river songs

Smokes: A couple Dunhills left over from New Year’s Eve, and a full compliment of Camel Lights.

Tunes: The soundtrack to “Lost in Translation.” Not the kind of thing I would typically be into, but I was so blown away by the movie and its music … Reading up a bit, I found a bunch of stuff about shoegazer, a great name for this kind of trippy electronica. I need to find out more about Death in Vegas.

Post-holiday exhaustion. I have two (umm, no … three!) projects due at work in the next few days and absolutely no motivation to work on them at all. And then there’s a college friend of mine who publishes a zine in the DC area, who wants me to work something up for her next edition — that’s something I would love to do but I don’t feel like I have the time with all this actual work that I’m not actually doing.

Spent a little time in the northern part of the county where I work this afternoon, watching fire and EMS guys help a family that was about to be flooded out of their home for a day or two. No real disasters, but standing on the bank of this creek (jesus, it’s just a creek…) and watching the water pump out over roads, lawns, back porches … is this the kind of work that makes me happy?

A couple years ago I spent several days in a little Allegheny River town north of Pittsburgh, waiting for rescue folks to find the body of a guy whose boat tipped over while he was fishing. The guy took his young daughter out in the boat, right after a rapid early spring thaw. After the boat tipped, he grabbed his daughter, put his life vest on over hers and pushed her towards the shore. She was found — soggy, cold but alive — about a mile down river. His body was found about three days later, hung up in some brush that had been submerged in the high water.

When I was growing up, I spent a ton of time water skiing on the Scioto River north of Columbus. I’m a good swimmer, and I have no real fear of the water. But that was on a reservoir, and both of these situations are different. I still get creeped out driving next to the Ohio River, whether it’s here in the Pittsburgh area, near Marietta or Parkersburg (near Athens, where I went to school) or even in Louisville, when I was in the army. I skiied once on the Ohio just down river from Louisville, and though it was in the middle of a hot summer — the water was down and very calm — I got the same creepy feeling … you think about how deep the water is, how much water there is, the power that could carry you from Pittsburgh to New Orleans like you were a leaf. Heebie jeebies…

Here’s the best illustration I can offer. Several times after I finished school, I drove from Pgh to Athens to see The Wife at OU. I drive interstates to Marietta and then a state highway along the river to the point where I cut over to Athens. It’s night, so it’s dark. There is a series of chemical plants/power stations along the highway — very Blade Runner, with lots of ominous red, orange and yellow lights. And somewhere, over there on the left side of the road, is that big, dark river. I’d catch glances of water once in a while, sometimes past a hill or some homes, and sometimes, startlingly, RIGHT NEXT TO THE ROAD. I could never get past the feeling that my car was being pulled toward the water, and I occasionally found myself gripping the steering wheel so hard that my hands hurt.

That’s how it feels.