[27 March 2021> Data mining back to '97 in Savannah, picking up from post #863:]
[sumwhere in Georgia]
July 1, 1997 — Savannah
Been writing the Making of Crawdaddy-O [that a decade later got turned into Marsupial], so absorbed in the world of vampires, pimps & junkies that I space out in everyday life. It's hot, sometimes it rains, sometimes it pours. Been running with no problems, about 5 miles every other day to start. Didn't work yesterday, Mitchell called at the last second, I don't know what the deal is. Looked at the want ads to see what else is going on, but nothing much. Oh well, I'm getting a lot of writing done. And between the two of us, we made rent in a week. I guess I'll just stick it out until we move.
Worked right on the beach at Hilton head the other day. On the southern tip in that exclusive sea pines resort. Tramping around in the dunes. Weird that people go to the beach when it's this hot, that they choose to bake themselves.
July 5, 1997
In the midst of an extended weekend. Yesterday was fourth of July and it was hot as hell. 99° with who knows what humidity but the heat index was 120°. We went up to where [our bedder-½] works at J.C. Bradford to see the fireworks. The best view in the city, but still... going to see fireworks is not my favorite past time. Crowds of people throng in cars, no place to park (we walked) just to cram into the riverfront, get heat exhaustion and pass out, or live to see a bunch of explosions in the sky in some patriotic militaristic display. Then walk in the stifling masses to get your car so you can wait in traffic jams.
Saw The Player again yesterday. Robert Altman is a genius. I saw it specifically because of it's convoluted making of movies within movies, because that's kind of the premise of "The Making of Crawdaddy-O", which I would be through with, but it keeps expanding from the inside out.
July 7, 1997 —Savannah
Sent home again half day. Getting sick of this. Actually looking forward to a stable 9 to 5 job, with health insurance, etc... Jeff (my boss) is an idiot. He went to Birmingham last week to see his wife, he was calling us half-way there freaking out cuz he lost his ring. Of course he lost it at his mistresses house the night before. What a sleaze bag white trash. You know life really sucks when you're paychecks start bouncing (as mine did last week).
Yesterday our bedder-½, Tim and I went out to Cumberland Island. Had to wake up early and drive about two hours south almost to Florida and park the car and take the ferry out. It's an exclusive place, they only allow so many people out there every day. You have to get reservations in advance. It's where JKF jr. got married. On the boat out dolphins were swimming in our wake and right under the bow, literally inches from it, sideways with their eye sticking out like they were looking at us. It was cool. We got to the Island and hiked around a bit. Saw these ruins of this old mansion, the Dungeness ruins. Pretty extravagant in its hey-day, but now it's overrun with plants and wild horses and wild turkeys. Reminded me of Kublai Kahn. We also saw an armadillo up close and personal, cute little buggers with hippo ears, but their senses are not so keen. They are too preoccupied with their snouts in the leaves and mulch to notice you. And we saw more dolphins offshore. Tim and I tried to swim out to them and got to maybe 150 feet away.
We saw this cemetery and there was this one casket with a marble lid that was a little tweeked, so Tim and I lifted it. It was creepy. All decaying, oaks with Spanish Moss, very gothic, perfect location for a vampire flick. But the casket was sealed with cement. There was abandoned buildings with antique boilers and wringers, looked like old slave quarters where they washed laundry. All sorts of cool stuff. We swam after exploring, and laid out. Mossied along the practically deserted beach, beach combing, finding lots of big shells, seeing crabs and birds and stuff, swam more. Swam really far out. Not great waves for bodysurfing. Then hiked back through the middle of the Island, very lush and tropical. Caught the boat home and saw more dolphins.
July 12, 1997 — Savannah
Tuesday I sat in a corn and sunflower patch in Yemasse, South Carolina. Wednesday went to Statesboro to do a long traverse in the woods near a golf course. Thursday Jeff branched me off on my own and handed all the GPS equipment over to me. I had to get a base station person. Stopped by Labor Finders in Garden City. Walked into a dark warehouse with a ripped-up floor. Only furniture was a card table and some folding chairs. Bunch of people standing around. I'm the only white person. Ask the guy for my worker. He grabs a sheet of paper and comes from behind his booth. Yells out "Ron!" and looks around the room. Walks over to a guy hunched over in the corner, asleep. Kicks him and tells him to get up. The guy is huge, overalls and a red bandana on his head. He is handed over to me along with his paperwork like it is some sort of slave trade.
