a week's worth

This story’s kind of long, but it took me longer to write than it will for you to read, so you should just read it.

And this is just an intro:

My what a busy week, is what the weekly paper reads. Last Friday: A week ago. That’s when Brian came into town. That’s also when I got a surprise phone call. Grace. I knew Brian was coming in. I looked forward to Brian. He’d warned me well in advance. His brother's here. They have a house on the beach, which is near the coast, in case you didn’t know. On it, actually. So, the plan was: he was coming in late Friday, staying with his brother on Friday night, Saturday we’d meet up, see some things, go to a party that night, and then go to the coast on Sunday, which was forecasted to be a sunny day. But on Friday I got this call. I lied when I said it took me by complete surprise. Heidi was given a myspace warning from Ma-ree that said this: i got a message from monica from las cruses, you might not remember, but carson will, and she need someone to stay with in portland. can she stay with you and carson? i gave her geherke's .. but i lost my phone so i don't have carson's. give me carson's number, and let me know if i should tell this monica girl she can stay with you… Monica? Hmmm... Monica Something. Monica Sometime? Was she the one who?... No, I think that was Sa..mmm...one else. I remember Monica, sure, but I don’t remember the last time... She was the one with the car and the border crossing and the...dogs. OK, Monica. I wasn’t sure why she was coming in. But when she called last Friday I sort of found out...something. Something to do with the hospital school here. Not-all-that clear, but, I said, Of course you can stay with me. Coming in late on Saturday? Not a problem in my book. It’s just that my friend will be... Monica? Do you remember me? Yeah, yeah, she insists, Freshman year. And that’s all she needs to say to bring up a bunch of things. Her freshman year was my second year in school. We were in the dorms, and if you haven’t heard this one look away because the scene is ugly: I took a tumble off a second-story catwalk at the dorms we lived in, and, unlike an agile cat that lands on its feet, I landed on my backside, then the back of my head, then into a hospital bed. Of course she remembers that. People remember that kind of thing about you. She’d later reveal that she remembered a story I wrote the next year that appeared in the paper, about riding the bus. So, she’s got a good memory. That's admirable.

Brian comes to Clinton Street: Fair fun

After work on Saturday, Brian, who rented an economy car that was up-graded to a sporty number free of charge, drove to my neighborhood to meet me. I told him to come to the Clinton Corner and we would sit. His brother was right when he said no one in this neighborhood has air conditioning. There’s the Division/Clinton Fair going on, which means kids everywhere. We wouldn’t get service at my café, but we would discuss our lives (our livers), what was missing, what we wanted, what we were going to do. I told him of the surprise houseguest and that I needed to remain levelheaded until she at least landed. And when is that? he asked. She said 10:30, and that she’d call when she got here. It was 2 then or there bouts. Tick...talk... tic...Brian and I have fun, I’m not saying we don’t, I think he’s cool as hell. We laugh a lot. He’s one of my bestest buds. But one thing we like to do is sip on cool brew. And for me to put an eight-hour freeze on our fun was, well, kind of a blow. But we talked of some things to do and we headed out – he did rent a car, and I ain’t got one of them. We’d do the rose garden, where apparently Brian’s grandmother has a flower named after her – a Rhode. We drove first to his brother’s house, where the air cooler but no one was home. We went to the Rose Garden, where we couldn’t find the famed flower. There, we got some calls. Mine: Carson, this is Marcus, I’m bored, let’s drink. Can’t now, Marcus, call you later. Brian’s: Brian, it’s your brother, tell Carson you're supposed to be having fun. Mine: Carson, this is Sean, come to a Pirate /Cowboy Party. Sorry, Sean, I’m going to a Drag Party. But let’s talk later. Brian’s: Verizon has just updated your phone service. Mine: Carson, this is Monica, I caught an earlier flight and will be there at 7 or so, flight blah-di-blah, something-something Airways. Me (again): Cah-sun, it’s Ma-Cus, I’m boooooored, let’s drink beeeeer. Brian and I, we crossed Suicide Bridge and agreed it’s not the time. We met Marcus, who’d been bored since noon and so was drunk as hell, and Alice Cooper, who’d been back from Australia for months, but I hadn’t seen her, except that time at New Seasons which I didn’t mention. We socialized until seven or so, when I was estimating a certain flight from Phoenix was due in. Marcus said he’d see us at the Drag Party, which I doubted immediately. He tried to bump fists with me as his eyes said he was going first down, then out.

