July 28, 2009

Moped Diaries: Day seven

long awaited by me, probably not by you but what the hell!

A haze hung over my head as I woke up. I gasped at the air of the dark room trying to inhale something fresh at least. I looked around me and I could see nothing but pitch black. A white line traced itself across the ceiling, bumping into the smoke detector and overtaking it like nothing. That line continued across the ceiling running into another thing I couldn't make out. It then hit the wall and then ran down over the frame of a picture and then a canvas pannier. My pannier. I recgonized the initials Z W painted over the front flap. I pulled the sheet off and stood up. A pain ran down my entire spine as I stood and I bent forward from it. Nearly bashing my head into a sleeping lump next to me. I shuddered and stood. I walked to the source of the line and pulled it apart. The curtains squealed as I opened them. I looked before me. A sprawl of green and fog pierced my eye. I looked out beyond the balcony. I saw our two mopeds chained to a pole and ice machine. Strange. I shuffled back to the warm half of my bed and sat there for awhile. I looked around, hoping to perhaps understand what happened last night.

I felt a hand grab at my waistband of my underpants and I reeled back in shock. I looked back towards the bed and saw a slender wrist with a bracelet on it. Several bracelets actually. I looked back at it. I stared at it intently. Cursing it with a slight disgust. We were supposed to meet our girls in Victoria in three days and the last thing we needed was this. I poked Ashton, or at least what I thought was Ashton.

"G'ywer over!"

I was taken aback at the harshness and femineity of the voice. I poked the other lump and then Ashton stirred.

"Wha?"
"Dude! Look."

He turned onto his side and looked. It was a female. Sort of. She was wearing heavy black corset with black satin ribbons here and there. Ashton made up with a start.

"aaagh!"

The black lifeless mold sprung to life.

"Dear god! Where am I?"

Suddenly, the bangled hand sprung to life as well.

"Candy! Where are we?"
"W-who are you two?" I asked.
"I'm Candy Jean and this is Florence. We call her Flo. Only Flo."
"Uh heyeah...."
"Wait. Who are you two?"
"I dont know."
"What you mean you dont know. Aint you two... yous two?"
"I'm Reginald." Ashton made up in a thick British accent.
"Ah, and i'm uh Sid."
"Sure... sure. You guys got any Baileys?"

We both shook our heads. The two girls then exited the room. We stared at each other in complete fear. We searched every trash can for any condoms. The cans were empty. We pulled apart the room looking for evidence of sex. None. As far as we knew.

"How wasted did we get last night?"
"I dont know, enough to lock our bikes to a vending machine and a drain pipe and apparently take those two bats to bed."
"But we didnt.... did we?"
"I dont think either of us did. As far as I knew, I passed out."
"Jesus, Buddah and Holy Zombie Jesus with Joseph Smith on their majestic steed 'Brigham Young'"
"Ditto." I said.

As we checked out, we asked the check out desk if they knew who those girls were. It turns out they were occupants in the room two doors down. We must have accidentally left the door unlocked and they wandered in and slept. We hope.

We loaded our bags and made our way down to the bikes. I tightened the sheepskin collar on my leather jacket and helmet. Ashton had a limp handrolled cigarette in his mouth. I slapped the thing out of his mouth. He looked at me with puppy dog eyes before giving me a 'fuck you' look. We both unlocked our bikes and we soon found ourselves in line for the border crossing. As soon as we made it to the border, a guard in a blue shirt and black hat came up to us.

"Hello Gentlemen. Passports if you please."

We handed them over. He came back out in a minute and then passed them back to us. He told us to enjoy our visit to the great nation of Canada. We finally made it to Canada! It was all so confusing. The liters, the loonies and not seeing US flags everywhere. We dumped our things at the YMCA hotel in Vancouver and locked up the mopeds in the garage. We both looked at each other and couldn't believe we made out to Vancouver after seven days of biking and motoring. We took in the city as much as we could and then returned to the YMCA at 10. The next morning, we would board the ferries then meet our girls in Victoria.

