Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oh Mama, Can This Really Be the End?

My sherpa guide is a man of some fame. His name is Dawa Sherpa. Dawa Sherpa is like John Smith among Sherpa. He's named after the day of the week he was born. I think his name means Tuesday.

I Googled him and found a little bit about him because he led Jon Krakauer on a trek to Everest Base Camp in 1997 to place a memorial for the infamous 1996 expeditions of "Into Thin Air" fame when 11 people died.

When we met in the hotel's cafe for milk tea and an equipment check, I could read from his eyes, "I hope this cracker bought enough life insurance for his wife, because if he gets hurt, I ain't carrying his ass down from no hill."

The first time I did a two-week hardcore trek President-elect Clinton had just finished announcing his cabinet appointments. I spent Christmas Eve 1992 in a Tawakhan indian village in or near Nicaragua--it was hard to tell because it was night, it was raining hard and the river had made me its bitch.

Dawa told me I won't be conquering the mountain. The mountain will conquer me. So I suppose I'm making this a tradition. Everytime a new democratic administration takes control of the White House, mother nature has my permission to turn me out.

We leave at 5:30 AM. I'm going out for some Meskin food tonight.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Fog and Sand

Christmas Eve morning. I finished my shopping early this year. Got everything on my list yesterday. This is a first. I don't know what to do with all this free time today, the day I normally set aside for Christmas shopping. Fog rolled in this morning and is still hanging low giving me a sorta kinda white Christmas. I need to keep training for the Everest thing, so I will probably find a nice sand dune to run up and down, closing my eyes and trying to imagine the crunchy stuff beneath my feet is snow. I'll be knee deep in the real stuff soon enough, with an insurance card in my wallet that has a helicopter rescue rider in it, which I think is pretty fucking cool.

Monday, December 01, 2008


The missus is off visiting relatives in L.A. Her cousin is a most successful Century 21 real estate agent who is keen to find us a house to invest in. Last night she went to a BBQ in Beverly Hills to meet some friends, Iranian Jews, who bolted after the revolution.

So not only are we likely to get a kinfolk deal on a house, we'll probably get it below market value.

This is probably how it will go down.

Cousin Bamdad in Tarzana will make a call to his friend Morty in Beverly Hills who has a brother, Sal, in La Jolla, who knows someone in the valley making a killing buying up lost sub-prime leases. Iranian and Jewish family values are similar to WASPish family values, but without the handgun obsession.

I'm being re-directed by two ethnic groups whose families function in a highly structured, tightly woven hierarchy that only has the veneer of paternal domination; in both cases, Iranian and Jews, it is not Dad who is really navigating thick bloodlines through troubled seas. Mine is the weary voice of experience.

That thatched roof hut in a Cambodian fishing village is now just a fool's paradise I suppose.