"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Manic Monday -- Weekend Update

And so another week begins. I've got to get back into the autobio practice (what this is trying to return to) so I'll recap my weekend. I want to be a little careful and intentional here, as I'm trying to walk a couple of lines:

  • No a secret diary -- the original genesis of this whole thing was to open up my life a bit more and to lift up my conduct and being all around, not to have a place where I write things instead of saying them. It's a easy slip to have this be a substitute for more immediate expression, rather than the poetical mass-communication and aspiration I want it to be.
  • Don't burn people -- I've gone over the general concept of what stories are mine to tell and what aren't, usually in the context of "kissing and blogging," but trying to get back into autobiographical writing means being careful about what I say about other people. I've already done things like remove old posts about friends who've become lawyers and have questionable google results because of something i wrote in 2002.
  • Keep it interesting -- while I've got a certain confidence in the palatability of the reality-TV equivalent of blogging, I don't want to tumble down some hallway of self-obsession and inward-looking myopia. Intriguing introspection is the ideal; don't want to run off my little readership with a bunch of pathetic navel-gazing.

Anyway, enough disclaimer. This is an evolution. Let's get started. 1500+ words after the jump.

The weekend was pretty good overall. Friday I went from the coffeeshop in town over to the wine store to meet with Kells and her community pool co-worker Leo. They have tastings on weekends, a new "thing to do" down on the Plaza. It was pretty nice, actually. Festive and tasty in a grown up way; went well with light drizzling rain.

It's a an interesting mix of people. The HC has quite a lot of gourmet stuff going on, with a decided tilt towards the organic and rare. There are a lot of expatriates from San Francisco here, and most of what might be called the "upper crust" of the region have at least a little hippy in them.

For instance, the pretty, young, tired-looking girl sitting at the end of the bar when I got there, Humboldt chic with tasteful blond dreadlocks and a big beautiful dog. She sits elbow to elbow with silver-haired granola/wine enthusiasts and the vaguely Dungeons & Dragons-looking kid who did the art hanging on the walls, talking on her cellphone. Could be some dope-grower's woman, could be a college student with means; we just don't know.

I'm early so I wander through the store. The setup is a regular shop with a lot of local wines and a good selection of tasty beers in the back, with the front re-done in big plate-glass and the bar itself facing out onto the plaza. The server, and I assume part-owner of the store -- he's got that wine-store-owner nose; you know the one -- stands with his back to the windows setting up flights while one of his friends sits among the racks, singing and playing some acoustic guitar for the customers. The music is all in Stan Getz / Chet Baker quadrant of soft vocal jazz that sounds great with just a little guitar, and in spite of running out for a smoke every half-hour, the greybearded dude, Duncan I think, makes a fine presentation.

I've walked the floor twice and looked at all the beers when Kells and Leo show up and we settle in for the tasting. My favorite was a Willow Creek Cabernet, although some of the French stuff Leo and Kelly were sampling was damn tasty too. There's also bread and sharp cheese and some smoked salmon to freshen the palette. We talk wine a bit, and they talk about pool business and Leo and I have some getting-to-know-you small-talk -- where you're from, what you've done, etc.

By and by we've all got to get on to our Friday evenings. I pick up a bottle of the Three Philosophers -- a Belgian-style ale I learned to love thanks to Eric Felton when he and Franz lived together in Boerum Hill and we'd have poker nights with many heady beers -- and we say see ya to Leo and head back on up the road to Westhaven.

Back at the clubhouse we share the beer three ways with Mark and catch up on one another. Some student at P-Coast (Pacific Coast Alternative High School, where Mark is doing his Americorps tour of duty) apparently took a swing at the principal, which was a bad move as the principal used to be an all-american wrestling champ. Mark, who's got previous work experience breaking up fights at WOW Hall punk rock shows, got involved and so there's a good story to tell. We share about the wine bar, our days, plans for the rest of the weekend.

Our friends Hannah and Sarah are on their way over with their visiting friend Damien, a little hot-tub camaraderie, and so we put on some music and stoke up the fire. They arrive soon after the Three Philosophers have kicked it, and we have a pleasant evening of dominos and conversation.

Damien's a real good guy, reminding me a lot somehow of my man Kevin Collinsworth, a real settled human ease and a winsome smile. He was riding a motorcycle to Argentina when he fell in love with a girl he met in Mexico and turned around for to move in with her in Seattle, which is where he's headed at the moment.

