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In LA, even the cholos ride fixed gear bicycles.
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A) Check out http://www.myspace.com/cawcawmusic

B) Home Friday afternoon-Sunday afternoon!


D) Tonight Travis sang, among many other things, that to you must become what you desire most.  And that you'll never be free from love.

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Last night, I drowned in the Clark Fork River, born down to the silty bottom like Ophelia drowned by her own dresses, but woke up naked in a tidepool alongside the Pacific.

I was riding a tricycle along the footbridge, and the railing was missing from the West side of the bridge, and that's why I fell. I let go of the east side railing for a moment, and the tricycle spun backwards and I flipped gently off the edge. Since it was a dream, everything happened in slow motion but still felt as though it happened at normal speed. I grabbed unto a rope holding a banner over the bridge, and the rope stretched and stretched as I fell and I thought just before hitting the surface of the river "death is going to be cold". But the river was warm and comforting. Still I expected the rope would pull taught and retract and if I just held on would bring me back to the surface. But it didn't. The current just gently spun me round as I clenched this rope that was no longer attached to anything until I blacked out.

And when I came to, I was laying half in, half out of a warm tidepool, naked as the day I was born. So I looked around and tried to find however had pulled me out of the river, managing to comprehend that they must have needed to strip me to my bare nothingness to save me or else I would have ended up like Ophelia. But the only person who was there was this man, that I knew, and I don't know who it was but I knew him and he was angry. Hurt and angry, like his pride was wounded by seeing me lying there naked and vulnerable. He asked me if I had enjoyed having my clothes removed by him, and I said I didn't know, I was blacked out, who was this "him", and how did I get to the ocean anyways? But he ignored my questions and persisted, even asked me if he gave me mouth-to-mouth so I just started ignoring him and drew myself up out of the tidepool. It was very warm and no one else was around so I walked until I found my clothes under a nearby pier, folded neatly on top of some blankets. I pulled on the same black, skinny legged jeans I wear when I'm awake (but they looked better in the dream), the same woven brown leather belt, the same red tshirt.

And all the while this person, this someone that I know but I can't remember who it was, is following me, muttering under his breath about how I must have enjoyed it, that I probably threw myself off the bridge on purpose, as if risking death would be worth the slim chance that this other person might just be there to draw me up into his loving arms, strip me of my worldly worries, cover his lips with mine and whisper into my mouth "you're saved".

But if that's what happened, I don't remember. It's all a blank, I don't even know who saved me or if anyone actually did save me. Maybe in an instinctual, animalistic panic I stripped off my own clothes and with that inhuman strength they often ascribe to dieing persons pulled myself up out of the river and onto that sandy beach somewhere in sunny California. All I know is now I'm here, sitting on a blanket on hot white sand watching hipsters ride their bikes along the boardwalk. And so I guess it doesn't really matter how I got here, anyways.
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It's snowing, again.

At some point this week, between an art opening, 21 hours at Biga, 30+ hours for the Int'l Food Festival, finishing a direct mail appeal, and sending out invitations to serve on the ZACC board, I have to write a five page paper on loyalty in Hamlet.

"Oh can it," you say, "five pages is NOTHING". Well, I don't know if you say that, but I'm going to pretend you do. And you're right to say so, pretend audience, because five pages is a pittance as far as papers go, AND it's for a 100 level class, AND it's a semi-interesting topic on a piece of literature I'm thoroughly enjoying reading.

What gets me is...why do I have to take a 100 level liberal studies class in the first place? I'm not a liberal studies major. Why do I have to write an essay on loyalty in Hamlet? What does Hamlet have to do with nonprofits?

I can coordinate an entire fundraising campaign for a new nonprofit, I can manage a team of ten volunteers, I can keep detailed accounting records up to IRS nonprofit standards, but if I can't explain to Professor Turtleneck why Ophelia is more loyal to her father than Hamlet, I DON'T GET TO GRADUATE.

He always wears turtlenecks. And sports jackets.
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I need a haircut.

And some lovin'.

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We road the ferry. We saw the ocean. We hit an elk, we named her Elky. We mourned her over three bottles of wine and two twelve packs in Aberdeen, I had regrettably good sex. Spent two nights in Olympia, staying at Baba Nace's, until the car was fixed, and we blissed out in each other's arms. Two nights in Portland, we barely touched. We made it to Oakland, against all odds. We wandered the Berkeley campus at night, he wrapped his arm around my shoulders. My first time in the Bay Area. Lavender honey icecream, long walks with Liz. He slept with Liz's roommate. My first time being told "but I still want to be your friend". Of course you do, we still have to live together for the next five months. "I'm always harshest on the people closest to me". We drove on to Eugene, Cougar Hot Springs, barely made it, walked five miles in because the roads were too snowy. Dipped in the springs by the full moonlight, slept on a hill, in the snow, no tent, frozen but exhausted. I should be angrier at him than I am. Woke up at dawn, soaked for hours, then Portland, picked up Bill, our Craigslist rider, aging hippy/medicine man? He sang a Salish Elk Song, for Elky. Took a lot of wrong turns. 4am, made it home.

