Sunday, October 26, 2008

Garden #9 and Dude #4

Everything is generic, here. It's as if the 'worldly nomenclature' has 
been stripped and torn away from everyone who inhabits this space.
And ya know what? At first, I thought these bastards were crazy.
I really did. But it seems like they genuinely understand what they
are doing here and why they are doing it.

Every morning at tent meeting, Dude #4 (I just call him that because
although he is in a tight-knit group of dudes who all follow Guy
around, there are usually four other dudes between him and Guy)
steps out from the line of dudes, gets down on his knees and
recites a Psalm in the original Greek (with Hebrew mixed in)
and sort of wails it out in a semi-rhythmic and melodic fashion.
The first time I saw him do it, it made me think of a passage from
the bible I remember from sunday school where a man was
possessed with an evil spirit and screamed a lot while he cut
himself with stones.

But Dude #4 belts it out. Every morning. Rain or shine (although
it barely ever rains here). There's something about it that is real
and refreshing. No American accent. No pulpit. Just the words.
After Dude #4 is done, he usually weeps for a bit and Guy sits
beside him and consoles him. From there, Guy usually speaks a bit
about how we are 'preparing for the harvest' and that 'we are
the field workers of Jesus'. Afterwards, we eat a massive breakfast 
of fresh grown fruit of the valley, custards, jellies, pastries and
always (obviously) a healthy portion of our own homegrown coffee.

Sometimes I step away from the herd of us, as we eat silently, and
take in the view. It seems to good to be true. 

Way too good, in fact. I'm beginning to wonder. More to come.

What's odd about Dude #4 is that he usually works with me in
garden #9. We take a water break together and sometimes he brings
me coffee from the tent if he sees I'm getting tired. He doesn't talk
much. In fact, he barely ever says a word outside of when he belts
out a morning Psalm for the posse. 

I've been here for three weeks now. I've been sleeping like a baby
and almost thoughtless at times which is a nice change from the way
I was at the call centre. Overflowing with thought and shit with no
spout. The coffee is extra-terrestrial. It's not of this world - that's 
for damn sure.

Anyways - back to Dude #4. 

Remember how I mentioned that I should 
plant some plastic in Garden #9? Well, Dude #4 was gone for a long
time, getting coffee because Guy informed us all that a massive 
shipment was going out for the good of Jesus and that we needed
to get it off the mountain before midnight. We all liked Guy and
didn't mind putting in the extra time. But Dude #4 was gone for 
a long time. He left to get coffee...but then he disappeared. I 
squinted towards the tent but the sun was starting to go down
and I couldn't see so well. There were some people gathering
near the tent but I just had to do my job. So I kept flaying, digging 
and hoeing. I was dedicated to getting the shipment out...but I 
needed to take a break. I grabbed some turf for a minute and lay 
down flat in the field. I remembered joking about my notion to 
bury some plastic in the fertile soil. I reached into pocket and 
found an old bread tag from when I bought some food and white
powdered donuts on the bus back in Clairton, 

I grabbed the bread tag, rolled on to my side and shoved it down 
as far as I could, with my thumb and forefinger, into the earthy 
floor...and that is when I found it. 

I hit something. About a foot below the surface, my hand made a
'clank' sound. Something metal, flat and hard. I stood up and looked
around to see if Dude #4 was back so I could show him. But no one
was around. Even the dudes near the tent seemed to be gone.

Intrigued, I pulled away as much soil as I could with hoe and shovel.
I cleared away about a 10 by 10 area which stopped a foot down
on to a solid metal floor. The sun sank deeper into the ocean. I
turned my headlamp on to get a better look at the foreign body.
I was standing on the steel, looking around it. A little ways over
from where I was digging, though, I could see a line that was
notched into the steel. I pulled away more soil from that area.
It was a line that formed a small square...with something that
looked like a tiny steering wheel in the middle. 

A door? A trapped door? In the middle of the Napa Valley...
below a foot of earth? 

Like any inquisitive person would do, I reached down to try and
turn the wheel. It was not moving. I got down on my knees and
used both arms (which were much more muscular after all of the
field work I'd been doing) and after about 30 budged
and released a bit of a hiss sound. I wondered if I should go find
Guy or another Dude. Before I could finish that thought, though,
I remember feeling like I got hit in the face with a shovel and
the lights went out. 

