Tag Archives: Washington

Dear God,  Not Snow! 

9 Dec

I live  in the most hypochondriac state in prob’ly the entire world, which is hilarious because we are considered granola by like most other state standards, and could feature on the cover of every Wheaties box from now to kingdom come. 

…We are outdoorsy as hell, will climb anything, run anywhere,  backpack for months, grow and compost our own food with our our waste products, join in every diet fad, fuel up with every vitamin supplement in existence, put sunscreen on when it rains, and show up in droves to picket dirty energy Big Biz when it wants to build some kinda new cancer-inducing shit in our backyards.

…All of which is rather industrious of us.

…But we also, will go absofuckinglutely bat-shit, if anyone, at any point, mentions the word, “snow.”

(We do it with “earthquake” too…and coming from the mountains of CA, I think both fetish-freakouts, are hilarious.)

…I think it’s because we are not properly equipped for either, in any great way…in that they happen so infrequently, there is no “plan of attack.” We only have enough plows to attack major roadways, so: you’re screwed getting out of your neighborhood to them, and they don’t do the useless-but-regular trainings for school children and employees to duck-and-cover under desks and stand in doorways — in case of a quake. 

…We are made to feel essentially helpless in these moments, which I suppose is what fuels the end-of-times panic reaction that both words elicit…so that everyone is running to Costco stocking up their built-from-100%-recycled-material panic rooms, and debating every possible disaster scenario over the water cooler, like: Move over “Survivor XX,” shit gets real now

…Which is essentially what we’ve been dealing with — all week long–from customers and retailers and builders. 

…Until, finally: it came. 

It snowed for five seconds last night, and my side of the state is all:

(Throwing up hands)

“That’s it!  Cancel everything! Close all the theatres and the schools! Blackout the offices!  Bet you’re glad you maxed out your Lowes card on that generator! And slugged that guy in Costco for the last giant flat of Dinty Moore stew! Where are the cell battery back ups?!  Holy hell, how will our Christmas gifts from Amazon even make it through now?! ”

Five. Seconds. 

Today at work, everyone I talk to is like, “Wow, yeah, we need to cancel that… The weather is just too crazy of an x-factor. ” And outside my window, as people continue to live in their little worlds of total hypochondriac denial: it is raining. 

…Not even a lot. 

 …It’s even doing that half-assed. 

…It’s spitting. Weakly. 

…Which is one of many reasons that my current home town just cracks me the hell up. 

(Together with the slogs of people who sign up for races all year round. Because, they claim there’s this thing called “runners-high.” Which, unlike Santa, is totally fake. And everyone knows it.) 

~D

Ah, Wilderness!

20 Aug

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I grew up around a lot of nature.  And not a whole hell of a lot “else.”

When people ask me about where I came from, I reference them to Yosemite.  Its a National park, people have actually heard of it, and know it resides in California…”somewhere in the middle.”

…I grew up in an armpit town, slightly west of there. 

The county itself looks pretty much the same in topography, and is chiefly populated by Miners, Mill Workers and Armed Guards.  It is “Goldrush territory,” and they’re still extricating the stuff like a shiny food crop, have an exorbitant amount of excess in trees (apparently), and is conveniently in the middle of bum-fuck-Egypt…so they decided that planting a third-security prison there, would be a good idea.

…I used to think it was the most unbearably boring town in all of God’s creation. And it might still be. I dunno.  I try my best to go back there as little as humanly possible, so haven’t much to go off of on that point. But in hindsight, I have to toss it up a few marks of “chutzpah.” This is due solely to the laundry list of semi terrifying circumstances surrounding it, that I always just thought of as totally normal…until talking to other people about their childhoods.

Constant mining detonation-cued earthquakes, would erupt at all hours in all seasons…without even a second thought that the San Andreas fault line was under our fucking feet.  Sticky-tack was totally the way to go when displaying any breakables…duck and cover drills were announced over PA systems at schools and work, and everyone was taught how to switch out a blown fuse and light an oil lamp from birth. It wasn’t until I moved to Washington State and lived through a “barely tremble” (which even DJs on the radios were getting into apoplexies about), that I realized the gross amounts of inherent military-like conditioning I’d undergone in childhood…calmly walking to a doorway mid-house tremble, while continuing to count to 100. Because I was “it,” and everyone else was hiding, (prob’ly under tables and behind couches, come to think of it…)

Also, the hot, rotting, urine-like smell of the Millworks, never seemed to quite keep up with the rampant forest fires in general tree devastation, there.  This would bring on the volunteer firefighting squads mostly populated by local prisoners, who were actually being TRAINED in it as a “skilled profession,” with the help of our Parent’s tax dollars.  Intermingled with the civilian population at large with only a uniform to tell them apart, I dunno if the powers that be took into consideration that within an hour under these conditions, everything and everyone is covered in head-to-tow black soot; Including the jumpers with “Prisoner” stenciled on them.

