Friday, August 30, 2002

I did manage to take a shower, but now I need another one!

Went to Indy to go skating this morning. The drive is getting so perilous these days, I hate tailgaters! Fear is seeing an outsized Dodge Ram bearing down on you from behind as you drive through a semi-residential district and the truck gets so close you can no longer see the little ram on the hood because it's above your head and all you can see in your rear-view mirror is the grill and you know that when you slam on the brakes because some kid runs out in front of your car the truck is going to hit you and the engine block is going to shoot forward over your back seat and rip your head off.

What the hell happened to crash compatibility? Why has the entire country sold its soul to the automotive industry? We can't even blame the Republicans for this one, because I didn't see Al "Mr. Environment" Gore do anything to stop his president from giving the automotive industry every last thing that it asked for. I tell you, I'm going to be pissed if I get decapitated by a monster truck.

3:52 PM

What my mom says when I complain about my sister's e-mail:

"I know, I know. She doesn't know how to do straight-forward anything. It's always convoluted. She has to go out round Robin Hood's barn five times before she can do anything."

3:22 PM

Things on the list to do today/this weekend:

Take a shower!
Go skating.
Bring back my keys to my old office.
Work on that philosophy assignment (no excuses anymore!)
Dinner at the Encore
Soccer game

This weekend:
Prep for class
Tour the parade of homes to look at kitchens we can't afford
Spend some time at Lowe's
Go to some open houses around town to look at kitchens we may be able to afford
Do some yard work
Clean out the car (you promised, you have to do it now)
Buy some clothes that fit
Price basketball hoops

9:31 AM

I'm done being angry now. Running may suck in general, but it's a great anger management tool. It took me 30 minutes to get over being mad, leaving me 35 minutes to totally daydream.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Okay. I'm not going to do this. I am not going to sit and obsess over this, and I'm not going to lose sleep over the fact that all of my siblings are freaks.

Because you know what? It's not the money. I mean, I'm pissed off about it and the incredibly idiotic story you invented about it. If you don't want to send me ten bucks, don't fucking do it, okay? Just don't. End of story. Because you know what else? I may want the money in general, my team needs it, but I don't want it from someone who feels the need invent some story about it all instead of just dealing with me straight up. Is there some reason you can't just send me an e-mail and say "Sorry, not right now," and leave it at that? Do you have to write these incredibly idiotic messages that just add more proof to my argument that you're a nutcase? Don't you realize I'm smart enough to know a lie when I see it, especially when you're not smart enough to check one e-mail against the other to keep from contradicting yourself?

What is it? Are you still freaked out because I'm gay? Is that was this is all about? Because it's time you fucking get over it, okay? Everyone in the family--except possibly that brother I used to have--is over it. Mom and Dad are over it. The whole freaking family is fine, and yet you're still weird. My hope is that you act weird now because you feel ashamed of the way you acted when Catherine and I got married. Since I never got an apology for that atrocity, however, I'm guessing you're acting weird because I'm an affront to your religion and you just can't cope. Well, fuck that noise. I wouldn't let a stranger treat me this way, so I don't see why I should stick around and let you.

10:55 PM

We finally found a contractor, and we spent two hours after work this evening looking at the kitchen and deciding where to go with it. It's just not possible for me to do the kitchen myself, as much as I wanted/intended to do it. At this point, I'm happy to give up the job to someone who can do it better and quicker than I can. At any rate, he gave a quote that almost exactly hit on the amount of money we have to spend on the job, and thought of a lot of things that I would have missed. So, I'm pretty pleased. And I'm looking forward to spending the weekend at Lowe's and elsewhere, pricing this and that.

He had a great solution to the cabinet problem over the stove--we're going to rip out the lame cabinets that are there, put in two 42" cabinets w/glass doors to echo the original cabinets on the other wall, and bump the one forward over the refrigerator. Then he's going to cut the pantry cabinet in half and remove the bottom half. This will leave an open space on the floor, and he's going to tile it and build us a little spot for our garbage can.

He's pretty much got me convinced to put tile on the countertop. I'm not sure, I drop so many things, I'm afraid we'd have no dishes in a week if I was left alone in the kitchen. I definitely want a tile backsplash, but maybe we should get a solid surface counter. Although that would also shatter the dishes. Maybe I had just better stop touching the dishes.

10:15 AM

Well, you know...she's right.
8:58 AM

Catherine commented that I seem much happier this week (she was surprised I wasn't cranky about running her around town to complete her errands this morning, as I am definitely not a morning person). I think she's probably right. Yesterday afternoon, I was focusing all my mental powers on descriptive geometry. At one point, I sat back from the computer feeling completely drained and thought, "I just can't face going back to work, I don't have the energy." Then I remembered I don't have to go back to work!

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Speaking of locally-owned restaurants, the good part about being on the west side is that Dragon is between my office and my home. This means that when it is my turn to cook, we can have Chinese with minimal effort on my part. Mmmm...never underestimate the restorative powers of good Chinese food.
9:33 PM

I should really call this journal "A Never-Ending List of Things That Annoy Me." Today's culprit:

The division between town and gown in Bloomington really gets on my nerves. I am actually pretty happy to get away from the academic half of town (the east side) and get back to where the real people live and work. It used to just piss me off listening to professors and other academic employees talk about having to buy a new house in an east side neighborhood because they'd inadvertantly moved into one of the "bad" school systems when they arrived in Bloomington. By "bad" they mean "a school in which a kid who grew up in Indiana might be found." It's not like they're pulling their kids out of...oh, I don't know...Compton? or something like that. They're just making sure they don't come in contact with the locals. You'd think those of us who live on the west side of town carried some sort of intellectual plague or something.

This aversion to dealing with people on the wrong side of the tracks also relates to the way businesses are dispersed through town. Local businesses almost exclusively cater to the east side and leave the west side alone. There isn't a single bookstore or coffee shop on the west side, and today when I was out at lunch, I counted local restaurants. There are four: Dragon, Monroe County Pizza Department, La Torre, and another new Mexican restaurant whose name escapes me right now. Local restaurants are always closing down, and they always, always, *always* blame the influx of chain restaurants--Outback, O'Charley's, Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel, Texas Roadhouse, all the fast food franchises, etc. Well, let me say this--if you want me to eat at your restaurant, maybe you should put it somewhere I can get to it on my lunch hour. All the chain restaurants are five minutes from my house, five minutes from my new office. Your restaurant is a twenty minute drive. Do the math.

My point is this: when Starbucks put in a shop near campus, the local coffee shops had a fit, and did all this campaigning and advertising to encourage people to drink at the local coffee shops. (As an aside, Soma/Laughing Planet led the campaign, conveniently neglecting to leave out the fact that they, too, are a corporation looking to expand and have already placed restaurants in Florida and Oregon). I'm not a big coffee drinker, I hate all warm drinks, in fact, but during the summer, I like to have an occasional iced latte. When I took this new job, I lamented to Catherine that I would have to give up this habit long before cold weather arrived, because there wasn't a single coffee shop on the west side.

