Tuesday, January 07, 2003

A long time away from blogland. Holidaze'll do dat. Lots of good visiting this year without getting caught in the consumer rush. One good day of shopping, three hours, and I was set. Esther went out a couple days. But lots of visiting old friends and family, trips to Wisconsin, western Illinois' driftless area, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, northern Minnesota. A wholesale risk of life and limb roaming the upper Midwest of this grand ol' country. I ate and drank too much, and didn't exercise. But now I'm back to fiscal and physical discipline, listening to Crash Test Dummies of a Tuesday night and finally visiting the blog. I didn't write so much as a note for two weeks and told myself I would not write until compelled. I've found my best writing comes when I don't get caught up in the hubris of being a writer. But I also know I have to be more disciplined about the writer's life. This is not a game. This is not a test. This is my life, the work that gives it meaning. Too bad I'm a lazy ass. I've got stories in me that cry out for a voice, from the hapless Appalachian mountain reject Hog Greer to the almost true-to-life narratives of my Midwest bohemia existence. I just needed a vacation. Call it that and quit knocking yourself senseless with guilt. As the populist tripesters of the Chicken Soup for the Soul and daytime television will tell you, guilt is something you control. I use it as a motivational tool and a prevention against bad behavior, not to freeze my will and send me into depression.

I got my hair colored Dec. 28 by my cousin Amanda Wright. The kids at school noticed it. One said she didn't even recognize me. The hair was also cut. New Year's Eve I gooped a bunch of gel into my hair to accentuate the curls and went to a quiet little restaurant/bar in Machesney Park called Curly's. It is on a service road off Hwy. 251, down the street from Jeramie Hendricks' old house, where I hung out often during the summer of 1993. An old high school friend, Susie Hofer, sang jazz that night to a small audience. There were two small groups of people left at midnight as television screens behind the bar showed the ball dropping in Times Square. I realized the ball had dropped an hour before, but played along with the illusion. Time is illusory. Just ask the bedrock beneath my feet.

I've just returned from four days in Michigan's Upper Peninsula with hiking buddy Dave Long. Two inevitabilities on a trip with Dave: I will end up waiting up to half an hour at the trailhead for him to get ready, which leads to night hiking. Dave did not disappoint. I find I've gotten used to his nature, and those traits which normally annoy me didn't. We got along great.

Porcupine Mountains State Park is 56,000 acres of trails. Original plan was to snowshoe, but not enough of the white stuff to justify it. So we hiked. Day one took a ski lift ride to the top of the namesake Porcupine Mountain and hiked on cross country ski trails to a lookout before taking a roundabout trip down the mountain, coming to a road (Hwy. 107) that runs along Lake Superior. The road is closed to cars, but open to snowmobiles. Not many are out. The lack of snow is keeping the tourists away in droves. The UP economy is suffering because of global warming. The hotels and resorts are vacant. Ski hills are a slushy, icy mess. Snowmobilers exacerbate the warmth with the toxic effluence from their two-stroke engines. Stinky noisemakers. Riders wear fluorescent green outfits. I'll continue this narrative tomorrow. My blog time is up.

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