[9 Sept 2020> As mentioned last post, we found some stray journal pages from 1990 that we never transcribed, so wheel take a brake from the retroactive archiving of 1993 to go back to 1990. This journal (from March + April) is a supplement to our earlier 1990 post (going off memary) + also recounts our Loma Prieta earthquake experience from October 1989 which we never really documented. It's not a journal so much as a collection of pages we stapled together:]
[March 27, 1990 [Santa Cruz, CA] ... The floors are made of wood and...] the heater feels nice on my feet. And I am 23. I can safely assume ¼ of my life is over, ±¼. I have no idea where this life will take me, where i'll be next month. It's a lonely and scary feeling but also nice. I've started journals like this probably 2 dozen times. I have all these notebooks with 2 or 3 pages written in them which basically reiterate what i am saying now about starting notebooks likes this before that i never finish. So maybe from now on i'll just put them all in here.
So maybe i should introduce the characters. For starters there's me—the most important one. I'm not quite sure what i think about me. I have this vague feeling that my self-esteem is like a ghost. I have no grasp on it. I never can tell how much i'm kidding myself. I think i'm a nervous person. Very transparent with sweaty palms. I can't contain the flushed leaking coming from all my pores. My sweaty palms really bug me. When i think about it now they really begin to sweat. I feel like i'm the only person in the world with this problem. Sometimes i wonder if my life would be any different if my palms didn't sweat so much. But that's not all. I always have to take a piss too. I don't know where all these fluids come from! What's worse is when i have to take a piss and i'm expected to be in involved in sex. And i always have a lump in my throat that i'm always having to clear, like there's a frog that lives in there. Somebody told me recently that this was a sign of being nervous. And so are our sweaty palms. That is why i think i must be a nervous person, even though from my perspective i don't feel that way and don't know what i have to be nervous about. I also don't know how to speak my mind or to approach people. And i get the impression that i am unapproachable. Definitely a social catastrophe! People frighten me, maybe because of what they bring out in me.
Ok, so maybe i'm focusing on all the negative traits of this character. I do feel as if i've done a lot and know a lot, though i have nothing to show for it. Maybe a diploma—a bullshit B.S. in Mathematics—will validate me, as soon as i finish my fhesis. Until now i thought these undesirable traits were keeping me from fully being myself. But i guess they are just me. Oh well, you can always find something to get hung up on. I really have nothing to complain about. The fact that i am self-conscious is what keeps me from fully being myself, it's a viscious feedback loop. But my emotions rule rationality with a whip. I guess i'm as perfect as i will ever right now. Perfectly imperfect.
So what's up? It's spring break and it's quiet. Everybody's gone, except [S—our x] is 45 minutes away. I rarely see her, mostly by my doing. Maybe she's a part of the era that i feel i'm almost done with. The college era. Maybe it's the 7-year itch (though in this case it's only 6—time inflated for the '90s.) I'm not sure what i'm doing (regarding this breakup) but i think it feels right. I feel free.
So maybe i should introduce this character S. I'm sure i would have a lot of nicer things to say in a while when this passes over. And it's not like there is any malice, it's just that i have to let it go. To disregard her would be throwing away ¼ of my life thus far, not to mention lying to myself. I guess the main thing is that it felt like things were getting stagnant. No more room to grow. Maybe she was a crimp in my style. Maybe i'm being selfish and spoiled, who knows. I don't know right now—i just feel free. The sad thing is maybe i associate her with all the shit i've been dealing with throughout these past years which she only tried to help me with.
Maybe i'll talk more about her later because right now [E] is what's fresh in my mind. Occupying my thoughts. Who is E? Maybe she's someone i created, built up, as an escape from S. Maybe she doesn't exist. A 5-day dream. I haven't quite digested all that's happened. I lost myself in her. And i have a feeling that's it, a week-long fling. Things will be different. It was just this morning that she went to L.A. Now it's late morning and it will be the reverse of mourning when the sun goes down. Morning all day long. And she is the dawn to me. She is a catalyst. We 1st kissed when the sun was coming up. And don't think it was like a Hollywood scene cuz it wasn't. It was clumsy and awkward. Her style is new to me, after 6 years with S. She felt strange and foreign. The more i get used to her the more unique i realize she is. She is brutally honest, real and solid and her looks are an extension of her insides. And i have yet to know her without poison oak all over her body! She has opened the doors for me to be more honest with myself than i was with S. She is adaptable and doesn't take shit. Basically all the traits i admire most, traits that S didn't embody (maybe that has something to do with it). I don't get it, why now? Circumstance is kicking me in the head. And now i listen to Cat Stevens: "Morning has broken, like the first morning..."