Monica: the massage therapist

Monica totally wasn’t expected me (us) to pick her up at the airport. She said she’d take the MAX downtown, would meet there. I had no idea she’d been to PDX pre this. I had no idea why she was here. I tell Brian, She said OHSU, so we want to know (a) patient or student? (b) contagious or terminal? (c) boyfriend or lesbian? We met here at the gate, or as close to the gate as you can meet someone these days, which is a nice way to meet someone in a foreign city if you ask me – but few ask. And she was thrilled, and happy, and like I wrote at the beginning of this paragraph not expecting it. Dinner then? Yes. Thai on Belmont. Across the street, I pointed out, is the scene of the party not-yet started. We ate, which is good thing to do cause you need a base. I caught up with Monica. She answered our questions (a) student (b) N/A (c) boyfriend of four years, but they were breaking up. Brian tried to follow the many names of now-mothers from my alumni. The who’s kids are named what and why, and, which cracker is a crackhead, which I guess is sad and amusing no matter who you are, except if you are their kid. And I remembered none, maybe some of them, but was glad of one thing: THAT I GOT THE FUCK OUT. "Have you guys ever had a Thai massage," Monica asked Brian and me. Of course not, was the best answer given.

Class in the morning, and, What a drag

We witnessed one of my roommates cross-dressing himself with the help of some inconsiderate girl who parked in my driveway. We knew they were going to the party, not just dressing for fun, but still, they said they couldn’t give us a ride, that it was against the rules. Faaah-cue. We sipped for sometime, and then called a cab -- Brian wasn’t going to drive; it’d take us to long to walk. We had a nice driver: friendly, fun, she knew where we were going and didn’t seem to mind my gym bag full of beer. We got there, and had her pull into the Thai parking lot. And this party, it was the tits. I was in a good mood, clearly brought my A-game. I had some friends there, and some that I brought. Everyone was having a gay ole time, even the lesbians. There was cold beer, a DJ, laughs, and this girl with a great smile. I’d seen Great Smile before. Was it at my own house? Yes, it was. She came to a party we had, and if you were there, you’d remember me talking to everyone but her, but sneaking glimpses of her, always, almost always, she was smiling. I like a good smile. OK, so... this girl, who on this night was dressed like a cowboy, even though this was not the Pirate/Cowboy Party – maybe she was confused, or maybe this was hre in drag, it was, of course it was – and I tip the hat that I’m not wearing to her – Ma’am – and she to me. And we smiled but still didn’t speak. It’s a party and there’s dancing. I’m dancing with these two black girls from Paris, no really. The conversation goes like this.

“What’s your name?”
“Like the movie?”
“Yes, exactly.” Heard that one before. “Yours?”
“Carson, like Gar-son.” Fuck, I’m dumb.
“Oh, right, right.”
“How come you girls arn't dancing?” I ask cause there's room to behind them.
“I been here three months. Am from Paris.”
I nod my head, yes. “Let’s dance.”
“Yes. Dance.”