In this morning's newspaper, there was a blurb about Starbucks opening a second shop in town, on the westside. And you know, I'm going to stop there and get coffee, and I'm not going to feel bad about it. Because frankly, if Soma wanted me to drink their coffee, they would have opened a west side shop instead of trying to lure in all the college students and academics. I guess they don't think the real Hoosiers are cultured enough to buy coffee (or read, for that matter. What's up with that? Why can't I buy books on the west side? Huh?).

I guess I am one of the many Americans who puts convenience before principles. If I really hated corporate culture, I wouldn't drink at Starbucks. But damn, how can you expect me to make a 40-minute round trip just to get a cup of coffee?

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Most of my students last semester failed to write out instructor evaluations. Of the five or so that did, all were in agreement about my lack of organization. If they thought I was disorganized then, they should see me now. I feel like I've been running in circles all morning, trying to pull together class materials, write assignments, update web pages, exchange textbooks, etc. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I'll have figured out just what it is I need to do to fully prep for a class. AutoCAD isn't giving me the problem, since I've taught it before and have it more or less worked out. It's Construction Materials & Specifications and Architectural Design & Layout that are keeping me up at night.

That being said, I'm already happier than I was at my last job. I'm going to be stressed, no doubt, and I'll probably complain too much, but as I was sitting in class this morning (one of the classes I'm taking, not one I'm teaching), I was just so happy that I don't have to go back to my old job. And I'm going to learn tons of new stuff as I'm prepping Const. Mat. & Specs, probably more than I'll learn in the courses I'm taking, so that should keep me going when things get hectic.

Yay me for doing something that scared me--it was a good decision.
Whew. I made it through my first day of teaching. It went pretty good considering we were in a brand new building. I'm completely hoarse, though, I don't know how real lecturers do it.

Every instructor's station has a new set of dry erase markers, whoo hoo!

Sunday, August 25, 2002

I am sure everyone around me will be glad that I've stopped freaking out about my birthday. It was a surprisingly happy day (two days, really, because Catherine gave me two days worth of presents to celebrate the big three five). No one can be depressed on their birthday if they wake up on in a sleeping loft in a cabin overlooking the Skykomish River on a beautiful summer day in Washington. It's just not possible.

Catherine did me the great favor of packing our bags whilst I went for a birthday jog--great for clearing my sleepy head. I ran up Index Creek Road (twice), good surface, gradual uphill climb (quick downhill on the way back). Since Chong cancelled our lunch plans, we weren't in any hurry to get to Seattle, so we went for another hike after leaving the cabin. We did the Heybrook Lookout Trail, and enjoyed clear views of the river valley. Catherine managed to add a few photos to her "Susan Scared" collection after I climbed to the observation deck of the lookout tower. These will make a nice addition to the group of shots of me looking like I'm about to die that she's captured over the years.

We did eventually force ourselves to drive into Seattle. I'm afraid that I've completely lost the art of urban living. As I said to Catherine later that evening, "I've maximized my misanthropic potential." After dumping our bags at the boat, we went up to Capitol Hill for my birthday dinner. Broadway is supposed to be prime people watching territory, but I was all, "People! Get away from me! Now!" Creepy kids. They need to get a hair cut and get a job, that's what I'm saying. Broadway hasn't changed much over the past fifteen years. Businesses come and go, but the street urchins look just about the same.

Anyway, dinner was good as usual, and Catherine bought me a few books at Bailey/Coy to augment the present she gave me earlier in the day (a watch). Neither of us felt like walking around, so we went back to the boat to watch the traffic on Lake Union. Very nice evening.

My real present was the trip to Blake Island/Tillicum Village on Friday. Tillicum Village isn't as lame/exploitative as it sounds, I'm happy to say. We did, however, have this whole conversation about preserving tribal traditions. I seriously believe white people use Tradition as a major weapon of oppression--we like to keep our tribes in blankets and canoes. We like them exotic. We encourage them to remember their traditions and get angry if they'd rather be stock brokers. This is really a dilemma--how does a tribe pass on its history to its young people and still exist as real people? How do white people learn about different Native American tribes without acting like colonialist, imperialist idiots? Tillicum Village is definitely a tourist spot, but on the other hand, it employs a lot of people from coastal tribes, and it does give a glimpse at Native American history that white people otherwise don't see.

I am thoroughly disgusted at the fact that I grew up with one foot on the reservation and managed to completely avoid learning about any of the tribes' history. Seriously, my parents currently live...I don't know, 15 feet, 20 feet? (however long their back yard is) from the reservation, and yet it might as well be on Mars. Until I was 12, I lived 5 minutes from Suquamish. Then I lived just off the Colville Reservation through high school. In college, I could see Lummi Island out my window. Yet, anything I know about any of the Northwest Coastal tribes or the Colville Confederated Tribes I learned as an adult. In school, the only thing they gave us was that damned Chief Joseph film they made us watch twice a year from junior high through high school.

Anyway, I think Tillicum Village was pretty good at getting people to stop and think about life as a Native American for a few minutes, even if it was all about traditional life. The presentation kind of collapses all the tribes together, barely distinguishing the Haida from the Lummi from the Makah, etc., but I guess there is only so much you can do in 30 minutes.

It was really a good day. The boat ride over to the island took about an hour, and we were pleased to have a female captain. Spectacular views of Seattle, Bainbridge and Vashon Islands as we traveled. Although I'm in theory a vegetarian, I've never been known to turn down a good salmon dinner, so Tillicum Village was a good dining choice. After the meal, we spent a few hours just wandering around the park, spending time on the beach, watching the birds, enjoying the sun. Peaceful ride back to the city, too.

Supper was sandwiches at the Elliott Bay Bookstore, where Catherine bought me a few more books. My birthday loot really stacked up at the end of the day! She had already bought me a Raven book on Blake Island (I love the trickster, he's always been my favorite ever since Brian told me about him). I think I ended up with 7 books altogether, plus a watch, plus the cabin rental, the boat rental, and the trip to Blake Island. I should turn 35 more often.
10:19 PM

The bad thing about living in a small town: everyone knows your business.

The good thing about living in a small town: everyone knows your business.

Mark's funeral broke the attendance record for the Ellisforde Church of the Brethren. More than 300 people showed up, and they had to sit people in the Sunday School rooms and the church basement. Fire trucks from Oroville, Tonasket, Riverside, Omak, Okanogan, Brewster and Pateros showed up. The DNR showed up. The County Sheriff and local police showed up. Ernie Boltz read the scripture Shawn selected from Mark's bible, then they played the music Mark had wanted. My mom said it was "weird" and "eerie." Turns out it was Elton John. The Fireman's Prayer was read, and the firemen gave Shawn a flag. After the funeral, they had a three gun salute outside.

I don't really have to worry about Shawn. She said there were 30 rigs--not including the ambulance--at the house the day Mark died. The minute the call went out over the scanner, everyone showed up to help. Although the "helpful advice" she's been getting is starting to get on Shawn's nerves, it makes me feel better to know people are looking out for her. We took her out to dinner at Whistler's, and people instantly converged on the table to talk to her. Glenna Brown took the baby for a long time so we could sit and have a quiet meal (not that Marsie was any trouble when she came back. She's cute as the cutest bug!).

