26 November, 2004

I am in Portland and managed one of the best I can remember. Amazing home, family, friends, food, oh my lord!, new and interesting conversation, hot tub, beer, piano, pool, family football game - and banana bread. Heavenly.

Monday I left P. T. and drove to Port Angeles and went into Olympic Nat. Park. I hikied in a ways and found the hot springs. I soked for a bit, but they weren't up to the Idaho standard, not bad though, but awfully sulphuric.
In the morning I packed up - the giant cedar trees were such amazing pillars to sleep amongst.. I hiked out and drove to the west coast. It rained pretty hard. I through on my pack and hiked the boardwalk three miles to the coast at cape Avila. Deer looked up at me as I passed and went back to there grazing.
I hadn't fasted in over a year so I decided it was time for a short fast - only a day - it was all the time I had.
I packed in the guitar and played a bit in the tent. Slept.
In the morning, in a lull in the storm, I croke the tent down and started the walk out.
To my surprise, the roads were flooding. I had a hell of a time getting through. I had a downpour half the way down to Portland, which I reached happily.

There I remain. We are heading to the Swanson's caabin in the mountains for the weekend, leaving presently.

17 November, 2004

I fixed my radio
I epoxied the two deckfittings
Roger in West Marine gave me a HUGE piece of chocolate cake
I epoxied my drop boards.
I rerouted my propane hose and learned the way I had planned to situate my tank was very BAD
I found a book with guitar chords
I bought my first sander and used it, alot.
I returned an LED light to West Marine for the THIRD time (at least I got cake)
and I got an extra-long email from Jamie, telling how great Widge is doing, chasing moose and all - how I love that dog!

This was a special fine day.


I remembered something important today…

Chris is 28, always laughing, will give you the shirt off his back along with any money in his wallet. He is a beautiful painter. He picked it up three years ago, went from houses to boats. He gets on great with his family, talks all the time, always with his contagious laughter. He has a five year old son he loves. He also smokes meth.
He is painting the boat across the gravel from me.
We met one night when I was in bed reading. He came and rattled on my hull—the naval doorbell. I couldn’t guess who it could be, only who a few folks in town. I opened up the hatch and there stood Chris. He was trying to recruit me to go to the store with him to buy beer; I only later learned he didn’t have an id. I thought it so unusual for a stranger to walk up to me at eleven o’clock at night, that I decided to go with it, through on some clothes, shoes, and jumped ship. I spent the next few hours drinking beers on the Joker.
The Joker was hauled out so Chris could give the topsides (part of the hull that remains above the waterline) a new paint job. The weather for the next few weeks would turn out not conducive for painting and Chris would stop over to chat from time to time. He told me about the bad weather and all the lousy help he had fired—now it was just he and his brother. I said, if he needed help, I’d love the work. Deal.
Chris’ brother Jeremy, who is also on the job with us, nineteen y.o, also does lots of drunks. He told me that he used to break into lots of cars to steal stuff. He has no delusions of intelligence, which, I think, is an important thing to know. He is a nice kid though. Chris’ stepmom and her boyfriend both shoot meth. Chris’ dad died of a meth overdose. Chris’ stepmom and boyfriend are staying with Chris on the boat. They are nice. She talks a lot. He only tells stupid drug related jokes. He isn’t all with it either.
Tonight, Chris came over and sat on my boat with me for a few minutes and told me a lot of this stuff, about the drugs and his dad and family. He was so candid. He was a little drunk, but he was himself, laughing and happy. He said, when he used to shoot up, he would do it so the needle would pierce the skin—he showed his left arm—right below the tattoo of his son’s name, as close to the name as he could get. I didn’t understand; “Why Chris?”
“So it would hurt, “ he said.
“So then why do it?”
“I think I just wanted to hurt myself, I guess,” then his laughter, “I guess that’s why I don’t do it no more.” (Use a needle he means, he still occasionally smokes it.)
I thought about his family who I had been getting to know. I hadn’t known he had a son. He told me a story about a dream he had had, a terrible nightmare, something about a fire and his son trying to wake his mother up. Chris was in Kodiak AK at the time. He grabbed a bag and went straight to the airport. He spent $700 to get home so he could see his son. Just because of a dream.
He loves to paint. He knows he’s good at it. He thinks his work is beautiful. I think it is. He’s good about teaching me how to do it. I put the primer on the transom today. God, I was so excited to do it. It was great. We listened to some rap music, Too Short, rapping about “bitches” and sex. They seemed so natural listening to it, laughing, “this is a love song.”
Chris came over to borrow a few bucks until tomorrow, payday. They all ran out of beer. The talk was good though. He told me he loved me—in a fraternal way.

