Tag Archives: Maine

A Playlist For Your Maine Gay Wedding

Anyone wanna gay marry me?

Cause if you’re a dude, we can!  As of a few minutes ago, my home state, Maine, The Way Life Should Be, has legalized gay marriage.  Passed by the senate and then the house yesterday, honorable Gov. Baldacci had 10 days to sign the bill to make it legal.  As a Governor who has oddly previously opposed gay marriage but has been a constant champion for civil rights signed it in one day.  You go, boy.  You’re looking sexier than ever, Mr. B.

I hope this is an indication of what this all really seems to be: a domino effect.  There’s less and less point in resisting, I think once the first few blocks have fallen, the rest will tumble.  Here’s a short little playlist to listen to today if you are in Maine, enjoy Maine, or are secretly planning on gay marrying me some day.

1.  Gay Messiah-  Rufus Wainwright

2.  I Kissed A Girl- Krappy Perry

3.  More Adventurous-  Rilo Kiley (you listen carefully, it could be about gay marriage)

4. All The Girls Love Alice-  Elton John

5.  Twist And Shout-  The Beatles

6.  Iowa-  Dar Williams

7.  I Will Survive-  (your choice, I recommend Cake’s version)

8.  Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World- Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

9.  California (Here We Come [again])-  Phantom Planet

10.  D.A.N.C.E.-  Justus

11.  The Book of Love-  Magnetic Fields

12.  We Run This-  Missy Elliot

13.  Crazy Little Thing Called Love-  Queen

Enjoy!  Ask me if you quesiton one of these choices, or write in your own!

Short Story: Buzz

I wrote this story in 2 sittings by hand while I was in the sleep study.  I was in the middle of reading Short Cuts by Raymond Carver.  I tried to mimic him some.  The only editor on this one has been me, so…

Buzz

My car radio didn’t work. I was thinking about how my parents would both be dead one day. First one then the other. It was getting late. I was tired. Not tired, exhausted. I still had a ways to go.

The heater didn’t work either. I had on my ugly green coat, my gloves and hat. My hands were hot, but the steering wheel was freezing. Without the radio and the heater it was almost silent, except when I went over 10 mph. After that a little buzz kicked up. It would have been easy to ignore with a radio or heater. It came from the back of the car, and stayed the same pitch. Sometimes I harmonize with it, but I was too tired. I was almost there.

I was wondering who would handle it better, me or my sister. I didn’t know if it would make us closer or push us apart. I didn’t know what it would do to her or to me. If we would grow up or down. It was so quiet and dark. My lights were the only things around. Even the high snow banks along the road were dark. As if there was no snow it would be easier to see. The snow was everywhere, except on the road in front of me. I could see my breath hitting the windshield. I was thinking about my sister and what kind of stuff she might keep locked up in her house in Michigan, and blowing my breath onto the glass. I was just thinking and slam.

I saw it coming just before it happened. His headlights were off and his car was black but I saw it. Before his left headlight hit mine, when they were just millimeters away, everything stopped for a second. The two cars dried in time like glue, and then released. My seatbelt caught, I barely moved. Steam was rising up and dissolving from under his hood. I stepped out first. He had to crawl through to the passenger’s side, and he came out saying “Oh jeeze, Oh jeeze. Oh man.”

I pulled my hat down so it covered my earlobes. It crept back up. I walked around to assess the damage. I was better off. My heater and radio and headlight were all busted. My fender was scratched down to the raw white underneath. That’s all. It was ok.

“Oh jeeze, I’m so sorry. Are you alright? Oh crud.”

“I’m fine. You?” We looked at his car, crumpled like a paper cup. It seemed impossible. I had been going so slowly.

“Me? I’m fine. Oh jeeze, but look at this.” He pulled on the fender and part of it came off. “Jeeze. Dang it.”

I thought about calling the police, but decided against it. The man seemed to feel the same way. We exchanged information. He wrote his down on the back of a business card from some Chinese restaurant in a town I’ve never heard of. His name was Hank.

Hank took off his hat and smoothed his thinning hair. “Well jeeze. What do we do?”

“Can you drive it?”

Hank got back in his car, crawling across the seats again. In the light from my remaining headlight he looked like a child. When he turned the key the engine didn’t make a sound. All I could hear was the hissing of the steam, which was waning. We pushed his car to the side of the road. He was clearly in my lane, but we didn’t mention it. We didn’t need to. Hank steered while I pushed.

“You have a cell phone?”

“No.” I don’t know why I lied. Hank laid his head back and looked up at the blank sky. He clapped his bare hands together.

“I can give you a ride somewhere.” My engine was still running.

“Aw jeeze, I would hate to trouble you. I already hit ya.”

“No, no.” I said.

