Days 4 and 5
If you’re wondering what hiking is like, it’s kind of like walking only instead of walking at a nice leisurely pace, you do it outside and strenuously and usually uphill. Laurel and I hiked up Mt. Harvey yesterday and I don’t like to throw words like this around willy-nilly but honestly Diary I think it was a real bonding experience. We talked almost the whole way and Laurel told me that she had just gone through a really hard breakup after dating a girl for three years, and the breakup really affected her emotionally and she was trying to be friends with the girl but it’s hard because sometimes even if you love someone to pieces it just doesn’t work out, and then it hurts you to look at them. That’s the position Laurel is in now but there are two chunks of good news, one chunk is that she is here in Auschwitz for the next few weeks so she won’t look at her ex-girlfriend or think about her as much, the other chunk is that she really likes a new girl who sounds really swell. All of this is TOP SECRET, Diary, so don’t go blabbing to all your little journal friends, I bet all you books are pretty gabby and gossipy since you’re so filled up with words, but you will just have to control yourself so you don’t jeopardize my friendship with Laurel.
Laurel asked me about my love life too but there isn’t much to tell so anyway moving on, the other thing that happened on the hike is that we ran into the birthday girl Heather and she was gathering up loads of crap to use for her art. Here is a list of the crap she had when we ran into her, if you remember from the other day Diary this is a postmodern move and I’ll be honest it’s not the last one you’ll see, I am a very bold and experimental writer, someone once called me a vaunt guard but I haven’t looked that up yet so I can’t say whether or not that guy is a liar. Anyway here’s the list: a crystally-looking rock, a bent walking stick, a dirty baseball cap, a squirrel skull, and a log that looked like a turd, or maybe a turd that looked like a log.
When I asked her hey what are you gonna do with all this crap, Heather smiled and said, “Crap is just art that hasn’t been shaped yet.” I said whatever floats your boat, it’s just nice to see someone actually working up here instead of yammering on all the time. Heather smiled again and asked how my art was going and I said real well, I feel like a huge idea truck stops outside my studio every day to deliver a whole truckload of ideas, and I sign for them and take them and tell the delivery guy to have a good one and then I put the ideas into my work. Heather and Laurel laughed but not the way London and Abraham do and Heather said I have a real way with words, and I said no kidding lady, I am in the word business and business is booming, why do you think I get invited back to Auschwitz every year? Anyway the point of the story is I’m starting to think Heather might be alright even though she is probably on like ten different drugs and a hundred different herbal remedies and things. Actually there is no probably about it, Heather likes to smoke dope and pop Echinacea, she talks about it kind of a lot but whenever I don’t want to do something like a drug I just tell people I’m allergic to it and they leave me alone about it, pretty smart huh? I’m what you call an unreliable narrator, Diary, you can’t trust a word I say.
Speaking of allergies I might as well be allergic to all the meals here because it seems like they’re all some totally pitiful combination of spinach, tofu, and something called couscous which is basically bootleg rice. I know artist camp doesn’t charge its artists but are you telling me they can’t even afford rice!!?!?!?! Besides the usual stuff like Lucky Charms, milk, OJ, Clif bars, pizza, and non-chocolatey sweets, I wrote MEAT really huge on the grocery list today and added like ten stars and fifty exclamation points next to it so hopefully they will get the picture. But I have already gotten in a fight with one vegan over this sort of thing, the fight went like this—
ME: We need to eat more meat.
LENNON: You wouldn’t be saying that if you knew how it was made.
ME: I know how they make it, they cut the cow’s throat and then mash it into a big machine and then a hamburger pops out. Also watch the verbs of being and passive voice, that’s pretty basic stuff Lennon.
LENNON: (rolls eyes) They TORTURE the animals beforehand, Evan, and pump them full of chemicals. In fifty years people are going to think about eating meat the way they think about slavery and the Holocaust.
ME: That’s some pretty terrible stuff but animals aren’t people, and if they don’t want to be eaten why are they so slow and succulent?
LENNON: Have you ever seen Forks Over Knives? Meat gives you cancer.
ME: So does drinking wine and smoking cigarettes but you do that stuff pretty much twenty-four-seven. You’re drinking wine right now, that’s like your third glass and dinner’s not even ready yet—
LENNON: The French drink and smoke all the time and they live longer than Americans, OK?
ME: OK well maybe French wine and cigarettes aren’t so bad for you but this is the U S of A where everything is super-sized and deadly so you might wanna cut back or something so you don’t get cancer and die a slow horrible death.
LENNON: Thanks, “Dad.”
ME: I’m not your dad but I feel like someone should tell him that you are disgracing John Lennon’s name because John Lennon was a total pacifist and he never forced his beliefs on anybody, but you try and force your beliefs on me all the time.
ME: Also John Lennon was really talented.
So that is kind of how it goes here, but the thing I haven’t told anybody is that besides being allergic to penicillin and peanuts and chocolate and stuff, I’m also anemic which means that I don’t have enough iron in my blood which means that I need to eat meat. I am a true animal lover especially dogs but I couldn’t give up meat even if I wanted to, besides losing all my muscle mass that I have been honing and sculpting since college I would be tired and useless all the time which is the LAST thing I need here at artist camp. So I am thinking of talking to Chef Deborah about the meals next week because I don’t want to get too weak to work, and I am running out of iron pills.
Even scarier than that though Diary is what happened last night. What happened last night is I was in Laurel’s studio talking to her about her drawings and love life and stuff, and she was drinking Fernet Branca and playing this cool band called Dark Dark Dark that we like. But here’s when the macaroni hit the fan: Laurel said, “What’s that on your arm?” I didn’t know so I looked down and on my left forearm was a TICK that had buried its head inside my skin!!!!!! I jumped off Laurel’s couch and ran around the house in a panic, yelling and flailing around and looking for matches or lighters, and waking up Abraham who sighed real hard and pinched the bridge of his nose and then went back to bed. But Laurel said that the fire thing is an old whites’ tale, the best thing to do is just grab that sucker and yank it out as cleanly as you can. So she used a tissue for grip and yanked that sucker out and put it in a Ziploc bag because you want to save the tick in case you get sick, that way the doctor knows what kind of tick bit you and can proceed accordingly. I’m not too worried but I guess next time I go hiking I will pull my socks over my jeans like a square and wear a long sleeve shirt instead of showing off the guns, it’s not like there are any hot tamales around to see them anyway, Laurel is a lesbian and such a good friend that she is practically my second sister at this point. Actually they are so similar I should probably ask Amy if she knows Laurel, that would be such a hoot.
Well Diary the first week is almost in the books and even though there are ticks and poets and Lennon and Abraham here, so far this is the best stay at artist camp I ever had. I think having a friend like Laurel makes all the difference but don’t sell yourself short Diary, I should have been keeping you all these years because besides being good writer practice, it feels very therapeutic to talk to you and I pretty much always feel better afterwards. If you don’t mind I’d like to keep you even after artist camp ends, let me know how you feel about that, I totally understand if I am coming on too strong right now because sometimes girls tell me I am coming on too strong so I take it down a notch but usually by then it’s too late and I have scared them off. Anyway.
Thanks for listening, goodnight Diary.
Evan Allgood's work has appeared in McSweeney's, The Millions, LA Review of Books, The Toast, and The Billfold. He lives in Brooklyn and contributes regularly to Paste. Follow and maybe later unfollow him on Twitter @evoooooooooooo.