After dominos we end up in the hot tub, debating the definition of the local adjective "heady" and making questionable jokes about Japanese tourists, then all crowded around Kelly's Nintendo for 20 minutes watching people play Super Mario Brothers. It's a quite a throwback of an experience: everyone knows the secrets, indelibly written into our brains as children it seems. I don't play, but enjoy trying to psych people out while they're jumping over the fire-pits and the like.

It's an early night for everyone. When your Friday starts at 7am, the night creeps up awfully quick. Plus, Damien is staying in town with Sarah and Hannah and has to get on the road early, and no one wants to drive drunk back to Arcata, so the party clears up just after midnight. The last thing is Kelly and I realizing we could be rich and famous by writing a broadway musical about Nintendo:

All alone in my room, shooting guns at some ducks on a screen.
Saving the princess, seeing people and places that I'd never dreamed.

You get the picture.

Saturday we're headed out to a BBQ at a friends ranch up in the hills. It's nice to get away from the coastal fog. When you head inland here, you go about five or six miles, past Blue Lake, and then start uphill. Somewhere near or around the first crest you break out of the clouds. It's like a whole new world: sunny, clear and crisp.

So up over the hill and then a few miles off a gravel side-track, past the Green Gate (a forest-service thing) and a bit further along a private drive, is the Rising Sun Ranch, about 80-acres of that most hallowed American institution: private property. There's a great old barn-type structure -- all rough-hewn mill timbers held together with giant bolts -- that's in the process of becoming a real human habitation. The latest addition is a bathroom, so it's not quite ready for full-time living, but the barn has a big beautiful deck that gets lots of sun, and the little part of the property that's clear of trees has plenty of room for the dogs to run around.

And so we feast on chicken, olives, champagne and beer. It's got an alpine kind of feeling, or maybe the high country in italy; barbecue on top of the world, a high place to be. It's good to hang with our hosts and the other folks who've come by, including some Westhaven neighbors. It's a smallish world out here, and an interesting scene to come into as an outsider. Almost all of my grown-up social experience has been in the context of a massively anonymizing urban setting, where everyone's a stranger and "new" people are the rule rather than the exception. Not so here in the HC, so there are different rules and norms. I'm learning.

Since both Kelly and Mark have to do a function down at the pool on Sunday morning -- Mark's now a bona-fide substitute lifeguard -- we beg off around dusk. On the road down there's an absolutely astounding view to the west: setting sun going down into the coastal cloud layer, which we're elevated above and can see spilling over the first line of hills. Gorgeous, I swear, like looking at a background-painting from Lord of the Rings.

But such vistas carry a price: ten minutes later we're back inside those clouds, back in the dim and the mist. It's sort of a drag, but once you get home and start a cracklin' fire it has its own kind of charm as well. We settle ourselves and watch Spun, a B-minus effort at making a movie about methamphetamine. It's sort of a lower-rent Requiem for a Dream with lots and lots of quick cuts and pretty people destroying themselves. It's a comedy though, and worth the rental (or torrent, savvy?) if only to see Mickey Rourke's portrayal of "The Chef."

After that everyone's tired. I watch the other two episodes of BattleStar Galactica I've got in the can (which I may review separately, but in short: good!) and contemplate the meaning of my Saturday night alone. Out in the coffeeshop all week they were selling tickets to this local burningman-esque event, which isn't exactly my scene, but was in my mind. In an alternate fork maybe I break out my Czech Sunshine and head to those hills...

The truth is if I want to make it work out here I need a car. It's just impossible to be independent without one. Getting a real life outside my house means being able to move around the greater Humboldt Bay area on my lonesome, but I still instinctively resist the idea (and balk at the cost) of automobile ownership. We'll see about this.

Sunday shines in and it's a day of cleaning, re-arranging, writing and projects. Mark's setting up a new loft bed for the guest room and I help out a bit with that. I plan on doing my own soon, much like my highschool bed back in Oregon. In the afternoon run down to Murphy's and pick up a slab of Corned Beef for dinner, something that's evolving into a delectable fortnightly cold-weather tradition. Then it's just a glass of Laphroaig, a peta, and a couple episodes of Carnivalé, and time for a quick hot tub and bed.

And that's a weekend in the life.