Travel, broken toe

I’m packing it up and getting ready to head out. Tomorrow, I fly to Las Vegas, pick up a car, and drive to the Hacienda, which is out by the Hoover Dam. (Not to be confused with the old Hacienda, which was imploded a couple of years ago.) Then on Sunday, I drive to Alamosa, Colorado and hang out there for four days. I stay at a Best Western, and basically just see my land and check out things. Then it’s back to Vegas for two nights at the Tropicana. Should be a decent week.

I think I broke my toe last night, though. I’ve had a lot of misery with my feet over the last year – gout, pulled muscles, and flat feet – so this really sucks. I had my suitcase out, my hardshell samsonite, and I put it in the hallway to air out. I forgot, and when I went to get a drink of water in the middle of the night, BAM! I just thought I stubbed it, and it was OK all day, but when I got my shoes off tonight, it was pure murder. The middle toe is all purple right now, like a ring of purple. I am not going to a doctor, because aside from the fact that doctors can never fix anything, I know that there’s nothing you can do for a broken toe except tape it to the neighbor toe and load up on pain meds. So I got some tape, and I got my little “bootie” from when my gout was killing me, and I got some Tylenol, and it’s fine. I think it will be decent for walking if it is taped up; the middle toe isn’t that important. But when your big toe is messed up, you are fucked. I learned that the hard way last year.

Not a lot else, just packing. I hate that I never know what music format the rental car takes. Ideally, I would just pack MiniDiscs and a cassette adaptor, but now some cars have a CD in them. So I pack a mix of CDs and MDs, or I end up going to a Best Buy or WalMart and buying a bunch of CDs while I am there. Last trip, I ended up listening to the same BT album over and over and over, so I need to be more careful about what I pack this time.

I should get out of here. Not sure if I will update while I am gone, but I might be writing some kind of story or offline journal of the whole trip, depending on my mood. Anyway, see you in a week…

The ghost of grocery store past

Okay, so this daily journal thing slips away from me sometimes. A lot’s been up in the last few days, and I’m getting ready to leave for vacation on Saturday. Actually, I haven’t been getting ready, and that’s a problem. I will probably throw a bunch of crap in a suitcase an hour before I leave for the airport, and then end up in the middle of the fucking desert without a single pair of shorts. But, that’s why they invented Mastercard.

The big news – the book is done, and available. Go here and check out the page. You can view the whole thing from the publisher, and I also installed a message board, so ask some questions about it. And of course, buy the damn thing! It’s only $16 this time, and it’s a fairly easy book to read. You don’t even need to read it in order – just open it to a random page.

I don’t have copies of the book yet, but they are allegedly on the way. They will probably show up next week while I’m out of town. I still haven’t sent out a huge email yet telling everyone about it. I might wait the 4-6 weeks until it shows up on Amazon, because that’s where most people buy it from.

I found an incredible grocery store near where I work. I grew up in the midwest, where there was a Kroger’s store every mile, and each store had a few million square feet of floor space with every food imaginable. But in New York City, the grocery situation sucks. I’m sure it’s the lack of space, plus the markups, high costs, and the fact that everything has to be trucked in from far away, and it’s all run by the mafia. So the Key Foods near my house is in horrible shape, the kind of sanitary conditions you’d expect out of a Russian prison shortly after World War II. There are no choices in foods, the refrigerators are tepid, the freezers are covered with ten years’ worth of frost, and the cashiers give you so much shit, it’s a crime that they also ask you for money for the food. And for some reason, after you get such shitty service, there is a fucking tip jar at the cashier for the bagboy. Most of the time, I end up bagging the stuff myself, and if they do bag it, it’s all wrong. Plus, there are almost no 24-hour grocery stores in NYC. Compare that to Safeway and QFC in Seattle, who had an incredible variety of foods, great cashiers who knew me by name, and they were always open!

Anyway, I went to Safeway when I was in Washington, DC a bit ago, and it depressed me so much that I decided that I was either going to leave New York, or move to Jersey or something, where they had real stores. And then after a few weeks, I thought I was just nuts. Then the other day, I went to this Morton Williams store on Bleecker and LaGuardia, and the place might as well have been a Safeway. Well lit, air conditioned, very modern looking, wide shelves with lots of choices, excellent produce, large freezer cases and open fridge areas that were actually cold, and clean. And the cashiers were nice! I bought a sandwich and some sliced watermelon while I was there, and it was incredible. I can’t begin to explain how such a hospitable oasis in a desert of pure corruption and filth made me feel.

Enough with my insane rant, I need some lunch.

