Journal entries (February 1-15, 2012.)


Wednesday, February 1st–I slept until around 9:15pm. I made a terrible stir-fry that was mushy and over-cooked. I read more in Denton Welch.

I called another shrink’s office to see if I could find someone to fill out my forms and re-diagnose me, and was told the tests alone would run over $1000! So I called Health and Human Services, and to make a long story short, as long as I’m in compliance with the Texas Workforce Commission–and I am–I can keep re-applying and renewing my Food Stamps. I need to renew again before March 15th. So that’s another headache I’ve gotten out of the way.

Thursday, February 2nd–Wednesday’s activities actually occurred more during Thursday, truth be told.

Friday, February 3rd–I called in a maintenance request to have my kitchen sink and disposal repaired, but though I waited for eight hours, no one showed. James indicated he might come take me out to eat, but then he left me hanging, as usual.

I sent a long e-mail describing my career frustrations to some official at De Vry, the dreadful business school across the street, but the cocksucker only sent me a form e-mail inviting me for a second time to their open house tomorrow. I don’t really want to go, but I guess I shall if they fix my sink in time. I don’t want one of those maintenance cocksuckers in my apartment without me around….

Saturday, February 4th–I spent the day waiting on a maintenance man to come and fix the kitchen sink, but he never showed. I didn’t get to shower until the afternoon.

I skipped the De Vry open house for a number of reasons, including the fact their tuition is enormous and that the guy I wrote to never bothered to write me back.

I fried some sliced potatoes, but they tasted terrible.

I finished Denton Welch’s “I Left My Grandfather’s House” and began his “Maiden Voyage.”

Sunday, February 5th–I woke around 8am and had a painful charley horse in my leg. It was cold and raining outside.

I had a number of dreams last night, including one where I realized I was actually living in Paris and could go to lunch at Polidor.

Monday, February 6th–When we got up this morning, Belle knocked over several columns of books in the bedroom.

I puttered around all day. A plumber finally showed up to fix the sink….

Tuesday, February 7th–I woke up much too early, checked to make sure my Food Stamps money had been deposited, and was already sick and bored with the day by 11am, so I went back to bed to read, but soon went back to sleep instead. I got up at a more decent hour, then discovered my check had not arrived, which really screwed up my plans for the next few days. How, for example, would I photocopy the pages I wanted copied from the library books I have which are due Wednesday? I decided to scan them instead.

I then got $10 worth of food at the dollar store, and walked over to Sprouts and got $66 worth of food there, waited quite awhile for a bus, and finally got back home. I walked Belle, showered, then scanned, and retired around 2am.

Wednesday, February 8th–Again, I woke much too early, after less than six hours of sleep. I walked Belle, then went back to bed until after noon. I got up, ate, puttered, and headed out. I got my check in the mail, went to the bank and deposited some of the money and got the rest in cash. I waited for the bus, caught it, after it pulled up way past me, had a twenty-minute layover, then got back on my way.

Part of Burnet Road was closed off near where I wanted to get off, so, thinking the driver would skip my stop, I got off one stop early and walked a ways, then saw the bus stopped at my stop after all. I dropped off my books at the Yarborough Branch (I had to suspend reading “Maiden Voyage”–I hope to check it out again Saturday), and found none of the books I wanted to check out. Then there was another long wait for another bus, and a ride down to 38th Street, and and even longer wait for the #22 bus to East Austin. This bus took me through my old neighborhood. Going through there always makes me sad, as it reminds me of my years with Fred. I also got to see the apartment where that murderer lived.

[Note: the first Austin murder of 2012 took place in the early morning hours of January 1st. A woman was murdered in her home one-half block from where I lived from 1998 to 2004. I used to walk my dog Fred around that block while clad in a bathrobe, thinking I was safe. The murderer only lived two or three blocks away, and committed suicide two weeks after the murder.]

I got off in East Austin and went shopping at Fiesta, concentrating mostly in the produce and international foods areas. I raked up quite a pile of food, and was afraid I’d run short of money, but it wound up costing only $90, leaving me with $34 for the rest of the month.

