Monday, October 22, 2018

So, what?

Breakfast was a weekend thing for Mary and me, at least until the whole era of weight loss began. Though we still get up early on occasion, and still eat too much for fun, it’s now more disciplined – we’ve become warriors of the chronically hungry, we are fighting for our fitness. It’s like being in a church built for a cold and withholding god, or just a regular church with bad wafers and cloistered people telling you how to live.

With the season changing to sweater weather and an easier way to hide the fat, it is even more of a treat to eat breakfast out – and the cold firms you up and reduces the jiggles when you walk back to the car of shame and go home.

Los Gatos Café is a favorite -- the potatoes are to die for, the bacon crisp, and they offer a bakery item with every meal. The seating is tight, lots of people have disposable income, kids, and the wish to be served by others – it’s Los Gatos.

We arrive and are seated next to a standard four-person family. I immediately notice the boy opening a plastic baggie of mushrooms and then dumping them on the table. The boy is young and looks it. The mushrooms are dried and stringy – I know exactly what they are.

The mom and dad are talking to each other and the sister is reading a Harry Potter library book. They arrived before us but have ordered and are awaiting their food. I’m amused, but jaded, and look down to my menu out of habit, I already know what I’m getting – if I was Schrödinger’s cat, I’d be dead, and you’d know it. I’ve become predictable, my growth rings are static.

I order, then look back to the table with the boy – the plastic bag is still there, but now he is playing with miniature star war figures.  There is no sign that the mushrooms were ever there.

As my meal arrives, I glance back at the table several times, but nothing changes. Everyone in the room is acting out their own behaviors as I watch -- the eaters eat, the standers wait, the full of food ask what tip to leave from their spouses. Nothing changes, not the speed of time and not the clarity of the room – It just is as it always is – the only variable is me, and I think – when I’m gone, will anything ever move again?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Road trip, Part 3

End of Road trip (part 3)

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls. “
Anaïs Nin

I ended the last part of this tale by leaving Seligman, part 3 will be a backward version of the front two parts. Think of it as a formal, structured telling, like some villanelle with funky tercets that are placed out of context and instead in time, or a Looney Toon projected on a womb.

 It was still early afternoon when I left Seligman, and I thought again about ending this story where it seemed to end, but here we are.

Instead of heading back to Kingman the way I came -- on the cop infested 2-lane road that has become the dead dream shopping cart of the old route 66, I jumped onto Interstate 40 – one of the very last sections of the interstate system to be completed, excepting Hawaii. I think it took so long because it was so hard to do, and the fact that it’s in the middle of Arizona, a place where it’s easy not to care, and what does the Hawaii interstate connect to?

I first drove this section with my dad in the long ago – it was late night and we listened to the royal wedding (Charles and Diana) live on the radio as we drove. The road itself is pretty straightforward, with the occasional jaw dropping bit that tick and tock inside your head-- that hard-shell reminder bell that's deep inside of you -- and a loud shout out to the industrial might of group action by large men trying to make a buck off the government teat in the hot ass middle of nowhere-- The stuff and drive that can start a world war or build a dam-- all one hourly bucket at a time, both in the coming and the going, (but the going doesn’t include money to clean up when the party ends and the piles need re-piling.)

I made it to Kingman, got off at the first exit and looked for a motel for the night. After a bit, I got back on the road and headed down the road to Needles. In Needles, I got off the road and looked for a motel for the night. After a bit, I got back on the road and headed for Barstow. It was dark now, when I called Mary, I told her I didn’t know how to stop anymore and that I might show up at the house at 4 AM, and that I might bumble around when I got there so not to worry. She seemed not concerned, not even the one little bit -- she’s been desensitized to my both my charms and babble.

In Barstow, I found a motel next to a fast food place and stopped for the night. I walked over to the next-door Carl’s Jr. and then walked backed to the room and ate some stuff. I was asleep an hour later. I didn’t see much of the Barstow night life, but I did sleep well. That may be connected.

I got up early and found a Starbucks next door to the Carl’s Jr., and then found the road out of town. Barstow used to be a whole town that took real time to weave through – lots of post WW 2 buildings and motels of different colors but only one style. Now Barstow was a stop – three buildings and an on ramp. I miss the stop lights in the blackness and quiet, just as I miss the epic floods that shaped the weirdly bulky bridges over dirt that seemed to jut out from every twist and turn on the back way out of town.

Last time I was here I tried to take the back way and found it just ended fairly abruptly with little warning. So, on-off, that’s life, who’s to say if it’s a cautionary tale or an abbreviated gas station road map.

I drove and drove, until I ended up where I started, Harris Ranch. I stopped and had breakfast, the same thing I had eaten the day before, and got gas. Two hours later, I was home in my sweat pants watching repeat TV shows mindlessly.