But the lights hadn't gone completely out because I rolled over
and could see the doorway, leading up into the evening sky. I
was about 15 feet down from the trap door and had obviously
fallen right through it. I could feel with my hands that the ground
I was now on was cement (which is weird because Guy often 
talked about the evils of both plastic and cement at the morning
meetings). I was able to stand up but my shoulder and head
were throbbing. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could
now see a dim, red light in the distance.

As I walked toward the light, I wondered what Guy would think
when I told him what I had found. As I had walked about 30 steps,
I could make out now that the red light was a distant exit sign.
Finally, after about a few minutes of walking, I was right under
the exit sign in what seemed to be a doorway. I could feel the 
doorjamb. As I felt around further on the walls, I found 
something else. 

A light switch. 'Click'. 

Beaming flourescence was all around me and I had to cover my
eyes for a good thirty seconds due to the glaring brightness. As I
stumbled for a moment and rubbed my eyes, I saw a massive
glass display case to the left of me that must have gone on for 
miles. In fact, and for a moment, I actually thought I had entered
another dimension altogether. A twilight zone of sorts. Until that 
point in my life (and you would know this better
than anyone), I had never really prayed. But right then and
there, I prayed.

I prayed that I was dreaming and that what I was seeing behind
the glass wasn't real.

Behind the glass were (judging from my movie knowledge)
nuclear warheads.

Yeah. About 20 of them. All lined up like girls in a chorus line.
Each of them seemed to have green digital numbers on their bases
that indicated that they were, in fact, real and counting down
to a certain timeframe. I was stunned. So stunned, in fact, that
it took me a few minutes to even catch my own reflection in
the glass and see that I was bleeding pretty steadily from my 
shoulder and forehead.

I decided to head for the surface. Staying down here was not going 
to help any cause, whatsoever. 

Near the red exit sign was a raggedy, old staircase that looked like
it was made of iron. It spiraled up a few feet and disappeared. I
started up the stairs and noticed that I was feeling unusually light
headed (due to the blood loss). Going up the stairs was strange
because I don't really remember actually ascending a staircase -
What I do remember is thinking 'Is this really it? Is the world
over? God - can you hear me?' That was about all that entered
my headspace and the actual stair-walking didn't seem so real.

The next thing I remember was seeing a steel trap door above
me...reaching for it...and my head really hurting.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Strip, Chaos and Mountain Hippies

And so I headed down 'the strip'. Apparently, this
is one the most famous 'strips' in the world. The one
thing that got to me, right off the bat, was
the amount of people EVERYwhere. You just can't
get away into aquiet place. It's as if people don't
really come here for the scenery
or the beautiful beach or the ocean but to be submerged
into a sea of people. People who are all...searching...for

People with mohawks, faux-hawks, piercings, tats,
jewelry, cell phones, (cell phones like you've never
SEEN or want to experience of multiple
colours, sounds, LED lights, etc.). Throngs of people
rubbed shoulders with and sometimes walked directly
INTO me as I made my way through the masses. The
sun was beating down in what I'm told is 'classic
Californian' style - dry, hot and direct. It felt like my
head and neck were starting to get baked so I pulled
my non-brand name black umpire hat out of my bag
and slapped it on. The feel of my black
hat has weathered to a point of no return and it
probably wouldn't fit on anyone else's head in the
world. Giving me a little comfort along with random
thoughts of Angus, I realized I had almost walked
the entire strip and was coming up to a long pier
surrounded by some channel markers. I decided to
brave the hot sand of Long Beach and walk out
towards the water. The beach was more crowded than
the boardwalk and sidewalk - it was indescribable. It's
almost as if the beach itself is a different city or
continent - complete with merchants, customers,
hippies and more hippies. I decided to save my
non-existent money and make my way toward what
seemed to be a hippie grouping. They were somewhat off
the beaten path, closer to the pier and the water
where the rusty, barnacled underguts of the pier shone
out. I wasn't sure what I was going to ask them or what
I would do when I got there so I just walked. There
were a group of about eight of them. 2 of them were
playing guitars and the other 6 were
just listening intently.

Observing the waves.
and possibly...praying?
Whatever they were doing, they were kneeling and facing the
ocean. There was a thickly black and grey bearded man wearing
a sort of dashiki thing who seemed to be in front of all of them,
perhaps...I guess...'leading' them in prayer. Wow. It's been
a while since I ever wrote anything about prayer or any of
that spiritual type jargonese. The leader was playing guitar
and dancing a little as he strummed. He caught my eye.
He put the guitar down and instructed another guitar
playing bearded dude to keep playing and leading the rest
of the bearded dudes in their...prayer-type thing.

