Journal Entries from March and April 2011.

MARCH
Tuesday, March 1st–Worked on the book.

Wednesday, March 2nd–Worked on the book.

Thursday, March 3rd–Worked on the book.

Friday, March 4th–Worked on the book.

Saturday, March 5th–Worked on the book.

Sunday, March 6th–Worked on the book.

Monday, March 7th–I went to the Cinematheque and saw John Huston’s “The Misfits,” which I enjoyed until they started being cruel to horses. Then I went home and worked on the book.

Tuesday, March 8th–Worked on the book.

Wednesday, March 9th–Worked on the book.

Thursday, March 10th–I went down to campus, thoroughly explored the Modern and Contemporary sections of the Blanton (after giving a quick run-through of the special exhibition, “Recovering Beauty: The 1990s In Buenos Aires,”), then went to the Harry Ransom Center for a quick look at the exhibitions “Becoming Tennessee Williams” and “Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century” (I’m going to have to go back and look at all those exhibitions again when I have more time), then went by the Architecture Library, and went home and worked on the book.

Friday, March 11th–Worked on the book.

Saturday, March 12th–Worked on the book.

Sunday, March 13th–Worked on the book.

Monday, March 14th–Worked on the book.

Tuesday, March 15th–Worked on the book.

Wednesday, March 16th–Worked on the book.

Thursday, March 17th–Worked on the book.

Friday, March 18th–I finished the book tonight–well, technically at 6:14am on Saturday. The final word count for the first draft is 215,678, which would translate into 863 printed pages. I celebrated by drinking some wine and watching “Bukowski: Born Into This” yet again. I always watch that when I need to be reminded to keep at it.

Saturday, March 19th–I had wanted to go see a free Bright Eyes concert tonight, but I didn’t get up early enough or feel like fucking with the long trip south or dealing with the crowds and the outdoors. Plus, I’ve been exhausted ever since I finished the book.

Sunday, March 20th–I keep napping and sleeping a lot. I can’t seem to get enough sleep to suit me now that the book is finished. I’ve been editing the book and it just keeps getting longer.

Monday, March 21st–

Tuesday, March 22nd–

Wednesday, March 23rd–Elizabeth Taylor died today. I commemorated this event by watching “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Thursday, March 24th–I went to campus–first to the new Visual Arts Center, only to find it was closed for an installation, then explored the new Student Activities Center. Then I went back to the Blanton to focus my attention on the older European art works, though I did spend a few minutes contemplating some Abstract Expressionist works.

Friday, March 25th–

Saturday, March 26th–

Sunday, March 27th–I went to a company Meet-up Group at Austin Java on Lamar.

Monday, March 28th–I went to campus, made some copies at the Architecture Library, ate at the Union, and went to the Cinematheque screening of Chris Marker’s “Sans Soleil.”

Tuesday, March 29th–

Wednesday, March 30th–

Thursday, March 31st–I got up earlier than usual and went to the Arbor to see “The Last Lions,” then had lunch at Tino’s Greek Cafe, got Belle some treats at Petco, bought a magazine at Barnes and Noble, went back to the Arbor to see “Another Year,” went by the grocery store, and finally came home.

APRIL
Friday, April 1st–

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Saturday, April 2nd–I got up much earlier than usual, took care of Belle, and headed downtown. I went by the Downtown Public Library and got my income tax forms and checked out four books. Then I went down to the southern entrance of the State Capitol on 11th Street, to join my old college classmate Andy E___, his wife, and others in a protest to increase public awareness of the Governor and Legislature’s intention to cut off funding for the Texas Historical Commission and Texas Commission for the Arts.

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I was out there about two hours. I’m not used to being outdoors or on my feet that long, so I was hobbling when I left. I had a slice of pizza and a drink at Cozolli’s, then went to the Artspace gallery and got some interesting pictures. Indeed, I found the shadows cast by the gallery’s installation to be more interesting than the installation itself.

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After that, I went to the corner to wait for a bus. An old black man asked me for my last dollar so he could get some food. I gave it to him, then he suggested I take his picture.  Eventually, I figured out that the buses no longer stop at that corner, so I moved up another block and took more pictures.

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I got home, walked and fed Belle, but she started throwing up everything she ate. After she calmed down I began reading “Ask the Dust.”  

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Sunday, April 3rd–I slept heavily, exhausted from the heat and physical effort on Saturday. I got up, walked Belle, ate, then went back and slept some more. I worked on my book, as well as the notes I made over my years of therapy.

Monday, April 4th–I got up, took care of Belle, ate, went to Randall’s and converted some pennies into cash, then went to the bus stop. I was just approaching it when the bus pulled up. The open door was parallel to me, the driver was looking right at me, I was running/hobbling thirty feet away, calling out, and the cocksucker slammed the door shut when I got to within ten feet! I yelled again, then he opened the door. The cocksucker also shot past someone at another stop, then slowed down and stopped about fifty feet away. The person got on board, but then the driver pulled away again just as another person got to the door.

