Easter 1975

Me, my sister, my father, my cousin Mike, my aunt Pat, and my uncle Rob…

…I am the one playing with the beer can.

Amtrak Guest Rewards

So, as I’ve mentioned before, for both monetary and affection-for-train reasons, I chose to take Amtrak to get my person back to Savannah from Cleveland a few weeks ago.  I’ve taken Amtrak quite a few times before — I’m actually an Amtrak Guest Rewards member — so I’d come to expect the obligatory several-hours lateness that comes with the territory.  That being said…

My first train was scheduled to leave Cleveland at 12:35 on Friday morning, but didn’t pull out of the station until almost 2:30.  Two hours late — no biggie, and not entirely unexpected.  The train was clean and fairly empty, so I was allotted two seats all to myself — happiness.  I’d come armed with a pint of rum, some Coke (a-Cola), and a backpack full of reading and writing material.  I made my way to the lounge car, and proceeded to sit alone drinking and writing and watching the the middle of the night lights go by.  "This is what I like about taking the train," I remember thinking.  Eventually, I fell asleep to the rocking of the train, sprawled out on my two seats, dreams full of remembrances of train rides past floating through my skull.

At some too-early-in-the-morning point, I was shaken awake by a conductor or some sort of train-lackey and asked what train I was changing to in Washington (D.C.).  "I’m going to Savannah," I groggily replied, before putting my head back down and falling back asleep.  Several brief dreams passed before I was shaken awake again by the same train-person and asked what number of train I was connecting to.  I said I had no idea, and the person indicated that if I was on so-and-so train that I would have to get off in Philadelphia and take a bus to Washington.  I sat up and fumbled through my bags for a long while before I was able to locate my ticket, show it to the train-flunky, and then return to my pancake-flavored dreams. 

My first train was scheduled to arrive in Washington at about 11:30 on Friday morning, and my second train was scheduled to leave at 7:30 that night, leaving me plenty of time for my meeting with President Bush.  Unfortunately, my first train didn’t end up arriving in D.C. until approximately 5:30, which only left me two hours to gallivant around Union Station, so I was forced to call and cancel my meeting with George — he cried a bit.  The only Washington D.C. site in the vicinity of Union Station was the National Postal Museum, which sounded about as exciting as staring blankly into space.  After staring blankly at the facade of the National Postal Museum for about an hour, I decided to get something to eat and find out how late my second train would be.  I had a chicken sandwich and a lemonade while sitting next to a man who was reading a science fiction novel while repeatedly making disgusting noises with his nose and mouth — words fail to describe the horror and disgust I felt.  I kept looking at him with an accusatory face, but he seemed either completely oblivious to his noises or so accustomed to the sort of looks I was shooting him that he was able to effectively ignore them. 

The second train seemed, at first, to be relatively on-time.  They started taking tickets and letting us out onto the platform at about 7:30, but as soon as we got out on the platform things started to go wrong.  The always-inept Amtrak staff was apparently unaware that they didn’t have enough cars to hold all the new passengers, until they had us all huddled together and sweating on the platform, that is.  So, about a hundred passengers (including myself) stood on the platform for an hour while they attached another car to the back of the train.  As soon as the car was attached, they opened the doors and a free-for-all race for seats began.  I ended up sitting in a window seat next to a family of about six, which inspired me to immediately mix a cocktail.  As I was transferring a healthy dose of rum to the bottle of Coke I’d bought at the station, I noticed the man sitting next to me was giving me looks — dirty looks, drinking = bad looks.  It was at this point that I noticed the latest issue of Watchtower sitting on his tray table, which I took as my cue to exit. 

I made my way through the packed train to the lounge car, which was fairly disgusting — it reminded me of a high school cafeteria, except with lots of swarthy people in it.  I got relatively drunk, I wrote, I read, I stared blankly into space, I got very drunk.  At some point I decided that I should probably try and sleep, so I ambled back to where I last remembered my seat being, only to find that there were people sleeping in every seat everywhere around the last place I remembered my seat being.  It occurred to me at this point that I should have pissed on my seat to mark my territory, too little too late.  I stumbled around a bit more, haphazardly looking for somewhere — anywhere — to sit and pass out, and also realizing that I needed to recover the possessions I had left at my initial seat.  Eventually an Amtrak-employee-person came around and I explained what happened, and he fixed it — I got my shit back and a seat to pass out in. 

