December 1st, 2003.

The first day of December explodes upon us with a ferocity of molten dawn. Our room faces South East, and the sun gets up early and wants to know how much we depend on it.

Today we made our way out to Arvada, Colorado – and I’m writing from some Interstate or another, hunting for fast food ambrosia. Starving – grumbling – but our moods are high.

Tonight we played probably one of the most variable open mics we’ve ever played. You know you’re in trouble when the first four slots are filled with “somethinsomethin middle school jazz ensemble”. The local middle and high schools had decided that rather than do their band ensemble performances in their auditoriums, they’d come and sign them up for an open mic.

Luckily, the D-Note actually has a stage big enough for this – and a room big enough to handle all of the parents and hanger-ons. It was a good idea. Just weird. After a while, I went and explored Arvada.

You can tell it’s December 1st. Thanksgiving has passed by the way and we’re suddenly in the midst of the Christmas season. Arvada was beautiful, decorated and lit – the block was surrounded by a circulating ring of horse buggies, picking people up, dropping people off. A woman selling popcorn out of an antique mobile popcorn popper wishes me a Merry Christmas.

I wasn’t prepared for that, and my “And a good night to you” is transmogrified into “Have a Merry too”. Poor confused rob head.

Such a beautiful night, with an half-hidden moon and the occassional neighs of a passing horse, pouring twin jets of steam into the crisp Colorado air.

And then there was the music… and the people.

To be honest with you, I’ve fallen in Love with the people in Colorado. Other states, I’ve often felt that we get a good response, people like us, they’re fascinated with us as aliens and outsiders, and are eager to include us because we’re something cool to look at, to listen to, to introduce.

But here, I’ve just felt like I’ve been included, over and over again. Good people who could be good friends if we stayed longer.

Singer/songwriter Sean Morse is an ideal example. We met him at an open mic, and since then, we’ve hit two others with him. We’ve gone mountain hiking with him and tomorrow we’ll just hang out and record with him. He’s just… good people.

An open mic with a whole lot of stage space - a while middle school jazz ensemble.
An open mic with a whole lot of stage space – a while middle school jazz ensemble.

The host of both last night’s Cricket on the Hill and tonight’s D-Note open mics, Tony Medina – has been just – so happy to see us, and so filled with enthusiasm and joy. Good natured and kind, I wish we could bottle him and bring him back East with us. I don’t know why he reminds me of an extremely genuine and Mexican (New Mexican, I found out today) Brian Gundersdorf. He reenacted a scene from Once Upon a Time in Mexico for me today. And he just makes me laugh.

Oliver, Joe and Travis - the bass player.
Oliver, Joe and Travis – the bass player.
Tony "the New Mexican" Medina
Tony “the New Mexican” Medina

There’s a difference in the humour out here. People can be funny out here with out insulting you. I can appreciate gentle teasing, but it seems that so much of the world’s humour nowadays is “Hey! You’re a piece of shit!” (insert laugh track)… There doesn’t seem to be that much of that sort of thing out here. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but it’s a welcomed assumption.

Joe and Oliver.

I can picture Joe flexing his arms and screaming “WHAT’RE YOU GONNA DO WHEN THESE 21″ PYTHONS COME FER YOOOOU!!!” Like, someone built the mold for him, and then, as opposed to pouring in the flesh and blood and bone and gristle that most of us get, they just poured Man in to it. A lot of man.

I get the impression Joe is an ex-marine. He’s been out of the military long enough to grow his black, curly hair half-way down his back, but he hasn’t lost the physique. It’s rare that I look at someone and just think “Damn”… but… I look at Joe (an appropriate name, too) and think… “Damn”… quickly followed by “what does ANYONE see in me?” All leather and denim and straps on the arms and … like his sticker proclaims, he’s too much metal for one hand.

The sticker makes that make more sense – and makes it not quite as dirty.

Anywho, he and Oliver create quite the double team of very hypnotic acoustic – well – they’re more acoustic grunge than we are. We’re too fast most of the time to be proper grunge. They’ve got a bit more of a grind to them, and … a good pulse.

More hosses.
More hosses.
A couple of Arvada horses who had to be halted by their owner in the midst of high spirits.
A couple of Arvada horses who had to be halted by their owner in the midst of high spirits.

If Valeri were more consistantly angry, it would make me think of them.

Songs of women and of Love and pain and an adapted march from the Corps. Great tunes, great voice – reminescent of Eddie Vedder on a day that he bothered with ennunciation.

Ok, enough of babble. My battery’s about to die, and I need to save some juice just in case we get lost. If I think about it, I’ll tell you of the beautiful blonde, Kelly – and the Breedlove guy, Mike – and maybe even Digitech man, Jeff.