…You would hope, the people in charge would have at least weeded out the pyromaniacs among this crowd…but this would be asking a lot…given that these were the same authorities who thought it a great idea to ship out jam-packed marked minivans (driven by armed guards)  to our local Grammar School, as part of the cheap labor initiative used in building our new quad.

The fact that at any moment, the enticement may be too much to bear, and at least one of said prisoners would take it on the lamb, was almost a given.  And they did from time to time.  And there would be lock-downs.  And people would go looking for them.  But luckily for us, we must have been mailed out the stupider kind.  Because instead murdering people, molesting children, or hitting up a convenience store, taking a hostage, and beating it out of town…they’d always take the road least expected. 

…Like the guy who stole the prison van, and left it parked outside his grandmother’s house…found, hours later, sitting at the table eating milk and cookies.

…Or the one who walked off, mid-a fire, escaping out into the wilderness, turning himself in two days later — a hobbled, broken, bleeding, hysterical mess — on account he was apparently from a city, and had never been in “nature” before.  (It was also rumored he’d been sodomized by a wild animal at some point. I dunno if that part was true or not, but he certainly looked like it.)

I happen to know these stories, (btw) because my Mother worked at said prison at the time, and would bring them home, as reported and laughed over while eating their lunches, served them from hair-netted convicts who liked to point out that the macaroni salad was especially good today cuz they’d used a “special ingredient,” but wouldn’t tell anyone what it was.

…This all adds up to some seriously questionable circumstances when you think about it…but because it was my kiddome (and it was all I knew)…it never really occurred to me at the time.

At the TIME, the most sick and twisted part of my existence, was the fact that despite my pleadings, and melodramatic claims of child abuse…I was constantly being forced against my will into the great outdoors. Because my mother was a camping sadist from hell, who’d inherited the gene directly from her father.

Nature.

Fuck.

…With all that dirt, and weeds and grass.  With all that sky and sun…and so much air you could practically drown in it.  The bugs lived out there! And like little Kamikaze assholes, always dive-bombed their way into your cup of juice and bit you in places you could never reach to scratch.

As if day trips weren’t bad enough…Mom’s favorite summer past-time torture, was to drive out into the wilderness every fucking weekend, point at the rock and pine-needle strewn land, and claim “this spot” as our new horn of plenty. She’d spike a pole in the ground, throw a blanket over it and begin walking around in big strides, getting drunk on air, and proselytizing about how, “This was the life,” and “people in cities just don’t know the real deal” and “aren’t we lucky to live here?”

…My answer to this was always the same.  I’d take up my 1500 page tomb of Russian Literature, or History on the Holocaust,  and retreat into the back-most section of the tent in abject silence.  I found out early that pleading the fifth was smartest in these circumstances, because if I complained about it even a little bit, she’d force me on a trail hike or some alternate form of holy terror.

After an agonizing sequence of checking and double checking the contents of my sleeping bag, (assuring it was free of snakes, bugs and vermin), I would properly preserve myself with an invisible shield of bug spray covering every square inch of my body (even eyelids), and commence with my reading. And I would not stop again or move from my position, except in cases of eating and peeing, until it was time to go home.

Dear Lord, how I hated those weekends.  More than seafood.  More than peas.  More than homework, even! But because I wasn’t 18 yet, I hadn’t “the vote.”  With no legal protections whatsoever, I was forced into it .  So I went.  And I read.  And tried my best to ignore it.

***Flash forward***

I now live in the Pacific Northwest.

…Of my own free will.

It is occupied mostly by software brainiacs, coffee drinkers, State workers and nature-freaks. 

