December 29th, 2003

flavored with age

Holiday update

A precis of my journey to Texas and back:

- Missouri has lots of pornography stores along the freeway. Religious people have rented billboards alongside the pornography stores that say "PORN DESTROYS LIVES" and so forth.

- Once you leave Illinois, the Jesus-based billboards are, indeed, everywhere. I heard more about Jesus on this vacation than at any time previously outside of church. In fact, some of my relatives talk about Jesus more than a typical preacher does.

- I stayed the first night of my road trip in a town called Pacific, MO. The second night was spend in Waco, TX in a very dreary place called the Everyday Motel, which featured no note paper, no pens, no towels, and no washcloths, but oddly, an in-room sauna.

- San Antonio has worse traffic than anyplace I've ever been. Even L.A. This is about the only interesting thing about San Antonio.

- My mom made me go to Cracker Barrel for lunch. It was on a Sunday, right after church let out, and it was like being at a Promise Keepers convention. People had prayer circles at their tables, and the waitresses said "have a blessed day". My aunt complained about Muslims, apparently on general principles, and my mom responded to my vague complaints about Cracker Barrel's anti-gay policies with the thoughtful statement "well, boo hoo". I very narrowly avoided having to eat at Cracker Barrel twice by begging and whining. The part of it that contains the word "cracker" is very appropriate.

- Neither my mom nor my aunt has a working oven. I can't tell you how insane this drove me. Lots of Christmas dinner came out of cans and packages; the food I cooked from scratch (notable non-exotic fare like salad, pesto and sausage ragout) was generally felt to be "wierd" by the family, and my mildly autistic second cousin wouldn't eat it because he refuses to eat any non-packaged food unless he knows who prepared it.

- Mom had a Gareth Keenan moment with a stuffed reindeer that sang "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer".

- Christmas Eve itself was a nightmare of recrimination and dysfunctional family drama. It was like something that Todd Solondz would have put together if he was a totally untalented hick. There I was living it, and I still couldn't believe how comically ridiculous it all was. My mom argued with my aunts, my aunt argued with her daughter, my other aunt yelled at her son, my cousin bitched at my second cousin, my deeply repressed homosexual cousin got wasted at a bar and picked a fight which he lost and then showed up drunk at Christmas dinner to tell everyone that every Christmas from the day he was born to the day he'll die "sucks big green donkey cock", and my aunt faked a number of heart attacks and had a couple of hysterical screaming fits.

- I spent most of this time hiding in the back room watching reruns of "Xena: Warrior Princess". Man, that show is gay.

- Update on the DVD player and season 1 of "The Sopranos" I got my mom over a year ago: she still hasn't hooked up the DVD player, and my attempt to do so was frustrated by her having lost the connector cables, the DVD remote and the TV remote. She hasn't watched it on her sister's DVD player, because "it's been a really strange year".

- I visited my friend Hayden in Austin. He is a great guy and he and his wife kindly put me up for the night. We drank and smoked and talked and had a fine time, and we watched "Master of the Flying Guillotine". I wanted to hook up with some other people in Austin, but circumstance frustrated, as circumstance will do.

- I drove straight home all the way to Chicago from Austin. I don't know why I did this. I left at 10 AM on Saturday and arrived home at 7 AM on Sunday, stopping only for gas. I was only almost killed once, but I really don't have much to say about the trip, because most of the time it was pitch black and half of the time I was in a haze of exhaustion. (I don't like coffee.) It was very much like living inside a giant game of "Night Driver", to reach back into the paleolithic age of video games, only "Night Driver" was not accompanied by Black Sabbath on the car stereo.

- Anyway, I'm back now, and I slept for a very very long time yesterday. I hope everyone had a merry Christmas.

- I realize I owe a bunch of you Christmas gifts (going out today) and CDs. The CDs will be delayed because, for reasons I cannot yet fathom, my computer is failing to recognize my CD burner. I will keep working on this problem (if anyone has any ideas, please let me know), and once it's fixed, out the door will go your gifts. Thanks for being patient.

- I have the rest of the week off! Woo hoo. Guess what word rhyming with "crunk" I'm gonna get New Years' Eve?