Tacos are pretty cool. You can still get a bunch of them pretty cheap over at Taco Bell. Dude, the soft tacos are the best because you can bend and fold them if you're eating them while driving to the bar.

You know what's crazy? Adult Happy Meals. That kind of freaks me out. Sort of like when Reagan imposed that New Coke stuff on us and made us have really wacked out hairstyles. What a legacy. Remember how Reagan made us listen to Flock of Seagulls all the time? That was some crazy shit. When he passed that law forcing us to wear parachute pants and Members Only jackets, we knew he was nuts. Not to like make fun of a dead guy or anything. I mean, dude, a dead guy making fun of another dead guy? That's like pissing into the wind. I'll always remember Reagan for New Coke, though, that much is true. That shit was awful and he probably didn't taste it before he started pouring it down our throats.

Dude, you know what else is freaky? I had a lot of sex when Reagan was president, but pretty much with only one person, except for one night where I slept with her roommate. So, it was steady, regular sex that was going on. When Clinton was president I had a lot of sex with a wide variety of women. Go figure. Dude, it makes sense if you think about it. I think I'm like onto something here. I had very little sex when George I was president and I masturbated a lot when Carter was president. This Dubya character tricked me into a ridiculous marriage that seriously derailed my sex life. Dude, it all makes sense. Have a can of Busch beer with me and give it some thought. Or don't. It's cool with me either way, but I got this twelve pack for less than six bucks. That rocks.

Life is good. It is a wild, wacky trip if you ride the wave right. I've been through some crazy trips. I had this friend named Dan back in the late eighties. He had a "secret identity" as a superhero called Pillow Man. He would take a pillow and put it over his head. His head would be inside the pillow case with the pillow behind his head in case foes knocked him to the ground. Then he would wrap himself in bed sheets and leap about solving problems and righting wrongs. It was all cool until he dashed into a convenience store during a late night robbery and foiled it with Pillow Man antics. He was lucky the robbers had no intention of using their pistol. Or maybe it wasn't loaded. I don't know. That was just crazy shit.

Dude, I had forgotten all about Pillow Man until last night when something someone said on the radio reminded me. I'm still rocking out to this classic rock. I was in the supermarket looking for free samples today and I was smiling and dancing around and singing Creedence's "Born on the Bayou" kind of loud. Some old people looked at me funny. I wasn't going to let them crash my mellow, though. I was cool, so I just smiled at them and told them to have a nice day. Then I really started getting into the music they were playing on the supermarket loudspeakers. They were playing that "nothing is going to break my stride" song. Except that in some parts of the store I couldn't hear the music very well, so I kept heading into the aisles that had the speakers and getting into it big time.

They were having a taste taste of single malt Scotch whiskys at the liquor store, so I checked in for that. After, I was leaning against a pole outside the store enjoying a cigarette when this young dude with a frowny face told me, "Don't you know smoking kills?" I wasn't going to let that break my stride. "Dude, don't you know that getting all frowny faced about what other people like to do makes you unlikeable?" I mean, really, dude.

And then I was driving home and checking out the palm trees along the road. Palm trees, dude. I made it. This was where I was trying to get for nearly two years. I keep forgetting to look at the palm trees. And then Mick Jagger was singing on the radio, "You make a grown man cry, you make a dead man..."

So, I got home and I chowed down on some hot dogs right out of the package and then had some potato salad out of a plastic container. Get a pretty good deal on that shit when you buy a really big container. I'm thinking about frying me up some of these sausages later after I have a few beers. Maybe I'll give one of these chicks a call later and see what they're up to and if they have any free movie passes to get me into a film or two. They give out free movie passes like candy here in Orlando, so that's pretty cool.

Been working on this novel of mine here and there, but I'm pretty much done doing anything except when I'm in the mood for it. I found this baseball game on my computer I forgot about and it has all the major league players and teams, so I'm going to play as manager of the Boston Red Sox until they win the World Series. I'm seventeen games into the season and we're 13-4, and on a nine game winning streak after a rough 4-4 west coast road trip to start the season, but friendly Fenway has been good to us and we're heading to Detroit later this week. So, I've got that going for me as well. Fulfilling, free entertainment to keep me occupied until a blonde waitress stretches her legs across my lap again. Dude, this is like so going to happen soon.