“I don’t live far. 15 miles. On Addison. Do you know it?”

“You can show me.

 

***

We didn’t talk much on the way there. I told him I was from Hollis. He said he knew a pastor there. Then he was quiet for a long time. I was driving so slowly. I didn’t want to hear the buzz. He tapped the window twice with his fingers. Then he looked through the glass hard like he saw something in the field.

We were getting close. My phone started to vibrate in my pocket. You could hear it. Its buzz was dissonant with the one coming from the back of the car. Hank said, “You just turn here.” That was all he said.

His house was small. We went in the back door. He made a path through the snow. I stepped in his foot prints, but my feet were just a little bigger. Our prints on top of each other looked like sedimentary rock. He opened the door, and suddenly I didn’t want to go inside. I wanted to stay out in the yard, in the wind and snow. It had gotten colder. I followed him in, shut the door behind me.

We went through a musty mudroom. It was close quarters, me and Hank in there taking off our boots. For a second it felt like I might fall on him. The cold air was sneaking in under the crack and biting our Achilles tendons. Hank let me in the house, then shut the door to the mud room quickly. He kicked a purple towel back against the crack to keep out the cold.

The interior of the house was 1952. It was all wood paneling and brown carpet. It was all bulk furniture and yellow lights. We were standing in the living room. The enormous wood framed TV with a small screen, just like the one my parents had in their bedroom, was on softly. I couldn’t make out the picture but it was playing some old tinny song that I recognized. An ancient woman was sitting on the couch looking towards the television. She didn’t turn to look at us. I wondered if she was deaf.

“She’s in here,” Hank said. He wanted his wife to meet me. Meet the nice young man who gave him a lift. Hank led me towards the kitchen. We walked between the woman and the television, but she didn’t move an inch. She looked like a wax figure, melting slightly in the glow of the screen. As we walked by we screwed up the reception, the TV screen buzzed and distorted, first for Hank, then for me.

She was in the kitchen wearing a pink nightgown and holding a red mixing bowl in her arms like a baby. She was short and almost perfectly round. The nightgown came up above her knees, and loops of fat hung down from her thighs like a hound dog’s face. I didn’t want to notice that, but I did.

“Hank? Oh, you brought company. Hello! Who’s this, Hank?” She pointed her face at her husband and looked at me out of the corner of her eye. She began mixing whatever was in the bowl again with the fork she was holding. It went click-click-click-click-click.

“This is Ray…mond.”

“Hello, Ray!” she said. She was so cheerful. It seemed to me to be too late to be cooking something, but maybe I was wrong. It occurred to me that I had no idea what time it was. It felt very late, but maybe I was just tired.

“Hello.”

“I have some bad news, honey. We got into an accident. Me and Raymond here. Completely my fault.”

She turned her head to the side like a sparrow. “Oh, no. Is everyone all right?”

“Yes, we’re fine. It was my fault. I wasn’t paying attention.”

“Well at least you’re all right! That’s the most important thing. And you’re all right, Ray?”

“Yeah I’m fine.”

Someone was moving around upstairs. Hank and his wife looked at each other.

“Would you like some coffee, Ray?” She gestured with her elbow at the coffee machine on the counter while still beating furiously at whatever was in the bowl.

“No, thanks. I need to get going. I still have a ways to go.”

She looked disappointed.

“You know,” Hank said, “I think might finally get me a cell phone. If I’d’ve had a cell phone tonight, Raymond wouldn’t have to had come so far out of his way.”

“We weren’t far,” I said to his wife. “Just down the road. Fifteen minutes.”

“Jeeze, Marla. You should see the car. I busted it up good.”

“Well, I’m just glad everyone’s all right!”

The person moved around upstairs. It sounded like they were right on top of us. Marla set down the bowl on the drain board and wiped her thumbs across her forehead. She left behind a streak of something black. The person moved upstairs again, the floor creaking under their weight. We all looked at the ceiling. I wondered if they had kids.

“I had better get going.”

“Alright. Let me know if anything happens to your car, Raymond. You know, problems can show up later after these sorts of things.”

“Will do,” I said. I turned to Marla, who was making her way to sit at the table. “Nice to meet you.”

“Be careful,” was all she said as she dragged a chair out from the table and fell into it.

I crossed back through the living room. The old woman was still sitting and staring. She hadn’t moved an inch. I walked behind her this time. I stopped. I leaned forward to look at her, to get into her line of vision. I looked at her hands. They were folded on her lap, small and wrinkled. I left her sitting there. I looked up the stairs just before I stepped into the mudroom. It was completely dark up there.

