07 July 2009

Adopting to Mormons

I mentioned in passing a couple of posts ago that I'm pregnant. Let's get a little more specific about that.

I'm 26 weeks preggers at this point and the pregnancy itself has been free of nearly everything that usually makes pregnant women miserable: no morning sickness, no weird cravings (although eggs are not my friends at the moment), no swelling or just about anything else. I just have a baby in me. (I do have some uterine fibroids that may become a problem at some point, but they've been behaving so far.) Pregnancy is fucking weird and I'll be glad when I can go a whole four hours without needing to pee, but that's really not what I logged on to talk about today.

Instead I logged on for Mormonism.

See, Steve and I are adopting out our unborn son, and the family we chose happens to be Mormon. We've met them, we really like them, they're fantastic people. We wouldn't be giving them our kid if we didn't think they were the best family possible for him. But damn, this has given rise to a lot of discussion in the house. Our roommate Varina used to be Mormon; now she's trying to decide where to get her "Daughter of Perdition" tattoo and all but filling out paperwork to officially leave the church. She's been trying to explain the theological and social aspects of Mormonism that we'll want to know about for our kid. She thinks we're a little mad for adopting to Mormons, but not nearly so much as a friend of hers who actually was adopted by Mormons and made a long, wrenching post about how much the religion fucked her up, no matter how much she loves her family. It's been around my brainpan a bit of late. Oh, and the local Mormon church is right across the street, anytime you look out the kitchen window or leave the house, there it is. (It's actually pretty scenic; a lot of our weather comes over the church and the clouds look very cool against its spire. But it is weird to have around.)

I guess what's bothering me is that I don't know why this discussion is happening. I know I want this family to raise my child. Maybe this is just part of that looking into the unknown of the future that's inherent in adoption. I have no idea. I don't want my son to get fucked up by his religion, but I also know that if he does he will still be okay. The couple in question are sane, understanding, emotionally competent people and I believe they'll help him deal with the religion in a way that makes sense for him. And if the religion itself becomes a problem, then hell, his birthparents are heathens and we can help him figure his shit out. The support structure is good. He'll have all the people around the he needs. I mean, if Steve and I for some reason raised him we'd teach him to be a nihilist in a beautiful world, and possibly a Thelemite. Thelema is one of the best religions out there for getting your head on straight and looking at the world, but in all honesty 90% of all religion is identical. That's why I'm not a Thelemite on my own or a member of any other religious institution.

I know my kid's going to be okay because while that identical 90% can be damaging and the remaining 10% is necessarily crazy-looking, religion is a system that you can grow with and that can grow with you if you deal with it as something that should grow. A stagnant system is useless to everyone inside and outside of it. But if you look at your faith as an organic process, as something that ought to change over time as you explore it, then I think it can be positive. I didn't. My religion (Episcopalian) was just this thing I did on occasion without much interest, so when my disinterested fakery became a serious emotional sinkhole that kept me from respecting myself as a person, I just left the church. Leaving is easier when you don't believe. I spent awhile half-heartedly trying to find a replacement before I admitted I didn't need or want one, that they all felt just as fake as the institution I'd left, and that I wanted to go it alone. My worldview has grown up since then as a fairly cohesive universe that does everything I need it to and nothing else. I don't understand doctrinal belief; why do you need all these precepts that you didn't invent, that somebody else came up for you, that often get in your way or become points of strife between your desires and your prepackaged morals? That seems like a lot of unnecessary hassle just to get a lens through which to understand the world. (I know a lot of the sociological reasons people join religions. They make sense, in a way. But it's such a bizarre, narrow, fear-based way of dealing with a welcoming, expansive, free reality.)

Perhaps what I'm getting at is that this whole discussion about whether it's a good idea to send a kid into Mormonism isn't part of my reality anymore. There is no possible manner in which this child's life could not turn out in the best way possible. Bickering over details like where one religion falls on a scale of 1 to Crazyballs is moot -- beyond moot, it's meaningless. They are all Crazyballs and they are all perfectly reasonable and they are all useful only to the degree you use them instead of vice versa. It's a meaningless discussion. The universe wants me to give this baby to this couple, and the universe knows what it's doing. Everything else is idle chatter.

01 July 2009

Melville and Ellis on breaking out of the world

There's a book you should read that you very well may hate. A lot of people who read it do, although I'm not one of them. It's called Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment, the second in Jed McKenna's three-book series about enlightenment and other things that are bad for your sanity.

