Date Archives July 2010

Trashdog, I am not amused.

Let’s start with the things I’m thankful for today:

Today, I am thankful for industrial-strength garbage bags.

Today, I am thankful for rubber gloves.

Today, I am thankful for the cast-iron stomach bestowed upon me by my father.

Because today when I got home, I saw that the dog had a shitsplosion in his cage. I didn’t actually know that it was possible for one dog to shit that much. Not only was his bedding completely and utterly destroyed, but he himself was entirely encrusted with shit. Hindquarters, belly, face, all caked with shit. You might be thinking “Poor Napoleon” at this moment, which would make you a better person than me, as I continue to think “Poor ME”. So, I had to dispose of his bed and scrub out his cage, and give him a bath, and the whole time he’s having a bath, he’s trying to lick me and wagging his tail like “Oh wow, isn’t this fun? I mean, it started out bad, but it’s cool, right? Because this is totally my favorite thing. Why aren’t you smiling?”

If this whole escapade has taught him that all he needs to do to get a bath is to shit all over the place and roll in it, I will continue to be thankful for industrial-strength garbage bags for when I dump his corpse into the green river.

Ponies, Pepperoni, Happiness, and Pot

On Saturday, a large group of pasty-white people (the better to glow with, my dear) assembled and visited the Auburn Supermall, making it the largest crowd that particular mall has seen since 1988, for the express purpose of playing blacklight minigolf. I had offered to have people over to paint their faces with UV-reactive makeup, and I myself had intended to do a glowing neon sugar-skull mask, but as the hours crept by and no one showed, I decided to go for something a little more subtle, as I didn’t want to be That Douche in public.

I was That Douche in public regardless, as while we waited for stragglers to show, I volunteered to test out the hurricane simulation booth, because if I didn’t do it, who would, right?

My hair was a series of very fine knots for the rest of the day.

We also noted that the nearby Hippy-Dippy-Do-Dah store sold suspicious-looking ‘massage wands’.

Sean takes his minigolf quite seriously–the glowing hat and glasses make all the difference in the world…if we were keeping score. Which we weren’t.

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I learned an important lesson that day as well, namely, that it is incredibly difficult to minigolf while wearing a feather boa, which tends to wrap around the handle of the club and choke one just as one is taking an important shot.

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The course itself was designed by a sadist who hates minigolfers–the very first hole involved a bridge under which the ball got stuck nearly every goddamn time, forcing the golfer to their knees and use their club like a pool cue. The course was also set up in such a way that balls tended to shoot off-course and toward other people in the venue.

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I sincerely feel that if three wolf moon can be a thing, five glowing sharks should also be a thing. There are five of them! And they’re glowing!

At the end of the course, there was a hole set up like minigolf pachinko–if you managed to get your ball into the orange hole, you’d win a free game. I didn’t actually get that far, as, completely disenchanted with the course and choking myself with feathers, I declared myself done and handed over my club and ball at the counter. Rob, however, won a free game!

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After golf, we made our way to Shindig for delicious booze, and then over to Emily’s for dinner and board games–first we played Quelf, which was both ridiculous and highly entertaining–we were dancing jigs and making animal noises and holding hands and singing songs and even had a round of group therapy, and by the time we were tired and slap-happy, we started playing ‘Things’, where each round, everyone wrote down their answer to card prompts like ‘Things you shouldn’t do in a graveyard’, ‘Things you would do you if you were invisible’, ‘Things you shouldn’t experiment with’, etc. My name popped up frequently as a ‘thing you would do in the dark’, a ‘thing that is dirty’, and so on and so forth. Eventually we even started recycling slips, and the phrases ‘donkey punch’, ‘pepperoni’, ‘fuck a ghost’, and ‘electricity’ started popping their way into most rounds.

…Something is seriously wrong with my friends.

Which is why I love them, of course.