I went to campus, took some pictures, made some copies at the Architecture Library, then went to the Union, ate, then watched “Irma Vep” at the Cinematheque.

My physical pain was aggravated by the running. As is usually the case lately, I came home angry, wishing I’d never left the house.

I did a bit of writing tonight and was depressed quite a bit.

Tuesday, April 5th–More physical pain, severe depression and hopelessness. I worked on editing the book some more.

Wednesday, April 6th–I slept, finished “Ask the Dust,” and wallowed in depression. I think I may’ve started Knut Hamsun’s “Hunger” and worked on my own book as well. I watched “Chris & Don” again before bed.

Thursday, April 7th–I got up late. More sleep, depression, and reading.

Friday, April 8th–I slept, read more in “Hunger,” took a nap, and wallowed in depression. I feel like a zombie. I’m just sleep-walking, benumbed with depression and hopelessness.

Saturday, April 9th–I watched “Art School Confidential” and Parts 1 through 30 of “The Bukowski Tapes,” then read some in “Hunger.”

Sunday, April 10th–I spoke to my mother on the phone about my tax forms, then watched Parts 31 through 52 of “The Bukowski Tapes.”

Monday, April 11th–I’ve lost track of how many days over the last seven years that I’ve lived in this apartment have started with me shouting obscenities about the goddamn grounds crew of this apartment complex.

Apparently the apartment office has given them a standing order to make as much noise as they possibly can, while accomplishing the least good. It seems every other day those fucking workmen are out there, either mowing the goddamn grass down so short we’re practically living in a fucking dust bowl, or they’re running those fucking edgers or leaf blowers. If they’re not doing that, there’s always some noisy construction project going on. And invariably, if the grounds crew or maintenance crew does something, there’s little or no advance notice for the residents.

During the winter of 2009-2010 and into the spring, they were engaged in all sorts of annoying projects. I’d never had a problem with the old roof before, until they decided to replace it with a new one. They did a half-assed job, and didn’t finish before a big rainstorm arrived. As a result, I wound up with a huge stain, measuring four feet by three feet, on my living room ceiling. Then I got interrupted several more times by contractors and other assholes coming to look at my stain, and finally a crew of workmen who cut out and replaced part of my ceiling.

And during the re-roofing, the construction crew made a big goddamn mess out front–as construction crews always do–and naturally they didn’t clean it up. So what little grass we had left from the over-mowing was destroyed by trampling and by having construction materials dragged over it or left behind.

Well, Sunday night–technically Monday morning–I didn’t get much sleep, even after taking Valerian root. My tiny, uncomfortable bed got overheated. And I woke up two fucking hours before my alarm rang. So I was already in a bad mood.

And outside I heard the sound of something tapping on metal. I went out onto my balcony and saw a bunch of workmen driving three-inch tall metal dividers into the ground and securing them with stakes. Perfect–just the thing to fucking trip over in the middle of the night.

But at least I found out what that pile of white rocks that’s been in one of the parking lots for a week is for–the workmen were hauling these rocks and spreading them inside the grassless spaces marked off by the dividers. but god-for-fucking-bid they use small, normal-sized landscaping stones. Yes, some of the stones are of a decent size, but many are rather large–about half the size of a bowling ball–and they get in the way when you try to walk over the stone-encrusted space. So when I take Belle for a walk I make a point of kicking the large rocks out of the way so I don’t trip over them and break my goddamn neck.

Anyway, I went into town this evening.  The bus I took was one of those that seems to hit every red light along the way. There are definitely some drivers who get you into town on time, and others who seem to take all goddamn day about it.

I went first to the Downtown Public Library, where I got some more tax forms and checked out some books. 

Then I hobbled over to a bus stop and went over to campus and hung out in a study lounge in the Union for about an hour. My bottle of Dr. Pepper spewed sticky foam all over everywhere not once but twice! I used half a pack of baby wipes cleaning up.

I watched the Cinematheque’s screening of Woody Allen’s “Zelig,” then got a bus very quickly. The driver had the AC cranked up and I froze my ass off. I finally got paid for some page-view royalties I’d been waiting for since the beginning of the month. I went to bed fairly early, because I’d still not recovered from getting too little sleep the night before.

Tuesday, April 12th–I woke much too early, bought dog food for Belle, had a cheap lunch at Schlotzsky’s, then did some grocery shopping at the dollar store. I tried to work on my taxes, but couldn’t make heads or tails of them, so I e-mailed my mom to see if she’d send me the money to get the tax software I’d wanted to use all along.