I was nervous about the visit, but it mostly went okay. It helped to see that people are actually changing the water on the alfalfa for her and all that. It freaked me out a bit to look across the room and see a black box with Mark's ashes, and part of me still kept expecting him to walk in the room just like always. I don't know how Shawn stands it, but she's a stronger person than I am, so I guess I'm not surprised she's surviving.

I saw the list Shawn was keeping to write thank you notes, and was glad to see a long list of names with dollar amounts jotted behind them. I don't know how she's going to make it financially, and I guess a lot of other people don't know how she's going to make it, either. How do you make a $10/hour job pay a mortgage, car payment, utilities, and food for a mother and a baby? It's not like the cost of living in Tonasket is lower than anywhere else. In fact, dinner at Whistler's cost us a lot more than a similar dinner would have cost us at home. How is she going to do it?

Well, at least she has a job. Generally, when people think of poverty in the U.S., they think of urban issues: inner city kids or homeless men on the sidewalks. People seldom talk about rural poverty. I don't know, I think Americans have this idealized vision of people living off the land, being healthy because they work outdoors all day, and enjoying the fruits of their labor with every harvest. Well, let me just say, that's not the way it is. According to a report I read in the Seattle P-I last week, Washington is second on the list of states where people go hungry (Oregon is first). The stats were based on people accessing food banks, which tells me that they are actually under-reporting the problem. Where, exactly, are the hungry people of rural Washington supposed to get this food bank food? Drive to Wenatchee? As if.

True story: The guy who owned the property behind our orchard at Whitestone bought a used car. He told my dad he was really excited about having a car so he could finally make one of those long trips he'd always wanted to make. "Going to Seattle?" my dad asked. Nope. This guy was going to *Okanogan*, a whole forty miles away. Turns out he'd never been out of the valley in his entire life. This isn't the type of person who is going to be able to access the resources intended to abate hunger.

Take also, for instance, the Makah tribe from Neah Bay. According to Robert Sullivan, the per capita annual income for the Makah tribe in 1995 was $5,200. Everyone (white) thinks that Native Americans are rich these days, that they get huge allotments because of the casinos. Well, there's no casino in Neah Bay, and even if there were, who the hell would go there? It's incredibly remote, and no one would drive all the hell the way out to Cape Flattery to go gambling. There aren't any jobs outside the "Beautification Committee." And I'm not even going to start listing all the other issues that might keep a tribe impoverished in the U.S.

When we go to visit my parents, I come away depressed for a number of reasons, not the least of which is finding myself plunked down in the middle of a dying, impoverished town. The stores are boarded up, the houses are falling to pieces, no one has a job, there's no water, the price of living has sky-rocketed. I drive down the highway and look at these vast, brown wastes of land where there used to be orchards, but the owners went bankrupt and had to push them. There are just wind machines sticking up in empty fields of brush now. There's a burn ban on, so some of the orchards that have been pushed haven't yet been burned. They are just stacked in piles, growing drier, waiting to be lit on fire. I actually had to fight back tears at one point when I was driving, it's like driving past heaps of giant bones waiting for the crematorium.

There's just no hope for an agricultural recovery, and it's mighty fucking depressing. It's worse than it was when I was a kid, and everyone is getting desperate. Eastern Washington is a tinder box waiting to go up in flames. People are hungry, people are resentful. The white people look around and see all the Indians and Mexicans on the street and start blaming it on them. I was having a conversation with my aunt about how much I hated Brewster, it's an ugly, depressing town, and halfway through, I realized we were in agreement, more or less, but she was blaming it on the fact that the population was 3/4 Hispanic (I didn't even know that. It's been ugly my entire life, long before formerly migrant workers started to settle there). Hispanic, Hispanic, Hispanic! I can't even count how many times I heard that word used in a negative manner last week. It is apparently interchangeable with "Ecologist" in my family. Who knew it was a swear word?

My cousin, Meaghan, who is ten, was in the grocery store a couple of weeks ago. A couple of boys walked by and said, "Hola" in a friendly manner. Meaghan's response? "I'm not Mexican, you know!" Fair enough. She's part "Louisiana French," and 1/8 Coeur d'Alene Indian. I hate the fact that she's already learned that she's not supposed to be brown, she's not supposed to be Mexican.

We live in a fucked up world, and I can't figure out how to make it better.

8:31 PM

Trail Reviews (in the order of appearance):

Rainy Lake: My uncles helped clear this trail when they worked for the Forest Service in the old days. It's hyper easy and good for kids (1 mile each way). It's paved for wheelchair use, but can get a bit bumpy with duff and gravel. Well worth the walk even if it is raining--where else can you see such a beatiful glacial lake with so little effort? There's not even any grade changes, just a flat trot out to the lake. You need a Forest Pass to park in the parking area. Keep driving east on Highway 20 to the Washington Pass overlook for some spectacular views.

Slate Creek Trail (Twisp River Trail #440): Easy hike, good trail for families once the creeks have gone down. Mostly a ridge trail, in that it follows the course of the canyon above the road. Not very hilly despite what the published information says. The single track was in good condition with only faint tire marks, so bikers must not be using it all that much. We went out and back, although allegedly you can do a 13 mile loop if you feel like walking on road FS4440 (yuk).

Mutton Ridge Trail #365: This was probably our favorite of the week, even if it did go straight up the side of a freaking mountain. The trailhead is near the sign for Salmon Meadows campground above Conconully (don't go into the campground looking for it like we did, you won't find it). Drive past the campground sign (away from the campground), across Meadow Creek, and there you will find the trailhead for three trails: Mutton Creek Trail #391 (it's only a mile long and good for kids), Mutton Ridge Trail #365, and Angel Pass Trail #344. Angel Pass Trail and Mutton Ridge Trail coincide for the first mile. When you get to the fork, go *left* otherwise you will be going to Angel Pass.

This trail goes up, up, up through the forest. It's dry with little undergrowth, and is broken up by the occasional high elevation meadow. It's also free range country, so watch out for the cattle. We started two stampedes on accident. Be prepared to get your feet wet just before the two-mile mark, the cattle have torn up the creek banks pretty thoroughly, so it's kind of a balancing act to get across the last time. You may see the two-mile marker to the left of the trail--it's attached to an fallen tree.

Pump House Trail: You might want a walking stick for this one. It's not terribly strenuous, but it does climb uphill the entire way. Also, the path is really rocky (like a riverbed), so a walking stick would be handy on the descent (and also to beat down spider webs).

Heading west on Highway 2 from Stevens Pass, turn left onto Index Creek Road just before you get to Baring. Figure out where to park your car where someone won't have it towed--it's mostly private property on either side of the road. Once you park, walk across the suspension bridge just off Highway 2 (you can drive across it, but I don't know where you'd park once you got there). After you cross the suspension bridge, walk on Index Creek Road until you see a sign to your right that says "Skylandia." Cross two foot bridges, and turn left onto the old logging trail (before the pump house). We missed it the first time, but it's actually pretty visible. This is a great trail, really wet and verdant and mossy. No mistake, you're in the northwest. Look for the giant old-growth stumps, in some of them you can still see the logging notches under the moss. There is a campsite to check out, and about a mile up the trail there is a patch of asphalt, why is it there? No idea. The locals have made good use of a giant fallen tree, incorporating it into a footbridge. The trail apparently extends some way up the mountain, but we had to stop when we came to a creek bed with no obvious crossing. I didn't want to break a bone trying to cross so close to the start of hockey season.