RichArt’s ArtYard

Richard Tracy has been working on an outdoor installment for nearly thirty years, his ArtYard, working with found and repurposed materials. Everything he makes is at the mercy of the elements, and so his pieces are constantly in a state of flux; creation and destruction with the new springing from the ashes of the old.

On Sunday, I drove to Centralia to visit Rich and see his creation.

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There were a several other visitors there, and Rich greeted and spent time with every single person, dragging his reluctant round dog behind him. I liked him immediately. He rounded us up near the entrance and handed each person a tassel and told us that if we particularly liked something he made, we should thank him by hanging that tassel off of the piece, “high or low, naughty or nice”, but that we were not to allow him to see us putting the tassel in place. He explained that because he’s constantly in the yard, he’s lost the ability to see it the way visitors do, and whenever he finds a tassel, he goes silent and contemplates the art, because we’ve then given him the gift of perspective.

 

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He brought us over to his first piece, The King & Queen, saying “The Queen is larger because she has more power. We would have fewer wars if we had more queens.”

We were then mainly left to our own devices in touring the yard. It’s almost beyond description, almost beyond comprehension. Even photographs do a poor job capturing it. It really must be experienced. Every few minutes, Rich would make the rounds and point out something about the piece we were looking at. He encouraged everyone to look at the space around the art as well, at how nature has incorporated itself in and around the art, making it something more than it was before. The yard itself almost reads like a study in variation and repetition; his fondness for the number five, for circles and spheres, the way the same materials will pop up in similar yet different configurations–what could be a jumble of unrelated items is made cohesive with an underlying theme.

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As I looked at this wall, Rich approached me and said the head mounted on the right is one of the most-photographed pieces in the yard, the people’s choice. He’s wanted to throw it away many times but has stayed his hand at the last moment because he can’t bring himself to destroy something that so many people like. Mainly, he is disappointed that the face on the right gets so much attention, and the face on the left comparatively little, given that the face on the left is one of his personal favorites, inspired by Picasso’s Girl Before a Mirror.

But he said it was ever that way in the art classes he taught as well; he would teach no more than five students at a time, and everyone’s voice was as important as his own.

He also described his process for me, and said that he works very hard to get out of his own way when he creates–that he can’t stop and scrutinize every step along the way or he’d never finish anything. He just keeps working until it comes together and feels right. Sometimes it never does reach that stage, but he won’t know until he puts it all together. I think that’s useful advice for anyone engaging in creative endeavors–just keep working, things you were intially unsure about may come together in a way you wouldn’t expect.

We parted with him telling the story of the day he watched Mount St Helens erupt, saying that he hadn’t intended to send people off with something bad ringing in their ears, but it was just like being at the dinner table, knowing you oughtn’t say anything nasty, and having something nasty be the only thing you want to talk about.

Something else that’s nasty–within five days of Rich’s death, a friend with a backhoe will completely eradicate the ArtYard within a five hour period.

 

*Edit* As of 2012, the ArtYard is no more.

Go take a hike!

On Saturday, I decided a general retreat from humanity was in order, and rather than huddle in my apartment with the shades drawn, I elected to go hiking with Tristan. We decided to go to Melakwa Lake, and ne’er again shall I deride the importance of actually reading about the trail beforehand–over the course of my quick skim, all I gleaned was “three miles” and “oooh, pretty!”. Forewarned is forearmed, but forewarned with half-ass knowledge is akin to suiting up in a chain-mail bikini for battle–when reality strikes, it will be a shot straight to your delicate exposed guts. Suitably outfitted in this bikini, I furthermore decided to wear everyday shoes as specialty hiking shoes are for pansies, and brought one bottle of water with me, which made up the brunt of my supplies. I suppose if necessity had called for it, I could have fought off a wild animal with my car keys. If the motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared,” my motto is “Ehhh….it’ll be ok.” Tristan decided to continue getting used to his new toe shoes, and brought a few more things with him, but overall, we ran off into the wilderness nigh-utterly unprepared. The first mile or so took us under I-90 and eventually brought us to a wide stream. Apparently there used to be a proper bridge crossing, but that washed away, and now visitors must either hop over a series of rocks or prepare to wade through icy-cold water.