My trip consisted of 1600 miles, 3 meals, some snacks, and more alone time than I, or any human, really needs. I didn’t find what I think I had lost, or even identify what it was. I didn’t uncover any mystery that seems to be solvable by the scientific method. The only thing I proved is that I can drive for two days without being hospitalized. Don’t think I won’t bring this up at the DMV next week.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Road trip, Part 2

Road trip, Part 2

"The only evidence you have of last week is your memory. But memory comes from a stable structure of neurons in your brain now. The only evidence we have of the Earth's past is rocks and fossils. But these are just stable structures in the form of an arrangement of minerals we examine in the present. The point is, all we have are these records and you only have them in this Now." Julian Barbour


I left Bakersfield and headed for Boron, famous for the 20-mule team that hauled low-value borax from the mines for some god-awful reason now lost to time, and for a small air and space museum – throw away and cast off war machines from the nearby Edwards Air base. I’ve been to both museums, but this time I just drove by and snapped a picture of the jets parked outside the building – sort of as proof I’d been there in case I was being framed for a crime that happened somewhere else at the same time. Two years ago, I’d stopped at both museums with my daughter and grandson on a trip we took to Oklahoma – so plenty of pictures are in some vault somewhere – and again, memories are just lying around the area like burnt shells of automobiles.

I stopped in Mojave next for gas. Back in the glory days, you went through Mojave after hours in the desert without air-conditioning and damn it you were happy to do it -- but now you go around it – we are far removed from the greatest generation. In fact, all the road improvements make it a bit of a pain to get to now. It’s now off the freeway and down an empty road a bit.  All the gas stations and food stores reflect this change– they look dried out and worn, many with boarded up windows. There is a ‘spaceport’ right outside of town, but it doesn’t look like much help. Most of the planes being stored at the nearby airport by various airlines and leasing companies are gone, and the ‘mutually verified destruction’ of old military planes and bombs has finished. There is a there, but it’s empty meaning and people, it’s a storage site for the next wave of nostalgia waiting in the wings for a meme to spark interest in.

Came to Barstow next – the same burned out post WW2 feeling as Boron, but bigger and with more stuff. Interstate 15 and 40 both connect through Barstow, so the hubs where they meet are bouncing with fast food places and newish motels – this is clearly where the action is, but it’s low interest action – mechanical and best seen through heavily tinted windows while driving, stop and start, through the Starbucks drive-thru. Though hard to do, coming in the back way on the old 58 highway reveals miles of marginal motels being used as housing stock for the unfortunate, or boarded up as convenient places to lean against when pissing in to the wind. Creative destruction is hard to watch unless you take the time to get out of your car and look, but fortunately, I didn’t, nor does anyone else. In America movement is the point of and end all.

From Barstow it’s 140 miles, or two full hours, to Needles. It’s all downhill from Barstow because Needles has the Colorado river running through it, which has mechanically over time carved itself lower than the surrounding country side.

 From Needles, I went uphill to Kingman, Az., and got off on the best remaining section of the old route 66 – Kingman to Seligman.

I love this section of highway – lots of memories that I’ve overlaid with more memories. It’s a drive where I remember everything and everyplace, even my own. I know the truth of this road, even the parts I made up.

What’s new is the cops and the tour groups – predator and prey acting out life’s struggles in the tapestry of real-time. The cops all have new, shiny cars with big shiny officers driving them – they look like the military wing of Uber that married into some type of off-site international security company. Every time I saw one, and there were lots of sightings, they had either a rental motorcycle tourist or a rental big car tourist pulled over to the side of the road while writing them a ticket. I hope that they strangle off the goose sooner than later, so I can return to this section of Americana in peace. This part of the trip has become a deal breaking bummer. It’s like being in a living shark week, but with Germans.

I made it to Seligman and stopped at the old hotel my family had been stranded at 50+ years ago. (Our station wagon had broken down in the middle of nowhere and for a few days, while waiting for parts, we were stuck at the Stagecoach motel until it was fixed).  It was about a mile outside of the main part of Seligman and back in business, reborn as a retro route-66 way station, complete with a loud bar and an eatery that advertised ‘made from scratch’ pizza’. The pool was gone, having be filled in with dirt thirty years ago, but the memories were still there waiting for me to dig them up. It was taunting me.

 I backed out of the gravel entrance (after taking a picture) and fled back the way I came, happy to have survived the trip so far and anxious to get back home to the now. I left feeling lucky that I hadn’t burst out in tears or had the irrational terrors of an imagined German forest overcome me.

 I think I will stay at the Stagecoach motel for a few days next time and try to connect with the things I’ve left behind. I still remember my mom typing away at some literary project while abandoning her children to the fun and sun, (benign neglect in its finest form)., It might be good for me.

St. Augustine, after his confession to god of his desire to rid himself of his sinful ways, added, ‘but not now.’ I totally understood as I quickly drove westward out of town.