***

I passed Hank’s car again and drove for about a mile. Then I turned around and pulled over by the place where we had made contact. I crossed the road. My breath was rushing out of me in a huge cloud. I watched it go up above my head and then dissolve. There was no sound except for the drag of my shoes on the pavement, then crunching through the snow as I approached Hanks car. I opened up the passenger’s side of the car and crawled through. It seemed somehow colder in his car than outside. Everything was so damn still, nothing was moving. I watched my breath smash against the windshield over and over. “Let’s go, let’s go.” I said. “Step on it.”

I pulled my phone out of my pocket. I was hoping whoever had called at left a message, but there was no message, no number.

Hiking At You

Me and my most trusted traveling companion (and roommate in my new apartment) Laura have begun hiking at mountains on days when we have nothing to do.  Since the sun has been shining more now that rainy season is coming to a close, and Laura and I are both taking a week off from volunteering, we have had more opportunities to hike than before.

Hiking in Cusco, at least the way we do it, is a very different experience.  Everywhere you look in this city giant mountains are standing in the distance, and so it would seem that there are many trails and paths through woods and along mountain ridges.  But you´d be wrong.  On most of these mountains, pueblitos go nearly to the top, and then when the mountain faces become too steep to build upon, there is nothing but vegetation.  While there are stairs or roads (or dirt alleys or stones shoved into the ground) that lead up through the villages, if you want to reach the tops of any mountains you have to be willing to go without a set trail.  This can mean anything from encountering wild packs of angry dogs to sliding down rock edges into trash filled ravines. 

I´m going to try and use pictures and descriptions, like I do, to try and give some sort of an idea about what these hikes have been like.

First, a more conventional hike.  On one of the smaller mountains, in a place called Saqsaywaman, one of those big white, european looking Jesuses stands with his arms outstretched towards Cusco proper.  Typically it costs tourists a fee to enter, but I was lucky enough to have my friend Miguel show me a way to the statue without having to pay.  It involved walking into the artsy section of Cusco, San Blas, and taking about 3million stairs up to the road that led to Cristo Blanco.

The millions of steps were worth the views.

The millions of steps were worth the views.

Finally, after stopping several times to let my sea level lungs gather themselves, we reached the top of the steps and walked down a quiet road until we reached him.

I love you this much, Cusco.

I love you this much, Cusco.

And this is what Jesus is looking over.

My city.

My city.

I thought it was kind of funny that Jesus had his back turned on some real natural beauty.

Jesus hates trees and fields.

Jesus hates trees and fields.

And here is my guide and amigo Miguel.  He is also the one who often has me help him out at a local bar on busy nights.

What a friend I have Miguel.  He walks with me and talks with me.

What a friend I have Miguel. He walks with me and talks with me.

Three crosses stand by Jesus as well.

Three crosses stand by Jesus as well.

And now for an explanation of one of the more difficult hikes I went on.  Only a few days before this post, having a beautiful day and minimal hangovers, Laura and I, along with a lovely Canadian named April and a boy we call Nebraska from, you guessed it, Nebraska decided to hike.  Instead of taking a typical tourist route like I did with Miguel, we simply picked a mountain peak and headed towards it with the goal in mind of walking until we were on top of it.  Previously Laura and I had done this with the Viva El Peru mountain pictured below, and we ended up sitting on the bottom of the “s” in Cusco and taking in the city.

Look way in the background for the Viva El Peru.  This is one of the views we had along the way to our new mountain peak.

Look way in the background for the Viva El Peru. This is one of the views we had along the way to our new mountain peak.

That hike was fairly easy, the hardest part was trying to find a direct path through the city since that mountain is on the opposite side of Cusco from where we live.  This time, we picked the only mountain top that was high enough to be seen from inside the courtyard of our new apartment complex.  We knew it was going to be higher, but we didn´t know what obstacles would stand in our way before we got there.  That´s the thing about mountains, they stoic peaks look like they should slope down gently until they meet level ground.  But this is rarely the case.

First we began our trek through the city, encountering once again many steps and scary dogs. 

Mossy stairs.

Mossy stairs.

More city walking.

More city walking.

 As is often the case, in order to reach the mountain we wanted to mount, we had to cross over several other large hills, or bases of mountains to get there.  Unfortunately for us, we came to a point along a path on one of these pre-mountains that ended in a deep, angry looking ravine.  Though most of us thought it was insurmountable, fearless Laura said she thought it would be fine to slide down the rocky slope into the ravine, then walk through the crevase until we were on the other side.  We were all nervous about it, but from the top of the ravine we could see a road that ran along the base of the mountain we wanted, and saw inviting looking steps running almost all the way up to the peak.  Not to be defeated, Laura decided to sit down and slide into the ravine first, to prove we could do it.

Laura´s controled slide.

Laura´s controled slide.

Unfortunately, we didn´t anticipate how quickly the rocks could give out into a mini landslide.  Laura´s controled slide quickly became uncontroled, and lucky for her the drop off into the ravine at the bottom of the slope was only a few feet.