Anyway, it is almost time to go watch Magnum, P.I. now, so I'll see you soon. Oh, hey, look. If anyone can hook me up with a comfortable chair for my desk, let me know and I'll be like eternally grateful. New or used is okay, just no stains from bodily fluids or anything. That would gross me out.

It is 10:15 am, 16 June 2004. I have applied for a job at an R.M. Williams store (renamed 'Williams the Shoeman') and am compiling my creative writing portfolio in preperation for handing it in. At 11:30 I will spend a second day trying out for a job at a sandwich shop, and at 6 I will meet some friends to drink and read Ulysses.

I've been following riverrun's advice in his A nice cool glass of Joyce node, anotating my copy of Ulysses with notes about the day. There's been a Boland Funeral Home and a toothless man on the bus raving random deathcries; both may prove profitable.

There are tirbutes on the radio and yesterday the Sydney Morning Herald ran an editorial noting that the entire novel is based on a wank and thus all who celebrate it are, by definition, wankers. I'm not sure how true that is.

While doing research for my paper, I found that Anthony Burgess adapted the book into a play. Being something of a Philistine I know him only from Clockwork Orange and a wonderful vision of this play has formed in my head. The image of Stephen Dedalus and Buck Mulligan walking around Dublin beating up old men while singing snatches of Irish showtunes is a plausible and entertaining one, made more potent by my tutor's obsession with Stanley Kubrick.

Episode 16: Circe 12:49am

Our hero, having met friends at the Clare Hotel for a Bloomsday reading that suffered from bad sound, has come home rather then face further dissapointment. He was chatted up by a young girl (18) who asked 'Are you a geek?' and seemed quite interested as he briefly summerized today's book... but left soon after without gving or getting a phone number. Later, after the readings, our hero spoke to the lovely Rose, who had dancing eys and told him (in what he suspects was a quote) to 'let your dreams defy gravity'. No numbers were exchanged or recieved (the friends our hero made that Sydney Writers' Festival thus remaining uncontactable, more ships in the night of the naked city.

To his credit, he successfully navigated his way to the bus stop and now, returning home, reflects on a day with no wanking, no handjobs, and no absinthe. The Guiness in his belly sits heavily as he realizes that, last week, he slipslapslopped together a paper on the very work he defends so eloquently and wonders why his mind, once again, betrayed him.

(I know i did the technique wrong-- mentally, i'm at Eumaeus, with thoughts skating every which way. I had Thai for dinner, but it was too small... i ate none of the food in the book unless coffee and Guiness count as food, though i am wearing secondhand pants and one of those Irish flatcaps)

"Losing you is going to be really hard, but you need to stop suffering." Jessica wrote. "And don't feel bad that you're going to be leaving us, OK? I love you so much, Daddy. I will miss you so much. You will always live on in spirit. Goodbye, Daddy.
Your daughter forever with love, Jessica."
And she drew five stick figures, with a caption, "We will always be a happy family."

He started to cry. "Oh Val, what am I going to do?"

But a half-minute later, it was as if, mercifully, he was somewhere well beyond the gravity of it all. He stopped crying and asked quizzically, "Val, where are we?"

TAKING LIFE'S FINAL EXIT
Valerie Reitman
Los Angeles Times
June 14, 2004

"...then why did you do that?" he asked, as if I could answer it in a sentence.

"It's complicated," I replied. I swiped at an imaginary fly in the air to distract myself from gravity.

Gravity.

He's a doctor. He sees it all the time.

"Nothing's ever complicated, Joe," he said to me. "It's just hard."

So I wonder Dad and Grandma, and Nana, and Johnny, and Grandpa, and the one I never met, and Barnes and Dave and Mike and Sue and Rick and Tim and Donna and all of you whose eyes I looked into and drank and ate and laughed and had time together alone and it was just us talking and will never be again, I want to know--but I don't.

What's it like?

Michelle graduated High School, Dad. Did you see it? I was thinking, standing there, with my camera so proud, watching her pass me without trying to see me too hard the way I did, what are these the cycles life takes? What good comes from it? Why do we want things and why are we so angry when they don't come?

I was her, then. I was me watching you, and you were me watching your father, and he his. How far does it go? What is this strange wheel, Dad? Do you know now? Have the answers come and you're taking a break?

Was it what it should have been? Is there a should have been?

I remember when you looked up at the ceiling in that bedroom and you were talking to people I couldn't see.

