please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Monday, October 31, 2005

Crazy Canucks

Last winter, I was sitting with Coach Nate and his lady, The Lovely Nina, down at My Fuckin' Pal. I had just ended an evening with them in which I had washed dishes, she had waited tables, and he had cooked.
Upon looking at my then-massive biceps, she asked, "How can someone with such a slum lifestyle as you manage to be as fit as you are?"
"By beatin' up crazy Canucks," I immediately replied. She was from Canada, and that may explain the strange use of the word 'slum' in that question. Then I provided the real answer: "I play the drums, I ride my bike everywhere I go, and I get laid a lot...And I've been lifting heavy things all night long. Any other bright questions?"
Ahh, but the Canucks, I love 'em. One of my favorite blogs on this site is A Snarfblast Full Of Dreams , by a twenty year old girl from Winnipeg who either describes herself as Unity, or that's actually her name. Can't tell. She's what all of us were at twenty (well, not me-I was raisin' a kid), but more eloquent, and that makes all the difference in my world.
Most of my favorite bands are Canadian. Broken Social Scene (who will be coming here, middle of next month) tops the charts for me, while I've recently been extolling the virtues of the many others. Matter of fact, B.S.S. will have one of their own, Leslie Feist, opening for them (as just plain ol' 'Feist'). Christ, that woman can shout, and when she does, the whole world starts to smile).
Finally, MacBeth revealed to me last evening that she's gonna take me away from all this, for my birthday. "Wanna know where?", she asked.
After pointing out that maybe it would be more appropos to let me pick the destination, her choice was Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I agreed: "Gonna be cold as hell, but really pretty."
Last time (only time) I was in B.C., the Reverend O'Hare and I drove there in a shiny, red rental car. When we stopped at the border goin' in, they just asked, "Got any guns?"
We replied that no, we did not, and they said, "Enjoy your stay in Canada." Quite the opposite happened on our way back.
First off, it was pretty clear that they didn't like the look of two scruffy young men in a brand spankin' new car, and seemed to find the fact that I didn't immediately remove my sunglasses to be an issue. They detained us for an hour, in which I sat still on a bench, and he kept on pacing, sweating and panting.
I said, "Remember that we have done nothing wrong, and please, I know this is hard, but could you please stop pacing? It makes you look guilty, or something."
We got back to the car, noticed that it had been ransacked, went on our way.
When I had been contacting U.S Customs a couple weeks before, it was the usual slog through automated phone systems until I finally got an unfriendly piece of shit on the other end of the line to talk to. When I called the border patrol for Canada, someone just answered saying, "Canada."
I had reached Canada on the phone.
We rolled into the city of Vancouver, and quickly remembered that we'd made no plans regarding lodging, nor did we even have a map of the city. Completely clueless. We just drove until we came to what seemed like a friendly part of town, started to notice hotels, parked the car.
I decided that the proper starting destination for any trip of this kind would be a liquor store. I walked on in, purchased some Maker's, and asked the nice lady if there were any cheap motels thereabouts.
Aw yeah," she said, "There's a real nice one 'boot two or so blocks doon from here."
"Aw nice," I said, "Thanks." I felt like I was home. That faint trace of Scandihoovian mixed with Scots accent reminded me of the north coast. I wanted to stand there and trade 'aw nice(-s)' with her all day long.
Apart from the strange Canadian custom of calling apartment buildings 'motels', and calling motels 'apartments', we got it worked out fairly well. Found a place over in English Beach near what seemed like a million good restaurants. Also, there was some sort of gay-themed weekend going on: every flagpole that stood nearby sported a rainbow flag. Wherever we went, as two young men, people would ask, "Y'up here for the weekend ?"
Which yes, yes we were indeed, but not like that.
And everywhere I turned, I heard a crazy-quilt of foreign tongues being spoken. Vanc. B.C. is truly an international city, which seems to be happy with itself, being that way. Whenever I hear some apologist for American hegemony making that whiniest of claims-"The terrorists hate our freedom"-I wanna say, 'If that was really the problem, they'd go after Canada.'
Because they don't have a bunch of religious nuts in most positions of serious power in their government, and they don't have some weird proscription against sex as written in someone else's religious manual...Matter of fact, they have a channel on basic cable up there called "Sex TV". Unlike here, where something like that would be titillation, prurient, taboo-as-masturbation-material, it actually is frank talk about all the issues surrounding this thing that every human does, intermixed with real live footage of actual people (not idealized models or skinny meth-heads) having sex. It's like they're mature, or something, in the real sense of the word, as opposed to here, where mature means dirty.
So all sorts live there in relative harmony, religion doesn't mar each and every public debate, though they seem to have as many believers as anywhere else, the government views itself as having a mandate to take care of its citizens...Again, Islamists should/could/must hate it, but they don't, it would seem. Canada also doesn't spend most of its time engaging in imperial adventures abroad for profit, all the while making happy bullshit talk about how they are making the world better, somehow. For one thing, Canada is too damn humble for that.
For another, they're not a bunch of lying, whining, hypocritical psychopaths on some absurd quest to (I swear) enslave everyone they do not kill.
But y'know, they're easy to make fun of, with that accent.


Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday Potpourri

For a cheap laugh, go here:
And a tip of the cap to chief finder of things like this, Bobby Massage. She is at her best when she waxes indignant about these scurrilous rumors regarding her lip enhancement. Add audio to hear Melanie's voice!

From the 'Glad We Cleared That Up' Department:
From the cover of the Oregonian's Arts & Entertainment section today:
"The secret to the Rolling Stones' longevity? They're a great band."
Whew! Thanks. They don't pay you guys enough, you know?

I went and signed myself (as did Bobby) up for January classes with the local Public Cable Access. Rich Bachelor (the soap opera character) may finally hit the airwaves! And Rich Bachelor (me) will enhance his resume by finally learning how to work a camera, and edit things.
All types at that orientation. Nice to see; truly democratic.

I'm going down to see the kid tomorrow, which is a good thing. She's hanging at my mom's place, and I get to see what my mother looks like bald, by the way.

My fave Shakespeare quote:
"Forgive me, o bleeding piece of earth, that I am meek and gentle with these butchers."
Haw! That Marc Antony. Whatta kidder.

