November 16, 2004

Slow Hands

Quick update: I'm at the UNR library. Fortunately I didn't get booted off the system when I graduated so I can still use these computers. It's fun walking around campus and running into people I haven't seen in a long time. I was self conscious about it at first, like going back to your old high school, then I realized that was stupid and nobody knows nor cares if I already graduated and I'm just passing through. Part of me misses the student life because, as exhausted as I was this past year, I sure did learn a lot. It's hard to feel unproductive when you're loaded down with classes and staring down a half dozen term papers with a month left of school. It also feels good to think about how ansie I was when I first got back from Chile; I spent many months telling myself, "just finish this year, then you're free to go wherever..." and I did. And now I'm leaving on Sunday for Chile, which is something that I've been looking forward to for a long time. I land in Santiago on Monday at 2:15 in the morning so I'll get to see the lights of Santiago from the plane as we fly in from the north. I remember when I went back to visit in December and I spent the first day walking for hours along Alameda and Providencia in downtown and just feeling so comfortable and relieved to be back. This trip I'm looking forward to keeping my mind limber and reading a lot; plus lotsa hiking in the south and even some rock climbing(!). I'm finally going to make use of that gym that was hidden around the corner from the Salvador house.
Tomorrow I'm taking a cheap casino bus to San Francisco to stay with big brother Dan for a couple days, thanks to him in advance for putting me up. I'm looking forward to wandering around SF for a couple days and thinking about the dozens of amazing shows I've seen there. Blonde Redhead's even playing on Wednesday night, hopefully I'll get to go.
In other news, the new Interpol record is pretty amazing. I listened to their first record non stop for about four months when I was in Santiago last year and though Antics couldn't ever top Turn on the Bright Lights, it's good to avoid the frustration one feels when a band follows a classic with a forgettable record. And though I'm still pretty anti-cellphone, if I end up getting one during my stay in Chile I can use the song Slow Hands as the ringtone.
The next time I update this thing the toilet water will spin the other way when I flush and it'll be spring and green and I'll probably be eating an avocado.

Posted by steve at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2004

New Expats Part Two

That thing I said about Reno kids leaving Portland was all backwards, but you know what I mean. It's late and I'm grumpy because it looks like Bush is going to win. Hence the title. Unngh.
I had an excellent time in Portland and look forward to fun times there in the future. Zoobomb!
About midnight on, hell I can't remember what day it was, I boarded a Greyhound to Pendleton, Oregon and after waiting outside their Greyhound station for a few hours I headed off north to hitch up to Walla Walla. Vince, my best friend from my year abroad and the winner of the international Juanes look-alike contest goes to this hipster liberal arts school in Walla Walla called Whitman College. We met up at the library and accompanying Vince was a ponytail and the dirtiest moustache that a 19 year old up lip has ever seen. Vince lives right across from the university in a house full of Spanish students so I got my speak on and made full use of their porch couch. Vince is having a good time there, though I'm having a hard time convincing him to visit me either next summer in Juneau or next fall in France, the bastard. It was Parents' Weekend while I was in town and Vince's folks took us all out for Thai food and his dad and I bro'd down on hitchhiking stories. I was really excited at the prospect of embarrasing Vince in front of his parents but considering that they were treating me to dinner I didn't find it too appropriate to make fun of their son while we ate. All the better, it's just ammo I can save for the future, like Vince's wedding day. Hehe.
I had a very succesful hitch from Walla Walla to Boise and met up with my old friend from Costa Rica Jeff Cole in front of the Boise State library. Jeff was my other best friend in the Costa Rica program two years ago when suddenly Jeff's appendix was all, "Yo, motherfucker, I'm outta here." and he had to have it taken out at the hospital in downtown San Jose. Due to some unfortunate post-op problems Jeff was unable to return to Costa Rica to finish out the semester and after hearing about some of the problems we'd been having over the course of the semester (me getting pickpocketed, Vince getting jacked, too many backpacks and cameras and wallets disappearing) he smartly bailed on the spring semester, too. We hadn't seen each other in almost two years but I'll tell you, Jeff's such a hell of a guy that it felt more like two days. Jeff spent his days finishing up his undergrad thesis and I wandered around Boise and at night we visited scummy bars and watched the fate of the world hang in the balance as Boston won the world series. It was, like all the previous cities, a hell of a visit, and Jeff even dropped me off early the next morning on the corner of US 95 So., where I was hitching back to Reno.
The hitch home was the perfect end to SteveTour Pacific Northwest 2004. After getting mildly hassled by a cop I was picked up by a Canadian trucker named Bill hauling two big GMC trucks on the back of his white semi. He pulled over and asked me, "Where're you headed?" I said, "I'm hoping to get to Winnemucca." He responded, "Never heard of it. But I'm heading to Reno." With him I could ride, and so I climbed into the cab and then I settled down inside. Bill was hauling these two trucks from his town in BC all the way to Internet Auto Rent and Sales, a car lot all of five minutes from the Katherine House. Kind of eerie luck, isn't it? He told me great stories about trucking around the Territories and Alaska and even bought my breakfast at a tiny diner in a tiny town in southeastern Oregon. Having arrived in Reno much, much sooner than I'd anticipated, I said bye and thanks to Bill the trucker and started across town. I first headed to Jimboys and on the way passed the Katherinehouse, which was covered by a new coat of white paint and filled with new occupants. Damn, I miss that house.
So anyway, I'm back in Reno. Halloween weekend was relaxed and fun, about what I'd hoped for. I finally saw Kill Bill 2 and visited the Pneumatic Diner for the first time in years.
Now I'm way out in Washoe Valley hanging out with the moms and the stepdad. It's odd being out here. Today my mom and I went to vote at the baseball field where I played little league games twelve years ago. Washoe Lake is no more. Waking up in the desert feels like waking up without a mouth. W va ganando, lo que me da mucha pena y mucha rabia. grrrr.
Anywho, I've got a day to spend organizing my abundance of crap into what I'm taking with me to Chile on the 21st and what I'll be leaving here to languish in the trailer. On Thursday I fly to Albuquerque to spend a few days with my Grandma. I can't wait; Albuquerque is the best.
At this point it's late and I'm tired and frustrated that that goddamn idiot is busy getting reelected. On the Daily Show Al Sharpton said that if Bush wins tonight it'll be the first time that he's been elected president. I wish I voted for Al Sharpton, or maybe the socialist candidate if there was one. Oh well.
So that's it for now. I'll try to update this thing more regularly. Much love to Dawn and Kathleen, Amber and Paul and Thoren, Kathleen, Bob, Kathryn and Alex, Andrew and Billy and Krista, Vince, that one guy who tried to convert me from Baker City to Boise, Jeff, Bill the Canadian, and Drew for giving me tips and places to stay and food to eat and rides to get me where I needed to go. You'll all get what's yours and you'll always have a place to stay wherever I may be.