Wallace Falls Trail: This trailhead is easy to find, as it is located in Wallace Falls State Park, Goldbar, Washington. We took the "Woody Trail" instead of the railroad grade. This lower trail is shorter, but allegedly a little more rugged. We had no problems--it was easier than Mutton Ridge, but harder than Slate Creek. The trail system is quite accessible, so very popular, and we were never really by ourselves. And I'll admit, we stopped at Middle Wallace Falls, we just didn't have enough daylight left to go to Upper Wallace Falls (I was tired of uphill by then, anyway).

Nice view of the falls, nice place to spend the day. Two thumbs up for accessibility and la buena vista.

Heybrook Lookout Trail #1070: You need a Forest Pass for this one, too. It's right off Highway Two at the 37.6 mile marker (just across from the Snoqualmie-Mt. Baker Forest sign as you head west from Baring). The trailhead is on the north side of the highway, the forest sign on the south side.

When you stop to register at the trailhead, you will see a pile of walking sticks. Take one 'cause you're going to need it on the descent! Be kind and put it back when you're done with it. This trail seemed short, about a two-mile round trip, but it goes unrelentingly up (900 feet elevation change). Actually, the up isn't the problem, it's the down. We definitely used the walking sticks.

Don't give up even if you don't like uphill climbs. Pretty soon you'll be at the lookout tower and will have the best view you've had all week.

Blake Island: We hiked around Blake Island after eating lunch at Tillicum Village. Not a challenging hike by any means, but definitely one of the most beautiful places to work off your dinner. We interrupted our progress to hang out on the beach for a bit. The island is only accessible by boat, so we had plenty of opportunities to watch boat traffic, one of my favorite past times. This was the second easiest hike of the week (Rainy Lake being the easiest), but one that I would repeat daily given the chance.

3:52 PM

I'm officially a 60-minute runner. We had to get up and run early last Saturday, we were freezing to death. The thermometer at camp said 38 degrees when we went by on our way to the road, no wonder we were so cold. Even Carl got cold, and he had all the blankets in his tent.

Anyway, I felt good at the 60-minute point, but I know the run was easier because the air was cold and dry. It was a great run up the river. We went running and/or hiking every day we were on vacation (one of my upcoming notes here will be trail reviews), and I feel all the better for it. I'm not a great believer in "nature as great healer," not by a long shot, but it did do me good to get away from everyone and spend some time out in the wilderness for a change.

Camping was fun, it's amazing how much I like my extended relatives. You'd think we'd hate each other given that I'm the only left-leaning person in the clan, and my uncle truly believes "ecologist" is a cuss word. It just goes to show that politics don't have to be divisive. Just because we don't agree doesn't mean we don't get along. Maybe there's a little bit of compromising going on, maybe I should push my point a little harder, but frankly, I'd rather just go wading in the river and forget about it all for a few days.

Hard to escape the fact that Bush is an idiot, though. I spent some time fuming about his forest-land power grab maneuvering last week. I'm glad someone showed up to protest him in Portland, even if they got tear-gassed for their efforts.

Anyway, camping. Was fun. Played in the river, went for a couple walks, went hiking on the Slate Creek trail, took the kids up to Rainy Pass for the short hike into Rainy Lake. Ate a lot of food I didn't have to cook myself (bonus!).

Next installment:

Up early on Friday to go for a quick run, then a lot of hustle and bustle loading the cars to go camping. This is the first time my dad has gone with us, he usually stays home. He told Catherine at one point during the weekend he was only going because I wanted him to, and that partly made me feel good because he was doing something he thought was important to me, but partly made me feel bad, because it must have sucked to be around all that cigarette smoke. He told her it was hard to breathe, and I can believe it. My lungs are perfectly healthy, but when ten people are simultaneously exhaling cigarette smoke in my direction, I am forced to cough.

My dad and I don't talk much, he mostly tells stuff to Catherine and she passes it on to me. He told her how much he appreciated my coming home in February, and it seems that he more or less admitted that my siblings are less than responsible when it comes to taking care of things around the house, etc. And he also apparently admitted that Tim was a complete jerk, but since he's his oldest son, what can he do? I have a few ideas of what he can do, but I doubt he'd want to hear them.

I felt bad because Dad tried to start several conversations with me, but it's hard to re-train myself to talk to him. I'm afraid to say anything that really matters to me for fear that he'll pounce on it and use it to hurt me. We didn't really argue (well, okay, maybe once), we just didn't really say much because I was doing a "yeah/no" routine all weekend. It didn't start out that way, I guess, but one of the first conversations we had Friday morning really knocked me off balance. I've been puzzling for awhile now over our family tree, because let's face it, there is nothing on the paper version of our lineage that explains our ethnicity. And I was looking at some photos and thinking out loud, and that always leads to problems.

An actual conversation with my parents:

Me: (looking at photos of my cousin) I just don't get where our coloring comes from.

Mom: It's Lousiana French.

Me: How can it be Cajun? I've never met anyone with French blood from Louisiana as dark as Sean, Toran and Meaghan.

Mom: No, not Cajun, Louisiana French.

Me: That is Cajun. You know, the French? Acadia? That's what Louisiana French is.

Dad: She means they're niggers.

Me: (Saying nothing because I'm too shocked. Did he just say what I thought he said?)

Mom: Chuck, you know if I had said that, you'd read me the riot act.

Me: (Regretting I ever said anything but continuing to talk anyway, like the idiot that I am) We don't look African-American. Latino, Mexican, Native American, maybe, but not African-American.

Dad: I should sue your mom for lying to me.

Me: What?

Dad: She didn't tell me I was marrying into a black family. That's misrepresentation.

Me: I don't think that will hold up in a court of law, Dad.

Dad: She lied, she didn't tell me I was marrying a black woman.

Me: As far as I know, miscegenation laws weren't in effect when you got married.

Dad: I think I should sue her for misrepresentation.

So, maybe my dad was joking at least a little bit, I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt. I find it incredibly depressing, however, that my parents--who have had every opportunity to learn more about the world, get to know their neighbors, inform themselves of how ethnic/racial stereotpyes harm people--grow more bigoted instead of less as time passes. My parents are literate, they both finished highschool and tech school, my mom is now in college, my dad was in the military, they read a lot, they have internet access and a satellite dish. Yet nothing seems to change, unless it gets worse. If it's this bad with them, what kind of hope is there for joe militia man, living up in the hills, shooting at everything that moves? It's just too fucking depressing, and this is a lot of why I dread going home.

We had another brief conversation on Sunday about using Spanish at work that I don't have the heart to type out, but really confirmed a suspicion I've had for awhile about my parents hierarchy of racism. In their eyes, it's bad to be African-American, definitely. But if you have to be something other than white, it's better to be black than anything else. It's completely shameful to be Native American, but it's better to be that than to be Asian-American. And it's better to be Asian-American than Mexican-American. And better to be Mexican-American than just plain Mexican. It's not just my parents, unfortunately. Maybe that's the worst part. I heard the same sentiments from other relatives, relatives I really like, over the weekend.