The next big charity auction my girlfriend is organizing (and I'm helping) is for World AIDS Day, December first.
Without getting too gallows humor on you here, isn't there a better name they could have used there? It sounds like the day we celebrate AIDS, or the day everyone in the world is infected with it. Another charity she's involved in (and I'm distributing fliers for) is Africa AIDS Response. A number of the AIDS charities around here are not exactly lining up to contribute, by the way, since they view this as detracting from the monies their org.s might gather.
It's a good thing I wasn't in that meeting. It would have been very hard for me not to start ranting along the lines of; "And where is AIDS at pandemic status? And where doesn't have nearly enough money or even doctors to fight it, ya' greedy fucks?"
Interestingly, when the money is collected, this organization doesn't deal with the governments at all, over there. One of their number (and this year, it might be MacBeth) goes to Mutare, Zimbabwe (Portland's sister city!) and gives it to some bag man who they've designated as trustworthy. There's probably more to it than that, but that's what I'm gettin'.

New fave album: Do Make Say Think's "and yet, and yet..." Post rock at its finest from those crazy Canucks who also comprise ...godspeed you black emperor!, Set Fire To Flames and Silver Mt. Zion.

(Hm. Whole lotta Shakespeare goin' on in this post.)

I learned the other day that methyl ethyl ketone, as well as being dandy for cleaning your CD player's lens, is a worthy adversary to a clogged bathtub drain. But remember: don't be hasty. If you try to test the drain with water too soon after, you'll get a faceful of chemical solvent fumes that'll lead to a not unpleasant high if you immediately leave the room and open all the windows, one hell of a headache if you don't.

Reading: "John Wayne's America" by Garry Wills. Excellent.

Tonight, Trivial Pursuit. This is a relatively wholesome evening for me, Gringa 1, Bitchslap and the B Lady. My lady is up in the mountains, and I am a garbagehead supreme. I usually win these things, but the happy B couple is even better.
Depends what genus you're using, too. On the 1980's one we all know and love, I'd say one in ten answers may literally be "Richard Nixon".

That's all I got. Gonna go see a movie. Fly low, stay cool.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005


The first thing you notice about Eastern Oregon is the smell. I was not all that far from what remains of Hansell's hog farm, closed these ten years at least, since Stafford Hansell died. It still smells like pig shit. I also was near the Umatilla Army Depot, where the work of incinerating all that nerve gas (and other wonderful things) continues each and every day. And then there's Carty Coal Fire Plant, producer of both electricity of the least efficient sort and acid rain, for our region. Having said all that, I felt good.
Despite all that, the air was still cleaner than that which I breathe every day, and the sun was warm on my face. I was at a rest stop. Large, prominently placed signs reminded one and all that it was okay (according to state law) for members of the opposite sex to visit the (wrong, I guess) bathroom if they had charge of someone who was handicapped or something, and at no other time.
This was followed by an ordinance number, and I wondered if there had been a problem around the public restrooms on the high plains, of late.

I rolled into Pendleton around five. I stopped by the airport to see if my baby mama, Petunia, was working. Nope.
She has recently spererated from her husband of the last ten years. They've not gotten along for at least the last five, and it seems that he hit her, over summer vacation. He did this in front of their daughters.
So she up and moved out, but I didn't know this, and even worse, had no idea where she had moved. With some resignation, I wandered into a bar, map book in hand. Her husband is a wheat farmer, and they live out in a tangle of roads where you pretty much just need to know where you're going, or you're forever lost.
Upon learning that this place didn't have whiskey, I ordered a beer and set to looking at my map book, knowing damn well that the road I was looking for probably wasn't on any map. It wasn't.
The twenty-something pony-tailed dude right next to me noted the map book and said, "Where you comin' from, bro?"
All I could think was-ten years ago, that pony tail wouldn't have been okay in this town. But I also had pause at the fact that a total stranger was immediately being friendly to me, and I was no longer in the city, clearly. We were in a crowd of maybe four people.
We got talking (and later played some pool: I got my ass handed to me), and it turns out that he works for an old classmate of mine, at the mustard plant. They make gourmet mustard (Haus Barhyte, if you ever see it), right down the road from the airport.
Everywhere I went, folks were friendly to me, and I appreciated it. I'm a white man, conventional looking for the most part, and I know that's a big part of it. Mind you, it was still rare, and nice. I decided to find a motel.
What had once been a Western-themed cheap motel had now been transformed into something that called itself the Rugged Country Inn, 'The Bed and Breakfast Motel'. As much as that should have given me pause, I figured that pretensions aside, it would offer me a bed, shower and cable television. This much was true.
But as I stood there in the office, the smell hit me: it was like I had been sent to stay with a particularly fussy aunt, who had decided to sachet the living hell out of everything (to make it smell nice, you know), and then had been introduced to the spiritual discipline of Aromatherapy. The overall effect was like standing in a warehouse filled with perfumed toilet paper.
"This is a non-smoking roooommm...", the lady said to me, as I paid. I was about to say, "Well, could I get one that isn't non-smoking," when she finished the thought: "They're all non-smoking rooommms..."
"Well, I guess I won't smoke in the room then." I said, and she thought that was pretty funny. I was just stating the obvious. Breakfast, I was told, would be served in the Rooster room, and I pretty much envisioned what that might look like. I was given a room in the basement, so as to make it even more difficult to get outside and smoke. I felt like I was being put in the Nice Dungeon.
She had asked why I was in town, and I said that I was there to visit my daughter, eschewing the cheap drama of the real point, which was that I was looking for my daughter.
Breakfast was a bunch of cheap crap from Costco, and I left to get gas. I was reminded that things and people just move slower in the country: usually folks can't wait for you to give them your money. I drove off down by the Woolen Mills.
On a whim, I crossed the Lee Street bridge. After passing by The Graveyard of Neon Signs (an unofficial museum of failure: three decades worth of neon signs from failed Pendleton businesses), one winds up this little gully until you hit the top of the grade, and you're not in town at all anymore. Wheat fields, far as the eye could see.
All I could really do was go up and down as many of those gravel and dirt roads as I could, seeking some purchase from memory. Mind you, I still had no idea whether or not Petunia had left the farm, and whether or not she took th' She Bear with her. Or the daughter she'd had with the farmer. I felt very alone and somewhat desperate.
Each and every one of those roads is named for the family that has farmed on it for the last hundred years or so, and as I say, almost none appears on even the most detailed topo maps (which is stupid, considering that you might want to go hunt pheasant or something, figure out way too late that you're trespassing, and get a leg-full of rock salt from some farmer's shotgun). I went back into town, along Wildhorse creek, up by Mt. Hebron (which is actually a hill, of course).
Got a decent breakfast at a place in town, visited a pawn shop. After thinking about it for a bit, I went back up to the airport.