The leader approached me and although every sensibility
and fragment within me told me to 'RUN!!', I stood still.
He strode towards me, locking me into his deep green eyed
stare and smile. He stopped 2 feet in front of me.
A tear rolled down his cheek. His arms spanned out like
wings, as if he were about to take off. 'Friend' he said
smiling. 'Welcome here. We've been waiting for you.'

What? Okay...let's back up for a moment. Me. Waiting for
me? This hippie ocean guitar freak was waiting for me?
Me who spent a few weeks in the Pennsylvania wilds trying
to find some lame-ass town from the movie The Deer
Hunter? Me - a telemarketer jockey from Niagara?

What, in the name of all things living and yet to be born,
is he talking about?

I came back to earth. 'Wh...What?' I clenched my bag
to my back.

'Yes, You! We've been expecting your arrival for years
now.' His arms were still outstretched and moving with
his speech. 'And I'm sure, if you search your heart of
hearts, you will find it to be true.'

I didn't know what to do - I was totally taken aback. Why
didn't I run when I had the chance? Why is he talking
about expecting me? He coudn't have known...could he?
There's no way he's talking about me.

His arms were outstretched for a long time. I figured it
was time for him to put them down. I took a deep breath
and smelt his petuli dreaded hair...and then I hugged
him. He embraced me and laughed for what must have
been three minutes.

By this time, the others had left their oceanfront spot
and were standing around us in a circle. Some of them
were clapping and some were laughing. Some of them
were yelling out to the skies in a language I didn't
understand. Finally, the hug ended and the leader
eyed me up again, smiling and shaking his head.
We all started to walk as a group away from the
boardwalk and towards a deserted parking lot that
contained only one rusted-out, yellow VW van.
I didn't say a word. I walked with them. I felt many
hands on my back, patting me in re-assurance.
I got in the van.

I know what you're thinking - 'Why the fuck did you
hug some weird beach hippie who thinks you are
fulfilling some kind of prophecy?' And my answer to
you, friend, is that this is exactly what I came here for -
To experience life and immerse myself into something
real. I worked at a call centre for years and I can smell
bullshit. And the leader was not bullshitting. I could
see it in his eyes and smell it in his actions. He was
waiting...for me. For me. Not someone else. Not some
other hippie-lookin dude. Me.

Maybe he is dead wrong...and I'm sure I'll find out
if he is...but he fully, honestly and genuinely believed
that I am who he's been waiting on for so many years.

But it gets better. Oh man, it gets better. And I'm sorry
I cursed earlier. I know I said I wouldn't swear anymore
but I've come to realize that I made a stupid flash
decision not to swear and that although swearing is
juvenile, it can be used effectively when it is done well.
So that's what I tried to do there.

So yeah, the 'getting better' part. Here it is. Right
now, I'm nowhere near the strip. Nowhere near it.
I'm probably about 95 miles a range of
Mountains atop of the Napa Valley. I wish I could see
your face right now - I realy do. Your reactions have
always been awesome. I miss them.

Sorry - my brain is sky high right now. I'm in a
new cerebral stratosphere. As you can tell, this
journey has affected my writing style. Anyways, I'm
in the mountains. And that leader dude and his cast of
hippie dude buddies? They're not hippies. They
actually just refer to themselves as 'mountain
dwellers' (much like Gimley from Lord of the Rings)
but they are a massively spiritual people. And I
mean spiritual - I don't mean religious. You see, for
a long time I though, spirituality and religion were
one and the same and all based on a set of rules
that tried to get people to do stuff. That ain't the case with
these dudes - the dwellers. They say 'Jesus' probably about
800 times a day. But they do it in a way that's not
swearing or ridiculous. It's almost as if they breathe the
word 'Jesus' sometimes as they just walk around. And look -
for some reason I capitalize the word 'Jesus' even though
I've never been to a church in my life. Weird.

Man - so much has changed. There's so much I want to tell
you but the words come faster than the pen hits the paper.

Okay - sorry. So the leader dude - his name is 'Guy'. He's
the only one with a name. They all have apparently stripped
themselves of what they call 'worldly nomenclature' as they
are preparing themselves for their 'home world'. It's
weird and freaky...but I love it. They grow everything - and
I mean EVERYTHING! The soil is so rich in this range that
you could probably put plastic in the ground and it would
grow into something (note to self: bury some plastic in
garden 9 tomorrow for kicks). All of their gardens are
numbered - there are so many friggin gardens that it seems
almost unreal. Almost 350 acres and 90% of it is gardens.
You name it, they grow it. Carrots, celery, bananas (yes
bananas!), oranges, grapes, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers,
mushrooms...I'm not even coming close to doing justice to
all they grow. I've been working in their gardens. Harvesting.
Corn, mostly.