I don't know, by the end of the weekend, I just wanted to gather all my "of color" friends up, hold them close to me and protect them. Okay...I guess that sounds a bit paternalistic. It's not like anyone I know needs the weird white chick to help them out. But, maybe it's like being gay--I can get all the gay people I want to agree that I should be given certain basic rights, but unless I get the straight people to work for me, too, it's not going to happen. It's just...I can't stand to think of people I care about having to listen to and be hurt by this crap. Well, again, maybe it's like being gay. Pretty much by the time you get to be 30, you've learned how to tune things out so they don't bother you so much. If you get too distracted by being hurt and angry, you can't get anything done.

10:19 PM

Ten thousands notes to write down about our trip.

The trip out was pretty uneventful aside from a weather delay in Houston. It only set us back an hour, so it was just getting dark when we headed north from Wenatchee. I was wicked tired, with sandpaper eyelids, and not looking forward to driving in the dark, *but* dark is the perfect condition for watching wildfires burn. In the first draw just past Beebe Bridge (Chelan Falls), we pulled off the highway to watch the newest inferno. Terribly beautiful, like a John Martin painting, but done with the palette of Frederick Edwin Church.

After the excitement of watching pine trees explode into flames, we drove the rest of the way to my parents' house. I could hardly wait to get to sleep, and instantly made up our beds in the backyard. And I did get a few hours of sleep, but that was it. Of course, a windstorm struck as we were sleeping. The next day we found out the winds were clocked at 60mph. I toughed it out for almost an hour, trying to hold the blankets over my head, but we kept getting pelted with dirt and rocks and tree branches and twigs. When my mom's watering can hit me on the head, I finally said, "Fuck this!" and dragged our air mattress inside and wedged it between my parents La-Z-Boys. Of course, my dad gets up hyper early, so we only got a couple hours of sleep altogether. I didn't turn my parents' police scanner down quite far enough, and the storm-related calls that went out all night kept waking me up.

9:43 PM

Man, I go away for ten days, and not only do I not get any good real mail, I don't get any personal e-mail, either. What have my friends been doing for the last week and a half while I've been out enjoying myself? My god.

We seriously didn't want to come back from vacation, maybe we wouldn't have if we were a) independently wealthy and b) didn't miss the kitties.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Today my co-workers gave me a going-away party. It was really nice of them. They made good food and gave me a couple things, gift cards to Office Depot and Borders. I didn't even freak out about the fat content in the pound cake and ice cream.

It feels kind of strange sitting here, doing less than nothing, waiting for it to be five o'clock. Everything is packed up, even my earphones, so I can't listen to music. Mostly I am just waiting for it to be tomorrow. I hate to fly, but I am anxious to be at home. I'm really looking forward to the drive over the Cascades, and I'm looking forward to having my car window down as we drive up the valley, listening to the sprinklers in the orchards. I miss sprinklers! There is no irrigation system in Indiana, and I miss the ch-ch-ch sound of sprinklers outside my bedroom window at night. Instead, we just have those damn cicadas.

Well, it occurs to me now that maybe we won't drive up the valley, we might go over the North Cascades Highway, then over the Loop. It doesn't matter because, as they say, All Roads Lead to Tonasket.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Vacation is almost here, finally. Places I plan to be:

Okanogan (where my parents and aunt live)

Twisp (camping on the river with my mom's family)

North Cascades Smokejumper Base (looking for Uncle Dale)

Okanogan National Forest (day hiking, driving with Uncle Ernie[!])

Tonasket (hometown, visiting Shawn and my cousins)

Sky Cabins (never did find anyone to share it with us)

University of Washington (obligatory visit to alma mater)

Tugboat Challenger (our favorite B&B, lots of time spent watching the boat traffic on Lake Union)

Capitol Hill (birthday dinner on Broadway)

Tillicum Village (grade school field trip 25 years after the fact)

Blake Island State Park (Catherine got the "hiker's special" so we could spend the afternoon in the fresh air)

3:07 PM

Interesting books on the "new" shelf of the Undergraduate Library:

Sunday, August 11, 2002

One of the reasons I liked Mark so much was that he never teased me, not even in high school when he could have. I mean, even Morgan teased me, and he was definitely way below me in the social pecking order. So, when Mark and I were put together in our Home Ec group, of course I expected him to be a jerk, because teenaged boys just are. Especially boys who were wild like Mark and skipped class and smoked marijuana and just generally didn't behave themselves. Mark was particulary brazen about being bad--not only did he skip Home Ec class on a regular basis, he parked his Camaro in plain sight of our classroom windows so the teacher could see him sitting out there getting high.

So, a couple years later, when Shawn told me she was dating Mark Brazil, I was incredulous. "Mark? Brazil?!! Are you nuts?!" She told me he was completely reformed, he was a nice guy, settled down, dependable. Well, he was a nice guy before, we had a blast making a taco salad dinner for our final Home Ec project, but I was dubious, because, hey, he was a complete stoner. The first couple times I went out with them, I kept expecting him to say something mean to me, just because he could. And he never did. And he never had, in the twenty-one years I've known him, he was always nice. Nice to me, nice to Shawn.

This isn't how it's supposed to be. Shawn and Mark are always supposed to be there when I go home. I mean, I was supposed to spend time with them next week, it was all arranged, and it's just not possible that it's not happening. Shawn and Mark were supposed to be there when we move home in the next couple of years, and we were supposed to spend the next twenty years getting together, sitting on the porch, and discussing the alfalfa crop. We're supposed to grow old together.

I completely called my mom a liar when she called to tell me. I was telling her, "You've got the wrong person, it must be his dad," and telling her she got the name wrong. And she started reading it out of the paper to me, "Mark F. Brazil, 38, Tonasket," and even then, I was sure she was wrong. She had to be wrong. She had to be.

And I should be there right now, I really should. Shawn's my best friend, well, now my only friend, from my hometown, and how can I not be there? I tried to find a flight that would get me there and back, but couldn't. I really did try, but I couldn't make it work out. And I really, really should be there. Shawn has been there for me so many times, she really kept me from killing myself in high school, and now here I am all the way across the country, and what good is that doing us? And I hate myself for not calling last week. I meant to, and I just didn't get around to it, and now it's too late and I fucking hate myself for not calling.

I felt a little better after I finally talked to Shawn, and she pointed out that she won't need me so much at the funeral, there will be hundreds of people there. It's later she'll need me, and then I will be there. I feel like I'm just sitting here, waiting for Thursday to come so I can get home and see Shawn and the baby. I could hear Marsie fussing while we talked. Shawn said she was okay the first day, but the second day, she started fussing and saying "Da da," so that just sucks, and I don't know how Shawn can bear it. Mark can't be gone, Marsie is only nine months old, and it just isn't supposed to be this way.

Shawn seems to be holding up pretty good, she says she has to because of Marsie. She can't kill herself because then some nutcase relative would end up raising her daughter, and she can't let that happen. That was such a brutal phone call to make. The first time I called, I talked to her sister, which was a little surreal, but then I finally talked to Shawn. She says people call to say they're sorry, and then she ends up comforting them. I just...I'm trying not to think about it, what it must have been like, how horrible it must have been. She took him about a minute to die, but it felt a lot longer. She did everything she could, she's an EMT, and then they worked on him for an hour at the hospital, but they couldn't bring him back. She said she knew right away that he was gone, before the ambulance even got there, and that the worst part was that the last memory she'll ever have of him is the look of terror in his eyes.