I was greeted there by two blonde women, one who eerily resembled my daughter. I talked to her. She thought I kind of looked like Petunia. "And I kinda look like She Bear, too, don't I?", I said.
Then recognition dawned. We spoke a while about how cool my daughter is, and my ex, well..."You never can tell with Petunia," she said, apropos of I'm-not-exactly-sure-what.
"That's true, " I said, for some reason.
I left a digital camera up there, with written instructions for She Bear to take lots of pictures, and send them to me. The girls at the desk said they'd try to get a hold of Petunia for me.

I got out of there, started driving up the Holdman road. A very boring road movie about America as existential hell, made by somebody French, could very easily be filmed thereabouts. I mean, I think it's beautiful, but really it is just rolling golden (or yellow, or brown) hills, with a single stip of pavement (crossed by dirt and gravel roads), and occasional cross-hatching of power lines.
As I encountered a fork in the road, I saw a patch of trees that looked pretty, and so got out to photograph them. MacBeth's car has an emergency brake that basically doesn't work at all, but since I was on what certainly looked flat, I didn't bother stopping the car and putting it in gear.
After I took the pics, I turned and noticed the car, still playing a little tune on the stereo, creeping forward in the gravel, like it felt like leaving. "Hey! Where' n the hell do you think you're going?" I asked, running toward it as it gathered speed. Like I say, movie material.
Took a right, and was on what calls itself the Holdman-Helix Highway. It's about as much a highway as I am an Air Force pilot. Nonetheless, it snakes low through the hills, past groves of trees that I strongly assume are all that remains of old homesteads: pretty sure they didn't grow there on their own, but who can say?
The terrain started looking very familiar, and I realized that I was in roughly the same territory I'd been in that morning. Before long, a dirt road crossed my path, with a ruined farmhouse and windmill: Goodwin road.
It was the road that I'd been looking for all morning, and now here it was noon, when one could assume that he was out tending to the crops, and my kid would be in school. So I kept on to the town of Helix.
Helix is tiny, tiny, and seems to be in the process of being swallowed by the hills and fields. The high school there is also the middle school and grade school. So here I am driving a Saab into this place where everybody knows everybody and beyond. I figure that I could get out of this strange looking vehicle and stand there, looking like a stalker, but looking like a Stranger, above all else. Wouldn't be long before someone would come up and ask what the hell I wanted. I considered showing my face.
But no. That wouldn't do, either. I mean, I met a fair amount of folks last summer at Bear's graduation from Junior High, but there just had to be another way.

At said graduation, a teacher came out and gave this rambling speech about...Well, I knew this one. 'Think you've got it bad? Lemme tellya about bad!'. This is a common rant amongst Eastern Oregon educators and coaches. They describe the dire conditions they grew up under, as dirt (and dirt-poor) farmers, and how for some reason, this is a worthwhile reason to stay.
Because you know, the big world out there looks all shiny and interesting, but here is where real people are, and where family is, and someone's gotta grow these crops, right?
It was always a very unconvincing speech to me, and this one was made even worse by the fact that as this teacher went on, her voice grew more and more shrill, making her look and sound more than a little crazy.
I met her afterward. I complimented her on the speech, and pointed out that she shared the last name of someone I went to grade school with. I got this as my response:
"Oh yeah. That's my ex-husband's niece. She's had a real tough time."-and here her pace picked way up, like it had during the 'you don't know how good you have it here' speech-"Had three babies die under suspicious circumstances and had to move to the Tri-Cities, and..." on and on. I already had my hand up, and was preparing to say, "You don't need to be sharing private family business with a stranger...", but she stopped, leaving us both standing there looking at each other.
Talking to Petunia about that later, she said, "But everybody already knows all that stuff anyway. It is everybody's business."
I said, "Southeast Portland's kinda like a small town too, but we at least pretend not to know each other's business."

Later on, in a thrift store, my phone rang. Petunia.
We could get together at two o' clock, right before she had to go to work, and right before I had to get back to Portland and retrieve MacBeth at the airport.
She lives in a little house with a pretty big yard, right near Pioneer Park. Her rent is a hundred dollars less than my apartment's.
We sat down and talked it out. Separation yes, divorce no. The girls spend half the week at the farm and half the week in town. They're not moving to this side of the mountains after all, and Petunia's becoming a 911 dispatcher.
Like me.
Needless to say, we talked about as much of Everything as we could in a half-hour. What happened yesterday was that the ground is no longer poisoned between us, and I can feel a whole lot better pursuing a decent relationship with my daughter, which I didn't have before, really.
As I was leaving town, the phone rings again. The Tulsa Kid.
"I'll see you in four hours," I said.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Ad Astra Per Aspera

