Trailer Park Nirvana image created by Stefany Kleeschulte.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Masturbatress

My friend's phone rang. The call was from Withheld.

She tossed the phone to me. "You talk to her."

For months now my friend's been getting calls from a woman who is masturbating. All times of the day and night. At first my friend thought it was a friend of hers. She's still not sure. That would be the weirdest part - someone you know - anther woman - masturbating while you talked.

My voice was husky from a late night drinking. I didn't have to work hard at sounding sexy.

I flipped open the phone.

"Hello," I said, breathy.

Soft breathing on the other end. The rustling of clothes. "Mmmm, who are you?"

"Your friend can't come to the phone right now. She's in bed."

"Will you talk to me?"

I did a little breathing into the phone. "Sure. What do you want to talk about?"

My friend is cracking up on the sofa.

"A man came to my house."

I exhaled a deep breath into the phone. "Ohhh?"

"Yes. I opened the door. He had his dick in his hand."

I closed the phone before I burst out laughing and threw the phone back at my friend. "Oh my God."

I relayed the conversation.

"She says stuff like that all the time. One day I was in Costco when she called and I told her I couldn't talk right now."

The phone rang again. Then again.

"Why don't you block her? Can you block a Withheld number?"

"I'll try." Some tip-tapping through the phone's menu. "Okay, she's blocked."

A couple hours later I was lying on my bed reading. My friend was on the couch. I put the book down, thinking about the night before - all these Hash House Harriers in nighties and other forms of lingerie hanging out at the Copper Queen before their pub crawl. Men with camisoles and fake boobs. Hot men. Men from Fort Huachuca with military hair cuts. I was thinking about all those bodies, the hugs, the condoms we were given from the guy in room 304. The cute fit woman about my height...

"I miss our masturbatress," I said to my friend in the other room.

She waited a beat then said...

"Me too. I already unblocked her."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Buying a Kindle made sense.

Living in 120 square feet means my home's short on space. Hell, I already pay for a storage unit in Arizona which is filled mostly with books - signed first editions and advance readers copies.

Because those 120 sq feet are movable, towing weight is always a factor (books weigh a lot).

There are no bookstores in this little fishing village.

The trailer park office has bookcases filled with paperbacks the snowbirds leave behind - mostly Tom Clancy and Nora Roberts - which, even in desperation, are not to my liking.

Without a local bookstore I've had to learn patience but mostly I'm an instant-gratification reader: when I want a book, I want it now.

So the Kindle made sense. Even though I felt like a traitor, a whore, a politician, by selling out independent booksellers to amazon dot com.

I've had the little bugger now for three days and if I were to write a review on Amazon I'd give it three stars.

Right out of the box I did not like the way the ink stayed on the screen when moving to the next page. I sent an email to a friend and asked if this was normal or a glitch. He said it was normal and it never bothered him. Now that I'm 22% into my first book (no such thing as page numbers in the Kindle) I've grown accustomed to the screen change.

I can't quite get the grip right. Maybe it's because my hands are small that they sort of cramp up. Also, I keep accidentally hitting the page back and forward buttons on the lefthand side of the reader.

The 3g version is nifty. The book I bought - Devil by Ken Bruen - arrived in seconds even though there were only 2 bars for signal strength.

I'm worried about dropping the thing should I doze off. Reading in the tub is not a problem because I don't have one. How do you keep the screen clean?

When I ordered the Kindle I worried that all my old books would wind up as kindling, that I'd be so in love with the thing I'd burn them in the fire pit to save that 32 bucks a month. Not so. There's still nothing like holding a book - flipping through the pages, reading the jacket cover. And there are books I will definitely buy in their hard cover editions when they come out like Luis Urrea's followup to The Hummingbird's Daughter (Queen of America) and Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

When I move back to the States, I'll go back to my independent bookstores - if there are any.

On that note it's not surprising that the bookstore in Tubac closed. The people who bought Tortuga Books in Tubac put in an espresso machine, made the place comfy. But their big big mistake: They shrink-wrapped the books!!!! No reading the inside jacket or the book's first line. (Whenever Bob at 23rd Avenue Books in Portland had a book he knew I'd love, he'd shove it in my hands and say "here, read the first sentence.") Why in the world have coffee and sofas when you can't browse the books? I knew I'd never buy a book there. I guess I wasn't the only one who felt that way.

Monday, August 15, 2011

31 x 2

This Aimee Mann song has been my anthem for 2011. The thing is, this song is about turning 31 and I'm nearly twice that age.