And you know what? I love it up here. I absolutely love it.
I wake up in the mornings and Guy speaks a few words as
we all sip from a freshly brewed monster carafe of mountain
grown coffee. Sometimes I hear what he says - he talks a lot
about 'Jesus' and the 'harvest'. Guy is pretty incredible. His
wisdom is something I'm not sure how to take somedays.
It's always so poignant and relevant to me. Me. Wow. Those are
two letters I don't like putting together - M and E.
Sometimes he's kinda eerie, though. A few mornings ago, I
swore I saw him in the big camp tent (where we all meet and
eat in the morning and at night when our day of work is done)
talking to a few dudes. The tent is about 500 yards away from
the garden I tend to. And then, as the mountain sun beat down
on me, I realized I had left my spring water thermos at the tent.
Two seconds later, I turn my head and he is beside me - holding
out my thermos with some extra ice cubes with a big smile.
Sometimes I'm just amazed by the view of the sun cresting
above the Napa Valley. It's actually beyond description. Then we
all take on a garden or two for the day. There are 15 of us (well...
16 including me but I don't fully feel a part of things yet) and
it is what Guy calls a 'Spirit-filled community'.

They garden.
They eat.
They play guitar and smoke pipes by fire at night.
They work.
They pray.

But most importantly, they live. As surely as I write this to
you, these people are living and well.

I can't write much more - it's almost sundown and we are
having a big tent meeting tonight (some sort of meditation
deal) so I should get going. But there is much more
I want to tell you. I hope you can read this.

I'll be in touch.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I just can't stop writing - it's a fever, a bug. I'm looking back to
some of my earlier rantings, in my trusty online notebook here,
and I really can't believe alot of the shit I wrote. I
Sometimes, in this postmodern vortex we call North America,
especially within writers I like, writers often use profanity and
useless sex-craved computer jargon to attract attentionor
draw out a shock response from the reader. Well, shocks
are all good and fun, but they only usually last for a splitsecond,
and while that electricity sure surges through
the veins and blood and inner body systems and hops you
all up on goofballs, it's all said and done pretty quick.
Now don't get me wrong - I'm game for cusswords and
I can swear a blue streak with the best of them but I
find expletivism to only be effective WHEN it is used
to drive home a point. This requires using and relying
on those words much less, because in all honesty,
no matter what morality you cling to, they really just make one
sound dirty and uneducated when they're used in excess.
Shock is a useless writing tactic only used to elicit aresponse -
but to say something of substance and depth
and really draw out a genuine reader response is a much
more sophisticated craft. Leave the shocking to the
suppressed writers who've spent all their lives as altar boys
and church elders and have years of repression to get
out. They need real therapy - not publishing deals.
So that aside, where were we? Ah yes. Stranded in Long
Beach. I have decided to cut some chunks out in the
next few segments to catch you up to speed, and also
because the whole story would really be kinda boring
and lengthy - and what I've written is lengthy enough as it

So Angus was well down the freeway, and in retrospect, I
really wish I had asked for a phone number or email.The
dumb things we wish we had done. Oh well. I slung
my gunny sack over my shoulder, wearing my non-descript
earthtone shirt and cargo pants, I headed south down the strip,
doing my very best to blend in. I realized that as I had either
bussed or trucked my way to get to where I was, the weight
of the tent in the gunny sack was becoming a burden quickly.

So stay tuned. Don't touch that dial. Thanks for reading
all these letters, by the way. I really appreciate it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Coastlines and Long Beach Swank

Now I know what you're thinking, even before I start to preface
another entry. How can I trust the voice of this narrator? He was a
suicidal wretch working at a call centre in the Niagara region...and
now he's halfway across the Sleepy Midwest of the U.S.? How can
this BE?! I would like to then continue with the hope that you
suspend your disbelief and just keep reading, because as part of what
I've learned and where I am now, presently, (which I will get to in
future writings) things are not always what they seem and you can't
make your mind up about a painting until the artist has completed
the work. I don't consider myself an artist (I make mondo spelling
mistakes all the time, not to mention grammatical heresy, but that's
nothing new from the average crap that gets published...)
but I just find writing to be sort of therapeutic - it helps me get out
what I need to without hurting anyone or going on a rampage. But that
rampageous individual seems to be far away from here...but again, I'll
get to that.For now, let us catch up with the runaway train
that is this story.

