Saturday, November 30th
Don’t Forget to Mention Seaplanes.
One thing I forgot to mention earlier is about how after buying that Beam, I put it in our empty trunk and only faux-closed the trunk. It was only the Jim Beam in there and it was right at the outer end of the trunk, so on a quick look at the car, the trunk obviously would have looked open but unless you walked right up on the trunk and looked straight down into it, you wouldn’t have seen the bottle. We had gone into QFC: The Food Part of It and shopped for 20 minutes, came out and B was like, “Uhhh… our trunk is open.”
I thought instantly, “The Beam is gone—you clown.” Ha! But it wasn’t. B says, “That’s Seattle for you.” But I think if I’d done the same thing outside of Cheese Place, it would’ve still been in the trunk, too.
It’s [7:35]. I’m a little tipsy, I must say. B is over checking out and I’m stealing a moment for myself—the check-out seems to be taking awhile. I’m not even going to ask. I had about one-fifth of a one-fifth of Jim Beam left as of this morning and it just didn’t seem right to leave it. Where’re Pat and Roy when I need them? OK, here comes B. Crows call, she coughs. It’s cool but not cold. The birds sound off and here we go—
And we’re back at SeaTac, checked in an through security. We filled the car’s gas tank just 1/4 mile away from Rental Car Return, at an Arco where a couple of young enterprisers had set up a stand for a 2-in-1 wax and wash car cleaning kit. They had all of these bottles and I had to wonder, “How many of those could they possibly sell on a single day?” I had a very uneasy feeling, looking at them. Of course, I saw at first an Indian restaurant up by the car return and then I saw a second Indian restaurant across the street from Arco and I uttered that common phrase of mine of late, “How can all of these places stay open?”
We woke up pretty early. B got me up today. We’re sitting at the gate. Some gal is yakking on her phone about keeping her hands clean. At first I think she means it figuratively but now she’s talking about wearing a mask so I guess she’s literal. Yak, yak. She’s talking with her mom and she wants people to hear what she’s saying.
After we packed and checked out, we went over to the BP and had coffee and breakfast. I ate pumpkin pie with ice cream—a pretty good breakfast. We said our goodbyes to everyone. My sister-in-law and her two daughters leave tonight.
It might have rained just a bit over night. The temp hasn’t seemed to change much over all of these days. If it shows itself, the sun can warm everything a few degrees. Otherwise, my sense is that absent a system moving in, the standard range is ten degrees, say 38°-48°.
B is reading. Soon enough we are going to make a Wendy’s run and get ourselves set for a three-and-a-half hour ride east. And then we’ll get back to home, back to our little “grain of paradise.”
Did I already write about how I drained some but not all of the Jim B that was left? I couldn’t finish it all—it would have been a bad idea. It just wasn’t necessary. After we left the BP we had enough time for one last drive down to Matthews Beach. It was the same as when we were last there. The same group of ducks seemed to be there but I need to make some refinements to what I think I saw. I’m pretty sure about the widgeons. Less so about the gadwall. And I think that the black and white divers were indeed bufflehead, not goldeneye. This is what it was: body was a very distinct half and half—black top, white bottom, the dividing line going horizontally, breast to tail across the side of the duck. Very art ducko—ha ha. The head was also two-tone: black, white. Black face, mask. White ear, back of the head. Smaller duck.
But there were two kinds of duck there today that weren’t there Thursday: one loon, can you believe it! I saw one loon in Minnesota and now I see one loon in Washington! Then there were also a handful of scaups, diving all of them. The loon was a ways out but it’s profile is not mistakable. I smoked a cigarette, threw away the tailings from yesterday after briefly considering them, and then we made our way back to 45th and I-5 toward the airport.
Now I am holding a table in the food court while B gets the Wendy’s. There are hardly any tables. I pounced on this one as soon as I saw it. There are huge glass windows lining one side of the food court. Beyond those windows are runways—I can see the tails of two Alaskan Airlines planes.
On the plane. The crew was was well into the boarding process when we got back to the gate from Wendy’s, a surprise! because I was planning on going to the bathroom yet. Now I’m going to have to go on the plane, which I loathe doing. My mistake—nonchalance.
Takeoff. By 12:10, after seeing just a little Seattle from the air we are solidly in cloud. B says, “Nice view.” She is snoozing and coughing. I hear about five different earnest coughers, some of the coughs sound the same.