If someone could tell you- "that boy, that girl, that beauty is going to break your heart", do you think you could stop yourself from getting close to them?

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And so, the weather finally clears. I won't have any trouble making it to Seattle on the 2nd, and from there to Portland, Oakland, and the end of the world.

Christmas was me, my roommate, two bottles of hot spiced wine, and enough food for ten people. I offset the wine-drinking with plenty of tea-drinking (Evening in Missoula, tastes like mint and rose on a cool Missoula summers eve) and later we trekked to our favorite late night hotspot, the Thunderbird Motel, for an illicit hot tub dip.

All in all, not bad, but it does the mind good to know I'll be home for a day or two soon.

Current Music:
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I'm completely enjoying this research project on Lou Reed, but I'm frustrated by the notion of studying someone else's life instead of living my own. College seems to be so much about scrutinizing what other people have done and not doing anything yourself, but that's what I get for picking a history degree.
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Since my heart
Can never forget you
If I don’t get the prize,
Oh, how wrong I was to look at you
This vision will cost
Great pain and great sadness
But if, for loving you truly,
You want to give me a reward,
My heart will not say:
Oh, how wrong I was to look at you


If I could link the infinitely superior chorale version I'm studying in my forms and analysis class, sung in the original Spanish text, you would understand that much better why I enjoy this so much. But this could give you a general idea.

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Of interest:

Been listening to a lot of Kraftwerk, writing a paper on Man Machine.
Absolutely gaga over new Antony & The Johnson's tracks.
Also pretty interested in new Mogwai.
Might be in love with Okkervil River.

Almost finished building my bicycle!
Might soon be too hipster to stop myself from gagging.

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Does everyone feel a proprietary right to know the details of the cell phone conversations that happen in their presence?  Like just because you're in the room and you could hear one half of it means you should know the other, and moreover who it was with?  It's confusing, normally when you hear someone talking they are either talking to you or you can hear the other person talking, too.  

I know I do this too, but it's beginning to annoy the hell out of me: "who was that?" or "what was that all about?"  I understand that if I want to have a private conversation I should and will leave the room, but what if I just want to answer my phone, exchange a few brief words, and then let the call drop with out answering a series of inquiries from the person sitting on the other side of the living room?  Where's the line?  

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I miss these mountains, I miss my home beneath them.
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I dream of African war zones, cocaine, diamonds, fucking blood everywhere, rape and ants.  When I'm awake, I look around at my peaceful existence, the tree lined avenues, the days wasted at the river, and through the haze of intoxication I usually find myself in when I'm not working I wonder, "why the fuck do I deserve this, when every day others are living in a hell so real they can smell the sulfur and see the devil?"  Damn my Christian upbringing for ingraining me with such a bad guilt complex.  Or maybe it's just an unhealthy abundance of empathy.

On a completely different tangent, I'm quiting Finn&Porter because, among other things like not wanting to be a slave to Peter Lambros and Hilton anymore, one of the creepy old cooks has escalated his occasional comments from kind of weird to cut and dry sexual harassment.  Thankfully my other job gave me a raise so I can afford to work just for them.  Hmmm.

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Life is so predictable.  All these recurring themes, the cycles of love and loss, and an endless stream of mundane inevitabilities yet we still act surprised when the shit hits the fan as if there was a chance it wasn't going to.

I had a string of really fantastic days followed by one big shit show of a black-out-drunk evening.  Now I've gone and complicated a life that I was making increasing sense out of, and thrown everything off.

Dumb ass!

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I had a seed of dread in the pit of my stomach on Saturday night.  That feeling was good for me.  It kept me from drinking too much on my 21st birthday.  All in all, a good time and I managed not to consume horrendous amounts of alcohol.  I still won't be drinking that much again for a long time, though.