As our hero (sorry, couldn't resist) barreled across the Midwest
with his trusty Scottish sidekick, sundowns and sunups became frames
to a day. I should mention too that, for some reason, you would think
riding in a truck would really smell bad as truckers are generically seen
as being unclean individuals (what with the tales of piss-bombs, tight
cabin quarters and crazy driving deadlines) but this was not the case.
Angus defied all of my past prejudices towards the trucking type - he
stopped at trucker stations and showered every day - and usually smelled
a lot like Irish Spring (the green original one, not the blue or aloe kind).
The ride was silent since that first 2 or so hours of talk that resulted in my
weeping when Angus asked me about my family. This seemed to be just
fine by him and by myself. One would think that near fifty hours with no
talking would drive one mad - but the truth is that just knowing that
someone is with you can carry you a hell of a long way. I'm sure
he had been with "chatty cathy's" before, and I've sure as hell had my
share (at least from the telecentre with yappers like Vance and Pat) so it
was a nice change to just share silence with someone. It was kinda
freaky when you thought about it, I mean when I really pondered the dead
air between myself and a large Scotsman in a transport truck, but it wasn't
that overwhelming once you got used to it -
like a newly itchy blanket that becomes worn and comfortable with time.

So blah, blah, we drove on, and initially, my thought of getting off
somewhere before California seemed safe and normal, but this journey was
one that seemed to be propelling me to lose all footing of such things and let
the chips fall where they may. I think something changed when that
walk-in clinic doctor gave me that golden note- that note stating I needed 'paid
stress leave' to go and do something different - a door opened. Forever, though,
my life had been one of closed doors, or at least for as far back as I can
remember. But we'll get to that...As stated, the trip to California
was upon us and a detour down the Oregon coastline was one which Angus had
carefully planned for in his route management and it was an experience not to
be forgotten. All to the east were giant Tolkein-esque trees - cedars, firs, oaks,
balsams - all towering in their majesty toward a cherry-orange skyline,
guarding the land from the tempest sun, while of course, to the right (and west)
was all oceanic glitter, totally distorting any perception of skyline or horizon.
You'd try to see where sky and ocean met and map it with your vision but it
was damn near impossible. I could hear Angus turn to make sure the road was
still in front of him every once in a while, but for the most part, he was
captivated by the sea. I could hear him letting out little nasal sighs, on and off,
through his furry red moustache and beard, enamoured by what he was seeing
and probably thinking something too captivating for words. I, on the other
hand, stared out at the big, sparkling sea and thought...
nothing. For the first time in a dog's age, I can actually remember the feeling
of a 'clear' mind. Up to that point in my life, my mind was a jammed epicentre of
lashing criticism
general dislike of others
seething rage and hatred
and the list could go on, TRUST me. For some odd reason, though, none of that
Niagara telecentre bullshit seemed to faze me. It was where it was and I was
where I was - barreling down the Oregon coastline and not really thinking
about anything but the immediacy of ocean and pavement. You see, one
thing I've discovered along the way of this bi-coastal journey is that people's
heads are altogether too full. You may have heard reference to someone with
an 'empty' head as being dim-witted or 'slow' but there is much truth in the
phrase 'ignorance is bliss'. Now i'm not suggesting that we all make ourselves
stupid by filling our heads with uselessness (namely tv sitcoms) because
that will not accomplish anything - what I suggest, at least for my own good,
is a decent, lengthy emptying of the mind. This can take many forms, and
some may refer to this as 'meditation' or 'new-age' but I'm hardly a buddhist.
Whatever floats your boat. It's what the head gets filled with that is the
decision of the empty-er. Does that make sense? Ah, fuck it. Let's get closer to
being caught up.Angus crested the California stateline in no time at all, and
I thought about the distance I had come since being in Clairton, Pennsylvania,
that lost mining town from The Deer Hunter, and it made me feel kinda
queasy. Regardless, we burned down 101 like mad, leaving everything from
raccoon to bear cub roadkill carcasses airborn in our dust trail. Long Beach
emerged into our view, as 101 turned into 17, then into 1, then the party strip
that is 166 (I don't think truckers usually drive that route but I know Angus
made his own rules). I rubbed my eyes and saw every type of person one could
imagine: hippies (lots of those), yuppies, gangsters, mafia gangsters, new york
mafia gangsters, girls, guys, girl-guy blends, blacks, whites, asians,
hispanics, and mixes. It was like a cornicopia of colour, sound and humanity.
Everyone who was here, on the party strip, was either walking, walking a dog,
talking on a cellphone, talking on a payphone (probably to no one),
rollerskating, rollerblading, driving a convertible or doing something to be
noticed. It was not a place to blend in - it was place to stand out and get
noticed. This sort of spooked me for a minute but I couldn't hide this huge grin
that was spreading from ear to ear because I was so enthrawled with what was
going on that I wanted to know the source of what made these people who they
were. I felt like an alien coming to earth in a 50's sci-fi movie, in search of a
'leader' or 'intelligent life form'. Angus pulled up by an Amoco in the heart of
the strip, almost taking out a few Paris Hilton wanna-be's in his ruthless
curb-hop. I sat there in his cab, knowing this was the end of the road and that
there was no going back - at least not right now with Angus - and I felt kinda
scared for the first time on this whole trip. It was more of a stomach-feeling
though, like unending butterflies, but without the rollercoaster ride.That was
when it happened. I gave a nod toward Angus and a half smile, preceding to
slide myself out of the seat - that's when I felt the hammer hand of a giant
Scottish man grip my left shoulder. As I turned back to look at him, his icy
blue eyes pierced into the soul of me in a way I've never known anyone to
stare, and he uttered the first words either of us spoke in almost sixty hours -
'You hate him, don't ya, lad.' At first, I didn't know what I meant, but then
stupidly and sheepishly, I did. I answered back, almost in a mutter. "Yes."
He saw that I tried to look away but he corrected my jaw and lined
my eyes with his. 'I'm sorry - you're not him and you never will be.' He
removed his hand and sort of gave my back a slap, probably a tap to his
standards, that near gave me whiplash. I sat there for a moment, stunned,
and then shuffled my way out of the surfwax-carrying rigtruck, standing
on the pavement with the door open, admiring the rig for all its splendor
and how this vehicle carried me such a long distance in many different
ways. Angus was still staring at me so I gave him a salute from the Amoco
parking lot as he was probably now off to the wax warehouse, somewhere
inland, and watched him fire up the engine and roll away. And as quickly
as Angus came into my life, he was gone. So who the 'he' Angus referred to is
what you may be wondering, I'm sure. I'll get to that, but first, let me tell you
what happened next as I was now stranded, at a gas station in Long Beach.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Untravelled Highway

