Saturday, June 27


Princefisher II graduated high school this month, a milestone barely achieved. Where he's going, or what he'll do, is anybody's guess. His beliefs and life trajectory are things I cannot fathom. He doesn't need me at all any more. I doubt he ever really did.

I am the eldest of four boys, and had two sons first. Princessfisher might as well be a giraffe; that's how much I understand my 16 year old daughter. In her eyes, I am a rigid and irrelevant anachronism. She doesn't need me, either.

Princefisher I, although not totally self sufficient, is far away and more independent every passing month. He is fine without me as well.

The past 12 months or so have been the most stressful I've ever experienced. I have been accosted on personal, professional, family, belief, financial, emotional, and geographic levels. I am exhausted. My depression, dormant for years now, has threatened to overwhelm me on many more than one occasion, sometimes in very, very dark places with ugly thoughts best left unspoken. Only my stubborness and fuck-you attitude have kept it at bay so far, the toughest internal battle I've yet experienced.

My life is not . . . I don't know. It's far from undesirable. As a matter of fact, parts of it are down right delicious, most notably my angelic wife. But it isn't what I want. Why, I don't know.

My family history is rife with miserable and unhappy individuals who did not, or do not, or refuse(d) to, understand themselves. I will not be one of them. Why this still plagues me, I don't know. But the simple act of questioning all this makes me better. Yes, I said BETTER.

What I do know is that you cannot change what life throws at you, but you can change how you react to it. Sometimes that reaction is immediate, sometimes it is a "sleep on it," sometimes it is an excruciating period of doubt and ennui. I am done with enduring the latter. Life has happened to me. It's time I happened.

Therefore, I am resolved to reinvent myself. There are many anecdotes of people changing and thriving after their youth, a late blossoming of worth, contribution, and contentment. Grandma Moses is an example to emulate.

But how does one do it? Meditation? Volunteering? Career change? Move? Sell everything you own? New hobby? Communing with a pine cone on top of the mountain? Getting off yer ass and writing that novel you've threatened yourself with for years? I don't know. I really don't.

It's easy to give up, which I am ashamed to admit I thought about doing many times during this period, closer than I have ever come to that purgatory of doubt and despair and disillusionment. But I never have done that in my entire life. When the chips were down, I always gave the finger to fate and refused to play with a deck handed to me, made my own rules, and trampled the grass before me, damn courtesy, convention, or anything else in the way. My hands are capable of gentleness, creation, battle, murder. At least I have discovered that again. That is a hopeful sign.

Reinvention. It may be throwing opinion, philosophy, psychology, and security to the crows. It may also be investing in forgotten confidence, plus equal parts intuition, creativity, arrogance, incaution, exploration, and remembering who you were in the first place.

I don't know. But I think I might.

Monday, June 22

Facebook Lesson

So I took the plunge and got a Facebook account. Within three days I was being hooked up with old friends I hadn't seen in 25 years or more. But I don't advise you sign up right away unless you want to learn the following things:

- almost everyone looks younger and more beautiful than you
- almost everyone is doing more fun things than you
- almost everyone is more successful than you
- almost everyone seems to have more money than you
- almost everyone has traveled to more exciting locations than you
- almost everyone looks happier than you
- you a re a big fat loser and your life has amounted to squat

Friday, June 5

Please Go Away

One of these days the alien demon will escape through your fake smile.

You're gay. We get it. You also contribute nothing to society.
Now shut up, you squealy little punk.

The reason why the N word is still a legitimate noun.

Quite squinting at me, you stuck up chirpy bitch.

I hated this smug little lesbian slut in third grade when she was Pippi Longstocking.

There are no words, in any combination, in any language, in any universe,
that can adequately describe how much you guys suck.

Hey, aren't you the smarmy psychology prof who flunked me
while banging coeds in exchange for good grades?

The only hot cunt no man wants to fuck.

The only thing more retarded than anti-blackface urban hip-hop epileptic twatwads is -
There is nothing more retarded than anti-blackface urban hip-hop epileptic twatwads.

Tonight's nightmare brought to you courtesy of Slickface McGloryhole.

Pop 'n' Douche the Pricksbury DoughNazi.

If Amy Winehouse mated with Mr. Potato Head.

Monday, March 9

NV 2179 KX

You were my pride and joy, my dear Pupfish, but times are tough. Please don't hate me.
You will be fine with the nice older couple. Their grand kids will love you.
Have fun in Canada.
* * *
For a little while, I was Captain Kirk.
But like the preceding 10 months, give my regards to Captain Dunsel.

Monday, February 23

My Best Girl

She knew who her master was. She proved it by bowing down to me when I'd come home at the end of the day. She greeted me on weekend mornings with the biggest smile, showing me how much she loved me. When I stole the bedcovers she never complained. If I wanted to sit where she was currently perched, she would always graciously move out of the way. When I was sick, she would stay by my side, doing everyting she could to make sure I was warm and comfortable. She never talked back. She was a good traveling companion.