Posted by steve at 03:10 AM | Comments (0)

New Expats

After a long summer of hard work and hiking in Juneau and an excellent three and a half weeks on the road in the Pacific Northwest, I'm back in Reno.
Way back on August 19th I took five days off work and flew to tiny Cedar Grove, Wisconsin to attend the wedding of Kat and Jon, my housemates from the Salvador house in Santiago last year who lived across the hall from me and were the primary caretakers of Puma, our black Chilean streetcat. They were five of the best days I had all summer and caught myself a little off guard by how bummed I was to say goodbye to the new friends I met there and head back to Juneau. All through work the next day all I could think about was putting on my pack and getting back on the road. Work started to really slow down as the tourist season died over the next few weeks and by the middle of September I had worked out boarding the ferry for Bellingham in detail in my head. It wasn't that I was sick of Juneau. I love Juneau and I loved spending the summer earning cash in Juneau for winter travels, but the time came when my priority flipped from earning cash to actually using it, naturally.
Mike Stanger had also split town in the second week of August and I was receiving emails from him from Valdivia, Chile, all about the good times he's been having there.
And then this thing happened where during the last week and a half in Juneau, I started going out a bunch again because I'd made friends with a new coworker named Kathleen and Rory at the Imperial became the preferred bartender in the task of getting me drunk. Some pretty bad shit also happened during the second week of September and while I was talking to friends during my final days in Juneau I realized that some people that I really care about were going through some extremely difficult and unresolved shit. Suddenly, I didn't want to leave and felt kinda guilty about abandoning friends at the start of the Juneau winter. What? This stuff is so confusing. I think it's incorrect to say that I don't know what I want to do; rather, I'm just not honest with myself because where I want to go changes so often and it's rarely the same place that I "should" go. Last week in Boise I told my friend Jeff that if I wasn't returning to Chile for the winter, I'd most likely go back to Juneau. It didn't make much sense, but I'm starting to understand that that is maybe the best criteria to determine if it's an honest statement. I think it all boils down to why I travel in the first place.
So I said goodbye to the Fiddlehead and Juneau and my friends and housemates and hopped on the ferry to Bellingham on the 5th of October. After a little over three days on the ferry I showed up at Paul and Amber Fechko's doorstep in the U District in Seattle on the afternoon of the 8th. It was my first time in Seattle and since Paul and Amber are so busy with school I mainly wandered around town by myself and lurked in the wonderful used bookstores around the University of Washington. I also saw the Fiery Furnaces, and they rocked.
Next it was on to Olympia to stay with good ol' Bob Schwenkler. Bob's doing amazingly well in Olympia. He's having a great time at Evergreen and he's built a goddamn recording studio in his house which makes me very impressed and jealous. I also got to kick it with Alex and Kathryn, two friends I made in Juneau.
I took Greyhound from Olympia to Portland and finally got to spend a few days exploring that town that so many Reno heads have abandoned over the years. Drewish gave me his bed to sleep on while I was there and let me borrow his bike to do the Zoobomb. It was my first time and it was a riot. I was soaked and exhausted and grinning like a monkey as we winded through the streets. On the fourth run the seven of us that remained got stopped by a cop who ended up arresting one of us (not me) after he tried to zip past him and ended up getting his ass tackled. We split after that and I headed back to Drew's dorm for some sleep.
Before I left Juneau my boss Dawn was goodly enough to give me a detailed list of things to do in Portland of which I visited almost all. The Montage was dope and Powell's books was like a wet dream of a used bookstore. I also got to see Billy Spaceman for the first time in something like three years and I got to bop my head to the beats of Rjd2 live at Aladdin Theater on my last night.
Okay, here's intermission.

Posted by steve at 02:28 AM | Comments (0)