Her Turn

Her forehead touched the cold thick window slightly. Her light blue eyes remained transfixed in one position staring out the window. She wasn't looking at any one thing in particular since the outside was moving so quickly. The plate of food before her seemed to hang in time, neither cold nor warm, but still edible. She sat alone at the table for two with only a few things on her mind. She recalled this trip awhile ago. Years perhaps. She remembered she had taken it with someone she once knew but now rather faded away from her life.

The white-jacketed waiter approached her and the gaze was broken for a moment. She gave him a look of confusion, mixed with a string of apprehension. Then, with a wave of her hand, he took away the plate of food. He came back with a thin apertif menu. She looked it over. Campari, Kahlua, Cointreau, Mt. Gay Rhum. Her brow winced at the sight of these names. She saw one she could handle. He came back with a small schnapps glass with absolute inside it. It eased down her throat and could think of one thing. Caves. She shuddered and grabbed her timbuk2 bag.

Leaving the dining car, she entered her state room, and came out with a heavy sheepskin blanket. She carried the heavy thing with her to the observation car where she had many memories from before. She sat at the table and placed the blanket over her lap, fur side down. Her hand reached into her bag and produced a moleskine sketch book as well as a well worn moose. She pressed its nose to her lips and set it down onto the table. She started drawing, nothing in particular, just drawing. To her, she hadn't drawn in a long time. Her hands trembled as she drew for herself, not for any assignment or business job project. The porter came by at eight and placed a small charoal brazer onto the table. Warmth radiated from it and it was welcoming. The train lurched over a curve, passing over a trestle. The stuffed moose toy flopped onto its side, and the heat from the brazer began to warm it up. Soon, the car was filled with a brilliant, piercing smell of pink grapefruit. Several others in the car turned their heads around in an attempt to discover which of the ladies had walked in.

At ten, the lamps were extinguished. The orange glow from the brazer still spread a blanket of warmth over the booth. She leaned back, easing into her seat and pulled the moose up to her breast. The stars lazily hung overhead as the tips of the conifers rushed by. Her head remained gawking upwards, until it bounced forward. She looked around her. The car was empty except for herself and the porter. He announced the closing of the car and she returned back to her cabin. She climbed into her bunk, turned out the lights and kissed the stuffed moose goodnight.

July 27, 2009

Colonel Lysander's Improved India Ink

Morning in Erie is like no other morning in the world. Every morning, I could hear from the windows, the rumbling of a parade of horse drawn milk carts headed out to the streetcar districts. We in the city called them streetcar districts only because the families who lived in them only were reachable by the streetcar. They were too far off to be considered a part of the city of Erie, but somehow, they still were. I laid on the feather mattress in the dirty bedroom of my little apartment overlooking Columbia avenue. The long double hung window was difficult to cover with a pull down shade so I ended up tacking a white sheet halfway up and then drawing it aside for light. In the next room was my drafting room and kitchen. Beyond that was a small parlor and bathroom. Small was the best way to put it. I sat up and slowly rubbed my eyes, inspecting the rough hairs that had grown on my face over the night. I pulled the striped robe over my shivering frame and shuffled into the bathroom.

I stared into my dirty reflection, presenting each cheek to see the amount of shave I would need. Either way, I would end up at the barbers on the ground floor and shave there. I dressed, and departed. Straw hat in hand, my jacket over my left arm and my vest unbuttoned. I descended the dark stairwell and found myself in the dim arcade of the first floor. I looked towards the end where the light from the street hurt my eyes. I turned into the first shop which was the barbers.

"Morning Jim.
"Morning.
"The usual then?
"You got it." I sat myself down into the morocco leather chair. The barber took several moments to raise the legs and recline the chair. "Today's gonna be another squelcher."
"Eh?
"You know, the weather being and all.
"Ah yeh. Well, it don't get too hot back here in the back of the Arcade.
"Lucky you. I bet those Hungarians who run that dry good shop in the front of the arcade must be jealous of your spot.
"They would be if they wern't doing so well. Dont forget, it's all about location.
"I suppose a dry goods store in the back of an arcade sounds strange." He began to brush the hot thick foam over my face. "But like I said, it's gonna be hot.
"Yeah, well... what can you do?

