A top-worst stuff this week.
Top five worst places I have ever been.
Dillon, Montana-The first of three places on this list that I drive through more than I would ever like. My first experience with Dillon came back in 1994. Sheryl, her sister and I were driving from Salt Lake City through Montana and on to Couer d’Alene, Idaho where much of Sheryl’s extended family lived. We were driving through the night, eleven hours and as we approached the Idaho/Montana border the other two were sound asleep. It was close to 2 AM and as I drove I was listening to the sounds of Nitzer Ebb. I happened to take a good look at the gas gauge and realized I was running a bit low on fuel. Now this was before the days of credit card readers on pumps. If a place wasn’t open, you couldn’t get fuel. There wasn’t an open gas station between the boarder and Dillon which was roughly 60 miles. I was driving a GEO metro and luckily made it without having to hike to a gas station, but the last twenty miles were below empty and my heart was pounding. You would think that as Dillon was my saving grace that night, I would look at it much more fondly. And really, it is in a beautiful location but the town itself is dirty and ugly. I think the real reason I don’t like it is the people I encounter at the gas station, which is the only reason I ever stop there. Generally unkind, that’s what I think. Also, I ate at the Mcdonalds once and became quite sick.
LAX Airport-With so many other airports to fly into, it is relatively easy to avoid LAX. It is worth the extra money and sometimes the extra driving time to fly into Long Beach or John Wayne, just to avoid the cluster $%#@ that is LAX. Almost everyone I know has a story of being delayed there. In fact, I can’t think of a good story relating to this airport. Sheryl and I were delayed for three hours when some idiot ran through a security check three terminals over. They have no choice but to close the entire airport when that kind of breach happens. That airport is just too big to be of any use for most domestic flights. I understand if one is flying international, there really isn’t much choice.
Flagstaff, Arizona-Now first off I have to write that Flagstaff is absolutely beautiful. Nestled at the top of some of the highest mountains in Arizona it is breathtaking. I usually drive through during the winter on my way to Phoenix and here is the problem. It is always and I mean always frigidly cold when I go there. If I am going to encounter bad weather, bad traffic or be delayed on my trip, it happens in Flagstaff. Three years ago I drove through a snow storm that hit so hard and so fast that there was five inches of snow and ice on the interstate before any plows could mobilize to clear the roads. Tractor trailers and UPS trucks along with several cars were in the median or tipped over on the shoulder. I know this is not Flagstaff’s fault but it does add to my dislike of the place. Really though, the cold is enough for me to hate it there. I have yet to figure out a plan that lets me avoid gassing up in Flagstaff. I am sure I just pick bad places, but everywhere I stop the restrooms are disgusting, the water in the sinks never warms up and this makes the next hour of driving miserable. Already cold from pumping gas in the winter air, the cold water just makes it worse. I am up for suggestions on where to stop or how to avoid stopping altogether.
Kanab, Utah-I don’t really hate, hate Kanab. I was forced to stop here overnight a few years ago on my way home from a Phoenix trip (the same trip that saw all the snow in Flagstaff). I ate bad food at a local restaurant which claimed to have the best pasta sauce in America and had the most annoying hostess to accompany the bad food. This young lady decided it was fine and good to sit at our table while we ate. I know that my brother and I are a couple of sexy beasts, but this was just not cool. The power went out at the hotel as well as the wireless internet. It was intermittent all night and in the morning the outage kept us from a warm breakfast or any juices as the machine wouldn’t work without power. A discounted nights stay would have been nice, but…
Lincoln, Maine-When I lived in Lincoln, there were roughly three thousand residents. The town is 100 miles north of Bangor, Maine (a place I really love) and 40 miles south of the Milinocket area that has a population near 10,000. Lincoln suffers from all the good and bad of being a small town. Everyone knows everyone, one center street containing most of the commerce, bored teens, and the epic smell of the local paper mill. If you haven’t been around paper mills, they smell horrible. In the morning the air would reek of the stench of chemicals that were reminiscent of over cooked cabbage. People who had lived in Lincoln for years were oblivious to the smell. Some would argue the mill had no smell at all. It was baffling. I think the fact that I was 19 contributed to my dislike of Lincoln, though when I went back to Maine in 2003, I made it a point not to go anywhere near the place.