Morgan feels awful, probably even guiltier than I do. He's trapped in Jersey until September 1, he can't quit his job until then otherwise he loses all his insurance and benefits. He's in bad shape, he is feeling maybe even guiltier than me, wondering why he didn't quit his job a month sooner, why doesn't he quit now so he can get home? He and Mark had all these plans for September after he moved back home, and now everything's different.

There probably were hundreds of people at the funeral today. Shawn's lived in Tonasket all her life, worked at Al's for 1/2 her life as a checker or store manager, and knows everyone. And everyone knows her. Plus all her relatives, and all Mark's. Plus Mark was a firefighter, so all the firefighters and ambulance and hospital people will be there. I don't think the church will be able to hold them all. My mom said she would go for me, so I feel a little better about that.

I knew it was bad when my mom called and left a message for us. She said she would keep Carl off the modem until I called back, and that means it's serious. On the other hand, it also meant that my father hadn't died because surely Carl wouldn't be playing online games if Dad had just died. It's amazing all the thoughts that can race through your head in the ten seconds between listening to a phone message and calling back.

So, mostly I'm just waiting to go home. I think I'm mostly okay, at least when I'm busy with something. We went out this evening because we'd already made arrangements and paid our money, etc., and I was okay while we were busy eating, but once the music started, my mind was free to wander, and then I was crying again. I guess it will be this way for awhile. Just when I think I'm stable, and let my mind start to work, it comes around on me and I have to pull myself together again.

I just want to go home.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Double mmm...add an iced mocha on top of lunch. Beth stopped by but didn't have time to stay, so I walked across campus with her. She was meeting someone at Starbucks, so I helped myself to a coffee while I was there. The weather is so beautiful, it's a shame to be inside. Walking across campus reminded me of why I chose IU over Northwestern and Brown to begin with. It's such a pretty space, very easy to occupy.
3:22 PM

Mmmm...Catherine, Diane and I had a great lunch at a Japanese restaurant just off campus (Domo). My stomach is feeling very happy because it is full of teriyaki salmon and sticky rice.
1:35 PM

Wow. I should do this more often. I couldn't figure out when I was going to find time to work out today, so I got up early (for me) and went for a run at 5:45 a.m. Fantastico. No humidity, no other people, just birds and a barely risen sun. It made me feel like a kid again. And the walk to campus from Bryan Park was quite peaceful, I arrived at work all relaxed. Ah....endorphins.

Resolved (while running):

  • I will stop tweaking about visiting my parents. There are a whole lot of things to look forward to in the next two weeks, and I'm going to focus on those instead.
  • I will stop worrying about teaching. The worst that can happen is I have to drop the classes I'm taking on the side, and that's not a catastrophe. I may suck at teaching construction materials, but the class can't possibly be worse than it was when I took it, so why worry?
  • I will not get completely despondent over gaining weight. In fact, I'm done stepping on the scale. Finito.

That should keep me going for awhile. If I keep up this twitchy behavior, I'm going to have to buy all my friends back pretty soon. By the time the semester finishes, I'll have to get them all big, expensive presents and make really elaborate-yet-elegant cards in which I've written extensive and heartfelt apologies for being a freak (again).

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

I am very pleased to be able to write the following:

Today is my nine month anniversary. I gave up drinking Coke on November 6, 2001.

However, today is also the anniversary of the day the U.S. dropped the bomb, so there's probably not a lot to celebrate in the big picture of things.

5:40 PM

Here's a hint--don't be suddenly remembering all the projects you wanted me to do during my last week of work. If they were so important, you should have given them to me months ago when I was dying of boredom. I'm not about to do anything you want me to do for you now.
5:20 PM

Here's what annoys me. I worked really hard on a 16-page discussion on ethics for my philosophy class, and the teacher couldn't even be bothered to write anything on it besides the grade. Not even "Good Job." It's a *philosophy* course, it's supposed to involve discussion and feedback.
3:32 PM

Written on the Body was okay. It just seemed a little too ponderous, as if the author worked really, really hard to find just the right lyrical phrase. And the structure (the "body part" chapters) didn't really work for me. It wasn't a complete waste of time, but I don't think I'll be one of those people who will read it twelve times.
2:41 PM

Russian Feminism Resources
12:54 PM

I really wanted to like Emma Donoghue's Slammerkin. I enjoyed Stir-Fry when I first read it ten years ago, and was actually moved to tears by Hood. In fact, I won't read Hood again because I'll just get all freaked out that Catherine is going to die. Anyway, I wanted to like Slammerkin, and I've been making daily attempts to get through it, but it's just not holding my attention. I've never been really good at historical fiction, anyway, and the 18th century is probably my least favorite time period (well, it's competing with the entire Middle Ages for the award for "The Most Boring Time Period Known to Human Kind," but that's another diary entry). I neither empathize nor sympathize with the main character, and I'm really disappointed. Catherine is reading it now, she'll probably get along better with it, being the Tom Jones fan that she is.
11:16 AM

Just to prove that we are indeed gay, we're going to the GLBTAA summer barbeque this Saturday. And if that isn't enough to guarantee our credentials, we're even going to stay for the Tret Fure concert. Hell must be freezing over even as I type.
9:31 AM

I can't believe Coach Bennett agreed to playing in the Great Alaska Shootout. What was she thinking? The only thing worse would be playing in Hawaii. Why wear out the team in the pre-season for some pointless game 4 time zones away?

Our non-conference schedule seems weak to me, nothing like it was last year. The only real challenger outside the Big Ten is Florida State. Well, I guess I'll give the coach the benefit of the doubt, she did take up to the Big Dance last year, but geez, the Great Alaska Shootout?

Real Sports: The Authority in Women's Sports

9:23 AM

As Catherine points out, it's normal for me to get twitchy before visiting my parents. Even under normal circumstances, visiting the family stresses me out, and this visit may be unusually stressful. Combine that with being injured, a rather radical job change, financial worries, and the general state of the world, and I guess it's not so odd that I'm a little anxious.

My shorts today are funny. They are pretty long like I like them, but they look like they are made out of a mattress cover. They have vertical blue stripes just like my Grandpa Longanecker's overalls used to have.

Monday, August 05, 2002

I have mixed feelings about the "Lesbians for Liberty" kiss in at the New York/Miami game this weekend. They're right on the money, the WNBA sure does like to pretend that the crowd isn't full of dykes. It's just not my preferred form of protest, I guess.

While I'm bitching, I just have to is one of the most sports content-free sites I have ever had the misfortune to visit. Who the hell cares what the players think about Anna Kournikova? I guess it's better than, they don't even bother to cover the WNBA.