I had a very long wait for bus #21, and when it arrived it pulled up a good distance from me, and promptly died. I boarded, and the driver called the garage to get a replacement bus. I chatted with the passengers and listened to music. Eventually a new bus appeared, and I rode it over to 38th Street, and waited some more for the #3 bus, which took me back to my neighborhood. I got home over two hours after I had checked out at Fiesta.

Thursday, February 9th–I woke much too early again, then forced myself to sleep until noon. I walked Belle, then went to the UPS Store, made some copies of medical papers, and mailed them to my mother for her taxes, got two bags of dog food at Petsmart, then bought some non-food items at the dollar store.

Friday, February 10th–I took an express bus down to UT, had a baked potato and a drink at the Wendy’s inside the Texas Union, then went over to the Architecture Library, took some photos and did some xeroxing, then waited in a Union lounge for about ninety minutes for the start of a concert. My friend, Don had a performance to celebrate the release of his latest CD, at the Cactus.

I’d not been to the Cactus in well over twenty years. I think I went there a few times in the old days to drink sangria.

The concert was crowded, and I found myself standing in a far corner, with my heavy backpack and camera equipment. I wasn’t able to get good shots until I moved over by the main door and put my camera onto my tripod.

The opening act ran long, so Don’s band didn’t start when it was supposed to. As a result, I had to slip out ten to fifteen minutes before the show ended in order to get to the bus stop and catch the last bus home.

I got home quickly, and Belle was beside herself. It took a long time to calm her down. I walked her, showered, looked over my photos for the night, then had to go to bed early in order to be ready for the [TekSkilz] orientation Saturday. I was very sore and tired when I got to bed.

Saturday, February 11th–For some reason, I woke up in the night, but fortunately, I was able to get back to sleep. (Though I usually have trouble getting to sleep any time I set an alarm, I went to sleep easily last night.)
I got up on time, despite having less than six hours of sleep, walked Belle and got ready, then headed out. I mistook the after-effects of a cold front for a lingering overnight chill, so I did not dress warmly enough for the day.

I got to my first bus stop and waited awhile. The day promised four hours of bus riding and waiting for buses, plus a three-hour meeting, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. On the way into town I had a driver who was getting hysterical over the notion that someone was blaring music on their I-Pod. I was one of a handful of people listening to music in this way, and I tried to ignore her, but I think she was suspicious of me. At any rate, I was not the culprit.

I rode the #3 bus down to South Lamar, and had a long wait in the cold for the #331 bus. It took me to Travis High School, where I was the first person to sign in for the [TekSkilz] orientation. I filled out my application forms before anyone else had even arrived. The orientation started with thirty minutes set aside for people to fill out their forms, followed by an hour-long presentation. Then the people in charge were to give quick counseling sessions to each participant, one-by-one, based on their order of arrival at the event.

A guy looked at my self-assessment of my computer skills, decided I belonged in the fundamental level (above the preparatory and beginner level, but below the intermediate and advanced ones), and said that since I had no income, the nominal fees they often charge for courses would be waived. (The courses are worth between $100 and $150 a week; some people pay between $5 and $20 a week for them.)

They teach some, though not all, of the computer skills I’ve seen required in many want-ads lately. I mentioned some other skills and the guy said they wanted to add courses for those too, if only they could find the instructors.

I said I preferred taking courses at night at the downtown campus (the other campuses are too much out of my way), but the schedule is such that morning classes downtown were the first available, so I let the guy sign me up for three weeks worth of them in March. He’d have signed me up for more, but the school’s academic quarter ends in March. So I’ll be starting with the basics of MS Office. Each course lasts a week, twelve clock hours, either three four-hour days or four three-hour nights. And now that I’ve attended the orientation, I can attend as many classes with them as I wish for as long as I wish. (I wonder if they can do anything for my problem–that is, the fact that I lose attention and get glassy-eyed with any procedure that takes more than two steps.)

So counting my early arrival, I was in and out of the orientation in little more than two hours.

