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Ice storms, covered bridges, red barns + why our 1st poem remains unpublished (NH, NYC + Vermont 1998)


[12 May 2021> Not much going on on the homefront so we'll move on to our 1998 journals, picking up from the end of 1997 in Portsmouth, NH...]

January 1, 1998 — Portsmouth, NH
New Year's Day and it is quiet and cold. Dry cold until just now when it just started to flurry. A fine dusting. So 1998. Almost 1999 and almost 2000. That will be wild. New Year's Eve was uneventful. We stayed home. Outside people thronged in the streets to go to "First Night" which I guess is a New England ritual. Sounded more like a family-fun type of thing. Not that we were close-minded or anything but most of the festivities were outside and with the wind chill it was –30° below zero. You got to be crazy to stand around looking at fireworks and a puppet parade. The ice sculptures did sound kind of cool though. I was kissing [our Bedder-½] at 12 a.m. Stayed up going through my photos. I'm going to make a scrapbook of Kevin and his artwork. I've also started another sort of scrapbook where I'll just paste photos and random poetry. I was given two more "magnetic poetry" kits (on top of the one Bedder-½ already gave me for my birthday), so I use those to help me get ideas. It's fun and the ones I like maybe I will pursue the thread. That will probably take me even more away from this Journal writing, so this year's journal will probably be even shorter than last years.
     Resolutions for 1998: continue on the same course with renewed vigor. More concretely, I want to finish "Navigating the Senses." I should write at least 12 short stories and 12 poems over the year. At any given time I should have each of my stories, poems and novels out for consideration somewhere. I want to be published by the end of 1998. I am going to keep my weight under 165. Not that I'm getting fat or anything, it's just preventative. I'm going to watch less TV, try to have good posture and drink only water in restaurants. This year I will also pursue a new recreation or recreations, such as cross-country skiing, sea kayaking or fishing. But in the sense of a resolution being indicative of something not right in your life, or signifying a need to be "re-born" I feel no need for resolutions. Just the feeling when you open up a blank journal or calendar and the pages are white and beckoning to be written on.

January 8, 1998 — Portsmouth (Vermont)
Didn't do much this past weekend except try to get some writings out. Made copies of Our Mother the Fish [Marsupial], and Strip Mine. Sent off my first try at Our Mother the Fish. Fingers crossed. Mother fish as bait. Saw a bunch of movies. Jackie Brown, which was okay. As Good as it Gets was awesome. Excellent acting, great script and great directing. Jack Nicholson's character kind of reminded me of what Kevin might have turned out like if he got older. Great one-liners like "I'm telling you I'm drowning and you describe the water." Also saw the movie where Elizabeth Bonham Carter gets naked for the first time.
     Tuesday at work the conflict with SMS rose to almost an outright 3-way fight. South Seas pissed that they can't go live yet, being idiots and blaming us, and us pointing our fingers at SMS. So it was decided that Bob and I would pay Springer Miller a visit and not leave until they had worked out the bugs. Brought a change of clothes just in case.
     It started raining last Monday and it hasn't let up since. So we had to drive in the rain. I took the Trooper, met Bob in Dover. 3-hour drive, past Waterbury where the Ben and Jerry's factory is to Stowe. SMS resides in a sort of ranch house. Very casual place, people walk around in their socks. All the guys have very strange posture probably from sitting at computers all day long— no butts, and rolls around the waist, their pants fit weird. Vermont was everything I expected. Rolling hills (that they think are mountains), log cabins, dairy farms, etc. So we finally met these idiots in person. This Kevin Lane guy wasn't as bad in person. Things were still a little tense. It's like they were afraid to admit they were wrong. Even John Springer-Miller made an appearance. Finally figured out the main problem were having with the rate hurdle indifference rate comparison when it was 4 o'clock and there were all these emergency broadcast warnings about a winter storm (and being that this was Vermont we took it seriously). Supposedly everything was going to ice over. The rain was going to freeze. Everyobdy went home early, roads and events closed. We got a room at Ye Old Inn, this very British Inn and Pub. They are way into skiing in Stowe. Half of the TV channels show nothing buy skiing an snowboard movies.
     The next day it was still raining though in Burlington all the power was out and the trees fallen over, everything covered in ice. Vermont was in the national news. We went back to SMS did a few more tests until we were convinced that everything was kosher then came back. There were sections where everything was completely caked in ice. Every little branch of every tree, the signs, the guard rails, everything except the roads. Oh yah, stopped at the Ben and Jerry's factory for some souvenirs and a peak around.