But chances are, these brief mentions will just serve as triggers for my own memories, and I’ll go on to write about whatever happens the next night.

A feast from Wendy’s makes the night complete.

Look careful. There was a third one, but I didn't get a good picture of the lil guy. We found them in a flower shop next-door to the Cricket on the Hill. They came running to the window when we spotted them, and pushed against the glass, begging for attention.
Look careful. There was a third one, but I didn’t get a good picture of the lil guy. We found them in a flower shop next-door to the Cricket on the Hill. They came running to the window when we spotted them, and pushed against the glass, begging for attention.
DCF 1.0

December 3rd, 2003

I’ve finally figured it out – what real people do on Thanksgiving. Americans don’t sit around the table talking turkey and politics and what they’re thankful for (okay, MY family does do all that on a yearly basis, but what sort of freaks are WE?).

Americans are A.D.D. like crazy. They get bored. And there are a limited number of things open on Thanksgiving.

So what do the abandoned and bored of turkey day do? They go to Walmart … and they go to the movies.

So I saw three movies in the theatre on Thanksgiving because that was what there was to do and Jennie’s boyfriend had decided it was about time that they had some alone time together since we’ve been keeping possession of her and her house. So we went and saw the Matrix revolutions on IMAX as a group and then rob and I left to go seek our fortunes in the world of Thanksgiving Colorado.

We found the one place that was open to eat and I ordered turkey and stuffing. The woman left and came back to inform me there was no stuffing left, which seemed the ultimate in depressing. IT was the only part of the dinner I’d really wanted, the only part that really said Thanksgiving for me, but how was she supposed to know that. I opted for mashed potaties instead.

Figured I would polish it off with pecan pie. Ordered that. The waitress came back and told me they did not have any more of that. Key Lime or Peach Cobbler. I asked for the peach cobbler. She came back and told me they didn’t have that either, and suddenly my desert was free and chocolate cake materialized as one of my options though it hadn’t been there before. And chocolate cake is wonderful, but not when what you really wanted was pecan pie … or peach cobbler in the least.

It was then that I started feelign a little strange. I realized it was the first Thanksgiving I’d spent in a restaurant. Not that I had not spent Thanksgivings away from my family in the past, but I’d always been with a family and friends in a traditional setting. And now I was in a restaurant, making due with food that could not be what I started ordering in the Thanksgiving spirit.

Then I went to see two movies because the walmart was too crowded and we had another five hours to kill before we could come back to the house. I picked the first and rob picked the second. I picked ” Love Actually,” which was amazing, but a total chick flick. Even rob liked the movie.

Rob picked the cat in that hat, which was so bad he apologized to me the entire ride home. 🙂

And I stood outside in the 10-degree cold and ate dippin dots because I love them and haven’t had them in ages and burned all the taste buds off the first layer of my tongue, to my unending delight. Not very Thanksgiving, I suppose.

I’m feverishly working on trying to finish up a new song before I get back. I think it could be really good, I just don’t want to mess it up in the last couple details. We’ll see. I have another week and a half yet.

December 5th, 2003.

Somewhere on I-88 in Illinois. We just saw a really spectacular shooting star. It’s not even fully dark yet, and this thing went streaking across the sky like a flaming prince. (Terry Pratchett reference, anyone?).

(Listening to Adam Day… and now Buffy – the Musical)

Last night we crashed with Kyle Knapp, in Omaha. All through Nebraska, the sky had been slowly blackening, and there had been the threat of Weather since an hour out of Colorado.

Outside a bar in Denver called "Dulcinea's 100th Monkey". I'm kicking myself for not playing there
Outside a bar in Denver called “Dulcinea’s 100th Monkey”. I’m kicking myself for not playing there
It's like seeing the gloom and glower of Mordor ahead of you, and yet, knowing you've still got to go. That's Nebraska. We knew it hadn't always been that way - miles earlier, there'd been playful tumbleweeds sprinting across the road. Heather, in unusual high spirits, struck and killed many of the poor things. Having crossed 900 miles or so, there's one of the poor souls still stuck in our grill. I hear it screaming in my dreams.
It’s like seeing the gloom and glower of Mordor ahead of you, and yet, knowing you’ve still got to go. That’s Nebraska. We knew it hadn’t always been that way – miles earlier, there’d been playful tumbleweeds sprinting across the road. Heather, in unusual high spirits, struck and killed many of the poor things. Having crossed 900 miles or so, there’s one of the poor souls still stuck in our grill. I hear it screaming in my dreams.