I think what’s going around is a new form of whooping cough—Oh WoW!—B tugs at my sleeve—Mt. Rainier does a bitch slap to the cloud and cover and says, Uh uh—I’m gonna see these people off, poking its head up above the top of the cloud deck—and not just a little bit but rather a good 1000-2000 feet. I looked up how tall it was at Marlai Thai right near Talaris (where we ate twice—excellent panang) but I forget now hall tall it is. 20,000 feet? The clouds themselves were pursed up around where Rainier broke through them, kind of arranging themselves about its visible base as if they were the skirts of a Christmas Tree. Majestic!
So, as I was saying, it’s a new whooping cough, “newtussis” I’m calling it. It’s being somehow emboldened by the flu vaccine. It feels a lot like a regular cold at first but then it hangs around much longer, as a throat tickle/sore throat/nagging cough/hack-maker. It cannot be fatal but it is fairly easily passed from person-to-person by water droplets—coughing stuff into the air and then having someone else inhale it. In the lungs of people who’ve had the flu vaccine in the last 12-24 months, it mutiplies doubly fast. It is especially easily pass among people flying together in airplanes.
Drink service has delivered me a Coke. I’ve got two little bottles of bourbon, one is Beam Black and the other is one of my little Beefeater bottles refilled with some of the Beam I had in the room. I was telling B that I never should have recycled the other original Beefeater bottles—they could have come in handy: I could have refilled them instead of leaving some of the Beam behind—even if I didn’t drink it until I got home, it would easily have been worth it.
One bottle down, three quick pulls my left hand clasping the mini bottle tightly, followed with a sip of Coke. Not much to see outside. We are above the clouds, straight blue above that. B is opening her tiny snack pack. The lady in the third seat of our half-row is reading Louis Lamour’s memoirs. She paid up for the full snack pack. She used an Alaskan Airlines credit card. I wonder what she’s going to be doing in St. Louis.
That Beam Black courses through me. I feel just the slightest bit jittery, but it’ll pass: these two little bottles won’t to much for me: my tolerance is too high. Then why drink them at all, you say. Hmmm, not sure, good question—I guess I just think I need it. I find it fun. It’s something to plot about, something to sneak—and that gives me a little rush. It might get me amped up just a bit—might dehydrate me, keep me from having to get up and go on this flight.
I shake my head at the handful of people that get up and go right away—in the nascent stages of drink service. So while they’re on the can the stewardesses wheel the drink cart out and begin to make their way up the aisle, completely blocking it to traffic. And the person in the bathroom is sitting in like row 10—they come out of the bathroom and they’re like, “WTF? How am I supposed to get back to my seat?” So the stewardesses take the brake off the serving cart and sigh and start hauling the thing all the way up the aisle until whoever it is that was in the bathroom can get clear to his or her seat. Ridiculous.
Out of the window we are flying over what I assume are the Rocky Mountains. That’s kind of a lame name for a mountain range, now that I think about it. Kind of a bad joke—The Rockies: they’re rocky.
I’ve got eight-and-a-half pages left in this journal. I am in serious danger of not finishing it. I estimate I’ve written fifty-five pages so far this trip. I’m preoccupied with the grim reality that going to have to get up and pee at some point. We’re only 40% of the way through this flight. Only sleep would save me and sleep has been hard to come by. The nights of this trip were some of the crummiest sleep I can remember. Constant tossing and turning. Comfort inachievable. I try to fit a pillow between my legs as I sleep on my side, to keep my spinal column straight. Or if I swivel my top leg over further so I’m moreso on my stomach, I try to set a pillow “out” a little bit further where the inside of that leg’s knee is going to land when I swivel it out. I go through all of those positions, sometimes in either full clockwise or counter-clockwise rotations where I’m rolling in full rotations one way or another. Or sometimes I just go 180° back and forth without ever really being on my stomach. Flat on my back is admittedly the most comfortable position, but it happens to be, unfortunately, the position I find myself least able to get to sleep in. I’ll be in that position and force myself to count to 10…one…two…three…repeatedly. Or as many times I can do it without having my mind wander like crazy all over the place. Like last night for instance, I don’t think I got to ten once. Maybe once. Either I fall into that shallowest level of sleep…from which nothing materializes. Or I get into that hypnagogic state where odd themes and a kaleidoscope of cracking colors move across my eyelids and the oddest old memories and names come to mind—an altogether unpleasant state.
At home I have been fighting the same problem but my fix there is just to get up and go to the futøn in the next room and that seems to work. Why? Because I can toss and turn just like I otherwise would but without the nagging notion that I am keeping someone else awake other than myself? Maybe. Or maybe it’s got something to do with geographical orientation. At home my feet face south in the main bed; in the futøn, west. My feet on this trip faced…I think south, but I need to verify this.