The rain is here, clearing the smog from the sky. E is the rain, sprouting a new garden. And it's spring. Maybe E is a storm? She got my soil wet and washed away the old debris. Maybe she stands for fertility of new emotions. This all sounds like gross poetry! Speaking of, here's a song i wrote recently, my odes to the sea [a song we included on our Whorl cassette + recently redid now 30 years later, changing the name to Mare]:
I was just interrupted from this thought process by Diane and Thayne. They called and were in town so we went out to eat. Cool people. They have me figured out pretty well, Diane has known me longer than anyone else outside of family, at least as far as my relationship with my mom [she is a friend of my mom who we coincidentally just reconnected with a few weeks ago]. So where was I... back in my camper, i like it in here. It's cozy. Contemplating life. It's upon me now. I could do anything in the world. I have nothing binding me. But seriously, i feel as if i'm probably avoiding something. I am terribly frightened and overwhelmed sometimes. But i just ignore it and assume that things will just fall into place. Not that i think it's all pre-determined and i can just sit back and let things happen to me, but that i should just follow my heart, not my head and if i dwell on things too much i'll go crazy. All the rules have been set and now i'm being set loose into this mad world.
Another day of organizing and nostalgia. I went through all of my old tapes, notebooks and photos (it's raining). I never get much done in this mode. E called from L.A. I hate telephones. For all i know i could be talking to anyone. I just have to trust it's her. The tape ended (Velvet Underground Live at Max's Kansas City]. Should i get up and flip the tape? Nah. I'll enjoy the silence. If i remembered my dreams lately i would write them in here, but i can't remember any. So what's the deal, where am I? I don't know... i feel like reading rather than writing.
March 30—12:25 A.M.
So now is when i stop, collect my thoughts, wash my clothes, throw away the trash that's weighing my baggage down. Does all that's happened to me make for tomorrow? Walk close to the water so when the waves come in they erase your footprints. I see my life as just projects. I have no long term commitments. That scares me. More record and photo sorting. Took old slides of Oregon and other negatives to be printed. Along with a roll of pictures of E. She's funny. I think have never laughed harder. Fooling around on the beach then noticing some guy's watching us with binoculars from up on the cliff, so what we do? We start doing our kecak routine, naked. It must have tripped that pervert out. Or just trivial things are funny to her. So what does the future hold in store. When does it all start happening?
I came very close to throwing everything in the dumpster this morning. I think i hang on to too many past things. It slows you down. Down to the waterline. What would it matter if i just took a match to Wally [the name of the camper we lived in]? Well, maybe instead i'll just sort and pick and organize my past so i can file it away. So then i can move on. Naked. I think what i feel happiest about is that this past year i have learned to become (more or less) socially acceptable. I am no longer terrified of people. I've realized most people are as crazy as me and no one else cares.
weary long night
too much to dream
please wake me up
your lips like waves
tickling my feet
eyes like the sea
dark and abundant with new life
jump in, yell
skin tight and compact
I think i am genuinely happy right now. Maybe cuz it's the first time that i've felt i've accumulated my past knowledge up to this point into this being that i currently am, but at the same time it's all behind me. Now this is what i need to do (well... after i finish my thesis, or while i'm wrapping it up). I need to get some maps. I need to get a pair of shoes. I need a few dozen books. And then i'm out of here. Jump in, the water's fine. It just looks cold. Head first. Do i jabber too much about the past? What has passed? Last quarter. Main themes: plant growth, Fibonacci numbers, golden ratio, simulated evolution, form, structure, John Cage, mushrooms, mesostics, poetry, Walt Whitman, kecak, rhythm, spirals, Salton Sea, Snow. It's boring thinking back, makes me sleepy, zzzzzz. Tomorrow—Palo Alto, get $, develop B+W, get books. Remember dreams!
[Kecak—we're the guy (shirtless) at the far left, E is in front of us and M is on the far right]
I don't care what i said before but today is March 30 (not that it matters). I'm in Burlingame waiting for David to come home. I don't know what time it is but it can't be far from 5:00. I am laying down under this tree, the birds are singing and a cop just drove by and stared at me as if i was doing something wrong. Everybody is under house arrest. Trapped in their little apartments. Peeping out their windows waiting for people like me to come along and roll around on their lawns so they can call the cops. If i had to take a piss i would take one now. So i am here mainly to get money. Now i have $6400 to travel. I'm stoked. Figured i'd visit David while i was here. He's going to dinner with Leslie so maybe i'll go bug Jeff. I have Kevin's present to give him and negatives to develop. Wait, hold on, David's here.
Ok, time has passed and i ended up staying here. Now i'm in David's apartment by myself. They went to eat so i'm here rifling through his record collection, rowing on his rowing machine and reading Slapstick and now i am raiding his stock of frozen fish fillets.