I miss sportsjones :(

4:25 PM

Efficient Wood Use in Residential Construction
Building Materials and Wood Technology, UMass
Single Family Residential Construction Guide

02 Site Construction

02450 Foundation and Load-Bearing Elements

Leaning Tower of Pisa (official site)
Leaning Tower of Pisa (NOVA site)
Evaluation of Preservation Plans, Leaning Tower

02455 Driven Piles
02465 Bored Piles
02475 Caissons
02480 Foundation Walls

12:48 PM

04 Masonry - Masonry Advisory Council - National Concrete Masonry Association - The Masonry Society - Masonry Institute of America - Masonry Institute of Washington - World of Concrete - The Concrete Network

04000 Masonry
04050 Basic Masonry Materials and Methods
04060 Masonry Mortar
04070 Masonry Grout
04080 Masonry Anchorage and Reinforcement
04090 Masonry Accessories
04200 Masonry Units
04210 Clay Masonry Units
04220 Concrete Masonry Units
04230 Calcium Silicate Masonry Units
04270 Glass Masonry Units
04290 Adobe Masonry Units
04400 Stone
04410 Stone Materials
04420 Collected Stone
04430 Quarried Stone
04500 Refractories
04550 Flue Liners
04560 Combustion Chambers
04570 Castable Refractories
04580 Refractory Brick
04600 Corrosion-Resistant Masonry
04610 Chemical-Resistant Brick
04620 Vitrified Clay Liner Plates
04700 Simulated Masonry
04710 Simulated Brick
04720 Cast Stone
04730 Simulated Stone
04800 Masonry Assemblies
04810 Unit Masonry Assemblies
04820 Reinforced Unit Masonry Assemblies
04830 Non-Reinforced Unit Masonry Assemblies
04840 Prefabricated Masonry Panels
04850 Stone Assemblies
04880 Masonry Fireplaces
04900 Masonry Restoration and Cleaning
04910 Unit Masonry Restoration
04920 Stone Restoration
04930 Unit Masonry Cleaning
04940 Stone Cleaning

Monroe County Building Permits FAQ
City of Bloomington Planning Department
City of Bloomington Engineering Department
ACE Asia
City of Boulder Residential Building Guide
Metro King County, Obtaining a Residential Building Permit
Foundations: Moisture Resistant Construction
OSU Syllabus, Building Construction

12:16 PM

That's what I said.
9:56 AM

Tears and nausea. Fran brought in pictures of Ryan's car today. I don't know how it is that he's still alive, it just doesn't look possible.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

I'm not quite sure if I should laugh or cry.


I am working, have a kid named Krishna, one year and ten months. My wife, she was a maths graduate studying Norwegian. That's my family. Mother became an Australian citizen and Aussie pensionist. She went to Sri Lanka and back to Australia last month. Life still goes on. 35 years. Don't worry, you are still young. Don't think about the years, feel like young forever. You were born on 22 Aug 67; I was born on 22 march 67. Something happened with us. You know when I have done the 9th standard you wrote to me, then you went to Russia, after that LA, and Oregon. I wrote letters and was with you in those days. Very interesting, but you were very negative about your appearence, I mean, how you look like. I don't know why? You look great.

The day you wrote me a letter almost 20 years ago you mentioned that. You still do have that attitude. You have to forget all those naive thoughts. Be a sweet positive girl. I will meet you one day then we talk about all this rubbish. In one way, I miss you as a friend but as a boy I was very shocked the day you told me that you are gay. That was not wrong but I was very jealous, I don't know why.

Take care. Susan, why don't you send your latest photo? Don't worry, I am a family man.

Life is short, make it sweet.

Your pal.

7:44 PM

Obsession. As if I didn't really know that already.
7:21 PM

If I can survive the rest of the work day, I'll have made it through the weekend. It's gonna be close. Intensive Freshmen Seminars have their self-guided library tours today, and this place is insane.

Up at six a.m. to go back to the Speedo Championship Series swim meet, where we volunteered checking deck passes for four hours. Getting up at 6:00 shouldn't be so hard, but we were up early yesterday to go to the gym, and up late last night (went to Indy for a lackluster Fever game). In between those two events we attended a wedding reception. We didn't get home from the concert on Friday until well after midnight. I feel like I'm running on empty right now, and the library is just out of control.

Lots to jot down about the weekend. Erika looked spectacular at the reception yesterday, so elegant. So...Audrey Hepburn. I hope she and Henry are happy for a long time. Of course, I spent the entire afternoon after we left the reception critiquing the institution of marriage. That's somewhat hypocritical as Catherine and I did indeed have a wedding ceremony, but I really have a hard time with straight weddings, even if I like everyone involved. It's just that the married women I know just don't ever seemed completely pleased with the situation. All they do is bitch about their husbands. If they're not happy, why the hell are they still doing this same stupid thing day after day? And everyone acts as if being married for 50 years is some big deal, because of course it took fortitude and endurance to make it that far. And I'm wondering, if it's such a freaking hard job, isn't that a sign that something's wrong? I'm incredibly pleased to have spent the last decade with Catherine, and let me tell you, there wasn't a lot of work involved.

Speaking of Catherine...we had such a great talk on the way back from the game last night, an hour and a half of just really good conversation. It seems like we're doing exceptionally well right now, our relationship just suddenly deepened a few months ago. I mean, obviously we still squabble, and there was a period of inexplicable discord earlier this year, I can see it in my journal, but it seems like it just resolved itself one day and now we're completely in synch, maybe even more than before. It's a good thing I never wanted to be a writer, because articulating emotions in words is an impossibility for me, but I ended the day feeling sated and content on many levels. I'm just very happy that I get to live with her, I can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing.

Saturday, August 03, 2002

Whew--it's after midnight and I'm still awake (not insomnia awake, just regular awake). Just got home from Indy, we went to see a Jimmy Eat World concert tonight. Very cool. Great lights and staging, very energetic performance.*

I think that we've now spent enough time in heterosexual teenage world to last us awhile, though. And there should be some sort of law against women fixing their makeup in the public bathroom. I don't want to see your grooming habits, okay? Just wash your hands and get the fuck out.

The first opening band was called "Recover," and boy, did they suck. They were like a parody of a hard-rock band. They reminded me of those boys in the 1980s that would run around in tight, black, faded AC/DC shirts and rock out in their garages. These guys all looked alike, with full heads of stringy hair, and they danced around the stage doing this Beavis and Butthead head jamming thing.

Me: It's like Kurt Cobain meets White Snake.
Catherine: If only.

As Catherine pointed out, this was one band that needed to spend more time in the garage.

The only downside of the night was this obnoxious guy wearing an obscene gay-bashing t-shirt. I wanted to just stick my foot on his ass and push him over, but didn't. I think I showed great restraint.

Wow, I'm tired. Went running this morning, then went sailing in the afternoon (after suffering through one incredibly awful haircut). Aaron was out at the lake. I can't believe someone who double-majored in computer science and telecommunications can't get a job, esp. since Diane and I will give him great references. It's nice now that he's not my student anymore, we can talk about all that junk that doesn't go over well in the work place. Like, today we were looking at my wrist splint, and he was telling me this funny story about the time he somehow hurt his wrist and it swelled up. He went to the doctor, and the doctor suggested that he was masturbating too much. Now, I know many men who are probably cradling sore wrists right now, but Aaron's a pretty bright boy and wouldn't be stupid enough to go to the doctor if that was the real problem.