Wednesday, April 13th–It was an exhausting day. I woke two hours before my alarm. I had a Meet-Up meeting for professional writers at 6pm, so I had to leave the house at 2:30pm, went over to Office Depot to get my tax software, waited a long time for the bus, rode into town to 38th Street, and waited awhile there too. I took a second bus that I rarely use, so I wasn’t sure how often it came by–apparently it’s once an hour.

The bus turned into my old neighborhood, just as a fire truck pulled out of it, which made me think of my 2004 apartment fire. Going through that neighborhood always makes me sad, as it reminds me so much of my dearly beloved Fred.

We headed over to East Austin. I saw the former site of Concordia University for the first time since its demolition. They replaced those lovely buildings with a fucking eyesore that I consider the architectural equivalent of Goatse.

I went by the Fiesta Mart where I used to shop from 1992 to 1994. It’s gone downhill since then. I got some groceries, then explored my favorite section–the international goods. I got some chocolate milk, some casavia chips, and a chocolate-covered wafer cookie and ate them outside. The cookie and chips were stale. Then I went over to the Cherrywood Coffee House for the meeting.

The group insisted on meeting outside. I hate doing anything outside. So at least I managed to get a seat somewhere the goddamn sun wasn’t in my eyes.

There was a good-sized turn-out, including several people who used to write for the company I’ve worked for sporadically the last few years. They had nothing good to say about the company and were glad to be away from it. They seemed to regard me as either being a fool for still being connected to the company, or some sort of scheming con-man who was out to screw them over by means of said company. Either way, I didn’t feel especially welcome.

I tried to be the old larger-than-life B___, telling stories, entertaining, and doing that odd trick I do, where I seem to blow my body up to twice its size, like a giant bullfrog, in order to dominate a gathering. But overall I felt a huge sense of failure. Everybody there was an excellent salesman and hustler, and seemed to have many irons in the fire all at once. They all seemed better at promoting themselves and their work.

They were all, like me, down on the idea of self-publishing books, but they didn’t offer any encouragement about getting published legitimately. They said it’s hard to get an agent, but even if you do, it’s a drop in the bucket and no guarantee of getting published. And then, even if your agent finds an editor at a publishing house that likes your work, there’s no guarantee it’ll get published then, especially with the publishing business being in the shitter right now.

One of the other attendees decided to get into a cock-measuring contest with me, so to speak. He seemed to be the young go-getter, who knew how to network and could write about anything. He took upon himself the role of group moderator (there were two tables of people–the main group leader dominated at one table, while this guy dominated the other), and he went around and asked everyone about their specialty. The vibe was that he was the model towards which the rest of us should conform.

He spoke about how he approached businesses to see if they needed writing and editing work done. That made me very uncomfortable, because I couldn’t see myself doing anything that extroverted. I finally said, a little crossly, “So, did you take a bunch of business courses in college or what?” No, but he had read some business books of which he was clearly enamored.

There is a writer and cast member from a popular cult TV show who belongs to the group. I wanted to meet her, but she didn’t show up. I would up sitting next to a man who wasn’t a writer, but rather an enthusiastic networker, who spends most of his days and nights going to Meet-Up groups. He wore a hearing aid, and the two of us were both straining to hear the people across the table as they muttered and mumbled like fucking golf tournament announcers.

The meeting lasted two hours. I had to wait over 45 minutes for the bus. I noticed that the neighborhood, apart from the Delwood Shopping Center where Fiesta is located, is now Hipster Central. I didn’t get home until 10pm.

Thursday, April 14th–So today I worked on my taxes. But I couldn’t find where the software had put a finished, final version of my return, because I was going to write the info on my paper tax forms. As it was, I only had incomplete figures, and when I put them on the forms there were a lot of blanks left empty. Nothing made any sense. I wound up doing my taxes four more times. My royalty income kept being counted twice. The amount I owed on my first go-round was a lot less than it was the last four times.

I’ve not had a working printer since Spring 2007, so I decided I’d e-mail my tax file to the UPS Store across the street and have them print it up. But every time I sent it the software automatically added the suffix “h10” onto the ending of the file name, and this prevented the UPS clerk from being able to open the file.

I called H&R Block Tech Support and they’d never had this problem before and were unable to answer my question. Finally I got ahold of James. He’d done his taxes on the same software and had the same problem. He quickly fixed things, and sent me an uncorrupted file. But by then the UPS Store was closed for the day.

Friday, April 15th–I set an alarm and got up around 3pm. I learned that the guy at the UPS Store had finally been able to open my file, so I went over there, printed out my tax return, checked it over, signed it, mailed it, made some photocopies, saw the mailman arrive and pick up the mail, which included my return, ate at Schlotzsky’s, went to the dollar store for some supplies, stopped by Petsmart to buy Belle some treats, but my card was declined because I didn’t have enough money to cover it. I finished Knut Hamsun’s “Hunger” and began his book “Dreamers.”