The plains welcomed us with with thickening clouds, and we drove at 75 straight into the tail-end of a blanket of swirling snow.

Photographed through our front windshield as Heather bore down on them, doing 80. Here you can see a Daddy tumbleweed and it's hapless innocent child. Heather dragged them for miles.
Photographed through our front windshield as Heather bore down on them, doing 80. Here you can see a Daddy tumbleweed and it’s hapless innocent child. Heather dragged them for miles.
DCF 1.0

It’s spectacular to watch the weather change in the midwest. The sheer distance that you can see is sort of hard for an East coast kid to understand. I remember my parents taking my brother and I across the country when we were younger, and being chased by a thunderstorm across the plains of Nebraska. It was a massive black wall stalking on legs of ligh- no, not stalking – this bastard was sprinting towards us on huge legs of lightning, and cars came like refugees running from war, streaming along the interstate, fleeing hail and Hell.

This wasn’t anything like that. First off, we were heading towards IT.

But snow is my favourite thing, so I can’t keep comparing it to death and doom. By the time we pulled into Kyle Knapp’s house (where we stayed the night), the world was sugar-frosted, like some Christmas fantasy. It’s Hell to drive through, sure – but Tim Burton-esque to the eyes, springing glitter and faerie tales.

We finally met Kyle’s wife, Gail – and she made us a fantastic dinner: the most succulent pork chops I’ve ever had, green bean cassarole – an AMERICAN dinner (before American Dinner equalled McDonalds, it meant pork chops, green beans, and mashed potatoes). To hold to the ideal, there was even fresh apple pie for dessert. Kyle and Gail HAD been on a diet, but they used us as an excuse to sin. Somehow, I just don’t mind.

There’s something special about a meal made just for you. It’s like going to a restaraunt and knowing that the chef has a crush on you – you know there’s something a little extra in the meal (this means something different if you’re a GUY and a WOMAN is making something – something a little extra here refers to Love and kindness… when a GUY adds a little somethign extra to a meal he’s made for a WOMAN it could be anything….)

In short, dinner was wonderful – and then we kidnapped Kyle.

We went down the street and played an open mic at a neighbourhood bar, the Forgot Store. It’s got ghosts and a mysterious triangle that makes your guitar go out of tune and your lyrics fall out of your head.

It’s got a poltergeist named Duke who drinks up spilled beers.

It is, in short, a place with Personality. I Loved it.

Michael “the Pineapple” runs what has been, perhaps, the most relaxed open stage and jam session I’ve been to for the past three months. It was a friendly atmosphere – really nailing down the very truthful cliche about Mid-Westerners. They really DO Live at a different pace, they are kinder, just generally not as pointy. We were drawn in and made to feel welcome almost immediately, the owner bought me drinks, there was just… kindness in the air there.

On the last page, you’ll notice Heather playing tambourine as Kyle sings a cover of – well, actually – I don’t remember which U2 song they were all covering. The same one Kyle recorded on his CD. Great song – but… well, the photo of her playing tambourine is for her Dad. He’ll be very, very proud.

Mike summed it up with “yeah, we almost never have any fights in here”.

Well, that’s SORT of what I mean.

Hrm.

Anywho, a wonderful night. I’d been emailing back and forth with Mike since before we’d even left for Colorado, so I was pretty eager to meet him.

DCF 1.0

We struck back out into the snow at around 12.30am, drove up the hill, quietly crept into the house, and promptly fell asleep, dreaming of the way Nebraska blanketed us with dirty grey gauze. One of the last images in my head last night was the flaming orange caldera that slowly vanished into the tunnel of snow and sleeting cloud. It was incredible.

This morning, Gail even made us breakfast – eggs and bacon and cinnamon rolls. We stayed till 10am, swapping stories about cars in the Living room with Gail and Kyle and their youngest son.

Remind us to tell you about the purple car, or the flaming Winnebago. The oral tradition of storytelling is alive and well in Omaha.

December 4th, 2003.

Such a good show at the Cricket on the Hill tonight. Exquisite sound, my guitar sounded like the half-bass hybrid beast it’s meant to sound like – met really wonderful people, including the band Sensei. Jason, back home, would’ve Loved them. Sort of like the entirety of the Ocean’s 11 soundtrack, Live before us.

Jennie cooked us a farewell meal – wonderful tofu and cilantro and mushrooms and garlic. We played a bunch of Magic, also as a farewell. I sort of feel bad about that, because when it comes down to it, I beat the Living shit out of her.

It was good to come back from the show to a house that still smells of incredible cooking, only slightly marred by the cigarette smoke that we are trailing.

