Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Walking notes

Lilith and I were heading home on Hui Kelu when a guy in a pick-up truck drove by, baseball cap turned backwards. I thought I caught a flicker of interest, which seemed odd. Then, from the stop sign behind me, I hear "GO CARDINALS!!" and see a shaka sign pushed through the left open window. I was wearing my Bob Gibson (#45) teeshirt and Cards cap.



Two workmen in the cemetery, each with a hand in the mouth of a stone dragon. They'd been talking sound systems in pidgin on our way up the hill. "There's a ball in there; we gotta get em out," says the older of the two. "Da old man got his out already" (a third man stands at some distance apart, laughing). One workman, after working the mouth a while, pulls out a stone ball, the same gray as the statue. "I'm taking it home," he says, before putting it back in the dragon's mouth. The other guy is still trying, his hand still inserted into his dragon's mouth. 



At the top of the hill, in front of the chapel, I'm taking photographs of circles; Lilith and I wander around the three women who walk the cemetery and the man who works there. He looks full Hawaiian. As Lilith and I walk by, the man asks if I'm from here. I say I live in Temple Valley and point in that direction. "No, were you born and raised here?" I say no, but I've lived here 31 years, and my husband longer, that his dad grew up here. One woman says "local." I say at least I can get a kamaaina discount. As Lilith and I move on, I say, "humid today, yeah?" Then add, "I didn't used to say 'yeah.'" 



Monday, September 27, 2021

What begins as boredom, ends in strangeness

27 September 2021

The suburbs are as precisely strange as they try not to be. Late in her conscious life, my mother sat in her dining room to watch the traffic go by. There was precious little. Everyone’s grass mowed, everyone’s driveway a clean asphalt, everyone so clean. On the second try, one neighbor died in his closed garage. On the first, a father turned a gun on himself in the rec room. More mysterious was the dead Filipina maid, found in the back woods with a stocking tied around her neck. The kind pedophile across the street hid himself well. My friend suggests I look for joy, instead. A little boy walks toward me holding out a tiny yellow bulldozer. I say “bulldozer,” and he tries, stuttering on the last two syllables. Lilith guards her mouth where her broken tooth was pulled. Our son makes us ramen when we get home. We watch baseball and soccer, marvel at the path of the ball. When I told the man with a pamphlet in his hand thank you, I have my own spiritual path, he asked if I was Buddhist. He hesitated, then walked away. They walk the shoulders, the men and woman with dim backpacks. We read their cardboard signs when they stop. Some get off the bus and return to a tent city under the freeway. Neat tows of tents, the occasional shopping cart, American flag. When we left the stadium, we passed a man beside a parked car, preaching through a megaphone. We had sinned and his volume proved it. The bus came, and we headed out. No light in these territories, just another conspiracy theory shared with strangers. The man a row ahead of us said he had a religious exemption, but at least he wore a mask. Some of us only get saline, others the chip.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Tacoma - Seattle - Tacoma (Guns drugs and rock n' roll)



After a longish night of someone pounding on our motel door, someone with an artificially high voice who at one point announced self as "housekeeping." Reminded me of the time in Cork when my hostel door was pounded on all night by someone who announced himself as the Taliban. The motel keeper reads Dante and uses Lamy pens.
What we found in a blue sac in the motel drawer. [at least a hundred keys, including a possible bump key; two credit cards, clearly stolen, one owned by the perp (motel keeper figured it all out; the stuff had been there for days); clip of 9 millimeter hollow-point rounds; tiny clear bottle; ear bud container lacking buds; grocery store rewards card.] The perp had been moved out of our room to another, but neglected to take his stuff. In retrospect, I suspect the perp took the identity of the owner of that last credit card . . .
While we talked to the motel manager (reader of Dante and the Tao Te Ching, poet and visual artist) this morning about the ammo clip, stolen cards, and masses of keys found in a bag in our drawer, he mentioned "the Kurt Cobain suite" upstairs. Why is it called that? I wondered. Cobain stayed there, under an assumed name, it seems. He also stayed in another room, but the manager doesn't tell anyone that, because he doesn't want a "double legend" out there. The motel room appears in a documentary about Cobain; years later, a businessman killed himself in that room, and our motel manager friend found the body. So this is what I found: https://nirvana-legacy.com/2014/01/09/a-final-cobain-locale-room-226-marco-polo-motel-april-1994/?fbclid=IwAR0YiRWEZPAQPm9025p9GfBsjevF3Nmb1crcC9ApqlcXG0lkP-NqkZc5uJY
The motel also appears in the documentary about Cobain's last days, which can be watched on YouTube, as we did last night after the Cardinals game: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0989019/ 
And then I found that the airbnb we just checked into in Tacoma is at 4114; the Marco Polo Motel's address is on 4114 Aurora.
We are now in Tacoma with a beautiful view of the Sound, in a house owned by a Belgian former professional tennis player who is a massage therapist and watercolorist. I do not expect to find gun clips here. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Baseball in the time of COVID