She was my first greyhound, and I loved her like I'd never loved any animal before.

She wasn't a very good racer, so she was retired at age two. Her name was Miracle 2 B Alive, Miracle for short, because she had pulled through some catastrophic illness as a puppy. She was a gorgeous tiger stripe orange and black brindle. When she ran, she looked like embers on the wind. I named her Blaze. She smelled of hay and fur and summer and living things.

She was very much a girly girl. In the spring she did a strange slow-motion dance around flowering shrubs, mooooviiing thiiiis foooot theeeen theeeee oooootheeeer, nose deep in the blossoms, inhaling the sweet intoxicants, a gangly ballet dancer gliding at 1/20 speed round and round. She delighted in joining my wife and daughter in nail painting sessions. They would coat her toenails some gaudy color, and Blaze would prance through the house, lifting her paws high, and show Daddy what a pretty girl she was. She loved comfort. If there was an expanse of tile or wood, you could lay a washcloth on the floor and she would lie on it. She played with the other dogs, a skinny, goofy clown all legs and ears and nose, but when the boys got too rough, she would steal away for a nap or watch from a distance. She had a great mothering instinct, putting up with all sorts of indignities when my children were small.

She turned 13 in December, a redwood tree for a greyhound. We know how old she was because greyhounds have their birth month and year tattooed in one ear. We didn't know the exact day, so we made it Christmas because she was such a gift.

It has been a rough time these last 12 months. When my brother went AWOL and was later found almost dead, I felt the world on my shoulders. Blaze still greeted me with a bow, not quite as deep, but beautiful with her paws stretched forward, nose to the ground, tail held high. It made me know somebody loved me no matter what. When finances became so tight I thought the world would collapse, Blaze lifted and pulled back her doggie lips in a comic facsimile of a smile. It made me know that love is more important than money. When layoffs arrived at work and my department mutinied against me, Blaze snuggled against me on the couch and rubbed her long-nosed head against my chest. It reassured me that love is stronger than hard times. Two cancer scares, strange minor maladies, a recovering brother that brought tremendous family stresses, bounced checks, parenting worries. Through it all, beautiful brindle Blaze was there, more grey than black, slower but no less wonderful, a constant in my life when everything else was change, uncertainty, exhaustion, and fear.

Three days ago it was plain there were no better days ahead of her. She had lost control and couldn't make it outside, she limped on a front leg, her hips quivered when she stood, she would stand vacant eyed in the middle of the room and whimper at nothing. She wouldn't eat and became a stick of a dog. My daughter went with me on Blaze's last trip to the vet. Just before her final moment, Blaze looked up at me with confusion and love. I felt my heart burst in a nova of grief and guilt. My daughter held me as I sobbed and sobbed.

Her name was Blaze, and I loved her like no animal before. She was my best girl.

Goodbye, my Blazer girl. I rescued you and you rescued me back.

Wednesday, August 27

7 Days Of Vacation

Day 24: Four Corners, AZ/UT/CO/NM

Can you feel the magic?

You are standing in four states!


Or not. This is a pointless exercise, but no one can resist it. Since you've probably been in the car for five hours with screaming kids and a barfing dog, you needed to stop anyway. Help out the local Navajo by buying some trinkets at the multitude of plywood stands. Then get a soda, some frybread, and load up the family for another five hours of butt numbing torture.

Before you go, stand in four states!

Come on. You know you want to.

Teasers on this trip: AZ/UT/CO/NM

Tuesday, August 26

8 Days Of Vacation

Day 23: Williams, AZ

Our family has vacationed here more than anywhere else in the last 20 years. I think it's because the town is located in the largest ponderosa pine forest in the country. Or maybe it's because there so much to see in the surrounding area. The fact that one of the best preserved sections of old Route 66 forms the main street of town doesn't hurt.

Williams is named after mountain man Bill Williams. Why, I don't know; you would expect to see this sort of history in ranges farther north. However it came to be named, the town touts itself as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon, about an hour's drive north. This is the big kahuna attraction, but you could easily spend a week here without seeing it.

The town has a quite a bit to offer for an afternoon's walk. Souvenir shops sell turquoise jewelry and Arizona souvenirs. Retro 1950's joints sell soda and ice cream, plus the obligatory Elvis and Marilyn memorabilia. There are a number of good coffee shop/diner/have a seat at the counter places with rib sticking vacation food. Don't miss dinner at
Rod's Steakhouse, a Williams institution. Visit ol' Bill Williams' statue at the tiny park. Sling back a cold one, or a strong one, with the local cowboys at the Sultana bar. Just try not to be afraid of the resident mountain lion and bear. Keep an eye out for all the great vintage signs, neon or painted on brick walls. Stay at the Red Garter B&B. Hope the ghosts of frontier town bordello patrons don't keep you awake.