Not really tired, but also don’t feel like typing – really eager to start heading home. The gig was awesome, I felt like I was on form like I haven’t been recently… the way I’ve been neutered by the band, it’s good to play and feel like myself… we played spectacularly, made our quota, made friends. The sound guy, Jeff, literally went down on his knees to shake my hand after the show. In short, we kicked ass.

But I am spent from being “on” – and with a piece of glass in my foot all night, no less… I’m not looking forward to taking off my sock and looking at my foot. I’m tired and I’m glad we’re Eastward bound in the morning.

They said they'd drive to Omaha with us. I was hypnotized by his shirt. Also, the blonde on the left bit me. I liked it.
They said they’d drive to Omaha with us. I was hypnotized by his shirt. Also, the blonde on the left bit me. I liked it.
The cats at the flower shop were all asleep.
The cats at the flower shop were all asleep.
We spent some time in Jennie's classroom recording on Tuesday afternoon. Heather's new song "In the Water" is gorgeous, but I need to get me a copy of ProTools or Sonar or something to finish it. First thing's first, though - I've got to find me some cheap CompactFlash memory. Sigh.
We spent some time in Jennie’s classroom recording on Tuesday afternoon. Heather’s new song “In the Water” is gorgeous, but I need to get me a copy of ProTools or Sonar or something to finish it. First thing’s first, though – I’ve got to find me some cheap CompactFlash memory. Sigh.

Well, I can’t sleep. Sigh. My head is burning with nonsense rhymes and songs that are caught in my head – Will Schaff’s “Toto the Hero” keeps echoing and repeating:

“Don’t believe when I tell you I’m here to save you
Don’t believe when I tell you I’m here to bring you Life”

The "studio".
The “studio”.

I’m soo tired, it’s just not fair – my brain is asking:

How far will we retreat
when the oceans rise a hundred feet
how far will we have to be
not to have to meet
the briny waters of the ocean deep.

Weird, hey?

So, it’s 4am and my brain is whirling, and everytime I try to lie down, it’s itchy, or I need to move, or… well, I just can’t get comfortable. So, I’ve come out to the Living room to type and sit and think and rhyme so as not to disturb Heather. She does most of the driving, afterall – so I can sleep in the car, and frankly, I’ll probably end up better rested there.

Celene is looking at me like I’m crazy. And she’s right. We’re leaving at 8.30am so as to make dinner in Omaha, so me being conscious at 4 is just stupid. Oh, and there’s an hour time change… so really it’s 5am. And my clock on my computer’s still set to Eastern time, so I keep thinking it’s 6am.

Yup. Gonna die.

I think… I think… it’s time for peanut butter and jelly.

December 7th, 2003.

Travelling at 70 down I-80 at 6. The moon’s nothing more than an amorphous stain, high in the sky, and the sun itself has vanished into a multi-coloured strip, fading quickly into the black of the Indiana sky.

There are moments when I’m so happy with this Life. Car concerns, weather concerns, any fears of money and success vanish. I’m comfortable with the heat of a laptop on my thighs, the hypnotic flashing of road-side reflecters. There’s a wave of Love for Heather, singing along to the Bare Naked Ladies on the radio. Wandering through a mix of albums and mix CDs – wondering what the random setting will present to us next. Brak and Zorak express affection beautifully.

We’re heading to Pittsburgh, and I can’t be bothered to call ahead. We’re passing 18 wheelers and watching for deer. Trees are nothing but traceries to the sides of the blurring road, and I know the Great Lakes are supposed to be just to our North, but for the moment, nothing exists but us and our voices and the dark and the road. And the goal, of course.
Pittsburgh by midnight by moonlight by morning.

December 8th, 2003.

Watching the map, it’s almost painful to see Maryland scrolling a mere inch below our chosen route. We’re edging in on the mountain roads of Pennsylvania, sitting tucked in between guard-rails and 18-wheelers. Out of the states we’ve visited, I think Pennsylvania (despite my mom’s beliefs) stays one of my favourites. It has moments of mountains and plains and rivers – just about anything there is to be desired out of other parts of the country can be found in this square state.

Life’s not quite as slow as it is in the Midwest, but the people are friendlier than they are in the coastal cities.

All these photographs I’d taken of snow and storm to instill jealousy in my friends, and everything pales in comparison to the blanket of winter that’s already fallen out here. I’m the jealous one, craving a soup-smelling home full of friends and Battlestar Galactica.

Maybe Pennsylvania is only so wonderous by comparison to the never-ending nothing that was Ohio, and maybe it’s just nostalgia…

They haven’t made a camera yet that would capture tonight’s sunset. Caught between buildings as I’m pumping gas in Bowmanville, Pennsylvania – stripes of crimson and orange like some garrish backdrop painted over the forest behind the rest stop.