I thought my life would be different somehow
I thought my life would be better by now

(it's kind of an odd video but the only one I could find)

From LYRICSMODE.COM lyrics archive
Lyrics | Aimee Mann lyrics - 31 Today lyrics

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bisbee and Me

Ahhh, Bisbee. You and I have such a complicated relationship.

In my [as of yet unpublished] memoir, I write about Bisbee. About how I thought I might move there so I took a drive over from Amado and how it was obvious, from just a few minutes in town, that Bisbee did not want me. I won't go into all the whys and wherefores of that here. What I recently remembered was I had the same feeling about Bisbee a few years before that when I'd taken a road trip from Portland to see if the desert southwest was where I wanted to be (it was). As I came through the tunnel and saw the pretty little of town of Bisbee, I was unnerved. Rattled. Almost scared. And that was before I even reached the open pit mine. I don't know why it affected me in that way. As I drove through town I couldn't bring myself to stop. That night I stayed at the Gadsden Hotel in Douglas.

So it's a little strange that I ended up living in Bisbee for a year after leaving Amado and after a year in Kino.

In a lot of ways it was not a good year. My newfound self-confidence and joie de vivre vanished. I lived in Warren, in a warren. No wide open spaces, no grand vistas. It was a bug-infested lot without porch, patio, enticing outdoor space. I spent too much time inside my tin can writing and working. Both good things but unhealthy when it came to fitness and weight. I drank too much. Even did cocaine on a regular basis. After a year I knew I couldn't/shouldn't/wouldn't stay there and, not knowing where to go, I headed back to Kino.

All that being said, Bisbee was good to me. I needed to be there - or in the States at least - to get work. I met some truly wonderful people mostly through my friend and landlord Jack. But the best thing to come out of Bisbee was the Cochise Writers group.

I was pretty fucking scared the first time I went to the meeting at the library. I didn't know what to expect, having never been in a writing group, and when it came to sharing my own writing I was terrified. I'd had a friend or two read early drafts of my book but would I have the courage to have writers read what I'd written?

All in all, the feedback I received from members of the group was positive, helpful, encouraging. It was the spark I needed to close myself up in that tin can and write, write, write.

It's been three years since that year in Bisbee and each year (usually late summer or fall) I've returned for an extended stay. As with that up-and-down relationship, good and bad things happen to me in Bisbee. Friends die, bugs attack, my health fails. I reconnect with friends (who haven't died), listen to Terry Wolf at the Copper Queen Hotel, and once again sit in with members of the Cochise Writers group (who just started a secret blog which ain't no secret no more).

It's Saturday in Bisbee. I've spent the morning doing what I do in Bisbee - writing, working. And this afternoon I'll do what I like to do most in Bisbee - head over to hear Terry Wolf at the Copper Queen Hotel. My bug bites are about gone and I'm adjusting to the altitude. A friend has died but he wasn't from here; he was a friend from over Santa Cruz way.

Relationships are not perfect. That's a hard lesson for me as I've left so many people and places because they weren't "just right." So, Bisbee, a toast: Thanks for the good times and even the bad. As much as I say I'm never coming back, I'll probably see you again next year.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Vamanosing to Took-sohn

We caravanned north - Demo with me in Vanna, following PJ in her truck. Smooth sailing. At both checkpoints - the military/truck and the federales - they wanted to pull us over and examine the van but they knew we were with PJ and they had waved her through so out of consideration they sent us on our way too.

What did Demo and I talk about on that five-hour drive to the border? Food. All the food we were going to eat in the states. She was even looking forward to the generally uninspiring cuisine on the Big Island of Hawaii where she would be staying for two weeks. We talked Thai, Italian, Japanese, even Mexican - the kind of Mexican food us gringos are used to, dishes loaded with sour cream and peppers and tomatoes and guacamole.

We had a 45 minute wait at the border. Not too bad. Can the vendors there find any gaudier items to hawk? Those bracelets and paintings and hair clips shimmered and glowed in the afternoon sun. The guy in the wheelchair wasn't there but the blind man was so we gave him pesos. (Shoot, now that I think about it, he probably preferred U.S. money. Try to spend a peso in Nogales,'s nearly impossible.)

And suddenly I was....home. Santa Cruz County is my heart's home. No other place has ever touched me in such a way - not even Portland, a city and people I love dearly. That stretch between Nogales and Tucson is where I belong.

Just north of Nogales we exited I-19 at Tumacacori so I could stop at the Santa Cruz Chili Factory. Then we continued on the frontage road to Tubac. A lot of restaurants close in August but Shelby's Bistro was open so we stopped there.

