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2003.07 =>

[JUNE 2003.]

yes, still waiting for godot my truck

Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth, a conservative group, said Mr. Bush had been "one of the biggest-spending presidents we've had in 20 years." But, he added, "he has cut taxes, so politically that has protected him."

"A month ago, he passed this huge tax cut that I think is terrific—I mean, I'm thrilled by that—and now this month he's passing this preposterous prescription drug benefit, and I'm furious at him," Mr. Moore said. "But I can't get too angry with him because he passed this tax cut. That's the way this administration works."

That's right; it's fine for him to spend money when he's already taken steps to ensure that the government doesn't have that money! Do you people not think? A mollusc trained with basic stimulus-response conditioning could do better.

the story so far

The people at Budget Trucks claim that there is no moving truck to be had for love or money in the entire great state of Arizona. This is notwithstanding that I reserved my truck over a month ago. "WHAT IS THIS," I asked them, "MOTHERFUCKING BELARUS? PEOPLE LIKE YOU ARE THE REASON CAPITALISM WILL FAIL." They are curt, harassed, overworked, pitiable, like the low-level Court functionaires in The Trial.

So I call U-Haul and U-Haul says "Sure, we can get you a truck. Let's see if we can get you a truck today." That was three days ago. When I call their regional distribution center I have to listen to a three-minute recording of a perky man trying to sell me additional services about five or six times, then I get transferred to a phone that rings for between three and four minutes before one of the coprophages at the distribution center extracts her head from her colon in order to answer the phone, and she says "Sorry, we're experiencing a twenty-four hour delay," and I say, "THEN EXPLAIN THE GODDAMN 72-HOUR PERIOD DURING WHICH NO TRUCK HAS APPEARED! DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT THE TERRORISTS ARE WINNING?" and then I hang up the phone and urinate on the phone to further express my displeasure.

Then I call Penske and Penske says "Of course we can get you a truck; that will be three thousand dollars, please," and I say "WHY NOT RAPE MY GRANDPARENTS WHILE YOU'RE AT IT, YOU MERCENARY PLUTOCRATS? I BET ALL OF YOU AT THE OFFICE WEAR TOP HATS DYED WITH THE BLOOD OF THE DOWNTRODDEN," and then I rip the phone from the wall and strap all my possessions to my rippling muscular back and run off into the sunset, just to show them.

no one at home

why not walk around in your underwear
why not
why not
why not walk around in your underwear
why not walk

1. Clifton Park, Schenectady NY (1978-81). Don't remember much. A line of trees. A room with red carpeting. Holding my father's tennis racket, imitating him practicing forehands and backhands in the kitchen.

2. Moondance Street, Tucson AZ (1981). We lived in this townhome for a few months while looking for a house. My sister was only a few months old. There are home movies: screen doors leading out to a backyard filled with dust.

3. Stonehouse Place, Tucson AZ (1981-87). The longest stretch of time I have ever lived anywhere. My mother claims it's her favorite house out of all she's lived in, and it was certainly a beautiful place to grow up; stucco, Mexican tile, surrounded by desert and screened from the road by a long driveway whose steep angle I loved, except when I had to ride my bike down it. Occasionally we drive by and marvel at how tall the trees in the backyard have grown since my father planted them.

4. Hills Road, Cambridge, England (1987-88). We rented this from an anal English couple who inventoried everything in the house, down to the plastic spoons. One door was locked, but you could see through the old-style keyhole that it led to a spare bedroom. Everything within was shrouded in sheets. We started calling it "the ghost room" after a spectral young lady visited my father in his dreams.

5. Placita de Arnoldo, Tucson AZ (1988-91). Technically I lived here until 1996, but after my parents divorced and my mother moved out it stopped being my primary residence. My dad left only last year; I think all those rooms without a family to inhabit them had started to feel like a mausoleum. It was another beautiful house in its time. The closet doors were full-length mirrors that, when I woke in the morning, reflected a view of the mountains to my bed.

6. Skyline Village (I), Tucson AZ (1991-92). This was a bad year in many ways, because of the divorce, and because nobody is happy in the eighth grade. My mother did what she could, and my father sat through all the Star Trek movies with me, but still.

7. Villa Sin Vacas, Tucson AZ (1992-93). A ritzy housing development right up against the mountains, which also happened to contain apartments. The security guard at the gate was named "Taco." This is where I went walking alone at night, and encountered javelinas.

8. Wine Plum Drive, Tucson AZ (1993-96). I think this was supposed to be "Plum Wine," but the developers fucked it up when they registered with the city, and then it couldn't be changed. Ditto with Squirrel Trail Drive, which accidentally became Squirrel Tail Drive. My last year there Nik brewed bottles of mead and gave them as gifts to everyone, and then they started exploding. One fellow lost his video camera and most of his Playboys. I buried my bottle out behind the fence and then forgot about it; it may still be there.

9. Brittania [sic] Court (I), Reno NV (1996). Another bad registration with the city. Summer before college. Worked a lot. Nervous as hell.