Now, I don’t know if you’ve seen me dance, or would want to, or can even picture it. But I don’t really dance, I kind of make-fun dance. I do try and get dance parties started, though, I like to step back and watch others after doing so, but no one was really dancing at this time, so it was like, I’m getting these two Black Parisians to dance with me, hells yes I am. And it was hot. We danced and they got hotter. I fanned them and they thought that was funny. We danced for some time, and when I turned around I noticed Great Smile was next to me drinking out of a Scrabble mug. I get the gall to approach with my line: You’ve got a sexy mug. Great Smile smiled. I told her she should dance and she said she had to find her friend. I danced with the Black Parisians some more. We had more fun, the three of us. Then, looking for the friends I brought, I noticed we were the ones not dressed like the opposite sex. I guess I just don’t like the way I look in a dress, I confessed. You’d look better I’d say to the girls who questioned me, and, I wouldn’t look as good as you, I’d say to my friends who were braver than I. And, I see Great Smile again. She’s talking to the Garage Dweller. I walk by and outside. I’m looking for Marcus, who’s no where to be found, but I do see his 18, maybe 19-year old girlfriend. I don’t say anything, but it’s obvious that Marcus started drinking too early. I see some other friends. Have some laughs (this is a great party), hear some guitar playing, which happens at parties like these. It turns out, too, there’s a wedding party next door. There’s a quick warning to our party that the couple is coming out to their car, which is parked in front of our party’s house. Our party: it’s spilled in the front yard (it’s hot as shit (98 degrees, at least), and into the street (we’re all boozed)). The warning was issued and we’re partying, but those of us sober enough are waiting to see how this will all go down. We start singing songs to the couple -- good ones like Happy Birthday -- when they come out, and they enjoy our company. It wasn’t going to be us that ruins their wedding night, despite the concern from the Father (?) of the Bride. We see them off, and I sort of get inspired. I bump into Great Smile again and we begin again. We start talking. I tell her she’s been to my house. I get her real name. I say it’s pretty, which it is, and I’ll keep to myself, and I say she’s got a great smile. She smiles and my point is made. We talk about some other stuff, but by then Monica -- you remember Monica? – says she needs to leave, says she’s got this massage therapy class in the morning, says it’s late and she’s an hour ahead of us. And I say, Monica who? No, not really. Really, I tell Great Smile, who’s name I now have etched in my memory, that I’d like to see her again, that I’d like her number, that I’d like to know how to spell her last name, too. She gives all of the above a strong consideration before doing so. We hug and I depart to a cab I’ve called for me and my New Mexico Friends. And, IT’S THE SAME DRIVER we had on the way over.

P.S. on this part

Remember back when you were reading about Sean and the Pirate/ Cowboy party. Well, it was ending, or they were leaving as we were returning, and I told Sean and his now-19-year-old girlfriend to stop by – I wasn’t going to class (or work) in the morning. They came over and we had some laughs out front, and I told the two to sleep on my bed, that it would be more comfortable. They slept and departed just after Monica went to her class that morning. I’d find out later that Great Smile had something in common with Sean’s Austrian girlfriend, and with Marcus’s left-alone friend, and it wasn’t that she’s from Austria -- Great Smile is Iranian-American – or that she’s sad on this night. No, it’s that she’s too is young. Maybe too young.

Ah, the beach

If you know anything about the coast you know it’s always the better place to be. Brian drove us there. I sat and played DJ. I played: So This Is Portland: the Good Life, Helio Sequence, Built to Spill, Spoon, Animal Collective, Arcade Fire, Dismemberment Plan, the Rapture, Yo La Tengo, the Ponys, the Mars Volta, DC4C, the Faint; plus: Smog, eels, the Life Aquatic soundtrack, others. We took in nature, the greens (Does this remind you of New Mexico? I sarcastically spit out.). When they’re there, the big trees are on our sides and overhead. They shade us from the sun, protect us from the outside world. When they’re not, we see slash and burn, cut and run, slice and dice (“I’m pro timber, B. says. If we didn’t cut trees down, they’d just burn.”), the scars left on the hillsides beside. But in Oregon there’s more trees than not trees. It’s true because even on the license plates of cars we pass, there’s a tree. If only gas was green and didn’t cost all our green, or our air, our lives, I’d propose we drive to the coast more. Can’t get into this now, though, there’s Cascade Head to climb, waves to contemplate, the best scenes to be seen. Brian and I, we’d chase all over Lincoln City, on foot, in the upgrade, searching for hoof that wasn’t there. We’d hoot and holler and we’d have a ball, leaving few casualties. Now, I mentioned to Monica that I wasn’t going to be around the next day. I told her that, but I forgot to bring my phone to the beach, to call her and remind her that I wouldn’t see her that day at all or wouldn’t be there when she woke up the next. There was Communication Breakdown. But at the bar, the last one we’d go to, I’ll call it Chinook Winds Casino cause that’s the end of the road for so many, I picked up Brian’s phone, called mine to check the messages, got her number – she had called me – and I called her. I don’t know what time it was – 12:30 I’d find out later – when I spoke with Monica, but I told her I was sorry, and she told me I said that too much. And then not to. I said we should hang out when I got back – she was staying for four more days -- and that was really about it. I probably woke her up, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it, at least I called.

