FOR A ROOM IN A SEASIDE SHACK
Traveling to Newport, Oregon, by bus. Reading Vanity Fair's Hollywood issue, and Maison Ikkoku: Intensive Care. Nancy Mitford waited in my bag, but no time or concentration. When the MP3 player died, I was forced to listen to the chatter around me--the man who pointed out everywhere along the highway where a drug bust had taken place, the boy in his early '20s who couldn't stop talking about how badly he had to pee and expected the driver to pull over for him. I contemplated watching something on my laptop, but had only things that might be a little two attractive for people to look over my shoulder--Infernal Affairs II or an episode of trasheriffic The L Word. Violence and sex. Impossible to read Maison Ikkoku without putting Christine Norrie and her dog in the female lead.
Staying at the Sylvia Beach Hotel, in the Lincoln Steffens room. I am not familiar with his work, so looked through the library available. He's a journalist from the early part of the 20th Century. I've started reading his wry Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens. The room itself is decorated in a spartan style befitting the man, including an old style typewriter. The desk drawer is filled with things people have written on the machine, filed by year. Looked at a couple, don't have the patience for what other people have to say, sadly.
Walked the beach. Discovered the town weekend is on Tuesday and Wednesday, the exact days we are here, and a lot of places are shut down--including the bookstore where I found Kappa last time we were here. The boy on the bus who had to pee had also never seen the ocean, which is honestly baffling to me. Having begun life in Michigan, I know what snow is like; having moved to California in first grade, I know heat and the beach. I've got rain and hail and lightning. I know dust storms. This is all rather strange to me, the not knowing. Being back on a beach--as cold and windy as it is, as unlike Southern California as you're likely to find--is almost a homecoming. It's peaceful here. The hotel has no phones, no internet, no television. The waves rushing in and out ever-present.
A cat named Agatha lives in the hotel. We find her in the Dr. Seuss room. Rebecca warns me that, like my cat, she plays rough, likes to bite. This is true. But she also almost instantly begins cleaning my hand, something my cat also likes to do. It's some sort of weird mutant power I have, to make felines want to mother me. (Though, a later feisty encounter leaves a big scratch on my hand, Aggie purring all the while as she digs in.)
A nighttime beach walk uncovers a strange bundle of meat in the low tide. It's too dark to tell exactly, but it almost looks a huge chunk of a fish, including scaly skin. Sticks are used, to poke, to break apart--but no mystery is uncovered. It's gone by morning. We'll never know what that is.
Lincoln frees the fish guts.
Decently early, with a big breakfast. Amazing sour cream muffins. A glazed pepper bacon that is to die for, and so I don't complain when Rebecca tosses her two slices on my plate. (She fails to see how she is implicit in my chubbiness.) I stop off in the gift shop and get some postcards, some Oscar Wilde candy. They have finger puppets of famous painters, a set with Degas, Kahlo, Dali, that is tempting. If only they had authors. I'd love to have a battling Hemingway, a lothario Fitzgerald, a drunken Faulkner, and maybe a pug ugly Gertrude Stein to house on my fingers. I must also have the Sartre and de Beauvoir portrait, that looks like Rebecca and I in twenty years. He is bespectacled, gesticulating an angry point at some unseen person; she is laughing behind him.
Final Vanity Fair article reveals a film I must see: The Best of Everything.
Worked on a graphic novel idea to pitch to Oni following the start of this travelogue. It's an old idea I've been waiting to do.
Rebecca is waiting for high tide, excited to see it. Our last two walks have been at very low tides. I tell her it's pretty much the same, except, well, higher. When we did go out, I decided to wear just shorts and no shoes, so I could run in the water. We chose odd hats from their hat collection, so I had a pink floppy thing on my head, which was fine. It covered the seaside bouffant I was cultivating and protected my ears. By the time we got back, my entire backside was covered in the sand I had kicked up.
"Quit laughing, Rebecca, this guy needs to hear this..."
Up relatively early. Bus leaves at 9:30. You don't get a lot of options going in and out of a town like this. Never going to use the cell phone as an alarm again. It's either not working or simply not loud enough to make any difference. Faye Wong on the stereo. Still raining.
Current Soundtrack: Stream of Morrissey interview on KROQ from 3/26/04