30 November 2005


So it turns out that trying to write a novel, a new book of poems, learn two new languages, and regularly update two blogs is a bit too much for me. And this blog is getting the shaft as a result. If you'd like, for the next six months or so anyway, feel free to head on over here and have at it. Otherwise, I'll see you when I come back to the States sometime in May or June...

16 November 2005

& We're Off...

T-minus 4 hours.

Boston > London > Yerevan (Armenia) > Bishkek.

Get in Friday at 3:00 am local time (5:00 Thursday afternoon, east coast time). Twenty-two hours total, 16 in the air.

Talk to you then (or after the nap).


10 November 2005

Places I've Slept (Vol. 1)

The night of my high school graduation we drive up to the Catskills for a party at a classmate's summer house. Drinking and revelry ensues. Some time around three in the morning I accompany a friend down to the parking area to wait with him for a taxi that will shuttle him down to JFK and a plane home to Buenos Aires. There are some farewell recreational drug usages and many toasts made from around the lip of a J&B scotch bottle. Eventually, his taxi arrives, he leaves, and, by all accounts, I disappear. I am discovered around seven o'clock the next morning standing knee-deep in a swamp, one arm slung around a tree, the other firmly gripped around the handle of the scotch bottle. I am sound asleep. My friend carries me fireman style from my nest. Upon reaching hard ground, he drops me. I demand he take off my shoes before I go any further. He leaves me there, where I immediately fall back asleep until late in the morning.

Eighth grade class trip to D.C. A tour bus packed to the exhaust pipe with 13 year olds and faculty chaperones. I wake up to the sound of giggling and cameras rewinding and the flash of lightbulbs. I'm on my knees, ass sticking out into the aisle, and my left cheek, lodged beneath the in-front-of-me neighbor, bears the brunt of my weight. Over an hour later inside the Washington Monument I still can't move my neck enough to take full advantage of the window slits.

Summer after ninth grade. I've convinced my parents I'm sleeping at the house of a friend I'd only that afternoon made up. (My friends and I would sleep at his house with some frequency over the next few years; we'd also discuss his odd habits in school and his occasional romances so as to make him more real for all of us involved.) It is the first time I've stayed out all night drinking and doing drugs. We decide to sleep in a park by the water where we know we'll be safe and unseen. I choose to sleep on a large, flat rock right on the shore. I wake up a few hours later soaking wet and being crawled on by water rats. I'm still convinced they bit me a few times.

Drunk again, this time in college, I manage my way back to my girlfriend's dorm room. The door is locked and she is not home, though, by my estimate, due soon. I, however, can barely stand any longer and spent whatever energy left in me on the walk there. I write a note on her door in near-legible script. It says, "I'm down there" and is followed by an arrow down and to the right. I then curl up in a former payphone closet like a cat and sleep the sleep of the drunken liberal arts student. When Girlfriend arrives at her room, she is met by a group of neighbors poking at me with a hairbrush, a foot, a ruler, and a backscratcher. They turn on her and ask, "Does this belong to you?" Upon confirmation and door unlocking, my partly-lifeless form is kicked, shoved, and rolled into the room and placed on a beanbag chair, where I spend the rest of the night and much of the following day.

Again drunk, again heading to Girlfriend's room, this time with a key. Upon attempting to get into bed and get out of my pants at the same time, I fall over and land in a laundry basket. I laugh myself to sleep and wake up sore to the sound of Girlfriend and The Roommates laughing at me.

While camping with friends I discover there is no tent space left when I finally decide to pull up some sleeping bag. I instead climb atop my van. After some maneuvering, I discover my back to be the only comfortable position, but the rising sun is making that too bright. I climb back down, collect some spent but more or less intact bottle caps, climb back up, lie down and place the bottle caps over my eyes as makeshift sleeping mask. All is well until the rain begins a few hours later.

Some time in college at a friend of a friend's birthday party in Connecticut. A circle is formed late in the evening on the wide crest of a hill in the big backyard. Bottles and joints and some unnamed pharmaceutical are passed around the circle. I wake up around dawn to total blackness, wet, cold, and seemingly vacuum packed in some sort of nylon pouch. It is raining and I've been left outside to sleep in a collapsed tent by my friends. I am cold for at least a week.

I'm maybe seven and tree climbing has taken on a truly profound role in my life. I favor a neighbor's yard down the street from my parents', as the trees there are much higher and provide what I decide is a more challenging climb than those closer to home. While climbing to a personal best height, I break several of the limbs used in the pathway up and can't figure out how to get down. Believing (rightly, I still feel) that I'd be in trouble if I make a scene and call out, I decide to lay low until someone comes by who can help. As you've already guessed, I fall asleep before that happens. My father carries me down still asleep some hours later. I cannot play outside for a week.