So a little over a year from my last're probably wondering'
what the hell happened to that guy?' I have been through some of
the weirdest, epiphanal, offbeat, zany experiences ever endured by
a human being. I feel that even by writing, a huge internal grin is spreading
from ear to ear within me and I can't even begin to re-trace the steps down
the rabbit hole. I can say that I learned much. I can say that. Going over
all the messy details might be a tad magical, but right now I'm in an
internet cafe in...well, we'll get to that.
'So last I heard, you were on a mountain in Pennsylvania in a mining

town?' Yes. Yes I was. It's all a blur, really, and I know you've read hippie
novels where the main characters say that a lot, and I am by no means
a hippie, but I now understand some of those generalized expressions a
little more. The unclear becomes clear. I began to get a little weirded out
on the mountain, thinking thoughts like 'Hey - I'm on a mountain' and
'What if I fall off?' or "What if those rednecks try to get me like they did to Ned Beatty in the movie Deliverance?' or 'Who would know
if I died up here?' and so, after a few cool nights in April, an 18 wheeler
rolled by the below service road and had to stop because the driver
needed to take a 'wiz'. So quickly, I packed up my little backpack,
and scuttled my way down to the service road, falling once and cutting
my ankle on a sharp, protruding mossy rock in the dark mountain dampness.
When I first came out of the mountainside forestry, I think
I scared the shit out of the trucker, mainly because I was a dark, nerdy
looking guy just staring at him and because he was just finished zipping
up from his wiz. Regardless, though, we hit it off well. His name was
Angus, and like the name would suggest, he was a giant Scottishman with a red
beard and redhair winging out from his oily ballcap.
I asked him for a ride into town but he said he wasn't 'goin to nue tune'
which means 'going to no town' just in...Scottish, I guess. He reminded
me a lot of groundskeeper Willie from the Simpsons and the father
character from So I Married and Axe Murderer. But he was real. And
he was about 6 foot 5 and looked like he didn't like to 'take crap'
from people. You know the type. Anyways, once the initial awkward
greeting was over, and I told Angus my story, his heart showed through
his rough exterior. He helped me into the cab and off we went.
As it turned out, Angus was not heading to the next town because he was
heading to California. He trucked for a blockwax shipping company (wax used
mainly on highline surfboards) and told me he did these kind of
runs every month or two. The funny thing is, It's a good 40-50 hr trek
from Pennsylvania so considering the time it takes to get there, unload,
lade and bill the order, and get can see the time problematics
here. This equals a laidback schedule for old Angus who said he
had been driving for blockwax for almost eight years. I decided quickly
that I probably wouldn't go all the way to Cali with him but that I would find
a neat place to stop and get out on the way down when it was convenient
to jump ship.
So there I was, someone who had never really known adventure before