It is the season again where the salmon head home. They battle hundreds of miles upstream to spawn and die, and hanging around the pools where they do so is always of interest.
There's a place in Washington state simply called Salmon Falls, where you can stand there all day and just watch them jump up and over. In a few weeks, woodland pools all over the place around here will be filled with the white skin and bones of happy, deceased fish. They've gone and seen the bigger world, went home to do what they ought, died.
Just went to see the movie "Elizabethtown" this evening. It tries to be too many things. Love story, mediation on the importance of family, love letter to America...Filled with lots of awful generalizations about location, and what it does to people.
The movie opens with a typical aerial shot of Portland. Our protagonist is on his way to the headquarters of an international shoe company, where he is about to be fired by (Alec Baldwin, it turns out, playing the role he almost always plays these days). Then he finds out that his dad has died.
Dad died in Kentucky, and son is from the Northwest, see, and doesn't understand Emotion, and the Importance of Family, and How to Have Fun, since he's not from the South, which his stereotyped relatives are, and...
Aw, I hate that shit. I've met folks from all over, since I live in the city everyone else moves to. Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast. All of them have their charm, all have their flaws, however deep, and all seem to somehow seem people, regardless of the inherent greatness of wherever it is they are from.
One of my favorite people in the neighborhood right now is from Kansas. I have yet to meet a Kansan who spends all their time away from home crowing about how wonderful Kansas is. A Kansan trait? I wonder.
And I hate the Northwest/Southeast dichodomy worst of all. I have known (and dated) enough people from the south to know this drill, and was well over it before I saw this stupid movie. Yes yes; "Y'all are too mellow out here on the coast, y'don't say what y'really mean, and you can't barbecue for shit..."
Yup. And if I ever move to the Carolinas-by choice-and spend all my time bitching about how awful Atlantic salmon is (and it is), I give full permission for someone to shoot me in the head.
Far more importantly though: what passes for behaving in a lady-like manner down south has always struck me as a giant lie. As far as I've noticed, it just comes down to an extremely ritualized passive aggression, where you eviscerate others with your words, Charming Hostess smile fixed in place the whole damn time. I hate it.
But even though we say what we mean out here, do we really? Are we also just passive aggressive, and worse, are too used to letting folks make asses out of themselves so we don't have to do it for them? We put on a guise of tolerance so we don't have to deal with the inherent pretty pet hatreds everyone has? Or we actually try to work through it like adults, and don't just start shouting the minute someone decides to get honest?
I dunno. Like I said during my four years of exile in an undesirable place (Washington state), nativism and territorialism are always the enemy. Wait; no I didn't. I got so sick of people shit talking Oregon that I sang the praises of this, the greatest of the lower 48, often, and reminded the pasty, depressive mean people I lived around (and dated) that they didn't know shit.
At least part of what makes people around here what they are is good old Scandihoovian stoicism. We've seen how nasty it can get, and don't abide a whiner. We also view you as deeply suspect if you seem to be trying a little too hard to be friendly, as opposed to actually being that way. This is why we dislike Californians.
Funny thing is, around the time when my ancestors settled on the north coast, the Klan around there seems to have been a buncha Norwegians. They kept on telling my Finnish great-grandfather not to let the sun set on his...Yeah, I know: They all were white. And they all hated each other. Bloodthirsty and stupid, and all speaking (with the exception of the Finns) roughly the same language.
Old Finn saying: "On the gallows, the first night is the longest". This pretty much right there sums up their world view. It's a nod to Norse mythology on one hand (for reasons I'm not going to get into here), and on the other, it wisely posits that perhaps the truly happy ones don't expect too much. Then at least you're surprised when good things actually happen.
The movie also touched on a lot of themes of familial responsibility, a can of worms which I'm not even certain I can even pull the top off of. There is an old friend of my father's (and grandfather's) who tends to show up to Thanksgiving dinner, gets drunk and starts berating me for not fulfilling my historical duty as a Bachelor and becoming a journalist. Last time he did it, he was drunk on the bottle of whiskey that I had brought.
"Hey Rich! Gimme some more o' that...Mooker's Make, or Marker's..." he said.
"No George, you drank all that," I said, and looked at my grandmother. To her I said, "I've never been a bartender, but I know how to cut people off." Truth is, I still had some Maker's Mark, and it was mine, dammit.
I think I need to head East tomorrow, settle things a bit with some family members. I might come back with a full report, or I might just keep it to myself. The Lady MacBeth is in Georgia attending a wedding, and I have her car, so I can. Maybe I'll just get outta town, which I love doing, as you all know.
But above all else, I sense that some heavy responsibility is coming my way soon, and I want to be ready, know what I'm getting myself in for.
Lady MacBeth's last boyfriend (of the last ten years!) never would get out of the damn car and come into the airport to greet her, whenever she was fresh off the plane from Maryland (wher she is originally from, though she considers herself an Iowa girl), or wherever. He considered his role to be the one that circled the airport in ever-increasingly angry circles, ultimately blaming her for the plane being late, or whatever. I assured her that I won't be doing that. I'll park the car in Short Term like a real gentleman would, and greet her with hugs and kisses, as is only right and proper.
She credited me the other evening with giving her the best airport kiss she's ever received.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Can't Trust 'Em

I was just responsible for the death of a squirrel. I was driving my housemate's car, and as I rounded onto Ash street, I saw one of the little guys doing that Indecision Dance in the middle of the street. I tried to go nice and slow, give him the chance to either be wilier than my wheels, or simply sit still and await further instructions.
But, it should be remembered that the little guy had a brain the size of a Reese's Piece, and chose instead to dash in exactly the wrong direction. I felt the minor bump under the rear tire, and with some trepidation, checked the mirror.
Laying there in a spray of fallen autumn leaves, his squashed ass was on his back, tail grotesquely waving good bye. I'm gonna have a dream involving that image here, sometime soon.
"Oh dude...Sorry...Even though it was at least partially your fault." I said these words out loud, and then thought, You my friend, haven't a chance of ever becoming an assassin.
I keep on meditating on how people are like nations, and how seemingly simple it would be to jump from there to how nations need to act more often like individuals. But the exact opposite is true, I feel.
What do I feel are some of my better assets? Well, one has to be the fact that I just won't quit. When you don't have the resources or the brawn, you can at very least be unstoppable. Mind you, being smarter than your opponent isn't bad, either. So-never giving up: Great in a human, disastrous in a nation.
When a nation embarks on a course that just isn't working, and it causes them to lose money, people and the esteem of the world around them, it would be good reasoning to be able to say, 'You're right. This's stupid. Never mind.' Almost none of them ever do it.
They almost never do it because of silly nationalistic pride, and something that may even be worse: the whole 'we're in this thing, no matter how ill-timed or badly planned, and if we leave now, it'll be worse, this shit situation of our own making.'
I had a bunch of British soldiers in my taxi one time, and took them all over town. I went out of my way to not bring up Northern Ireland, of course, but one of them did it for me. Turns out that he was just back from there.
"Well, okay," I said, "why are you guys still there?"
"Because if we pulled out now, it'd be a bloodbath," he said.
"You know that's the reasoning that kept us in Vietnam for twenty-plus years, right?"
But what's twenty years to an Empire with bills to pay and people to distract? Especially since the Brits had been there pretty much since they created that entity, on September Eleventh 1905.
So let's see: If I create a stupid situation, ineptly try to foster a solution, and then when that fails, stick around even longer, fucking things up even worse, making speeches the entire time about how it would be dishonorable of me not to be there, being a nuisance and a menace...I'd be a fool, right? But if I was a nation, that'd be Standard Operating Procedure, since in theory it makes money, or something.

