the Musings of the Gus home | musings index | feedback | other journals
August 1998 index
previous | next                 page bottom

August 26 1998, Wednesday


im and I ate at the Northside Grill in the morning, and I paid, but only on the condition that I not be a martyr about it. I don't normally like going out to breakfast, but we haven't gone for awhile, and originally the plan had been for Matt Rogers to join us. He bailed at the last minute, but by then I was psyched for a Northside Grill experience. Not much was happening there except for a goodbye breakfast for a cute bang-haircutted boy-girl couple, two of Kim's friends. She was heading off to San Francisco and he'd be wintering in this godforsaken arctic city. Kim knows seemingly everyone in this 100 thousand person town. An obscure dude to whom she never even said hello eating a lonesome breakfast by himself was, she said, "a farmer" and "we went out once."

The packing up of Kim's apartment proceeds, and this afternoon it was driving me crazy. I couldn't really help in any meaningful way, since I had no idea where things were supposed to go and how they were supposed to get there, so I just sat there feeling useless. I didn't feel comfortable playing on the computer either, not in the midst of her frantic vaguely pissed-off activity.

Eventually she halted her packing and sorting and we headed off in the white Volvo to her Aunt Bettie's place in the upscale gated community northwest of Detroit. We needed to do laundry and drop off some clothes for temporary storage.


he African American gate guard tried to be funny by saying we couldn't bring a dog as vicious as Sophie through the gate with us. Obviously he didn't think we were up to anything bad because he never looked through his paperwork to see if we really were on Bettie's guestlist.

Kim sorts her underwear on the back porch of Aunt Bettie's house.

Kim and Bettie both seemed to be in cranky moods as they negotiated where things should go and for how long. Eventually I got a load of laundry going, Kim packed up her clothes to be stored, and Bettie went off to run errands. I kicked back on the back porch, flipping through Bazaar and People Magazine. Kim even fixed me a raspberry vodkatea. I was impressed; usually people don't take my vodkatea drinking seriously. They usually act as if I really don't like vodkatea and only drink it out of desperation. Few people actually believe me when I say it's my drink of choice.

Tonight, the plan was to have a dinner of pasta and mussels with Matt Rogers and Raven the Polarity Therapist over at Raven's new house, "Macrobiotic House." The trouble at this point, though, was one of a lack of time. This errand out to Aunt Bettie's had come late and was taking longer than expected. Kim tried to convince me that we should just order Middle Eastern shish kabob from a local Farmington Hills eatery. But that just sounded like a copout to me. It's easy to throw money at a problem and make it go away, and sometimes, in some situations, that's the best thing to do. In this case, however, it seemed like one time too many. I was rather adamant that we go buy the pasta and mussels stuff and cook dinner as originally planned.

Bettie came home, and while Kim was gone, she and I got to talking about a related issue: the tendency of some people to do all their grocery shopping only at the expensive health food stores when food from Kroger is just as good and a lot less expensive. Bettie agreed with me that this doesn't make a lot of sense, especially when (as she claimed) Whole Foods doesn't always have the freshest food.

When Kim joined our conversation, I decided to take advantage of my intoxication and confront her about these issues, which are clearly not going away as we continue to ignore and finesse them. The conversation took a nasty road from there. She said she liked to eat quality food, that it was a weakness of hers. I responded that it was important for her to develop a sense of resourcefulness, that I hated to see money dwindle away in the name of negligibly higher food quality. Then things got nasty. Regarding money, she told me, "Well, I've never asked you to pay rent. I remember before you came thinking, 'I wonder if he's going to offer to help me pay rent?' and I decided it didn't matter, because I love you." That really hurt, mostly because I feel a little guilty about that issue. At the same time, Kim's Ann Arbor apartment has never felt like mine. It has always felt to me like I am a guest there. The decorations are all hers, the space is all hers. There is nowhere to retreat, and I feel like I have no say about things. In California it will be different; we'll be peers in the management of household space. But in Ann Arbor I'm a homeless guy sleeping in her bed.

Suddenly I felt this incredible urge to flee. If my Dodge Dart had been parked nearby I would have climbed into it and driven all the way back to Virginia. I was angry, the kind of anger that makes a man feel like he's drowning.

All the way back to Ann Arbor, we drove without speaking. We stopped at the Merchant of Vino, the expensive health food supermarket, and bought the makings for mussels and pasta. We also got a bottle of vino, the kind that comes with a cork.

Kim on the phone and Matt Rogers, just before we left for Macrobiotic House.


att Rogers was waiting for us when we got back to Kim's place. We went inside to smoke pot or something, though of course I smoked nothing. The argument between Kim and I erupted anew, and of course Matt (who has always supported my position when I bitched to him about this in private) sided mostly with Kim. What is it about girls -my girlfriend, mind you- that makes him into such a hypocrite? This kind of behaviour is precisely what can make the experience of socializing with Matt Rogers such an ordeal.

But gradually the tension lifted and the feeling that I wanted to flee, so adamant only an hour before, dwindled away to nothing. Kim drove us all over to Macrobiotic House in the old west side of Ann Arbor.

Macrobiotic House


t this point I need to pause and give a little of the relevant history of Macrobiotic House. Back in October of 1996, Kim was living with Mother and going, as one might expect, completely insane. At a vegetarian pot luck hosted at Macrobiotic House, she met one of the residents, a Japanese man named Shigetoshi. He told Kim that one of his housemates was moving out and that she could move into the vacant room. So began Kim's four month stay at Macrobiotic House. She became immersed in macrobiotic culture, a bizarre hybrid between a rigid dietary system and a Scientology-esque cult. Macrobiotics try to balance the yin and yang qualities in their diet to achieve wisdom, health, spirtual purity, and things of that sort. For example, eating too many Nightshades, rich with "yin energy," is a serious no-no.

