Thursday, October 07, 2004

Wandering the streets of Phoenix

"If I think well of my life, for the same reason I must think well of my death." – Chuang-tzu

At first I was assuming that today would be a stay at home sort of day, but someone mentioned taking the bus downtown and going to the Heard Museum. It sounded good to both of us, so off we went. Kate got us off the bus a few blocks early, but that was OK. Walking is good (and for some reason, I sometimes have to remind Kate that I agree with her on that point).

Before going to the museum, Kate wanted to drag me to a café about a block away. I was under the impression that she had been there before and wanted to share the discovery with me, but she only just spotted it in passing, had never been there, and wanted to check it out. It was a good find. The food was remarkably inexpensive and was more than worth the money and the effort. Kate informed me when we walked in the door that it was originally built as a Sambos. From her first job at the truck stop in Payson, Kate had been in and out of waitressing jobs working for a dozen chains or private enterprises. The apex of this career was with the Country Kitchen franchise in Colorado Springs, where she started as a waitress, moved up to manager, then moved up farther to where she was in charge of setting up new locations and troubleshooting the ones that ailed – sometimes firing an entire staff and starting over from scratch. She also did a stint as waitress at a five star steak house in the springs called Fin's that regularly aced out the Broadmore for best of the year. So this makes her an expert on all things having to do with restaurants, from the paint on the siding to the grease traps to the slightest action or emotion of the wait staff. For the captive audience (me) this can be by turns entertaining, educational and wearying. But leaving all of that aside, by initial reaction to this place was, "How can such a great place exist?"

But I digress. The Heard Museum. I will confess to being let down. This visit just didn't measure up to my first visit. First, it wasn't a new experience, so the gilt edge was off of it. Second, one of the highlights of the first visit was a special "Clay People" exhibit that had since moved on to bless other museums. Third, there was a new exhibit going in, scheduled to open just after I return to Provo, making for a large empty spot in the tour. Finally, the museum was undergoing a renovation of sorts that resulted in some of the ongoing displays being cut down in size and pressed into corners. Having said all of this, it was still time and money well spent.

After the museum was a short walk to a place that had been described to me before in the past few days, in the most colorful of terms: a Coffee shop called Willow House. From what had been said, you would have thought it was a thinly disguised house of horrors or the gathering place for the local chapter of the Insane Clown Posse. But much of that description was based on how Ange and Kathleen remembered from a visit a few weeks before. So I was ready to dismiss most of what I was told, and did so when I actually went there. Willow House was great. It was fun. It was an old house, much like mine, that had been turned into a coffee house in the best beatnick and teenage angst tradition. In the main room there were a few shelves with merchandise and it was all the best off the wall sort of stuff. For example, there were the "Action Figures" – Sigmund Freud, Cat Lady, Barista, etc. The dolls themselves weren't worth having half so much as the descriptions on the back. "You might be a Cat Lady if…" The only thing missing something like a Ted Bundy, shopping cart person, tyrannical CEO or Marylyn Manson doll. One thing that I meant to purchase but never had the chance was the Devil Girl figure. I thought she would have been perfect to place in the back window of my car.

The one dire story of Willow House that did hold true was the paranoid bum on the front porch. The porch had been enclosed, the doors and windows looking out to it taken down, and it was a permanent part of the place, forming in a way two small private areas for patrons to nestle into. I had been told there was one guy the grrrls ran into who seemed to frightened or paranoid about everyone, mumbling to himself and moving to another table when someone got too close to him. Yup. That was him. I guess every coffee shop has to have its resident wingnut, and this one had laid claim to Willow House.

Next stop was home. We had the good fortune to select a bus stop across from a High School. Better yet it was an Arts High School and class had just let out. So we shared the stop, and later the bus, with a gaggle of existential angst ridden, goth dressing, cell phone toting mosh pit of greasy little teenagers. OK... maybe I exaggerate, but only a little. Also, as much as I like to moan and groan about it, it really was an entertaining bunch. I wonder what their reaction would have been to knowing that the Old People in their midst were pagans and were committing adultery with each other.

Pumpkin for supper. I dragged a couple of pumpkins from the garden down with me. We just jut them up and boiled them like any other squash (except that this squash needs to be peeled before you eat it). It was total yum. It was also nice to see them put to good use.

I am in the living room of the Kate's house now Glendale. Watching the Vice-Presidential debate. Once again The Wombat is silently screaming to the guys, "Answer the question she asked, not the question you were hoping she had asked!" Alas, because of this, Edwards is allowing Cheney to beat up on him just a bit. I'm also waiting for them to move on from the 9/11 Iraq debacle to something else. Beer. Beer is the answer.

One thing I have grappled with on every visit to Kate has been what I call "The Tired Thing." This is where I just become dead tired, or something like that, and end up losing all interest and energy for any activity or participation. This includes, most alarmingly, sex. Since when do I lose interest in Sex? On this trip, and right near the beginning of the trip, I think I nailed it down. I actually formed the theory on this months ago, after a previous visit, but this trip I tested it out. What it boils down to is this: It is a reaction to doing what someone else wants me to do, or what they want me to be (whether real or perceived, which is a topic that would take volumes to explore) in stead of just being me and doing what I want. Simple as that. So, as mentioned above, I tested it out. Once Kate and I were done with the "Us" activities and I started to feel the tired thing coming on, I asked what myself where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing. On the first instance, the answer was. "In the front room reading." So I grabbed my issue of Parabola and headed into the front room. I read. It felt good. It did NOT feel tired. So far so good. Later in the evening, before the debate, I wanted beer. Kate knows of my issues with alcohol, so the initial reaction was to back off and not drink (I had to grow a whole new set of balls just to buy the stuff). But I took the experiment into this choice. I drank, I got a bit drunk,, the world did not collapse around me in an avalanche of guilt and accusation and – best of all – I didn't suffer from The Tired Thing. Score.

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