I shrugged and sat back contemplating as he started to take careful swipes off my face with that straight edged razor of his. His plump face twisted and tightened every so often to indicate how I should shape my face so he could get a clean cut. As he finished, his back was turned to me at the counter. His gleaming white coat was spotless and looked as if it was more fitting in a hospital theater. He came back with a comb and a tin of pomade. He took several slicks and combed my hair back. I figured to fix my tie and collar and thanked him. I fished out a dime and handed it to him and left. As soon as I exited the arcade, the heat had hit me and my hair seemed to melt. It was only 9 in the morning and the heat was unbearable. I decided to leave the coat off and wait for the streetcar. A moment later, a large open California type streetcar rumbled up and I got on.

The car rumbled and squelched as it turned on curves. The brakes would hiss and every so often, the motorman would stomp his foot and a beautiful resounding clang would come from the gong that seemed to be conspicuously absent every time I looked at the cars. I knew one day i'd find them. I arrived at my stop and walked down Hudson street to Ellsworth and Sons Technical Emporium. I always had to stop in here every morning to pick up supplies for work. Always a bottle of Kingston & Reeves brand of Ink and a box of hunt C-4 nibs. Every so often, a pen would break and that would mean I would get to choose a new pen from the hundreds of boxes of holders. I always ended up with the same Hunt wooden thing even though I had the chance to try maybe one of those Paris crooks or a Keuffel and Essel technical resovoir pen. But the same wooden holder and nibs.

I stared at the wall of ink bottles and just felt disgusted. I didn't want to do the same thing every day now. I didn't want to touch the bottle of Kingston and Reeves. I decided to change my life. Change something at least. I looked and scanned about, one bottle catching my eye in particular. It was called Col. Lysander's Improved India Ink. On the lable, there was a picture of some mustashed British toff with a tiger's head over his helmet. I figured, it wouldn't hurt to give it one shot. I grabbed the green glass bottle and paid for my things.

At the studios, I found myself unable to use the ink. I stared at it, and Col. Lysander mocked me back. I pulled a reserve bottle of Kingston and Reeves and worked. Later that evening when I was back safe at home, I pulled out the bottle of Lysander's Improved whatsit and cracked open the top. It was nothing but water mixed with black soot. Improved my derrier.

July 07, 2009

From Best of Craigslist

Whoo-hoo Seattle, the sun is out! Let's discuss a few things before you fumble with swapping the unused ski rack for the unused bike rack on the Subaru.

So yes, you've noticed the sun is out, and hey!- maybe it would be cool to to some bike riding. Let's keep in mind that the sun came out of all 600,000 of us, so for the most part, you're not the only one who noticed. Please remember that when you walk into my shop on a bright, sunny Saturday morning. It will save you from looking like a complete twat that huffs "Why are there so many people here?"

Are we all on the same page now about it being sunny outside? Have we all figured out that we're not the only clever people that feel sunny days are good for bike riding? Great. I want to kiss all of you on your forehead for sharing this moment with me. Put your vitamin D starved fingers in mine, and we'll move on together to some pointers that will make life easier.

SOME POINTERS FOR THE PHONE:

- I don't know what size of bike you need. The only thing that I can tell over the phone is that you sound fat. I don't care how tall you are. I don't care how long your inseam is. Don't complain to me that you don't want to come ALL THE WAY down to the bike shop to get fitted for a bike. I have two hundred bikes in my inventory. I will find one that fits you. Whether you come from the north or the south, my shop is downhill. Pretend you're going to smell a fart, ball up, and roll your fat ass down here.

- Don't get high and call me. Write it down, call me later. When I have four phone lines ringing, and a herdlet
of people waiting for help, I can't deal with you sitting there "uuuuhhh"-ing and "uuummm"-ing while your brain tries to put together some cheeto-xbox-fixie conundrum. We didn't get disconnected, I left you on hold to figure your shit out.