But all sorts of poisonous bullshit is believed and cherished by many the world over, and this has always been the case. Whenever I hear any of the Evangelicals in the society I live in on one hand whining that they just want to worship and be left alone, I narrow my eyes. This is because (often a sentence or two later) they also will say that they are called by a higher power to go out and spread their word to the rest of us, who may very well already have a perfectly serviceable belief system, and just want to be left alone.
And Faith is a great thing in a person, but poison to a nation. Faith, pretty much by definition, is blind adherence and unquestioning belief, both things that should not be present in entities that have nuclear weapons. Nations need to be open to the idea that they are wrong.
If my faith causes me to go out and bomb abortion clinics and assassinate doctors who work there, that is publicly deplored by churches, but you can hear the underlying relief: they're glad somebody did it.
On the other hand, if Roe v. Wade were overturned by these spooky nonentities currently being railroaded into the federal judiciary, and I said that I was called by a higher power to commence bombing churches and killing ministers, pretty much everybody would be against me since, apes that we are, we consider abstractions like Faith to be more important than the here and now. It's just bad manners to question folks' views on The Almighty, no matter how murderously childish.
Well all right then. I am called by a higher power to spread the word against the Bullshit Engine. Just try and stop me; I have all the might of angels and demons both by my side, and the winds of history at my back. If I am alone in my crusade, that is further proof of my righteousness, as oftentide the right answer is the unpopular one, as I have learned from my encyclopedic perusal of Western movies. I am, like Thomas Jefferson (note the Appeal to Authority), the enemy of all religion and tyrrany over the minds of men, and I'm sorry if nice people get killed by it. Wave your tail poignantly as you go, brother. It's more important that we destroy the thing that has made us hate and kill each other, all these years.
See? I'm nuts, and unfortunately, I think I'm Right. Just imagine how ultimately destructive I'd be if I were a nation.
(Confidential aside to all who know me [hi Mom!]: how many people do you think will take that screed above seriously, do ya' think?)


Monday, October 10, 2005

Fictive Warfare

It's ten years ago in Olympia, and Tremblay has a point he'd like to make.
"There's a fairy mound in (whatever) Park!", he's exclaiming. He's telling me that actual nature spirits pervade a small city park in Washington state's capitol.
I respond by saying, "They tend to leave me alone, because they know I don't believe in them." Nonetheless, I am fingering the cold iron ball on my hippie necklace. They also hate cold iron.
My statement there reminds me of the Sufi poet (name?) of the 1100's who said the famous line, "There is no God, and his messenger is Mohammed."
He was later put to death, of course, by the loving true believers, but that's not the point.
The point is that the nature of magic and all true belief falls into a category of willing blindness. I don't really believe in fairies, but I know that they are mean little bastards, so just in case, let's keep their little asses in check.
Ever hear of W.Y. Evans-Wentz? Of course you have: he was the first whitey to translate the Tibetan Book of the Dead into some language that us civilized folks over here can read. After this, he engaged in a somewhat more mysterious project.
In 1912 or so, he went all over the Celtic lands (everything from Brittany to the Isle of Man, and all points in between) and interviewed all these folks who believed in fairies the way you and I believe in Our Socks. The overwhelming consensus was that fairies are mean bastards who will sour your milk, give you dandelions and tell you it's gold, steal your child and leave a cold eyed changeling in its place...Nothing but bad. I found this pretty hilarious in the middle '90's when I found myself surrounded by yer well-meaning types who would put signs and stickers on their bikes and cars that said things like "This car guarded by fairies", or "Fairies watch over me".
Whenever I'd try to tell them that if they really had an ancestral belief in fairies, the last thing they'd expect is protection from them, the conversation would already have moved too deep, kinda like the "angel" thing most of America was also undergoing at the time.
After seeing a few too many cars claiming that the occupant of said gleaming death chariot was watched over by angels, and too many books of postcards featuring pre-Raphaelite paintings of angels, and middle-aged women everywhere (let's face it: this wasn't a marketing trend aimed at men ) starting up entire belief systems regarding these suspiciously baby-looking celestial beings, I decided that it was time again to whip out The Necronomicon.
That book has a long and varied provenance. Supposedly written by one Abdul Ahlzared (perhaps fictional, perhaps a mistranslation of al-Zahreed), "the Mad Arab" in sixth century Damascus, it is said to be the "book of the Black Earth", full of spells to raise demons from beyond.
Mind you, it is also more commonly said to be the work of H.P. Lovecraft, a horror novelist of the nineteenth century with a more than passing interest in Sumerian mythology. I later read a great deal of that mythos, and was stunned by the open theft of so many of the tales, albeit with different endings, as given by (whoever actually wrote the damn thing).
Before we go too far here, the joke was going to be; when the rest of America was going Angel crazy, which makes a lot of sense considering the degree to which we idealize our infants, I decided that I was going to make a big noise about having a guardian Demon. From the Necronomicon's "Book of Fifty Names", I selected Agaku, "who knows the thoughts of those around him at a distance". That was me anyway, demon or no demonic assistance. I can be looking at you from across the room and pretty accurately tell what you're thinking.
Thing is, I ordered the damn thing from Avon Paperbacks when I was in seventh grade, and a big fan of heavy metal music. Even at that age, I found it suspicious that a book of such dark reputation would be available from a major paperback distributor. Mind you, cheese evil will pervade unabated, and...
In the last section of the book, The Mad Arab starts to get scared of what he has called up, with his evil writings: "The sign of IGIGI hangs over my writing desk. The dogs in the street whisper my name (which no doubt would have sounded funny as hell)...Maybe this book will-"
And that's where it ends. My showing up at school carrying this book garnered me a reputation as an evil dude indeed, even though I had about as much belief in it as I had The Virgin Birth, or The Miracle of Transubstantiation. This unfortunately led to my being identified as the leader of a Satanic cult.
The only problem was, there really was a Satanic cult in Pendleton, and they had supposedly killed a man. To this day I'm not sure, but I was once shown the place where he supposedly had met his end, head bashed in on a handrail on a bridge, crossing McKay creek. I only found this odd "fact" about myself years later.
Fun fact about Sumerian mythology: they have a flood myth too, and their own Noah. His name was Ziusudra, but beyond there, the facts are roughly the same. This would have taken place a good five-hundred (at least) years before the writing of The Gospels.
Funny thing about Tremblay was, he was one of those people who was never comfortable having their picture taken, and so therefore was always doing things that would ensure that a decent picture of him was never to be took. My pal Ichabod had one and one only picture of the guy. He was looking pale as a ghost, flipping off the camera.
"Serves 'im right, don't it?", I asked upon seeing it.
And from that, one might take the impression that here was a pale, pasty ghost of a person who was always flipping people off while appearing listless. It was the nature of sympathetic magic working against him. He actually was a pretentious, quite lively sort, but all the photographic record would show is this resentful guy who looks like he can't stand to be alive. Now, the difference is, unless you knew him, you'd never know that, and the appearance was the same as Truth, if you didn't. I appeared to be a guy with an entree into the world of magic and demonology, but really I was a thirteen-year-old heavy metal fan with an Avon Paperback book in his bag that had arcane-looking symbols all over it.
The truth of the lesson was never lost on me. They look good? They lie, probably to make a quick buck. They look bad? They're fooling themselves, probably to get laid, probably unawares. They seem to have some sort of mystical cachet? They're crazy, or maybe...
My baby-mama and I were fond of taking in homeless people, in our first venture out into the world. One was Michael Cervantes, who kept consulting this book he had there.
When I was giving him a ride out to the freeway, he consulted his book (I never got a look at the title) and said, "No wonder you seem so familiar to me! I last met you in the Age of Cortes!" He also claimed that in the basement of The Vatican, there is a banner stolen from a temple in Guatemala, and when it is restored...The Age of Aquarius will dawn, or something. Or the birthing of the New Jerusalem, which was a central tenet of the belief system of...
Eli, who we had also taken in. He believed...Lots of things, but we really had taken him in so he could get a shower and a good meal.
He eventually pointed out to us that he was soon to head out to the coast, where he would burn several carvings he had done (and he was an exceptionally gifted wood carver), and put to an end the twenty years of "psychic warfare" he and his ex-wife had been engaged in, "stretching all up and down the West Coast", and involving the lives (and deaths) of Many People.
The funny thing is, after he told us that one, he was never to be heard from again. He had said that perhaps the ritual would not be successful, and he might not come back. His whereabouts are a mystery to me, to this day.
But this is the central tenet of all magic: you believe in it, or you don't. As the comic book character I've spoken of before, John Constantine once put it, it's like stepping off the curb into the street. That simple, and that dangerous. I too have engaged in psychic warfare (without any belief in any New Jerusalem to come, or Angels, or Demons), and know that it succeeds because no one sees it coming. You can fool people with the right combination of words, if delivered properly, each and every time. You can also do things like leave a little bit of you (an object, say) behind, and have it do the magic for you, and you end up owning their ass, whether they choose to believe it or not.
As I've said, I try not to engage in such things these days, and if I use my knowledge of the proper manipulation of people, it's for Good. But I also sometimes want to talk a little shit to those who only have the trappings.
If I see some schmuck with a pentagram necklace who wants to be taken as a serious Mage, or Warlock, or what have you, I always want to say, "Have you ever found yourself spinning a web without realizing that you're doing it? Like it's just you living your life, and the ramifications form themselves around you? Then come talk to me."
It's not a question of incantations and spells. It's saying the right (or wrong) thing at the right (or wrong) time, and you not thinking about it, so much, since it's still just You, living Your Life. If it was any other way, it would be impure, and would subject you to the first law of witchcraft:
That which you do will come back to you, threefold.


Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Calm Guy

Bout a month ago, a guy from the local paper approached The Tulsa Kid and I sitting outside the Troika. He wanted to know if he could take a picture of me doing a crossword puzzle. The resulting image is above.
I had forgotten all about its existence until I opened the paper yesterday and found it there.
Man, what powerful hands I got. Man, what a great shot of the Kid's crotch.
In any case, as I mentioned earlier, he's back in Tulsa, marrying off one of his sisters. Like every wedding I've ever seen, this one has problems.
First off, he's from an extended family of maybe eight kids. Most of the siblings are pretty close though, considering that they're steps and all. Well, bride-to-be sister excluded one of her other sisters from the bridal party, and sparks be flyin'. They had been very close up until this time, and there hasn't been what has struck me as a decent explanation for the oversight. "I forgot" doesn't seem to fly here, so I dunno...In any case, there's going to be at least one relative at the reception (should she choose to even go) that's gonna be drunk as a lord, saying those inappropriately honest things that usually end up getting said at such functions anyway.
The next problem is parking. Bride-to-be has lived next to a fairground for ten years now, and for all ten of those years (and preceding, no doubt), this has been the week in which they have the fair.
So no adjacent parking for at least a mile, and something tells me the wedding guests won't be taken in by any sort of New Age-y antics like, "Let's have a love march the two or so miles to my place!" Tulsa's dad is in a wheelchair, and gets around in a big ol' van. Son says to pop, well, why don't we just put the seats back in the van, and I'll shuttle everyone back and forth from the house to some selected parking facility elsewhere?
"Oh, don't you start now...", his dad said.
We reflected on this when I was told that last bit. It was observed that his family are those type of people who want the drama, and want nothing in the way of a solution.
I run into this a lot. A great many folks seem to think that you're not really doing your job if you aren't losing your shit. Matter of fact, if you aren't doing your job, it's a great way to cover up. I just noticed a long time ago that stress is sort of counterproductive, and if you're panicking, you're gonna fuck up. In short, standing around yelling at everyone is all well and good unless it's wasting time, which it almost always is.
I was working at a street fair a few years back, running the beer tent. I got the kegs all tapped, and went looking around to see if anyone else needed help. Being artists and restaurant people, the general scene was chaos, and everybody did. I did what I could for people where there was anything to be done, went back and stood there selling beer for the next two days.
My girlfriend, working at a booth not far away, was asked, "Is The Calm Guy your boyfriend?"
Later that evening, I calmly deterred one of the fair organizers from absconding with my tips. I just kept smiling and reminded him ver-y politely that those tips were mine, not the beer company's. He made one last little effort along the lines of maybe he should, you know, hold on to them, you know, for safekeeping, and I said Thanks, But...
When the kid named Milo was working with me on that gig a couple weeks ago, he had this curious habit of always putting his hands on me. Not in an obnoxious way per se, but the way a pretty young kid on his first big production might, to have some professionalism rub off on him, or something. He more there for the Art, as I was there for the Money, and art if I happen to catch any.
He walked up to me one day and put a ratchet on my left nipple, began twisting. This left a little grey patch on my white t-shirt. Later, he walked up and said, "You've got something there on your shirt."
"Yeah, some asshole with a wrench put it there," I said. And he keeps on illustrating his points with getting too far inside my space, resting his hand on my shoulder, and finally the un-flappability just fell apart.
I swept left, got rid of one hand, "Again with the touching me," I said, and for some reason this caused him to try to put his right hand on me, and I swept right, said, "Again with the touching me."
For some reason, this meant to him that now we would be fake-fighting/sparring, which always annoys the hell out of me. "Again. With. The. TOUCH-ING ME!", I said, and he was greeted with my boot kicking out at him. It was an automatic reflex.
He jumped back, laughed and said, "What do you take?"
I thought about that a moment and said, "Pardon me?"
"What martial art do you take?" Oh. That's what you mean.
"I took restaurant kitchen."
Well, think about it. Dodging around corners and people while generally being yelled at by a less than benign sensei, all the while avoiding being stabbed, scalded, burned or getting chemicals all over your skin that eat carbon-based things. (Like You.) The whole while, all four of your limbs are working alternately but in congress, and hell, no wonder I'm the bull goose loony around here.
And yeah, when people panic, that's just one more thing to deal with. It means that The Calm Guy's newest task is to calm down the freaker, or ignore them, or make sure they at least stay out of the damn way.
The cardinal rule of that martial art being "get out of the way", and the second being "stay out of the way". There's been times where I'm carrying the whole damn thing on my back, and I'm only talking when absolutely necessary. I maintain radio silence, and it aids the calm spot in my mind, which is essential to operating from a clear place. Inevitably, I get interrupted by some weepy sort who wants to know why I'm mad at them.
It can be hard to explain the difference between anger and what I need to do, especially as they are not doing their job either, while wasting my time. Saying, "I'm really busy, and so are you, if you didn't already notice," won't cut it. That just leads to more questions. I usually just say can't we maybe talk about this later?
You know, when we're drunk.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Last One Left Awake