The last night I saw both my friends was the just the other

I could (should) have stayed at the coast. I don’t like my job. But I need it. Because I get hungry. I also get drunk, still. Brian and I went back to Portland – I had to work the next day – and I convinced him to get some cold drinks, to stay at my house, and to get up early with me the next morning and take me to work, so I wouldn’t have to bike – there’d be no way I could do both myself, successfully. We started at Clinton Pub. Ah, the air condition. Hamm’s after Hamm’s after Hamm’s. We took a break, and took back a video I had rented the week before and was over due, Miller's Crossing. We arranged to meet Nate at Night Light, and that seemed alright (What else? I’m trying to put the rest of this together, wrap it up, rather.) There was a joke: Ohkay is a casino in New Mexico. I’d text this to someone who wouldn’t get it, but someone that would think I was trying to be funny, and think that was trying. To someone else, I’d call, or she called me, and said, or she said, we should meet-up. Monica, I’d see and introduce to my friends. I’d sort of ditch her again, though, just to walk this other girl home. When I got home she was asleep, Brian, on the opposite couch also asleep. My alarm: set for four. Faawk, it’s hot in here.

And the reason I’m a dick

The next day, I’d come home from work, go to the gym to sweat out my sorrows in the sauna, then return home to find a note from Monica:

Carson (Matt & Steven too)

THANK YOU SO much for your hospitality. I’m not leaving Portland yet, but I got a great invitation to the Marriott & it’s hard to pass up. Hope I’m not offending you. Would still love to do dinner and/or drinks so call me I’ll try you later again.

Tuesday 6:45 p.m.

Brian would be at the coast until Sunday, this. Monica would call, I’d miss it but would call her back, but she’d be to busy to return that one. Like I said, Communication Breakdown. So, I’ll be here working a job that’s got me exhausted, one that’s left me alone (I can’t blame it for everything, but I will), and with some phone calls that I should make, but probably won’t.

And if you’ve made it this far, you can say you’ve heard this one. That you checked in. And that you might return. Next week or so.

What the heat?

FAAAAWK! It's hot. What this shit is this, Africa? Jesus Christmas, I don't understand. One day I can walk around dry as dirt the next I'm forced to walk around naked as sweat slides off my skin. I "enjoyed" the nine hours or so at the workplace, shelving and sorting books and such, and then I stepped outside and it's like a sauna out there. "Oh you're used to this," some guy at work, who didn't know what he was talking about, said. Why, because I'm from New Mexico? I'm not Mexican. Or African. I'm human. Poor asito, I know, but the only useful thing to do with a brow full of sweat is fling it on your dog. And she doesn't like that all that much, and running after her you only get more sweaty. Oh, and it's hot too.

So what I'll do is this:

1. Take a piss.
2. Eat a popcicle.
3. Consider the alternatives: I could have never have left NM and it could be worse (Hotter than this?)
4. Wait for the moment where the ocean is in front of me, jump in and wait till I freeze.
5. Thaw out in the sun.
6. Turn into a tomato.
7. Come back and explain to people that your really want skin cancer and are trying to die.
8. Better yet, buy some sunscreen ("Yeah it's like three dollars.").
9. Grab a drink.
10. Savor the flavor.
11. Stop and think: when's summer over, when won't I have to worry about waking up at 4.
12. Close my eyes and think of the time yet to come that is cooler, calmer, and more promising.
13. Swallow it all down, open my eyes and make sure I've got my lost-and-found sunglasses.
14. Ahhhhh.

Ball sweat: sticking man's nuts to his legs since the end of the Ice Age.

Gah damn, what happened? Mus be summer or sum 'ting. Sheeet.

That's good enough.

Parts of me

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
-- George Harrison

Part of me likes who I am; part could change for the better.
Part of me likes it here; part of me never left.
Part of me wants to be alone; part of me wants someone to love.
Part wants to be loved; part doesn’t want to share my secrets.

Part of me is liberal; part is conservative.

Part of me is sober; part of me still drunk.
Part of me reads too much into things; part is surprised too often.
Part is hot; part not.
Part wishes it were all over; part is happy to begin a new day.

Part of me is grateful; part is bitter.

Part of me should forgive; part should forget.
Part of me is peaceful; part wages war.
Part of me knows where I am; part wishes I had a map.
Part wants more; part has had enough.

Part of me will remember; part of me should write more down.

Part of me is tired; part of me can’t sleep.
Part of me has read this somewhere before; part can’t remember where.
Part of me is creative; part steals others ideas.
Part likes my hair; part thinks I need a haircut.

Part of me can't leave; part knows nothing's tying me down.