"It's right up there," you said, not one thing sad in you, like I could see it too and I would be happy I did.

The guilt that lives inside me is that I have spent so much time dwelling on the dying part of life that I have missed living at all. That I have never cast off the existentialism I embraced as a passionate young man with an incomplete history. That I allowed myself to become a victim. That I have not loved those around me with the full intensity of my being. That I have not been what I should have. That the answers I sought from the perpetual zero of space blinded me to the fact that everything was ridiculously simple. There was nothing at all complicated about this life.

Not one thing.

Why didn't you tell me?

Maybe you did.

I don't want to miss it.



One good thing about me is I play piano. I'm not super good, but I'm ok. If you wanted me to play you a song I could. Usually, I play them for myself, and my piano playing makes me happy. It's music I want to hear, a lot of the time.

If I put my mind to it, I can write a poem.

I can fix lots of different types of electronic things.

If things get rotten and you're feeling bad, it could be good to have me around.

I forget a lot of things, but I don't usually forget my friends.

One good thing about me, if you needed someone to tell a joke every now and then, I could do it.

I get very upset with myself, but I try to keep that to a minimum.

I still haven't figured out most of life, but I'm reasonably happy asking the questions.

I do think about trying to be the kind of person I would like to have around.

I think that's a good thing.

I had to write my girl a card for her graduation, and I was thinking that with everything I write, I should make it something good. Something she would remember.

So I had this red piece of paper in my briefcase for weeks, because I knew I had to write something good, but I couldn't. There was work and this trust I have to be the executor for. And people are generally mad at me because, it seems most of the time, they have to be mad at someone and I don't fight back as much as other people.

What was true to me, then, was that if I was going to write something important for her, that she would remember and maybe keep around in her heart so she'd say when she was thirty, "Dad, remember what you said to me?" that I'd have to think it was something coming from a guy who was ok being who he was.

I am so trying that.

Today has the dubious distinction of being the day I realized that merely being able to sleep wasn't going to solve my problems. I will backpedal enough to note carefully that it certainly did ameliorate some of them, such as the feelings of physical malaise, pain, and nausea that I had managed to convince myself (over the past couple of years) were merely 'normal signs of aging.' Given that I'm 35, that seems excessively stupid.

The operation done with, my sleeping is much improved - except for the fact that the drugs, the ones they tried before the operation and are now trying again because they wouldn't have worked before, are keeping me joltingly awake. So here I sit, night after night, properly obsessive on the computer late at night denying the clock - however, my sleep debt builds during the week. At least this is 'normal' - I have experience with this.

Doesn't solve anything, though. I now have more time of clarity of mind to recognize and scrutinize and theorize about the nature of my disruption. I read a blog today in which the blogger offered the following advice about law school: "If it isn't fun anymore, don't do it." The degree to which that described my last, painful separation from academia is staggering, made more so by the fact that it took me this long to describe the process: it wasn't fun anymore. So I stopped doing it.

That would all be well and good, of course, except that nothing took its place. As I tell all of them when I meet them, "I don't enjoy anything anymore. Nothing is fun, nothing makes me happy. Nothing makes me very sad, this is true; however, I lead a life of quiet desperation now, eking out small victories in managing to distract (not enjoy) myself for several minutes at a stretch. I can feel the small chips of my life fluttering past me, wrenched loose and thrown over my body by the drill bore of depressed time.

I'm stuck. I don't enjoy anything. I have a self-image just slightly less elevated than the Dead Sea, which now that I'm not Doing Anything With My Life manages to cover absolutely everything I do. I'm not smart. I'm not creative. I'm not capable. I'm not fun. Being confronted with evidence of the sort of thing others can and have done with their time and attention, my overriding reaction is to sit there silently with a half-smile on my face and pray that no-one notices the tears sliding down my cheeks before I have a good, excusable reason to wipe my face. I have no excuse for sitting here this way except that I'm not trying to offer one; this is just how and what I am, at this moment.

I can't write (much). Creative writing has been frozen for perhaps a couple years; paltry, last-updates-re-edited have been my only production despite hours spent watching the blink of a line cursor. I feel my life has been dominated by an acquisition of responsibilities (in the sense of things dependent on me) and failed deadlines. Mail unsorted, laundry undone, some small amount of cleaned clothing strewn around the foot of my bed, room unkept, pets occupying the only tiny scrap of 'responsibility' I can muster because the cruelty of allowing them to suffer from my inaction is just too painful to contemplate. That, however, is the lowest external factor which can motivate me, apparently; the smallest reason for doing anything that makes a dent in the vast plain of static and taupe that my existence is.