Ron's head almost hit the ceiling when he sat in my trooper. He rested his hands on his knees like he wasn't sure what to do with them, huge hands that draped over the edge. He had been to a technical school for two years and learned how to weld, but couldn't find a job in that. He was an apprentice mason. Couldn't find a job in that. He had a lot of skills and was a strong healthy guy, but here he was working as a daily laborer at minimum wage to support a family. Things like this make me appreciate how good off I have it. Not much to talk about with a guy like this except work. You try to ask him something like what he did over 4th of July weekend or in general in his spare time, but it's like spare time doesn't exist to him. He always is looking for work or waiting around for it. No vacations, no hobbies— nothing like that. His big passion was that he wanted to be a truck driver that hauled logs. He was getting his CDL (went to some school in South Carolina over the weekends where they had class from 6 in the morning til 9 at night and there was a strip bar above the school they would go to afterward, it was wild he said). He looked at every rig that passed and commented on the type of truck or some aspect of the trucking industry. But trucks hauling logs— that was his dream. Maybe go to California, he saw a picture in a magazine or an ad, and that's what he wanted to do.
I set him up on the base point. The directions Jeff gave me were as vague as hell, "go up this road and find a housing community and set the point there." But there was a lot of roads and houses everywhere. I picked a random spot and luckily it was right. And of course the controller freezes up and me. Whatever. Basically the same as sitting on the base station except you only sit for an hour at a time and then set up another point elsewhere and sit on that. Jeff said I would continue to do GPS so I arranged to meet Ron the next day and gave him a ride to his home in the projects east of downtown. But Jeff calls me that evening and tells me I have to go out with Mitchell. Felt bad that I had to flake on this Ron guy after he was all excited that I wanted to use him again the next day.
Yesterday we surveyed the actual golf course. The next best thing to golfing. Surveyed the greens and the fairways and ponds of two holes (near the tower site). Saw a water moccasin in the pond. Also did a topographical survey, which was a little different, lots of walking in tick and gnat infested areas.
[G + R] came up from Tampa yesterday. We took them out to eat in the Pink House then walked down on River street. R is a geek but you got to respect that he's devoted his life to taking care of his mother. I guess. Never married, never held down a permanent job. Kind of a nerdy hacker that dabbles into various things such as surge protectors for computers, that stays home and takes care of his mother. G had problems on the cobblestones down by the river. And then it started to pour with absolutely no warning. So then the streets were flooded with filthy garbage and slippery. Poor G. Makes you sympathize with old people. What a pain everything is. Just getting around or crossing the street without getting run over.
They all went out on a tour but I said I had to work today so I didn't have to get subjected to that. I actually was going to work but Jeff is a flake as usual. His wife is there now. He says that will keep him out of trouble. But still, I notice the roaches mixed in with the cigarette butts in the ash tray and the red-glazed look in his eye and the stale marijuana breath. This country has got a serious problem with chemical dependency. Or this world for that matter. Imagine this: aliens come to our planet and discover that our top cash crops are: tobacco, coffee, marijuana, cacao, opium, wine grapes, hops for beer, etc... how weird they'd think that was. All of these things are not food items necessary for survival, none provide any nutritional sustenance, to the contrary they deplete and diminish our health. How easy it would be to have a healthy sustainable world if people stopped growing these crops.
July 17 — Savannah
My body is covered with rashes and bug bites and internally I am plagued by a festering feeling of having no respect in this world. I work my ass off and nothing comes off it. Went to Forest Hills to survey in this large grid and easement. It was a job that should have taken a week if not more but Jeff was freaking out about getting it done in a day. Thrashed through thick vines and trees, cutting thousands of feet of line so we could see, sweating until my shirts and pants are so wet you could wring them out and get a bucket full. Ticks crawling on your neck, mosquitoes biting all over every exposed surface, sun torching your skin, horseflies biting, gnats and flies trying to get in every orifice, fire ants biting all over, chiggers burrowing into my ankles and many other unidentifiable bugs and beetles that bite or sting. All this despite oily coats of sunblock and insect repellent that does little except make your skin even more slimey and oily. The blood and dirt washed by the continuous stream of sweat, thrashing thru vines that rip and tear at your skin, branches that flex back and whip you in the face, the threat of snakes in the thick brush at your feet, the cobwebs that stick to your bruised and aching muscles, and then comes the imminent threat of lightning ripping through the sky. Thunder loud enough to break your eardrums, that shakes the ground like a earthquake, hot lightning that blinds in the corner of your eyes, meanwhile I am trying to hold a metal rod still and level. All this for $8.50 an hour, no health insurance, no benefits, except a disgruntled boss who is never satisfied, who wants the job done in completely impossible time spans, who sees it as a joyous meadow on paper and doesn't see the thick trees and the bugs and snakes. Who doesn't have to sleep at night with the constant and persistent itching of chigger bites burrowing into this body, the infected bites, the poison ivy rashes burning and issuing pus. Or a crotch rot-rash from running around in sweat-soaked jeans, so severe I walk like a cowboy that has been riding a horse naked through the desert for a week non-stop. All for some uneducated asshole redneck that shows absolutely no appreciation for the work done except that it is never good enough or wasn't done in the time he expected. For some illiterate backward ass fuck that cheats on his wife and drinks every night and loses money due to mismanagement and bounces my paychecks. And also above me is Mitchell, the recovering junkie-punk polluting my air with his chain smoking in a hot sweltering car, blasting death metal and his general slacker demeanor— making more money than me and he's 20, uneducated, no motivation, lazy, has no communication skills— it's like working for Beavis or Butthead. This is the respect I get. Yet I never complain, I still work my ass off and it gets me nowhere. I have pus oozing out of festering wounds on my face. Puffy red mountain ranges that make me look like a chipmunk. The pus crystallizes to amber globules like sap. Poison ivy is all over my face and arms and legs. My balls and penis itch and I don't know if it's poison ivy that seeped into my soaked jeans or remnants of the chafing crotch rot. My whole body itches and is rashy and I don't know what's what—whether it's plant, bug or sun-related. Boo-fuckin hoo.