After a rather strenuous night of drinking with friends, I am asleep in the back of my van, on the floor, while someone else drives. That someone hits a curb taking a right and blows a tire. I am still asleep. The spare tire is found, the jack put into use and tire changing commences. Believing that a police officer may stop to check on them and all underage, the friends both present and awake hide the empties in the nearby woods. Only their re-emergence from the woods prompts a cop to stop. In assessing the scene, he asks, "So whose van is this?" There were awkward glances down to the van's interior floor, where at that moment, rumor has it, I roll over and commence snoring, loudly. There is a long silence, finally broken when the cop speaks again, saying "So, uh, heavy sleeper, huh?" and then begins gut laughing for what I'm told is a disturbingly long time.

27 October 2005



So, I am not yet in Kyrgyzstan. (Or "Ujerkisdan"...Thank you, Joe Stone.) I'm still on US soil, and you best believe that makes my mother happy. I'm even sleeping on her other child's futon for a spell, just down the street from the parents' compound, so the level of mirth on their end just keeps increasing while the level of discomfort and awkward conversations increases on my and my sibling's end. Glorious system, this.Anyway, I'm in Rhode Island. Until November 16th I'm in Rhode Island, anyway.

In the (ever-long) period between my last, mid-move post and now, I have driven roughly 3000 miles, visited family and friends for a minimum of one overnight in five states (soon adding Utah on a visit to Senor Rocketpants and Ms TLC), driven through 21 states, and dropped nearly a grand on the sweet nectar gasoline. I spent a week in Baton Rouge with family and left crying like a five year old waking up to an empty house after a nightmare, as I left my dogs behind, where they'll stay for the duration and to whom, no doubt, I will get to before any humans--family, friend, or otherwise--upon getting back in the country.

I then immediately drove my red-eyed, sniffly self to Tallahassee, FL, to get drunk, play euchre, and otherwise be forced not to wallow in my dog-separation depressions with two of my favorite people on Earth (whose wedding, I promise, I will make...I just have to change some flights around...seriously, I'll make it).

Following that, it was Savannah, GA for a couple of days in a swanky hotel at dirt-cheap prices (thanks to my mother's hook-ups...Thank you, Mom.). I fucking love Savannah. Seriously. Want to live there. Even with the unfortunate nearness of Gregg Allman, I'm ready to move. But that's after K-stan and I choose not to think that far in advance (and yes, eight months is a long time in advance by my standards, thank you very much).

Post-Savannah was my cousin Melissa's wedding in Rhode Island (following a rather long but rather enjoyable car trip up the east coast). As some of you may know, I have a...well, let's just call it "a thing" about bridges and tunnels. It's not quite like bats, but it's certainly "a thing." Driving up the east coast from South Carolina to Rhode Island is what you might call "facing your fears" if you too had a thing for bridges and tunnels. Just saying.

Post-wedding and the requisite hangover, there was some rural Maine time--lighthouses and wind and whatnot. I love Maine but I had my fair share of standing in cold, blustery wind getting wet and pointing at rocky, beautiful coastline, for sure.

That about gets us to my pasty white ass being on my sister's futon awaiting exportation. I think this weekend will be spent in Boston, or so I've been told by my friends there. They also mentioned something about Halloween and then cackled ominously. All of them.

I'll let you know how it goes.

27 September 2005

I Like the Way Serendipity Feels on My Tongue

In yet another in a series of weirdo positive happenings leading up to my eventually leaving the country without any attachments, I just sold my house! A mere twelve hours before the moving truck rolls into the driveway (replacing the dumpster), I sold my house!

wee purple palace

So, anyway...



That is all.

21 September 2005

Update (in bullet-format) from the Land of Too Many Boxes

* I am moving, once and for all, from the house I've lived in for five years (almost exactly) one week from today.

* There is currently parked in my driveway a twenty foot dumpster, half filled with the detritus of a life spent with too much storage space and the accumulated waste of previous owners.

* The dining room is currently filled with 32 boxes of varying size stuffed full with (nearly all) the books that had until this afternoon lined every inch of wall space and most of the usable surfaces of the spare bedroom.

* In the course of this packing/cleaning frenzy, the following have been discovered:

roughly four or five thousand of these monsters living in the basement:
basement cricket

two spiders more or less the size of my head:
kitchen find
back door gaurdian

the essentially full skeletal remains of a rabbit (and for the record, I did not kill this one...I think):
rabbit skeleton

and that my wife's high school boyfriend and former (sorta) normal person has become brainwashed by this wacko, fundy Jesus cult, much to everyone and no one's surprise.

* Bailey, the golden retriever, has a cone on her head a la the mutt in One Crazy Summer or that one Nirvana video. When the dumpster delivery driver came to drop off his wares, he saw her and said, "Hey, your dog's got a lampshade on her head. Life of the party, huh?" Best truck driver banter ever.

