Category Archives: pseudo diary

a slight departure

Somewhere between ten and two, I decided that a bowl of sliced cucumbers did not, in fact, make for a good dessert.  Even with Himalayan salt, and even after a fistful of double gins on the rocks,  the crunchy greens left me wanting, waiting for more.

Today was rough.  A rough finish to a stressful few days.  Sunday burned by as we tore through Milledgeville and Sparta on our way to Macon.  The ugly arid palms of the Carolinas rolled away to the inviting turf of Georgia, but the hours oozed by – an uncomfortably slow drain.  Night saw us sweltering from the rental to the hotel lobby, 89 degrees of moist discomfort.  I passed out quickly after a few words home on a busted cell phone – lousy VOIP with a shitty mobile.  Anyways, it’s always good to hear the voices of home.

Monday was a waste.  We pissed away the morning pretending not to be terrorists as we scoped out the base.  We picked a few pairs of garbage-made steel toes from Wally World, then headed over to ‘Bucks to review some slides and partake of overpriced hippy swill.  I was not nervous.  This wasn’t my bag.  I was there for the money, and they had already handed that over.  I was here just to manage expectations.  Dr. Gray was bandaging Physics, not promising solutions.  They already had their solutions.  I told them how it would work.  I’d spill the details that might sweeten the pot, a little.

We slid through security on a smile and a few coverups of anger.  We weren’t there to hear the civilians gossip about local fast food.  I didn’t want to know about Landia’s baby, nor about Dix’s skipping out without a text.  Give me the fucking badge, and let me on my way.’

We had been told parking would be a bitch.  “Good Luck and God Bless” was how they put it.  But, at 11 am, we rolled into an unmarked spot a few yards from the building.  We were too early.  Thirty minutes too early.  We waited in the air conditioned car for half an hour.  That damned Georgia sun was cooking the air to a boil.  I could smell the humidity through the car windows.

Fuck it.  It was time.  It was close enough to time.  We bolted from the car armed to the teeth with a laptop, a rotting quad-ruled notebook, and two minds full of unrivaled cunning.  Nothing could stand in our way now.  We weren’t looking to take prisoners – we were negotiating our victory.

The building was horrid Air Force brick.  Landscaping was dry – all stemmy bushes atop hard back, baked sand.  Toss in a few vines that grew too high on the building facade, and bingo – Robins Air Force base.  We sat on a pair of mildewed benches.  I didn’t have on a tie, and so I didn’t mind the sweating.  Well, not as much as with a tie anyways.

11:45.  We call.  No answer.  Leave a message.  Wait.  No answer.  Fuck it.  It’s hot.  Let’s go in.

We go in.  It’s all cube-farms and blue uniforms.  Toss in a few clean-cut civvies now and again.  No one seems to notice us.  No one wants to answer us.  Dr. Gray is insulted.  At this point, their words have become moot.  I have changed my tune, and am not at all interested in appeasement.  This venture has now become a tax on my time – I will be looking for someone to punish.

All in all, things went well.  I learned something.  Someone called me Dr. Gray, and asked a loaded question.  I missed the bait, swallowed the hook, and buried the questioner in science and logic.  Marley bailed me out.  He tossed the poor bastard a bone, nodded to me that an explanation would come later, and shut the fucker down.  That was all finished.

The drive back was too long.  Too many words, too much lecturing.  I don’t really care now, because I can smell the mischief of my girls even from 8 hours out.  I’ve got an itch that only five special women can scratch, and the miles are creeping by.  500.  450.  420.  Damn!

We’re about to crash for the night when Marley drops the bomb.  It’s over.  Our little empire is coming down around me now, and I’ve got Atlas’s burden impending in the morning.  Damn!  That’s a sharp blow on a Monday evening.  It is Monday, right?  Damn!

We hint at drinks.  God knows I need a gin.  I can’t do it.  Not tonight.  Not after that carpet yanking.  I think back to an airline bottle of Beefeater.  I should have packed that in my bag.  Who can afford ten bucks for a rail hit of gin?  Why would you?  Where’s a snifter of Hendricks when you need it?

I call home.  It’s good.  Everything is good.  I’m jut too far away, and pillars keep tumbling around me.  I need to get back to the world, but this jackass has set my mind afire.  Dr. Gray’s ego swells, even as the burdens pile up.  How many hours are in a week?  Is that a law, or am I allowed to bend it?

Fuck it.

Tuesday night.  I eat my chicken.  Raw.  Burned.  It’s fine.  Four ounces of gin, and my veins are aching for some sugar.  We got nothing, and I mean nothing.