As with walking into the Galleria Mall in Hermosillo for Movie Monday, Demo and I once again fell into each other's arms out of sheer joy. Food! Wine! English! Poor PJ could not relate. There is nothing she likes more than caramelos and carne asadas and coctiel de camarones. And speaking Spanish. We probably embarrassed the hell out of her with our giddyness.

Salads! Pinot Grigio! For lunch we ordered a beautiful salad with gorgonzola and other fancy food doodads, a pepperoni pizza, a burger. In August, Shelby's bottles of wine are half price. We had two.

The beauty of living simply is that the simple things - friends, food, wine - carry more beauty than we realize. Or appreciate. Go without Barilla farfale pasta for ten months and suddenly those bow tie pastas are the most treasured items in the world.

It ended up being a long day. It was after 8:00 when Demo boarded the shuttle for Phoenix. I went in search of a hotel, found a mid-range place with a very nice bartender and a very lovely pool.

Now I'm in Bisbee. I have friends here but this town is not my town. I'm already looking forward to being back in Kino. And figuring out how I can make my home - even part-time - in Santa Cruz County Arizona.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Maria and the Mariachis

I had a lot to do to get ready for my month-long stay in Bisbee. Not just packing clothes and computer but cleaning the porch and putting as much into the bodega as I could - grill, chairs, hammock, beading supplies - anything that would tempt a thief. Sunday morning the heat was stifling but I worked nonstop. My face was flaming red and occasionally I'd drench myself with water from the hose which fluctuated between hot and warm, never reaching the cool state. Around noon I walked over to say good-bye to PJ and that's when I ran into Maria. So much for best-laid plans. PJ decided to postpone her drive to Tucson for another day and I figured I could finish packing Monday morning.

Maria's whole family was partying and picnicking under the palapas - her sons and their wives and kids, her daughter, her husband, and Antonio who we thought was a son but who works for her and is like family. As PJ and I walked over to join the family we heard a drumming sound. When the palapa came into view, there they were: the mariachis from Hermosillo who play at restaurants along the beach in New Kino, hired by familia de Maria to play ten songs.

We were greeted by hugs from family and mariachis alike, handed nice cold Bud Lites. (Yes, Bud Lites.)

The mariachis were in top form. The bass player was new - Ramon, a tall thin gray-haired man who flirted with Maria and during his solos he turned the bass and rode it as though it was a horse. Manuel, the handsome guitarist, sang songs to Antonietta and Pamela. Maria danced sexy - sometimes with the palapa pole. Antonio expressed his love - over and over and over - for me and PJ. His wife just rolled her eyes. More Bud Lites!! It was hot but there was a breeze. Sons, daughters-in-law, grandkids played in the surf. We danced. And danced. And drank more Bud Lites.

In my four years at Islandia this is the first time I've seen mariachis here. Things changed this summer. Every weekend the park is packed with families on holiday from Hermosillo, Juarez, other towns in the states of Sonora and Chihuahua. All the casitas are rented. Some Mexican families even have RV's, a very new trend. Yes, it's hot in Kino but not as hot as big cities and there's always the sea. Families jump in the water early in the day, then around noon the grills fire up for lunch followed by siestas then back in the water. Wet clothes are draped over the barbed wire fence atop the seawall. Music blares from boom boxes or car stereos. This is one of Kino's many faces that I love.

Dancing, flirting, drinking. How many Bud Lites did I down during those ten songs?

After the songs were sung the mariachis packed up and headed to New Kino. The family began preparing for the ride home. The kids were showered and then dressed in fancy clothes. It was the birthday of one of the little girls. The whole family was going out to eat - probably at Pargo Rojo - before making the drive to Hermosillo. Antonio's wife asked if I had bags for trash. Now, I always bristle at stereotypes but it is true that many of the families leave trash all over the place. Manny told me he will point out the trashcan just a few feet away and they'll basically tell him to go fuck himself. But Maria's family picked up all the Styrofoam cups and plates, the plastic juice bottles. The beer cans were separated out and just as we had them all bagged Tio - the old guy who walks the beach looking for cans - showed up and we filled his gunny sack.

I really love Maria and her family. But, man, can that woman curse! She calls her grandkids "pendejitos" (basically little fuckers) and she came up with a new description for Antonio: cochina sin huevos (a pig without balls). She got a kick out of teaching me that one. Maybe some day PJ and I will visit them in Hermosillo. We will certainly see them again in Kino.

What a wonderful last day in Kino before beginning my 30-day stay in the states. It was worth the frantic Monday morning packing - with a hangover.

This funny little fishing village isn't to everyone's liking. But on a day like that - a day with Maria and the mariachis - even the most jaded would fall in love with Kino.