Tag Archives: Highway Home the novel

Bridging Change

Great Things Await Those Who Dream Big

How do we get from here to there? How do we get at our most obstinate aspects and create a path to a more refined self? In the picture is the new seismically safer western portion of the under construction  Bay Bridge. You are looking at the single suspension tower that will support the skyway. It will have the same number of lanes as the cantilevered bridge it replaces, but it is designed to withstand a higher magnitude earthquake. It’s a better bridge that will accommodate the same number of cars per day as the old bridge. It is one of the few really BIG things to be done in decades in all of the United States. A nation needs big things done. My generation’s legacy has been drowned. Some groups have been obsessed with lowering taxes and the result is we are leaving to the future a worn out, scrawny, meager version of a once more bold and
visionary nation. Still each of us evolves and with the passage of our lives on this grand stage called life need to get up in the attic, down in the basement, and clean things out. We all have to update, refine, and discard old ineffectual behaviors with the possibility of a more evolved more wise self. Same body, same mind, same person but we must construct of our lives a structure that is better able to withstand the inevitable unforeseen event that we must be better prepared to cope with. We all need a passion for colossal change….

 Highway Home   The Novel

He listened to the cracking of the flames in the fire. The sounds of crickets grew as the darkness became deeper. After a time spent looking into the flames he stood up and began to dance in the darkness. Jasper looked over at his best friend. Noel was dancing between the van and the fire, his mind taking him on a journey far away from the meadow. He was singing a song beneath his breath. It was as if he was reciting a prayer, taking his vows, answering the night spirits. His arms swung back and forth. He swirled  his hips in a circle.

The Whereabouts of Change

Is it the wood, the varnish or the sun's fault...

Much effort is made to identify the location of change. You changed, they changed, she changed… it wasn’t me. It was you. You did it, I didn’t. Is change’s location inside of my mind or is change located in your mind, or out there, up there, down there, east or west of here, is it something from the past, is it located in the future? At the quantum level is stuff made of energy or is it matter? Is the temporary location of this energy/matter conundrum the underlying principle that infuses the world the reason change… that the state of impermanence is so
frequently found and located everywhere? I prefer to hang around the good vibes, the fun stuff, the warm weather, the banquet table. I am only beginning to come to terms with the notion that perhaps the other hang outs might provide me proximity to opportunities that might invite unexpected experiences for growth as I wander the byways and highways of life in the pursuit of flowing with the full measure that my changes offer. It means things appear to look different, that difference has much to do with not looking for the whereabouts of that new way of seeing, it just is different, the location is irrelevant, it doesn’t matter who did it.

 Highway Home  TheNovel

Until that moment, and in that honey
dipped timeless space of summer, he looked with an urgent inner force dunking
him into his own depths, into the deeper waters of his own being. He leaned
forward lost in his desires and primordial quests and kissed Leslie all the
while conjuring up hopes he would find a part of her he would never have to
abandon, never have to give up, never forced to reckon with her loss. That was
unimaginable now.

When she dove into the river, that leap
had sealed his dream.

Cheating Changes Everything

You Can Run But You Can't Hide

Every so often I survey single men while in conversation about whether they have ever had a sexual affair with someone they knew was married. Some men answer no, some yes, and others anguish over the question and in so doing reveal their experience by way of a non-answer. The married men are all but for a handful mute on the topic. Some of the confessions I have taken are soaked in sympathies for the abandoned wife’s no longer attentive partner who is often likely to be one of these muted married men. Entrance into this secretive world and speaking anonymously to sources inside this frail human yet full sized shadow world is to view things as they actually are, not as how we think they should be. Sad to
say if you’ve ever made this trip to the other side of integrity, this other side of having had your good word gone bad, there is a profound price to be paid for this incredibly human weakness for the forbidden fruit. Usually, in a rational world we’d decide we are not happy in our agreements, change the agreements and get on with finding new partners to pursue the wholesome healthy appetite that comes with our being alive. But, no, that’s not how we prefer to do it, and so instead we are pulled into this vortex of irreversible action suffering all the consequences of this act, pretending that we’ve been able to do what we had to do, and nobody needs to know, everything will work out, everybody will be happy go home and resume what they were doing. Cheating doesn’t change everything, cheating changes a person’s ability to live in the open, where the world may see them, where there is nothing to hide, it isn’t the sex it is the secret that changes everything…

Highway Home the Novel

 “I’ve got one more customer to kick out
over there, count up the money, put it in the safe, and I’m walking home.
Thought you could walk me home.”

Noel wasn’t sure what she meant by that.
“I guess, Kathy, sure. I’ll walk with you.”

Noel thought it was odd she’d asked him
to stay. She had pulled a sweater over her head. It was low cut too. She made
an act out of the thing, and leaned over, almost like on purpose, and wriggled
into it. It fit tight. She glanced at Noel. She noted that he seemed to enjoy
the show.

The Niagara Falls of Never Ending Change

Performing before a Pyramid of Escalating Changes...