After sleeping intermittently for five to seven hours, I woke up as the train began to slow down and then stop.  It was daylight outside, and we were scheduled to arrive in Savannah at around 7:30 (Saturday morning), so I assumed that we were almost there.  Looking out the windows indicated that we were not stopped at a station, however, but at a place most aptly described as "the middle of nowhere."  Amtrak trains share the rails, and are subservient to, freight trains, so brief stops are not unusual, and are usually the cause of the perpetual retardation of the trains.  After sitting motionless on the tracks for almost a half-hour, however, people (including me) started to wonder what was going on.  After sitting motionless on the tracks for over an hour, people really started to get pissy, and then we were finally told by an Amtrak-tard that an axle on the engine was broken, and that they were "trying to fix it."  Soon after that, the power went out, and with it the air conditioning and the cash register for the cafe — so, no food or drink, and increasing heat.  At this point, the normally neutral social atmosphere of public transportation began to deteriorate.  Rapidly.

Over the next few hours, we were told that the engine was broken-broken, and that they were going to need to bring in a freight engine to pull us into Savannah.  There would be no electricity for the remainder of our trip, and it was unclear as to how long this whole get-new-engine-and-pull-us-to-Savannah thing was going to take.  Nobody was allowed off the train, as we were in "the middle of nowhere," so I was essentially… no, not essentially, I was stuck in a hot metal box with a bunch of angry strangers in the middle of South Carolina.  The situation took a Calcutta-esque turn when the fresh water ran out and the bathrooms began to back-up.  As the smell slowly wafted into the cars and combined with the sweat of the passengers a scent was created… how to describe it?  Imagine a locker room filled with shit and piss, and then add jungle-like heat and humidity.   It was about one in the afternoon.

At this point the filmmaker in me should have pulled out my camera and started taping, but I was too busy wallowing in the surreal crapulence of the situation.

I did meet some interesting people…

  • The middle-aged guy who I ran into by the doors at the very back of the train swearing into his phone and swilling whiskey out of a plastic cup.  As soon as he got off the phone, he looked at me and said in the thickest of drawls "that was my paw, I told him I ain’t gettin nowhere anytime soon."  He then asked if I had any whiskey, and I told him that I had finished my rum the previous night ( which was true).  "That’s a damn shame," he responded.  I agreed.
  • The old man wearing the train conductor’s hat who stood by the doors smoking Pall Malls and talking about how "in the old days, you could run yer watch by the trains."  I liked him quite a bit, actually, as he was one of the few people on the train who actually seemed to be enjoying the situation.
  • The huge and belligerent black guy listening to hard-core gangster rap through enormous headphones.  I know it was hard-core gangster rap because he rapped along with it loudly.  At one point he was standing between the cars rapping along ("this motherfucker ain’t cuttin’ no shit," or some such), and there was this cute little girl just staring at him, listening to him shout words that I wouldn’t want my kid exposed to until they were at least ten.  I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to please censor himself in front of the kid, and he walked away dismissively.

Eventually, we started moving towards Savannah again, and ended up arriving just eight hours short of our scheduled arrival time, at about 3:30 on Saturday afternoon.  The train, and most of the other passengers, were supposed to be headed to Jacksonville, and my understanding was that they were going to have to wait at the Savannah train station another three hours for a fleet of buses to take them to their final destination. 

I took the first taxi I could find back to my apartment.

"Please don’t send me way beyond the sea."

      Come Go With Me ~ The Del-Vikings

(distraction)

I don’t care what anyone says — the way of the world is getting worse.  Those who argue differently are either being blindly optimistic or are on more medication than I am.  Perhaps I should up my dosage. 

I’ve been in a mood this summer, a mood that makes me question everyone’s motivation for everything they choose to do and not do.  We are all distracting ourselves to the grave, each in our own special way.  Special!

An attitude such as this one is, as you can imagine, not terribly productive.  I hate myself when I get this way — I want to step away from myself and smack myself in the face.  When I do step away from myself, however, I end up convincing the myself-myself that the intended smack would be ultimately futile.  The cycle repeats itself.