Cash Bastard, you've jacked me around for the last time!
don't be ridiculous. we're never going to make any meaningful connections this way. We spend far too much time sitting on our asses getting drunk in front of these benign radiation sources as it is. we decide these things, so we say.

Welcome to my world. I have a far more extensive blog elsewhere, and if I really really trust you, I'll show you it, dude.
More tomorrow. Try to kill more than you die.

Wish like hell I remembered what it was I meant by that last line. That so far is the only posting from the other blog.
I originally had a blog over at Live Journal in 2000. I can't find it, as I was using another one of my pseudonyms and can't remember the password. I recall that I wrote what I wrote simply to write something, so as to declare a 'prepare to be boarded'.
It smells like somewhere nearby, a large pile of tires is smoldering. Repaving on Sandy Boulevard? I'm no longer the walker of the night that I once was, and don't feel like going and checking my city for what it is really saying.
Sandy Boulevard is an odd one, in a city that is as rigorously gridded as this one is. I am told, and I believe this, that Sandy is actually a paved trail that predates the street grid. This is why it runs counter to all the orderliness of the streets otherwise.
Hm. You know, even "Cash Bastard, you've jacked me around for the last time!" is odd. Cash Bastard could very easily be seen as some sort of not-exactly-anagram of 'Rich Bachelor'. And the phrase 'you've jacked me around for the last time' is one of my favorites, and never fails to get a laugh out of me. It's sort of like the famous Cary Grant ad-lib: "The last man who said that to me was Archie Leach, and I cut his throat."
Cary Grant's real name was Archie Leach.
I just read an article in one of the local weeklies about how people keep moving here, despite the fact that there's no jobs. By 'here', I mean Portland. It seems that people love it here because it's a good place to live, not a good place to settle your company, though not a bad place to start your own business. Funny too that those of us who have lived here forever are considering moving to the country.
But we understand, and always have, that you have target-rich environments for jobs, and then you have the places you'd actually like to live. It's not a bad metaphor for my life, in fact. I have made my life into a Portland of the mind: there's no way you're employable in this environment, but it sure does feel sweet to live here and enjoy yourself.
Who was it who coined the term 'unenjoyment' for 'unemployment'? I'm trying to remember.
My obsession with the HBO Pictures show "Deadwood" continues unabated. It's so damn good. A tale of how most cities start out as entirely lawless places, ruled only by crime and graft, and history will make it seem otherwise. The same is certainly true of London, England. Or Rome.
Which Western Civ. teacher of mine was it who said that the first place it ever was spoken that ther was one god only (a preacher of Mithras, no less) was what is now known as Vatican City?
In retrospect, he must've been wrong: Zoroaster must have said it first, as much as we know, and that was in what we now call Afghanistan.
I went down to the Pladdy, a little bit ago, to purchase middle-of-the-night snax. Upon bringing my Cheetos and Ben n' Jerry's to the counter, I said to the girl, "These things we need, in the middle of the night."
"I hear ya', man." she said. No doubt she took the job to hang with the real folk, and say things like, "I hear ya', man" to us. She is part of the lesbian mafia that runs the all night convenience stores in this neighborhood, I think, though I have been known to over-think things.
I wanted, once I had awakened on the couch from falling asleep in front of "Deadwood", to walk the city streets of night, post bar-close. To be the Man With No Name, who deals out fisty fireworks and frontier justice to those who transgress. Instead, I came back here and read The Demon Sa'kul's comic books. He just had one of his own published today. I'm living with a published author.
He has a story in the comic "True Porn", which is just a bunch of people sitting around telling stories about their sex lives. Funny thing is, as I said to Baby Bulldog earlier, as much as she and I and all the people we know talk about that particular subject, I almost never write about it. Almost all of her paintings are about heartbreak, if not sex specifically.
I am, as I've said before, lucky to know the people I know, and they're lucky to have me looking out for them. As an ally, I'm a fierce motherfucker. If I take it into my heart that your interests run counter to those that I love, I'll fuck your life up for you but good, and then I'll really get nasty.
It's been a while since I've felt called upon to do that, though. I'm in semi-retirement in the life-destroying game. And what I'm really feeling right now is shame and guilt that I got drunk too damn early in the day, passed out watching television and thereby missed and oppurtunity to make apple pie (literally) with MacBeth.
What does she have to complain about, though? I'm gonna help her paint her basement stairs tomorrow. Matter of fact, I'm gonna forgo the usual go-immediately-downstairs-and-get-coffee thing to ride my bike up north of the divide, to her coffee shop. At this point, she will be reminded that even though this whole weirdness has only been going on two weeks, I think my poor dumb ass might very well be in love.
But I have a superstition regarding blonde girls, based on experience. It's always a big deal when I date girls that share my blonde hair, blue eyes. A big, ultimately bad deal. It's why I almost never date them. But, all the rules got ruled invalid by my inner jurist a while ago, as they periodically do.
It is the middle of the night, and I'm feeling candid. Sleep well folks, knowing that the Last One Left Awake is watching over you.


