and stupid to say out loud, but i dunno. just look at it. there’s a pigeon or a squirrel or a monkey or a lobster or a whatever the fuck ever, and isn’t it kind of great? have a great conversation, a horrible break-up, a traumatic accident. aren’t you glad you just fucking made it?

i’ll never forget it, a girlfriend’s mom and her friend came to visit us in portland, and we were out of toilet paper, and i rode my bike furiously to the plaid pantry to get some motherfucking toilet paper, and i did, and when i got back they were gone. and i felt real bad about that, you know?

i should’ve married that woman. i fucked it all up.

but life is all about the mistakes you make. or at least that’s how i sleep at night.

there’s a stupid quotation from a stupid movie that i like that goes “you make your own luck.” and it’s batman so there’s, like, a moral dilemma, i forget, some shit happens, and anyway two-face, who is harvey dent who was supposed to be gotham’s savior, anyway et cetra et cetera, it’s the one with heath ledger in it. so batman kills harvey dent i think? or maybe chief gordon does. anyway, i dunno, somehow harvey dent has a coin and it’s what he flips but then his face burns off and maybe so does the coin? or, like, half of it? point of the story, he becomes a bad guy, and says ‘you make your own luck’ and it’s a coinflip metaphor, is what i’m saying.

but you know. that’s kind of a silly thing to say. i get that it’s supposed to be super reaffirming or whatever, but nah. nah. you don’t make your own luck. i know too many dead people to buy that line. luck comes at you fast.