So, last night as I was lying on my couch staring blankly at the television (Dear MSNBC:  I don’t need to know, nor do I care, that Rush Limbaugh is taking Viagra.)  I saw the solution — productivity (distraction).  Either that, or some red wine and someone to drink it with over endless movies and chess games.  And sex.  (Distractions, all.)

I should probably take a shower and get some work done.

(This is not a cry for help, this is a cry for inner peace.)

Tussin EC

I seem to have almost fully recovered from my congestion — both emotional and physical.  Wow… how deep is that?  "EMOTIONAL CONGESTION!"  My soul is like a car in rush-hour traffic, man, and they don’t sell no Tussin EC. 

I’m done with my first week of Lighting & Field, which means I’m actually done with my second week.  You do the math.  For my first project I have to recreate a painting with a video camera and lights, and it is going to be hard.  There are many numbers involved, and I can’t just put a light somewhere because it will make the picture more like the painting — I must know exactly why I am putting a light somewhere before I even put it somewhere.  Cinematography is complicated.

Despite having the windows closed for most of the past month, several mosquitos have managed to make their way into my apartment and suck blood from my head while I slept.*  I can now say that I have had a mosquito bite on the top of my head, and that it is one of the more unpleasant places to have a mosquito bite.   

Last night I had a dream that I was getting a kidney transplant, and the night before that I had a dream in which an old friend of mine was trying to harm me by throwing banana pepper juice in my face.  I blame the Benadryl and the Korean film.

*I’m not sure about the tenses in this sentence, and am equally unsure about it’s overall construction.  English grammar is complicated. 

Beer for My Horses

The 40 Greatest Country Drinking Songs
(according to the Country Music Channel)

40 Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In?) ~George Jones
39 Killin’ Time ~Clint Black
38 I Love This Bar ~Toby Keith
37 That’s Why I’m Here ~Kenny Chesney
36 Naked Women and Beer ~Hank Williams Jr.
35 Beer Thirty ~Brooks & Dunn
34 Tonight the Heartache’s on Me ~Dixie Chicks
33 Wasted Days and Wasted Nights ~Freddy Fender
32 Tequila Sunrise ~The Eagles
31 Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo ~Tracy Byrd
30 Beer for My Horses ~Toby Keith
29 Two Piña Coladas ~Garth Brooks
28 What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me) ~Jerry Lee Lewis
27 Wine into Water ~T. Graham Brown
26 Whiskey, If You Were a Woman ~Highway 101
25 The Bottle Let Me Down ~Merle Haggard
24 Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time ~Mickey Gilley
23 You Never Even Called Me by My Name ~David Allan Coe
22 Set ‘Em Up Joe ~Vern Gosdin
21 Two More Bottles of Wine ~Various Artists
20 The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’ ~Travis Tritt
19 Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye ~Charlie Daniels
18 It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere ~Alan Jackson
17 I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home ~David Frizzell
16 Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound ~Hank Williams Jr.
15 Pop a Top ~Alan Jackson
14 Straight Tequila Night ~John Anderson
13 There’s a Tear in My Beer ~Various Artists
12 Longneck Bottle ~Garth Brooks
11 There Stands the Glass ~Webb Pierce
10 You Ain’t Much Fun ~Toby Keith
09 Chug-A-Lug ~Roger Miller
08 White Lightning ~George Jones
07 I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink ~Merle Haggard
06 All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming over Tonight ~Hank Williams Jr.
05 Sunday Morning Coming Down ~Johnny Cash
04 Whiskey River ~Willie Nelson
03 Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind) ~Loretta Lynn
02 Family Tradition ~Hank Williams Jr.
01 Friends in Low Places ~Garth Brooks

magical talking pancake

Yesterday I was planning on posting the sordid details of the most unfortunate Amtrak experience ever, but I didn’t, and tonight I don’t feel like it.  Fuck it, perhaps tomorrow.

In addition to being slightly sick, I am in a foul mood tonight.  The first day of class(es) is tomorrow, and I find myself in need of another week to sort my head out before I return to the other side.  The class I am taking is only five weeks long, but it is going to be an intense five weeks with one project after another after another, and lots of money spent on them.

And then there’s this woman on my mind, but then there’s always women on my mind.  This particular woman, though — I miss her, I wish she was here, I wish she would call and tell me a story about a magical talking pancake.  I know I fall too fast — it’s my thing.

stuck