Linux, Coney Island

Every time I need to do something on Linux, I run into a shitstorm of problems. Current issue: I turned on pretty much every firewall option when I installed Red Hat 7.2. Now I want to install a web server. Nope. The only method of reconfiguring this shit is to do everything short of pulling chips off the motherboard and crossing bare wires in the computer case. Is there any documentation on it? No. There’s a two year old HOTWO that does the “if your system has X Y Z do this..” crap, which means I would have to go on a major expedition to find out of Red Hat 7.2 has X Y Z, and of course it probably doesn’t, because Red Hat is legendary for installing stuff sideways and covering it with a bunch of unmaintainable crap.

Aside from that (which actually didn’t come up until today), I had a pretty relaxing weekend. It’s officially summer, and the city’s starting to smell like it. I think it’s going to be a long, hot, humid summer this year. New York summers are the worst, because the entire city is like a miles-long concrete solar collector, and then all of the big buildings dump heat out of their AC systems. But most of the buildings like restaurants, stores in my neighborhood, have substandard AC and aren’t built for the heat. And my building is like a big brick pizza oven. Luckily this year, I have a portable AC in my room, but it isn’t incredibly cool, and it uses a lot of power. I’m going to carefully orient the fans and maybe get another, more efficient one. Luckily, I will be out of town for about two weeks of the worst of it – next week, and the first week in August.

I went to Coney Island yesterday, just to take a long ride in the air conditioned subway and shoot a few photos. (I wanted to post the photos, hence the big Linux screwup.) I like the last part of the train ride through Brooklyn; the subway is outdoors, and passes all of these family houses with little backyards and stuff. Then you go through an immense train yard, with rows and rows of subway cars – some new, some old, some damaged or antique. The train stops, and you’re right at the corner of Surf and Seaside.

It’s very strange to be on the same train for so long, and then get out and see it right there by the beach. I had a similar feeling when I drove across the country for the first time in a small U-Haul truck. A few days into the trip, the truck looked so weird to me, because I had all of these mental images of it in Bloomington, at my mom’s in Elkhart, in the Badlands and at Devil’s Tower, the panhandle of Idaho after the plains and mountains of Montana. I could only imagine what it would be like to go to the moon and back, and then see your capsule sitting on the deck of an aircraft carrier with the interior filled with two weeks’ worth of tang bottles and moon rocks.

Despite the long trip, I didn’t do much at Coney Island. I shot some pictures, walked the boardwalk, got a hotdog at Nathan’s, and watched the people. Coney Island always has a strange feel to me, the way it’s laid out and the building surrounding the area. It’s a weird mix, because there are some high-rise projects or condos or something, and then there are hundred-year old businesses. There must be some strange zoning going on there, because I’d think it would be built up to the gills, like the rest of the city. Maybe it’s the practicality – I would love to have a view of the ocean, but the beach is always crowded, and how would you get to work every day? It’s a good hour and a half from Manhattan.

Anyway, not much else going on. I saw the new Ocean’s Eleven on Saturday, and Swingers last night. Trying to get in some Vegas movies before the trip. I’m not even sure I will gamble when I’m there, though. I do think I’m going to go back to The Gun Store and rent a machine gun and some range time. I had a lot of fun last time with the M-16 and Uzi. I think they have a Tommygun, so that could be cool.

OK, gotta finish eating…

Jackhammer alarm clock

I woke to jackhammering thismorning. Actually, I awoke to the sound of someone dropping a several-hundred pound jackhammer off of a truck, which to the half-asleep mind sounds a lot like a car being dropped from a skyscraper. Then, every car alarm on the block lit up, then the jackhammer. These idiots haver been building a three-unit for at least a year now, working odd hours with leftover material and half-assed labor. It’s pretty much the theme of my neighborhood. There’s a bar on 30th Ave. (right by my place) that has been under construction for a good two years now. And I mean their remodel job is taking that long. I could build a house out of trash and old printouts faster than that.

In good news, I got another set of proofs for Rumored to Exist today, and they look great. I approved them, and the book will now go to the next step of production. That means in about three weeks, you’ll be able to buy it from the publisher, and in about six weeks, Amazon and ilk will have it. It’s 268 pages, which puts it at $15.95. I’m pretty happy with that size and price point, and hopefully that means more of you bastards will buy it and maybe even actually read it.