Return to I-76 shivering – blasting hot air from the vents of the Saturn, listening to Jude Cole.

Sigh – we’ve encountered our first traffic since Thanksgiving Day. I’d almost forgotten the helpless amber feeling of being trapped in this wonderful car conveyence and going NOWHERE. Blinkers flashing as people race down the shoulders and merge on to one another. Is it just the loss of a lane? Is it an accident? Is it congestion or a jumper or a speed trap or merely the offchance happenstance of people unable to go over 30mph for too long at a stretch?
I miss the interstate with a passion.

December 16th, 2003.

Returning from Damian’s house. It’s 2am, and there are emails in my inbox reminding me that I’ve neglected the Journal.

I’ve been busy with the homecoming.

A couple of years ago, that was a nighmarish dance-opportunity for embarassment and humiliation. Now it’s the culmination of return. Dancing with friends and playing for and playing with and Loving the Life that I’m leading.

Oh, and forgetting my bloody camera, but at least not being lost.

It’s 1:49am, I-66 runs away from the rubber of our tires, and we’ve been good Cranium players. I’m thinking of the people who’ve been busy making me feel Loved over the past couple of days.

One of the first nights back, there was a party in Baltimore – board games and cooking and cooling our heels and heating our backs. I’ve decided that the single best thing in the world is a fireplace.

Even if you’re limited to nothing more than a store-bought Party Colour E-Z Log, the warmth of a real fireplace is like sitting in the sunshine in the middle of the night. Like a hot shower, except you can lie your head in the lap of a woman you don’t know that well, and still play Monopoly.

Jason is our local chef-experimenteur, and he made a fantastic chicken and lemon and garlic concoction that made me wish I never worried about getting fat.

Sigh.

And then Saturday, we played the Thai Gour.

You know you’re dealing with a good owner when the man comes up to you and informs you that, yes, here is an envelope full of cash that he owes you from the last time you’d played there, some seven months earlier.

Yet another night of being fed fantastic food. My grandfather even came out, and we got to make up a song for Heather’s parents’ 28th anniversary. It had a wah pedal in it.

So, we’re enveloped by darkness, and my nightvision is completely impaired by the light of my laptop. I’m only dimly aware of signs flashing by and the occasional noisy car flashing past, or creeping by.

A couple of dinners later, and we found 0urselves at Jammin Java’s open mic, advertising ourselves like cheap whores (c’mon! $10 tricks and you get to watch for free?!).

Crossing the American Legion Bridge – remembering when I was stuck in Virginia after work for some four hours while some poor sod contemplated commiting suicide off this here bridge. He held up traffic well into the night, and eventually jumped, injuring his leg. I think he’s now in jail, and STILL receives hate mail.

Anywho – Jammin Java. It seems a little less the hoppin businessy networking spot that it was, and under it’s new host, Kris Oleth – it seems to have become a bit more relaxed, more casual, and a bit more fun.

(scary huge construction lights at first look like on-coming cars)

We advertised our show, got off the stage, sold some stuff – and watched our friends Might Could play guitar like I wish I could play. Sigh. Drooling, we go back to Damian’s house for a night of chili, wine and baklava. Oh, and Cranium. Damn cool game.

We made baklava. We’re going to have group baklava making, methinks, at New Year’s Eve. And Cranium. Hell, we might get little dolphin bottle openers and British accents to complete the imagery.

That really won’t make sense to most of you, but I think now, that I’m mostly typing just to type, and should just give it a rest.

December 18th, 2003.

I’ve gone to Trilogy Tuesday at the Senator Theatre, watched a MASH Marathon, and in general, spent an awful lot of time on my ass.

Last night, the band gathered together for the first practice we’ve had in a month – and it always feels like this… completion when the sound pulls together.

Frank had originally said he wouldn’t be able to make it tonight, so when, an hour into practice, he came plodding down the stairs, bass amp in hand… well, I think I like it best when we arrive at practice one by one. The jamming starts, and slowly the sound fills in. What begins with nods and the plugging of plugs and unravelling of cords, slowly metamorphs into the full band sound.

I really, really, really, Love coming home to that. It makes me feel like some little sound god.

SO, slowly, the sound awakens, like some sleeping beast – and we rumble through our favourite songs, and as usual, I’m sort of shocked by how little rust and dust there is on our performance. There’s a missed note here or there, or some random part that wanders off, but mostly, this is a product of the fact that Heather and I play a lot of the tunes a little differently.

Anywho, for as much as I Love travelling and being with Heather for our explorations – I’d really give just about anything to be able to take the whole band with us. It’s not logistically or financially feasible… but maybe… someday.