10. Adelfa House, Stanford CA (1996-97). Met half of my close college friends. Played apple baseball in the hall. Took rafting trips on the lake at night.

11. Campbell Avenue, Tucson AZ (1997). Easily the weirdest summer of my life. During the day I slept on the floor at Nik's girlfriend's house. During the night we attempted to make a horror movie, but it was a terrible movie, and the futility of it made me listen to sad music at 3 in the morning and leave cigarette burns in the bathtub. Later I discovered that I almost got Nik's girlfriend kicked out of her apartment.

12. Twain House, Stanford CA (1997-98). Met the other half of my college friends, including lots of women. Took a lot of creative writing courses. Started a novel (bad, unfinished) and a band (loud).

13. Bitch Creek, Mountain View CA (1998). This was actually called "Birch Creek," but when I went to get a cashier's check for the deposit they typed it wrong, and henceforth it was Bitch Creek to us. That's about how the summer went. I was working at IBM and logging more hours asleep than awake and taking long nocturnal drives to places like Santa Cruz, because I was still in love with Lauren and you know what that makes people do.

14. Taxi House, Stanford CA (1998-99). The blue hair that kept fading to green. The intensive James Joyce study. The club we played in San Francisco. Ate a lot of pie.

15. Ralston Park, Reno NV (1999). Commuted daily to Carson City, where somehow I was helping the city government conduct a salary and benefits review of its employees. A seventeen-year-old girl in the office had a crush on me, which she expressed principally by telling me I was gay. This also happens to be the apartment where we made the gay pirate penguin movie.

16. Terra House, Stanford CA (1999-2000). A co-op, meaning a) I got to clean toilets and feel proletariat, and b) when my parents came to visit they exclaimed, "What a filthy place!"

17. Broderick Street, San Francisco CA (2000). Slept on our bass player's couch. Wrote the first draft (very bad) of the Central America/math novel. In the evenings Jen taught me how to cook.

18. Gilbert Street, Iowa City IA (2000-01). A studio that sort of looked like a motel from the outside. This is what happens when you rent apartments in Iowa sight unseen. I remember the snow and the rain, and the brief period of mental collapse that coincided with a massive insect infestation all over my front door. I had to buy a can of Raid and visit a holocaust upon the Anxiety Bugs, and the experience was so terrible that shortly afterward I resolved never purposely to kill an insect again.

19. Dubuque Street, Iowa City IA (2001-02). Here and here and here, for example. A little flat in a beautiful old colonial house with an octogenarian landlord, a block from the Workshop building. I miss it. The walls were thin and Aimee always worried that I could hear her in the bathroom, but no; the pipes obscured any personal noises. Apparently she could hear me playing the guitar.

20. Brittania [sic] Court (II), Reno NV (2002). A stopover before going to Tucson. I can't even remember what I did here. Mostly I was going on family trips to Italy or whatever.

21. Skyline Village (II), Tucson AZ (2002-03). I guess that with all this moving, it was inevitable that I would hit the same complex twice. It hasn't been bad here, just very very weird—a little like being seventeen again, a little like being fifty. It's a very nice apartment; I think the problem is with me. I no longer belong in this city.

22. Madison Street, Portland OR (2003-?). Wish me luck.

commelina benghalensis

This will be my twenty-first move in twenty-four years. I swear to God, it's like being an Army brat. The madness must stop.

—They sinned against the light, Mr Deasy said gravely. And you can see the darkness in their eyes. And that is why they are wanderers on the earth to this day.

red touch yellow, kill a fellow

Bizarre dream in which I had been bitten by a coral snake (Micruroides euryxanthus). I hate this unsettled state of disassembling my life, or at any rate its material components. Moving is fine once you actually are moving, once you're on the open road towing your chattels behind you; you feel the sense of exploration, discovery, newness. But the preparation is murder.

The defensive farts of coral snakes.

auf wiedersehen

The goodbyes have begun. Friday night I went up to Phoenix to see the Marlowe family, which of late has grown larger with the addition of a) Emma, and b) a tiny black kitten they found under a creosote bush. It had been abandoned on the roadside and was living off crickets, starving to death. Three days of regular meals had improved its condition considerably and I was very tempted to take it with me, but since I am already in a committed relationship with another cat I relinquished any claim after receiving an assurance that it would not be taken to the Humane Society unless it had hantavirus or something.

Steve has a lot of hair these days.

diy storage solutions for punk rock girls

Herren und Damen, darf ich mein neu CD-Regal vorstellen:

It will never be mistaken for something bought in a store, like this enormously expensive shelf someone directed me to. Among other deficiencies, it lists slightly to port. But it will hold 780 discs, and I'm hoping it looks homemade as in "charming," not "shoddy."

bide your time, helots

The CD is on its way back from the mastering lab, and meanwhile I am building a new CD shelf, for nowhere on this earth can I find a shelf that accommodates my special needs. Soon my takeover of the West Coast will be complete.

ein plan (auf deutsch) für die wohnung in portland

something for the rag and bone man

Anxious about the move, of course; but not in the pathological sense, and this is no small blessing. ¡Yo amo mi Lexapro!