Past this point, the trail turned into a series of switchbacks, through increasingly rocky and overgrown terrain, up to a viewpoint where we could see Keekwulee Falls. “This trail is proving quite easy!” I enthused, yet quite full of pep and positivity.   34641_411548338939_5675733_n

34641_411548333939_3302611_n I spotted some bold chimpmunks nosing around, clearly looking for handouts, and reminisced about all the time I spent plotting on family vactions to Eagle River about how I was going to catch a chipmunk in a tupperware container, bring him home, and make him my adorable pet. Of course, during these plotting sessions, I was also utterly convinced that merely capturing an animal domesticates it, and that surely this chipmunk would be performing tricks within a week and riding upon my shoulder like a tiny chipmunk Magellan, experiencing civilization, or the modicum of civilization southeastern Wisconsin had to offer. All of those teachers who sent home report cards which said I was not working up to my abilities really had no grasp on the vivid fantasy world I inhabited. I could do math, but how much time would that leave for training as-of-yet-uncaptured chipmunks?

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No matter how bold these chipmunks may have been, I lacked tupperware and was less certain about domestication of species–less certain to the point where if I captured one, I don’t know that I would have been comfortable tucking him into a pocket or my bra. We continued on through some more switchbacks, and the terrain grew increasingly difficult to navigate. The ground was composed of chunks of rock, some of which wobbled when stepped upon, the majority of which had sharp edges pointing upward, forcing one to step at awkward angles in order to place a foot on a flat surface. We had to scramble over larger rocks, cross slippery streams, and even hike up a goddamned waterfall. It was at this point that my spirits started to flag–I was becoming tired, I had finished my water long before and was growing quite thirsty, the going ahead didn’t appear to get any easier, nor the lake any closer. Random passers-by would tell us, variably, that the lake was approximately a mile and a half away, an hour’s hike away, not far, twenty minutes away, which only served to inform us that people’s sense of time and distance is not to be trusted. If I ever see the ‘not far’ lady again, I will kick her squarely in the knee. Three miles my fucking ass. I must have mis-skimmed the website, and surely enough, I had. At any time around this point, had either Tristan or myself sincerely suggested turning around and going home, the other would have proffered no argument. However, Tristan looked to me to call it, and I have an absurd sense of pride when it comes to quitting or admitting defeat, as if I’ve got something to prove to someone, to everyone. When my feet were bleeding toward the end of that half-marathon, and I was hobbling my way through Bellevue, I saw a little old lady pass me and it galled me to no end. Injured as I was, I wanted to run her down. This lake, this goddamn out of the way fucking asshole mountain lake, would not beat me. I would see it. I would photograph it. I would dominate it through pooping in it if it came down to it. I would not lose. 35163_411548493939_3328534_n

We began to have to climb over fallen trees–most small, one enormous. The trail was variably muddy and snowy, some of which was quite hard-packed so you could pass lightly along the surface like one of Tolkein’s graceful elves, and some of which gave way, leaving one slipping, floundering, arms flailing and helicoptering madly to avoid a humiliating fall. The trail continued on to descend onto wet rocks and yet-deeper mud. Bugs had begun to pester us in earnest, swooping for an eye or an ear whenever one was making a critical leap from rock to rock. I would like to declare forevermore my lasting emnity with insects and their games of “try and kill the human”.