Incorrect has a lot to do with Moby-Dick, and that's the level on which I bring it up. You see, Jed came up with a way of reading that book so it actually made perfect goddamn sense, which is more than any Melville scholar has managed. It's actually been well established in academia that Moby-Dick is essentially ineffable. But Jed proved otherwise by establishing a whole new archetype in the character of Ahab. He calls it the Break-Out Archetype: someone bent on breaking reality, on burning it to ground to see what's left because they can't do otherwise.

I'm posting because I've just realized that Doktor Sleepless, the title character in a comics series by Warren Ellis, also fits the definition of the Break-Out Archetype. He is driven, amoral, monomaniacal, and unswerving. He doesn't reflect on the sacrifices he makes constantly because he is certain of his path.* There is no Plan B. He is alone and self-sovreign. Emotional attachments are meaningless, including the Doktor's first love and Ahab's toddler son.

One thing and one thing only matters: the destruction of that which is between him and his ultimate goal. For Ahab, that was the white whale; for the Doktor, it's the total destruction of Heavenside (and assumedly the world afterward). He's hell-bent in more ways than one, yet he embraces his madness as a new and more coherent form of sanity.

Ahab and Doktor Sleepless are lies. Their personas are pure invention, devised purely to manipulate everyone they know into helping them succeed. Ahab manages to fake it as a sane, sea-worthy Nantucket whale-captain for weeks before the Pequod is safely out to sea and he lets Crazy Ahab out of the box -- and even then, he convinces his men to support his insane chase for Moby-Dick. Likewise, on the first page of the first issue of Doktor Sleepless, our title character deliberately takes on the persona of a cartoon mad scientist so that he can get the attention he needs without anyone taking him too seriously. They are finely crafted masks that the characters wear with specific intent and not a drop of self-deceit. Both, however, reflect on an actual transformation and an actual loss of some tangible part of the characters' earlier persons. Ahab lost his leg in Moby-Dick's maw and spent weeks raving and sick aboard the Pequod till he emerged permanently changed, no longer the same man, yet pretending he was. And the Doktor -- hell, where to begin? When he saw his parents killed he stopped sleeping (a first transformation, possibly from being Oblivious to the Mass of Men stage**) and then over a decade later he had a "breakdown" when he unlocked The Darkening Sky, the cryptic book his parents had been reading from/using when they died (a second transformation). It was only after the breakdown that he was able to become Doktor Sleepless, the mad scientist bent on world devastation, because that transformatino was the one that made him the break-out archetype.

Like their persons, the good Doktor's and Ahab's goals wear masks. Doktor Sleepless' agenda is not the end of the world. It's the end of himself. Just as Ahab kills off a shipful of whalemen to succeed in destroying everything he is, so does Doktor Sleepless drive Heavenside to utter, stark-raving chaos designed to eat itself just as the Doktor devours his own self. These may sound like acts of callous or vindictive sadism unrelated to the true goal at hand, but they're not. The true goal -- self-immolation -- cannot be accomplished without this outside destruction. It is certainly callous, but that's it. It's wholly necessary to the characters' paths.

Interestingly, Doktor Sleepless displays one point of the archetype that Ahab doesn't. The Doktor is filled with "Elation. Lunatic joy. Stark, raving happiness. Transcendental exultation." He's got that mad scientist maniacal laughter in droves. Ahab, on the other hand, just doesn't, which is interesting in and of itself. To quote Jed twice in one paragraph, "all the uncertainty, fear, doubt, mediocrity, pettiness, striving, ambiguity and myriad other chains that bind us and weigh us down have been sliced away. His fate is known, his success certain. He is hurtling at thrilling velocity into perfect freedom. He knows it, and he would be unspeakably happy about it." Setting the world on fire brings him a manic, unceasing, defiant, impregnable job satisfaction. That is what the break-out archetype is all about.

*Jed explains this well: "It's not that he's unaware of the cost, but that he knows it to be irrelevant; a non-issue."

**This references another of Jed's concepts that's outlined very well in Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment (a book I usually just call "Incorrect").

17 June 2009

Free Boat!