Sunday, October 02, 2005

The List

When MacBeth and I got to The Dalles yesterday, my phone started ringing.
I don't like to talk on the cell when I'm driving, and ignored it. Besides: that's Portland business, and all that was on hold until I got back.
It was a guy who works for a local rock show promotion company, and had been calling me up to see if I could work last night.
When I called him back today, he pointed out to me that my name was on The List, and though I hadn't been able to work the show last night, he'd keep me in mind.
"Are you available for Casual Labor?", he asked.
'Casual Labor'? Does that mean I can show up wearing slippers and a smoking jacket, drinking a martini?
This marks the second time in a month that someone has called me because I'm on The List. That weird three days chronicled in the postings "Dogs of the Road (pt. 1&2)" was the other. It's interesting, and ominous though it sounds to be on anyone's List, this is good.
I took MacBeth to this natural rock amphitheater, up around Beacon Rock, where the tidal influence in the Columbia River ceases to be felt (though I think that's silly: they just say that because a big rock is right there). We went and got some food over in Stevenson, stopped at a liquor store that is also a used clothing resale joint, went and bowled in The Dalles, hung out in Hood River at my favorite joint, the Red Carpet.
Behind the bar that evening was a casualty. She was a very funny lady, but she was clearly damaged from years and years of self-inflicted brain injuries. At some point, she asked me if I worked at the hospital.
"Yeah, but not here. In Portland, but that was '91, '92..."
"Well, when I saw all those Mexican babies being born there, I thought, 'I better get crackin', if I wanna keep up!'" She went on in this manner for a while, making it clear that white culture was in grave peril from the influx of brown people blood, invited here by our agricultural industry.
So many things to say, 'Funny, I've never noticed any shortage of you around here,' or 'I think that stupid white trash with substance abuse problems are here to stay, actually, so don't you worry your pretty little head about it!' No, but what I said was:
"I noticed all kinds of Pieces of Work being born up there." Thus did I not piss off the woman serving me booze, and still kinda made my point.
It reminds me of the time at Ham n' Jam, or Jim Delancy Day, in Hulett, Wyoming, 1998. Fifty thousand bikers and their mamas had descended on a small town in northern Wyo., as an adjunct to the Sturgis rally. A man named Jim Delancy (I had a beer with him, in his kitchen, on the day named for him) had come up with the idea that the bikers could be lured down from S. Dakota with the promise of laxer law enforcement on things like open containers and public nudity, with the added enticement of free roasted pork on every street corner.
Sharing the house with The Kid, the lady who owned the house and I were Rick and Buddha, two Nazi bikers from Chicago. Unbidden (as we hadn't been discussing race), Rick almost immediately lets fly with this one: "I know the solution to The Race Problem!", and throws up his arm in a Nazi salute.
The Kid just leaves the damn room, pointing out that he wasn't going to put up with that shit at all. I didn't spook so damn easy. I sat right down with them, smoked a sacramental something-or-the-other with them, let Rick play my drum a little, spoke of our mutual respect for the music of John "Ozzy" Osbourne.
Then we got back on race. He was a one trick pony, this guy, and kept on trying to turn it back that way. I finally responded, taking a heroic stand by countering his racism (I now realize) with classism. I pointed out to him that black people weren't the ones taking his job: the people he needed to be mad at were the top five per cent or so of the economic pyramid in this nation who we all, one way or another, were working to further enrich. And again, I pointed out that it sucks to be poor, no matter what color you are.
Amen to that, said the lady of the house, who got the house in a divorce settlement from her rich ex-husband, and this was echoed by Rick and Buddha, who between them owned six cars and what sounds like an accumulated forty-two motorcycles.
Matter of fact, I couldn't help but chide them a little: "You guys rode up on BMWs! What's that all about?"
"Are you kiddin'? Would you wanna ride a thousand miles on some goddamn Harley bullshit vibrating your ass to sleep the whole way?"
He had a point. I left out any further comments about only Buying American, which I 'm pretty sure Harley isn't, anymore, anyway.
Later, under that endless ball-lightning that graces Wyoming summer skies, The Kid asked me what I was doing letting those racist bastards touch my drum at all, smoke with me, etc.
I pointed out that we were gonna be stuck with them anyway, all weekend long, and what exactly was he planning to do next morning at breakfast, exactly, when he'd just have to see them again...
And ultimately, isn't it always better to seek the common ground (even if it's Ozzy)? Remembering as always that the basis of all totalitarianism is that there is an Us, and there is a Them, and no matter what, that sort of reasoning is the enemy. (Or the ultimate 'Them', if you will.) He sorta heard me.
We got up this morning and drove up the Hood River valley. Bought ourselves some apples and pears straight from the orchard (from a Mexican, in fact). We then took a road across the hills, eschewing the Interstate. We eventually came to a piece of land owned by a couple friends of hers.
They're Portland people, but they have this amazing piece of land out there in the existential blankness of the cliffs, with two yurts they have constructed on it. They're from the liberal part of the state, with a home they are striving to maintain right where the conservative part begins.
I pointed out that I spend a lot of my time talking on line with people whose political opinions differ greatly from my own. I was asked why this was.
Said my usual, about how it all ends when we stop talking to each other, and how I'm not on some sort of Conversion trip here: I just want to hear what they have to say, and want them to hear what I have to say. "For that, I compliment you, " said the lady of the house (yurt).
After that, we drove back into town, got lunch. MacBeth asked me if I had ever invited a lady out there, and had been turned down.
"Well, I've never invited one out here who I thought wouldn't wanna come. And if she did, I know I wouldn't wanna date her. It's okay to have seperate interests, but with something like this, where I'm so rooted in this kind of place, it would kind of be a waste of time."
She's already that way though, and that's why I like her.