Shigetoshi took a shine to Kim, saying "you have the spirit of my dead mother." He took her with him to London, England, when he went to Sotheby's to have ancient cellos appraised (at any one time Shigetoshi is engaged in several weird little business ventures of this sort). Kim was uncomfortable with the lopsided sexual tension between them, so she shaved her head. Shigetoshi was horrified, saying, "Why do you do that? You have too much yang!"

After Kim returned from London, she eventually hooked up with Paul, a co-worker at Café Zola and soon-to-be manager of Blimpie Burgers. Shigetoshi was crushed. One day he had a little meeting with Kim. "I can't sleep hearing two people sleeping in your room!" said Shigetoshi. And that was the end of Kim's stay at Macrobiotic House.


e arrived at Macrobiotic House and were greeted at the door by Raven the Polarity Therapist. Macrobiotic House is a tidy place with comfortable furniture and generous communal space, the kind of house most people would proudly take their mother. A youthful lanky red dog bounded across the wooden floors single-mindedly hoping to catch flies.

If you've been reading my musings for awhile, you'll recall my first meeting of Raven at her old house, a well-furnished outbuilding on a farm west of Ann Arbor. Now she lives at Macrobiotic House with others in the local Ann Arbor macrobiotic scene. Kim and I had been enteraining hopes of perhaps fixing Matt up with Raven. They have their differences, true. Raven is spiritual and into things New Age, whereas Matt is into such "concepts" as conferencing systems, collages in QuickTime VR™ (always said while standing on one foot and gesticulating wildly) and the perils of Y2K. But everyone needs lovin', at least on an occasional basis, and it seems neither have been gettin' any.

But as we sat around drinking vino and discussing various issues and, of course, concepts, Matt unreservedly tossed around his usual now-meaningless buzzwords: empirical, hierarchical, structure, linear, conceptual, simulation, faketopian, non-linear, you name it. None of it made any sense to Raven at all, and he certainly wasn't stopping to define his terms or let her in on the concepts. And even if she wanted to be intrigued by the lyrical qualities, she couldn't be; Matt was being bombastic and pretentious as ever. I thought at first that he was acting foolishly, but it gradually became clear that he had no interest in Raven at all and that he was just toying with her like a cat does with a bewildered little mouse. Perhaps if she had larger breasts and a bigger sense of humour, but alas...

There were other Macrobiotic House people running around: a hippie girl with a hippie dress, red cheeks and hairy armpits, her female friend with a completely shaved head, and later Shigetoshi himself and a girl who works all summer so she and her boyfriend can have tropical travel adventures all winter long.

The kitchen was kind of small, so I kept out of it and let my friends prepare all the food. I went out on the front porch for awhile to pet Raven's wonderful half-tailed black and white cat (the other half Raven ran over with her car).

On the swing on the back porch, Kim and I reached an understanding about the resourcefulness issues. We agreed to compromise our idealism to some extent and reach a mutual accomodation. This was certainly a more rational approach than insulting each other, bringing up unrelated issues, or imagining ourselves fleeing.

As expected, dinner was good. Typical of me in such situations, I ate more than I should have.


he evening was not done once we left Macrobiotic House. Next on the agenda was a family barbecue being held by a group of University of Michigan medical students over at Mary's house. Mary is the little married girl who hung out with Kim, Raven and me at Café Zola the other day (one of many whom Kim met in a massage class).

I think Kim was kind of drunk when we got there, because she walked right by the intended house a couple blocks before figuring out she had overshot her mark.

The barbecue was coming to an end when we got there. Lots of little kids were present, but their mommies and daddies were helping them into their little shoesies. Plenty of good beer was available: Third Coast and Oberon (local talent) and Anchor Steam (to quench the thirst of the inner-hippie). We sat with Mary in a weird little restaurant-style booth shooting the shit. I don't really remember the conversation except that Matt Rogers continued relentlessly with his bombast, never really shutting up long enough to let anyone else say anything. But he was being more pleasant than he had been with Raven, perhaps because he found the female company more agreeable. Still, it was a sickening, affected pleasantness. I'd say at this point, "Why can't Matt Rogers just be Matt Rogers?" but then I realize this is Matt Rogers.

Then we watched South Park. This is about the third time I've ever seen that show and I still don't like it. Its humour is almost entirely of the slapstick variety and though it might be a little subversive (the kids say "hell" in front of their teachers!), who cares? I think it's possible to be a lot more subversive within the constraints of broadcast television if its done with some subtlety. Perhaps I'm missing something.


ack at Kim's place, Matt, Kim and I sat around smoking pot and listening to the radio (something that isn't often done by people smoking pot). This was really kind of amazing, since usually Matt Rogers becomes a music nazi whenever there appears to be a lack of vision in the selection of tunes (and even when there is a definite presence of vision).

Speaking of the radio, some days back Kim and I were sitting around talking about various bands from our youth. We'd mention the name of a band and then try to sing a sample song. This was easy until Bryan Adams came up. We couldn't think of anything he ever did. Earlier today, though, a Bryan Adams song came on the radio:

I got my first real six string
Aw yeah, at the five and dime
Played it 'till my fingers bled
...and so forth...

And here yet another musings entry comes to a flaming conclusion.

one year ago
back to the top
previous | next