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Tuesday, Jan. 06, 2004 - 11:15 p.m.

ALREADY students are sending me emails. They want to know what the text is or some such bullshit -- bah. That, coupled with the requests by my Writing Center boss for every scheduled detail of my waking life this semester, means vacation is almost over. Tomorrow is my last day here. I am excited to see L and Ronnie, but that's about it. Maybe I would like to visit the New Brookland Tavern a few more times and see a certain local band or two, but otherwise I am DONE with South Carolina. I've known that for a while now, but this trip reinforced it oh-so-effectively. And that's good, because Columbia is the kind of place that sucks me in and makes me forget to think about leaving. I have to leave.

Today we (parents, Russell, grandmother) drove south from Tucson to the back road through BLM land on which my grandpa's ashes are scattered. About six weeks ago, right after the cremation and memorial service, my parents and aunt and uncle and cousin drove out there, the spot having been chosen the day before, and did some ash-scattering (which, no matter how I try, I cannot picture in any other way than as a repeat of the ash-scattering scene in The Big Lebowski.) So we drove out there today, all five of us crammed in the car. It was a warm, clear day, and I love the road to Patagonia so much. We pulled up right where they'd scattered the ashes, off a dirt road and through a barbed wire fence we had to open, right at the base of a little gully with a cowpond nearby. We all got out of the car and sort of stood around staring, smiling at the sun, maybe crying a little, my mom and grandma extra-quiet. And then my dad beckoned me and Russell over to where he was standing. He pointed at the ground, and there by his feet were three piles of small grayish-white stones. "Here are some of your grandpa's ashes," he said. This really threw me: even if someone had told me that cremated people don't really break down all the way but remain pebble-sized instead, I still would have expected the few rains, the desert wind, ants, and the errant cow to have quickly obliterated any trace of actual physical grandpa-ness. But there he was in piles on the ground, bright against the weedy dirt.

We ate afterwards and drove around Patagonia, and all day since I have had a fantasy about renting a tiny house in Patagonia and writing. I would have a dog, and I would drive to Nogales every few weeks for supplies, and I would peck away at my computer.

I think my insistence on getting away from South Carolina now is because I know it'll be hard to leave once I get there. L is so rooted there. I have such inertia when I am somewhere, though as soon as I leave I am ecstatic. I just can't breathe back there, and I can't see. The roads are lined with trees, hiking means looking at trees, and there's too much oxygen. People are nice to me but nobody comes by to eat homemade bread at my apartment. Nobody cries to me. And I can never watch the sun set on the mountains.

I'm worried by my vitriol towards South Carolina in these last few entries; I'm worried that if I don't get out now I'll grow to really hate it.

I want a Bettina World Tour '04 T-shirt so bad.

This has still not been a complete recap of the events of the past few weeks. Things will come up, and I will process thewm as they do. I made only one solid resolution: it involves riding my bike to school a certain number of days a week. Beyond that, since I have to wait until at least March until I can find out what will happen to me PhD-wise, I resolve to be patient and not worry as much.

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