Journal Entries (June 1-7, 2012)

JUNE
Friday, June 1st–I woke around 12:30am. I puttered, posted, tended to Belle, but did not get around to doing a tutorial. I ran across the street and mailed off my bills. I posted a chapter from “Withholding” which I predicted correctly would be very popular with readers, as it covered my dot-com days.

My friend D___ sent me a series of IMs telling me his mom is probably about to die. This comes less than two years after the death of his wife. His parents have been married for 55 years.

I also exchanged some IMs with James, finished Lawrence’s “Mornings in Mexico,” and read more in Sebald. It was probably close to 6pm when I got to sleep.

As for the Lawrence book, it was enjoyable enough, with some very nice passages, but still a strong dose of Lawrence’s silly theories. Lawrence has a habit, which I find extremely annoying, of using a few sentences or turns of phrase and then repeating them again and again in his pieces. As I tend to hate repetition of just about anything his practice gets on my nerves. His smug arrogance and self-righteousness also shines through everywhere. I am all the more convinced that Lawrence was one of the 20th century’s most over-rated writers.

Saturday, June 2nd–I woke around 1:30am. I’ve noticed it takes about two to three hours after I wake up to tend to all of Belle’s needs: two or more walks, feeding, treats, playing, scratching, belly rubs, general attention-paying, and such. Only after all that does she calm down and slide into another phase of long naps.

D___ posted the news of his mother’s death.

When I got up I found a notice on my door announcing that the Fire Department will be visiting the property Monday and may need to enter my apartment for a few minutes. Was this just about me or for the other residents as well? What did they want?

I felt very annoyed and threatened. What all would I need to clean up? Would they make a stink about all the stuff I have in here? Though there’s a lot of stuff, there’s quite a bit less than there used to be.

I calmed down a bit when I remembered that this Fire Department stuff happens at least once a year and many times they don’t bother showing up. If they do show up and come in, I think they may just flash laser sensors into my vents.

Even so, I’m so sick of always being interrupted in this apartment by grounds crew, construction workers, maintenance men, and whoever else. I wish they’d just leave me the fuck alone. And it doesn’t help that most of the buildings on the grounds are so arranged that most every apartment look into the apartment of someone else. It’s like a panopticon prison that costs $700 a month.

I started Quentin Crisp’s “Resident Alien.”

Sunday, June 3rd–I woke around 7:30am. I took care of Belle, then waited around for the businesses across the street to open, went to Petsmart to buy pet food and treats, and the dollar store to get stuff for myself. I did more posting, tutorials, and reading. I retired around 12:30am.

Monday, June 4th–I woke after 10:30am. I tended to Belle, puttered, and finally set an appointment to meet with that career guy from [Tek Skilz].
It’s been about three months since the apartment office warned me to clear off my balcony, that my premises would soon be invaded by workmen who would dismantle and replace my balcony. Since then, I’ve felt in a constant state of siege, and have been reluctant to leave my apartment out of fear that some slack-jawed workman would open my door and Belle would run outside and get run over.

But thus far, the workers have done just about everything but work on my balcony. There are over two-dozen buildings in this complex, and I think all have been worked on, but if there’s been an order to it, I’ve not been able to discern what it is.

They certainly aren’t working on them in numerical order. Some days they have three or more crews working various parts of the two phases of the complex, while other days they barely have four men working on just one secluded building. Other days, the only person around is the supervisor, a sour-faced, white-haired man who drives a white truck, stops, gets out, scowls, and re-arranges things, before getting back into his truck to drive off.

I think James suggested that perhaps the construction company has other jobs elsewhere that have more priority on certain days, or perhaps the number of available day laborers some days is fewer than on others.
Whatever the reason, I’ll be glad to get these cocksuckers out of my hair.

I called the MAP clinic and paid off my $5 balance which I could not afford to pay the last time I was there in person.

The evening was a goddamn ordeal. The afternoon was hot and miserable. The people on the bus and the streets looked like grotesques from the brush of Bosch, with a touch of Fellini thrown in for good measure.

