(feeds 26)

12 lb brisket
9 onions
2 lbs carrots
20 crushed garlic cloves
2 shallots
4 cups beef broth
bay leaves

Preheat oven to several million degrees. Make sure your oven has no real setting other than “giant fire”.

Thick chop half the veggies except for the garlic. Splash them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Throw in a large baking pan.

Trim excess fat from brisket. Feed it to your dogs, who will worship you. Poke dozens of holes in both sides of brisket, and stuff garlic cloves in them. rub the brisket with salt, pepper, and sage, and throw bay leaves on both sides, and unceremoniously drop on top of veggies. Cover the whole thing tightly in aluminum foil. Place in oven.

Trust that the recipe you found online a couple of hours earlier that said to not add water or broth wasn’t completely insane, and that it was serious about a six hour cooking time and also forget that your oven, even at its lowest setting, is hot enough to be in an off-color Jew joke.

An hour and a half later, when you’ve more or less forgotten about it, have your significant other point out that it smells “like burning” in the kitchen. Ignore significant other, because they are a lifelong vegetarian, and clearly don’t know what they’re talking about and anyways claims that beef tastes like “wet dog.” Seriously what do they know.

Drink wine.

After another fifteen minutes, when SO again mentions the smell, accuse them of nagging and pull brisket from the oven to prove your expertise. Remember that the internet told you six hours.

Be horrified to discover that the brisket is weirdly cooked, kind of tough and dry and maybe too fatty still. And the veggies are a shitty combination of cinders and mush. Turn off the oven. Panic. Allow brisket to cool. Throw veggies away, let your dog lick the ruined pan.

Wrap in foil, and place in fridge. Quietly freak out for the next 24 hours.

Four hours before Seder begins, thick chop the other half of the veggies. throw them in a large pan. Slice the beef, which you’ve come to hate, why did you think you could throw a Passover, you’re barely even Jewish, FUCK, into thin strips. Lay sliced meat over the veggies. Pour beef broth over the whole thing. Throw some more bay leaves on top. Why not. Wrap the whole thing in foil. Put in the oven. Be annoyed that you forgot to preheat it.

Be 100% aware that Seder is ruined. Know that the brisket is fucked. Try to not check it every five minutes.

About two hours later, nervously pull from the oven. Be genuinely stunned that is seems… perfect? Really? How did that even happen.

Serve more or less immediately.


July 21, 2011

I’ve taken a valium & drank half a bottle of wine in the last hour. Forgive me. I’m having a hard night.

Maria taught me a trick to falling asleep: go through all the events of the day in reverse order in your head, taking special attention to detail, and by the time you go back, oh, say, through two hours, you’re out like a light. I’ve done that twice tonight, the first time waking up to Maria’s gentle snoring and the second time because my roommate is pathologically incapable of turning off the porch light when she’s done smoking, and the porch light shines through my bedroom window, and my unconscious self made the mistake of rolling over and facing the window. After that the annoying depression & anxiety that I’ve been warding off over the last week or so was implacable. Everything from the annoyance of a roommate not taking the time to turn off a light to the fact that my life is, for the first time in I’d say a decade basically directionless to the minutae of realizing that somehow I’ve still forgotten to renew my car’s registration. Nothing that can be fixed at 2 a.m., and certainly nothing that really, in the end, means anything, but still. I hate that loop. You can’t get away from it and you can’t get through it, and frankly, after going through the day’s events twice I was so bored by them that they made me too angry to deal with a third time.

So I read a book. “Wild Sheep Chase” by Hiroko Mitsu-something-Japanese. And started to read “Don’t Point that Thing At Me” by a British guy. I’ve been reading a lot lately. A lot a lot. In the past week I’ve read something like four entire books, a spree I’ve needed, I suppose, but the fact that I’ve put away something like 1,200 pages in a week says something depressing about the amount of spare time I’ve had on my hands. Or of the amount of time that I’ve been actively working towards not thinking about things. Or even more succinct, the amount of time I’ve spent focussing on the fact that I really don’t have anything, really, worth thinking about.

Austin, for all the family and friends I have here, is hot. Hot like it’s trying to prove something. Hot like the city is trying to make people prove that they can live here despite itself. And at this point, 6 (7?) months after moving back home for what was ostensibly a three- to four-month vacation from thinking, I’m more or less trapped indoors, terrified to go outside for more than the amount of time it takes me to drive to the next nearest air-conditioned location. Even air-conditioning is starting to wear on me. For the last near-decade- hell, even longer, air-conditioning was something that I didn’t even think about as I amassed a stellar collection of various colored hoodies. Now I’m rocking two pairs of cutoffs and a selection of tank tops as I sit in my house doing the bare minimum to get by.