But then I had to wait over an hour in the cold for the west-bound # 331 bus, because the one I needed broke down, and a later bus had to come along and pick up all its potential passengers. I got off near South Congress Avenue, had another fairly long wait, then caught the 1L bus. I passed what looked like a hipster convention on South Congress on the way downtown.

I got off at 8th Street and went to the Library. The Denton Welch book I wanted to re-check was nowhere to be seen, so I checked out four others. The self-checking machine worked for three of the books, but not one, so I had to go through and let a human check that one.

Then I went over to 11th Street to wait for the #3 bus. After about thirty minutes I noticed that the goddamn bus stop sign had been removed, so I walked over to Nueces, saw the sign had moved there, and just managed to catch the #3 in time.

I was on the bus heading home, and it stopped at the corner of 24th and Guadalupe. On that corner, outside, to my right, I saw a person sitting on a bench, wearing some sort of furry mascot costume, though I’m not sure what kind of animal it was. The bus moved on, and then I looked out the window to my left, and there was a car over in the next lane. There was a person driving, a person sitting in the back seat, and someone else sitting in the shotgun seat, dressed in a different furry mascot costume, waving his hands about, as if engaged in conversation. I looked around to see if there was a movie camera nearby, but found nothing. I wonder what the hell all that was about.

By the time I finally got back to my neighborhood I had wasted over five goddamn hours riding buses or waiting for them in one fucking exhausting day.

I ate fries and apple pies at McDonald’s, then picked up a few supplies at HEB, before going home to Belle. She was very excited and upset. She’d sprayed diarrhea all over the bedroom, including on a copy of “The Complete Works of Shakespeare.” I walked her, and calmed her down, showered, and wanted to burn my clothes, which had been made to stink from all the close contact with dirty people all day.

I got the news that Whitney Houston died. I’m not totally surprised. She was an awful excuse for a singer–just a tacky melange of Tarzan yells and histrionic caterwauling.

I puttered around, and worked on my photos from Friday, then retired, exhausted.

Sunday, February 12th–After two days of exertion, I took it easy today, puttered, and ate. It was very cold, and I read there was snow in South Austin, but it never got to my part of town. Belle was quite glad to have me around again.

Monday, February 13th–I took the day easy, preparing another huge pot of my “Big-Ass Soup,” and reading.

Tuesday, February 14th–My Valentine, Belle, woke me by crawling into the bed, resting her mouth on my neck, and breathing heavily into my ear. I got up, walked and fed her, puttered around, then we both got bored and took a long nap. Later on I gave her a “I Heart You” treat, and she slept some more while I read.

If you know me you know how much enjoyment I get out of watching human beings suffer. So Valentine’s Day is like the Super Bowl for me. I get to see desperate people driven nearly to suicide because the music, film, floral, and greeting card industries have sold them on the idea that, to quote a song, “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You.” The frantic futility of their actions only adds to my delight.

I suddenly remembered a dream I had right before waking:

I had finally decided to tackle painting on a large scale. I had paints, a huge canvas, brushes, knives—the whole bit. I threw myself at the canvas with no plan in mind, attempting something I convinced myself was Abstract Expressionism. But the more paint I globbed on the less it showed up. It was like the canvas was soaking up the paint. Then it seemed the canvas was actually a sheet of plywood. I continued to attempt something with all sorts of different colors, but when I stepped back I realized the painting was almost entirely blue, and I had painted not a wild abstract, but a very obvious TARDIS. And the middle of the sheet of plywood was actually a door, which was slightly ajar….

I spent the day puttering around, and finally finished Gregoire Bouillier’s “The Mystery Guest.”

Wednesday, February 15th–I slowly began the big Spring Cleaning I’ve been thinking about doing. I tossed my broken TV, which must’ve weighed about 75 pounds, as well as my old computer keyboard, and I set out beside the dumpster a new, yet broken, folding chair, and an electric stove-top grille my mom bought in the 70s and never used, which she gave me in the 90s and I in turn have never used. I have not yet tackled the boxes of books, though.

I started reading Richard Yates’s “Revolutionary Road.”


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