The weirdest thing that happened lately was that i met that crazy homeless woman Lily and her daughter Ines. Their dog was at the police station and she was wondering if i could give her a ride to pick it up. Not only is she a regular around the camper lot (even though she technically doesn't live there) but she's a regular at the police station and is on a first name basis with them. And the dog too. Ends up she lives out in the forest (as we all suspected) and she took me to check out her place. It's way off one of the fire trails and is like something out of the hobbit. A little tarped hut for a bedroom. A canopy spread between some trees for a living room. A fallen log as a sofa. Another natural canopy for a meditation room. Various "guest bedrooms". A compost pile and a square pit for a toilet. All connected by a series of interlocking trails. All the ground is covered with pine needles or inside with hay so it's nice and soft. They eat nothing but raw vegetarian food. She walks around kissing trees and talking about how beautiful everything is, how she is "giving back to mother earth," Gaia. Underlying all this is this unstable crazy streak like she's taken one too many hits of acid. It's all fine and dandy, if this is the life she wants, but brining a kid into the equation seems uncool. But Ines seems bright and mature for a 6 year old. This all got me to thinking about how i want to live. I definitely prefer this homeless way [at the time we lived in a camper shell on the back up a pickup truck] over living in a house in suburbia wherever. I went through Los Altos after visiting Lily and was horrified. All the superficial formalities, there's a certain feeling that i can't quite explain that seems like a heavy weight. That automatic feeling of adopting to the lifestyles of people around us. It's all the same set up. Feeling uncomfortable elsewhere outside the walls. Without typical furniture, appliances. Maybe it all lies in this comfort zone which is actually not comfortable at all. It is superficial comfort which makes people even more insecure. Getting further and further away from the earth. Trees. Dirt. And from direct means, right off the tree. Avoiding creative challenges. But you know, you got to be able to adapt to anything, even living in condo land, living off city streets or in the desert or what have you. So maybe i'll go live in New Mexico out in the desert and work in solar energy (after all, my nickname is "sun junkie"). At this point even tomorrow is very much in the air and that's okay by me.
[ours is the turquoise camper (E sitting in front of it) + [M's] camper is in the foreground,
which eventually we bridged w/ a plank across the roofs like a habitrail... see below]
April 1st (haha) 12:25 A.M.
I ended up going to Jeff's, developed some pictures, recorded some tapes and hung out. Spent the night there. Talked a lot with Ñandu, Jeff was working. Lucas sings operas now and is pretty alert and curious. It's amazing to think how fast he changes in comparison to us adults. The next day i went to S's. We went and ate at Szechuan Garden then went to shoreline park and layed in a magnificent patch of purple-flowered succulents. It was like padded carpeting and smelled nice. I'll finish this in the morning.
Lazy morning. I must have woken up 18 times already but dozed back off. Maybe cuz my body thinks it's an hour earlier. So after the purple carpet we went to Sara's and then back up to S's. Her plane was at 6 but i left at 4 cuz it seemed everything had been said. There was no hard feelings. I realized when i saw her that this breakup was the right thing, that i don't love her anymore. A burden has been lifted. I think i built her up to be something she wasn't. In retrospect i think she was manipulative. I wasn't totally myself around her, maybe 90% but not entirely. Maybe it was the way she was always morally judgmental and most of all i think she was afraid to let herself go and have fun. Or maybe it was just time for a few pair of rose-colored glasses. Nevertheless it feels great and free and limitless (though it's also a lonely and scary feeling). I was so happy to have left and come back to Santa Cruz. I've got to take things one day at a time. One hour at a time. I really should start working on my thesis. I'm not doing jack shit these days. Ok, starting now, get motivated.
April 3, 1990
I'm sitting in the library now, 3rd floor, in the stacks. Someone scratched "help me I suffer" on the chair in which i sit. I'm staring at a wall of books of poetry. This is a form of procrastination. I tried to look at my thesis work, but i feel weak and tired. I can't believe i was as motivated as i was. C'mon Derek, this the last push! Come to think of it, i'm surprised to even be alive. I can't believe i made it this far cuz i don’t think i could if i did it all over again. But i was the same way about high school. Maybe i function in 4-5 year intervals, just trying to survive, stay alive for the next phase. I still feel somewhat scared and vulnerable, like a raw dysfunctional carcass, skinned alive. Everything is fleeing before my eyes. My hand doesn't feel like it belongs to my body. Dimensionality is very concrete and time is so real right now. I just want to sleep.
there, i did sleep. 2 hours even. In the stacks of the library. Life hasn't changed except now it is probably possible to keep my eyes open better. I feel as if things between E and i are superficially intense. There's something keeping me from feeling the emotions. Maybe i'm scared. It's funny how a lot of our psychological states are reflected in sexuality. I've sexually dysfunctional with her, what does that say? I know it's all in my head, but my body is tentative. Sex is overrated anyway. Anyway, it's all very unpredictable and temperamental and affected by my mood. Maybe it's just all a safety net that tells you when you're lying to yourself. That i don't love E or i don't want to get involved, that i'm just using her to get over E. I'm not terribly worried about it and don't lose sleep over it, especially since i haven't felt this way with anyone else. Then again, there hasn't been anyone in the past 6 years except S. I'm just a tangled mess of raw exposed nerves, like a circuit board with a few loose wires. I feel these nerves in my feet and hand and in my stomach and my penis... that feels most exposed of all, especially if i'm naked or expected to "perform". Nothing but a bunch of raw nerves with a no brain of its own, a reflection of your collective unconscious and if everything's not ok up here then it won't be down there. I think i'm also using E as an escape, a device of procrastination. Escaping the reality of the situation, the reality that otherwise i would be terribly alone and vulnerable.
I had too much to dream last night, to quote The Electric Prunes. [This dream not yet logged in our dream journal]. I broke M's ski that I borrowed. We were at Boreal [Lake Tahoe] and it was all rocky. Then we were at E's house with a bunch of people and I didn’t feel like eating so I went to look for a new ski. I was still barefoot and had the broken ski and used it sarcastically like a blind man’s cane, until I saw 2 real blind men and felt ashamed.
