Went on a Bender

"I have never spent the night outside of Portland," I think I said, when we were driving to Bend to see a couple of concerts. That was a lie. I knew what I meant. And the other people in the car, who have all camped outside of Portland before didn't really care about my meaningless fictional fact.

We laughed about silly shit, the four of us in the Cutlass Supreme. We played music: Granddaddy, Modest Mouse, Flaming Lips, Stephen Malkmus, such. One of us said there was a proper pipe-passing rotation when in acar, the rest of us weren't really sure if that was true. People on the road don't always know how to pass or let a car pass them. We would make a pass over the Cascades through the Willamette National Forest. Before the weekend was over I would pass out. Pass responsibility. Pass some sort of surprise exam.

We were going to Bend. I had never been to Bend. Never been. I didn't want to be abandoned in Bend. But I almost was. They would bend the rules for me, those with authority. And when it was all said and done, I would make it home alive.

It was Saturday when we left. I had worked all morning and 30 minutes into the afternoon. When the ride arrived there was news. The fifth wheel went out the night before, lost his bag, his wallet, his ticket. It gets worse. Looking for his dignity the next day, Fifth got his by a car. The driver ran a stop sign.

It would be four.

Before we left a friend from work, wishing me a good weekend, told me to keep an eye on my glasses. There had been an incident in the past, where my glasses broke. They didn't bend; they broke. I smiled and said I would; wished her well on her date.

Damnation. There was a debate: 40 percent, no, 60 percent of Oregon's energy comes from hydroelectric energy. We passed the Detroit Dam. We said, Damn, that's a big dam. It was too, the dam was damn big.

The First night was alright. We arrived in Bend, watched some basketball at a bar and headed over to the venue. We didn't have tickets but wanted to get in. It was Beck. We walked around, drinking beers, laughing, lurking. We found some guys who had tickets for half the price. I guess what we didn't realize was that the concert was half over. More than. Two of the three bands had already played. Luckily, Beck was just coming on when we waltzed in. Beck: he fucking kicked ass.

Three years ago I stayed a night in Eugene. That was my lie. I didn't correct myself, nor did I think I needed to. They either knew or didn't need to know.

I'd sleep on the ground that first night. It was cold and I slept very little, if you want to know the truth. We woke up the night of the concert we actually had tickets for, the Flaming Lips. We hiked some, hit the ski lodge -- they're still skiing Memorial Day weekend in Oregon -- then went to eat, CD shop, and, drink. We'd buy more to drink and drink that. We weren't worried but should have been. We had been drinking a lot. I think it got absurd when I thought it'd be a good idea to bring a bottle of wine into the show. Over the course of the day I had had: a gin and juice, a whiskey/lemonade, I went in on a pitcher, had two tall boys of Hamm's, shared a jug wine, and why? Why did I think I needed more? A bottle, and for myself. I brought it in and went right to work. The more drunk you get the more you want to drink and the less you think about how drinking too much is too fast is stupid, but by then it's too little too late. And you're foolish, and your memory goes blackish.

Then I woke up. I don't know where I was. My cell phone is ringing and I can't tell my friends where to find me because I am lost and don't know where I am. I'm a mess is what I am. People around me, they are distressed. I yell at them because I'm mad at myself for being so stupid. I hate myself and wish I was dead. Instead: I look for my glasses which are nowhere to be found. I find the Motel 6, where I cocoon myself until the next morning. That morning, Memorial Day, I remember. I remember clearly that I lost my glasses. I remember that I puked, that I woke up in the grass outside of the venue, which I was probably ejected from but do not remember. What I don't remember is watching the Flaming Lips. I can't remember a single-fucking song they sang. I was that far gone. What's worse, I probably caused other people pain.

This isn't me. This isn't who I am or who I want to be.