So, its a bowl of sliced cucumbers.  Cucumbers with pink Himalayan salt.  But, it’s only cucumbers.  And, everyone knows, cucumbers don’t make for a very good dessert.

.

 

 

I have moved.   Find me at dtdeedge.com

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Caving – pt1

Scott had gotten it into his head to go explore some of the more promising of the many West Virginia caves that he had seen in an old book.  I was not sure how he found the book with maps, locations, and surveys of so many local caves.  It was apparently buried somewhere in the vastness of Newman Library.  The GPS location of each of the caves was listen, along with a brief description of the prominent features of each cave, and a caricatured sketch of the layout.

To me, GPS coordinates would have been as useful as a bicycle to a fish.  In the days before the internet and cell phones, I had no earthly idea as to how one would navigate the wilderness of the Unmarked Interstate,  Scott had no problem with navigation, and both Kevin and Ian shared a complete trust in Scott’s ability.  Of course,we all trusted Scott’s dumb luck.  Not a one of us had been even the least bit surprised when, almost from thin air, Scott produced a detailed topographical map of the West Virginia mountains, complete with full GPS coordinates.

Showing all the bravado and foresight of second-year college students, we pile into Scott’s unwieldy maroon boat of an Oldsmobile at dusk on a cold winter’s day.  We headed for the limestone hills of eastern West Virginia with a complete lack of provision, and without so much as a not of explanation, should we all go missing.

I got sick.  Under the best circumstances, for example a calm driver on flat roads, I could handle short trips by car.  Scott had never been a calm driver, and anyone who has traveled West Virginia knows that the roads snaking up and down those mountains are as crooked as the Devil’s own heart.  The tires of the Olds squealed as we flew around the switchbacks at a full twenty mile per hour over the posted speed limit.  I alternated between terror of careening to my death in a ravine, and the most sincere hope that an oncoming pickup would end my tortuous journey with a compassionate head-on collision.  Oblivious to my obscene discomfort, and with no though to consult his maps, Scott thrust on adventurously to our destination.

In hindsight, Kevin and Ian were slightly generous in their estimation of Scott’s navigational prowess.  It was well after dark, and snowing steadily as we made our third pass through the small mountaintop collection of homesteads in search of any sight remotely like a limestone sinkhole.

“Let’s stop fo directions,” Scott said and swerved into the first driveway he saw.

Kevin voiced his dissent, his cheek twitching with a tick characteristic of his mood.  Ian was utterly silent, as usual, belying no sign of his true thoughts but radiating a simple bemused contention with the whole situation.  I was riding shotgun, and so I was quickly and silently volunteered as a member of the two-man informational expedition.  I was only too happy for any excuse to quit the rolling maroon death machine.

Scott dropped his keys into his pocket as I followed him along a snow-dusted concrete walkway to the house.  The fat snowflakes floated gently through the night air to rest on the dropping branches of the yews lining the walk.  Thew full moon painted everything a deep purplish blue when it happened to glance out from behind the drifting, gray clouds.  Everything was so silent and peaceful, as if the world on that mountain-top community had just stopped for a while to rest, taking time to ponder life under an early-season snow.

Warm yellow light spilled out from chinks in the curtains inside the windows.  The air smelled cold, but the scent of wood smoke hinted at a hidden warmth within.  Without slowing, without a thought as to what lay on the other side of that door, Scott reached up a gloved hand and rapped out a quick, muffled knock.  After just enough time had passed for me to begin to imagine the Friday night habits of the homeowner, the door opened.

A warm drought of air and an even warmer “good evening!” rushed out over the threshold and caressed out cheeks.

“Hello,” began Scott, “we’re looking for the Old Bent Tooth cave.  We know it’s around here, and we were wondering if you could tell us how to find it.”

“Oh, do come in,” said the forty-something year-old woman.  Opening the door fully to a pair of complete strangers, “come in out of the cold.”

The doorway opened into a cozy living room.  A beige sofa rested along the front wall of the house, just below the window through which the tiny sliver of light streaked onto the porch.  A plush easy chair sat opposite the sofa, with a commanding view of the front door and an 80’s model, 20 inch color TV.  Between the sofa and the chaise was an off-white shag rug, protecting the hardwood floor from the rough feet of an old coffee table.

“Please, sit down,” our hostess said.  She seemed to have nothing better to do at 9 pm on a Friday night than to accommodate the chill and thirst of a couple of disoriented young men.


Music, the Tubes

1/6/2010

DIY PL519 SE Tube Amp. Done.