According to local legend, Maria made up the word “chooching.” It means “to masturbate while crying, “which beats hell out of cry-eating but still, and it makes for a rather impressive image of someone feeling sorry for him- or herself and doing nothing about it. I, now, am feeling deeply, pathologically choochy. I may have used “pathologically” earlier in this post. I don’t care.

It looks like this: since I was, I dunno, 18? 19? I’ve been moving at a breakneck pace toward something. That thing may have been anything from stupid youthy let’s-see-what-happens-if-I-do-this to being medium feted by media outlets both locally in SF and nationally (and maybe internationally, as I dunno the extent of the reach of Maxim & Daily Candy & whatnot) as a driving force in the (lets face it) totally irrelevant world of candy manufacturing. But I’ve always had a driving thing going on. Keeping me distracted from the hideous denial of death BS. I came here, to Texas, to not think for a minute. I’d worked hard and went through a lot and needed a respite from the life I’d made in SF. There had been drama. And familiarity. And boredom. And Austin seemed like a natural next step, but only as a launching pad for my next venture, whether it was business or romance or a career or a suicidal crash-n-burn or whatever. Something was fucking bound to happen next. That was December first. It’s getting scarily close to August, meaning that a) I can no longer say “oh, I just moved here from SF,” and b) it’s starting to scare the shit out of me that there’s no impending other, that I’m just spinning my wheels in a way that looks suspiciously like killing time. I don’t believe in killing time. As someone who’s been having mid-life crises on a near-yearly basis since I was 15, my therapist says I’m more aware of my own mortality than the average person. Killing time is like an acceptance of death. It’s black & morbid & antichrist to me.

So I’m stuck. No sense of a “what comes next” other than hobbies. I’m homesick. I didn’t know what homesick even MEANT until recently. SF was my first home since my father dropped me off at the Westlake HEB when I was 15 and told me I could’nt come home again.

I miss my friends, my crew. Damien, Andy, Carinna, Hunter, Greg, Jaime, Simone, Sydney, Lauren, Alex, William, Justin, everyone I’m forgetting in the moment to mention, fucking San Francisco. I miss the gays. I miss their vitality. I miss the sense of being in a place that is bigger than me and more important than me and that would be culturally creating a spectrum that made sense to me and would welcome me, even if only for a moment. Maybe I should move to New York. Maybe I should develop a drug addiction. Maybe I should move to LA. Maybe I should expatriate and disappear.

I hate birds. They’re mean, because they’re stuck being a near-reptile that almost-but-can’t-quite- realize emotions other than the easy, negative ones. They’re awful. And I get it. I’m smart- people tell me that all the time. I’m quick witted, if not educated in any way that matters, and had I had the support or the internal wherewithal to do something educational I could have been a thing that required a cute acronym- M.D., esq.- but I didn’t and I’m stuck with this hideous mediocrity that I’ve made for myself. No apologies- I’m on benzodiazapines and I’m chooching. I feel fucked. I feel directionless. I feel like I’ve wasted my life thus far and that I’m smart enough to realize that but not quite smart enough to realize the things I should do to make my life not a wasted thing. At 33 I feel like I should give up. Halfway through is long enough to realize that you’re not going to succeed. I’m hostile because I don’t quite have the intelligence to be otherwise.

So the fear is this. I have some money. It’s not all liquid but who cares. Nono fuck that. That’s not the thing.

What’s the thing.

The thing is that I want to go to sleep at night, knowing that I’ve done literally the best I can with what I have and that I can be something to somebody in a way that matters, not like historically, but in the small and short term, maybe help a person who can help people in a way that matters (I’m clearly never going to do a thing that matters in any way other than short-term and in a helper role to a person who might help people down the road, I’ve been so selfish, too self-centered, too… too i don’t know what), and I literally, right now I can literally not begin to imagine that I can offer more than a second-party party-time distraction to anyone. That I can offer anything, really, to anyone other than a kind word or a shoulder or a laugh. I’m fucking miserable, not because of anyone else but because the biggest fear I’ve had in my life, for as far back as I can remember, is failure, and I’m so scared. I’m so, so, very deeply scared, that I’ve succeeded in my biggest fear, and that here on out it’s just consequences of that accomplishment.

I don’t even know if this is coherent.

I just want to get to sleep.

I wish there was more wine in the house. Or valium. Maybe there is, a bit.

I wish it weren’t so hot out.

I wish I had an idea of what to do next.

I wish I had a dick joke punchline that would make this post a little more palatable.