January 18, 1998 — Portsmouth
The crews have been working all night removing snow. Dumptruck after truckload. A snowblower rides next to it and scoops all the snow into the trucks driving parallel. I heard all the scraping and heavy machinery while we were sleeping. Incorporated them into dreams influenced by seeing the "Titanic" (we resisted all this time, it was bad as we expected). On an erupting mountain in the Himalayas with Bedder-½. Escaping the lava-turning-snow-and-ice-into-mud-and-water. Or escaping dumptrucks hurling through the air (see dream journal).
     If I was a film director, I would redo the "Titanic". So many terrific possibilities for metaphor. Sure I'd even have it a love story, but I would use no-name actors and purposely cheesy carboard models (mixed with real stock footage). I would do it for five thousand bucks. I would replace all the loud noise and action/effects with good dialogue and a meaningful plot (devoid of cliche). I wouldn't have any forced scenarios where you're thinking "why doesn't he do this? i.e. at the end, why does he just float there with her on the headboard? He knew that swimming around was the best thing, why didn't he swim around (with her in tow) looking for a piece of wood for himself? Or if he knew he was going to die, why didn't he speak his mind? Why didn't they just enjoy the last hour, rather than scramble around? Titanic is a great idea for a movie, but as usual Hollywood overdoes it and underdoes it at the same time.
     It's early Sunday morning and Bedder-½ is still asleep. I have our floors mapped and know where to step that doesn't creak. In the kitchen you have to walk in a big L. She is my sleeping angel. But sometimes I worry about her as she doesn't seem happy. Last night she was crying, crying that she wouldn't know what to do if I died. At the same time I worry about her fragile nature, her shoulder, her headaches, her hypo-glycemia. It's always easier to worry about someone else. I feel invincible, that nothing could hurt me. I am 31 and have never really been to a hospital. What is it that we are holding on to? It kills me that Bedder-½ would worry about such things as me dying. We will die eventually, and I don't want to spoil the quality of our lives with needless worrying.
     Yesterday we went skiing. Went up to the White Mountains and skied at Cranmore (kind of randomly selected). Right outside of North Conway. Bedder-½ took a lesson. So at first I skied on my own. It was the first time in four years or so. I went down a blue and it wasn't too exciting. So I went down blacks and they weren't so hard. But it was fun. Skiing is a decadent blast. All that waiting and all that money just to zip down a hill in a couple of minutes. It was a beautiful day and with all the recent snow the conditions were better than average (though it was still very icy compared to out west standards). No real moguls, no powder. Couldn't ski in the trees because the recent ice storm knocked them down. Total waste of resources, all that electricity and deforestation. I skied with Bedder-½ a while. We got hot chocolate and burritos at the hut on top. She is still, understandably, cautious due to her shoulder injury. It gives you a perspective on all the fast and out of control skiers. You can only be so cautious before some idiot rams into you. It's a dangerous, decadent sport of short-lived and unearned fulfillment. It's like people that go to Tibet for enlightenment and take drugs. I think it's time to take up cross country skiing.
     Friday night K.C. (one of Bedder-½'s colleagues) had a party. All Nutrition and animal science people. It was nice to get out and meet some new people. Another week at work. Actually did some programming. Wrote all the code for the "Xlat" program for GEAC. Been working mostly on GEAC, testing. It is for the Four Seasons in New York. They have rooms that are $7500 a night. That's nuts. South Seas was brought up live this week, finally.