DIY PL519 SE Tube Amp. Done. (Photo credit: .tungl)

Tonight I decided to listen to music.  It had been quite some time since I had sat quietly and listened to an artist play sound against silence.  So, while Nicole got in the shower, I went down into the basement to get started.

Normally, I would place one of the green vinyl chairs in the sweet spot of the 70’s room.  But, for some reason, I sat in the back corner theater seat.  A few years back, we has purchased a set of three fold-down theater seats.  The backs of the chairs were made of curved pieces of laminated wood, while the folding bases were leather over padding and springs.  The veneer on the backs was badly chipped now, and the torn leather felt like old duct tape.  But, the seats held memories, and formed the backdrop for countless hours forgotten in a haze of time or drugs.

Almost haphazardly, I chose to sit in my old seat – the chair closest to the back corner of the room.  The controls for the electronics were within arm’s reach here.  This had always been a seat of power.  It felt good to sit there again, especially with the anticipation of good music.

The tubes in the amp were already hot, but the warm up usually didn’t take longer than a few minutes.  However, since I had turned the Dynaco on several hours earlier, the transformers were also hot.  I opened the CD tray and loaded a new, remastered Beatles album – Love.  I couldn’t recalled the name of the album at the time, but the orange cover art was already familiar after only a few plays.

I reclined in my chair and propped my feet up on an old black and white stool.  Nicole’s mother had given her the stool to carry around at work, a portable comfort for a long day.  We hauled the stool around in the trunk of the car for years.  In fact, the stool had only recently made the transition from trunk furniture to basement clutter.  During my graduation party, we scrambled to try to find enough furniture to accommodate all the various invitees.  I had no recollection of moving the stool to its present location at exactly foot length from the old Seat of Popwer.  It must have been Fate working through the mischievous hands of a two year-old beauty – Ayla.  I would never have considered the stool.

My attention was pulled from contemplation of an old stool bearing the name ‘Pat Clements’ to the miracle of thermionic emission by the remastered voice of Mt. Paul McCartney.  The insert in the album box told of some of the trick used to create this piece of art.  Some songs had been slowed, some hastened.  On one track, he chorus was even run in reverse.  Whatever the theatrics involved, the quality of the recording was impressive.  The sound stage was developed, each instrument had its location and presence.  I got up several times to adjust the volume on the sub.  I didn’t want an overpowering hump n the bass, but I wanted to fill out the lower frequencies.

Standing up and sitting down repeatedly lead me to question the acoustics of my seat of choice.  I sat in the center of the three seat to check.  Instantly, the sound changed.  The stage flattened, and I was listening to a vulgar attempt at music.  Nothing more.  I moved to the far seat and found another satellite of aural beauty.  Perfect.  Now there were two sweet spots for listening, one for me, and the other for Nicole.

Almost as if my thoughts had summoned her, I heard the shuffle-stomp of slippered feet descending the wooden basement stairs.  Nicole sat down in the far chair.  I smiled inwardly.  Although she left a space between us by choosing that spot, she had inadvertently guaranteed that both of us were going to enjoy the music fully.

I no longer wanted to hear the Beatles.  I couldn’t think of anything I did particularly want to hear.  While Robert Smith’s vocals and lyrics tore at my heart, the Cure seldom recorded an album with good sonic quality.

“What do you want to listen to?” I asked, bluntly.,  I did not want the burden of choice.  I also assumed that she had wanted to listen to something specific.

“The Beatles are fine.  Or Dave,”  She let back.  Maybe she hadn’t wanted to choose either.  The Beatles were already playing, and the quality of the album was apparent.  Dave Matthews as an obvious stand-in.  Dave Matthews was Nicole’s Cure.

“I’m tired of the Beatles.  What’s a good Dave album?”

“Before These Crowded Streets is good,” she said as I left my seat ot find the CD.  I slid my hand into the middle of the CD binder and flipped it open.  The words ‘Before These Crowded Streets’ jumped out at me from the first disc I saw.  Fate again.

I loaded the disc and made myself comfortable again.  The main light in the basement was on, so I closed my eyes to let the electronics melt away from my focus.

The album was genius.

I have always been impressed when an artists can break the space.  Dave set up the stage perfectly and the group obviously understands that silence and void are essential to beauty in music.  As I sat there with my eyes closed,, my head bobbed unconsciously with the rhythm of the bass, with the pauses in the horns.  I inclined my head, tilted it a little, as I pictured Dave singing, his head turned so that he could look back at the band and share.  I could heat the expression in his eyes as his vocal chords ground together at the end of each word.

I escaped into calm.


Mick On Everything

Just a regular guy who is interested in everything

Wherever you go, there you are.

And here I am, Judith Clarke, writer.

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