Please don't think I'm writing this because I want you to feel anything in particular, or even read it. This is a daylog. This is a place for thoughts of mine to be vomited, stored, pressed flat and to wait for me until I come back to them some time later to read and wonder. Hopefully from a different frame of mind.

There is one question which does fitfully bother me: the flatness came about with the antidepressants, perhaps seven years ago. I extolled their virtues at making me functional, while calmly noting some of their effects on my head; those effects have come to dominate. If I were to stop taking the pills, would I become, once again, animated and depressed? Able to frighten myself with deadlines into being that miraculously-productive procrastinator?

I am the blank generation. Choose. Choose who you are. Choose what you are. Choose what you do. Choose again, and change. Define yourself; find yourself, describe yourself. Be yourself. Find a path.

All of these presuppose volition. Without that, there isn't anything to do; I can't imagine doing those things, not because I would look peculiar to myself but because I cannot muster the energy or will to change from where and what I am right now, even in my mind's eye.

I'm getting to old to assume that things will right themselves. I'm getting too old to assume that I won't be alone forever. I'm getting too old to tell myself that I can always chuck it all and find myself, without any evidence of the propensity or ability to do so. I'm getting to old to stay alive, without the support of anything underneath; no props, no bars, no seats, no braces, no fun, no friends, no you. Friends marry, have children, finish things, move on, start new things, come back.

I find myself updating people I haven't talked to in ten years about my life: "Oh, me? Oh, you know."

Tragedy - they do. They do know. Nothing has changed. I have a few more stories, ammunition or fuel for that wonderful alterego who is so much more welcome than I in bars and parties. He can pull these experiences out thin, spinning sugar-fine strands of gossamer memory into a web of glitter and confection for those who listen. He doesn't even have to lie or embellish, although he can and does do that sometimes. The actual events will do, told with a particular point of view and tone of voice. Inside, however, there I am; flat, gray, unmoving. Still sitting on the bench and looking down, the paving stones unchanged beneath my feet.

I can read that now and look at the words written by someone who had (somewhere) a reserve of anger and will to throw against the reader; I have to believe, I wrote. I have to.

I don't, anymore, I don't think.

As single dads go, I always thought that I was doing a pretty good job. I attend most, if not all, of the kiddy requisites, keep a pretty decent house, do most of my own cooking, pay my share of child support, and generally, try and be a presence in my child’s life through both the good times and the bad. Maybe, sometimes, I’m a little too proud of myself when it comes wearing the badge of being a single parent. Maybe I’m patting myself on the back too much or maybe it’s just because my kid is growing up at lot faster pace than I anticipated. Maybe it’s just life giving me a much needed reality check.

I was tossing the ball around with the youngen’ last night along with some of the other kids that dot the neighborhood. Included in the group were a couple of boys who, despite being the same age as my kid, seem to thrive when it comes to things of an athletic nature. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s baseball, basketball, football or soccer, these boys play it with gusto. We we’re all having a pretty good time but then it started to drizzle and it was time for all of us to our separate ways. There was still dinner to be made, showers to be taken, laundry to fold, and quiet time to be had. We got inside and I was kinda taken off-guard when my kid asked me…

“Daddy, sometimes do you wish that I was a boy?”

What does one say to that? After all, growing up I was as athletic as they come. I had what I commonly refer to as the dog/fetch reaction. If there was a ball around when I was kid, most likely you would find me chasing it. I guess some of might have carried over to my adulthood since, although I don’t actually play that much anymore, I still retain a passion for sports. Before I could answer her “No” though, I must confess, I had a flickering thought. In what seemed like a nanosecond, I thought about what it would be like if my little girl was, indeed, a boy. About how different our lives might be and what interests we might share. Thankfully though, my brain kicked in…

I asked her why she would even ask that sort of thing and she said something along the lines that the boys were better at sports than she was. That they could throw farther, catch better, and run faster than she could and that I would probably enjoy playing with boys more.