in any kind of meaningful and realistic form, beyond the realm of online
gaming, in a 18 wheeler bombing down interstates with a large man
named Angus and a whole lot of blockwax. There came this sort of
gleaming, though, where my life, prologue to this point, seemed to be at an
utter disconnect with the current situation. Two roads diverged in a yellow
wood. But somehow...they were both me and I was reeling in this realization.
An angry, love hungry, misunderstood, philanthropic, existential slackster
whose deepest motive was to get through the day with less than a thousand
suicidal thoughts was turning into this...mound of weird, psychotic thrill-seeking
pleasure. I could not do enough or see enough. Funny too was the fact that
I had been one of the biggest adversaries, in every moral sense, to the
U.S. of A. and now, here I was, traversing through it and living off its land.
Little did I know what would befall between Penn State and...what was

to come. Angus and I got along swimmingly. He would have been one
of the people from the Niagara region that I would have referred to as
'street dirt' back in the day of being of my assenine self but now, that
didn't matter. He was a means to an end and he knew a hell of a lot about cabre tossing.
I guess he comes from a family of famous logthrowers and
this ritualistic wood-heaving was grown competitionally
and recreationally. He had 7 brothers, of which he was number 4. All of
them bigger than himself. Good GOD! What a thanksgiving that would
be. He asked me about my 'family'. I sighed for a while and stared out the window.
'No one has ever asked me that before' I thought
and sort of half said aloud. He seemed a little uncomfortable upon
my spurting after a long silence, but regardless, if he was interested
or not. I figured I would let him have it, even to get some shit out of
my own system. The funny thing is, I didn't even get a word out
and just started sobbing, uncontrollably (and I mean uncontrollably)like a
wee school girl who had skinned her knee. This went on for sometime, I
believe about 15-20 minutes (we were just west of Cleveland at
the time) and Angus just stared ahead, looking over at me from time
to time, probably making sure I didn't have a gun. I lay there with my
head leaned against the window, watching my tears roll down the
glass on to my shirt. Angus said nothing...and just drove. What I
appreciated about that silence though was that he didn't try and
figure me out or pretend to be interested or even kick me out for
crying like a pussy. He just drove. And he drove like mad.
We were making serious distance as time seemed to blend together

in mud brown farmland and chunks of states. The ominous 50 hour drive
was now near half done, and we were in the cornfields of Nebraska,
when a strange thing happened. For some unknown reason, Angus
pulled the truck off the road even though I knew had just stopped for
a wiz a few miles ago. He got out of the truck, with me in it, and walked
out to the centre of the highway. The dark of the morning was starting
to break and all of the emptiness of Nebraska fields were humming
in full throttle of crickets, meadowlarks, and the rustling of corn husks
thrushing back and forth against each other in the spring morning
breeze. I didn't know why he was standing on the road with arms
folded - maybe he knew something I didn't - maybe he was lost -
maybe this place was special to him - whatever the reason, I was
kinda freaked out. Then, in a flickering of minutes, I began to understand.
The sun. The sun was just beginning to peek over the midwest, cresting
the land in an orangey yellow that is impossible to capture, and all
the while, seemed to move and dance as it rose, millimetre by millimetre.
Angus, staring with arms crossed, took off his hat, and let the sunrise up
and spray warm colour on to his thick receding orange hair, beard and
clothes staring straightaway into the concetrated glow.
In that briefest of beautiful moments, I could have sworn I saw him
turn aside, close his eyes, and utter maybe three words from his
lips. With the sun climbing fast, Angus strode back to the cab and
climbed in with one quick motion and saw that I was awake. I wanted
to say something - but I think that would have cheapened the moment.
He half smiled, pulled a 'u' and we were off westward. I don't know
to this day what Angus was thinking of in that moment, but I'd like to
think that even if it wasn't necessarily warm or fuzzy or beautiful,
then at least it was something meaningful. Meaning. Yes.