Laura´s dust cloud, and if you look closely you can see the woman herself enshrouded.

Laura´s dust cloud, and if you look closely you can see the woman herself enshrouded.

And the slide wasn´t without consequences, or benefits if you´re one of those people who enjoys scars for their story telling purposes.

Gross.

Gross.

The rest of us found our way down alternate paths into the ravine, and mostly arrived unscathed.  Though there was some grabage accumulated in the small creek that ran through the ravine, there were no rodents or other frightening creatures to speak of.  We did come, eventually, to a small waterfall, and it took some meneuvering to hop down it one by one. 

Finally, we made it out and could see the road close by.  We followed a slight path down the other side of the mountain that held the ravine, only to find ourselves trapped in an enclosed piece of private property.  Two garden hands were outside, and understandably laughed at the four dirty (one bleeding) gringos that came seemingly out of nowhere into the backyard they were maintaining.  But a friendly woman inside the house unlocked the gate for us with a smile, and we were on our way.  We walked along the shoulder of the road until we reached the steps, about twice as many as I had walked up to get to Cristo Blanco.  Here are some views seen as we ascended.

Enormous and low clouds are garunteed since the rainy season has ended.

Enormous and low clouds are garunteed since the rainy season has ended.

vistaonsteps

casita

We reached the top of the stairs breathless but happy.  It was incredible that there were so many houses, and lots of children on bikes, living quiet lives at the top of this great peak.  We speculated that the children, after school each day, had to trek up those stairs to their homes.  I wonder how often people descend into the city, seeing that there are small stores on the mountainside. 

Fellow hikers at the top of the steps.  From the left:  Canadian April, Michigander Laura, Nebraska

Fellow hikers at the top of the steps. From the left: Canadian April, Michigander Laura, Nebraska

Though we were all breathing like asthmatics (myself in particular), we weren´t going to stop at the top of the stairs with still a peak ahead of us.  We foraged our own path through a small forest only to find that someone was growing crops on top of the mountain.

Wheat can be a beautiful thing.

Wheat can be a beautiful thing.

From the wheat field we saw yet another quiet cross on a ledge, and decided to walk to it and see if there was a view.  Well…

One of my favorite pictures I´ve taken in Peru.

One of my favorite pictures I´ve taken in Peru.

Much higher up than Cristo Blanco.

Much higher up than Cristo Blanco.

A large moon came out early to see us on our hike.

A large moon came out early to see us on our hike.

Satisfaction.

Satisfaction.

Coming up on this bloggy, the new apartment and information on the actual reason I came down here, volunteering.

Blurble Updates

Turns out it´s a lot harder to keep up with this blog on weeks when I´m volunteering.  Not to mention an onslaught of goodbye and birthday parties.  So here is some easy to consume updatage:

  • Life continues to be tranquilo y divertido.
  • During one of aforementioned goodbye parties, I dropped my memory card to my camera, containing 200 picutres of my trip to Puno and Lake Titicaca, in the street.
  • Walking home one morning, I found the memory card wedged between two cobblestones in the street.  Before I could bend to pick it up, a taxi drove over it.
  • I retrieved the memory card, which appeared unharmed, but apprently suffered some internal injury that can only be cured in the US.
  • Hence, I´ve decided to keep both the pictures and the post about my trip to Puno on hold, which will also facilitate in making this bloggy more up to date.
  • I have made a Peruvian friend at a bar called The Muse, mostly a gringo joint, and he has asked me to help him work behind the bar on nights when he´s the only one working.  I did it once already, and I´m doing it tonight.  It´s fun, because when someone orders a vodka-mango, I get to slice up an entire mango and blend it in a blender.  The mangos here are like none others I have ever tried.
  • I am moving, once again, out of the hostel and into an apartment with Kyle and Diana, the couple I traveled with the Puno who are getting married, and a girl named Laura, who will be going to Buenos Aires with me in April.  The apartment is private, has hot showers all the time, is closer to the center of downtown, and half the price of what I´m paying now.
  • On the first day of April, when my apartment lease runs out, I will be traveling (on what medium is yet to be decided) to Buenos Aires with a few other people, some of whom are also yet to be decided. 
  • I will staying Buenos Aires for one and a half weeks, and then will be taking an 18 hour bus ride down to Patagonia to see Penguins, Glaciers and the end of the earth. 
  • After that, I will return to Lima where I will board a plane on April 22nd, and return back to the land of the freeish, The United States. 
  • Los Angeles to be specific.  Perhaps another trip to Disney Land.  Then eventually, somehow, back to Portland, Maine where I will rejoin the working force and attempt to figure out yet another way to avoid paying off my loans in full and staying in the same place.