January 24, 1998 — Portsmouth
Weird weather. Snowed all day yesterday and then at sundown it turned to rain. Hard rain. Heard it on the roof all night while we slept in our loft. All the snow on the moonlight was melted off my morning. When it stopped snowing everything turned to ice. Rows of drippy icicles handing off the powerlines off our windows. Everything is frozen in suspension. Outside everyone is walking flat-footed and robotic. It's Saturday and we don't need to go anywhere. Just watched Psycho II. Watched Psycho I last night.
     Lots going on at work. They're putting my feet under the fire. Took on another interface, Fidelio. Actually it's one that Kevin Allen was working when he quit, right about the time I hired on. Mark asked me to do an install in England in another month or two. But first we have to get the Suisse Hotel in Boston up and running, because Kevin Allen left that hanging when he quit. So I have to go through his code and figure out where he went wrong. Mark sprung this on me yesterday and I have to go to Boston on Tuesday with Diane to install it. Then again back to Boston with Bob on Thursday for more testing of it. And to New York with Diane in a couple of weeks to install the GEAC interface. That should be fun as we're staying at the Four Seasons. And then to England sometime after that. And the Fiesta Americana thing is about to signed which I am being slated for due to my Spanish and that involves and install or two in Mexico. So my feet are under the flame but they are getting compensated by travel. Though from what I've heard you don't see much besides what's behind the front desk of the hotel (sixteen hours a day of work). Finished "Gondwanaland" and sent a few more stories out. Still trying to tie up loose ends. Everything is frozen in suspension.

January 31, 1998 —Portsmouth
Had to go to Boston a few times last week. Installing a system at the Swissôtel. Tuesday I went with Diane. Didn't really know what to expect as I haven't worked on this Fidelio interface much. But I got it hooked up and running. Thursday I went again with Bob and we did some testing and ran some reports for comparison. It's a pretty nice hotel but it is in a crappy location, sandwiched between all the construction for the central artery project and this sketchy part of town. We had some time to kill while the imports were running so we walked around and had lunch in that area near the commons where the streets are blocked off. Both times I had to dress to the hilt, suit and tie. I guess it was a change of pace from the office humdrum.
     Friday we had the Opus ski trip. Had to wake up early to meet Dave before six. We met everyone else at the Kittery rest area. Since Dave and his wife were going cross-country I switched cars and went with Chuck and Eric. I figured since Chuck had the Trooper and all, would be safer. Figured wrong. Chuck is a sucky driver. All over the road, not paying attention. It was a long drive up to Sunday River. Having to make conversation with the CEO and the CFO. The big bosses. What really sucked about the trip was having to all stick together, the coordination and everything. Lots of waiting. We got to the lodge and other people rented elsewhere etc. Thirteen people and all. Finally I was getting really impatient. I had forked over $70 bucks to ski, I wanted to get my money's worth. I managed to get Scott and his friend (church group friend?) out. And then Chuck and Sterling finally got their act together. But they wanted to wait for Richard. Being that this was a company event and all it wasn't really proper to just take off on my own. And then once everybody was set we all had to ski together. So every time you'd have to wait at the top or bottom and in-between for everyone. But what can I say. Skiing is a blast. And Sunday River is an excellent resort. It's basically in the middle of Maine. Beautiful scenery, surrounded by mountains, ice-glazed trees and lots of snow. Everything colored in blues and grays. Lots of double blacks. Usually I would ski a harder run, maybe with Scott who is a pretty competent snowboarder and meet up with them on the bottom. They had some hard mogul runs, made even harder by the intermittent ice sheets. It was a good workout, I am sore today. I like the challenging runs, even though I'm sure I don't ski with great form or anything. I am just happy that I skied blacks and double blacks all day and didn't fall once (twice a ski popped off on a mogul but I stayed up). And usually I would ski a run non-stop. Did a few runs through the trees which was made more challenging because of the ice storm debris. Hidden branches ready to trip you up. I love skiing trees. And afterwards we met at the watering hole for the social interaction, listen to your bosses tell salesman or Jewish jokes and pretend to laugh. Felt like that sweater scene in Dumb & Dumber. Watched Chuck slam brews as it's snowing out and we have a 3-hour drive back to Portsmouth. But what can I say. Free food. Free beer. This is pathetic. I am writing about my company ski trip. I got to not lose perspective.
     University Editions (imprint of Aegina Press) offered to publish my book as long as I subsidize it. I am skeptical. What incentive would they have to market it unless they have something on the line? I would get 100% back until my subsidy was paid off and then they would get 60% and I would get 40%. That just doesn't make any sense. I may as well just pay to publish it and do everything myself and get 100% period. I'll ask them for more details but I don't like the sounds of it, then again maybe it's the only way.