I wound up telling her that no, of course I didn’t wish she was a boy. I told her that I loved her for who, not what she is and that it didn’t matter to me whether she was a boy or a girl, whether she was short or tall, skinny or fat. I didn’t care whether she ever threw a ball, scored a basket or hit a home run. She seemed to chew on that for a little bit but somehow still seemed troubled. Even though she had a busy day in store for her today, she wanted to stay up and watch the NBA Finals with me last night. I said okay but she wound up falling asleep on them anyway.

I got to thinking about why she would ask that question. Was there something in my behavior that indicated I wasn’t satisfied with what she was doing? Is it even normal for a kid to think like that? I got little ticked and my initial reaction was along the lines of, “Jesus Christ, no matter what I do, it isn’t good enough. Here I am trying my best, having no doubt that I was the greatest thing to ever come along when it came to single parenting and that how could she even think that I might want something different.”

The words “no doubt” stuck in my head….

The other day, I think it was Sunday, I was listening to Garrison Keillor’ s A Prairie Home Companion on NPR. He was going on about people and in a backhanded sort of way was making references to the present administration and how they seemed so sure of themselves and how it bordered on arrogance. He said that people in such high places shouldn’t think like that, that there’s was always another voice waiting and deserving to be heard. He then lowered his voice, the audience got real quiet and he said very slowly…

“People that have “no doubt” are monsters.”

I got to thinking about myself, about how self assured I was that I was doing a good job. I still think I am but it can always be better. Instead of patting myself on the back for all of the things I do, I should be reminding myself of all of the things I don’t. I want my kid to be happy who for who she is, not what I want her to be. I can do better.

I don’t want to be a monster, the world's got enough of those already...

(Note: many thanks to those members of E2parents who took the time to impart their wisdom, advice, experience and encouragement when I posed the question.)

You know, somehow the fact that you've graduated doesn't quite hit you until about a day later. I graduated high school yesterday, and all the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony was basically lost on me until about 5 minutes ago. The speeches ranged from the repetitive to the entertaining, the useless to the wonderful. A teacher at our school who's retiring after 30-some years here was chosen overwhelmingly by our class as our guest speaker, and his wit and intelligence provided a brilliant commencement speech that none of us will soon forget.

With nearly 700 members in our class, the walking across the stage to get our diploma covers (the diplomas were being handed out afterwards to avoid any mismatched names) became an interminable mass of people whooping and hollering at various people walking across the stage. I even got a bit of applause as I walked, but not nearly as much as some. It was a good gauge of the impression you'd left on your classmates. I think I did pretty well in that regard, seeing as I came into the school as an antisocial wallflower.

Afterwards, I came home with my grandfather, cousin, and family and we all had finger foods for dinner. One of the BEST cakes I've ever had (and I'm not much of a cake eater), which is called the "Ooey Gooey Butter Cake", was basically a mixture of butter, vanilla, and lots and lots of sugar. Quite the carbohydrate and cholesterol bomb, but heavenly.

Our school sponsors an All Night Graduation Party that's paid for by the funds that our class raises for the 4 years we're in high school. This year it was at Wakefield Rec Center. The ENTIRE Rec Center. The racquetball courts were being used for such games as Human Slot Machine (3 teachers standing on stools and pulling fruit out of a bag), a nifty little Name That Tune-esque game show, buzzers and all (I did poorly on that one), and a full-blown gambling center, replete with blackjack tables, a craps table and a roulette wheel. No, we didn't gamble with real money, we got funny money to use throughout the events at the party. We each got $50,000 to start with, and there was a store to purchase all sorts of little trinkets, wallets, lava lamps, electronics... it was amazing. After gambling most of the night I had $400,000 and change, and here's what I got with it:

  • A crystal tic tac toe set, with a mirrored top (got it because I thought it looked cool)
  • A cabinet-type thing from Ikea, to be used in my new room (when it's finished)
  • A spray bottle that none of us have figured out how to get working yet
  • A commuter cup for the college I'm headed to, Northern Virginia Community College
  • And a little CD cleaner just for walking into the store.

I really enjoyed what they had there, I didn't do nearly everything that they had out for us, but after spending most of the 7 hours on my feet, my knees essentially got instant arthritis and my ankles protested every step. I lay down on the sofa around 6 AM (which is when we got home) and didn't get up for the next 5 hours unless I absolutely had to. I'm currently running on one hour of sleep for the past 24 hours. This party was fun enough to leave me saying at the end, "Somehow I wish I was being held back, if only to come here again."

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