“I’m gonna make a lot of money and quit this crazy scene…”

I then spent the night here at Alfred’s, playing with Tristan (his dog) reading, playing guitar, answering emails… woke up this morning and continued pretty much doing the same.

Working on a new song that hasn’t quite found it’s direction yet, but it hard enough that I have to keep looking at my fingers… and then have been switching back and forth between that and a bunch of covers I’ve been trying to learn. Poor Alfred’s been subjected to fragmented versions of a bunch of different songs: “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones, “bRIDGE”, by me… “Horses” by Sally Tim, “New York State of Mind”, by Bill Joel, Joni Mitchell’s “River”, and even Rage’s “Killing in the Name Of”. None of the above are pretty at the moment.

Sigh.

Ugh, how Joni Mitchell’s chords pain me.

December 23rd, 2003.

 

Well, it’s been a rough couple of days, with not quite enough getting done, and not quite enough people being satisfied with the world, and general insanity that just wouldn’t be PC to put up on one’s website.

See, I DO have my boundaries!

Speaking of boundaries, the Quote Page is back up, and everyone’s got to promise not to get pissy about it. I only put fun quotes up there, and yeah, some may be sacriligous, or incredibly offensive on a moral level, but none were EVER said in anger (as far as I can tell) – just trust my judgement, will you?

Anywho – if you don’t know what I’m talking about, a careful search of the ilyaimy.com homepage will turn it up – (hint, try drag-high-lighting the text, you silly muffins)…

Christmas is coming, and the rob… if not actually getting fat, is definately not losing weight at the rate he was on the road. Heather’s parents – well, I’m beginning to feel REALLY guilty about eating from their kindly created feasts, and… and HEATHER’S DAD’S NOT helping! He made peanut-butter cookies last night. Sigh.

The peanut butter cookies. I'd never encountered David's compulsive streak before, but every once in a while, he just sort of squats down and shits out cookies. He seems to have absolutely no control, and then he beats them flat with a fork.
The peanut butter cookies. I’d never encountered David’s compulsive streak before, but every once in a while, he just sort of squats down and shits out cookies. He seems to have absolutely no control, and then he beats them flat with a fork.

What’s weirder, is I’ve never actually witnessed this. We’ll go off somewhere, and come home, and there will be these piles of peanut butter cookies just lying around.

I’m feeling guilty spending so much time with the Lloyds, and I worry that I’m … somehow taking advantage of their hospitality, but I haven’t been uninvited yet (though perhaps they’re too polite to ever do this), but I somehow don’t think Heather’s dad would encourge my presence with the peanut butter cookie droppings if I was truly on thin ice… anywho, we’ll be doing holiday stuff with MY parents soon, and spread our presence around.

To the left is a Jason party trick.
To the left is a Jason party trick.

back at Mitzi’s party… it was an excellent homecoming, though I remember getting sort of weirdly depressed… a bit of the night turned to conversations of old shows and old friends at the Jahva House, with Mark on drums, and Mitzi and Amy singing with Audrey and I… good times.

Amy threatening me with a knife after I ate some peas or something.
Amy threatening me with a knife after I ate some peas or something.

I consumed the most alcohol I’ve ever consumed in my Life that night – 2 and a half glasses of wine, which is… sort of silly. But it was very sweet, and served warm, so… I sat with my back to the fireplace and played Monopoly and Scrabble till late in dark Baltimore night, and missed the beauty of the tiny Baltimorean apartment.

 Jason threatening me with a knife after I ate some chicken or something. It was a rough night.

Jason threatening me with a knife after I ate some chicken or something. It was a rough night.

I worry sometimes that the reason I’ve been a sloooow songwriter for the last few years has been that I’ve left that muse. Baltimore City, with it’s sirens and syrens and murders and asphalt, was a spectacular place to Live.

Mitzi's bed o bitches. Oh Hell yeah. She got the mad honies. Was that convincingly ghetto? I'm all Baltimore n stu- shit.
Mitzi’s bed o bitches. Oh Hell yeah. She got the mad honies. Was that convincingly ghetto? I’m all Baltimore n stu- shit.

I cried some nights when I moved away, not from missing the ciry, but because I wouldn’t lock my doors at night. That was a beautiful thing.

But now, I’m beginning to miss it a bit. The tension and the contrast. We’ve visited a lot of cities since then, now – and I haven’t encountered anything that quite compares. Though I think Bethlehem is beautiful, and it’s the home of the steel company that sort of made Baltimore what it is, it doesn’t have the distillation of rust and concrete that Baltimore owns.