Spiders and Adverbs

I was carefully boiling water for coffee this morning when I lazily leaned forward over the back burner and accidentally hit my forehead on a dangling spider. I properly pulled back to notice the spider was tangled in his own web. Oh, what a tangled web we weave. I patiently wait for the pot of water to boil -- a watched pot still boils -- sometimes shifting attention to the spider that I seemed to have put into a disposition. His two front legs quickly fluttered for grip on the silky thread that connected him to the ceiling. The legs behind those moved precisely so the spider could maintain his balance. While the back two sets of legs rightly positioned on the silky thread where the spider had stopped when he met my forehead. My mind flashes to everything I know about the arachnid: spiders kindly kill other insects; spiders for the most part are harmless. Let him live. I promptly poured water into the French press and watched water turn black. I firmly pushed down on the press and checked on my friend. He wasn't where he was, but higher up the thread. He had gained grip and was rapidly moving up the the ceiling from which he came. A third of the way to the top, the spider stops and fixes the thread with a knot -- 31 knots? -- a sailor with a microscope would studiously look at. Back down a ways, the spider is doing the same thing. His grip is perfect, he's no longer tangled, clearly he's in control. I pour milk into my Circus Circus mug and then coffee on top of the milk. I then take a seat at the table and begin to read about the upcoming World Cup, about China's struggle with itself, and some crossword clues I have no clue the answers to. I wander back to my room and finish the book that I was almost finished reading and am now finished reading, Adverbs. I find myself using more (adverbs) more often, but still not in every sentence. I sort of straighten up my room and then clean my person with a combination of Irish Spring and Pert Plus, which isn't pertinent. I pack up my bag and put on coat, and bike off to school, where I have homework to do but do not, instead, I wrongly write about spiders. And worry about fixing the webs I've wondrously woven.

The battle of lent books

There was one book left on the chair that is outside the front door of my house. J.D. Salinger's Raise High the Rooftop, Carpenters. It was sitting, my roommate reports on the chair, wrapping rubberbands, bookmarked with my name. I don't know why I lent it but I did. Months ago. Last year, I think. Anyway, I tried to make a point to get it back from, well, we'll call her Steel Trap (She remembers everything!), before she left -- she was leaving and -- maybe? -- not coming back. We talked about me getting my book back before she departed. She actually came over but didn't bring it, even thought she swore she didn't want it, that it reminded her of me. Despite the "talk", I didn't get it before she left. I actually wrote that book off. It was a paperback and I wasn't concerned. Yesterday, the thing is on the chair outside my front door. I'm left wondering, did she remember to remember to ask someone to drop it off, who just now remembered. Or, is she back in town? She must be. Do I call her? Do I have to? I wait.

Same day, different message. This one -- we'll call her Cupcake -- says she has my book, Rule of the Bone, and, "would I like it back?" Well, hell yes, I mean of course. Shit, that one's signed and I never should have sent it out of my house. Turns out -- turns out? I knew full well -- I had one of hers, Everything is Illuminated, also a signed copy. Kind of a trade I guess. We weren't really talking anymore, much, Cupcake and I. Things fizzled. It went stale. However in the hell you want to put it. But I went to make the exchange, I'd keep 'em both if I could. Rode my bike to her apartment and made the trade and tried to make small talk. And I'll leave it there.

I left, however, with my book back in my hand, wondering, Why would I ever lend a book? For blog purposes? Hardly seems sensical.

At least these two are back where they belong. Not lost: the rule my dad once wrote about.

Twan's gone

Anthony left today. This morning at 11. He doesn't know if he'll be back. He says it depends. We're not counting on him coming back, which is sad. But we're not happy for him either, which is sad in a different way. We're having a hard time finding happiness these days. It doesn't come around as often.

Hey, Anthony, we said, can we have your bike?

Yeah, I'd like you to have my bike. It's a good bike, except for the seat. Watch out for the seat.

Well, Twan, we put a new seat on it.

Then it's perfect then. It's a perfect bike.

Anthony, when you're gone and not coming back, can we have your couch? The one you slept on for so long?