Is there anything more deep-down, absolutely filthy-dirty than cyberstalking the lives of the people you knew as a child and fell out of touch with? There are few behaviors that I catch myself indulging in that make me feel a real-time need for showering and absolution. But it’s fascinating. I’ll be telling a story to Sim1, something off the cuff about someone I knew in third grade, and before I know it it’s gone from a totally innocent anecdote to a deep and pretty thorough investigation of what that person has been doing up to the present time.

My last images of so many people stop dead before they had ever had the chance to start losing baby fat, or their hairsprayed-high bangs. And in a few keystrokes the cliffhanger of “I wonder what happened to…” is completely tidied up (faster and cleaner than the writers of LOST could ever pray to be), and I know who has had umpteen children, who got ugly, who loves Sarah Palin, whose little sister turned into a smoking piece of white-hot trash that you would just about give a nut to play beer pong with.

Oh my god it feels so good.

My elementary and middle school years were spent attending a learning facility that was so deeply and crazily religious that one marvels at our never having been visited by the ATF. Creationism was taught in science books, a fake Vietnam vet taught Geography, and teachers would proudly boast to fourth graders about their hand-to-the-Lord spanking paddle made out of a fucking breadboard. Somehow these things were acceptable.

The school wasn’t so much built as it was thrown together on top of a landfill. It was a series of used trailers connected by wooden decks. The restroom structure slash locker room had a peculiar smell of mildew, urine and some kind of bulk-purchase cleaning agent that I can still almost remember. Many members of the school board had a well-thought-out plan for the Tribulation and the Return of Jesus Christ. It was basically the worst imaginable combination of Bible-Belt intellect and redneck aesthetics.

(Honestly, the only thing it really had going for it was that it had, and I mean this sincerely, the greatest playground I have, to this day, ever seen. The playground was in and of itself worth several thousand words. It was a mess of tires, wood, and gravel, and there were limitless ways for kids to kill themselves. I have clear memories of no less than two compound fractures happening right in front of me. I, personally, lost at least a quart of blood. That playground was fucking heaven.)

I was, and this isn’t paranoia, it’s just casual- “hey, yeah, so this happened…”- I was one of a handful of kids who was more or less singled out as deep-down bad. This sucks in a school of thousands, but it is literally devastating when your entire school consists of <100 kids, you’re in third grade, and acting out in any way carries the threat of not just remarkably painful corporal punishment but eternal hellfire to boot. It’s funny: I can look back at moments in my elementary school and say, with the clarity of adulthood, “holy shit! I had a full-blown nervous breakdown in fourth grade!” or, “Huh. I was problem drinking in sixth grade.” (The latter more amazing in that I was called out for it by my first period Spanish teacher, meaning faculty knew I was showing up drunk for first period, and they very literally did nothing about it.) Being pulled out of Christ Community Christian School and placed in a shitkicker public school in Bastrop, Texas for my freshman year was a huge step up. I mean, sure the guy teaching Lit went by “Coach” and his way of teaching the Arthurian legends was to make the class write a paper on the film version of the musical Camelot, but hell-o fossil record!

One can imagine how incredibly sweet it feels to see people that were just complete and total assholes, just horrible fucking abusive shitty fuckholes, self-righteous wastes of humanity who thought absolutely nothing of being overtly and publicly cruel to children, looking sad and old and broken on Facebook. I just love it. (Just after typing that I looked up the principal of the school. He’s part of a group called “we can find 1,000,000 people who don’t believe in Evolution befor June “ (sic). My heart leapt. Also: he’s teaching Physics at a Baptist Academy. The hits keep coming.)

But here’s the part about cyberstalking that fucks with me (a part, anyways. There’s lots of parts about it that are seriously one heavyhanded metaphor away from being a Cronenberg film). I’ve seen several people now that I watched- “rebel” isn’t the right word, more like “get thrown into survival mode”- by the aforementioned “horrible…fuckholes”, who had pretty nearly the same narrative I did- from CCCS to Bastrop to being thrown out of their home to being party kids and sort of struggling to figure out the right combination of behaviors that would let them get by in a world they were never once actually prepared for in terms of human interaction and love and freedom and consequences- and on their info page, a lot of them have “Christian” as their “Religious views,” and “Conservative” for politics.

I cannot begin to start to wrap my head around that.