We are over Gillette, Wyoming. So what exactly were those mountains we passed over earlier?
[15: 51 c.t.]
Oh yeah! Flippin’ nailed it, Chet. The gal at the end of our half row went to the bathroom and I made my move. It was easy! The peeing’s the easy part—it’s getting out of, to the bathroom, and then back to your row that’s the hard part. Some guy was standing in the aisle both times as I went by, rummaging around in his multiple bags for stuff with which to keep his kids at bay. I’m not sure I got all of the soap off of my hands, though. It is wafting up at me as I write. Hearing that we were only over Wyoming—that was it, I knew right then I had to go the bathroom as soon as possible. And now I feel like a new man.
We are flying over some pretty desolate-looking land right now. First I saw a river, of decent size—the Platte?—then I saw steppes, or what could have been the wrinkly bald terrain of the Badlands.
B is snoozing. Her mouth is open—hey, sorry, just reporting the facts here. There seems to be a lot of to and fro bathroom activity—the drinks service talking hold, perhaps.
I thought for sure I’d knock this book out. Some thoughts once I get home, a sort of “debrief” or “exit interview” would probably do the trick, and would be more useful that me just sitting here jabbering away in a half-hearted attempt to fill the notebook just for the sake of doing so.
The only other thing I thought about during this trip that I figured I should/would/could write about is this: my thoughts on the soul, life, and whether we exist “as ourselves” in any capacity when/if we die.
When I mull this inevitable subject in my head, I tend to get incredibly, soul-crushedly depressed. Because I can’t fathom a likely or plausible depiction of life after death. So until I settle on some believable “next phase” it’s pretty hard for me to accept that there will be one.
It seems not just implausible but kind of dumb to be given this one-off: here, have a life, build this whole persona, history, soul, and existence—but then at some point all of that will completely and suddenly cease to exist. Sure, the people still living when you die will remember you—but if you’re dead and totally non-existent then you have no capacity, no facility by which other people remembering you fondly will mean anything. Unless you can something “see it” or “feel it” or otherwise experience it, what difference does it make if people miss you?
One way to mitigate the blow of this version of death is to say—Well, yeah, we die: our individual existence, who we were, is done and gone but our souls do regenerate, take another turn as another life form—back on planet Earth? This possibility really doesn’t do much for me—OK, our souls go on, but I’m assuming that if we came back as a dog or as a lizard, we don’t go around thinking—Well, OK, this is a lot different than my past life, but I’m going to make a home in this little hole and eat some cockroaches and it won’t be so bad. So perhaps our soul gets recycled but if we don’t realize it, then what’s the point? It’s knowing that we are who we are that makes our soul worth having. This means that the only way that it seems to matter for me in the next life is if I at least can recall who I am and what my existence up to that point had been about. Because I’m telling you right now—I don’t recall any prior existence. Which means one of two things: this is somehow coincidentally my first go-round as a lifeform; or, there are no second acts—at least not as life-forms back on planet Earth.
If there is a second act, not on Earth, then it’s only possible in two distinct places: (1) in our current universe but as life on another planet; or, (2) a life where we are “us” again in some other universe, call it Heaven if you want, it doesn’t really matter. If either of these are the case then I have to ask: Well, OK, this first “life” wasn’t “it” but now this second life, will that be “it”? And if so, hey, I’m happy for that second go-round (and that begs the whole other question of: how similar is that second life to the first—are we born to the same parents, do we find ourselves back in the same sorts of circumstances whereby this time around we have a chance to “do things differently”?) but if we only get that second life and not a third, a fourth, a fifth, ad infinitum…then it’s still just a question of when and not if.
I cannot accept the concept of having my being extinguished. Not because it’s “not fair” but because I do not wish to cease to exist—or maybe it’s more correct to say that ceasing to exist scares the shit out of me and I don’t want to face it. Writing about this makes me tired. It leads to the inescapable concluding question: What the hell is the point of writing all of this? If hardly anyone is going to read it while I’m alive, and even if people did read it when I was dead but I could derive no pleasure or satisfaction as a result of them having done so?
Enough of that for now. B is having a tough coughing spell. I’m done with air travel at this time of year—done! No air travel from Oct. through Feb.
The Jeep Episode will be described shortly. Until then some accounting:
+ I counted the room tip from this morning.
+ B got the Wendy’s.
But it remains to be seen: what cost the Jeep repair? So, total spending was $XYZ.49.