Incredibly tired – I’ve fallen into the nap-after-work syndrome over the last few days, partially because I’ve had a borderline cold, and I didn’t get any sleep today. If I was smart, I’d go to bed at like ten and wake up early to avoid any potential jackhammer action. But, the Playstation 2 looks so inviting…

Rumored proofs

I got the first proofs of Rumored to Exist today. Unfortunately, the book block was paginated wrong, and I had to send it back. They put each “section” on a new page, always starting on the right, which meant tons and tons of blank space where it wasn’t supposed to be, and it made the thing read like a corny poetry book. So it’s back for a redesign, which will take a couple of weeks, and then the book will be out maybe six weeks after that. I’m nervous as hell that there will be problems, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

It does feel good to have an ISBN, though. Rumored will now be known as 0-595-23476-3. It’s also weird to see the whole thing in a book manuscript, with real fonts and layout and stuff. The cover also looks very official, with a bar code and everything. The price on this proof was $20.95, but that’s assuming a 384 page count, and this pagination fuck-up will bring it closer to the 300 mark, so maybe the price point will drop. I’d love to see it at or below 20 bucks.

I’m still going through this strange haze of not having the book anymore, and seeing it almost done freaks me out a bit. It’s hard to not have a steady project anymore, and I know I should be pushing The Device, but I haven’t been in the mood yet. I’ve got a lot of little shit to deal with first, so I don’t know when I’ll get moving with this thing.

Speaking of which, I have a couple of vacations coming up. At the end of this month, I will be flying to Las Vegas and then driving to my land in Colorado. The drill is this: a day at the Hacienda hotel just outside of Boulder City (I could not get a reservation on the strip if I arrived on a Saturday), then an all-day drive through the southwest, then four nights in Alamosa, then another hell-drive, then two nights at the Tropicana. The Vegas heat will be bad – I think it’s about 105 there right now. But the Colorado part will be decent, comfortable temperatures. And no, this isn’t the part of Colorado that’s on fire right now.

The second trip will be for my sister’s wedding in the beginning of August. It’s an in-on-Thursday, out-on-Tuesday thing. I haven’t been back to Indiana since I moved to New York, so this will be a first. I’ll be staying with Ray, and I have no idea what the itinerary will be, but it will most likely involve driving back and forth between all of the podunk towns in northern Indiana in which my family is scattered.

Not much else is going on. I have a dozen different books I want to be reading, but I’m currently going through a biography of Howard Hughes. It’s not bad sofar – I’m up to the point where his parents died – but I don’t know enough of his history to tell if it’s accurate or not. I am mesmerized by him though – something about his secretive and bizarre lifestyle makes me want to know more. Or maybe it’s because I like the Monty Burns character on The Simpsons so much.

Listening to the new Tony Levin solo album (Waters of Eden) which actually sounds a lot like a Shadowfax album, so It’s good for writing. I think I need to get out of the house though, go for a late night walk…

Book post-partum depression

Sometimes when I look back at this much of my life in one place, it tends to freak me out.

For example, when I first got a designed, printed, final copy of Summer Rain and I saw and FELT how much the summer of 1992 weighed when it its final form, it made me realize how much could happen in three months. And to this day, I still can’t read the book, because a page or two into it, I start thinking about all of the events that I wasn’t able to capture in words, all of the laziness and intensity and all of the people whose paths I crossed who didn’t fit into that formulaic outline that I followed.

I recently finished my book Rumored to Exist and I’m now in this weird, post-partum funk, trying to figure out what’s next while also thinking that I have until September to figure out a way to sell this damned book when it hits the streets. After I zapped the final draft and other assorted submission form cruft to the publisher last week, I did some quick math and realized I’ve been writing this book for almost seven years. SEVEN YEARS! And this is the first time since before I left Indiana in 1995 that I don’t have a major open project. It’s like the kids have grown up and moved away. (Except I get the occasional $14 royalty check.)

I read a bunch of these old journal entries today, as I contemplated getting everything hooked up and operational again. I realized I really do like my old writing, aside from the strong nostalgia of Seattle it invokes. I really do miss Jet City, but I’m not sure if it’s that I miss the Pacific Northwest, or I miss the experiences of that time in my life. My leisure time and writing career are obviously structured much more differently now in New York, and I can’t say I feel it’s the most productive time of my life. But then, I used to say that back in 1996, and now I wish I could run things like that again.

I shouldn’t say I have no major projects – I actually have a few unfinished books and half-baked ideas. I started writing something for NaNoWriMo last year and got about 30,000 words into it. But I missed the first few days in Vegas, and then I got horribly sick when I got back. Somewhere during the trip to the ER, I decided I should fuck the contest and sleep as much as possible, and there it lay. It’s a bizarre sci-fi tale called The Device, about time-travel and a cross-country roadtrip, and it is partially similar to an older idea with the same name (but no roadtrip) that spawned from Rumored several years ago. So maybe that’s my next big thing.

Food’s here, Wyoming chicken burger from Rainbow Cafe. Hopefully, I’ll update this more, and shake out a few bugs in the site format at some point.