WE HAVE A BOAT! It's a little 12' Snark sailboat, very basic and beginner -- but hell, I'm a beginner at small boats anyway, so that's fine. Her hull is styrofoam with a hard plastic outer layer, totally unsinkable. The wooden pieces (rudder and seat mainly) need to be replaced soon, but they're still functional. The sail has a rip too, but the boat was free after all. You take on a bit of repair work for a free boat. She'll seat two (possibly more, the previous owner said she held him and three kids), and I'll have to see about getting some marine-quality paint for her hull. You don't even want to know the kind of orange her outside is now.

We're going to take her out on the nearby lake this weekend. Like whoa and holy God in sprinkles and orange juice. I cannot fucking wait. I HAVE A BOAT! A boat, motherfucker, a boat, motherfucker!

29 May 2009

Target Acquired: Seattle

We're in Seattle! After all the moving, the three days of straight driving with all our worldly possessions in the car, the stress, the everything, we are living in the beautiful house we've wanted all this time, perfectly situated in a gorgeous city, ready to take on our lives like rabid wolverines, and the hot tub works!

I cannot properly explain how right all this is. The place needs some cleaning -- particularly the grill, which has probably never been cleaned in its life. We have some very nice beef tenderloins (sold to me off the back of a truck by a man at a gas station in Spokane) that desperately need to be barbecued. It's a beautiful thing.

There are all sorts of strange things that were left here, like a pool table in the garage and a fully stocked spice rack and two big-screen TVs...and a live fish in an aquarium over the fireplace. The fish is alive, somehow, despite this house being empty for months and no one feeding it. Perhaps it's a zombie fish.

Today we're unpacking and getting oriented. I've got some calls to make to set up doctor's appointments and things. I'm on Medicaid in Pennsylvania, so I need to figure out how to get on it in Washington without stepping on any legal toes. You see, I am also pregnant. We found out about six weeks ago but didn't want to post it here until we'd made sure to tell everyone who ought to hear it in person. It's a boy, due in October, and we're going to adopt it out. So one of the calls I have to make is to the lady running the Seattle branch of one of the adoption agencies we're thinking of using.

Tonight we took advantage of the enormous stack of free movie tickets Cassidy gets as an assistant kitchen manager at the local upscale yuppie theater (called Cinebarre) on the theater's opening day. We saw Star Trek, which Steve and I had seen already but liked. It requires even more suspension of disbelief than most Star Trek, but the acting and writing are way above par. Everyone nailed their roles, especially Bones. Spock and Kirk were impressive too, but dammit, Jim, Bones was perfect. And they worked in a whole slew of classic lines, like "I'm giving her all she's got, Captain!" and "Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a physicist!" I'll probably acquire it when it comes out on DVD, and I can't wait to see where they go with this new alternate Trek.

And now I've got to get to work. I've got a bunch of jobs to apply to and all that other stuff I mentioned already. Good night, guys.

14 May 2009

Go West, Young Man!

It's been awhile. I know. You feel neglected, uncared-for, desperate for attention and cuddles. It's okay. I'm going to try to post more often.

At present, Steve and I are in Pennsylvania visiting our various family and friends. This is lovely, although we're ready for the next thing. The next thing is Seattle.

My friend Cassidy is moving to Seattle for his work, and he found a gorgeous, six-bedroom house for cheap just north of the city. We're moving out there right after Memorial Day weekend. A lot of people have asked what on earth we want to move to the other side of the country for; the answers are simple.

1. Neither of us has lived out West before. We'd really like to investigate this whole left coast thing and see what it's all about.

2. Seattle is a town well-stocked with stuff we're interested in doing. There's a large Gnostic temple, a ton of BDSM groups, lots of art museums and other museums (I am a museum addict), a place called the Center for Sex Positive Culture, a huge lesbian/queer population, loads of camping and hiking, the sea, and a lot of potential for really cool jobs.

3. We were planning to go there anyway when we ended up in New Orleans.

4. I know it's going to be fantastic.

So it makes perfect sense for us to go out there. My mum is advocating more conservative choices, but hell, that's just not who I am. So expect some gearing-up-for-Seattle posts, possibly a couple of holy-crap-we're-on-the-road posts, and then a bunch of I-found-a-cool-new-thing-here, settling-in sort of posts. As always, it'll be an adventure. Watch this space.

31 March 2009

A Patch for Laziness

It seems I'm not much better at keeping this blog updated than the one I had before Steve and I started This Blog Is My Pants. It isn't that either of us lack ideas of things to post; we just...don't post them. So I am going to fix this.

