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2007-05-29 - 8:57 p.m.

Went out to the mountains this weekend, to see my parents. The girlfriend went with me. On the way back, to pass the time, she read me descriptions of scenic drives in the northeastern United States. New Hampshire sounded especially cool, and I thought of all those John Irving books set there. (Typing "United States" reminds me of something. So I like reading encyclopedias, and Wikipedia and all that, and have always loved nuts and bolts. I saw a short video on the Washington Post website today about an English singer-songwriter girl who did a cover of a Jeff Buckley song. He died ten years ago. Anyway, she was talking about how frightening it was to cover an iconic American guy like Jeff Buckley because Americans have such a strong sense of American music and what's good and what's not. She was very smart and had insightful things to say about the differences between American and British rock music. She said that lots of British musicians are scared of coming here and playing because "they're afraid that the audiences won't think they're good," or something to that effect. And that the audiences here listen to and have access to so many different kinds of music that someone doing something that's not straight British-type rock (Coldplay or Blur, I guess) were to try something American-style, they might get booed. And then she said, "I mean, America is huge. It's vast." So, I looked it up, and the facts are these: U.K. population = 60 million. U.S. population = 301 million. That is quite a difference. And there was a half-hour of my day, doing that research. You're welcome.)

But we had a great time with my parents. On the way, we picked up sandwiches and we ate them on the back deck. I got the impression my parents were glad to get out on the deck and be outside. I have a feeling they do a lot of TV watching and sitting with the puppy. My mom and the girl and I went for a walk on the golf course that's a little ways out in the woods behind their house. It was still an hour and a half from dark, but we saw only two golf carts the whole time. I forgot how pretty golf courses can be, all that perfect green out there in the woods, dudes on mowers going over and over those runways of grass, keeping it all dreamlike and nap-worthy. My younger brother called from Dallas. He was there for a little trip with his family. Since he was a kid, he'd always been fascinated by the JFK assassination. The only books he read on his own were about that. So, earlier in the day, he'd been to Dealy Plaza and was pretty juiced up about it. I could hear the emotion and adrenaline in his voice. He was very moved, and that's a rare thing. I felt like I really caught a moment with him, 1,500 miles away. Like we shared a little thing. He said he thought about me a bunch that day and isn't that a nice thing to tell somebody?

Yesterday, I woke up to my dad sitting on the deck, reading the paper. My mom came back from the store and I cooked us a breakfast of eggs with green onions and bacon and toast with apricot marmalade. We went and got some mulch and did some yard work and then we cooked a big dinner on the grill. We drank some beers and talked about my dad's hunting and the highway the state's going to build through the places he goes. And there were deer and squirrels and woodpeckers and, when it got dark, bats. We lit candles and it was hard to leave.

Back to my job today. Hard to get started on things I care less about. That for which I feel less. That which stings not at all, but which sits and throbs when I'm lucky, which sometimes sits so quietly I forget it's got a heartbeat. I think I'm going to have to write a novel set in an office. At least partly. Write what you know, right? Pale fire, soft hum, fluorescent pulse.

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