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August 29 1998, Saturday

some dreams I've had of late:

The morning we left for Sleeping Bear Dunes: I dreamed that my father had died. That was sad enough (I think I cried even after I was awake), but most sad of all was my mother's reaction. When I told Kim - and, even later Spunky Lisa - about it, they both independently said I should phone Hoagie and tell her. They take the messages sent by dreams very seriously.

This morning: Wacky Jen and I stole two Kalkaska County Sheriff's Department cruisers and were eventually pulled over. The vehicles were totally illegal & full of weapons, but we were just sent on our way with the cruisers and only a warning for our shitty driving.


his morning Kim's Mother came over to help out some more with cleaning and packing up the apartment at 911 Wall Street. First, though, Kim and Mother did breakfast over at the Northside Grill. I stayed behind using the time to work on internet stuff and they brought me back some blueberry pancakes. As I sat there on the futon (the only furniture left) eating my styrofoam-tray breakfast, Mother sat on the floor feeding her very precious sub-micro Yorkshire Terrier, Casey, the caterpillar-like beast she insists on taking everywhere she goes. Dog food, no matter how expensive, is always kind of gross. It never smells very good and it looks even worse. I was content to just ignore the feeding in the same way that I normally avoid watching people eat their breakfast eggs, but I hadn't figured on Kim. Every day she proves to me new aspects of her intelligence and sensitivity. She's figured out by now that my appetite is somewhat related to the pleasantness of my eating environment, and she correctly determined that the spoonfeeding of a lapdog is not high on my list of appetizing scenarios. So she told Mother to kindly feed her dog in the kitchen. Mother indignantly refused, saying that if we were too good for the feeding of her dog, she'd just leave, thank you very much. She asked if I was upset by the feeding of Casey and of course I said no. By this point I was just wishing the subject would change to something more pleasant. Far worse than having to view the spoonfeeding of a lapdog is hearing people argue about it. Lucky for me, I eat quickly and the issue quickly lost its relevance.

Packing up mirrors, cleaning the bathroom and kitchen, scrubbing windowsills: that's what happened for the next several hours. I helped a little now and then, but there wasn't much space for me to insert myself, so I took long breaks to schmutz around on the computes.

We were listening to 88.7, the Windsor-Detroit alternative rock station. There's a lot of very bad songs being played on tight rotation there, but inertia kept us suffering through them all. Among the worst of the tunes is the lyrically-embarrassing Lenny Kravitz song that goes, "I want to get away, I want to fly away, yeah yeah yeah!" Speaking of bad lyrics, I only just realized how horrible the lyrics to Creed songs really are. I'm embarrassed to have once implied they were a Pearl Jam rehash. They don't compare. Oh, and then there's the Bare Naked Ladies with their reggæ-rap monstrosity featuring the words "The Chinese chicken, you have a drumstick and your brain starts sticking!" Kim hates that tune (even more than she hates the latest Smashing Pumpkins tune, "Ava Adore"). I actually don't mind the BNL tune that much. Any song that contains the words "chinese" and "chicken" can't be too bad.

There's a certain amount of residual bitterness between Kim's divorced paternal and maternal parental halves. Kim is on good terms with both of them, though they're each a little jealous of her relations with the other. So Kim usually conceals meetings with her father from her mother. Today our plan was to attend a restaurant-party for her Stepmother, Linda, but we never once mentioned it to Mother (also named Linda!).


n the late afternoon, Kim and I went east to Wyandotte to briefly visit her paternal grandparents, who we'd be seeing later tonight at Linda's birthday party. The most interesting thing that happened at the grandparents' place came when Kim's grandmother expressed her views on Monica Lewinski and Bill Clinton. She, as Kim didn't need to point out, sticks by her president through thick and thin. Sure, Clinton wants a little hanky-panky, but all presidents do. Grandmother focuses her anger all upon Monica. "That girl should have kept her mouth shut!" she insisted. It did no good for me to argue that Monica had in fact kept her mouth shut until legally compelled to testify. "I'd like to push her and what's his name [Special Prosecutor Starr?] into the fountain!" Grandmother added.