Maureen Johnson, who is a very cool YA author I love, has just announced that she will be blogging every day for the month of April because she has similar problems with posting. I am going to:

1. Keep up with Maureen's posts, and
2. Post something here after every time I read hers. This does not mean posting a reply to Maureen's post, just that this way, I'll have a trigger to make me get my ass on Blogger and write something.

So hopefully, there will be a whole lot more content here soon for your perusal. We are interesting people, Steve and I, and we want to make the world think more deeply about cool shit.

01 March 2009

Holy Thelemites, Batman!

So last night we went to a Gnostic Mass. And it rocked both our socks.

There's a very good, somewhat annotated script for the Mass here. It's very, very balanced and sexy. Every motion in one direction is followed by one in the complementary direction. The shrine has alternating black and white tile steps and supporting pillars. It's kept dark but with well-placed candles to bring in light.

The best part of the Mass' symbolism is the masculine and feminine. There are five players (besides the congregation as a group): the Priest, the Priestess, the Deacon, and two Children (female and male). The Children act as attendents, like altar boys combined with sacrament bearers in a Catholic/Anglican service. The Deacon leads the congregation, like conducting a symphony, and reads from the Holy Book of Whatever. They support the drama of the Priest and Priestess.

The Priest and Priestess are not intermediaries between anyone and the divine. The divine is everywhere and everyone has perfect access to it constantly, so there's no point to having someone in that position. Their role is to draw everyone else into feeling the divine, to embody it as an ideal and show the rest of us how it's done. Our Priest and Priestess are dating, which helps get the right open, hot, sultry, directive, glorious force of energy whooshing around like cognac swirled in a glass.

If you read over the Mass, you'll notice the Priestess empowers the Priest, who re-empowers the Priestess. She comes in doing sacred dance, and dances the Priest out of his little sacred cubby-hole in the western end of the temple. She invests him with his ceremonial robes and symbol of power (a big phallic spear). And then he leads her to the other end of the temple, installs her on the shrine itself as a living goddess, and worships her as she continues to worship him. After her installation, nearly all of the ritual is done with the two of them facing each other, eyes locked. The Priest conducts most of the ritual movements and vocalizations, all in reverence to the Priestess, who remains silent but communicates a world of magic and wonder and pleasure and mutilation with her eyes and body. If my description of this scene doesn't make it sound hot, then either my prose skills are deficient or you're not letting yourself feel it. If you doubt me, find a Mass near you and prove me wrong.

The Mass ends with communion, and the five players remain in the temple after the congregation files out. They finished their duties, and then everybody grabbed a glass and we finished off the sacramental wine. And then went for more. And then more. For eleven of us. Of what I remember, there were two bottles of merlot (possibly three), one of pinot grigio, three of champagne, and some really excellent Jack's Pumpkin Spice beer, which unfortunately I was too smashed by then to drink much of. They had an Egyptian-style hookah with cinnamon-flavored tobacco, which tasted great, although I still can't smoke that shit without coughing like a noob. The Priestess really liked us -- partly because I was the only woman in the congregation that night, and she often has to do the women's parts in the call-and-response section because no one else is there carrying a vagina and/or uterus to do them. It was a hell of a lot of fun. I have never been so drunk on sacred grounds. Because we were doing all that in the temple, and it fucking rocked. With all the energy already going around, it was like being a little high or stoned even before the booze. And she gave us roses! Very, very cool. I have never had an actual spiritual experience in a religious ceremony before. I'm hooked. Years from now when I'm selling matches on the street to pay my initiation fees into new cults, you can look back to this event as the start of it all.

26 February 2009

Why I Left College.

It would be simplistic to say I was unhappy last fall when I threw away 12 credits last semester and ran off to join my now girlfriend in Florida.

The truth is I was happy- mostly.Most of my life was going well enough, and quite a bit of it was going great. All this ignores one important detail. 

I was half-assing my life. I was taking the easy road because I was afraid of screwing up and somehow ruining everything. So I took the easy path, like so many of my peers, and went to college as a way of escaping the question "what do I do with myself?" 

Since the end of high school and the culmination of my decade or so of depression with a nervous breakdown, I have sought to take responsibility for who I am in a moment and who I will become in the future. While at school I was able to avoid that responsibility by filling my time with friends, classes, and other stuff.

There is probably also some question as to the exact circumstances of my leaving. 

A few weeks before I left I emailed my now girlfriend and co-blogger, Slade Powell. She had recently started traveling the country looking for places to live and grow. At the time she was 100% off the grid at an organic farm in Salamander Springs, Georgia. The Wednesday before I left, she left Salamander Springs and got to some place with wireless Internet. 