But what DOES it have that I sorely miss everytime I visit my fair Charm City?

Bethlehem has PARKING.

Bastard parkingless Baltimore.

The Thai Gour Tiger is too big to fit on a page with text, so, I figured I'd give you a moment of placement confusion and leave you thinking that perhaps MITZI was lucky enough to have that giant striped beast in her bedroom.
The Thai Gour Tiger is too big to fit on a page with text, so, I figured I’d give you a moment of placement confusion and leave you thinking that perhaps MITZI was lucky enough to have that giant striped beast in her bedroom.

No such luck.

She’s just got mane coons… or however they’re spelled.

No, that’s the mascot of the Thai Gour, in Glenn Burnie. Unfortunately, it was too cold to go ice skating, so we played a gig instead. We had the honour of getting Dan Zimmerman on the stage as well

Ah… Maine Coon..

My parents and Grandfather eating the exquisite foods of the Thai Gour. My Dad surprised me by ordering a fish. I think... I think... I think that I'd be fine never being a rock star, and only scraping by monetarily, if I could only book places like the Thai Gour every night, I'd be a happy musicians. A happy, very BIG, musician.
My parents and Grandfather eating the exquisite foods of the Thai Gour. My Dad surprised me by ordering a fish. I think… I think… I think that I’d be fine never being a rock star, and only scraping by monetarily, if I could only book places like the Thai Gour every night, I’d be a happy musicians. A happy, very BIG, musician.
DCF 1.0

Anywho, you’re just getting these pictures now because a) I’ve been very very busy, and b) I kept leaving my camera in the car and forgetting to off-load the pictures.

Dead fish.
Dead fish.
DCF 1.0

This past Sunday, we went out to Strasburg, PA.

It’s odd to think that I’ve been doing anything for about 2 dozen years, but I believe I’ve been going to Strasburg since I was 4 years-old, and as such, have been going to the Railroad to Paradise for longer than many of the kids who are working the new tourist traps along the way have been alive. It’s strange to think that.

Especially strange to think it would probably be illegal for me to try to pick up the attractive not-goth blonde behind the counter at the gift shop…

Anywho – a weird day. A lot of strange undercurrents of emotion, a strange sort of pall on the day. Perhaps I simply hadn’t gotten enough sleep, perhaps it was the sharing of something that… somehow wasn’t up to snuff anymore.

Things are running down here and there, the conductors, never the most charismatic at the best of times, give the impression they’re working the till at Borders during the Christmas rush, with automated smiles and a marginally amusing script. I worry that the Joy is gone.

The Choo Choo Barn (the toy train exhibit on the previous page) was in disrepair, with many signs and people fallen over, lying in the dust on their sides. It hasn’t been updated in years, but I’d never gotten the impression that things that break weren’t being repaired – but there whole parades of circus performers stopped dead in their tracks, with onlookers’ bodies lying scattered on the green flocking grounds.

The woman behind the counter, selling tickets for admission, had never ducked her head behind the curtain – never bothered to actually go in and see what she was selling.

Everything is still beautiful, but it’s beginning to feel unLoved.

DCF 1.0
The trains themselves, of course, are still monsters of steel and oil and steam... and the engineers can't help but grin honestly while running them through their paces - but it's like the trains themselves aren't enough anymore, and even Thomas the Toy Train can't compete with the noisy children who want to be back with masturbatory instant gratification computers and Cartoon Network mental pseudo-stimulus. The rust is still beautiful, but I get the impression that there's a deeper decay taking place.
The trains themselves, of course, are still monsters of steel and oil and steam… and the engineers can’t help but grin honestly while running them through their paces – but it’s like the trains themselves aren’t enough anymore, and even Thomas the Toy Train can’t compete with the noisy children who want to be back with masturbatory instant gratification computers and Cartoon Network mental pseudo-stimulus. The rust is still beautiful, but I get the impression that there’s a deeper decay taking place.
DCF 1.0
DCF 1.0
DCF 1.0

But we got home from Strasburg, and Justin had set up his own trains. I was so pissed, Justin (Heather’s brother) had stayed home because he had a Boy Scout meeting that he had to attend… the meeting was cancelled at the last minute (and no-one mentioned it to him), so he just got stuck at home all day.

Asshole Scouts, maybe.

I think Justin would have really Loved the trains – it’s a real shame he got screwed like that.

Should’ve gotten him a package of naked people from the model train shop next to the Choo Choo Barn. They were HO scale.

Hehe.