February 8, 1998 — Portsmouth
Went to the Aquarium in Boston yesterday. Aquariums are cool even though it sucks for the fish. It's like a museum of species, all of the masterpieces that survived in the sea. Their penguin exhibit is great. They had all the usual cool stuff, sea otters, morays, skates, clown fish, lobster larvae, jellyfish polyps, fiddler crabs, octopus, cuttlefish, ariwahna, mandarin fish, Garibaldi and this really weird thing called a Leafy Sea Dragon, which I'd never seen before. It was like a sea horse disguised as a piece of kelp. It had leaves coming off of it. Truly bizarre. We walked around, went around to Faneuil hall, ate at ye old Oyster Union Bar (the oldest restaurant in the US, it has been in continuous operation since the 1820's.) 
     I have a new desk at work. A window seat! No one else put a bid for it so it was mine for the taking. I'll like it much better, it's not where everybody walks by all the time and it's in a pod that's kept cooler than 75 degrees. The only drawback is now I am sandwiched between Mark and Bob so no slacking off. But it's worth it just to see the sky.
     Yesterday I put some bread on the outside of our skylight and the seagulls figured it out right away. It was hilarious. We can lie in bed and watch the seagulls sliding across the skylight and snapping at the bread pieces. It's like having an aquarium of sorts. We did it again this morning. It's like the seagulls already were waiting.
     The winter Olympics have begun. When the Olympics are over we will bomb Iraq. This time I don't think it will be so easily. There will be more repercussions. I feel like there is going to be a backlash. It's scary. We're about to go to war and people care more about who the president had sex with. He is the big chief after all, shouldn't he get to sleep with all the babes?
     This New England weather is taking it's toll on Bedder-½'s skin. It kills me to see her so unhappy about it. She's just out of her element. She belongs in a tropical warm climate. She doesn't seem very happy. I guess I am happy. But I am just thankful for what I have. That I have Bedder-½, that I have a job and that I still have some time to write. Our neighbor is a prick and that makes me unhappy. That we live in such close proximity with such an idiot and we hate him and he hates us. He throws his crap in what was our common closet in the defunct stairwell. I figured fuck it. That's white trash anyways to store stuff in the stairwell (not to mention a fire hazard) so we just took all our stuff out and let him have at it. And he's spraying Lysol all the time and he smokes pot all the time and his place is like the place in Portsmouth to go once the bars close. Two in the morning and he always has drunk and loud visitors. It's a shame cuz that's the only real drawback about this place.

seagulls above our bed

February 16, 1998 — Portsmouth
President's day. I have a holiday, but Bedder-½ doesn't. A day to write. Been writing all weekend. Well, not really writing, rewriting and piecing together what is to be "Gondwanaland." A collection of short stories and poems with the common them of a "hypothetical land mass"— how maps have effected our perception and our daily consciousness. Actually Pangaea is the theoretical supercontinent that broke into two— Gondwanaland in the southern hemisphere which broke into Africa, Australia and South America and Laurasia which accounts for North American continents. Gondwanaland just sounds cooler. "Gondwanaland: A Hypothetical Mass of Fiction" I guess Pangaea would work also.
     I got a little flustered yesterday. Cabin fever. Saturday I was working straight through, not even wanting to eat. I don't know what to do as far as Bedder-½. I feel I am neglecting her at times. When she has nothing to do. That's why I need to take advantage of days like today. There's just so much to do, so much to write. I can think of tons more projects, an "Allele" series (biochem influenced), the "SQL" series (the structure of programming languages is becoming more and more fascinating). I need to finish "Navigating the Senses", I've been finding unfinished projects in dark recesses of my hard drive (hand-written scribbles) which I almost forgot about, "Surfing the Lighthouse", the "Immaculate Conception" thing, the "Pearl", etc. I guess I just need to keep working at it.
     Going to NYC tomorrow for a few days. Should be fun though a little stressful. They (the Four Seasons) didn't send us a computer so I had to burn a CD and gather all the pertinent software to install and debug our system and database. Gonna totally wing it. It's freezing today. And yesterday. No snow though, and only rain in the forecast. Definitely looking forward to summer.

