Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rainclouds and Cigarettes: Prologue


It was a long drive through Mississippi today. The van is enormous. I've never drove such a beast before, though I of course lied and said that I had. By the end of this month, I will have become one with the machine. I am the American Dream.

I enjoy reading aloud the names of towns, rivers, bridges as we pass the title-bearing signs. Some are so peculiar without the softening lens of familiarity, and they dance and roll off my tongue, bounce against my teeth.

listened to: Zen Arcade, Hank Williams, the Pogues, the Clash, Nick Cave

We are staying with Harry's parents in New Orleans tonight. His father is an old Greek man who speaks English in a thick, elegantly clumsy accent. He served us steaming bowls of gumbo, and Harry's gracious mother presented us with her homemade bread, warmed in the microwave. Afterwards, we ate beignets and drank hot chocolate. I am satiated to the point of idle, glorious contentment, but plagued with mild heartburn. I will sleep well tonight, stomach full, in a clean bed with soft sheets. It is important to cherish these small moments of domestic comfort and bliss, as approaching there is a month of the complete opposite. The comfort and satiation are a waning moon, and tonight I sleep in its warm glow.

Maybe I'll try to quit smoking on this trip. It's certainly not economically feasible, considering I can't even afford to feed myself. Ian owes me money, but that's in Ohio, which is weeks away, and it's uncertain that our arrangement will even be carried out, relying on checks mailed across several states, and various letters explaining positions and arrivals, or that he'll even be able to respond to my demands.

Get in shape. I need to get in shape. Tonight I did forty-five push-ups, went outside for a cigarette, and then did forty-five more. One step at a time. I wish my cell phone worked better.

We listened to Link Wray as we drove over swamps and Lake Ponchartrain. The roads in Louisiana are hellishly uneven and bumpy. Link Wray was the perfect soundtrack, crusing along the highways and causeways and bridges, the smell of mud thick in the air, the view to our left, southward, dark and desolate, what was surely the delta and the Gulf and beyond.


Woke up strung out. Not much sleep the night before, as I stayed up late packing and re-packing, deciding which books to bring (I settled on Henry Miller, Vine Deloria Jr, Rimbaud, The Shining, and a couple by Prabhupada), and writing last-minute letters. Writing, always writing.

Coffee gets me through the day. I enjoy my coffee with cream now, though the notion once disgusted me. Left for Memphis at half-past two, eating at a Mexican restaurant along the way. Listened to Gram Parsons, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Billy Bragg, and Nirvana. Wandered around truck stops, buying bottles of water and more coffee. Smoked cigarettes and admired Megan's profile as she drove.

Memphis now, gorged on catfish and a root beer float. We are staying in the guest bedroom at Harry's house. Harry is the frontman and driving force behind the Angel Sluts. His house is idiosyncratically decorated, with fine collections of music and books, and towering stacks of recording and engineering magazines. Somewhere unseen is his home studio.

Tomorrow we drive to New Orleans. Harry's mother has promised us gumbo.

I have bills and obligations looming somewhere in the distance, but in the distance is where they shall remain. This month will be a time of thoughtful liberation in the guise of an inebriated shotgun blast, riding the currents of gunpowder and wanderlust, caving to adolescent impulse. I have sixty dollars in my wallet, and a supreme doubt that this meager sum will last even a week or two on the road, let alone an entire month. Death to doubt. I hedge my bets and err on the side of righteous indifference and the blind, grasping Hope and Faith that I share with a blessed few.

I need be reminded that I chose this life for a reason. Fear and anxiety have turned my muscles to jelly. A new spine is to be forged.

Writers: Sherwood Anderson, Kenneth Patchen

John Stuart Mill?

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