If the adventurer in you comes here without any idea of what to do, stop by the Visitor Center. You'll leave with more stuff to do than you can cram in a week. The train leaves daily for Grand Canyon. I've never
done it, but it looks fun. To the west is Seligman, a tiny little town that was the inspiration for Radiator Springs in the Pixar film Cars. To the east is Flagstaff, a fun town with a strange cultural mix of western, bohemian, native, college, and sportsman. Lowell Observatory, where the planet(oid) Pluto was discovered, is a sure fire hit, as is the ski lift ride up the San Francisco peaks. From there I'm pretty sure you can see all the way to Argentina. Farther west is the tiny Route 66 desert leftover of Holbrook, the Painted Desert, and Petrified Forest. To the south is Sedona, a town know for its art, spas, New Age wingnuts, and stunning red rock views. John McCain maintains one of his seven residences near there.

It doesn't matter where you stay. A reasonable motel room, a campground, a house rented for a week: all are excellent bases for exploration. You might wonder how
Arizona Highways magazine could be around for eight decades concentrating on just one state. With one visit to Williams and its environs you won't wonder any more.

Teasers on this trip: deer farm, meteor crater, lava tube, elk

Thursday, August 14

9 Days Of Vacation

Day 22: Laughlin, NV

Time for a grown-up trip to indulge some minor vices.

You do not know top-of-the-line glitz and excess until you experience the Las Vegas Strip. Everyone should do it once. Even so, a familiar refrain around these parts is "Vegas ain't what it used to be." Some remember and long for the days when the mob ran things, before the super resorts and mass migration. If you feel the same, have no fear. Just take a 90 mile roadtrip south to

Gambling purists often turn up their nose at this town on the Nevada-Arizona border, perhaps with some justification. This is very much a regular folks type of place, frequented by seniors, college kids, and the less well to do. But if you aren't a high roller, Laughlin is a perfectly good, and cheaper, substitute for a gambling jaunt. Founded in the 1960's, Laughlin and its "strip" are perched on the banks of the swift, deep green Colorado River. The walkway along the river passes around, and sometimes through, the casinos. There are jet boats, water taxis, and paddle wheelers for river tours. You won't find high profile performers here much of the time, although headliners do regularly pass through, but the standard fare is just fine. Concerts by tribute bands, up and coming comedians, and the like are reasonably priced and definitely entertaining. Compared to the prices for everything in Vegas, Laughlin is a penny pinching bargain. For the truly stingy, there are the lounges with free jazz combos and whatnot.

I need not go into much detail about a stay here. A weekend is plenty of time to gamble in a low pressure atmosphere, drink too much of your favorite libation, eat too much at the buffet, walk the river with another drink in your hand, take in a show or two, stay up late, sleep in late, and play some linen wrestling. Vegas it isn't, but that is why Laughlin continues to grow and attract all sorts of people. It's a great relaxing getaway with plenty of adult activities. Who knows, you might win a few bucks, too.

Teasers on this trip: Topock Canyon, London Bridge, Oatman, about a million koi

Wednesday, August 13

10 Days Of Vacation

Day 21: Salt Creek, CA

Who would have thought I could satisfy my curiosity of all things fish in the middle of Death Valley?

Death Valley National Park is extreme in every conceivable way. The hottest temperature in the country, 134F, was recorded here. The lowest point on the continent, -282', is here. From this lowest point, the highest point in the lower 48 states can be seen, Mt. Whitney at 14,505'. The aridity is total, the occasional storms magnificent. Over 400 animal and 1,000 plant species live here. It is a hostile, foreign, forbidding place. It is also a place of extreme beauty, and surprises at every milepost.

Salt Creek is far and away my favorite place here. It is small in comparison to the vast salt flats, dunes, and mountains that surround it, but the half mile trail is a microcosm all its own. To protect this extremely (there's that word again) fragile ecosystem, hikers are confined to a boardwalk that winds around the creek. In places it is only a foot or so across and a few inches deep, depending on the time of year. This is a green spot in a region otherwise dominated by tans, greys, and whites. The plants seem almost blasted into submission, clinging stubbornly to the rim of this tiny stream, gnarled and short. As you progress along the walkway, the creek widens at points, allowing for some shallow pools. In these pools is an astonishing site: the Salt
Creek pupfish. Only a few inches long, these fish avoid predators by hiding among the rushes and algae. In the spring, the male turns a bluish color and collects a harem. As the males vie for spawning territory and females, they chase each other like puppies, giving rise to their common name. These are tough little animals. They have evolved to deal with low water levels, fluctuations in temperature, salinity, and oxygen levels, limited food sources, and all the other vagaries of a harsh environment. They have survived, and continue to thrive only in this small stretch of water, provided we continue to protect them. To the casual uneducated visitor, these might be just another minnow. To me, they are one of the natural world's greatest treasures.

To the north lives a famous relative in ichthyology, the Devil's Hole pupfish. One of the most endangered fish in the world, the only location where it lives is closed to the public. There are a number of other
pupfish species, all related, all rare, and all tiny, precious jewels in the desert landscape. I am so fascinated by them I named our family boat the Pupfish.

Teasers on the trip: Badwater, Stovepipe Wells, Rhyolite Ghost Town, racing rocks