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We began to grouse with renewed vigor, saying that this lake had better have water nymphs distributing magic swords or be the fountain of youth or something equally fantastical and worthwhile of the journey. After twenty more minutes of slipping and cursing and praying the lake would be just over the next ridge, it finally appeared before us–not magic, but beautiful. “I’m gonna put my face in it!” I crowed, up until the point where I realized it would be impossible to do so without falling into its freezing waters. We also shot some video on Tristan’s camera that mostly consisted of us shouting “FUCK NATURE! FUCK IT IN ITS NATURE HOLE!” 35183_411548618939_4211052_n

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However, I was faced with a choice. Here I was, with no water left, a huge amount of trail to descend, and a body of maybe-questionable water in front of me. If I had once upon a time felt an urge to dominate it through feces, who was to say that no one else had felt that urge and acted upon it? I paused with my water bottle above the surface. I posited, “On a scale from one to ten, where one is ‘You have died from dysentery’ cryptosporidium-riddled and ten is ‘magic healing waters’, how safe do you think this water is to drink?” “I’d put it at an eight or a nine. But, you know, don’t blame me if you die.” I decided to take the chance–without any water, I wasn’t feeling good about my odds of making it back down the mountain. The water was very clear and tasted fine.

We sat for a minute, swatting away bugs, but realized that the hour was growing late and we couldn’t afford to linger, lest we have to descend in the dark. We hurried back as quickly as we could, but had only reached as far back as the snow-areas when we hit the golden hour, when the trees lit up with gorgeous reddish diffused light. We began to get concerned, as this meant we really only had an hour before darkness would begin setting in quickly and things would begin to get really dangerous for us. We pushed as hard as we could, not stopping to rest, but my motor skills had begun to decrease from exhaustion and legs were so tired that my ankles had begun to wobble and roll dangerously whenever I hit a rock at a strange angle, so I couldn’t go as quickly as I knew I should. I kept picturing falling and breaking an ankle or smashing my head open on a rock and my head became the Paranoia Network: All Fear, All The Time. I had never so honestly or openly hated inanimate objects as much as I hated this rocky terrain. I wished fire and plagues and ice weasels upon them. I loudly stated that this mountain could suck my balls. Tristan replied that it would be difficult, considering it was already busy sucking ass. My feet hurt from constantly getting the points of rocks jabbed up into my soft sole through the shoe. Tristan was in yet-greater pain as toe shoes provide even less protection than my foolish fashion sneakers. I brought up the subject of the Richard Bachman novella ‘The Long Walk‘, mainly because I felt like I was on a death march and the idea of getting my ticket began to sound appealing. We were the Hans Christian Anderson little mermaids, not the wimpified Disney version, with each step like walking on knives, feet bleeding, save that we still had our voices so we were free to complain. I began to have a series of internal tantrums, fueled by exhaustion and hunger, thinking “I won’t go any further. You can’t make me.” and trudging along nonetheless. I started to trip over things and catch my feet more often–I couldn’t make out the ground as well and even if I could, I wasn’t able to lift my feet as high as before. We rushed over that first wide stream as the last vestiges of light bled from the sky. I slipped off the last rock, fell to my knees, and was a hair’s breadth from having a screaming, cursing, water-bottle-throwing hissy fit, but somehow managed to pull myself away from the edge by insisting to myself that it would solve none of our current problems, namely, that the light was gone and we had a least a mile more to traverse. The pitch-dark was not kind to my paranoia. I focused on the ground in front of me as intently as possible but had difficulty making out where to place my feet. To complicate matters, I had begun to hallucinate, my eyes first swimming with spots, and then quite vividly seeing objects which Tristan insisted did not exist but of which I was as certain of as I was of my own life. I edged around man-eating holes, bears waited patiently near the edges to snatch me up, and I saw my life flash before my eyes. Tristan pulled out his phone to illuminate the path in front of him and turned to help me across yet another rocky stream while attempting to encourage me with statements of “It’s not much farther” to which I responded, voice quavering on the edge of tears “I just don’t think I can.” When we finally made our way to the trailhead, I almost burst into those hysterical tears because I had given myself over to the notion that I might actually die. When someone is being an asshole and you tell them to ‘Go take a hike’, this is the hike you intend them to take. A seven hour ordeal that ends with them stumbling through the dark, praying for death and/or Batman.

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