* I am creeping ever closer to passable Russian. (The Rosetta Stone language programs advertised on the back of every Skymall are, in fact, brilliant.) Speaking Russian simultaneously makes me feel a little cooler (temperature-wise) and like I want to do battle with a CIA agent.

* I still officially miss Elliott Smith, and listening to the entire catalogue while packing is not helping that fact.

* In the new issue of The Believer's interview with the glorious Sarah Silverman, she uses the word bubbler in lieu of water fountain, and in doing so simultaneously outs herself as a native New Englander (New Hampshire) and puts a good distance between herself and the rest of the field on my list of celebrity crushes. (Oh, you have one too, cool guy. Shut up.)

* There will never be enough boxes. Never.

Back to the pack.

19 September 2005

Through the Windshield at a Tollbooth

My fellow and erstwhile Bloomingfolk: doesn't this look like our boy J. Loyal?


Only, ya know, in like twenty/thirty years...

I've Been Meaning to Write This for a Week

I was one of four Dans in a group of friends while in college. Dan Manchester, Dan Haar, Dan Crowell, and Dan...I can't remember Dan #4's last name. I didn't dislike Dan #4 (though I do remember that he was the cause and the intended target of another non-Dan friend's comment that "some people just major in being an art major" and that I agreed with the comment and its intents wholeheartedly), I just didn't know him as well and my memory is pitted with years-of-drug-abuse-sized holes. That I've lost Dan #4's name is not surprising. That I've only spoken to the other two Dans three or four times (totaled collectively) is also not surprising, given my lack of skill at keeping in touch with anyone outside of my immediate family (they call me) with any frequency, a problem only compounded by my moving to Indiana after graduation instead of Park Slope or Williamsburg. That said, I still think about the Dans and the rest of the crew with some frequency, wondering what they're doing, if so-and-so is still painting, what band so-and-so is in, if Dan X is still dating Person Y, etc.

So it was a pleasant and shocking surprise when I opened the newest issue of Rolling Stone magazine last week to find this year's crop of 10 New Bands to Watch! only to have one of the Dans staring out at me. Dan Crowell, whose drum set lived in our dining room all of junior year, whose stationary-floating dance is one of the true indescribable wonders of the world, who nearly talked a bicycle police officer into arresting the two of us one night after our graduation (Officer 1: "Why are you two sitting here on Broadway drinking when you know it's illegal? Dan Crowell: "Well, it's hot out, sir. And there's a bench."), this Dan Crowell's face (and upper torso, too!) was captured in glossy color among the pages of Rolling Stone. The band's name is Matt Pond PA. I know nothing about them, other than what Jenny Eliscu told me and what I've gleaned from the band's website (they're opening for Liz Phair on her upcoming tour), but I'm still excited.

And I'm not just excited because someone I (used to) know is in Rolling Stone magazine. I'm doubly excited because this marks the second issue of the magazine in a row that contained someone I knew/know. The first, sadly, was an obituary for Al Aronowitz, a rock journalist and the man who, legend has it, first turned the Beatles on to weed and first introduced them to Bob Dylan. I "met" him while I was a sophomore in college. I somehow stumbled across his website. There, tucked among amazing tales of his insider views of early rock excesses and milestone moments, was a note that he'd "start posting other people's poetry and fiction to the site if [he] ever got around to finding a victim willing to sort through it all." I emailed to volunteer. This began a couple years of our talking and planning an on-line journal (independent of The Blacklisted Journalist site) that never got off the ground. While planning a memorial gathering in Central Park for Allen Ginsberg, Al called me to organize a student presence/reading event to happen simultaneously. Somehow, through all of that, I never put his name together with the legendary Al Aronowitz I had read about in Dylan biographies and elsewhere. Even when he included me on his mass emails and I'd find my name next to Country Joe McDonald and other 60's lesser luminaries, I just equated that to...well, to something else. To be honest, I don't think I thought about it too much. I liked his energy regarding our starting a journal and his cranky honesty regarding my bad ideas and just left it at that. I hadn't spoken to him in about five years when I saw his obit last month. But, like Dan Crowell, seeing his face looking out at me from the pages of Rolling Stone immediately brought back college---the smell of the house, the snow, that mysterious white dust covering everything below the knee--in a way I hadn't experienced or expected in quite a while.


Sci-fi meets post-trauma surgical therapy: complete face transplants.

I'm a little freaked out. Not about the procedure, but about the psychological (and physical) damage that would lead one to agree to this procedure after hearing the bevy of potential problems and knowing that they'd be the first. I mean, besides the corpse flesh, 50% chance of failure! I wouldn't get a tattoo on my ass with a 50% chance it would get fucked up, much less have a recently-dead, newly-donated face grafted to my head.

On the up side, by the time my children have become international criminal masterminds in need of a new identity, the face-swap will be a mundane out-patient procedure and I won't have to worry about visiting them in prison or feeling bad about not forgetting their name and can therefore spend my waning years in a more fitting manner: shitting myself and planning my funeral.