Not that I have a problem with Christianity. I don’t. Jesus was, as Eddie Izzard said, “a guy who had interesting ideas in the Gandhi-type area, in the Nelson Mandela-type area, you know, relaxed and groovy.” Jesus I can get behind. However, I find the number of the above-mentioned people I’m seeing identifying with a religion that so painfully kicked the crap out of them as kids- and then again as teens- disturbing. And conservative to boot! Not the relaxed and groovy, love your neighbor as yourself Christian, but the kind that thinks that gay people are somehow twisted, the kind that think that Muslims are inherently dangerous, the kind that fight against needle exchange programs, the scared and angry and mean kind. The kind that sees no irony in joining a Facebook group that denies both evolution and spellcheck software.

I understand the need for spirituality in your life. Everyone needs some kind of Great Big Thing that they can use to make their life feel like it has some meaning. Jesus, Buddhism, Scientology- me, personally, I went with sex & drugs- whatever works. That’s cool. But to not have gone anywhere. To be, in your thirties, philosophically right where the bastards were when you were looking up at them and wondering how you could ever get to be that old, when you hated them and what they stood for and how they treated you, when you worked so hard to rail against that ideology and gain your independence as a person… what happened to you? They weren’t pursuing you. They didn’t even want you. What was the moment when you drove up to a church, went inside, and declared yourself a “Conservative Christian?” Do you even know what that means? Have you really thought it through? The only thing I can see it as is recidivism. But criminal recidivism makes sense- when you go through the system you’re fucked and you end up basically being forced into criminal life, loop, the end. Addiction I understand. We’re hard-wired for chemical dependency. What’s your excuse? It can’t even be attributed to laziness since you had to actually take steps to join your church. You didn’t just fall back into it.

Although, come to think of it, I bet you’re cold appalled when you cyberstalk me. And you know you do.



February 25, 2010

Sim1’s taking her psych rotations in school, which means that I’m absorbing just enough information to be terrified but not enough to do anything with. For example: true fact- 1 in 100 people becomes schizophrenic. Which, I’d say, with nothing at all scientific backing me up, is about the same odds of getting a parking ticket on any given day in San Francisco. I, personally, have gotten dozens of parking tickets. Take away from that what you will.

It gets better, though. Prime age for onset of schizophrenia is between (something like) 24-35. However, lest I worry, Sim1 consoles me: “Don’t worry. You don’t have any of the warning signs of schizophrenia.”

A couple of drinks later: “Oh, hey, Sim, so what, exactly, are the warning signs of schizophrenia?”

Sim, sheepish: “There aren’t any.”

So there’s that to add to my list of things to quietly spaz out about during downtime.

But that’s not the point. The point is this. Lately I’ve begun getting nervous about nighttime. I hate it. Not always, but frequently enough that it’s worth mentioning, the sun goes down and I start to feel fidgety and purposeless. I have nothing to distract me in any meaningful or pleasurable way. I tweak on my imperfections and insecurities and I worry about nightmares. I have nightmares. Big bad ones about failure and dental decay and gutshot wounds and fear. I wake up and get out of bed and realize that there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do and the whole world’s asleep and I’m mentally spun but physically exhausted and in three hours I’m supposed to wake up anyway so why not just lay in bed and rest. And I ultimately pass out again to wake up tired but otherwise feeling fine because it’s daytime and I have shit to do.

In hospitals, it is far from uncommon to have patients who go from being pretty all around normal during the day- that is, socialized and nice enough but generally miz because they’re in a hospital- to full blown crazytown at sunset. The staff term for these people is “sundowners.” I don’t know if that’s standard medical jargon or if it’s just nurse patois, akin to waitstaff saying they’re “in the weeds.” It doesn’t matter, really- it’s a beautiful & evocative word and Simone made a hugenormous mistake ever letting me hear it. Because my favorite solipsist (get it?) immediately internalized it and made it his own.

In the past, a solid workout guaranteed me a good night’s sleep. I usually didn’t even need that. In fact, in kindergarten I was awarded “best napper,” which, coming from a kindergarten as prestigious as mine was, allowed me to crib from Jay-Z and declare myself “Best napper alive.” But that doesn’t do it when my hypochondriacal-sundowning kicks in. Then I’m just sore and unable to stop fretting about, say, my teeth falling out.

What tends to work is booze, but that’s a SUPER SCARY path to head down- I’d rather be a drunk because it’s fun to drink vs. be a drunk in a self-medication sense, which is totally unsexy. Meditation is garbage (that is, it’s garbage for me; I know it works for other people, and I’m jealous). Reading just means I stay up all night reading. My constitution giggles at Melatonin. Video games seem to make it actually worse. I don’t take therapy seriously. Jesus doesn’t want me as a sunbeam. So: suggestions? What gets you through your own, personal Nietzschean Long Dark Teatime of the Soul?