I am sure there are much worse places in the world, terrible cities that would make me feel shame for hating (or mildly disliking) the places I have written about here. If these are the worst places I can find, it speaks volumes about how fantastic America really is. If all I can complain about are a few cold places, a crowded airport and a stinky mill town, things must be pretty good.
I have a habit of reading my older work. While I often find it flawed and badly in need of a rewrite, I sometimes find myself in a particular mood and certain pieces strike me. It tops the list of reasons why I keep and read older work. Finding something new, or even finding an old emotion, makes it worth while. Here are two that vibrated a few strings this morning.
Opening dinner with dirty plates,
milk filled glasses rest
contented on slanted edges,
counting upwards we get to twenty
before taking a breath. Chairs
linking chairs, contemplate conformity,
no reason beyond just thinking.
I’m welcome to pretend standing
next to you is enough. Scent of
almost sex, almost faking it,
nearly lost in useless smiling.
Cooking for the pleasure
of watching you wonder whether
tasting is enough in every instance,
or at least this one. You will be here,
tattering paper towels for penance,
sheltering feelings with bouncing
eyes better fit for gaping, as if
you deserve this permanent souvenir
of just how pathetic we both are.
with three more white chairs,
from a speaker
Sharing a paper
cup and too sweet to remember
why you ever stopped to begin with
then catching up,
I glimpse in you,
turned up sheets
and torn jeans.
Even tones juxtaposed, syncopated alliteration
in every sentence
slipping from restrained lips.
I am more than this stale coffee,
more than bakery goods
left gentle on the plates for the over-eager
to rummage through, the line stretching
past our over-crowded table.
Always more in the glance down
than anyone lets on.
You too are blue with me,
this one day,
powdered and purring.
Another slice of the political landscape of Utah.
Rep. Bill Wright of Holden, Utah has proposed a bill that would prohibit public schools from mentioning contraception during sex education discussions. Already unable to advocate their use, teachers would be unable to answer questions or discuss any forms of contraception.
“When we promote promiscuous behavior it’s the same thing as promoting alcohol or drugs,” said Wright. Yep, exactly! Because these three things are exactly the same. Drinking, drugs and sex. I know for myself that I love to combine all three…makes for a night of complete promiscuity. Wow, no wonder many children grow up with messed up ideas about sex.
Another highlight-“We think that government should always promote the gold standard, especially when it comes to children,” said Matt Piccolo, a policy analyst with the Sutherland Institute, “and our public schools shouldn’t teach children to abstain from sex but then share with them faulty prevention methods.” Those cursed, faulty contraceptive methods! 90+ % success rate be damned (not to mention all those fun diseases condoms ‘don’t’ protect against).
A Planned Parenthood maturation program was pulled last year when some complained it “undermined the role of parents and gave too much information to boys and girls about each others’ bodies”. What is too much information? Can understanding what the other gender is going through be a terrible thing? I chose to see the best in people and imagine it being a very positive thing.While I agree that the majority of sexual education should be done by parents, too many of them fail at it.
To be clear, I completely encourage abstinence discussions. Most teens are not ready for sexual relationships, but not sharing preventative information with kids is dangerous. They are having sex. Ignoring that is not doing anyone any good. Without contraceptive information, more kids will have unwanted pregnancies, contract diseases, ruined lives.
Bottom line-we are sexual beings. Most of us like it, most of us have it. Most of us understand our children are going to like it and want to do it. Eventually they all will. While we want them to make good decisions, they might make poor ones. I for one, want my sons to be safe and protected. I will teach them that at home, but like many things, they might not hear what I say. If the school is able to reinforce what I say, maybe it will sink in.
I should know better than to even type that title as I am only cursing myself to a long cold spring. I can already see the dreary rain and chilling winds lingering into June. No! I am going to remain positive. It is going to be a fantastic spring and summer.
So far, this has been the best winter. So little snow, so little cold. It almost feels like it has been November for four months. When I went for a few bike rides in December, I counted those as lucky moments, times when there would not be hazards in every bike lane, puddles of ice and muddy water, waiting to suck me in and flatten my tires. Rides in January are rare enough, but being able to go up Immigration Canyon six times is preposterous. Each time I got on the bike, I expected to find myself having to turn around at the half-way point due to snow or ice or something. Each time, nothing stood in the way.