Twan, when you're gone never to return, can we have your half of the Co-op membership?

When Twan's gone, we get his TV. We get his antenna.

Twan can we have your comb?

Since you're not coming back, can we finish your drink, Anthony?

Can we have that book you finished?

We're talking about someone's things like their dead when they are in fact in front of us.

But not for long.

Anthony left this morning. Twan's gone. But we won't forget him.

Hey, Jude

Paul, you heard of Paul McCartney? the stranger said, when I said hello to the stranger outside of the Plaid Pantry. Sure, I said, course, the living Beatle, him and Ringo. Yeah, he said. Yeah, I said, what about him? Sean just walked up. He was eating with his wife, you know his new wife. He was married to Linda before. She died. Cancer. Yeah, what about it? I told him. He was eating with his wife in a restaurant the other night. Here? I wanted to know, because I was sure that this story was going somewhere that was geographically relevant. Blank stare. No, the man said, in London or some shit. OK, then what, I wanted the story to move. He was sitting with his wife -- his new wife -- you know Linda's dead, his new wife is like 38. Yeah, I said, she's got one leg, they had a baby. So, he ignored, they're listening to some music in this restaurant, and this woman regonizes the song, the voice, and she asks Paul, Is this you? Paul says, Yeah, it's Hey Jude. Can you believe that? The man I met, with Sean now standing next to me, said. She's too young to remember 'Hey Jude'.

He went on: You know Keith Richards? Yeah, Rolling Stones, I told him, who doesn't? So the other day Keith Richards is telling me. Wait, you? I have to interject, and I'm starting to think this guy thinks that the TV/Radio is always talking to him. He goes on. The man says, now with a British accent, in his best Keith Richards voice: The Rolling Stones were like a Mom and Pop Shop. Mick was Mom. He would always wake up and make a list of things to do. He would always plan out what he was going to do. Keith, I implied, now with this story, would just wake up, make sure he was still alive, make sure the phones still worked, were off. He's the Pop.

This man goes on. He blabs about being a former hippie, from San Francisco, an astronomer, a would-be mid-school science teacher. He tells us to read Carlos Castaneda. He says he's good shit. That he wrote about Don Juan, the shaman, and peyote buttons, mushrooms, phycadelic drugs and The experience. Nice man, good recommendation. I'll check him out, I tell him. Sean agrees, we work at a bookstore. If you don't see me working tomorrow, I'll be reading Carlos Castaneda. Good.

Hey (Jude), I said to the man before parting ways with him minutes after I wish we had, what's your name? In case I see your 'round. Paul, he said. Oh, like the Beatle, I told him.

Say hello to Ringo for me, would ya Paul?

S'cuse me, do you have the time?

This watch: well, it was a present. Valentine's 2003. Remember where you were, then? I do. I get to think of that, and of her, and of time every time I look to see what time it happens to be. The watch, a silver one, was resting in my desk for a long time, when, the other week I decided to fix the band, have a new battery put in. It works now. I guess you can say we've been re-united.

There's another watch I sometimes wear. A digital one. It beeps on the hour. A girl gave me that watch, too. She said it was to remember her. I think her name was Kjerstin. I doubt that's how you spell it, but I remember her. I do when I where that watch.

When it beeps, and like I said it does on the hour, I'm reminded that another hour has past. I told that to girl once, said it was a reminder that I was alive. Was it a good hour? she sometimes wanted to know when were were lying around being reminded of the hour. It usually was, I remember.

I rembember my grandfather. He died almost two-years ago. When he died, I put his watch on my wrist and wore it for a while. It isn't fancy or anything, simple, it kept good time. And I wore it, slipped in on my wrist until the battery died. People, like batteries, die. I wrote that in high school, when my English teacher asked me to write a simile. It's kinda silly.

That's something about time, you're reminded of it through people in many ways. If you're looking at your wrist, listening to the beep, recalling past events, you're taking up your time, mine.

And now it's time for me to go.

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