At the gate to the Mariner's stadium, TELCOMM PARK, we were told my purse was too big, and Bryant's old green shopping bag could not be brought into the park. Rather than return to Tacoma baseball-less, we made our stuff a lot smaller, stuffing pockets with the contents of our bags, then folding the bags so they could be hidden from the guards. No one asked if we'd been vaccinated. It was 9/11 security for 2021's pandemic. 

The game was interesting, at first. Red Sox and Mariners were tied at 3 for a very long time, however. We'd bought tickets from a guy outside (we paid $20 and the tickets read $12) and ended up in a section full of young professional tech men (two women were in the section, at most, and one disappeared). Most of them had no interest in the baseball game. Had there not been bone-jarring music and constant orders to "GET LOUD!" they might have forgotten where they were. They talked tech and more tech. One guy talked Linux. Sometimes they stood up to talk to their neighbors, while we in back, those of us who were watching the game, were shielded from it. By the time the game was tied in the 8th inning and first one team and then the next threatened, almost all the tech guys left, along with many other "fans." One lone techie threw up his hands, said, "the game's tied!" but that didn't stop the others from leaving.

By extras, the order to GET LOUD! was met only by Red Sox fans, of whom there were many elsewhere in the stadium. The Red Sox scored six runs in the 10th, leaving the Mariners to flounder through their half inning, scoring once due to the stupid new rule that puts a man on second in extra innings. 

By then, gulls had begun to circle the stadium, ducking in and out, then sitting in lines along the roof edge, as if waiting for hotdogs and beer. Which was, in fact, what they were doing; as the stadium emptied, the birds got closer and closer to landing where the trash lay between the rows. One family had put all their trash in a bag and left it near the aisle; everyone else simply left trash every which way. There were no trash cans. Perhaps the 9/11 security aimed to prevent trash cans from being used IRA-style to hide bombs.

We took a bus back to Tacoma. One row ahead and across from me, I heard a man ask his neighbor if she knew about the Beatles. Miraculously, she did not. She was Haitian, she said. He was a white man in a thin black coat, black pants, and a sort of a black leatherish Beatles cap. He said he talks frequently with John Lennon in Argentina on social media. I knew it was the same John Lennon because he said he'd been born in 1940. But mostly, he talked about illnesses and cures. He'd met a Haitian man who'd done a body scan of him, found a deadly disease, and then cured it! 

Took a religious exemption from the COVID vaccine. (He did wear a black mask.) Something about Bill Gates and poison/micro chips. Something about a Rockefeller injecting petroleum products. Vial switching substitutes harmless saline for the poison. Something about herbs. A lot about herbs. Flaxseed oil. His younger brother died; got cancer in his genital area, right where he kept his cell phone, perpetually on. Didn't change his diet, didn't eat the black seeds. The black seeds are important; they're in the Bible and the Koran both. Called cumin. The black seeds will cure you. Buy the turmeric from Hawai`i, not from India, where there's mercury in it. 

Once or twice he acknowledged that no one believed him when he said X. But he said X and X and X all the way back. As we approached Tacoma, his Haitian seatmate became quite vocal. She also had friends who knew about herbs. Her voice got louder, until finally she announced she had to get off the bus. "I am so happy to have talked to you!" she said to the man in black.