Kim and I dropped off her bicycle at her father's place and then some assorted little give-away items at her cousin Michelle's place. Michelle just spent a harrowing weekend down in the Carolinas with the family of her soon-to-be husband (a medical doctor). Her soon-to-be inlaws were full of snotty, insulting comments, the kind people think but almost never say. Oh, and there was a hurricane too.

Family politics continue to be a humbling aspect of Michelle's life; she wasn't invited to today's 50th birthday party for Linda because her relationship to Bud (Linda's husband) is too distant. While Kim is Bud's only daughter, Michelle is just a niece.


he birthday party was over at an Italian restaurant called Vitale's (formerly a seafood joint called The Hungry Crab) on Grosse Isle, the upscale island in the Detroit River. As we passed the Chrysler engine plant (perhaps where my Dodge Dart's slant six was built) and crossed the river on the free bridge, we found it swiveled open to allow for the passing of a tall sailboat. So we had to wait a few minutes. We were in a happy traffic jam, the kind that makes sense in the orderly operation of an advanced society. Like a few others, I took advantage of the delay to walk out on the bridge and looked across the water. It was a beautiful sunny evening in southeast Michigan.

There were a good many people in attendance at Linda's party, perhaps 20. It was a little odd to be a guest at such at such an intimate family function. My connection to Kim was purely romantic. But our society, especially in its unwritten rules, strongly endorses the concept of the inseparable couple. To expect Kim to attend a function and leave her boyfriend behind would violate very firmly-established protocols.

Most of the people present were old or middle-aged. I found myself relating best of all to Linda's mother, who was swigging the vino unabashedly and displaying an unusually spry sense of humour. Meanwhile, her husband had accidentally torn open a wound on his hand and bled profusely through much of the meal. "My skin just isn't as flexible as it used to be," he said.

There were two children present as well. One was a little socially precocious five year old girl named Liz, who built a little fantasy-world ice skating rink on the table in front of her. Kim was encouraging her, ripping open sugar to make snow fall from the skies. I chimed in on a much lower register whenever Liz started making up little songs, and she reacted as if I might be insulting her. Kim and I were very pleased when, in a fit of fantasy-induced excitement, Liz shouted "Woohoo!"- the ultimate Matt Rogers non-English expletive. Liz's father's girlfriend didn't approve in the least, ordering Liz to sit straight and be quiet, and telling us we were going to get her in trouble. She was a stepmother from right out of Grimm's fairy tales.

The other child was a little three year old boy named Alex, Linda's only grandchild. In stark contrast to Liz, his communication was limited to simple unclear words spoken without sentences. He ran around a lot and had to continually be scooped out of trouble. Like Liz, he seemed to like Kim a great deal.

Kim and I had three glasses of red vino each, which we had with minestrone soup and angelhair pasta and calamari. I was a bottomless pit and that wasn't enough, so I also sampled the no-cheese pizza ordered by Linda's cholesterol-shy father as well its artery-clogging counterpart ordered by Kim's father.


e had to cut short our participation in the celebration since we planned to attend a dance performance in Ann Arbor featuring none other than Matt Rogers. On the way out the door, I grabbed a slice of Linda's birthday cake, decorated with strawberries and kiwi fruit.

I ate the whole slice before we crossed the bridge back to the mainland, totally forgetting my obscure allergy to kiwi fruit. Soon it felt like phlegm was accumulating in my throat, and only then did I remember my allergy.

On Kim's suggestion, I packed a bowl and we passed it back and forth a few times. As I became stoned, I found myself being unusually introspective, but not in the usual paranoid way. I was able to voice my thoughts and mull them over in a logical way. I was in the mode I'm usually trying (but failing) to enter whenever I smoke pot. I like to use pot as a mental tool, not a carnival ride, not a way to escape from the troubles of the world.

Kim and I were talking about our mothers and how they both got into the field of special education (the education of the "special people" who ride to school on the short bus). I asked what had gotten Mother into it and Kim didn't know exactly. I said that my weird, learning-disabled brother, Don, had been my mother's primary impetus.