February 21, 1998 — (NY, NY)
Tuesday morning, dressed to the hilt. Met Diane and she drove to Logan. Arrive at the airport at 8:30 to catch an 8:30 plane. Flight full of NYC–Boston commuter types, blue-suited yuppies like myself. Is this Derek? Dressed in a suit, "business travel"? It strikes me as odd, I'm 31, I have a normal job, people call me sir, but I still feel like a young kid. I don't feel like what my image of what an adult is from when I was a kid. Like how I looked at my dad. Maybe it's the fatherhood thing. Not that I want to be like that or anything.
     Cabbed from la Guardia to Manhattan. Of course maniacal cab driver from the middle east somewhere. The Four Seasons is incredibly fancy, but it's not tacky or gaudy. Simplistic and elegant. I got a huge room with a balcony looking out over the city. Marble floors and walls, lots of mirrors, oak finish, "real" artwork on the walls. In the books it's a $650 room, but comped for me. I lucked out too, because Diane's didn't have a balcony. Right to business. Entered a hidden door and suddenly behind the scenes, in the functional infrastructure and maze of hallways and stairwells. Weaving up and down, in and out of offices until we got to the brain of the building under the depths of the city, the computer room. The systems manager was this guy Mike Duffy. Workaholic. He woke up at 2:30 a.m. every morning and made the commute from Long Island, worked from 5:00 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. then commuted home. Insane. The computer room was freezing, huge air conditioner half the size of the room, millions of wires and cables everywhere. The installation went smoothly. They're GEAC PMS system is on a UNIX box and they weren't willing to place the files we needed on our machine, so I used Delormes FTP program but of course it wasn't working so I would have to go in by hand and knife and fork everything over.
I probably called Opus a dozen times through the day. People back at Opus told me they could chart my progress by who I was calling. First Delorme to work out kinks in the database set up and the FTP program. I wrote the XLAT program so of course there was no problems there and no call-ins. Next John McCole would be fielding IMPI2P import from the interface to the TLP database questions. Then I would be calling Scott for mapping question about actual specifics of the hotel. Then I would be calling Steve for task manager questions. The whole process is so inefficient. There's basically five middlemen or "dumptrucks" as we would call them in the import process. GEAC dumps their data into a UNIX directory. We use the FTP program to get it off the UNIX machine and onto our machine. Then the XLAT takes the text files and sticks them in an interface directory. Then the import program takes them from the interface directory into the actual TLP directory where it can be processed. And it's not like there's one pile of sand to shovel five times. There's five interrelated piles, and each pile has got ten to thirty fields. Along the way with the shoveling you have to make sure none of the data gets mutated. It's a logistical nightmare. Sitting in a freezing computer room in some concrete infrastructure underground, but hey this was New York. This is what was once Manhattan Island. I could've been anywhere. I convinced Diane that it was a waste of time to try to work all night, that in the end it was more productive to get a good night's rest. So we went up into the streets of New York and ate Japanese food. But still I had to make conversation with Diane and I wasn't free to explore New York. It was raining anyway. I love the rain in New York. It's like it's coming from the tops of the skyscrapers. The buildings mesh with the clouds, the steam rising off the tops and out of the manhole covers. Back in my room I went out onto my balcony in the drizzle and absorbed it. Took a bath in my sunken walk-in tub. Fancy as it was it was still two twin beds rather than a queen or king size. I guess that's the European thing. But still I can't complain.
     The next morning had breakfast at the Four Seasons. A bowl of cereal was twenty bucks. Not that I'm paying for it. Then back to work. Made more progress. Things went well, we had a few problems with GEAC but they would fix them and get the new executables in place within hours! Far different than Springer Miller. It was going so well Diane left to go back. I figured I would stay and make sure the syncs ran okay. (Good excuse for a night out on New York). I walked all around, by Central Park at night, by Lincoln center and looked at all the people going to the Opera. There's this climbing gym right there nestled in the buildings with a glass rook which I thought was kind of cool. Walked down Broadway to Times Square, ate a low-key place, the Art Cafe, that looked out onto the busy streets. Times Square is like walking through a fashion magazine or a TV. I watched the skaters at Rockerfeller Center, walked by St. Patrick's but couldn't go in, saw Radio City Music hall, NBC studios, went by an opening at the MOMA, just weaved up and down the streets for about three hours.
     The next day didn't go so well. The full syncs fell over, the database crashed. It had ballooned out to 200 MB (normally was 5 MB). I couldn't start or even start the database server. It was in eternal limbo, unable to sort itself out. It was very frustrating. I tried to let it rollback, went out and walked around, got a croissant and coffee, came back and it was still in perpetual limbo. So I had to kill it and start from scratch. Took a cab to La Guardia at rush hour. Saw an "M" tugboat in New York harbor, with the name Eugenia Moran on it. Is this a chain or was this the same tugboat?! One of the runways had a pothole in it so there were swarms of shuttle commuters backed up. That was okay cuz I was nauseous from my cab ride and needed to sit for a while before my flight. From Boston I was picked up by a Limo. When I called to arrange it, I had given them only an hour notice and they asked me if I minded not having a uniformed driver! Hey, Opus was the one telling me to use this service. Back to Portsmouth.
     In New York, Diane was telling me that we were going to Amsterdam in March to do a Fidelio Beta. While I was excited about going to Amsterdam, I was getting overwhelmed at how much I had to do, because I knew that I would undoubtedly get slated for the Posadas Fiesta Americana thing, so I would be simultaneously working on three upcoming interfaces. And as far as I know nobody else was really doing anything. Mark must have figured this out because yesterday he told me that I would wean Fidelio onto Delorme, so that would mean he would going to Amsterdam.