-I really do need to see your bike to know what is wrong with it. You've already figured out that when you car makes a noise, the mechanic needs to see it. When your TV goes blank, a technician needs to see it. I can tell you, if there is one thing I've learned from you fucking squirrels, it's that "doesn't shift right" means your bike could need a slight cable adjustment, or you might just need to stop backing into it with the Subaru. Bring it in, I'll let you know for sure.

- No, I don't know how much a good bike costs. For some, spending $500 dollars is a kingly sum. For others, $500 won't buy you one good wheel. You really need to have an idea of what you want, because every one of you raccoons "doesn't want to spend too much".

FOR YOU INVENTIVE TYPES AND DO-IT-YOURSELFERS:

- Just because you think is should exist, doesn't mean that it does. I know that to you, a 14 inch quill stem makes perfect sense, but what makes more sense is buying a bike that fits you, not trying to make your mountain bike that was too small for you to begin with into a comfort bike.

- If some twat on some message board somewhere says that you can use the lockring from your bottom bracket as a lockring for a fixie conversion doesn't mean that A: you can, or B: you should. Please listen to me on this stuff, I really do have your best interests at heart.

- I love that you have the enthusiasm to build yourself a recumbent in the off season. That does not mean however, that I share your enthusiasm; ergo I won't do the "final tweaks" for you. You figure out why that Sram shifter and that Shimano rear derailleur don't work together. While we're at it, you recumbent people scare me a little. Don't bring that lumbering fucking thing anywhere near me.

A DEDICATION TO ALL THE HIPSTER DUCHEBAGS:

-If you shitheads had any money, you wouldn't NEED a vintage Poo-zhow to get laid. Go have an ironic mustache growing contest in front of American Apparel, so that I can continue selling $300 bikes to fatties, which is what keeps the lights on.

- Being made in the 80's may make something cool, but that doesn't automatically make something good. The reason that no one has ridden that "vintage" Murray is because it's shit. It was shit in the 80's, a trend it carried proudly through the 90's, and rallied with into the '00's. What I mean to say is, no, I can't make it work better. It's still shit, even with more air in the tires.

SO YOU'RE GONNA BUY A BIKE:

Good for you! Biking is awesome. It's easy, it's fun, it's good for you. I want you to bike, I really do. To that end, I am here to help you.

-Your co-worker that's "really into biking" knows fuck all. Stop asking for his advice. He could care less about you having the right bike. He wants to validate his bike purchase(s) through you. He also wants to sleep with you, and wear matching bike shorts with you.

- You're not a triathlete. You're not. If you were, you wouldn't be here, and we both know it.

- You're not a racer. If you were, I'd know you already, and you wouldn't be here, and we both know it.

- So you want a bike that you can ride to work, goes really fast, is good for that triathlon you're doing this summer (snicker), is good on trails and mud, and costs less than $300. Yeah. Listen, I want a car that can go 200 miles an hour, tow a boat, has room for five adults, is easy to parallel park but can carry plywood, gets 60mpg, and only costs $3,000. I also want a unicorn to blow me. What are we even talking about here? Oh yeah. Listen, bikes can be fast, light, cheap and comfortable. Pick two, and we're all good.

ABOUT YOUR KIDS:

Your kids are amazing. Sure are. No one else has kids as smart, able, funny or as good looking as you. Nope. Never see THAT around here.

- I have no idea how long you kid will be able to use this bike. As it seems to me, your precious is a little retarded, and can't even use the damn thing now. More likely, your budding genius is going to leave the bike in the driveway where you will Subaru the bike to death LONG before the nose picker outgrows the bike.

- Stop being so jumpy. I am not a molester. You people REALLY watch too much TV. When I hold the back of the bike while your kid is on it, it's not because I get a thrill from *almost* having my hand on kid butt, it's because kids are unpredictable, and generally take off whenever possible, usually not in the direction you think they might go. Listen, if I were going to do anything bad to your kids, I'd feed them to sharks, because sharks are FUCKING AWESOME.


