Thursday, October 25, 2018

Lualualei, Naval Ammunition Depot


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”Charlie don’t surf”

Lualualei Naval Magazine – this was the medical dispensary that I worked at from 1973-77 as a hospital corpsman. We were on 4-section duty for the time I was there, meaning every 4th day we stayed 24 hours – we slept in the back. We walked across a field (where the big tree is) and ate at the marine mess hall. This was before microwave ovens, ATM machines, cell phones, cable tv and the internet – this was the real olden days, we read books and wrote down things.

The marines called us all Doc and were reverential. – we were treated well, probably because of Viet Nam and the other wars that popped in and out of reality. Hospital Corpsman were very helpful in wars and we had a lot of goodwill built up because of this.

Where you see the tires parked on the side of the building used to be a covered parking spot that held the ambulance – It was an old school station wagon ambulance and for calls at night we called a marine over from the barracks next to the mess hall to drive us.

We kept logs of what happened on duty – big green log books in which we wrote long, long stories and fables – I’ve always wondered if these logs are stored somewhere like in Indiana Jones, in some giant warehouse, buried like the little green men from New Mexico. No one ever called us on our log books – we were a true backwater where they sent the strange and discontented. As long as we didn’t set fires, they left us alone. Most of us had to be reminded to get haircuts many times, though some tried to hide out with short hair wigs for inspections, with varying degrees of success.

I lived with the people I worked with – we had three houses on the beach in Makaha, all kind of connected and surrounded by a hedge of something impenetrable. There are stories, and one very memorable Thanksgiving.

One of the weekly jobs was to get water samples from the mini-lakes on the base for testing. In the middle of this large naval magazine, there were small areas leased out to cattle people for some reason I never figured out. On the shit the cattle left, after it rained, were mushrooms. So, on many weekends, the house member on duty would go out to get the water sample, and then pick a bag of mushrooms on the way back for later use at the houses. Those left uneaten we frozen in baggies in green turd like ropes. Eating them later was hard because of this, both psychologically and gag reflexively, so mostly we ate them fresh from the bag without rituals or much talking about the point of it.

Thanksgiving, big storm with giant waves crashing on the porch, higher than Jesus with the mushrooms and related stuff. Turkey with all the fixings, bells ringing, no TV, just very loud music from the high-end audio equipment every one of us had bought from the PX individually.

I remember trying to figure out how many mushrooms I needed to take to get high, and then doubling the amount to make sure. I remember making a pile of them.  I remember everything and nothing after that. I will never forget any of that night but couldn’t tell you much about the specifics if you asked. It was fun, no one died.

I was really only stationed at Lualualei a couple of years off and on – most of my time was at other places, but all of my Four-section duty time was spent there. Loved it and have good, though random memories of it.
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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


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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.