I remembered that maybe above all else, I feel most myself when I listen to people tell me their stories. I am a collector of stories. For me, stories light reality; they show me something tangible where I had only been able to surmise before. I know Chris. I can feel his story, but until now I had never experienced the life of people who lived in the culture of hard drugs. We like to stereotype and assume from the outside what and who these people are. But Chris is my friend; he loves to paint; he does meth, and so does his whole family. I am richer for him and his story.
My definition of life, universe, and selfhood (interesting that they can all be collectively defined), as written down by James Joyce in Finnigan's Wake:

"A Wholemole, millwheeling vicocyclometer,
a tetradomational gazebocroticon"


To understand this is to understand everything
and nothing.

Nov. 9

I’m in better spirits this evening. The last week hasn’t been my most productive.
The run tonight changed everything, cleaned out my system from the lingering cold I had. Also the ‘Joker’ is gone, which will bring a little peace (loud and drunk – but nice guys).
My fingers are a bit tired after an hour with the guitar.
This is why I write: I love the guitar more by the day.
I have lost myself a couple of times now. I inevitably play another fifteen minutes after I decide to stop playing. I only know three chords. I need to find a book in the library.

I was pretty set to call the boat “Isis” until I thought of “the Grim”. This will take a little thought. The personification of death or the sacred feminine? What is the difference? “The dark side.”

I feel great. I was thinking about how damn lucky I am. I’ve been sitting here reading, playing guitar, I enjoy my work – not bad.
It must be the fact I have no phone, no tv, -- no house, no family. The less you have….

I am the anti-human.
I turn toward my fears instead of away from them.
I avoid safety and comfort as boredom
for risk and vulnerability.
I am concerned more about the quality of life, than the quantity.
Growing old, for me, will be a privilege, not an expectation.
I choose to be alone, though not exclusively so.
From life, I only require growth to be happy.
I don’t believe in Human Rights.

Yet today I am as happy as I’ve ever been.
True, I am often cold, tired, tendonitis aching my fingers and elbow,
But my sensations are rich, my smiles deep.
I am learning new games.
I remain a child. I keep the Beginner’s Mind.
Life sparkles around me.

09 November, 2004

Still bummed.
And now my radio won't pick up NPR.
I'm all alone......and it's raining, again.

oh, but the running is great.

03 November, 2004

Utter, complete saddness.
Right now, I can think of nothing else to say....

01 November, 2004

I wake up with the sounds of the shipyard, the travellifts, hammering, trucks driving through potholes and gravel.
I lie in bed awhile, get up, brew some hot cocoa, eat some raison bran or oatmeal.
I wear my same old longjohn top and a new pair of Carhearts.
I stare across the boat, dazed, planning the day, still dreaming, still trying to understand whatever crazy dreams I had the night before.
As my head defogs, I ease into my errands: I get on my bike and ride off to by supplies for the days work. I may do this four or more times a day.
I get to ask more questions and learn things.
Most of my past jobs are wrapped up: plumbing, electronic.
The next three days I’m helping a crew pant “Joker” a big fishing boat, but the rain has been bad and we haven’t done anything.
Later in the week I am going to cut new companionway boards (the main entrance to the cabin of the boat.)

I eat a p.b. and j. whenever I can’t postpone it any longer, anywhere between 2 and 4:30. Sometimes I make a mean tunafish sandwich – lots of relish. I eat carrots with ranch, maybe some cheese wedges.
The best bread I’ve ever had I found (in a dumpster)
They bake it on stones and it is covered with flour.
I eat it with Tillamook butter ravenously all day. Addiction.

Spaghetti and tomato sauce everynight. Try and make enough for leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch and dinner.
Do dishes and huddle up with a sleeping bag on the starboard settee and read. Drink a cup of hot chocolate perhaps.
I read mechanical guides, cruising books, “The 12 Volt Bible”, I just reread “Dove.” If Graham can sail around the world, I might have a shot. (He got run over by a freighter, knocked overboard twice, ran into reefs twice in a day – demasted TWICE, once in the middle of the Indian Ocean – rode out one hurricane, just missed another. What a trip!!)

Some nights I go and walk around. I walk through the yard and look at the great ships and the 300 ton travel lift. I walk down the coastline trail, sit on the rocks and stare into the glassy water.
I walk the docks and learn for the different schooners tricks of rigging and such.
Sometimes I play the pennywhistle or sing to myself (don’t tell), mostly mantras and stuff nonsense like that.

I walk back, strip down and climb into a cold sleeping bag.
Something always wakes me in the night: did I turn off the propane, turn of the a/c power, what was that crash on deck.
I make it a point already to always get up and investigate.
Such is life on a boat. (even in the yard – I can be a bit silly)