I've had a bad feeling for a while, now.  I don't mind working a lot, so the 50+ hour work weeks have been almost welcome, but now I feel like I'm living for work.  I wait and wait for that one day off a week and when it comes, all I have the energy to do is go to the river.  But I'm thankful for at least that.  I'm giving myself these next few days that my mom is here and I'm not working to get a few personally productive things done with her help.  We can't maintain a garden in our backyard because the sprinkler system would destroy it, which is really lame because there's a perfect plot back there that was dug out once and John was really excited about helping with my idea of doing bio-intensive gardening.  But I am going to do some pot plants, at least a few kitchen herbs so I'm going to get those with my mom.  We've also planned to drive up to Flathead Lake, and I'm going to borrow Mike's super nice camera to attempt to take some super nice pictures.

Last thought: Finn&Porter is soul sucking me.  SOUL SUCKING.  I can't stand this corporate bullshit.  The job itself is not hard, and the people I work with are generally fine, even pretty cool in some instances.  Yet every day I go in there, I start off at 6am with a ton of energy, thinking about all the things I need and want to get done and ready to do them, and by the end of my shift at 3pm, I've got no fight left in me.  I'm tired, the small talk with customers has depleted me of having anything worthwhile to say, my fake smile has faded to a shadow of a grimace and all I want to do is sleep.  Sleep, and let the escapism of unconsciousness relieve me for a short time of the guilt and rage that I feel by the end of a work day at F&P.

Also: Josef Fritzl claims that the influence of Nazism is responsible for him being a sick bastard.
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I play by 99% of the rules.  I work, get good grades, have a slue of extra curricular volunteer activities, make extensive plans for my future, and I'm pretty damn good over all at following those guidelines laid out by society to achieve "success".  I question the system of which I am a part but I doubt I would ever seriously consider breaking social norms to striking out on my own path.  I have gone to college, as was expected of me, I will go to graduate school, as is expected of me, and I will work at an interesting by mostly inconciquential job to satisfy my bill collectors and consumerist tendencies, as is expected of all of us.  Yes, I am, always have been, and baring some physical or mental tragedy, will always continue to be pretty successful because I play by the rules.

And it's starting to get to me.  I have two jobs now.  First, I make pizza at an independently owned, all locally supplied pizzaria.  The owner is the drummer for one of Missoula's oldest and most well loved bands and has worked as a chef at all (3) of Missoula's finner restaurants, the staff are almost all as locally grown as the food they prepare and serve, and the passion for providing organic, sustainable, and delicious food is shared by all.  Great. 

Second, I work at The Finn&Porter at Hilton's Doubletree Edgewater Inn.  And it is loathsome.  The Finn&Porter features a rustic Montanan atmosphere provided by prevalent oak furnishing and architecture, varnished and polished so shiny it almost looks fake.  Photographs around the edges of the lounge depict a simpler Missoula of years long gone, the types of pictures that could  be stills from A River Runs Through It.  Seafood is flown in from Seattle three nights a week.  Brunch costs $20 a person.  The wait staff is 90% female, 100% beautiful.  Smooth jazz, sushi bar, flat screen TVs, river views, "guests" not "customers", drug tests, Starbucks, HR's PC bullshit.  It's rich, fake, a model of unsustainable business practices.  And that's just the restaurant, I don't think I need to say a single word about the Hilton Corporation that actually writes my paychecks.

And guess what?  I lied my ass off to get this job.  I lied like a dog to garner the pity that would make it possible for me to take my drug test a week later than scheduled and have them not be suspicious.  I told them my sister was in a car accident, that I'd driven home to Seattle the Thursday they'd contacted me to ask me to take the test, left their office's number in Missoula, was worried sick, got back on Tuesday and begged them to understand my situation and allow me to take it that day.  They did believed me.  Fuck, I almost believed me.  Actually, I wasn't expecting to pass because I've been around so much pot lately, it'd only been a week since I'd last smoked, and I'd smoked maybe four of the seven days I'd been in Missoula before that.

So there you have it.  I play by 99% of the rules, cheated to cover up the 1% that I don't abide by, got away with it, and now have a ridiculously easy job seating people at mahogany tables in front of the Clark Fork River for 7.15 an hour with a company who's business practices violate my understandings of solidarity and human dignity and ecological responsibility.

This is one success I am not proud of.  No, I'm pretty fucking ashamed right now.
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I have nothing particularly important, emotional, or poetic to say, so I probably shouldn't be saying anything.  Where I'm at right now, picking up the threads of my life again and starting new patterns, means I'm largely conflicted and emotionally unstable, but all in all I'm doing rather well being back in Missoula.  Since I've been jobless, I've been volunteering most of my free time at Missou's new community arts center.  Though it has yet to officially open to the public I have high expectations for it, and my time there has allowed me the opportunity to network with a group of passionate and (gasp!) financially successful artists and writers.  This new group of people is a breath of fresh air in my life.  As much as I love my friends for who they are and what they do, few of them are anywhere near as...impelled as I am.  Part of that is in my nature, I dislike being stagnant and love making plans, and part of that is due to my experiences in South Africa.  Either way, I'm having a hard time sitting still and participating in random partying here when I don't feel like I've earned it, and I simply having a hard time relating to my friends.