Then there was a mall full of snobby uptight people. Three ladies were wearing furs so I asked how it felt to wear dead animals on their backs. They said it was synthetic and asked if I wanted to buy one. I was embarrassed again.
Then i was walking with Kevin in Ajijic. This group of guys threw something at us thinking that we would lift our arms to catch it, and then they would grab what was in our pockets. They didn’t get me, but they all jumped on Kevin and started wailing on him, and someone threw the wallet and i intercepted it and ran for blocks, purposely not to our house, but this other house where i hid it so we could get it later.
Then i took this aerial tram and the thieves recognized me and started following underneath. I got off and was suddenly a "family member" and had a normal family. We walked to our Audi or Volvo and the "father" wanted to drive. They were my family, but i didn’t know them.
Then i was walking with M and E and this other guy whose name was Leonardo who i think was the funny dancer dude in Kecak class. Not only did he spill the beans about me and E, K and E, and M and E, but it ended up that he was having a relationship with her. So i just changed the subject and told them about the statistical analysis of eating Thai green curry then running and climbing on phone booths.
So now M is back and E is over there sleeping with him. I thought it wouldn't bug me, but maybe it does. I feel cheap. Certainly makes me care less about her and weird about my friendship with M. I suppose it's interesting in a weird way—oh yah, i think the other guy in the dream that she was having a relationship with was the guy with the beard, he wanted E to read his journal and this made M upset. Deep down something's telling not to get involved and just be friends with both of them.
"The sun comes up, it's Tuesday morning." The light rays hit me straight in the face. Good way to wake up early every day, sleeping on your roof. Crawled through the skylight back down inside to get oranges, kiwis, granola and coffee then walked to class listening to REM's Reckoning, singing, " Goddamn, pure confusion. She's got pretty persuasion," then realized this girl was right behind me. It's too nice to study so i'm on the patio of College 8. Perfectly lovely. Warm, bright, silent, except for some weird crickets. Too early for college students except those with 8 o'clock classes. This patio invokes a lot of memories. A lot of times up here studying, a lot of time spent reading. Looking at the trees, soaking in the sun. I remember spending almost all of finals week up here, cyclotron frequency problems. Reading almost all of Tom Robbin's books up here. Matter of fact, i read tons of books up here. I don't think i get much studying (academic-wise) done up here. And the lemons and cilantro, you know i just came to this fantastic realization, like i do over and over, that this is incredibly beautiful or whatever, words can't describe it. I mean, the sun and the sky and trees and eating fruit, makes you feel like you're alive on this planet. And the moon and the stars and the ocean. Nothing compares, not knowledge, not love, nothing. Just living and eating and breathing in nature, that's all.
So what has happened since i last wrote? Well, i think that was Wednesday, so Thursday i went to San Jose and had dinner with David at Bangkok Garden. It cured my ailing insides. Then we played pool, came back and M and E were going carpet dumpster diving. By the way they acted (as i climbed on my roof knocking over a bunch of things at 2 a.m.) she hadn't told him. The next day i went to S.F. w/ E. Friday night we went Lambada dancing. We were wild though i was a clutz. We finally abandoned any previous inhibitions and just shook our bones. The situation was made a little weird by this guy who was all "hey, what are you guys doing after this" like he was a swinger or something, and him and his girlfriend were following us around all night. Friday night, or rather Saturday morning was when i started feeling more emotions, some conflicting. We got some Ben + Jerry's and decided to take a bath. One thing led to another (what happens when naked members of the opposite sex take a bath) and we started to fool around... a bad move as this led to tears on E's part. Tears and sex are a bad combination, even if she says they were tears of joy. But i wonder if they were tears of guilt. And why didn't i feel the same way? And if she felt this way why was she doing this? She asks me mumbo jumbo shit like "Derek, why do we hurt the ones we love?" Then out of the blue she says "I love you." which i really wasn't expecting. And why then? I felt bad, how could she love me? And i was on the spot, i quoted Vonnegut by saying "saying you love someone is like holding a gun to their head." Maybe we just have different ideas of what love is, people throw the word around so casually, diluting it. I was numb at this point, not feeling anything. Maybe it's a safety mechanism, that switches on. Like an overload light.
Anyways, if i don't continue this i won't make it through the weekend. We woke up (at David's place by the way) and went to the Steinhart, it was fun. went to the planetarium show. Burned out pretty quickly and went to eat Burmese food on Geary. Then we went to the Exploratorium. Me being the cynic i was really getting on E's nerves. It was fun tho it closed on us so we walked across the Golden Gate bridge, well, ½ way across and back. We made a date to have sex on the bridge next xmas if we knew each other and lived in the same area.
After this we drove around in circles, went to Japan town and ate sushi then went to the Haight and went to the Double Rainbow and E told me about her dad and how even though he fought in Vietnam he was deported back to Mexico. This country is fucked up. She's very touchy and is always wanting to give me massages, which i'm not into. Maybe i wasn't hugged enough as a child, who knows what's wrong with me. Spent the night again at David's and the next day went to Berkeley flea market. Somehow all these facts don't capture the flavor of what's going on. It's all the little things, laughing for no apparent reason, meowing at dogs, doing tricks on Fisherman's Wharf, sitting under blankets in the park at palace of fine arts and talking in Spanish pig-latin. We fell asleep in the park and here we got on the roller coaster again, wrestling in the park. Then we're talking about heavy subjects like rape and she's crying and i'm realizing i wouldn't be working on my thesis today. So finally we drove home with the moon and the ocean and Sara [our 66 VW bug] and us.