Now we are well into February and I have taken three more rides up that canyon. The other day it did snow and it was colder, but if not for the stinging of the beads of hail-like flakes that kept hitting my eyes, the ride would not have been that uncomfortable. I also learned that I am out of excuses when it comes to cold weather. If I can ride in the wind and snow, I can ride almost every day.
Today was almost perfect. It was still overcast and my fingers were a bit numb on the way up, but the top was magnificent. I am so pleased that I will not have to go through what I did last March, with my body wanting to shut down, cursing me for my winter of inactivity.
I am looking forward more mild weather, more bike rides, hopefully with some of you. Remember, the Cycle Salt Lake Century is a little over three months away. May 19th! Time to get ready.
Been pondering the idea of a weekly list, something I can fall back on when I have days like today( like the past few days really). Writing is never easy for me, but the past few days everything seems forced, like I am trying to suck water from dry sponges, which never goes well. I know all writers (I arrogantly name myself a writer) have difficulty at times, each of them pressing and struggling to create sentences that might matter, be interesting, convey an idea. Truth be told, some days you just don’t have jack to say.
I am going to ride my bike later today, so there is always that .
Anyway, since I am writing this, my pondering has moved from the planning stage on to execution. Once a week I am going to compile a list of favorite, least favorite, clever and not so clever things. I figure the more open I leave it, the better.
This week-Top song of each Cure studio album.
If you are unfamiliar with The Cure, you suck. Do better.
Three Imaginary Boys-Title Track. That link is a tasty live version from 1979. Such a sexy, young, unpainted Robert Smith.
Boys Don’t Cry-American version of the above, but with a few tracks removed and a few added, like World War. One of my favorite Cure songs, ever.
Seventeen Seconds-M. “You’ll fall in love with somebody else tonight.”
Faith-All Cats are Grey. If any song captures the mood of the Cure, its this one. This is a headphones in a dark, empty room song. I recommend just that very thing-at high volume.
Pornography-A Strange Day. At one time my absolute favorite cure song. I love the lyrics and the soft slow keyboards just under the driving drums. “…and the sky and the impossible explode.”
The Top-Piggy in the Mirror. Such a strange record, but oh so tasty! All these songs are a bit quirky, even for The Cure but the more I listen to this record, the more I love it. “Sixteen white legs and a row of teeth. I watch you in secrecy.”
Head on the Door-Push. “This songs about when I used to wear a dress and travel on the train.” Ha! The video is from the “Paris” concert. A song about growing up that made a great deal of sense to me, still does.
Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me-How Beautiful You Are. This is a hard choice, but the poetry of this song puts it over the top. Some of Smith’s best lyrics and imagery IMO.
Disintegration-Disintegration. My favorite Cure song, period. Another song about growing up and out of things, places, people. The end is most powerful. This is the live version off 1991’s Entreat.
Wish-From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea. Another lyrical masterpiece. Really hard to not like this song.
Wild Mood Swings-Jupiter Crash. A good story in this song and this entire record is underrated.
Bloodflowers-Watching Me Fall. These last records are not as good as the earlier stuff, but this song is.
The Cure-Lost. Which is what most of this record is. Too many songs are included on imports or only available on vinyl. This song is pretty bare and raw. Which is why I like it. Nice and angry and confused. A rare good song on these last two records.
4:13 Dream- Underneath the Stars. Some call this album a very ‘curesque” record, this first track is the only one that reminds me of the band I love. I keep hoping they have another great record in them, but I am starting to doubt.
And so not to end on a negative note, I leave you with a fantastic song-Charlotte Sometimes.
She stands in front of me.
“Tell me me your desires.”
I am uncertain.
Persistent buzzing of a crowded room where bodies slither past other bodies, past us. I swim intoxicated past my freckled face and see from outside, looking at me looking at you, pondering an answer.
Was it how I found you, slender ankles, sitting on a high stool, right leg over left, that made my heart stumble?
“To kiss you, there,” I say, pointing at a spot of skin just above your clavicle, so near your neck, which is near your mouth, which is what I really want, but such honesty has never been where we were most comfortable.