February 28, 1998 — Portsmouth
Where I am when I am dialed into a computer that is in a computer room somewhere in New York, Boston or Florida? The actual processing is in the circuits down there and partially on my computer and through the phone lines. I am really sitting at the terminal down there, operating it remotely. Speaking of computers, the poor little powerbook I am writing on is starting to freak out. The keyboard is starting to stick a lot to the point that my only option is to reboot. It seems to stick a lot on "a".
     The weather is beautiful. It's getting warmer and sunnier and the days are getting longer and it's definitely affecting my state of mind. What I am doing inside writing? Last Sunday we went to Cambridge. We were inspired by Good Will Hunting I guess. Just walked around. It is like the Berkeley of the East Coast. We walked around the Harvard campus marveling at the architecture, went into some huge bookstores, had a coffee at Harvard Square, shopped, had pizza, etc.
     I've been reading Mark Leyner's new book. It's brilliant, refreshing. A laugh out loud book. Every once in a while I come across a book like that that is humbling and makes me feel I'll never be published. But really, most of the other stuff is complete crap that I know I could do much better.

March 3, 1998 — Portsmouth
A comma. I've been pulling my hair out, the program won't run, it's all held up because of a missing comma. A missing comma could cause a computer to malfunction and possibly start world war three. A computer's language is far too precise. Or is my language not precise enough? If I changed a comma or two would that tip the scale and make an editor think— "brilliance!" I get rejection letters on a daily basis. I've resigned myself to rejection. Here's a poem:

Why My First Poem Remains Unpublished

A missing comma.

There was a pain in my wrist
that made me think twice
            and then and then and then and then and then and then
(She asks me if it's okay to start a sentence with "because")
and then and there I knew
if I had kept all my rejection letters
(and re-wallpapered my kitchen)
I would have swallowed enough
regrets to kill a horse

I may turn this into something, call it "Specific Gravity".

