Monday, November 1, 2010

The Hounds of Hell

Chicago is hell. An example is the undersized overcrowded bus station, but we'll get back to that. Let's start with the traffic jams. Probably just elk, I figured. But damn, I didn't even see any elk--just a whole bunch of cars stopped for no reason--not even pulled over to the side, and no one even taking photographs. Weird.

I was almost part of all that once, engaged to a Chicago suburb college girl. We didn't know what the hell we were doing--it just seemed like the next required step on the way to living like everyone else. We finally came to our senses, she realizing I was too much like her father who spent his life careerless, working jobs as available and needed; me realizing the life of commuter trains, suburban houses, and city jobs was no life for me. So she traded me in for one of our best friends from college and they had the life I wanted to avoid. So I recalled as the trains passed the bearless jams.

On the way to hell, I had seen some wildlife but almost all of it was dead. And yet there seemed to be plenty of potential bison, grizzly, wolf habitat all going to waste. What an odd country.

I saw the towers in the sky, filled with rectangles of light, all the self-imprisoned. I used to live that way in another circle of hell, until I found I'd had the key all along.

Lines of luggage at the doors staked out our places in our various migration routes, all hellish, all the wrong way. A local demon with a sense of humor called me Jerry Garcia. When I was younger, it was Harrison or Lennon. I guess it doesn't matter when they're all equally dead.

I was scheduled to suffer 3 1/2 hours in this circle but it turned into five with no explanation. Which then led to spending six hours sitting in the Cleveland circle with no locker large enough for my duffel bag and thus no visit to an internet spot. Oddly, in this circle of hell, I seemed to be surrounded by God freaks chanting gospel songs.

And then heading for the New York City circle where I'd spend three hours in the middle of the night surrounded by people sitting with their coats stretched over their heads, others having conversations with vending machines, and someone who gave an angry speech from a movie but then reassured those staring at him that he was just giving an angry speech from a movie, not trying to be a tough guy.

But before all that, riding the hound, came the cell phone circle of hell, heavily populated by those loudly not speaking English, probably for one reason or the other not comprehending the driver's instructions about cell phones. I had my usual fantasy of ripping the thing from a hand and stomping on it, and thought about how nice it had been to live in a place where, although it's unfortunately changing, the damn things didn't even work.

Somewhere in eastern Pennsylvania, I woke up with the bus stopped on the side of the highway, with the driver standing in the aisle yelling about cell phones. He looked at one guy wearing headphones and holding a little black rectangle, who then said, "Why are you looking at me?" which turned into the two of them standing in the aisle with thrust out chests yelling at each other. What stupid apes humans are! The driver said if people kept talking on their cell phones and distracting him, he'd stop driving and we'd be sitting there a long time until a new driver got there (apparently the one sitting in the front seat who'd driven the previous four hour leg didn't count--one woman suggested that if he was so distracted, he should let the other guy drive). I laughed at the notion that a bus full of people going to New York City in the middle of the night would sit there waiting for a new driver; more likely they'd throw him off the bus and drive themselves to New York. When we finally did get to New York, the two apes started in on each other again beside the bus.

One week from now, I'll be living Part 2, and I doubt I'll ever return to this area. I no longer care about visiting my old neighborhoods, I have no possessions or important relationships left here, and it's too far from where I'll be living and too populated. I'll have to learn to love the Pacific and its whales instead. I did enjoy the Boston Veggie Fest yesterday. Know how much actual meat is in a fast food burger? 2-14% according to analysis.

A Yellowstone coworker is visiting national parks on his roundabout way home and has sent links to his photos from Glacier, Banff, and Jasper which was especially stunning in its snow-covered beauty. I want to visit them all, and expect to see photos from parks in the Northwest I'll also want to visit. Banff would take a little effort, but Glacier and Jasper are easily accessible by train.

I've started researching my list of parks other than Yellowstone as potential workplaces, but haven't found any strong contenders yet. Different companies operate in different parks with different rules--no beards in one, no transportation to another, no meals in a third, office jobs not in the park at another. At Yosemite, new employees live in tents--warm sleeping bags advised. Even though it's the North I love, what I probably really need to find is a southern park for the late fall/winter season when Yellowstone and the other snowy parks have the fewest jobs.

For the first time since starting this blog, I've changed the quote up top. I found that Abbey sentence early in The Fool's Progress which I pulled to reread during Hell Part 2. It seems very appropriate both to how I'm living these days and to how the blog has changed from an emphasis on the opinions mentioned in the Turner quote to more of a personal lifestyle journal.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora GT,
Wow, this is really fantastic writing. You give this observation of the underbelly of America a real Bukowski quality, fast, hard, and edgy. From what I remember about my experiences on the Greyhounds and long distance I guess it will do that to you. I like the new quote on top as well. There are a busloads of men, and women, who feel that same way. Yet never do a thing about it. The American Dream. Hope you find the perfect combination of parks. Great piece. Kia kaha.

veganelder said...

Great quote.

The american dream is a nightmare and everyone suffers.

greentangle said...

Thanks, Robb, the travel part is pretty much just my notes from along the way. I like the "busloads" in your comment.

Isn't there some famous quote about a nightmare from which we can't awake or something like that?

Ah, I just answered my own question--James Joyce: "History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake."

Allan Stellar said...

Wow! I absolutely loved this post! I agree wtih Robb on the quality of the writing. And I'm loving how you seem to have found your niche' in the world.

I told you you'd love the west!

greentangle said...

Glad you liked it, though I don't really understand the love for this post. I thought it might have been a good starting point but I never worked on it and wasn't really even planning to post it until I got bored one day.

I see I forgot to add a line I liked about the leaf color in Ohio looking lovely in the early morning light, but unfortunately also looking lovely in the evening light (because I got stuck there all day).

But yeah, there's potential for an interesting new life in the parks but I'm afraid it's all going to get derailed by how I got screwed by the change to my deaf, blind, 104 year old grandfather's will (like he had anything to do with it, in other words.) Hopefully, there's a good lawyer waiting for me in Duluth.