Friday, February 27, 2009

Barbershop Wisdom - The Finale.

I got a new job and consequently will no longer be able to get my haircut at the barbershop in the basement of my office anymore. I made sure to stop by for a trim and some words of wisdom before I left.

"Cyrus was down in here the other day and started talking to some guy. Then do you know what he did? The next day he called that guy up and started talking to him! Just like that, he called him up just to talk. Like he was his wife or something. A man doesn't just call another man to talk, that's not how things are done."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Handful of Seconds.

Early Winter, 2003?

Ben and I were driving up to Tahoe late at night as a storm system was blowing into the mountains. The idea was to get up to Squaw just as the snow was falling hard enough to close the road and keep all of the rest of the people from the valley from coming up and crowding the slopes.

As we approached the summit on I-80 it was late and we were both tired. Ben was driving and I’m sure we were listening to some awful electro-dance music at an unreasonable volume. Snow was falling and the road was covered in a thin layer of ice and powder, just enough to fill in the tracks from previous cars. We had the road to ourselves and I was starting to nod off despite the volume of the music in the car.

We were far enough up into the mountains that the only light came from our headlights and the bits of snow reflecting back at us, like small bright specks falling slowly to the ground. Just ten feet off the road the trees formed a dark wall and made our path seem like a tunnel through the mountain.

Suddenly the rearview mirrors of the car were filled with bright lights. A small white pick-up truck swerved by us. As the pick-up accelerated past us and started to move back into our lane it fishtailed to the right and then the left. Within a handful of seconds the truck drove off the road and disappeared into the dark.

Ben slowed the car to a stop and we both looked at each other with the same What-the-fuck-should-we-do-now look. Ben put on his hazard lights and dialed 911 while I grabbed my gloves and pulled the hood on my jacket over my head.

I crunched out into the snow in my sneakers and walked along the side of the road for about 30 yards. All along the left hand side was a drainage ditch filled with snow, and I quickly came upon a set of red tail lights shining out from the ditch. The truck had plunged nose first off the road and was lying on its left side pointing down at an angle.

I slid into the ditch along side the bed of the truck and down to the passenger side window. Inside a young woman in the driver seat looked back at me and reached her hand up. She was uninjured, but had been pinned to the driver side door by a few large boxes. I grabbed her hand and pulled her up so she could get clear of the boxes that had her trapped. Struggling with the seatbelt for a moment, she unclipped it and climbed out the passenger window with me into the snow.

We both walked up the ditch to the side of the road just as a CalTrans truck was approaching. She looked over at me, her face lit up by the orange spinning lights on the top of the approaching emergency vehicle, “Everything I own was in the back of that truck. I was moving to Reno and now everything is in that ditch.” I wasn’t sure what to say, so I just nodded and waited there with her while she shivered in the falling snow.

A few moments later a man stepped out of the CalTrans truck and I walked back to Ben’s car. The heat inside felt good and started to melt the snow caked around my ankles and calves. We closed the doors and slowly made our way back onto the road and over the summit. Neither of us had any trouble staying awake for the rest of the drive.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Linked Out.

One of a pair of mystery domes in an empty lot next to New York Ave in Northeast. What is this? Why is there a ladder over the top? Why do I consistently allow the chain link fence to dissuade me from getting a closer look?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Aftermath Explained

Later that night I was was watching TV with Mike and Jess and out of nowhere Jess says, "Did you guys see a spear in the front yard?"

I replied that I had indeed noticed the bright purple feathered spear in the yard.

"That was from New Orleans but then me and Ashley drove it up in a U-haul and then she threw it at me from her car and it landed in the yard and I've been too lazy to pick it up."

Well, that cleared things up.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Aftermath.

Last night it got down into the 20's and in an unrelated event a gang of psychedelic spear throwers had some sort of a fight in my front yard. I only hope that no one was too badly hurt.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


When I'm riding the metro at six in the morning and I see someone wearing sunglasses I feel that it is my civic duty to remind that person that it is not only dark outside but that they are in fact under the ground and don't need to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays.

But then I remember that I don't like being stabbed so I just sit quietly in my seat.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

To the Cleaners.

When I walked into the cleaners Soon was on the phone. She stood there with the receiver to her ear for a while, only occasionally replying, “okay.” Finally she hung up and looked over at me, “Some people talk way too fast. I haven’t known English for very long. That man was from the government and said they wanted to make a movie about us. Do you know what that means?”

I didn’t know what that meant but Soon just shrugged it off as another mystery that probably wouldn’t be solved.

While I handed her some dress shirts she went on to tell me about learning English in high school while in Korea . She thought she was pretty good at it until she first came to the US in 1989. “Then I tried to speak but it was so bad. I wanted to run away.” Ten years later she hadn’t run away and was being sworn in for her US citizenship.

“I learned real English from the customers in the store and from watching tv at home in the evenings. I like to watch those love stories in the afternoons, so my grandmother copies them for me on the VCR and we watch together at night.

“My English was getting better, but even by 1999 I wasn’t very good at it. At the swearing-in ceremony some famous people came to speak and the news was there for the speeches. I don’t know who they were but three men gave long speeches to my group in front of the tv cameras. All I understood was ‘Congratulations!’ But I guess that was the important part.”

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How you can tell.

This morning at breakfast I was indignant when I couldn't find any freshly sliced grapefruit. I've been eating fresh grapefruit slices every morning for the past three weeks! Why aren't they set out? "So sorry sir, the convoy has been delayed."

And then at lunch they only had two flavors of ice cream to pick from; strawberry and chocolate. Where was the jamocoa almond fudge? Where was the cookies and creme? Out of protest I didn't eat any ice cream and instead had a large slice of cheesecake.

Clearly it's time for me to go home.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What We Miss.

The guys invited me over for drinks last night for a chance to say goodbye before I head home. We had some beers and the conversation turned to life back at home. Sometimes these kinds of conversations can focus on the negative, whether it’s about a wife, “How much are your ex-wives getting from your pension? My lawyer outsmarted the bitch and now she’s not getting anything hahaha!” or about children, “I told my 20 year old son to watch my house until I got back. After three months the place was so trashed that I’m going to have to sell the goddamn house. I was so mad when I found him I told him, ‘Give me one good reason I shouldn’t gut you and throw your worthless carcass in the river!’ But you know, I wasn’t really going to gut him.”

But last night, the talk turned to pets. “You wouldn’t believe how much money my wife spends on our cats. When I was growing up on the farm we used to have a whole bunch of cats that stayed out by the barn and caught mice. That was fine and that’s where they belonged. If there got to be too many cats I would head outside with my .22 and my dad would pay me a dollar a cat. Hell, by the end of the day I’d have a whole sack full of dead cats!”