March 8, 1998 — Portsmouth
Didn't do any writing this weekend. More in an input phase. Read Mark Leyner's "Tetherballs of Bouganville". Fabulous. Why do I always love writers whose style is so different than mine? I could never write as good as Mark Leyner. He has a command of popular culture which is unprecedented. A sense of humor that has you busting stitches. It's up there with John Kennedy O'Toole's Confederacy of Dunces, it's as funny as Beavis and Butthead.
     I finished that crappy book, I can't even remember the authors name, Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God, oh yah, Joe Coomer. I made myself read it because it was a local writer. Encouraging in the sense that crap like that gets published. I've been skimming of the top of a lot of other books, and reading lots of literary journals. I've got Mason and Dixon but first I want to read Pynchon's Slow Learner. They're his first unpublished short stories and figured they would provide good motivation. Also started to read The Information (Martin Amis) but wasn't into it so I'll save it for later. Also read the few chapters of Cold Mountain to see what the hype about this bestseller is, but I just can't get into it. Also reading Confessions of an English Opium Eater which is a strange book.
      Got a new car stereo, a new home stereo for the loft and a new pair of headphones (for listening to CD's at work). Need more music in our lives. OK Computer is on infinite repeat in the tapedeck. Also have been nurturing more and more house plants. Have quite the collection now. Our neighbor finally got the boot. What a relief. That guy was such a prick. He threw a shitload of trash in the not used stairwell. Hopefully our new neighbors will be cooler.

March 17, 1998 —San Diego
St. Patty's day. Just got back from a four-day weekend in San Diego. With it, a new revelation that maybe our days in Portsmouth are numbered. I don't know if flying west is what triggered it in Bedder-½, or seeing her family or realizing how long the flight actually is... We flew out on Friday afternoon. I cut out of work early. We had a layover in Newark. What a pit. Flying is just getting worse and worse. The seats get closer and closer together and they pack em more and more, or maybe it's just me. It was a long flight out. But it was worth it, arriving in the warm, tropical evening air.
      [They] moved into an apartment in downtown San Diego. It's a great location, near Seaport Village and the Gas light district, etc. I woke up early every morning and went running along the water, looking at all the boats in the marina in front of the Marriot. It was just a relaxing weekend, not terribly eventful, but enjoyable. We went to Pacific Beach and Mission Beach or wherever. Had lunch on a patio and couldn't get over how good the sun felt. And the huge waves. We walked along the beach and I couldn't resist jumping in, though they thought I was nuts. The water was warmer than usual because of El Niño. Then I had to walk around in wet shorts. I was also barefoot because I didn't want to wear shoes, so I bought some flip-flops and a cheap pair of baggy shorts. The surfer thing was infectious. But Pacific beach was a little too seedy for them so we cruised up to La Jolla but kind of lost momentum and returned to San Diego.
      Saturday night we went out to eat in the gaslight district. Went to some trendy Mexican restaurant. The food was cold and the service was terrible. When the bill came [R] asked to see the manager. He complained and the meal was comped. An 80 dollar meal for free. We walked around, lots of people on the street. Went into some cigar shops, had coffee and cheesecake in some bar. San Diego is pretty hopping. I guess everywhere is.

March 21, 1998 — Portsmouth
Bedder-½ called up Scott and Dr. Lei and it took them a whole three minutes to invite her back. So that's that, we're going back to the big sky and the fabulous sunsets! Bedder-½ gave her notice yesterday. I guess [her boss] was pretty upset. She called me at work when Mark was sitting at my desk. I sat staring at my computer thinking about what to do and figured I would get it over with now. But every time I got the nerve up to go tell George he was with someone or he was on the phone. I sat at my desk staring at the red light waiting for him to get off the phone. Then I finally told him and it was not a big deal. He is pretty laid back. I said that it had nothing to do with Opus and that I would love to keep my job if I could, like just saying that so there was no hard feelings. George took me literally and said he would talk to Bob and Mark and see what we could work out. Then I took myself literally and started thinking how cool that would be. An hour later Eric walks by my desk shaking his head and pointing his finger at me, like "we're gonna have to figure something out". I asked him to elaborate and he was like "you said earlier this week that you were interested in becoming a tech writer"—which I had said, only because of the way he presented the question. And I could do that from Tucson, or I could do installs since that involves travelling and as Eric pointed out there is a lot of PMS vendors in Phoenix and the Southwest. His final words were "we'll just get a bunch of cheap round trip tickets from Tucson to Portsmouth." The more I think about this the cooler it sounds. Waking up and not having to get dressed. Working by the pool with a gin and tonic in hand, working my own hours, getting New England wages for a Tucson standard of living. It would definitely make the move less stressful knowing there is no interruption in gainful employment. And at least technical writing is one step closer to real writing. We'll see what happens. We're officially into spring and it's snowing out. Tucson is sounding better and better. It's been snowing for two days now, occasionally mixed with a hard-driving sleet that slaps to the windows and sticks and freezes on impact.

