Rain Damage

Wearing the wrong pants for a rainstorm that’s unleashing a horrifying display of freeway ineptitude.

It’s us against the soaking masses of traffic. Fun.

Delirious from anticipating collision while being hidden by dark rain, tucked deep behind speeding shadows and blind spots, the only constant element is the howl of the engine and the blankets of water.

like a fish I sift through puddles and mist
sleek, I persist against the fear in my wrist
hydroplaning lanes in the darkness and rain,
adrift in adrenaline, drowning in bliss.

Red Light Green Light

You, who bang through intersections doing 55 in a 35. You, who goose your car the remaining 25 feet of street in an attempt to beat the red. You, whom I look both ways for every time I leave from a green light because it’s going to be you, blowing a solid red and blasting through an intersection who will kill me on a day when I’m just doing my thing.

Step On It, Subaru

What is it about a 4-way stop that has tons of American drivers so befuddled that I’m constantly wishing for the airbag in my car to just automatically go off and put me out of misery? Do all four of us have to stop and wait for nearly 10 seconds before someone decides to execute the simple formula of right of way? 10 seconds is like a year in stop-sign time, so for the love of everything in the city, please figure out who arrived first and who gets to go NOW.

100 Percent Chance of Me Hauling Donkey

48 Degrees, Steady Rain With Possible Torrential Downpours and a 90% Chance of a Fool On His Motorbike Passing You On The Highway

My fingers won’t listen, soaked and frozen, they’re ignoring everything I ask of them. October’s whim becomes a wet shot in the mouth during the afternoon and the highway fills with water like a shower in a tub with a slow drain.

A motorcycle is to steering like a fish as a car is to steering like a cow. Like holding onto a dorsal fin, I crouch with the throttle held open like the mouth of a waiting beartrap, reckoned only by the forces of wind, water, metal and asphalt. Explaining the logic behind the desire to ride motorcycles in the rain would be like formulating the chemical equation of a passionate kiss or using a geometric diagram to illustrate why humans like ice cream. It’s emotional, impossible, and often insane, to define it would be betraying the beauty of impulse.

My entire world at this moment hears only the scream of pistons, combustion, and the steady rhythm of my breathing. Hands gripping bars as if there was no other purpose on earth that merited fingers and palms. Flick my head to the side and the rain streaks off the visor giving up a few seconds of crystal clear vision, elbows on knees being warmed with the heat of the engine, it’s like huddling around a campfire, squinting to watch the stars in darkness.

Shooting down the road in a downpour while sitting calm and serene in leather, passing and waiting then waiting and passing, adrenaline of this sort flows quietly like a distant storm but will eventually hammer out blood and butterflies up from the guts. It’s never really felt until everything comes to a rest. I imagine the people in their cars, warm and dry, changing their music between pop and talk radio. I imagine them not seeing a motorcycle through fogged up blind spots and rain-blanketed windshields. By no fault of their own they are perpetually on the verge of murdering me and by pure personal choice I dodge bullets everyday I raise that kickstand. Thank you cosmos for allowing me to streak through the sky without dire collisions. Also thanks for those little toothpicks in restaurants that are minty and a well-timed smile from a complete stranger.

Note: 3 rainy nights later, a part of some old train tracks which were never removed from parts of NW 15th Avenue caught my front tire in its rut and as I attempted to scoot out of it, wet metal and rubber met and swiftly put me on my back along with a bunch of busted bike parts. Then 5 days later I was backing up a moving van into a driveway and accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake and ran over my bike that sat parked in the street.

Mortality has never been as focal and tangible as it feels right now.

Jesus Christmas

Have you ever seen Jesus dressed as Santa? Not like a mockery but more of a combination of ideas, how you know that if, in his day, Jesus would totally be down with being Santa Claus and handing out presents. I’ve been hearing about the guy who has a nativity scene of Jesus shooting (they use the word “murder”) Santa Claus with a shotgun. I have mixed feelings about this. I don’t know whether to laugh out loud or roll on the floor laughing. It’s not like the gun was in the other hand, right?

What I do know is that dragging a tree into the house or hanging lights on the gutters or throwing loose change into a bell-ringer’s bowl doth not a Christmas make. It is part of the egg nog experience, though. Whatever holiday you call it, whatever you do to have it and whatever goodness it brings to those around you, I’m glad to be a part of it. Except for the shopping, the lines, the traffic, the insolent louts who are always in my way and those bell ringing bastards opening store doors for me as if I would then give my nickels to their multinational charity outfit who has ties to organized crime.

I do however, dig the whole jingling, fireplace, warm hearth and good grub going on this time of year.

Vroom Vroom, Bang Bang

Motorcycle traffic in Saigon is an infamous beast. A wild collection of seemingly random vessels buzzing about in different directions whose system appears to be wildly insane but is actually simple and adhered to by nearly everyone.

Drops, falls, collisions and fender benders are common. The density of the population is so great that it’s impossible not to bump into someone sooner or later but luckily the speed at which people travel is usually somewhat low so any impact usually ends up being just a minor scrape or a simple ding.

When a collision does occur or even just a rude manuever by a fellow commuter, it usually involves a scathing hairy eyeball and maybe a curt word or two. I haven’t been home to the US in quite a while but I’m still confident that a traffic altercation that includes dramatic insults and some sort of firearm is still a daily occurance.

Why do Americans shoot each other so much? And why when driving? Driving is supposed to be fun and a way to escape the stress of life and work and all that. Driving used to be a luxury and the rare time to be alone, “My Cadillac Hour”, as it was once affectionally called. Now it’s almost a combat mission to get to the worthless job so you can get back to the complacent family and then do cruddy little things to make you feel like you haven’t completely wasted your life. And a handgun somehow makes you feel better even if it didn’t bring back your halcyon days of hanging out with the boys or getting it on with the girls.

Oh. Now I get it.

Anyway, back to traffic. If Americans had to drive in Vietnam there would be more murder-suicides in one day than this country has seen since the 1960’s.

By the same token there is also a hilarious parallel that occurs to Vietnamese people when they first try driving on the largely fast and unpredictable American roadways.