PS not a cry for help. I’ll put the razor and the blood thinners down, though, if they’re making you nervous.

taquito enlightenment

November 22, 2009

Quick news:
– Me & Sim1 are signing a lease tomorrow morning! Our new home will be at Baker & Page, around the corner from several fine drinking establishments, some shitty stores, millions of tourists, a great movie theater, and Golden Gate Park. Rent will be $800 less than we’re currently paying, though our home will be two-thirds smaller. Oh & it’s on the B2B footpath, so I’ll have even fewer reasons to check my inhibitions on that glorious day. I seriously cannot wait to run Bowie through GGP.
– It’s safe to say that I’ve successfully quit smoking. It’s been weeks, I barely crave the little fuckers anymore, and I’ve started having smoking dreams, which are mostly guilt, and tend to mean that I even acknowledge I’m through on a subconscious level. Also I can get drunk & not smoke, which is a huge milestone.
– Me & Russell’s new business should be officially open on Tuesday, and we’ve somehow already had sales from hyperenthusiastic customers who somehow found our site. Yay! More on that soon.

But this post is about none of these things.

Two nights ago I decided I wanted to get really, really, horribly, hungover-so-bad-that-you-seriously-question-everything-you’ve-ever-done-because-it-led-you-to-this wasted. And, somehow, I failed. Couldn’t get anyone on board, somehow. Ended up watching No Country for Old Men and turning in early. So yesterday I decided I was going to get wasted no matter what and I started drinking early and my memory is spotty at best after, say, 8pm, and thank god my wife doesn’t mind watching after me (or driving).

(Point of interest: I did the walkthrough of the new apartment and met my new landlord while drunk. People not knowing I’m drunk is my urban ninja skill, and it worries me, because I don’t try to hide the fact that I’m drunk. Apparently I always act that way. Whenever I get in touch with people the next day to see if I need to apologize to anyone for anything, like drinking all their vodka or making out with their wife or offending a large group of people who I’d never met before and wasn’t even talking to, anyway, people tend to say something along the lines of, “Really? You were drunk? I had no idea.” Which explains my future fiery death in a drunk driving accident after someone hands me the keys to my car when I have a BAC of 10.5. Apparently I was charming, a mohawked Dean Martin, and the landlord loved me.)

So anyway I didn’t really eat anything yesterday, but I drank a LOT of bourbon. It’s noon now, and I still reek. I’m a little grossed out by me, and I want a second breakfast of more French toast.

(Another point of interest: I’ve discovered, in my older/wiser years, that the best hangover food in the world is French toast. It’s got protein in the egg batter, the bread acts like a sponge in your churning gut, the syrup makes your glucose levels spike, and if you end up having to vomit it’s one of the less offensive meals to have to taste a second time.)

I’ve had worser hangovers, sure. That’s not the point. The point is that one the way to the French toastery, Sim1 stopped into a 7-11 to buy her wobbling, whining husband some Advil. I stayed outside. I couldn’t deal with fluorescent lighting, and the cold weather felt good. While Sim1 was inside, I saw this:

And my mind broke. I thought I was hallucinating, or that the world had gone crazy. There are so many things wrong with this ad that your mind basically won’t let you look at it for long enough to comprehend how intrinsically wrong the ad is. It’s too big for comprehension. You just scan it, think “Hey, taquitos!” and get on with your life. I must have looked hilarious, barely able to stand, in the cold, and engrossed in a shitty taquito ad.

Lets go over it, though, because holy shit.

  • First of all, seriously what the fuck could Sherlock Holmes and taquitos possibly have to do with one another? There is exactly zero common ground. I promise you that there will not be a scene in the Sherlock Holmes flick where Downey turns to Judd and says, “Watson! Quickly! Hand me that taquito!” Maybe, maybe this would work for like coffee or something. But taquitos?
  • Also, the tagline. “Get a clue.” A taquito clue? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN. What should I be clued into? That taquitos cost $.99? Is that a sale price? Is it a good deal? I’ve never, as far as I can remember, bought a taquito, but I can’t imagine paying more than a dollar for one. Maybe if it was a bad pun: “Get a taqueCLUE.” Maybe then it would have some direction.
  • Holy god are those things filled with smegma? They are straight up coming out of darkness and are full of spoiled cottage cheese or something. They are foreboding taquitos. They are frightening, and maybe even evil. They are not meant to be consumed. And yet their name is written in wacky font, which is in such sharp contrast to the somber feeling from the rest of the poster that it makes the whole thing feel psychotic. This juxtaposition is why serial killers dressed as clowns is infinitely more frightening than serial killers not dressed as clowns.
  • Robert Downey Jr. is not just a smug asshole in the photo, he is a preternaturally smug asshole. This makes me question his motivation in selling me these taquitos. What is his ulterior motives? And where is the other half of Watson’s golf club?
  • This poster is like a zen koan. The longer you concentrate on it, the more likely you are to realize that there is no correct answer. There is no sense to be made. The flag flapping in the wind is as much my mind as my mind is a flag in the wind. There is no spoon. And standing there, sick, dehydrated, and weak-minded in the cold, drizzly, hungover morning, I came as close as I ever have to breaking through the doors of perception- and what I saw was Robert Downey Jr., looking like the supreme dickhole emperor of douche, trying to get me to eat smeggy, fried, 7-11 food. And I am afraid.