All this change is just killing me, but change then births new opportunities. Just when I got my first tour organized an initiative on a ballot shut funding down for just such a tour and with it came to an end a way to book the show. Then, a few years later and another incarnation was again rendered obsolete by a spike in the price of gas. Then, a favorite stage in San Francisco closed. And in this present moment a huge revolution is taking down a substantial portion of the fair industry. It’s like New Vaudeville is just like Old Vaudeville…it came into existence, did a little dance, and then begins to fade and fall apart. All this talent drawn into the scene is once more dispersed far and wide into new as yet to be discovered venues. Still, when we capitalize on some aspect of the marketplace it is hard to let go when those market forces that worked so well for us now have turned against the opportunities. We’ll beat the old dog into the ground swearing it used to work like magic. Change with change…let it be the canary in your coal mind (old polluting inefficient industry) let change sing you a melody that you can invent a new you from, in the long run, life is a short run, and the most fun, is often had not by doing the same things again and again, but by discovering new things again and again…thank you world for keeping my change on her toes…

Highway Home the Novel

From afar it was nondescript, anonymous,
empty, and untamed. Each part of each piece of the trail provided habitat for
all manner of animal. It was time for him to say goodbye to all that, just the
way the world worked. The work of leaving a mountain takes its toll, the work
of leaving behind a part of your life takes a toll. It wasn’t what was down
below or left behind was second rate, but that what was up ahead took so much
determination to get to. A person didn’t just stumble into the Ruby’s, they had
to have a good plan. The story of the high country was as real as rock, and
just as hard.

When Will You Ever Change

A Place Where Time Stands Still

My first drink in the Mauna Loawas much the same as my last drink. It was with much the same folks who were there the last time I was there. And while the people could not possibly have been the identical group of people there the first time they were linked by some mysterious attractant that somehow pulls these like minded souls to frequent the very same place. I was on tour in and passing through Parker, Arizona and pulled over to catch the Super Bowl. It was an out of Mauna  Loa experience. It was as if the venerable institution had beamed its community from San Francisco south some 600 miles and they had gathered for a convention of the like minded. Of course they came with the same fire in their belly to drink, cuss, shout and cheer for a game that seemed to increase in consequence with the sacred consumption of the spirit laced beverages… Your faithful digitally published author is investigating in long form all evidence of impermanence (I use the word change in my blogs…) , its relevance to helping us understand the passage of our life while here, and nothing could be more of consequence in this journey through change than to have that quintessential close encounter of the neighborhood saloon kind and find that in some defiant,
against one of the fundamental truths of existence that at least in one small corner of the Universe…….some things never change. One more for the road barkeep….

For relaxation at night he went to a place called The Tavern, where he shot pool, drank beer, and idled his time away with the hired help. He could always count on a conversation with Leslie, the bartender, and she seemed to like him.

Tonight Noel was drinking Blitz, the local beer. He had been picking at the label with his fidgeting fingers, the metallic scraps
scattered in front of him. Leslie was a less than demure woman. She kept up a constant discussion with customers at one end of the bar and the other. She wore a long skirt that fell almost all the way to the floor. Tucked into the skirt was a tight turquoise blouse, unbuttoned just enough to allow the fullness of her breasts to fill the open neckline. Lovely and fetching, Noel thought.

Highway Home

Ride into a place that change passed by….

No Appetite for Change

Pouilly-fuisse is a French white wine. The vineyards and villages of the region maintain retain a sensibility of the timeless. The countryside is spectacular. Each of the Fuisse regions villages by rule and code are protected from change. Materials and methods of construction must adhere and fit with what is already there. We visited offseason. Was as if we were in a science fiction film, the villages were empty. We knocked on doors, roused the sellers from their private quarters and were able to buy a dozen bottles from one merchant or other. We drove between each village twisting through hillsides. The vineyards were lush green beneath a bright clear blue sky. It was October, the grapes had been harvested. The reddish- orange tan buildings, the red tile roofs, the old brightly painted wooden doors hung with hand forged metal hardware etched in mind a way of life preserved in the present. Some winemakers remain ever vigilant in their efforts to make wine as taught to them by previous generations. As little is changed from one year to the other as is possible, but for perhaps due to weather and sugar content of the grape the winemaker adjusts and adapts to the making of a vintage to the quality and character of that years harvest. And like that it was gone, vanished, we turned onto a highway, drove back to Macon, the spell had been broken, and we had been changed….

   Gentle nights come seldom to the coast, and tonight the ocean off Carmel  Bay was as smooth as a finely crafted wood table. Minimal swells coming home from the sea swooped in, falling on the shore. It had a soothing appeal to their nerves, but then their nerves were taut, each holding back what they wanted to give to the other, kept in, stowed out of sight.