And the days we don't thrash through the brush I get dropped off in some random fucked up place, a parking lot with no shade, to sit for an undetermined amount of time, no place to rest or lay down because the ants will crawl all over you. The ants eat my lunch and I can't go anywhere because I have to watch the GPS. And then A huge storm comes and I take shelter in batting cages or in the Alee temple (Islamic). Lightning crashes all around me, it pours. Last night was the biggest storm yet. Knocked our power out, rocked the house. Our bedder-½ was scared. We saw Myrtle go out with Blue five minutes before it happened and when we looked at her house all the lights were out. So I went to check on her, fearing that maybe she got struck by lightning or got swept into a ditch, or that Blue broke her other hip. Run outside amidst lightning crashing everywhere, amidst the gothic tenements and elaborate cast iron fencing, instantly soaked. Ring her bell and stand in the rain. I hear Blue barking she's yelling—"who is it?" and I say Derek and she says "I don't know anyone by that name." So I leave it at that and run back. What do I care about the old annoying bag anyway? But she opens the door and peaks out and starts making small talk even though I'm getting drenched and about to get struck by lightning. "I thought you were a burglar or a killer." That's the respect you get. No thanks for checking up on her.
Did I mention that now I start to get all the good job offers and interviews? The CAD operator job designing boats, the viscosity job? But now we are leaving town. I can't wait to go to New Hampshire, where there is no bugs and wasps and beers skin even more slimey and greasey with a bush axe and doesn's see the thick brushbugs and the hang-upskills— it's like working under BI can't shave. ked up place, a parking lot with Jones by the rain like volleys of arrowsn't know anyone by that name." Won't open the door. Yelling— Did I mention that Where it is pleasant. . Where it is not so fucking hot and humid. I'm sick of sweating and itching— sick of this discomfort, this lack of respect and appreciation for my efforts. But then I have to sell myself all over again. Joy joy. ARRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!ked up place— or a bug-infested empty lot [not sure what that last paragraph was about, these documents often have such random ghost texts that we have to parse thru...]
July 22, 1997 — Savannah
My weekend ruined because of the poison ivy. We went to Charleston on Sunday which was kind of fun. Kind of like Savannah but it's more clean-cut. Nice architecture and stuff but not trees. It's on the water though. Almost like San Francisco bay. We ate Southwestern food and just walked around. The sun irritated my skin and it was really hot. We drove back along the inner-coastal water way, through Beaufort, etc...
I go to work yesterday and Jeff wanted to postpone giving me my check. I was getting really annoyed at all this. The day before I was talking to John about paying rent (made sense to not pay the last month since we left a deposit), he skirted the issue, and it started freaking me out that he was a lawyer and I didn't know for sure whether we we're legally entitled to our $750 deposit back (being that we broke our lease and all). It was a stupid thing to worry about, in retrospect but—well it was in the middle of the night and first I felt a cockroach on me and I was trying to kill this thing in the dark without waking our bedder-½ up. It was on our bed. I would flick it off but it kept coming back, a big juicy one. Finally I killed it. Just as I was getting back to sleep our bedder-½ jumps up freaking out that there's another cockroach on the bed. That got my adrenalin going to say the least, these things are massive, it's like trying to kill a small animal with your bare hands. The perils of ground floor apartmennts in the south. When we mention it to John they say they're not cockroaches but "Palmetto bugs," as if that makes it okay. We killed the other one and tried to go back to sleep but then we started thinking about them crawling in your ear or in your mouth. We moved to the folded-out futon-couch but I still couldn't sleep and started to think about "what if John didn't give us our deposit back?"