I hope this helps, and have fun this summer riding your kick-ass bike!

Boredom

I found myself standing at the edge of the ship with my hands clasped to the railing tightly. I drew in a deep breath of the cold night air and let out a scream. Behind me, passengers on their after dinner walks just ignored me and continued on and lights in the staterooms behind also lit up in confusion. No one talked to be for a good five minutes before an official looking person came up to me. I explained to him nothing was the matter and that I just needed to get a scream out was all. He hesitantly understood and walked off. The cool, dark air seemed to envelope me in a comfortable yet chilling blanket. The stars stood out and each one seemed to want to call my name but sat there in the sky, motionless. I plunked down onto an empty steamer chair, reclined and sighed. The varnished teak creaked under my weight as I shifted about endlessly. I stood again, and then untied my bowtie and loosened the vest underneath my jacket. Tweed isn't exactly a handsome look for the steamer Queen Alexandra.

My stateroom was near the front of B deck, right beneath the bridge, but behind the Samba room. In the evenings, I could hear the band playing, the gayeity, the couples laughing and the tigers on the prowl for mates. I dont think I came here to mate. Certainly not on a ship for now... It was later towards the night when I heard an odd thing from outside the cabin. It was a long howl, almost yelling. I switched on my lamp, pulled over a dressing gown and stepped outside. There it was again, that yell. I closed the door behind me, locking it and putting the key in my pocket. I climbed the staircase and found that same officer that looked at me when I was howling, he was now howling. I stood halfway between B and A decks watching, and trying in a sense, to be inconspicious. He looked at me and nodded.

"Does a body good you know."
"Yeah, I do." I responded.
"Sorry for giving you funny looks earlier, but you know how it is. Gotta keep up appearances."
"No no, by all means."

I retreated back to the B deck promenade when I hear a yell again. I looked at one of the clocks that stuck out from the wall. 103AM. Goodness, what a lark.

The next morning, I found myself again at the table that seemed to be unofficially and unceremoniously christened the single gentleman's table. I sat, cherrily with a white china plate piled with sliced pineapples, cooked ham, roasted king edward potatos and corned beef hash. I sat and ate in silence with my newspaper. Around me, there was the buzz of families and conversations in the dining room. Some of the other passengers were dressed in bathing suits and caps and had robes on. As if after eating, they would take a swim in the plunge room. I could imagine a few of them getting cramps half way through a lap of front crawl and then the lifeguard would drag them out and then they'd complain about having their lap interrupted by some underpaid lackey.

On board, things were boring and dull. One could only play so many frames of shuffleboard with Colonel Lysander, or so many rubbers of whist with the ladies who defiantly hung around the men's smoking lounge. Life at sea was like living in the country. This trip would mark the second time i've journeyed from New York to Southampton. Neither trip was as entertaining as the martini girl in the samba room at 8pm. She would walk in wearking only a dress made of balloons with a martini in each hand. Whatever lucky bloke paid enough for one of these martinis would get five seconds with a pin to pop as many balloons as possible. That's ship entertainment for you. The arcade was no better. The stores were mostly botiques for ladies and the one store that did appeal to mens was the ship's barbers. But inside, the usuals frequented their seats, waiting for juicy gossip to spread. In reality, the only thing they talked about was the last baseball game and the scores of college football games of colleges I never went to.

I stepped into the barbershop and the air of hair and musk hit me instantly. I sat in the deep, swinigng, moroccan leather chair and asked for a short back and sides. The barber began to cut my hair, slowly humming a dirge-like tune. His arms had more hair than his head did which was rather discerning, but the cut turned out fine. I paid him, and he handed me a pocket comb as a souviner. I examined the little piece of plastic in my hand carefully. There was a silhouette of the ship imprinted on the side in gold foil with the letters: R.M.S. Queen Alexandra. I thanked him and left.

I came back to my room, and the samba music started up. I walked out, yelled, then fell asleep.