The next day (yesterday) we went caving. By the way, I've been seeing a lot of M lately and he brought up the E thing, he knows and doesn't care. Which makes it even weirder. Like some sort of free love thing. But at least things are in the open. So we kidnapped E and the 3 of us went caving. It's like there's different combinations of emotions whether it's me and E, or me and M, or all 3 of us, and they're all different and good. It’s like this dynamic 3-some which is 4 times better than a 2-some cuz it’s got 4 options as opposed to one, XY, XZ, YZ + XYZ. We went to explore the "hell hole". Who would have guessed that little hole goes so far down, probably 100 feet in and 50 feet down? We crawled and contorted through the mud, squirming and wedging and climbing our way down. Through worn out passages of smooth marble and wet clay. Like gophers. In the orifice of mother earth. All that weight of soil above us. Complete darkness. Into the big chamber with many candles through the long tunnel, barely the width of a human body. Down the double chimney. I dropped my flashlight and it fell for about 8 seconds into the flashlight hole. A hole at the bottom that was a catch all for flashlights, clothes, bottles, anything. Then down into the chamber of faces. A room with faces, appendages, etc. molded from the clay. M made a big spooky face and E and i sculpted a baby voodoo devil with a big dick, stubby legs, missile tits, horns and repulsive pudginess. We went to hang it from the ceiling but it kept breaking in half. Then we pushed and pulled our way out. The first thing i saw when i reached the entrance was a full moon through the trees. Then we sailed by the full moon light in the Ghia to Saturn where we scarfed, still totally covered with mud and clay. We figured since we were covered with mud we may as well add whipped cream. So we had a whipped cream war all over our clothes, faces and hair. We ate our mudpies half-mixed with real mud, making quite a mess. We wiped off the table with our shirts. Then we went to Safeway to go shopping, which was the initial purpose of our outing, at least for me. Well now the sun has moved about four inches across the sky and i think i will study.
April 16, 12:15 a.m.
My life is becoming a big soap opera. I wish things were simpler, where you don't have to worry about saying the right thing, where only my own business mattered. Friday came and E and I decided to go on a camping (pseudo) camping adventure. M had to go to S.J. as usual. It's amazing how things change when we get alone for over an hour. We had initially planned to go to Castle Rock but for some reason we ended up going south instead of north, ending up in Carmel. Fate is a strange thing. Chaos. Each tiny decision can have a butterfly effect on the overall situation. The possibilities of how life can turn out make my head dizzy. Our path led us to Big Sur at sunset. And why do we see certain things like sunsets as beautiful? Stocked with a jug of guava juice, bananas, oranges, garlic cheese, bagels, crackers and a bottles of bubble-blowing soap we headed into the night. If i hadn't decided to be a typical tourist to stop to look at the infamous bridge we would have never noticed the dirt road shooting off highway 1... all it said was "road unpassable in wet weather". It was dry. Through valleys over mountains and up onto these high rolling bluffs. Steinbeck on my mind since i just finished To A God Unknown (for the 2nd time). Ended up sleeping near this creek under these creepy trees in a dark forest. It was kind scary actually. I was commenting about how it was something out of a horror flick when E casually reminded me it was Friday the 13th... Good Friday the 13th at that. Cold tingles ran up my spine. It was cold and we had just one mummy bag that we had to cram into and the zipper kept getting forced open. Oh yeah, we were armed with 2 guitars. Between playing there were intervals where it felt like we were being watched, especially as we fooled around. On the wet grass, on gnarled roots. Didn't sleep much anyways. Under those spooky trees. Kind of thing that's more enjoyable in retrospect. It was like we were in our own world and nothing else mattered. Nothing else existed us and the trees and the dark. Time had stopped. Reality and dreams meshed together. I kept thinking of the mossy rock in Steinbeck's book. The creek. The hills. The forest. And i also kept thinking of death. About how pointless it was to worry about it. Or fear it. The dawn came diffusively. The clouds haze just slowly became lighter. We drove about a bit. After eating at the Wagon Wheel comparing pet stories (E's got some pretty gruesome ones) we ended up on the dunes north of Monterrey. It was a blast, i love sand dunes. Over the side, there it was, the ocean. I took of all my clothes and jumped in. I looked back and there was about a dozen people looking at me. E joined me, also naked. She's crazier than i am. We stopped and got artichoke hearts in Castroville and asked what they did with the rest of the artichokes. She didn't know, nobody had ever asked her. Then we mixed our laundry together, which sounds more serious than it is.
