Tour Diary – part 4

Feb. 15

In San Diego, we stay with my beloved uncles, Doot and True. We get in so late, though, that they are already asleep. When we step off the elevator and into their apartment, we see a note on a table which reads, “Hello, Possums! Macaroni and cheese in the kitchen, clean sheets on the beds — Wyatt, we would like some more origami pianos, please”.

Last time we visited, Wyatt was on an origami piano roll and left about 60 on display in their foyer. It was quite an installment — but it blew away the first time someone opened the door.

Feb. 16

Interview, photo shoot and an in-store at Lou’s in Encinitas. Then we have dinner at a Mexican place up the road with my old friend, Jane. Jane and I grew up together on the goofy little island where I come from. When we were teenagers, she tried to start a hockey helmet trend by wearing them to hardcore shows, but it never really caught on. Now she’s a fancy, grown up lawyer in San Diego, but she keeps me in the loop by including me in the email lunch pool in her office. I always vote for the Little Fish Market.

After dinner, Jane hands me an envelope. “I found this and thought you might want it,” she says. Inside is a picture of our friend, Mark, who killed himself back home a few months ago. His death made Jane and I feel very far away. Mark is smiling in the picture; he looks beautiful and happy. I stare and stare, can’t look away. I don’t realize it for a minute, but I’m crying.

Feb. 17

It is 98 degrees today. I will not whine about this after complaining so bitchily about the cold in other parts of the country, but let me just say that it feels weird. We race around Los Angeles before the Amoeba in-store, trying to see all of our friends. Then Fletch and her Significant Debbie meet us at the store and rescue the kids, who desperately miss their aunties.

I do an interview in the green room with a woman named Brandi who really looks like a Brandi, but she is nice and does a pretty decent interview. Afterwards, the film crew and I look for vodka mixers. “Red Bull!” one of them keeps saying, but I just can’t be that guy. I go with the dregs of a pineapple “snack cup” intended for toddlers and immediately feel intense remorse. Not because of the toddler thing, but because it is sickly sweet with a gel-like consistency — like a half-done Jell-O shot. I choke it down, then play for a big, friendly crowd who keeps saying, “whooo!” (Fletcher: “Is that an American thing? Do Europeans say whooo?” — I make a note to myself to look into it on the European tour).

Feb. 18

Aaahhh…San Francisco. You forget how beautiful it is here. We take the kids and dogs hiking by the ocean and don’t find any snakes, but we feel woods-y anyway.

Another Amoeba in-store this afternoon, another good stage and professional PA, more nice people. Then friends feed us excellent barbecue in their beautiful home. We watch the sun set from their deck while Wyatt waters their plants and Bo breaks their stuff. A perfect day.

Feb. 21

It’s strange to be back in Portland. We don’t live here anymore, but our stuff is in a big box somewhere in this city. Staying with my brother and his family, we are visitors, not locals.

My neices are already different: Ella, the toddler, calls her drawings “abstract” and the baby crawls, sits in chairs and eats food. I feel betrayed.

A sweet evening in-store at Music Millenium on 23rd and then KBOO with Brandon Lieberman. “Show up any time,” he says, “but if you want to swear, come after 10 o’clock”. I don’t particularly want to swear, so I show up early and wait in the rain for someone to notice me outside and let me in. They do — and I stay for more than an hour. Brandon is such a nice man — we crack each other up and forget to end the interview.

“Don’t leave!” he cries when I stand up to go, “In 10 minutes, you’ll be able to swear!”

Feb. 22

Seattle always breaks our hearts. We miss the city and our friends who live there. We’re pathetic. The lovelier a visit to Seattle is, the sadder we get about having left in ’02.

After an afternoon KEXP session, we drive around the city showing the kids places we used to go when we lived there. Ryder and Wyatt remember most of them, but Bo feels defensive about not having been born. “Before you guys were born?” he says, “I used to go scuba diving and also? My friends you don’t know would let me ride in their blimp. Yeah…it was great before you guys were born.”

We do a perfect Easy Street in-store — Bob and his people are special. Our pals give us care packages to help us through our cross-country drive — fruit, water, raw veggies and a gas card. We take pictures and kiss people we love until dark — we have to leave.

Feb. 23-27

We have to get from Seattle to Boston in 4 days — or we miss our flight for the European tour. Ugh. Highlights of the cross country drive include:

Washing my hair in Starbucks’ sink after Starbucks’ sink after Starbucks’ sink; an enormous sign advertising a glassblower’s establishment on which someone has (repeatedly) blacked out the first two letters; a trip to the “zoo” (grocery store) to see lobsters swimming in a tank; being mistaken for a teenage bowler by other teenage bowlers at a Comfort Inn outside Boise (“Hey girl! What school do you go to?”); the Home Movies audio CD (I’m a big Brendon Small fan); spending the night in our car by the side of the highway during a blizzard near Laramie when they shut down I-80, dreaming of the desert…

Posted in: words on April 24, 2007