All I know is I just need to be busy right now.  The first three nights I was in Missoula I was fairly drunk, and high the two nights after that, but only one night did I enjoy myself, so obviously substances are not the answer.  I also lost my favorite hairclip, the one with a trio of elephants on it, a few days ago and I'm really afraid it's gone for good this time.  I just can't even remember when the last day I wore it was.  I hate being attached to an object like this, but part of my upsetness is based on the fact that I lose everything and I was kind of proud of myself for having held on to this thing successfully for a year and a half.

Also, I woke up at 5am today, even though I'd only gone to bed four hours ago, drunk.  What the fuck, and lame.
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Sealab is giving me a sensory overload.

I interviewed for the gallery job today and it went very well.  But I'm not very confident because the current coordinator mentioned that they had several very promising applicants.  The interview was smooth enough that I can infer that I am one of those, but that still means there is stiff competition.  He said they would notify applicants on their decision towards the end of next week.  I'm glad that I have the interview done, but I hate being in the position where there's nothing more I can do.

I'm very overwhelmed by being home.  It was snowing this morning, making me feel like I'm picking up exactly where I left off in Missoula, but simultaneously I'm at a complete loss as to what I'm supposed to be doing with myself.

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I read Dance, Dance, Dance, A Wild Sheep Chase, and South of the Border in rapid succession as high school graduation left me with little to do besides my highly unrewarding work tossing pizzas. But there was a definite upside to my job, that was my coworkers. Here I was, 17 years old and so tenderly impressionable and weak in my self conviction, and my 20 something year old coworkers would take me back to their house (three of them shared a house near the store), share artisan craft beers with me and treat me not like the child everyone told me I was and I thought I was but like the adult I should have been striving to be.

I was in limbo- no longer high school student, not quite college student yet. So my identity, my dreams, my desires were in flux. And these coworkers and friends, honestly, didn't make this any easier for me. Here was a group of abundantly happy, uncommonly successful individuals who had given the proverbial middle finger to the system, and chosen to live their lives independent from the prescribed path of prosperity (unintentional alliteration, I swear!) and were happier for it.

And here was Murakami, whose main characters, after the most bland, predictable, successful lives in which they do average in college, get an average job, and marry an averagely attractive woman are suddenly and violently out from beneath their own crushing mediocrity into by something brilliant, something poetic, something more than their tired lives.

What followed next is this: one of them, the closest to my age at 19, was leaving for an indefinite period of time to go on a cross country road trip, and I was at their house to see him off the night before he left. As I prepare to head home for the evening, he kisses me. And it wasn't just him kissing me, asking me to stay, it was everything I had ever denied myself because I was so practical, so hell bent on my path of success, standing in front of my and screaming at me through a pair of the most absolutely calm and assured blue eyes "there is another way to live". Murakami solidified in that moment for me, as I got in my car and left him, and I knew that I would forever be trapped by my petty ambitions if I spent my entire life waiting for that surrealist moment when something magically appears to change everything for me, as happens to most Murakami characters.

That is why I love Murakami, why I have such tender memories of South of the Border. It fit in with my life so well, it was that surreal moment of change I so vainly stared at the horizon for in perpetual waiting. It's been three years and I have yet to see that the guy who asked me to stay the night (did he have any idea he was really asking me to change my life?). But I have a copy of South of the Border, West of the Sun ready to hand over to him if I ever do, with this underlined, so that maybe he'll understand why I had to go:

"No matter where I go, I still end up me. What's missing never changes. The scenery may change, but I'm still the same old incomplete person. The same missing elements torture me with a hunger that I can never satisfy. I guess that lack itself is as close as I'll come to defining myself."
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Packing and making my preparations to leave is depressing.  I don't really want to stay here that much longer, but suddenly I just don't really want to be home either.  I'm afraid of my complacency, of living the exact same life I had before I left.  I've got it in my head that the only way to change myself is to completely change my surroundings.  Hell, I've done it twice and it worked wonders.  But just like every time I visit Seattle I start falling back into old habits, I'm afraid that the changes I've made in myself here will prove to be merely superficial when I return home.  I've been in Missoula long enough.
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