I’m in Missouri

what time is it? I don’t have any idea. it’s late.

I am in a hotel in exurban St Louis, like a damn boss. I’m here to do press-check edits (hyphen misplaced? probably) on a book my office is printing. we are printing it here, a few miles down the road. I met the design team that my office farmed this book out to earlier this evening; they are alright dudes from Kentucky who smoke unfiltered cigarettes. we met in the lobby, then commiserated about being in St Louis for work on a Sunday evening while we pumped dollars into a video-golf machine and drank beers at a bar in the mall next to the hotel. it will be a long day of checking negatives tomorrow. but they are, I think, alright dudes.

go back east

it is tomorrow (today is Monday). I’m still here in greater St Louis, but now at the printing press, a commercial printing press, a series of huge machines in a building the size of a football field in an office park off an access road off an interstate. there’s an amusement park (no kidding) about 500 yards on the far side of the trees across the road, and when you stand in the printer’s parking lot you can hear roller coasters rumbling and the screams of thrill seekers. but not inside, though. there’s a lot of hurrying-up-and-waiting going on — the press won’t start printing our stuff until tomorrow morning early, and so here I am, typing up some bullshit to pass the time.

I spent the weekend on my friends’ couch in San Francisco. my friends are great hosts. he brews beer and writes music, she has one of those Kombucha mushrooms in a jar that looks like an exhibit at the Roswell alien museum, and they are a lovely couple with a decent couch.

it was a good one, this last weekend, that started early in Fresno on Thursday. Fresno is pretty quiet, and pretty hot, and it’s got a great name for the local newspaper, the Bee. the newspapers I worked at never had mascots.

the bee

here is the Bee himself. me and him cooled at the Fresno bus station, which is a pretty live spot

me and the Bee only hung out for a little while though, cause I shortly took the bus up to the city that afternoon where I had a great few days. lots of walking, lots of coffee and beer and whatnot. I bought an Elmore Leonard book. I caught a show, two bands, Muralismo and Y La Bamba, on Friday evening. I ate tacos in the Mission. my friend took me all over the place. I really like the way that city looks. San Francisco, I like the cut of your jib.

on Saturday, he and I took a big-ass bike ride up into the Marin headlands, and it was just the best.

there were big hills. I got a sunburn. and the bike I rode had some style to it, I’ll give it that. Spencer’s buddy handed it to me over a turnstile at a BART stop in Oakland on Friday. “the brakes, dude, are a little … iffy,” the guy said. and he wasn’t joking, they were. enough so that we stopped and got them tuned up early on in the ride the following day, for San Francisco is steep enough, and the hills in Marin don’t suffer weekend warriors like me lightly. and just to pile it on, the bike was missing a lower gear, so that if you shifted into it accidentally the chain would simply fall off and tangle around a pedal. but don’t worry it’s okay, we made it.

say hi, bike

say hi, bike

now it’s Monday night

it’s late again. I’m tired and I can feel the sunburn and I’m back in the hotel room near St Louis. HBO has the Golovkin v Macklin fight going on repeat; I’m halfway watching.

I think maybe I could live out of a backpack. I’ve been doing this since last Tuesday — one pair of pants, a few pairs of socks, drawers, t-shirts, and a few books. I finished the Elmore Leonard book, it was very good. next up, I have Heart of Darkness (which I’ve read) and The Epic of Gilgamesh, both of which I found in Spencer and Krista’s hallway. they live in a neighborhood that some weird asshole dubbed “the Tendernob.” this is because it’s the gray area between the Tenderloin and Nob Hill. there are no linear boundaries any longer. nothing is clean. there are no blacks and whites in the world; there have never been many true ones, I don’t think, and those that there are, are boring. and anyway, I bet it’s not a real estate agent that calls it “the Tendernob.” what kind of asshole name is “the Tendernob?”

so, back to Missouri: me and the two Kentuckians, now with a few packs of Marlboro Reds, were at this press all day, spread out across a “client lounge” all day, eating shitty takeout all day, making edits, three of us, to four hundred pages of text on manufacturing policy, then calling them in to the editor in northern Virginia, and then making them again. all day, somehow fourteen hours of a day. a long day. as it (the day) wound down, about ten deer appeared in the field across the access road from the printer’s. I stared at these deer for a solid ten minutes, sitting on the sidewalk, until the building custodian came out of the door behind and started whistling at them. they bled back into the woods. “sometimes they’ll look at you if if you whistle,” he explained.

somebody at the printer in Missouri has a sense of humor

somebody at the printer in Missouri clearly has a sense of humor

once the sun went down there was more editing, back at another near-empty sports bar near the hotel, sipping drinks with a felt pen and proofs laid out on the table in front of us. the bartender was motherly and sympathetic, keeping the kitchen open and letting us pick the radio station. I like this lady. we’re going back to the printer tomorrow morning, early. probably around eight? with most of the work done, and now we’re on to approving final proofs. this means waiting around for an hour or two between prints, giving those prints a solid five minutes of your dedicated attention while you look for widows and orphans and typos and misspellings and the rarest, fabled and celebrated of all proofreading corrections, its Santa Claus, its Bigfoot, the stray Curse Word — and correcting any that you find — and then signing off on these prints with your initials.

your initials, you understand. mine are MM. they’re paying for my eagle eyes, my sharp signature, and about an hour of work drawn out over a day in an office park outside of St Louis. I’m going to bring The Epic of Gilgamesh with me to this time.

and down goes Macklin! in the third round. to a rib shot. oof. it looked like it hurt.

anyway, I’m due home on Wednesday night late. I can’t wait. yeah, I can’t wait. I’ve come full circle in a few short paragraphs. I think maybe that notion of living out of a backpack was  a lot of bullshit. and jesus; did I mention my sister got married a week and a half ago? out in Indiana, to a pretty cool guy. I don’t even know how I’d write about that. so suffice to say, it was a hell of a wedding, and I hope neither of them ever have another one. okay. good night.

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