Highway Home

Resisting Change

Chattering Change

 

Things change whether we want them to or not. I recall that turning twenty-one could not come fast enough and that sixty is coming up too quick. What’s that about? Winter is too long, the weekend too short. Curiosities perhaps or a clue to something else going on. Giving our attention to change around us is different than wanting things to change. Placement of our desires in the path of change can put us right into the path of an oncoming change we might not be an advocate for. On the other hand we can make it even worse by reacting as things swing back and forth. The basic idea of the thing is to watch as the world does what it does and try not to get in the worlds way. We can go in the direction we feel best while appreciating that even that isn’t good enough sometimes. Creating a fictional character asks of an author to figure out how a character reacts to change. Our best choices are not necessarily our first choice. Sometimes it is choiceless. What is extra is our reacting to change. Here is the high art of change. You train yourself not to get too excited about things going your way and not too bummed out when they don’t. Sometimes we exaggerate our influence upon change. Often we have not influenced the changes at all. A seasoned loser is in some ways entered the fray with an advantage over a consistent winner. If on the other hand you see yourself as being just along for the ride, in the audience, going with things as they are instead of how you wish they would be… well, I am wondering out loud. I don’t know I’m convinced of the thing. What say we do our best, hope it works out, but learn to accept the fact that things can’t possibly always go our way…

Neighborhood Change

Old Friend
One of the challenges of  long fiction is chronicling change over time. Observations of how things change asks of the observer to maintain a fresh and open mind. I performed my street show on Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona last week. New businesses have arrived while old businesses have vanished. My relationship to this neighborhood extends back to 1974. My first visit was to a dusty, simple, funky, partially paved street of pizza joints and sun baked old housing mixed in among stout brick buildings. In the scrimmage that is life this neighborhood is at risk. Too many ideas have not met with success. We feel this tension. Bright, educated, young people define the districts vitality. If we
could have pressed the pause button, if we could have deleted this decision, if the valleys population had not exploded, growing so fast as to exceed the speed of thoughtful urban planning things might have been different. Where once people felt that in this place anything was possible there are now many who are left to wonder. Even if Mill  Avenue by some miracle had got all its changes right there is still the surrounding tumult of what we know as the Valley of the Sun. We all watch the rise and fall, the waves of change… it tugs at our heartstrings.

 

“At the junction with the Coast Highway and the Carmel Valley Road he paused at a traffic
light and then proceeded straight into the heart of Carmel. The business district was comprised
of a quaint group of buildings nestled together beneath cypresses, eucalyptus,
live oaks, palms, and all manner of magnificent trees.”

Highway Home

A World of Change

San Francisco Bay Bridge at Dawn

“That everything changes is the basic truth of existence.”

                                    Shunryu Suzuki

            We do great harm to our lives when we surround it with worn out old stories. Nothing stays the same. Things are not fixed but rather in a state of flux. We have a lot of change going on in our world. In Japan there is change happening. In our own lives it is happening. It is wonderful in some circumstances to have fond memories of some special moment. Not so wonderful moments take advantage of our minds tendency to cling. We think that Japan is a fixed thing. I look at photographs of centuries old villages here Thursday and now vanished. Everything is gone. They can’t even find the bodies. It is difficult to accept. My mind doesn’t want to believe this can happen (to me). It happens out there somewhere, to somebody else. They were caught in a story. Someone didn’t look both ways before they crossed…. We have this mental trick in our head that tends to be dishonest about reality. We predict when something bad might happen. We avoid certain neighborhoods. We stay off the roads when weather is bad, we hope things will work out. Might be that we would be better served by taking a fresh look every next moment and forget about thinking we know how something might turn out. Might be better to not know how it is going to go. We don’t have to go around believing everything we tell ourselves. I got up Friday morning and it turned out I was wrong about what I believed about Japan. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. That is a fact.

Everything Can Change in an Instant

Gone Forever...

 

      . “The Last Chance” had a neon sign hanging out front. The bar had been there a long time. Ceiling fans twirled aimlessly and easy. Older patrons were smoking and seated at the stools. Two men tossed a few darts at a bull’s eye, while two old gals sat at the corner of the bar drinking high balls and gossiping. It was cozy, dim, and smoke filled.”

                                          Late Night 1979… Portland, Oregon

                                          From the novel Highway Home

            My grandfather was a bootlegger. He built a bar at the end of prohibition in Oakland, California. It had fish tanks behind the bar, mirrors behind the booze. The bottles looked like they vanished into infinity. He had a parrot back where he did the books to keep him company. Bar was glued and doweled, not a nail was used in the Philippine mahogany interior. Place smelled like stale beer and tobacco. By 1965 the neighborhood had changed, swallowed any chance Tambo’s had of making a go of it. Had been a first class operation all the way, but nothing to do but close her down and walk away. Wrecking company demolished the building, would have been salvaged in this day and age. The whole of a man’s life vanished, in an instant, everything gone. Over the years when I can find an old joint to drink in, bars looking as if they’re cheating death, bars misplaced making a last stand in a decaying forgotten corner of a city. When I belly up to a bar, place named The Last Chance, I take a dive like that, I figure somebody must have known, place I can go, drink a few, listen for the voice of my grandfathers wisdom…