Suddenly the marijuana jiggled a fresh new thought to the surface of my consciousness. Perhaps my parents had decided to have me as some sort of replacement for Don, whose disabilities must have surely been evident by the time I was conceived. I brought this up to Kim, asking if she thought this was a possibility. Without even knowing either my parents or brother, she said that it couldn't be. She had no strong basis for thinking so, and I asked what she'd say if she didn't have any subjective connection to any of the parties involved. She didn't change her opinion; she was fixed on the idea that my unknown parents love both me and my brother equally. To me this seemed almost like useless hippie-idealism, and I needed something more substantial out of this thought. That's when I realized that it wasn't this thought that mattered so much. The mere fact that I was having it at all was what was interesting, especially since I hadn't ever had it before. I'd reached a new level of introspection. Kim and I agreed that this was the important thing.

I mentioned to Kim how my parents had somehow succeeded in giving both Don and me the impression that they loved us equally as we were growing up, that there had never been the slightest indication that I was a "second try" at having a fully-capable offspring. This couldn't have possibly been an easy accomplishment. It brought tears to my eyes to think about, even as the dark Michigan suburbs peeled away layer by layer.

I had a number of other intense realizations as Kim and I drove back to Ann Arbor. I don't recall the specifics; the general insight I reached was that Kim and I think very differently, but that her way of thinking was just as logical and valid as my own and could well complement the way I see things. It was a peaceful easy feeling, you might say.

Kim also gave me lots of historical information about the local rock and roll radio stations. My favourite of late is WRIF, which plays mostly hard rock (though, interestingly, it doesn't make any special claims in this regard).

In Michigan, the highway department completely closes interstates now and then just to repair them. I-275 northbound has been out of service for years, and Kim was disgusted to find it still closed. We had to take a massive detour.


he Dance performance was in a Friends Center in the heart of the University of Michigan's fraternity district. When we arrived, we found the performance had just ended. Matt Rogers was still dressed in his tights, helping the others clean up and rearrange the pews back into a nice egalitarian Quaker circle. Kim and I were still kind of stoned, and we were finding a great deal of humour in Matt's interactions with his dance colleagues (a group of overly-serious 30ish women). They seemed to be treating Matt as if he could never completely join their exclusive little dance clique.

As Kim pointed out, it had been a very New Age performance, complete with candles and incense. Kim said that, judging from the program, the music and the set, it would have been typical of a night out in Santa Fe: a little too rich in woo-woo for her blood.

We helped a little with moving amps and pews, but then Kim and I went outside and played on a playground designed for Quakers one fourth our age. When Matt came out, we had him do a few moves from his performance. Evidently, he'd opened the show flapping his arms and cawing like a raven. We wondered if we could have watched it without laughing; these New Age dance people take their performances very very very seriously, you know.


e told Matt we'd meet him back at 911 Wall Street, Kim's apartment and then we took off. The whole drive home, Kim was nervous about the fact that one of her headlights doesn't work. She was still a little drunk and stoned and certainly didn't want to get pulled over. But cops kept showing up. One even tailed us for a block and then turned into the Ann Arbor police station. Kim was so freaked out by now that she turned the wrong way up a one way street (a very easy thing to do in this town). She decided at this point to take a break from driving, so we pulled up to a "sober bar" in a triangular commercial district down on 4th and Catherine catering mostly to hippies. In the "sober bar," Kim pulled an impressive little trick. I needed a fresh tea bag to make vodkatea, so she ordered a glass of iced raspberry tea and then tossed a tea bag (for which she'd normally have to pay) in with it, acting sort of like a clueless customer. When we left, she handed me the teabag and I had what I needed for a delightful glass of what Matt later termed "raspberry-flavoured lighter fluid."

While Matt and Kim took Sophie the Miniature Schnauzer for a walk, I stayed home checking my email and listening to House of Hair, an 80s glam-rock revival show on WRIF. I'm absolutely serious.

By the way, Kim and I are looking for a marijuana connection in San Diego when we get there in a less than a week. Anyone interested in being our dealer should contact me. I will keep all business in strict confidence, of course. To protect yourself, correspond from a Hotmail account or something anonymous like that.

one year ago
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