Then i went to Palo Alto. Typical scene with drunk grownups talking economics. I just realized i left my photocopied face near the machine. Granini will probably find it. Back to S.C. back to my camper. S called to remind me what a loser i am and how i won't amount to nothing, how i'm following in my mom's footsteps. She had called earlier when E was over and sounded annoyed. Normally i wouldn't give a shit what she thinks but i'm not exactly sure what i’m doing. Mostly though i think she's just jealous that i am able to walk away from it so easily. Then M knocked on my door so i went over there and had a 2 hour talk with L, a new player in the game. She told me that M was going to break up with E. he seemed pretty rational about it. So then i felt bad for E. And was worried that me and her would evolved enter a full blown relationship now that there was no excuse. Not what i need right now. Her relationship with M is sort of a safety net. The next day i spent the morning with E but didn't mention anything about M. Then she was over in M's camper later and she left upset so he must have broken up with her. I tried calling her but she didn't answer. Not it's 1:45 a.m. and i’m going to sleep. I'm going to sleep in my bed for the first time in weeks. I woke up yesterday on the roof and it was raining. This bed feels nice.
As usual, i haven't written in here in a while. How you doing pen and paper? Life is grand, but crazy. I have to read back to see where i left off. So the next morning E called and we went to Monterrey to the aquarium. They had those jellyfish with neon lights flashing up their sides. Tripped me out. Expends so much energy, for what? 2 crabs were fucking and it was really cool. A 12 arm hug. They were going at it for a while. People were embarrassed to watch. Then we hung out looking at "doggie menstrual pads"... Maxi pads for poodle mutts that fit in special panties. Yes, they exist. And wrestling in the park, E could kick my ass. She says i broke her glasses there and that started the whole optical saga. La Luna. La sirena. El boracho. El Catrin. La rana. and Gianni's pizza. Yum. I got back to S.C. and M had "bridged the gap". He got a plank that runs between our two campers [see above], so we can go from his roof to mine. Kevin called so i went to Menlo Park to see him. He didn't seem thrilled to see me. Typical Kevin. His pork chops, scraggly hair, big boots and Ireland sticker. Hilarious to see Kevin's reaction to Lucas. At first he was a little shy, "I can't hold it, i mean him." All worried. But soon he was torturing the poor kid and wouldn't leave him alone. He showed me his 'SSES" thesis [which we since turned into 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY' + Textiloma]. James Joyce mythology as applied to autobiography. With that in mind maybe i should apply such a scheme to things happening now, in this journal. Make this an abstraction instead of day to day blah blah. At Granini's i was reading under llama fur that made me allergic under starry skies separated by a giant screen. At 6:30 a.m. Marge started knocking all sorts of shit over waking me up. At 6:35 the house started to shake. I thought my camper was shaking until i realized i was in Menlo Park. A couple of minutes later mom is knocking on my door, "did you feel that?" Yah, so the earth shakes, so what. By this time i'm reading so don't bother to look up during the 5.4 that jolts the house and creaks the wood. Weird. We take stable ground for granted, and exactly 84 years after the 1906 earthquake to the exact day. And also exactly 6 months since the Oct 17 earthquake Being that life is fractal and one purpose of this journal is to present a reiteration of the past (after all, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny) I might here recount the episodes surrounding Oct 17, 1989, which i never did right about. It shook a lot of things in me besides the ground on which i stood. So here the story starts:
On a day just like any other (except you don't realize that until it becomes any other day) the earth started shaking rather violently. I skinned my knees as i jumped under the table with the T.A. Xun, who kept saying "it's an earthquake" as if she was happy she knew the word in English and was validating what was happening. She grabbed my hand as we watched debris shake from the corners, little bits of cement shaking loose, all sorts of crap. Two guys in the back of the lab made a dash for the door. It felt like we were on a raft in the open ocean, except in a cement building. Swaying back and forth. The power went off immediately. These obnoxious alarms started blaring. We waited a bit then went outside because it wasn't stopping. Lots of nervous laughter. I don't think anybody then realized the magnitude of it. They were still wondering whether we would have to finish our labs. The earth still shook in spasms like a fish after you hit it on the head. Last reflexes. It just kept rolling. It’s a weird feeling to realize the earth, that solidness which you depend on, is suddenly like Jell-O, unstable. Like you're surfing. The trees swaying. The cement cracking before my eyes, chipping on the edges and in corners of the stairs. People talk with anybody during such events. Shyness goes away. Everybody becomes like babies and dogs. All these people with hardhats suddenly came from nowhere. Fumes poured of the 3rd floor, from all the chemistry labs. Evidently all the bottles crashed to the floor mixing together. They told us not to go in but i did anyway (our lab was near the door) to get my books and go home. All the pressures from all the work suddenly dissipated, i was almost glad i couldn't finish my lab. Good excuse. I needed a jolt, a change. Like the snowstorms when you're a kid. So i went back to my camper. Sat there as it got dark. Met lots of my neighbors I'd never talked to before. Things like this bring everyone together. Nestor [parrot we were taking care of at the time] squawked wildly. Things like this also make or break some people. Some people become really irresponsible and plain stupid, people getting drunk, people taking showers (these guys said they needed to shower cuz they were doing squats with weights and were like "duuude, we just kept lifting through the quake"). Others became responsible, accounting for everyone and chilling in their campers in the dark listening to emergency broadcast things that talked mostly about San Francisco, the a portion of the Bay Bridge collapsing. It's all anyone was talking about... "where were you... at that same exact moment i was..., restating news itemes, though you can’t believe what you hear on the radio. Media hype? All they talked about was San Francisco and Oakland but that was 90 miles away, evidently the epicenter was in the hills of Santa Cruz, 9 miles away! People coming up from downtown were telling us what's up. All the buildings destroyed, people dead, etc. which seemed surreal cuz everything on campus was more or less intact.