March 29, 1998 — Portsmouth (Vermont)
Last weekend it snowed all weekend. This weekend it was hot, in the mid-70's! Spring fever hit. We were gonna go to Cape Cod but it was a lot cooler there so we decided to go to Vermont. We headed up through the White Mountains, through Franconia Notch, which is probably the most spectacular topography I have yet to see on the East coast. Saw the "old man", people make a big deal over a rock. We went through Northern Vermont. There was still a lot of snow on the ground there though it was warm. Log cabins, stone fences, big barns, dairy farms, maple trees with buckets attached to them, rolling hills... pretty much what you'd expect of Vermont. Except in some areas most of the trees were falling every which way and had their tops cropped off from the ice storm. We stopped at the Ben and Jerry's "source" and this time went on the tour. Bedder-½ named Jerry's favorite flavor (Doonesbury) and we won a free Cherry Garcia pop.
      Continued on to Burlington. That was a bit of a letdown. Tons of hippie kids, dreadlocks, Birkenstocks, tie-dyed Phish-shirts... never seen such a high concentration in my life. Must be the university. The town was not what we expected, the waterfront is not developed. Kind of trashy looking. Pearl Street (?), the walking street was alright. Being that it was the first nice day everybody and their mother was out and about. I was originally thinking me might spend the night in Burlington but forget that. We had lunch at Mona's. There was a bar-mitzvah going on that was taking up most of the restaurant. Hung out in the sun in front of the capitol. Moved on thinking maybe we'd stay in Middlebury, where they have the Breadloaf writer's conference, but it was nothing special. Pushed on to Killington which was more of a ski resort town, no central downtown, overpriced rooms. There was actually a lot of skiers still— spring skiing. Then we happened upon Woodstock which was way cool. Got a room and went to eat at this place Bentley's which was awesome. It was really old and had a cool feel to it. The town of Woodstock has this river winding through the middle of it. A couple of them actually. Old buildings like Portsmouth. People have Scottish accents and there seems to be a big British influence.
      The next morning we woke up and saw a bunch of covered bridges and waterfalls. Drove
back roads by farms, rolling hills, right along rivers, more covered bridges, ski resorts, stone fences, melting snow, recluse people living off in the middle of nowhere. We were gonna go hiking but the trail we were pointed out went through peoples backyards and stuff and it had clouded up and was sprinkling. Made our way back stopping here and there, in Dartmouth, Lebanon, another covered bridge, distant ski resorts, trees broken by the ice storm. Stopped in Concord for lunch. Nothing special. And back here. Went running out to Newcastle. It's nuts here. They're pouring out of the woodworks. The east coast is just too crowded for me. People everywhere, can't even park the car or walk down the street. In a way we're glad we won't have to spend the summer here and deal with all this.
      Been making a transition over to documentation though I'm still helping Chris D. out with Swiss Boston and I will do the Posadas thing still. I'm learning a lot about Word 97, HTML, creating hyperlinks, etc. Trying to figure out how to organize this clusterfuck of documentation. I'm also considering using Forehelp, which organizes everything in the form of help files. It is almost overwhelming, but a nice change.

cliché covered bridge in Vermont

cliché barn in Vermont

[ ... onward to April—June, 1998]

877 <(current)> 879> Alone in an armchair viewing Alone on the Wall + Crip Camp 2 clear the Q 4 more headroom 2 Quit
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