Friday, May 04, 2007

Visions of Leatherface Dance In My Head

Today was a pretty interesting day.

Today I was met with my first Very Disturbing Redneck of the season. Coworker and I were parked on a gravel school bus stop unloading our gear when he pulled up in his gray minivan festooned with Army Of One stickers. He was talking to coworker for a bit and, sensing coworker's possible inexperience dealing with landowners I mosied on over just in time to hear VDR mutter, "You have to know where you stand. With Jesus." Normally Christians don't totally make me crawl out of my skin but hearing this with a Douglas County-type southern accent (why do rural Oregonians get a drawl- we're not even near the south) made me veeeeerrry nervous. I just replied, "soooooo, it's okay if we park here, right?"

He was fine with us being on his property (unusual in these parts) but kept insisting we stop by for coffee and a danish when we were done. We thanked him and went on our way.

After a surprisingly lovely 3-mile hike in the oak savannah, seeing all sorts of gorgeous wildflowers, song birds and treefrogs and whatnot (the only good part of the story), I return to my vehicle and begin to shed my field gear and get ready to make the drive back to the hotel. I notice that some of VDR's chickens are all out near the bus stop's brambled edge, pecking around. I knew I hadn't let them out, but just in case I thought I'd go alert VDR so I don't end up with a call from the project field office saying "some angry landowner just called and is suing because you let his chickens out", or somesuch. I go and knock on his door, and a chubby girl who looks about 16 or 17 answers the door.

"Hi, I just stopped by to let you know that I noticed your chickens seem to be loose. I didn't let them out, but I thought you'd like to know."

"Oh, hi! This is my wife, (insert VDR's wife's name here). Don't worry about those chickens -they're a bunch of dufuses. You sure you won't come in for a pop or somethin'?"

(okay I know he sounds really nice, but inside his creepy dark house he was sitting in a beat-down Lay-Z-Boy and there were birds EVERYWHERE. Cages and cages of them. He had an African gray parrot sitting near his shoulder, and he said something to the bird and then it just flew at me and then did a loop-de-loop in midair and returned to him. And his wife looked like she could be his daughter. And the only thing that could've made his wife any creepier is if she had Down's Syndrome. And this guys is like 6'3" and 300lbs. And there were "God Bless" this and "God Bless" that plaques everywhere. And all the curtains were drawn. And his house smelled like taxidermy and humidity. )

"Aw, no thanks sir, I've still got lots of work to do. But thank you very much for the offer! Have a great afternoon, now."

"God bless!"

So I shudder my way back to the rig and take off. Oh, by the way, when I was out on his property I accidentally stepped on a baby garter snake that I didn't know was there until I felt something small and soft under my boot. I looked down and gasped in horror to see that its little red-striped body was bleeding because of my regardless tramping about. I feel like crying just thinking about it. I sat there for a minute contritely blubbering at the poor thing, but when I realized that the only right thing to do was to put it out of its misery, I was a coward. I kept walking. After a minute I sucked it up and turned around, to force myself to pay the consequence of my misstep, but it was gone. I felt relieved that I wasn't going to have to squinch my eyes tight and stomp a baby garter snake, but I also know that it slinked off somewhere to spend its last hours suffering. I feel so ashamed. :(

But the zenith of this story comes later (a few moments ago) when I, on a hunch that I can't shake, decide to Google "(VDR's real name) Douglas County, Oregon". What, ho? A hit? On the State of Oregon's official website? Turns out that one VDR is recently paroled (April 1, 2007) for "Weapons Use, Unlawful." Thank god it's not Sodomy III or anything, but when I'm right I'm totally fucking right.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Further Complaints on Being in the Field

I've been stuck out in the boondocks since Sunday night, and will be here until next Monday night. I intermittently entertain thoughts on how I would handle an intruder, should one happen upon my room. Since this place is only $58/night, the rooms all face out to the parking lot, and anyone can just drive in from the (immediately adjacent) freeway and waltz right up to your door. Last night I opted for leaving the window open while I showered because I figured the fork next to the sink by the bathroom door could gouge out an eye pretty easily. Usually I just think about channeling my freakish upper body strength to throw someone over the 2nd-story banister outside my room's door, but other scenarios include throat-kicking a dude with my steel-toed Frye boots or tearing out a trachea with my rock-hard talons.

Besides the obvious annoyance of living out of Shittown hotels (which is underscored by missing Scott terribly and the general isolation), the work is grueling and the food options are limited. Whenever I get home from the field I'm bloated, sunburned and my face is broken out.

My "healthy meal" options are usually limited to a microwavable Lean Cuisine or the odd bag o' salad (though fitting a bottle of low-fat ranch in the 1-cubic-foot fridge is a challenge), and if I'm hungry and out in the middle of nowhere, my penchant for Deli-Mart corndogs and jo-jos always wins. I'm not made of stone, y'know.

You'd think that I'd get enough exercise to burn off all the calories, but most of my day is spent driving terrifying dirt logging roads up in the mountains and I only end up walking about a mile or two a day. Today I had to hike through thick brush up a 20% slope (that's a gain of 1000 feet in elevation over only a mile of hike) in sleet and hail, and I slipped on a muddy slope and fell on an exposed root right on my hip bone so now I have a huge bruise up the side of my ass.

I always manage to put on enough sunscreen to clog my pores, but never enough to prevent sunburns.

Tonight I plan to get hammered and watch America's Next Top Model. I invented a drinking game for the show. It's called "Whenever a Bitch Cry, Drink". I can plow through a whole Maker's & Diet Coke in like, half an episode.