She emailed me. She told me if I was in Florida to look her up. I emailed her back, deciding I'd drive down to Florida for a long-awaited hook up and then return to PA. In retrospect, I was lying to myself. So I left. I have not been back to Indiana, PA since.

I'm sure someone is wondering if I think I made a mistake. I do not. Every step I've taken on the long road to growing up has been the right one. Even the mistakes. Especially the mistakes.

I left college because I let myself stay more mediocre than I could be. I don't know if I'm going to be able to make freelancing work. I don't know much of anything about my future except my own intent to grow and become the best man I can be.

So now we're in New Orleans trying to make it big. Hah!

Tales of Bourbon St. Shotgirl

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a thing to behold. Thanks to a last-minute call from a job I'd given up on earlier in the month, I saw it from Ground Zero: a bar on Bourbon St. I was hired as a shotgirl, which means I had a little refillable tray of high-octane shooters in test tubes, which I hawked to the public at large. The more shots I sold, the more money I made. And honey, I made a mint. And lost my voice completely by the end of Fat Tuesday itself.

The bar I was at was part of a chain with three locations along Bourbon. I worked at one location on Sunday and Tuesday, and another one on Monday. This variation in geography allows me to make some fairly well-informed statements about tits.

There was a lot of flashing. A lot. It made my bisexual brain happy, I can tell you that much. What was sad were the people (almost all male) who completely failed at getting flashed. Case in point: On the second-floor balcony across the street from my lookout spot on Mardi Gras itself, there was a private party of 30-something guys in matching costumey pirate hats. They tried to get girls to flash them by chanting "Show us your tits!" repetitively and rating them from 1 to 10 with little construction paper score cards labelled "Boob Olympics." This was not terribly successful. There were moments when a throng of chicks would succumb to these guys' obvious charm and wit, but for the truly staggering numbers of drunks (and many of their number did stagger) on the street that day, their results were pitiful.

Now, I compare that to the other location I was at, which was directly underneath another balcony with another private party. (This was standard; lots of places rented second-floor rooms for the holiday, and lots of those people took the opportunity to strew the streets with beads.) Since I was right underneath, I couldn't see the people on the balcony itself, but damn could I ever see their results. Again, so many boobs. A lot of their success came with viewing flashing as an exchange, instead of a one-way exploitation:* these guys threw beads. And they had some really, really good beads, including really big ones, ones with little plushies attached, and ones with branded or funny-shaped beads, all of which are among the most sought after in Carnival. These second guys didn't stinge or discriminate, either; they threw beads to men, to kids, to chicks who didn't flash them, as long as somebody did something distinctive or cute or whatever it was that appealed to the thrower. And they kept it up for hours. I was there for about 7 hours, and so were they. They kept throwing as long as there was a crowd underneath them. Hell, several times their crowd was so engrossed in getting beads that it got in the way of me selling them more booze. Now, that is success.

The non-Bourbon applications of this apparent dichotomy are interesting and wide-reaching. Steve's gotten on The Social Networking Sites of Dooooooom recently, and maybe there's something similar going on there: to make a friend, be a friend. Give people something for their time and bother, like worthwhile content or eye-candy design. Don't just expect the internet to flash you because it has nothing better to do with itself -- although sometimes it will, mostly if you head off to the spamming-with-porn-sites districts. So remember, Citizens of the Tubes, play nice and share.

*To clarify: I spent these three days selling my sexuality on a street corner for $3 a pop. I'm not saying all girls flashing guys on Mardi Gras because it's a cultural expectation is exploitation; most of them seemed to get a real kick out of it, and plenty of girls refused or drew a hard line at how much skin they would show. I'm calling the first party of guys exploitative much the way I would say it of colonial Britain: they engaged in a one-way delivery of goods without expectation of payment. End of lecture.

12 February 2009

Three weeks in New Orleans: Status report

Well, we've been here three weeks, and here's how it's been.

After a few days at the hostel, we found a great little studio apartment on Carrollton Ave., which is ironically in the neighborhood of Carrollton. (Very clever.) You can expect more on Our Place to come. I'm planning a video tour of it.

Still no jobs for either of us, despite applying all over the neighborhood and elsewhere. We had some excellent prospects that just didn't pan out. The problem is that both of us want to freelance in writing (Steve), art (me), and comics (both of us), but our bank balances want us to get "real jobs." We're working on it. In the meantime, we're both scheduling our time to balance doing what we love with making money.