Most of our land is made up of State parks, wetlands, swamps, rain forests and trails linking them via network spider-webbings and landmarks.  The population is so obsessed with partaking of its infinite varieties, that they will kit themselves out in an REI wet-dream of fleece jackets, cargo shorts, socks pulled up to their kneecaps and rock-climbing sandals…to go hiking through it, in the middle of pissing-down rain, grinning like idiots…under the mass delusion that they are “having a good time.” 

It’s become such a part of the culture here, that no one even thinks twice about it.

…And maybe, because I’ve lived here for twelve years now…maybe because I’m susceptible to any and all random and strange diseases and epidemics that happen to pass by…(like that one involving spider bites, or rashes, or every cold that makes its way through the masses.) Maybe that is why I find myself suddenly (over the long and painful evolution crossing the past twenty years), not “minding” the out-of-door experience as much as I once did. 

I’m not completely cured of it, mind you…just less “allergic.” 

Truth be told: we’ve got some cool stuff here.  It’s green, most if it. And kinda smells good. As long as a bar of soap and hot water face me at the end of the trail…I really kinda like it even.

…But don’t tell Ma that. 

…Even one whiff, and she’ll kidnap me with the Subaru, drive out to some god-forsaken mountain top, and force me to go all “Lewis and Clark” on that shit.

My childhood was scaring enough, thanks.

~D

Damp Rag Dolls Of Death

6 Aug

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It’s been hot here.  This is a huge abnormality involving the temperature reaching into the 90’s or more, leaving most western Washingtonians in sopping puddles on the floor.

…And yes, I do know, “That ain’t even hot” to most places on this earth.  I was born and bred in California, people…believe me, I know what naked thighs on plastic car seats in freeway traffic can do to you.

It’s different here. 

…We don’t have much in the way of air conditioning or swimming pools.  I guess cuz one figures one can “muscle through” the heat, all two days a year that we get some.  But then when it actually arrives, we completely lose our shit…filling up the hospitals on dehydration-induced I.V. diets, and finding reasons to stand in front of the open refrigerator for hours at a time.  People start scalping fans on street corners, cuz every store in the state already sold out of ’em all…and the ice cream parlors and 7-11s turn into raving meat-markets of insanity.

…Even at home in a cooler brick-covered fortress, my plants are falling over themselves with almost-death by afternoon (though I water ’em every morning.) And my fish give me looks at feeding time like, “Fuuuuck.  I know we’re tropical and all, but seriously, we’re poaching over here!” 

It prob’ly wouldn’t be so bad if one had nothing to do during these few days a year, when this happens.  Take off to a lake or something?  You betcha!  But in keeping with all other “conveniences” in life, it just never works out that way.  The way it goes is: Hottist day of the flippin’ year, go spend four hours trying to look impressive at callbacks while you rain out of every pore, pitting out even behind your knee caps…then go home and get dolled up for a formal cocktail party you’re already two hours late to.

Taking showers after showers, (because you’re already sweating before you even get around to doing your hair)…doesn’t help.  Neither does trying to sausage damp appendages into nylons…because though it ain’t the “style” (and you might die of heat exhaustion for it), you simply cannot bring yourself to allow the bleached whiteness of total anti-tan to further embarrass you.

…Then, add some alcohol to the mix.

…Delightfully flavored champagne cocktails, and tables full of tiny eatables, which do not (in the heat) quite balance themselves out.  Dream of an evening, though it may have been, the stone-cold-sober payback the following day after only two drinks, lasted across two meals and five gillion glasses of water…well into something like 3 PM. 

Just a rag doll of soppy, heat exhaustion and brain aches…starfishing across the couch in the living room, refusing to move until around one this morning… when I decided it might have finally cooled off enough to risk getting ready for bed without feeling like I’d run a triathlon directly after.

Success at last!

…I even slept okay…and had only just the teeniest of dehydration headaches, come the 6:30 alarm.

Today, we are back to the more reasonable high 60’s, low 70’s.  About where my California relations start layering on fleece jackets and complaining about the cold.  THIS is where we are “at home.”  THIS is the language that we speak.

…Not to bitch and moan about the one true experience of “summer” in our summer…but, man!  I am just NOT built for this kinda thing anymore.

…Somewhere , in another reality plane, my Mexican ancestor’s just shook their heads, took back my ethnic card and disowned me for going full Gringo.

It happens.

~D

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