Leave room for others

Have you ever been with someone, then maybe been with them again? You were attracted to them and so you called them, kissed them (licked them), slept in the same bed as them. Then, maybe it happened again (or maybe you wished it had). Not necessarily the next night, week, or month. So there's this confusion over what it means. To them, to you. You try to say something nice. And the compliment you've crafted is created differently in their head. It's now an insult. You say, yes, there's an attraction, however, and it's this however, the but, that is the insult, and whatever comes crawling out of your mouth after that will mean so little. And the words have hurt and there is nothing that you can say because you are being argued against, not logic or sense, by emotion. This person you were attracted to has this emotion. This time it's anger. There's some sadness to it, too. You've heard this person cry before ("Those real tears?"). You've heard this person laugh at your jokes, your mannerisms, themselves. You've seen this person depressed, sad as shit. You've seen them confident, soaring, passionately explaining something. With the understanding that this person is a great person because this person has a wide range of emotions, you still tell them that they are not the one for you. And that, sorry, you just know this (you know but don't say you think of someone else, are thinking of them right now). And that you are not telling them that they are attractive so that you can sleep with them, but because you are attracted to all of them (maybe you've already slept with them and so why would that matter anyway?). You've waited too long to compliment them. They say to you that it's not a compliment anyway, that it means piss. And you get sad and satisfied at the same time because there is nothing that you can do (you've done too much at this point and still not enough), you've said your piece. So you wish them well, and wish things in life would be better, you take with you the good times ("You call those good?"), knowing they'll never happen with this person again.

Have you been there?

You have (You're think you're the only one?).

Or it could be very well possible that you've at least been in this not-so similar, but time-sensitive situation.

Have you ever been attracted to a friend? You know this person is your friend because you care about this person. You've gotten to know them, have told them about yourself, know about them (even some embarrassing shit). You are friendly with them before anything physical happens -- it never happens even though you've dreamed about your first kiss, it's recurring. They are your friend, but you think about them far too often for it to seem like just a friend. The thing is you've never taken the plunge. You've never acted upon the recurring dream because in the back of you mind you don't want to let your friend down. Don't want to ruin the friendship. Are unsure if the feelings are the exact same (how could they possibly be?). You know deep down they're not. But, still, you want to risk proving that they could be. Are fascinated with the chance. Are certainly unsure of the outcome. But instead of acting upon it, you don't. You do nothing because it's safe and you are sure safety is solo. You haven't had to make your move. You've closed the door behind you with a whew. There's no movement, you're still. And you're still here thinking about this person. You're still friends with this person and that seems important enough. Because you have some things to work out on on your own, you don't ask anyone to come on in for some juice. And on and on. You're keys depress the board as the thoughts roll out your head, but nothing has been said to anyone specifically, therefore, no feelings have been hurt (tickled) because you've used hypotheticals (that are bullshitcicles) and pronouns masking fictional figures, trying to explain something that you once tried to explain to someone that didn't get it.

Worse than this is this: You have a roommate who leaves town (congrats on your internship, by the way) and replaces in his room someone that's not him but has the same name. You're scared shitless about this prospect because you've seen this person kiss your other roommate, who you've suspected to be (gay) bi. This roommate returns from a (gay) golf trip and is so happy -- not to see you -- to see this subleter. You suspect that they slept in the same (bed) room, when you woke up to turn off the garage light (that someone left on all fucking night), noticed their two bikes are present but only one bedroom door is open. And you freak, not that you have something wrong with this (just not in my house), but that you feel duped, deceived, and disgusted. And you want nothing more than to leave the house to get away from (them) your thoughts. And, ouch, you've got another month to put up with (what the hell is this?) this.

Ever been here? Someone's got some 'splaining to do.

Falling off the wagon

I fell. Fell hard. Off. It hurt. My feelings. Now, I can barely type a sentence without wanting to put a period in the middle, beginning. It's like I just want things to end before they're supposed to.

There's a last day. Then a soccer game. There was a party. Then another. Then a reason. Then an excuse. A cold beer. Then another. Then another. Then... I find myself back where I started. Unable to put an ex over the day on the calendar. All but two days in June covered in exes. Only one day in July gets an ex so far.

I'll practice better habits today. Be good. Be better to myself. Don't drink that, I'll say.

Some sentences start because you have to. Some start because you want to.

all sentences start with a capital letter and end with a period except this