We'll also be posting a lot more often in the past. Steve and I let ourselves get distracted from the work of blogging, even though we found loads of things worth posting, but that will be fixed soon.

In conclusion, the internet is my blog. This blog is my pants. What are you doing in my pants?

24 January 2009

Nashville's architectural penis makes me want whiskey

This post comes to you in two parts, both of them elaborating on our time in Tennessee, birthplace of lots of people, including Steve.


Nashville is a silly place. It claims a cultural heritage as the South and the West* and the downtown bar district is covered in bluegrass and Elvis souvenirs. Nevertheless, we found a dyke bar** (empty) called the Wild Beaver and a really, really nice queer bookshop called Out Loud with an attached coffeeshop called Revive. They had loads of queer movies I haven't seen, and I've devoured all of Netflix's GLBT section. And great sales. And cool people; both of the guys on duty were former Pittsburghers, which was cool. The barista said two days was about as much as you could spend in Nashville, and he'd been there 20 years. Ouch.

But all of that is outclassed by the Parthenon. You may think we have a teleporter in the back of Steve's Civic and we clearly took an afternoon side trip to Greece, but such is not the case. Nashville has its own Parthenon, built out of cheap yellow pebbly stone I recall from the construction of part of my high school. It's columns are constructed out of three pieces, too, instead of the requisite six.

It was also closed. Who closes the Parthenon? What about all the worshippers of Athena in this town who need to pray for deliverance from Elvis-based tourist shops?

Nevertheless, the Parthenon led us to The Coolest Guy in Nashville. This man was just hanging out among the columns, enjoying the view and his magnificent suit. That enormous beaver-tail hair of his took 15 years to grow. Steve and I stand in awe of this man and someday hope to be half as cool as him.

And then we left Nashville, which leads us to...


Despite our current desire to stay in New Orleans for awhile, this endeavor has been primarily a road trip. And what's a road trip without stops at absurd roadside tourist traps? So obviously, when we passed a sign directing us off I-65 to the Jack Daniel's Whiskey Distillery, we had to go. Neither of us is all that wedded to Jack, but we'd passed the Maker's Mark distillery too late in the night to get a tour and we didn't realize that the Jack Daniel's distillery was 40 miles off the highway. Steve's a whiskey snob, and he's been training me in the ways of such things. (I am more of a stout lover, myself.) We have plans to start properly training up our whiskey palates once we have a nice cushion of income. I can promise you we're not alcoholics because we're too damn poor to afford the stuff we'd like to pass across our taste buds.

Nevertheless, we stopped to see the home of the corporate tool of the whiskey world. It's located in a dry county; Jack's successor spent Prohibition drafting local laws allowing whiskey to be made there, and for the employees' wages to come as part cash and part whiskey. (True fact: To this day, Jack Daniel's employees receive a bottle of Jack on the first Friday of every month with their paychecks.) Therefore, we weren't allowed any samples; they could only sell us "commemorative" bottles of regular Jack.

One of the highlights of the tour was the statue of Jack Daniel himself outside the spring whose naturally purified water is why he settled the distillery there. The statue is called "Jack on the Rocks," but we saw something else. Jack's got a little Captain in him, too.

Look again at that photo. Jack's statue may seem a little small, but it's actually 5 inches taller than life size. Jack Daniel stood 5'2" and weighed in at 120 pounds soaking wet. And he was killed by a safe! He couldn't get it open one morning, kicked it, broke his toe, got embarrassed, told no one until the gangrene set in, and died of infection. Seriously.

What's even more impressive is that you can buy an entire barrel of Jack for approximately a year's income on the poverty line. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of, hopefully, a whole lot of friends to help take care of the burden of this much fine drink.

And that's the Jack Daniel's distillery and the absurd Nashville architecture.

*It is my personal belief that you can't call yourself "West" when you're due south of Ohio and Illinois. When Chicago starts peddling cowboy hats for $5, then you can start doing it too.

**It's okay, guys. I'm bisexual, I'm allowed to say these things.

From Nashville to Nawlins

It's a long way from Pittsburgh, where our journey started, to New Orleans, where we are now. Here's how we got here:

Night 1 was spent in a lovely Temple Guest Room at the hospitable Palace of Gold, a Hindu temple in Wheeling, WV. Gods bless the Hindus for allowing random strangers to crash in their places of worship, snag a guest key, sleep their fill, and leave totally on the honor system; we got there late and didn't see another human being till we were leaving the next morning.