July 06, 2009

Paaschendale

Lars sat quietly, thinking of things to write and put into his sketchbook. The black moleskine sat in front of him, its pages open and bending in the wind from the doorway of the cafe. He sat with a glassy look in his eyes and tapped his pen slowly on the front of his teeth. He drew in a slow breath, allowing for it to linger for a little while inside his mouth, then letting it pass through a small hole between his lips. His eyes drew shut for a moment and he listened. All around him, people where jostling in and out of this cafe. Wannabe divas entered and exited in their large pink coats with matching, quilted leather handbags. Men in business suits had cell phones and large electronic bricks pressed against the side of their heads. Lars could hear them speaking, yelling at some poor lackey in an office basement without any windows. He tried to imagine what spineless little goons were being subjected to this harsh verbal treatment.

For another half hour or so, he listened, keyd into these little private conversations trying to shape a life in his head, then draw the person being talked to in his sketchbook. Faces, frowns, smiles and bodies all appeared in rapid succession of another. They danced across the thick pages, all telling a story before him. Lars sat up. Stared out the window and felt accomplished.

July 05, 2009

Nothingness.

Moers stood underneath the dirty lamp, snowflakes passing underneath it's grimy rays and landing with a delicate touch on the ground around him. It had just started to snow as he stood on the concrete platform waiting for the South Shore interurban. Lackawana station lacked life and certainly a roof. He was returning home after a night out with the guys in town celebrating his friend Dawson's engagement to his childhood sweetheart Linda. Moers chuckled underneath his scarf, the heat of his breath freezing before his face. He waited for another ten minutes when the earth began to shake beneath him. The yellow interurban car appeared in the distance, the headlamp casting a harsh glow about the platform. It slid past Moers and the doors creaked open. He stepped on board and deposited his ticket. The doors closed and the car slid into the night.

He awoke to the sound of bells. Not like church bells, but like a harsh apartment doorbell sort of bell. It was the motorman's station signal waking passengers who needed to get off here. As it pulled into the station, Moers read the sign of the city and uttered out of nowhere, "Who the fuck lives here in Godawful, Minstone, Illinois?" A thin, young man wearing thick glasses stopped right by him, and stared at him. He sat down rather than continuing onto the exits. Moers could feel a sense of hatred radiating from this man as he stared at Moers intentely. He stood once again and started for the door. The light brown of his over coat was dirty around the hem, probably from walking through the streets of Chicago. But the doors shut too soon and he was stopped short of the door and the train lurched forwards again. Moers suddenly felt uncomfortable as the man walked back towards him. He sat right behind Moers and placed his leather case on the chair to his side. Moers peered in between the chairs and tried to glance at the man. His features were youthful and light, but seeming out of place with the thick plastic glasses and frumpled hair.

Moers sat up and turned around. "I take back what I said about Minstone." he said. The man looked back up at him and only uttered two words. "Fuck You." Moers turned back uncomfortably towards his seat. The lights hissed out for a second before flickering back on. Moers peered back again, but this time, the man was gone. The conductor walked past and Moers grabbed his arm. "Where did the guy go that was behind me?" "What man? There is only you and the lady on the train. No one else. No one's gotten on since you." Moers sat forward again and buried his head into his hands.

One Year ago:

It's been a long time since i've last posted here, and there's alot of things I have suddenly become busy with. The last weeks of school of rolled past and right now, i'm putting off this damn paper I should in fact, be writing. But I wanted to look back on an entry from exactly one year ago. This post will mark 371. 71 posts in exactly one year. I should know. On July 4th of last year, I was sitting in a vacation home north of Yountville, writing my pining soul for an ex.

So much has changed since then. I was finishing up my first year of college, working full time at a swimming pool teaching children and lifeguarding, telecasting to Sweden every morning. Funny how life has changed since then. I'm no longer telecasting, I certainly am not swimming anymore, but most of all, my life has changed for myself. I'm no longer letting people rule my life.

I let it happen and I became miserable. I'm not letting the same mistake run me twice.

if there's some way I could just go back in time, I wouldn't. It's over, I have to learn that. But the memory is still there.