Saturday, April 16th–I slept. I got up and walked Belle and had a bag of popcorn. I was depressed and stressed out as usual. The temperature outside was so pleasant I considered going out and sitting on my balcony–something I never do. I left the windows open–unheard of for me–and decided to read on my bed instead. Belle climbed up and snuggled. I pulled up a blanket, and before long I was asleep again, and slept four hours or so. I farted around and read some more.

Sunday, April 17th–I finished reading Hamsun’s “Dreamers.”

Monday, April 18th–Today was truly awful. I kept waking up during the morning with nausea and a powerful need to shit. When I finally did get up diarrhea hit in a big way. Since I had plans to actually leave the house today, I needed to fix that. I read that I should take two of my particular type of diarrhea pills after the first loose movement, then one after the next movement, but not to exceed four pills in 24 hours.

So I took two pills, had another loose movement, and took a third pill. This proved to be a mistake. It stopped me up, for sure, but it gave me terrible gas and nausea.

When I got on the bus the driver babbled something. I had to take off my goddamn I-Pod to see what he was saying, and it turned out to be totally unimportant. I was tempted to say, “Thank you for slowing me up!” It took what seemed like for-fucking-ever for my bus to get me downtown. I went to the Library, and had no trouble there. Then I walked several blocks to Fed-Ex, hoping to print a document. But the computers at Fed-Ex charge by the minute, so naturally, the connection is really slow.

I sat there for five minutes and my simple document attachment still hadn’t opened up. No Fed-Ex staffers were handy, so I got up, went across the room, and found four of them lolly-gagging behind the counter. I barked that I needed help, and a guy who looked like the senior staffer came over.

He said Firefox was often slow on their computers, and that I should try Internet Explorer. I did that, and had no luck either. Finally, I just shut things down and went back to the counter, annoyed, and had him restore to my card the money they’d charged.  

I went outside and waited for a long time in the heat for a bus, and got even angrier. I had my I-Pod on when I boarded the bus, and swiped my bus pass and day pass, and walked down the aisle. Then I noticed a lot of people were yelling at me, which told me that apparently one of the card didn’t swipe correctly. I turned around, and there was this homeless guy sitting in the front seat, yelling loudly, and waving his arms over and over and over.

Since I still had my headphones on, I responded in a lot louder voice than I normally use. I really hate repetition and nagging, and this guy got me the wrong way, and I shouted, “ALL RIGHT, YOU CAN STOP WAVING YOUR GODDAMN ARMS AT ME!”  And he responded, “I WAS JUST TRYING TO TELL YOU THE DRIVER WANTED YOU, YOU IMPATIENT SON OF A BITCH!”  

I swiped my card…again. I took my seat and realized that I’d become “That guy,” the crazy screaming guy the other passengers were scared of.  

I got to the campus area, bought some brownies, went to the bathroom, and got a drink and a baked potato at the Union. I went to the Cinematheque for the last screening of the Spring semester: Samuel Fuller’s “White Dog.” It was awful. Like a bad 1970s made-for-TV movie. Cheap-looking and full of over-acting. Plus they killed the dog at the end. That was 90 minutes of my life I’d never get back again.

I went home in an over-air-conditioned bus, got some groceries at HEB, and went home. I was filled with depression and despair all night, not to mention gas and nausea.

After I went to bed, my gas and nausea kept me up for a few hours. I went to the toilet and strained, but nothing came out. Then my hands, on the palms and the backs, began to itch badly. The last time that happened I had really bad food poisoning and wound up in the emergency room.

I went back to the bathroom once again, tried one more time, finally broke through the blockage, the diarrhea returned, but soon emptied out, and I felt much better. I rubbed calamine lotion onto my arms and hands, and finally slept like a baby.

Tuesday, April 19th–I am in a severe depression.

I woke several times today to go to the bathroom, but got up finally at 4pm. James and Nyssa came by and hooked up my cable converter box, then took me to dinner at a Vietnamese place.

I got home, learned there was still no work for me from the company, and got even more depressed. I watched TV for the first time in months, but wasn’t too interested in it. It reminded me of how detached I’ve become from the world.

I wondered about pulling a bag over my head and killing myself tonight, since I can’t think of a way out of my problems.

Wednesday, April 20th–I wrote, read, and watched TV.

Thursday, April 21st–I think I may be having another nervous breakdown, though not as bad a one as I had when Fred died.

Friday, April 22nd–I wrote, read, and watched TV.

Saturday, April 23rd–I wrote, read, and watched TV.

Sunday, April 24th–

Monday, April 25th–

Tuesday, April 26th–

Wednesday, April 27th–

Thursday, April 28th–

Friday, April 29th–I got up around 1am to watch the Royal Wedding.

Saturday, April 30th–

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