He got off later, at UW-Tacoma. Last I saw him, he was staring at the wall across from the bus stop.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Rituals on repeat


12 September 2021

She sat on a bench in downtown Tacoma; leaning over, she had no face, just a layer of hair, lighter at the top, darker where it hung over her neck. Her right arm darted out, sketched a circle in air, then fell to her side. Her left arm followed, in quasi-symmetry. An old man got off the bus, nursing a battered suitcase; headed (I suspect) to the tent city under the freeway. Yesterday, we refused to turn on the television, though the Times offered up Dust Woman’s photograph, who later died of cancer in her 40s. Rituals not of release but of re-run. The young woman’s mother might wish for her arrest, for her arm to stop its windmilling, for her to have a bed softer than the bench. My mother’s mother wanted to be a conductor, flung her arms out to direct radio symphonies. A thin Black man leans back, while his arms push forward, conducting music in a small apartment in a painting. Fans thrust their arms in air as the referee blows another call. Hands express what the face withholds, young woman marking the time of her hallucinations. Outside the museum we saw a parking lot empty except for a rectangular chain link fence, inside the fence a police car. The museum employee said there was a courthouse nearby, which didn't answer the question. A man with my father’s name posts a video of a small terrier dressed in a silver reflective coat, his leash a giant chain. A moment of silence, and then the game begins.

Monday, September 6, 2021

A mass psychosis

6 September 2021

They begged for their lives, but I killed them anyway. The sheriff wishes he could have shot the man to ribbons (read through him like a newspaper), but he walked out of the charnel house, hands in the air. Something went wrong this week, we’re told; last Sunday he attended church and heard God talk to him about saving a girl from suicide. One week since the USA left Kabul, one week since God took this ex-Marine as his death vehicle. God dressed up as methamphetamine and told him to wear body armor, find the woman and child. The Madonna saw death in her baby’s eyes, but at an interval of decades. Newer narratives come faster; lacking nouns, they put verbs at full throttle and fire them. I remember a man took a hammer to the Pieta, but she and her son got fixed, slowly. “He’s evil in the flesh,” the sheriff says. We’d have forgotten Jesus by now, riddled with bullets like the others, buried in a ledger. Body and blood shredded, running down the driveway of a suburban home into the gutters. Hosed out later. We can’t find where his body began, or where it ends; he’s torn from history, turning to kill it. My son dreamed he was pushed into a vat of acid; the one who pushed was himself. On the cross, he had time to integrate their violence. Woman and child had no such luxury. The 11 year old (who will be fine, despite her wounds) told police, “there are three dead people in the house.” The ex-Marine said he was a survivalist.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Hiding a gun in Bleak House?

TSA guy pulled out all my books and leafed through them, including a very tattered Bleak House. I remarked that books are dangerous and then asked if drug runners still use them. Another TSA guy laughed (as my underwear started to spill out). That’s not all, he said. Someone cut a hole in a book and put a gun in there. “Older woman, too.”

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Remembering remembering Afghanistan


During Bush 2 we had a neighbor from North Carolina, a Black man named Kelly who was a Marine (or was it Army) officer. He was quite skeptical of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he'd already served in one of them. He and his Korean-American wife (named Susan, of all things) had two, and then three, beautiful kids. He was shipped off to Afghanistan for many months; when he came back, nearly the first thing out of his mouth was a story about how he'd ordered his soldiers to shoot someone who turned out to be a "friend." Fortunately, the man survived. When I tried to resume our political conversations, he cut me off with, "that's politics, and I don't talk about that." Some time later, he and his family (were) moved to Virginia. I wonder how he's doing now. Another friend, a Vietnam vet, got an email from the VA about coping with mental distress at this time. I found the on-line version. How do you relieve the suffering you have caused to your own and to so many others? One resource listed in the email is the "George W. Bush Institute." I have their contact info, if you'd like to have it. https://www.ptsd.va.gov/gethelp/veterans_coping_events.asp
A current neighbor got airlifted out, and is in Qatar. His husband says he ok, but had to leave some things behind. I hope one of them is the poetry book I gave him when he said how much he enjoys reading poems.