    Nicaragua Day 6

    September 1, 2009

    I landed in Managua to the instant hell of dealing with cab drivers in a new country. Being the freshest meat (which, you know, I always try to be), gets cab drivers´ bloodlust high, so I turned right around and tried to get an immediate flight out to the Corn Islands, little lumps of supposedly Caribbean paradise. After my first embarrasing Spanish conversation where I used up almost all of my vocabulary:

    * Cuanto cuestas ona ticketa por Corn Islands?
    * No comprende, lo siento.
    * Que?
    * Lo siento, soy idiota.

    I ended up speaking to a woman who spoke English and who sold me a ticket for the next day- flights were getting filled up quickly as the Crab Soup Festival was two days away. So I`paid gringo tax and got overcharged for a trip to a cute backpacker hostel (The Managua Backpacker Hostel), where I plopped down onto a dorm bed, took a shower, and immediately hopped a cab with an awkward German girl to check out a nearby active volcano. Which was cute, but I overestimated my ability to be touristy after a Valium-and-whisky laden redeye flight and I promptly passed out in the cab, waking up at a huge sulphurous crater covered in parakeets and crowned with a gigantic cross as a long time ago it was pretty common knowledge that this was the mouth of hell. I didn´t pay enough attention to the series to make a Buffy joke here, so I won´t.

    I then passed out in the cab again and refused to get out to go look at a lagoon in the rain, ignored the painful attempts at flirtation from the German girl, and rather than give in to my innate need for sleep I simply drank a ton of rum with some snarky New York kids, didn´t make out with either of them, and passed out in a room kept at a brisk 10 degrees, meaning that a room full of backpackers in a tropical country were sleeping in several layers of clothes.

    I flew out to Greater Corn island in a propeller plane that didn´t inspire anyone to feel any sense of safety. Not only did no one wear seatbelts, but no one bothered to ask the passengers to do so. The sense I got was that there was a certain futility of instant death if anything went wrong so we may as well be as comfortable as we could be. When we landed two hours later I discovered that somehow in the course of a nonstop flight covering less distance than the SF-LA trek, the airline had lost my luggage. But I was in the Carribean! Fuck it! Go with the flow, check back in a few hours, everything irie.

    Great Corn is a little island with one road that goes around the whole thing that you can drive in less than 10 minutes. All the cars you see are cabs and all trips cost $.75 no matter what. The cabs blare raga, several songs of which I memorized over the next hour as I went from no vacancy to no vacancy hostel- The Crab Soup Festival, remember? Something about freedom from slavery, and crab soup. I asked a lot of people about it, but the sense of civic pride was such that that was pretty much the best explanation I could get. But. The explanations came in this adorable Carribean patois that sounds exactly like you want people in the Carribean to sound: ¨Yaaaa, bwaa. Slaves, dem was freed, so we eat on da crab soup. Bumbaclot, yaaaa, bwaa.¨ I asked several different people over the next few days what, exactly, ¨bumbaclot¨means, and the best explanation I got was, ¨Bumbaclot! Is like Jamaica, yaaa!¨ So now you know.

    I ended up drinking with a cab driver, figuring that as the only white boy on the island (true!) my best bet was to use the game plan that only backfired a little when Simone & I were in Bankok, that is, get a local wasted and see what happens, and what happens in Great Corn is you end up at a super dark aluminum shack playing an odd combination of reggae and pop country music and wondering exactly how much time is going to pass before you get stabbed. But then I met a super cute little gay 21-year-old (he looked like the token hispanic from That 70´s Show, only in the first season) from Managua who spoke English about as well as I speak Spanish, so hitting on him went like this:

    Jason: Fuckit. You like boys, no?
    Kid: Que?
    Jason: Ummmmm. Te gusta hombres?
    Kid: (suspicious) Why you ask this?
    Jason: Do you want to come to my hotel?
    Kid: Que?
    Jason: (getting a little exasperated) Vaminos my hotel.
    Kid: Ahh. Yes. I would like this.