More to come...gotta go to bed now. Ok bye.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Suddenly Surprised your smile

the way the moonlight fills you.

It's been some time since I journaled but don't be fooled
by the dates above. I'm alive and doing well. That snowy
drift of mountain near death experience has faded into
a new season. To summarize:

-finished up my stay at the motel 8 after we were snowed in
for 72 hours and bused into Wilke's-Barre.
-ate alot of white powder donuts in Wilkes-Barre but didn't
like much of the scenery.
-started walking from the city out to the countryside and
got a ride from a farmer (actually named B.J. but there was
no bear) in his Ford pickup out to Clairton where not even
a dollar bill was taken from me, in true country manners,
and like Morgan Freeman on his way to Buxton in Shawshank,
I was 'much obliged'.
-been tenting out in the wilderness of this crazy landscape
as I couldn't actually find the centre of town (it seems to be
just a few shops and closed-down mills surrounded by
amazing mountains).

...and here I am. Reflecting. 1 week ago, I was working in a
call centre, staring at the clock, ready to explode like a
timebomb of fury, doubt and degredation and now I am
on the side of a mountain in a small thatch of soft grass and
the stars are fireworks above me, lighting this paper as I
write. I guess I'm realizing that the North American way is
all about the rush and, of course, capitalism but it doesn't
have to be that way in the mind and soul of every human that
inhabits its soil. 1 week ago, I think I had only ever peed
outside once as a kid but in the last 5 days, I've emptied
myself about 16 times outdoors...and it's not that bad. I
really like it here. I think I'll stay awhile.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

River Deep, Mountain High

Well it seems this old cat has been silent for far, far too long.
What has really happened is that this bus trip was postponed
for a while as there was a massive monstrous snowstorm in
late February that actually brought some hurricane winds along
with it. The bus felt like a house of horrors carnival ride on
the road, rocking and sliding about. That's when the pudgy
driver with the coke-bottle specs, covered in sweat yelled
out an enfuriated 'FUCK IT! FUCK IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!' and stopped
the bus right in the middle of a mountain pass on hwy 77.
People were cursing, swearing, praying for their lives and
calling loved ones on cell phones. But me? I sat in the midst
of this beautiful chaos and watched the snow laze down from
the sky in windy lustre and crescendo off the the side of the
mountain across the way. I could also see some small
houses, down in the valley, adjacent to the mountain chunk
of highway we were on, and they looked so peaceful down
there in the darkest blue of nightfall. That's when someone
grabbed my arm and shook me and I heard them say 'I think
he's in shock' in a kind of whisper tone. When I turned to see
who was grabbing my arm, it was a weatherbeaten 40
something year old lady in a toque, balancing her obsese
figure on a very small cane (which she clearly did not need
but probably had as an attention and sympathy-getter) and
she spoke again to me, as if I were a four year old who had
just eaten paste -'We are gett-ting off the bus, Nooow. It is not
safe on the roads. There is a super 8 a quarter mile down the
rooooooad. We are all walk-ing.' I understood her garbled
linguistics and got my shit together and grabbed my backpack.
It kinda struck me funny that a group of 40 something people
were venturing to walk down the shoulder of a 4% grade
highway stretch but in another vein, I really didn't care and
I thought it was kinda interesting. What I found out later,
when we hit the hotel was that all of the major Pennsylvania
highways were closed about 2 hours ago. So there was really
no danger in walking. Well, except for the cane lady who
seemed to be walking on a much shakier and slippery-er
earth than the rest of us. It must have been a neat thing to
see for some farm girl, down in the valley. A bus, turned
sideways in the middle of a mountain pass on 77, and a row
of darkened figures with luggage, trudging thru the snow-filled
winter night. I could hear faint curses from the cane lady and
other characters up ahead, but it still didn't seem to matter too
much to me as I could see the Super 8 sign getting larger and
larger as we walked. The storm ended up lasting for 4 days and
we were all shut-ins. And let me tell ya, I watched more movies
than I ever have. And really, it didn't seem to matter what was
on. I was having a grand old time by myself in my room. At one
point, I even laughed heartily at a joke in the teen travesty of
Legally Blonde. And I thought to myself 'Legally Blonde? What
the fuck has happened to me?' But then I disregarded that
thought as PCU (an old animal house type classic) came on and
I strapped myself in for some solid gold comedy. Who knows
what the neighbours were thinking. They probably heard so
much laughter that they thought I was smokin up, 24/7 in my
room and watching Cheech and Chong. I later heard that people
thought I had hookers in there. Ha. Oh well. More to come.