On his dark sofa, fabric worn, legless and set flat on the rug covered concrete floor, you turn towards me, one leg up on the cushion pressing, lean in and speak. Too much noise from too many gatherers standing in front of us for you to whisper or talk in normal tones, you shout above the revelry and music, Jazz (something by Herbie Hancock), a subtle half grin on your lips. You were unfashionably late to pick me up, but forgiven before my feet touched the floor-mats of your extra large SUV; black like your tight enough shirt, your underdone eyeliner, your library bag, your devious eyes. An insincere apology, something about losing keys or an unexpected phone call, which are just words, but words are honey and we feast on sticky sweet jars of them.
Someone neither of us knows interrupts, asks how we are. In unison “fine” and returning to your story about going back home and everyone expecting you to be someone different; clicking of tongue and teeth, followed by the first light in your eye when you mention cigarettes you forgot were in your pocket. You start to stand and then eyes wide, “Did you hear that?” I didn’t. “My pants, they ripped” while you turn, slowly, revealing the straight line, five inches across, below the right pocket, a hint of flesh. You laugh, “I knew they were old, but…”
He comes up and takes your hand, “Welcome” and “Thanks for coming”, a nod to me “good to see you.” Together we three follow a few others outside; smoking and laughing and pretension and pretext; everyone knowing something everyone else should know. We grin, nod, smoke, smile. You press my hand and we step away, back inside. I want to think of the rip in your jeans widening, but your story about husbands and strange kisses prevents it.
You are always leftover promises. Even when your mouth opened on mine, it felt secondary, but not less poignant. You tasted of American Spirits and cheap beer, teased that I tasted like chocolate, but that was only residue of something slipping, a faint coloring of the walls around, turning gray with remembering.
Everyone is attached to something.
With the key sliding against tumblers, a hand slips back to your pocket. Nothing but darkness and an empty apartment await us. She’s gone and we know it. The room where her things lived must be empty now and we stand at the doorway on the landing, wondering if this baleful feeling is justified. You breathe, take one step back, “I cannot do this”, but I know better.
I have been with you when we walked over this same frame, undressed, lay on the bed, the sound of our hearts so loud, so present. Our shadow secret, my hands on your shoulders, your head tossed back preventing my lips from reaching your neck. “She will be home soon,” my fingers on your breasts, the glow of the television and you touch my face.
The darkness a fog, tendering out of the doorway, making the porch light mute. The shrouded room speaks, holds all our memories close. What are we without the conflict? You fear nothing but collapsing barriers. Nothing left to keep or hold us apart and this is paralyzing, unimaginable. You despair over nothing but possibility. It is just an empty room, only empty space.
Just inside open French doors, curtains leaning in from an evening breeze, you are down on the carpet, legs against your chest, arms around your knees. On the bed, resting on the pillow, right hand up and under my neck, I feel the sweetness of the coming night and look at you. Our third country and room in three weeks; each bed the same as the last, each space the same light yellow. Sounds from below: cars, wet pavement, slow drippings from the balcony, street vendors and white collar workers off to their families or friends. Some go home to stare at walls, contemplate their separate, collective, aloneness.
You never mention the previous day. Your promise to me-only today, only now…and every tomorrow blends into this mantra.
I remember each kiss. The first being unexpected and quick. The second, more lingering, intoxicating, controlled. The third, rushed and sloppy with
teeth-knocking uncertainty. The fourth, deeper inside of you and inside of me. The fourth the connecting, binding moment where I knew. I asked over and over if you were sure. The fourth, the one I clench close until my palms are bleeding.
We have traveled together to where our ancestors called home (cold, damp places, ever and ever green), seeing nothing of them but the inside of hedonistic hotel rooms, day after day together with everything between us. All our love and all our lives spilling out, never tiring of the sound of our voices, or watching the other coming out of the shower, wandering the room with water dropping onto the carpet, the sheets, into open mouths, leading to the smell of sweat and the salty taste of skin after sex, over and over.
You sit and the wind chills over you, eyes closed, chin up. I follow the curve of your naked back (your strong shoulders, powerful arms). I am kissing you again for the fourth time.