    So that was fun. It turns out that he´s actually a cop in Managua! And he got offended when I started giggling about this. But seriously. The idea of this fey little soft spoken critter trying to arrest someone in a country that Columbia uses as a coke mule was just hilarious. He left, I read for a bit, and went to bed.

    I woke up at 7 to my cab driver friend waking me up (the fuck?) and asking for $200 Cordobas (about USD $10) for gas money. I was so not amused. I told him to fuck off and went back to sleep.

    I woke up and went to the Crab Soup Festival. I ate soup. Pretty much the end. It was like a church dinner with maybe 300 people in attendance. Oh! And the kid was there, covering the event for a Managua news station. I left, and caught a flat bottomed speedboat to Little Corn, a 1.5 km long island an hour farther out that has no cars, great diving, and so much lobster that it comes to like $3 for a huge lobster dinner. And bazillions of crabs. Walking through the jungle with a little penlight I got mugged by several fearless crabs that were I´m not making this up like eight inches tall. I did not know that one could be scared of crabs. One can. What´s more, the little bungalow I was staying in (a mosquito netted thing that was essentially a sauna with bedbugs) was, and this is true as well, infested with crabs. Waking up to the skritching of exoskeleton on concrete below you bed is like having your worst childhood scifi nightmares come true. The horror, the horror. I was up at 6 am- I didn´t sleep, really, and skipped a shower for a hop in the ocean before heading to the other side of the island to get a room with air conditioning, wondows that close, and no motherfucking crabs, and then to take my first scuba lesson.

    Holy god scuba is fun. I ended up taking two hourlong dives, swimming with manta rays and nurse sharks and Canadians. I´m a little obsesed, and want to take more lessons. Afterward I went to a BBQ with most of the island in attendance, about 30 people, where I was introduced to both a group of the most deadly dull dreadlocked German girls and Plata Rum. While I was drinking the rum, which costs about $4 per bottle, if you can imagine, and has notes of both lighter fluid and rubbing alcohol, one of the divers I´d been hanging out with turned to the guy standing next to him and said, and I quote, ¨Plata Rum- isn´t that what Sarah was drinking the night she went blind?¨Apparently it was. Everyone headed over to the lone reggae bar to ¨dance¨which was a bunch of sitting around and shuffling until I got drunk enough that my annoyance with everyone turned into taking action and demanding that everyone start dancing. ¨Look at yourselves,¨ I yelled at the Germans. You´re in Tevas and you have dreadlocks and you´re in the fucking Carribean at a goddamned reggae bar and you´re not dancing!¨ It worked, but it had to be repeated every other song before I gave up and started just dancing with the islander girls, women who I would be generous if I said they were ¨big¨ but who had zero compnctions about dancing their asses off with the retarded white bwaa. I finished the bottle, stumbled back to my hotel and passed out.


    Wait. Back up. Did I mention that all the banks on Greater Corn were closed for Crabby Freedom and that there aren´t any ATMs on Little Corn? I had USD $20 to my name and a totally worthless credit card (the phone lines weren´t working). Also I´d scheduled a return trip to Managua at 8am the next morning, which meant I had to catch the motorboat ferry thing by 7. I figured fuck it, put aside the CD$110 (USD $5.50) for the boat and the $.75 for the cab to the airport and went for broke, spending everything else on beer and fish and rum and billiards.

    And I woke up, based entirely on my internal clock, in a state of panic at 6.50 am with a splitting, vicious, eye-bleeding hangover and still a little drunk and freaking the fuck out and throwing everything I could find in my bag and running in flipflops(I forgot my bathing suit and Lonely Planet), sweating rubbing alcohol and smelling fetid and so, so confused because nothing really made sense and I barely made it in time to the boat, which was flat bottomed and slamming down after each wave for 55 minutes across choppy water so my spine compressed and I cried a little bit and I realized suddenly how thirsty I was but was surrounded, as the old saying goes, by water everywhere and not a drop to drink. And the boat docked and I was so confused that as I was walking to the taxi after butting on both my backpack-backpack and my daypack I got stopped by one of the guys from the boat who kept saying, ¨Lifejacket, lifejacket!¨ but I couldn´t figure out why until he started pulling on my chest and I realized that I was still wearing the bulky, bright blue lifejacket from the boat and the cabdriver started pointing and laughing at me but I got in his cab anyway and he drove me to the airport where I was painfully aware of how I smelled and the state of my clothes (filthy), and the oilyness of my sweat and how goddamned thirsty I was and I gave the guy at the airport my bag and they took my ticket and then this evil, hateful Caribbean woman looked my in my veiny, dry eyes and said, ¨Dere is a two dolla tax to leave the airport.¨