I didn't really know M then, he had just moved into the space next to me the month before. We were both math and physics majors so had that in common, in the same computational math class. Up to this point i didn't know many people at UCSC, at least not to the extent that i would call them friends. It bothered me how people would only talk about day to day mundane shit and i could never get people to go beyond that... the weather, classes, always looking for an end to the conversation. Always polite. Trying to leave a superficial impression.
I got side-tracked about the earthquake story... fell asleep in the library. That familiar feeling of waking up and for an instant feeling that the slate is washed, before you realize it isn't. Anyways, i was sick of hanging around in the isolated bubble of the camper lot when all this shit was going on downtown. The radio said not to go anywhere but M was going downtown cuz his friend worked in one of the buildings that had collapsed so i went with him. We went in his convertible Karmann Ghia [see above]. There was something about M i admired. Unlike the other physics and math majors he talked about other stuff. He could be both serious and goofy. I was intimidated by most other math majors, but he painted a realistic picture, didn't make me feel stupid, he's just about being honest about what you know and not trying to speak in esoteric terms to impress people.
[we didn't have a camraw in these times, but here's a photo of the Santa Cruz roasting company after the earthquake]
My thought process was interrupted by E. The awkwardness of this 3-some was solved by all of us sleeping together, on M's roof! With E between us like a sandwhich. I felt like some sort of rodential creature or caveman sleeping under all these blankets under the starry night. And what was funnier was when morning came around and that conservative Jeff guy walked by, first he sees M poke his head up, then E. He shook his head and said "you guys are so weird." And then i popped my head up and he said "oh my god!" and literally ran towards the safety of his camper, away from those crazy sinning commies. Such is life in the camper lot.
Anyways, back to the earthquake... all this reveals a lot about M. He figures beating around the bush or being uncomfortable is a waste of time. After we heard about the damage we went downtown to check on his friend. We picked up [C], M's friend, who was good friends with a girl (Robin Ortiz) who was working at the coffee roasting place at the time of the earthquake. The downtown was virtually destroyed, quite a contrast to up on campus (which was on firmer bedrock so was spared). It was weird to see people's reactions. Completely drunk people stumbling around like zombies, as if the earthquake itself wasn't enough to impair your reality. The coffee roasting company was collapsed in. They had found one body in there, this guy Shawn, but C's friends was still unaccounted for. When we got there, people were removing bricks in a human chain so we joined in to help. But that quickly stopped when the fire marshal came along and said it was too dangerous, it was still unstable and there could be more aftershocks. Who are they to say whether we can risk our own lives or not, especially if they weren't doing anything? We couldn't just leave Robin in there not knowing whether she was alive or not? The firemen puttered around and decided to quit for the night and made us all leave. I remember just standing there after everybody had left with M saying, "something is really wrong here. There's a person still trapped in there and we don't know if she's dead or alive." We had a hard time prying ourselves from the scene or for that matter sleeping that night. We woke up early to go back down. The firemen got a late start, still puttering about. Something about the whole scene made us feel helpless. Just standing around, waiting. I felt uncomfortable that i was just tagging along, i didn't know C and she was pretty shaken up. But then again i couldn't just leave and act like i didn't care, i wanted to help but not be an annoying third wheel. I don’t think a lot of the people including me realized what it would be like to be buried alive under piles of bricks. Or for that matter the extent of the situation downtown, this was just one building in many. People were just stunned, in shock. Lots of nervous laughter, the routine rehashing of stories, when people asked what's going on here? Oh, someone is in that pile of rubble. "Why isn't anyone getting her out?!" Good question. More and more people gathered, standing around. People just walking around, many on drugs or drunk. This one guy was totally wasted, at 10 in the morning. Their way of coping i guess. And the media was sickening, shoving cameras in people's faces who were crying or in anguish. No respect. It was hard to remember what was going thru my mind. I suppose i was thinking a lot of myself, of self-preservation, trying to detach myself from the emotions i was feeling, from my own self-consciousness. I wanted to give support, to help, but didn't know how. Our hands were tied, the fireman wouldn't let us go near the building. I also didn't want to feel like i was praying on anyone else's misfortune, trying to give M and C their space. I was revaluating my role to communicate and my desire to make friends. I feel guilty admitting to myself that perhaps i took advantage of that situation to become friends with M or whoever else. Such a shared traumatic event was a strange ice-breaker, for reasons that would take a whole nother journal to explain. To recount all the events in my life that led up to all this. I brought my baggage of being unable to get close to people, to comfort people and be caring, of not knowing how to cope with the death of loved ones, let alone how to console others. I remember C saying that she had never become so close to so many people so quickly. Matter of fact, this was the catalyst that caused her and M to break the platonic barrier, before this they were just friends. Earthquakes really shake a lot more than the ground. They shake people's emotions. They shake people's need for support and friends. It's also a reminder that "shit happens."