Then the next day Jeff flaked on giving me my paycheck— nobody can be trusted. So When I got back in the evening I made a big stink to Jeff that I wanted to be paid, right then. He said he didn't have any company checks so I said make it a personal one. "But I only have one left". Then make it out to me. And from now on I only except in-state personal checks that I will know it they cash or not. Can't take any chances with these slimeballs. He was also going on about whether we had work. Everything is so uncertain. I am plagued with itching and bites and rashes and have no health insurance. It is making me really want a safe job, a stable and predictable living situation. Can't wait to go to New Hampshire. Just when I am getting relief from my poison ivy I am now plagued with a new volley of chigger bites, dozens of them up my legs. It's as if they're running out of space, they've bit into every square inch of flesh and now have worked up to my stomach. At night it feels like I am on fire, like I am sleeping on a bed of ants.
July 26, 1997 — Daytona Beach, FL
Last week was living hell. I had hundreds of chiggers under my skin eating me alive. At night if felt like I was on fire. Nothing took away the pain. I tried drowning them in alcohol. Soaking in baths in all sorts of shit, oatmeal, salts, hot water, cold water, alcohol, campho-phenique, special chigger medicine at the drug store, etc... but nothing really brought relief except applying a mud mask on them and even that was short-lived. And I still worked. Worked for Jeff the complete asshole, your worst nightmare ass a boss. We worked out by Rincon on this construction site in a swamp. Jeff came with us and is trying to be all hot shit to the client. He critiques every little thing you do as if his way is the only way. Always negative comments—I've never heard a positive word coming out of his mouth. And here we are suffering from lack of sleep and extreme discomfort (Mitchell also had tons of chigger bites). We were about to embark on cutting 1300 feet of line through dense snake-infested jungle, when the construction manager finally had sense enough to say—"hey, why don't we get this tractor right here to plow through." So this steel dinosaur ripped through the brush, tearing down huge trees, plowing everything in its path, while guided by Mitchell on the instrument. I still had to follow in its wake, which was a muddy mess with fallen branches and trees all in my way. And poison ivy and who knows what snakes and bugs (and chiggers), to take shots and place a hub. Trying to place a hub in thick mud, what fun. Literally just push it into the ground. And after the tractor had gone through, the swamp water was slowly filling in. Mitchell had to set up the instrument on the hub and Jeff is blaming it on us, as if we kicked the water into there to cover the hub (I mean how can you possibly survey when the hub is under water?) He freaked out, said we were both a bunch of rebellious fucks and sped off, peeling out in his little lowrider S-10. We set more hubs and stakes in the swamp, it was a mess. Then sat on a GPS point all baked in bugs and mud and poison ivy, my chiggers hurting like hell. But took Friday off, so did our bedder- ½.
We split to Daytona Friday morning. We stopped in St. Augustine and checked that out. Oldest town in America I think they claim to be. The most interesting thing was the old fort. I loved the overall aerial shape of it. You could see all the dungeonesque rooms. Our bedder-½ is antsy to get to the beach.
8:30 p.m.—We checked out St. Augustine and then went on to Daytona. For lack of any better ideas and not wanting to drive all weekend we stayed there. The Holiday Inn. Wish we could do better but after all we are lower middle class when it comes to our income. Daytona is white trash central. No class. People drive their cars on the beach, along with ATV's, etc... Crowded. I mean it's okay. It was still enjoyable, we rented a boogie board and rode the waves all day. I was even up to knee-boarding. Not bad waves. Other than that, just relaxing watching passing thunderstorms over the ocean and eating some good meals. But even that, I'm beginning to like eating at home better. Restaurants are smokey, the service usually sucks and who knows who was cooking your food, and of course it's a rip-off. Usually. Maybe I'm getting old.
The Godfather Saga has been on for the past two nights. So we've watched 10 hours of the godfather. And it was just a month ago that we rented both of them. The Godfather Saga combines one and two chronologically and added a lot of previously unseen footage. It is probably the best movie ever made, can't decide which is better, one or two. One is more cohesive. And Marlon Brando is the best. Though Al Pacino and Robert Deniro are hard to beat. But my favorite character is Tom.
So we spent Saturday at the beach and casually made our way up the coast today, stopping to swim and check out the boardwalk in Daytona beach which is as seedy and trashy as it gets. Stopped in Jacksonville and ate at a nice restaurant on the riverfront. Drove through a lot of heavy thunderstorms. When we got home there was a message from David that Jeff cut off the tips of a couple of his fingers. So I called Jeff in Buenos Aires. He's getting an operation tomorrow, their taking bone from his elbow and splicing it on to his fingertips. Luckily it was his left hand, and it was his middle, ring and pinkie fingers—and not index or thumb. And it was only the tips (past the last knuckle). He won't have fingernails or full utilization of his tips, and the middle finger will be a half an inch shorter.
[... August 1997 (moving to New Hampshire)]