I guess you have to be all grownup nowadays to get a kick out of climbing on old rusted out steam engines and finding old soft-balls.
I guess you have to be all grownup nowadays to get a kick out of climbing on old rusted out steam engines and finding old soft-balls.
This wouldn't have been dirty if I hadn't have worked with the British.
This wouldn’t have been dirty if I hadn’t have worked with the British.
Petting zoo near the trains.
Petting zoo near the trains.
Snow plow...
Snow plow…
Being scolded by Santa. Sigh.
Being scolded by Santa. Sigh.

December 24th, 2003.

Christmas Eve is here, it’s 2.31am – so yes, technically, I guess the little elf technicians (they ARE elves, right? that Santa’s got? – not like, dwarves or pixies or anything? – I don’t remember)… anywho, the possibly elves are checking out the sleigh, making last-minute wooden horses and making ABSOLUTELY sure that all the lists are checked – and even though bad children usually still get their Game Boys nowadays, rather than lumps of coal, they are often at least denied their AA batteries.

So, yeah, Christmas Eve, and I’m lying on my parents’ couch…

I think this is one of the first times – possibly THE first time since 99, whence my brother went off to college (that can’t be right, but I’ll just leave the number for the time being) that both George and I are staying the night at my parents’ house.

My parents, of course, are not quite prepared for this deluge of sons, and hence, I’m on the couch.

Which is fine, it’s a huge couch. (btw – a quick note about the Santa photo – I don’t remember what he was saying to me, but I remember it being vaguely suggestive)… But it is sort of strange for one’s parents not to have room for you.

George Lives in Texas, I Live in a Saturn. It’s amazing the two different Lives we lead – he’s studying to complete his PhD in some sort of genetic field which I only have a vague hope of understanding – I’m travelling the country, barely scraping a Living together selling my music and art. His girlfriend/fiancĂ© and he are buying joint appliances and tools for around the house, and my girlfriend and I don’t even own a cooler.

I don’t know, it’s amazing how different Lives can turn out.

It’s good to see George. Having a brother who’s separated from the rest of my Life means that I’ve got someone to tell things to that I just couldn’t discuss with anyone else – he’s already been witness to some of my most embarassing moments, and so he can be privy to a few more.

Who else can you discuss feminine flatulance with? And of course, it’s really good to have familial support right now. The Hinkals are going through some rough times, and … it’s good to have this weird cross between outsider/insider in the area, even if it’s only for a week.

It’s funny – there are only a couple of people’s opinions that really concern me when it comes to my Life choices – and my little brother – well, I’m not so sure that I worry about what he thinks so much as he’s someone who I think will always respect the choices I make. Because of that, I sometimes worry about what he thinks about the end product.

I don’t think he’s particularly into my art or my music – but I hope he gets something out of it – because God knows I’m impressed by the sheer incomprehensibility of what HE does.

Anywho, it’s almost 3am, so it’s about time for me to at least ATTEMPT turning in. I’m full of my mother’s leftover stew. Great stew. I miss my mother’s stew. That and I miss her meatloaf, her hamburger soup (very similar to Heather’s Dad’s chile, but she beats him out because of the inclusion of huge hunks of vegetables – tomatoes and onions n things) – and, strangely enough, I really miss my mom’s pizza.

Realizing that said pizza was nothing more than a pretty specific Chef Boy … R D? mix, “bake at home” sort of box thing, I guess that’s not that big of a deal – but I think the mix itself has been discontinued. I feel bad because I know I mentioned this once before, and my mom tracked the mix down and gave me some for some birthday or something, and then I never made it and eventually had to throw it out because of weevils or something equivalently horrific.

That kind of waste of given treasures haunts me.

Besides, it wouldn’t have been the same. It was on those pizzas that I learned the Love of mushrooms – very specific mushrooms, curling in on themselves from the oven heat, blackened on the edges… the fights my brother and I used to have when one of his cursed black olives would cross the line on to MY half of the pizza.

I hate growing up.


Sitting watching part of the James Bond marathon with my parents. Spike TV, however, doesn’t really have the type of commercials I generally enjoy watching with my parents. Usually I think of them as very open minded… but then there’s the “gives good finger” beer commercial. And then I cringe.

My mom is wearing her Grinch slippers, and we’re going to finish the movie, and then go to my Grandfather’s house to be all familial n stuff. In the meantime, George and I have been sorting toys and clothes and random stuff in the basement, sorting through boxes and hunting through bins. I have a cabinet here in Seabrook which is to eventually be the place where all of my “home” stuff resides. At the moment, I feel kind of bad because I also have a crate of home stuff at Heather’s parents’ house. Hopefully this will change over the next couple of days.

Maybe a Hanukkah present for the Lloyds can be a little extra closet space.

My mom's Grinch slipper.
My mom’s Grinch slipper.