Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Christmas in Tejas or I hear swords a-rattlin' under the mistletoe

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray. I've not shaved in several days and I wear a newsboy style hat. Sometimes I chase a cat around the house, clenching my teeth and affectionately shouting Here kitty kitty! But Saphire (sic) usually runs away, misinterpreting my gregarious approach as menace. Yesterday we outran a tornado on the prowl through Houston.

My uncle Moe showed up from Arkansas at my dad's house a few days ago. I warned John that my uncle might have a few things to say about the Chinese, nuclear warfare, faux Christians, and the end of the world. And sure enough... but it was all very reasonable sounding. That night, my dad cooked up some T-bone steaks and cornbread, and then we sat around the cowboy fire and told stories of the trail.

Later on, the nightlife of Houston was explored. An interesting phenomenon was come across: the hipster coffee/wine bar. We did some intelligence gathering there and found our way to Rice village nearby Rice University. There we found a bunch of packed pubs and we encountered some Sam Houston State alumni who were visiting the area for Christmas. Strangely enough, we saw one at the Woodlands Mall the next day. Rumor has it she is Santa's little helper there.

On the Christmas list of stuff I should buy for others was the following: a CD of the Rolling Stones, another of the Hollies, a dish drying rack, a set of wooden drink coasters, and a book about the end of the world. Right now, my sister is in the process of making a gift pillow while I consider walking the dog (Thumper IV). This takes much consideration as the dog can be horrendously unruly, lurching this way and that, bedraggling me through thick and fetid Texas mud. Diane and John have left for the store to buy food for tomorrow's bacchanalia. We expect some friends to come over and celebrate the imminent holiday.

Christmas is about peace, love, harmony, and swords: two-edged ones which divide bone from marrow, wheat from chaff, and good from evil. Have a good holiday.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Where the Streets Have No Name

Having suddenly succumb to an atavistic fear of air travel, I travelled the old fashioned way to Texas -- on the ground. Well, it wasn't really old fashioned. Instead of taking a wagon train and fightin' Injuns, I took a Mazda and bought jewelry from Native Americans. But the Mazda is kinda old. I mean, almost 10 years...

Anyway, many hours of U2 and several litres of cheap-o gas station cappuccinos later, I find myself in WIllis, Texas. On Sunday night, I saw my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins in Oakhurst, CA. That night, my mom and I left for Tucson, AZ, to stay with Matt and Laura Tiscareno. They took us to the best Mexican food I had during this trip, at Rosa's. There was something delicious in the enchilada sauce.

Next day, we high tailed it to Santa Fe, NM. Santa Fe is very cool. The colors and people are very warm. We spent a day there, but I've got to go back (maybe on the way back to Calif. from TX when Ryan gets here). Nearby Taos in the Sangre de Cristo mountains seems worth checking out. We even stopped by St. John's College, where a certain Ellie K. was last heard from. I signed up my sister to get an application from there, but I don't know if she's in to the whole "Great Books" thing. There were many dreads, beards, and political slogans seen while on campus. I escaped with an orange shirt as a momento.

The last stop was Amarillo, but not much happened there. We hurried to get here to my mom's house in WIlis.

Rumor has it that John Lin flies in to Houston tomorrow. My sister and I will do our traditional Christmas shopping trip and then go pick him up. And then there's no telling what might happen...

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Dances with Public Defenders

An oxygen deprived brain is a happy brain, but not the most intelligent. You discover this when you climb high atop Mauna Kea, to one of the foremost astronomical observatories. Due to the high elevation, the smallest things, like the misalignment of the telescope or spilled tea set one to giggling. Everyone's good for a joke or two, but don't expext to get an answer to your burning questions about multi-variable calculus.

I made this observation while at the Short Stop, a former cop bar in Echo Park (cop author Joseph Wambaugh used to be a regular). There I encountered an engaging, albeit weird, group of people. Several in particular were suspected of some foul intention by me or my crew at some point in the evening. The highlight came when a bunch of stiffs in suits showed up and one among their number (of the female persuasion) came and asked Ryan or I to dance. Turns out they were a bunch of off duty public defenders. Maybe the cops and the public defenders have a turf rivalry over the bar and unsuspecting bystanders like myself get caught in the middle. But we weren't all together innocent. By the looks of us, a man calling himself Mark suspected we worked for the government, or were terrorists perhaps, the two being easily confused. But that didn't stop him from buying us a round of drinks. Oxygen deprivation loves company.

This past week, I've worked very closely with two students from Germany, Kathrin und Bianca. I showed them a few places in LA, mostly restaurants. On Sunday morning, we headed to the Getty museum, along with Ryan, my mom, Andrea, and Andrea's sister, Marie. Quite a crew. We came across an endless stream of tattooed bikers on Harleys, some of them dressed like Santa and carrying toys. By some strange alignment of the planets, Toys for Tots and Hell's Angels had decided to merge and have a parade. It was a perfect slice of Americana, the sort of thing that just couldn't be planned.

Later this week I turn 27; yes 3 to the holy power of 3. Seems the older I get, the younger I realize I am. Last night I said, "Just 973 more to go." I figure you ought to be wise when you turn a millenium. But nobody made it that far, not even Methuselah. Imagine being that old, having lived through the Crusades, the invention of the printing press, the discovery of the Americas by the Europeans, the Industrial Revolution, and two World Wars. That sort fo perspective is only granted to the Elves in Tolkien's tale. And what do they do with their wisdom? They high-tail it to some other land beyond the sea. Could a human handle all that living? We'd surely have to call him or her The Historian.

Next week I leave for Texas. There are many well trodden routes to TX, with glorious names like 10 and 40, but I haven't picked 1 yet. Mostly I want to stop in Tucson to visit a friend. Other than that, I could take the high road thru New Mexico to Santa Fe (or Taos?) or the southern road thru White Sands on to El Paso. Decisions, decisions. I love the southwest, at least what I've seen of it. My last big adventure there was a whirlwind tour of the nat'l parks in utah two years ago; a final bachelor excursion with Kurt, Ryan, and Ace before Kurt got married later that year. I've heard New Mexico is gorgeous. I've never been to Santa Fe, but I really want to go and see the enchanted desert, those pueblos, and talk to some native americans and/or new agers. And I guess I do have to come back; which, by my calculations, gives me 2 chances to see stuff! The goal is to be in Vegas on New Years, with or without reservations at the MGM.

Assuming all goes well, the second installment of men's group should be happening tonight. Travis and I are starting another group, and tonight we'll meet who's in it.

ps: looks like I'm in the top 20 on Google for Hussein torture...

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