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September 29, 2005 - 9:20 p.m.

This is why I don't do diaries. The embarrassingly long periods between entries. And then I get self-concious about it and start worrying about it. And then I change my name and move to a different city and try to forget the shame.

So here I am in sunny Peoria, starting from scratch.

This past weekend I attended my first music festival, and boy is my butt sore. I never thought I'd say that again...but this time it's under happier and less confining circumstances.

I drove to Austin Friday night, defying the warnings of family and friends of being drowned, thrashed, and torn to shreds by someone named Rita. This of course, only heightened my excitement. Which was quickly dashed by the ho-hum traffic and clear weather all the way down I-35.

But the weather would definitely be a player. It was freakin' 108 degrees in Austin on Sunday! I sat out in a huge field for 10 hours with thousand of other people in the hottest day in the history of an Austin autumn.

Among the bands I saw were Coldplay (shrug), Oasis (they were good, but had the stage presence of a high school piano teacher), Doves (poor blokes from England didn't bring anything but long sleeve black shirts to wear. I could see the sweat spewing from every pore whenever one of them moved), Widespread Panic (luckily, these old guys got to play at night, lest we have an onstage heart attack.)

The singer for The Walkmen screamed from the first note until the last, exploding ear drums all over the place, yet kept pointing at his microphone, looking at the board op and pointing up. I was wondering if he intended on trying to kill one of us with sound. Luckily, all the wax in my ears acted as a barrier and I was spared the worst of it.

I had staked claim to a space sort of near the stage for the Bloc Party show and was reading my program when three guys and a girl tossed a blanket down just to my right and sat down, joking and laughing and making funny noises. Then I saw them light a spliff and start passing it around. The sweet smoke wafted over toward me, so I turned away in envy (and because I had a long way to go, and pot makes me sleepy.) A few minutes later, I looked up and was a little startled to see them transform into patients of a psych ward. The girl was curled on her side in a fetal position, with her eyes closed. Her head was in the lap of a guy held his cell phone up to his ear, even though it hadn't run and I hadn't seen him dial it. He probably wanted to make sure he didn't look like the other two guys, who were both staring intently at something about two feet in front of their faces. It wasn't anything on the ground or in the air. It was something I couldn't see. They both had bugged out eyes, sweating and red in the face.

Now I've done my share of drugs, so I knew a wicked buzz when I see one, but this was a doozy. The odds are about 25% that someone is not going to like what's happening, so I was trying to size up the person most likely to start crying and wailing and generally making the rest of us uncomfortable. And since all four of them didn't seem to be of this world, and since I was the closest, it might just be me that was going to have to talk them down.

They sat and stared for several more minutes, while I checked out where I was going to run when the freakin' out started happening. But, a miracle! One of the guys started giggling, and then the others joined in. It became a laughfest and I knew everything was going to be all right. And when I had a chance, I decided I really wanted to see Jet instead of Bloc Party and quietly slithered through the back of the crowd.

More as it occurs to me...



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