Then we got on the road for real. Day 2 was spent driving, constantly, and all of it Steve, since we put my stick-shift driving lessons on hold till we were out of range of the snow. I'd booked us a room for the night in Nashville, and goddammit we were going to make it.

I love the road. There is nothing finer than rolling out of bed early in the morning, shaking the sleep out of my eyes, and getting out on the road. Breakfast is to be eaten immediately, followed by a snack after dawn (around 8am). Few things in life are so consistently fantastic -- in its literal, "fantasy-like," meaning -- as driving into the dawn. The world is blackness spiked by tail-lights and head-lights, then suddenly you look around and there's definition to the scenery. And then you look around a moment later, and there's further definition. It's like the world itself is waking up around you, getting a grasp on itself, rediscovering what it looks like. I imagine this is what the Dreamtime looked like, if there could be any modern equivalent to watching the Earth being sung into existence. Every moment reinvents the world, draws it out of obscurity, and it doesn't stop at full light; the world just keeps getting brighter all the way until noon. It is a magnificent sight, and one I scarcely ever miss when I have the chance.

So when we got on the road that morning (albeit well after dawn), it was with great anticipation and a sense of coming home. We nearly died at least a dozen times on the tiny, curvy, hilly, icy, snowy, fatal road leading away from the temple. That's certainly one way to start your morning.

By Night 3, we'd reached Nashville. This was the night of the Inauguration, which we didn't watch because we were exhausted. The Music City Hostel was very nice, and we stayed three nights. Went out to B.B. King's Blues Bar, which had great live music and a terrible, sparse crowd of middle-aged white tourists that frustrated the guest singer's attempts to get a groove going.

I should mention that until we got to Nashville, our intended next stop had been Houston. Then we thought to ourselves, "What cities between us and Houston would we like to see before continuing west?" And the single, unswerving answer was:

[Master: I think this is the spot for the hostel pic of the "New Orleans 536 miles" sign.]

Yep, New Orleans. It's Carnival, after all!

So now we're on the Louisiana coast, and tomorrow we'll start looking for ways to stay here a couple of months. We need jobs and housing. Preferably a really nice apartment in an old house with great architecture and a balcony, with a landlord who appreciates young'uns in love out to make their fortune in the wide, beautiful world. And jobs at hostels or little specialty shops or something. It's Carnival; there must be a way!

Batman is the new Black

And so we've arived to what will be, for now, our home.

Carnival started on January 6th (my birthday), so we took that as a sign that we should head down to New Orleans. We're currently staying in a little hostel off Canal street called the  India House Hostel. It's a pretty awesome funky place for freaks and degenerates. As one might expect, we feel quite at home here.

Later tonight Slade will be posting our exploits in Nashville and driving down here (Including a guest appearance by our dear Uncle Jack.)

19 January 2009

Something wicked this way comes...

First, a quote from a book I'm reading:
"In any area of life, you have a natural monopoly of the unique combination of traits that you possess. The only effective way to rule out competition is to find the market that wants your traits above all others. And you'll find it and keep it by having the courage to stand up for what you are."

Next, a brief introduction:
I'm Steve Fisher. At this moment I'm staring at my beautiful girlfriend Slade in a Hare Krishna Temple a few miles south of Wheeling, WV. This temple has cheap guest rooms. And free wireless internet. And great Indian food. I'm 22, a college drop out (for now at least). A few months ago I got sick of waiting till I was done with school to live the life I wanted. So here I am, laying on a single bed with my breaking laptop.

Last, a story I heard a while ago:
Once upon a time in China, A group of Confucians went into the mountains to teach an old Taoist the proper way of living. Once inside his one room hut, the confucians were shocked and revolted to find the Taoist was without shirt or pants on. With instant revulsion they exclaimed, "What are you doing in your hut without pants?!" Not being one to miss a beat, the wiley old Taoist replied, "The world is my hut, this hut is my pants. What are you doing in my pants?"

The confucians left him alone after that.

What possible relevance does this story have to anything? Well, we needed a title for our blog. And "Guns and Bacon" was taken. Slade and I are homeless except for my 1997 Honda Civic which contains all our worldly possessions. So, in a sense, like the Taoist the world is our home. Which makes my car our pants.