Anyway, although I almost capsized the boat, I put in some good tacking and jibing practice. Aaron said he'd take me sailing in the next couple of weeks and give me a few pointers.

*As an aside, the fact that I own 3 Jimmy Eat World CDs is proof that MP3s are not destroying the music industry. I heard one Jimmy Eat World song on the radio, and kind of liked it, so I went looking for their website. I downloaded 3 different MP3s from the site, liked them so much, I instantly went out and bought 3 CDs. If I had only heard that one song, I would never have bought even one CD, 'cause I'm not going to spend $20 based on a single.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

My best advice: If you're worried about getting older, don't schedule a lunch date with *the* ex-girlfriend on your 35th birthday.
8:38 PM

Okay, finally, after a ten year pout, I am going to read Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson. I actually wanted to read it when it came out a decade ago, but just before I bought it/checked it out of the library, I read an interview with the author, and it put me off her work for...well, at least ten years, huh? She was so arrogant and condescending in the interview, I never wanted to read anything by her again. It was probably all due to the way the article was edited, or maybe she really is arrogant (I suspect she has good reason). Anyway, I started Written on the Body while I was up in the stacks this afternoon, and I'm going to read it. I'm not, however, going to explore her website until I'm done, just to make sure she doesn't annoy me again and make me miss a good work of prose.

Addendum: I just have to add this review for the book from Cracked me up.

Boring!, July 1, 2002
Reviewer: A reader from san diego, ca United States
I bought this book because of a reccomendation in Oprah's mag. It repeats similar events over and over.

4:02 PM

I didn't learn anything much by reading this article, but man, I wish I had thought of writing a dissertation on sailing.
1:14 PM

The things I didn't learn in school...Catherine picked up a book about the Confederates of Brazil yesterday. I am daily amazed at all the stuff I don't know.

Os Confederados

12:11 PM

It's about time. Lisa Leslie isn't my favorite player (her glamour always gets in the way), but I'm glad *someone* finally threw down the dunk. I don't think it was as nice as Michelle Snow's dunk last year, but I'll take what I can get.
11:53 AM

Our parking permit expired yesterday, and I didn't want to go through the hassle of getting another one for 9 days of work. So, we parked the car at Bryan Park and walked to work from there this morning. It's a nice walk, through the Vinegar Hill neighborhood where all the faculty live in houses we'll never be able to afford. Not those big, ugly half-million dollar brown boxes in Hyde Park that the administrators live in, but the nice houses with some sense of architectural identity in an old neighborhood. Anyway, a pleasant walk, a bit of passive exercise.

Our office is a bit confused today since Fran is out taking care of her son. I think everyone is a bit stressed out about it, I know neither Diane nor I slept well last night. I had a bad dream about Fran and Ryan, usually an indication that I'm a bit tweeky. Diane only got two hours of sleep, seeing Fran all upset freaked her out. And really, when Fran's not here, the office falls apart.

A few minutes later: Both Diane and I teared up just now talking to Carolyn about yesterday's events. Then the conversation turned to the news that the FBI is searching Salt Creek again, and we all three got upset.

Wow. $573.51 to rent a car for our trip to Washington in August. This is when I start wishing we had some good neighbors or friends that love to travel and would like to go camping with us and split the cost of the rental. Okay, that's the budget-conscious (for "budget-conscious" read "skinflint") part of me speaking, but every trip we take we have the same conversation, "Wouldn't it be great if we a friend (or friends) who also liked to travel?" Not that Catherine and I don't have plenty of fun on our own, we definitely do, but both our parents always traveled with other couples, and that just seems how it should be to me. Well, I'm flexible on the couple part, I'd settle for one friend in the backseat (or even better, the driver's seat, I am sooooo sick of driving everywhere).

It just seems a shame to not have company sometimes. When we went to the Smokies, we had a cabin that slept 8, and there was just the two of us. The cabin we're renting in Washington sleeps 6, and still, there's just the two of us. I don't want someone that would be a 24/7 companion on every trip we take, but sometimes it would be nice just to have some one to break up the monotony of our conversations, that typically go something like this:

Catherine: Did you...?

Me: Uh huh. Last week. What..?

Catherine: He didn't want to, but...

Me: Still, the apples....

Catherine: What about...?

Me: Yeah, I thought about that, but...

Catherine: Yeah, you're right, we could....

Me: We already did that.

That's what happens when you live together for ten years.

10:40 PM

Feeling pretty good about being alive, for a change. I spent a good chunk of my day waiting in the emergency room with a friend from work. Her son was in a serious car accident late this morning. He's pretty fucked up, but essentially okay. Well, it's easy for me to say that because it's not me with all those broken bones and stuff, but at least he's not dead. It took forever for them to transport him to Bloomington from Bloomfield. Fran was sure he was dead because Bobby (her husband) drove straight to the scene, and she kept saying, "He wouldn't go out there just because the car is totaled, he's going there because he's dead," and there wasn't a lot I could say except to tell her that since we didn't really know what was up, we should probably focus on the fact that he has a broken arm. Well, I think his arm might be okay, it's his femur that's toast, but anyway, there's going to be a lot of pain and a lot of physical therapy, but it seems he should pull through.

I'm can't decide if I'm a good person to have around in a crisis or a bad person. The more emotional people around me get, the more unemotional I get--I have no problem detaching myself from hysterical people. In that sense, it's good to have me there because I'm the only one who is calm enough to drive across town, remembering to grab the insurance card and house keys before I leave. On the other hand, if you're having a crisis and need someone to give you a hug or pat your shoulder, you probably won't want me around. I'm perfectly willing to sit there and keep you company while you cry, and I really would want to be there, but there's not much chance of me actually knowing how to comfort you. So take solace in the fact that I'll drive you to the emergency room in one piece, 'cause that's probably all I'm going to be able to do.

Anyway, that was kind of a hectic day. After I left the emergency room, I went sailing, and I figure any day that you don't drown has to be a good day, right? I don't know, I was feeling pretty brave and proud of myself, this was the first time I took a boat out completely by myself. I got becalmed a couple times and was having a hard time figuring out which way to find the wind, but I got myself out and back again. Then I heard this really loud guy who was captaining the E-Scow critiquing my (bad) sailing technique to all his buddies. I head him say, "Do you know what that guy on the Sunfish is doing wrong?" and I was the only person in a Sunfish on the lake, so it had to have been me, then I was treated to a list of things I needed to do differently. He was probably right, but just the fact that I had to hear them shouted across the water to his friends made me not want to do them. And it took a little pleasure out my afternoon, I guess. But, still, I did something that frightens me and that I'm not very good at, and that pleases me.

5:56 PM

Don't forget to do all this junk this week:

  • Thursday
    • 6-8, swim meet duty

  • Friday
    • Buy something to wear on Saturday? Blah.
    • Get haircut
    • Finish essay?
    • Start Philosophy exam
    • Probably need to pick up wedding present
    • Check mapquest for Murat
    • Concert @ 7:30

  • Saturday
    • wedding reception @ 11:30
    • Game @ 7:00

  • Sunday
    • 6:45-10:45, swim meet duty
    • 1:00 work