    I was stunned. I was literally out of money with no chance to get more and my luggage was already on the plane. I stammered. I rummaged frantically through my daypack looking for change. She said, condescendingly and rightfully so, ¨Maybe you get a lawn from somebody.¨ So I started asking people for money. I was that guy. The hideous, smelly, dirty gringo American in a foreign country bothering the squeaky-scrubbed clean other tourists for money, promising to pay them back so much more as soon as we landed. And a woman gave me two bucks and I wanted to hug her but I was untouchable and was so grateful yet I understood that touching her would be an insult and I sat and waited to board the plane. And I found 30 Cordobas in change and used it to buy a red Powerade which I drank quickly, praying for either hydration or death and I got on the plane and fell asleep and had a dream about having a hangover so bad that I was throwing up and I woke up and I realized that my dream was true, I was about to puke to death and I grabbed the barf bag anf yakked up the entire bottle of unreal, artificially bright red Powerade and there was no bathroom or trashcan on the plane and I was shaking, literally shaking, and suddenly cold and I had to hold my bag of liquid vomit on my lap like a caricature of Chinese takeout and I was humiliated and sad and I started crying again, filthy and smelly and holding puke and oily and weeping and I fell asleep and when we landed I dealt with the taxi/fresh blood conundrum and I stopped at an ATM for the security of holding money (and I couldn´t find the saint who gave me $2 and I desperately wanted to pay her back, to prove that I wasn´t really that guy, that I was just having a particularly rough morning but I couldn´t and in her mind I will always be), and I was planning on heading over to San Juan Del Sur but I couldn´t bring myself to be in any more transit and I was still so thirsty so I drank a quart of water, showered, and slept for several hours and it was the worst hangover I´ve ever had and I kind of love how horrible it was.

    PSA: don´t drink Plata Rum.

    I woke up feeling great, had a long phone call to Simone, who is coming on Tuesday and I can´t wait to see her and have her talk to people for me, and then I went out with a gaggle of sex-crazed Peace Corps girls who told me filthy stories and were drinking Plata even though I told them the above cautionary tale, so I had some too because éveryone was jumping off the cliff and I don´t really learn from my mistakes. And we all made plans to go to Leon this morning and I made out a little with one of them but was honestly not interested so I went to bed and when I woke up at 9am they were all gone, horny thieves in the night so maybe I´m not as charming as I thought they thought I was. So I hopped a bus to San Juan Del Sur after all and here I am and it´s great and I´m going to be here for a few days, learning to surf and watching turtles and shit.

    Wish you were here. I´m kind of loving every minute.I´m actually having the time of my life- but bitching is so much more satisfying, no?

    fuck you, Franklin.

    August 7, 2009

    Last night I had dreams of suicide and muggings. Separate dreams. In the first I was literally just sitting there with a gun, weighing the pros & cons and putting it in my mouth to see how it felt. It did not resolve itself. I woke up, peed, and went back to sleep. Then I was walking along a seedier area of Austin, alone, at night. When I was held up at gunpoint by two kids I somehow disarmed them and sent them running.

    I woke up at 5:30 to Simone getting ready for clinicals. I have no idea how she does this twice a week. She was in scrubs as I pulled myself downstairs, naked and cold, steadying myself with both the wall and the bannister and still nearly managing to fall down twice. I was starving. This is common this week as I’m taking a month from eating dairy, sugar, meat, and flour, supposedly to help me stop smoking as I think that having generalized cravings for everything will help me not focus on specific addictions. It’s not working. But whatever.

    Breakfast was an overpriced “raw cereal” I bought from Berkeley bowl yesterday. I forget what it’s called but it meets my criteria and has the consistency of Grape Nuts and hatred and it has raw cacao in it. A true life definition of Cocoa Pebbles. Cacao Gravels. I felt that all my teeth were about to break.

    It’s too early by several hours to accomplish anything. My power cord for my laptop broke during a kitten attack and all my Lollyphile assets are on it, as is my stolen copy of Photoshop, so I can’t get the labels I need to make made until the used Mac crap store opens to buy another. And I haven’t got the patience to handle customer service emails so I’m tweaking.

    I’m remembering a time, I must have been 10, when a friend of mine- I think his name was Rod, poor thing- and I went into a closet together to make our penises touch because we were convinced, somehow, that it would make an electrical spark. It didn’t. Science is hard & fuck you, Franklin. Perhaps we should have taped a metal key to our nutsacks. Not sure why I thought of this. But it’s clear as day.

    That’s all. My brain is now empty.


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