Anyways, the fireman quit again when the next evening came along. I was standing around wondering what to do about the absurdity of it all. Something had to be done. Everyone just couldn't leave. Then i was swept up into this tide of crowd hysteria. C and M and a bunch of other people had started a sort of protest, chanting stuff along the lines of "don't stop digging, don't stop digging..." There's something really barbaric and primitive about it all now when i look back on it, the emotions that overcome people to action. Mob mentality. Kind of scary cuz i wasn't even sure this was the right thing to be doing but i was going along with it. With all the other shit going on in the city was it fair to have all this attention and police energy focused on us? Well, we got the attention all right. Suddenly there was dozens of cop cars and TV cameras, cops in riot gear. In between chants, arm and arm with M and C, i was trying to ask where we were going, what we were doing? He said to the fire marshal’s or commissioner’s office. The one who made the decision to stop digging. Then the people in front of us turned a corner and into a line of police. I felt something was wrong but kept following. That's what the adrenalin of protest will do. Then the cops started clubbing the people in front and then hitting us, i got elbowed in the face and saw M getting clubbed in the shins and drop to the ground. That's when i realized this energy was misdirected and turned back. So did M and C. I guess we had accomplished what we had wanted, to get the media aware of what was going on, cuz until then most of the news was about how the World Series got disrupted. And to get the fire marshal to give us the reason why they stopped digging. Besides the lame reasons of lighting and all that, they told us that it was highly unlikely she was alive and not worth the risk, considering the potential aftershocks. We reevaluated the situation that maybe we were being selfish, sapping the resources of police and fire personnel and endangering other's lives if it probably was a lost cause. But it's the PROBABLY that was hard to swallow, it wasn't definite. If we just saw a body it would've made it easier to accept and for us to go home.
I remember driving back with M, into these strangely abrupt thermoclines. It suddenly got warm in the meadow by Stevenson. The air was full of smoke and an eerie orange glow came from the valley, from buildings still burning. It was as if the earth was on fire. As if she was pissed off, shaking us off her back. Rolling over in her grave. That scene scared me, left me feeling powerless and insignificant, but at the same respectful of a higher force, namely mother nature. Don't fuck with mother nature.
To make a long story short, they found Robin the next day. They were kind of enough to tell her friends before the media. At first her friends decided to not bring out her body right there and make a media spectacle of it. When the fire chief told them, C was pretty upset and M was consoling her and i felt like an outsider, like a clumsy idiot getting in the way, but i didn't want to leave and make it seem like i didn't care or wasn't supportive. I decided to leave when they brought the body out, i didn't want to be a part of that spectacle. I had done all i could do to help and i didn't even know Robin so didn't need that closure. And i was useless comforting C who i also didn't know. I dreamt about this the other night for the first time. It's funny how it was all people talked about for a week or two but now no one even mentions the earthquake, unless there's aftershocks. And i never talked about it after with M. Every once in a while we pass that hole where the roasting company used to be and we never say anything. A week or so later I went up to Oakland to visit was Jeff and saw the collapsed overpass where most of the deaths were. Crazy the repercussions 90 miles away.
So now we're exactly 6 months later and another aftershock triggered us to write all this down. And exactly 84 years since the 1906 quake. As i sit here, a group of animal protesters just went by chanting "UC research, we see torture." What else has been going on? We finished our last kecak performance, how sad. The cops actually made themselves useful and signed my fixit ticket. E and I got test ed for AIDS, we get the results in 2 weeks. They told us to use saran wrap for oral sex [At which point there's a sidenote in E's handwriting that says "By the way, it sucks! We tried and seriously, it's disgustingly impersonal."] Hmm. And min flavored condoms. The power company keeps sawing down telephone poles, in response to Earth day which was a couple of days ago. High ho.
[the camper we called home in our college years (post-paint job)]
So as usual i haven't written here in a while. I have the vaguest notion what the date is, or for that matter that the "guava juice" i drink comes from a guava. Weird to think about all the different objects we label, especially that we eat and drink. Bob Dylan is singing to me, who is Bob Dylan really? Maybe someone created this whole fictitious world of music, and personified images. I guess we must accept it all as reality. I'm still in Santa Cruz but to be honest i'm itching to leave. My mode of transport (and doubly serving as my home) has acquired a new image, a kind of impressionistic modern camouflaged commando vehicle with a large tongue dripping out of the radiator and forest scenes on either side, one for winter, the other for summer. And an urban graffitied back door w/ Dr Seuss scenes, both above and below water. Painted when i was visiting Kevin in L.A. a few weeks ago, camouflaged for the new world. And my body too. My head i shaved with clippers.
I know i have to leave Santa Cruz to figure what i am going to do next. I hate the rain, and the clouds. The weather sucks now. It sucks the moisture from the ocean and is spitting it on us. Shaking the dew, taking a piss. And it interferes with what i want to do. It clouds my vision. I try to be open minded and accept the rain, but maybe it has to do with my upbringing in Oregon, why i hate the rain so much. I'll be back, gonna take advantage of what sun there is.
OK, now i am up on the roof, slightly wet but drying out. It's funny, i have nothing to do but still have that "later" attitude, i'll do it tomorrow. Even about writing now. I'd rather be reading.
[... at which point after we graduated we started our trip around the world in post #441]