I came back to Tucson a year ago because I had a dream about the place; and for the first few months the city remained in accordance with the dream. The smell of dust, the birdcalls, the way the wrinkles in the mountains catch the light in the afternoon—I had carried these things within me, in a buried stratum of childhood. And then, of course, after a few months they became familiar and were forgotten; and in their absence I began to remember my awful fifteenth and sixteenth and seventeenth years. I remebered that, for the most part, I was never happy here.

Other than two family members and one friend, I am leaving behind almost nothing. No job, no university, no attachment to any institution. No community of any sort. Since returning from Reno I've been holed up recording, reading, starting to pack; and only now is Tucson regaining a bit of that dream aura that it had when I arrived. I think I understand why; in my dream of Tucson there were never any people. It was all about dust and sun and sky. If I could live by land alone, I would stay; but it turns out I'm not ready to become a hermit.

herzliche glückwunsch

Ich lerne Deutsch. Nun kann ich nicht viele Wörter sagen. Ich finde memorylifter.com sehr gut, sehr interessant. Mein Buch heißt "Deutsch: Na Klar!" NA KLAR!

mea culpa

I have been bad; I have been remiss; and unlike some, I cannot even claim a takeover by a diabolical frog as an excuse. All right, kids, here is CONTENT.

The record is finished and has been mailed to a nice fellow in San Diego who is going to master it. About a week ago the 12-track broke. I had put new strings on my guitar and didn't clip the ends—what rock star has time to be orderly? While recording I leaned forward and (I think this is what happened; I wasn't really looking) one of the loose wire ends slipped inside the 12-track, sliding through the crack along one of its buttons, and penetrated deep within its innards. Something must have shorted out, as the 12-track turned off and then turned on again. I thought all was well and kept recording until that evening, when I discovered that hitting "record" and then hitting "stop" caused the operating system to crash and give a hexadecimal error code and revert to this alarming command-line interface that I did not know the 12-track possessed and which the average user was certainly never meant to see. Fortunately it was still able to play, and almost all of the instruments were recorded, so I mixed down the backing tracks and spent a few days at Nik's house recording the vocals on his computer while he was off learning German. His mother spent the days cleaning the house and apparently could hear me through the door, since on the third or fourth day she asked me why I was recording.

"It's sort of a hobby," I said.

"Do you just like to hear yourself singing the songs you love?" she asked.

"Oh, no. These are songs I wrote."

"Oh," she said, taken aback. "I actually liked a couple of them."

"Thank you."

"I liked what they were saying."

So, when Billboard magazine wants testimonials, I now have one. I do intend to do something with this web deal shortly. My burgeoning enterprise to take myself seriously as an commercially viable artist has compelled me to register paulkerschen.com, and a lot of the non-blog content will probably move over there. In the meantime I will try to be more regular about posting things here that someone will find interesting, even if (as is often the case) that someone is just Mom.


No one cares about the classics any more. Nowadays, who would shout "sic semper tyrannis" after assassinating a president? It would have to be a grad student. And a week later, USA Today would report that "officials from the Department of Homeland Security have yet to release their analysis of the gibberish reportedly shouted by the assassin immediately after the shot was fired. Rumors continue that it is some kind of diabolical Arab code."


This sort of takes you over. I did make it to the store last night, but before that I was just eating peanut butter with a spoon. I woke up in the middle of the night with something abrading my leg, and discovered guitar strings in the bed. I rolled over and fell back asleep rather than do anything about it. This morning I straightened my sheets and a tuner fell out.

cleaning house

I am back from Portland. I found my dream apartment, or some close approximation; a generously proportioned one-bedroom with refinished hardwoods, about three blocks from Powell's on Hawthorne. In three weeks I move.

What till then?

For the moment, I'm clearing away detritus. This is what moving is about; you sort through the contents of your life, keep what pleases you, discard what doesn't. I'm starting from scratch here.

organized labor

acquire Shure SM57 mike, Boss overdrive pedal
acoustic guitar on 2-3 songs
electric guitars, keyboards, and vocals on all 14 songs
take photographs, assemble cover art in Adobe Illustrator
email inquires about mastering and pressing (probably after the move)

build new CD rack, or follow engineer dad's clever suggestion to expand current rack's capacity
build website for aunt, from whom compensation has already been received in form of beautiful new Guild acoustic guitar ("Ruby")
—email bids for other websites (after move)
—tell Iowa, the credit card people, the post office, Working Assets, the bank, student loan sharks that I'm moving
cancel phone, broadband
—arrange for phone, broadband in Portland
—pack, sort through what to take/leave in Tucson/donate/throw out, take crap to Goodwill
—defrost the fridge, all that rot
confirm moving truck appointment

new monitor (alas, no flatscreen, but it was free)
—French press
—usable knife set
—small funky tables, rugs (acquire after move)
—pipe dreams, or at any rate dreams deferred: functional desktop w/ DVD drive and CD writer, scanner, better stereo amplifier, better record player, better AM/FM receiver, bicycle.

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