My classroom is situated in a building that consists mostly of parking garage. Recently it was discovered that there was a leak in this garage, though I don’t know what was leaking where. The Powers That Be decided to start work on repairing this leak during my class.

Some sort of power device was used to grind at the concrete; the resulting sound was exactly that an airliner makes just as it’s taking off or landing, though a plane has the decency to make this noise only a few minutes–the workmen in the garage took all night.

Since hyper-sensitivity to noise is one of the side-effect of my Bi-Polar condition, this racket made my lesson hell. The instructor plodded on, and spoke so quickly that I missed several of his points, and quickly got behind in the procedures. Remember also that the instructors keep the goddamn lights off in the classroom, so it’s hard to type. The cadaverous weirdo was back, sitting at my left, rumbling into his cell phone, or sucking food out from between his teeth.

And on top of this one of the women sitting near me had a shrill Yankee accent and kept talking 90mph, just chattering and chattering away, JIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIB JIBJIBJIBJIBJIBIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIB JIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIB JIBJIBJIBJIBJIBJIB, on and on, trying to either explain the class work to those around her, or just tell them about cool things she’s found to do online.

I finally had to explain to her that when others were talking I couldn’t hear the instructor. She finally saw me slumping over my computer, looking helpless and frustrated, and asked if she was bothering me, and I said she was. But it didn’t seem to shut her up any.

I couldn’t wait to get home.

But there was another goddamn note on my door.

They want me to leave my fire extinguisher outside on the 6th for another inspection. (Didn’t they just do that a few months back?) And the Fire Department inspection has been re-scheduled for next Tuesday, and at 1pm–an actual specific time, for a change. This place is like a really shitty summer camp where they constantly schedule unpleasant activities every hour of every day. I wish they’d just leave me the fuck alone.

Belle was beside herself more than usual, even barking while I showered and ate my dinner.

Tuesday, June 5th–I got up, got ready, puttered, cashed a check at the bank, and got to the bus stop, expecting to be picked up around 4:15pm. The bus didn’t arrive until 4:24pm, and after a few blocks the driver pulled over for her break. For 20 to 25 goddamn minutes she paced around outside, talking on her fucking cell phone. As a result, the bus got a late start, and seemed to lose time the closer we got to downtown.

It also didn’t help matters that we had a lot of half-wits get on board that were paying with small change, or wilted dollar bills that the meter wouldn’t accept, or that there were slow people boarding with large, bulky possessions. I was in a rage the entire trip down, and the driver kept looking up at me in her mirror and giving me dirty looks, which I gave right back to her.

I got downtown, de-boarded at Sixth Street, went into an over-priced upscale grocery, hoping to get a sandwich. The sandwiches cost way too much, but I was hungry and didn’t have time to go elsewhere. I thought I could just grab the thing and go, but apparently they had to warm it up in the microwave first, and from all I could tell they did it in stages. It took a long time to get my sandwich ready, and the cashier and the sandwich guy didn’t seem to be in any great hurry. I finally got the fuck out of there, ate three-fourths of my sandwich on the way to class, got to the building pissed, and entered the classroom ten minutes late. The sandwich, I should add, was excellent.

Class was again confusing and frustrating. The construction noise overhead was unbelievable, only tonight it sounded less like an airplane landing or taking off and more like a raging storm at sea. At one point I yelled over it to the instructor, “Captain, shall I lower the life boats?,” and got a great deal of laughter in response.

I was very stressed out and angry all the way home, and was unable to stay awake for very many hours after getting home.

Wednesday, June 6th–About an hour into my sleep I was having an erotic dream, and quite enjoying it, when Belle went into the living room and started barking for some reason. I finally got her to be quiet, but I was permanently disengaged from the dream.

I went back to sleep, and woke a little bit before 11am. I dreaded having to go outside and go to class.

I left the house a little early and went to McDonald’s. I ate some fries and two apple pies there, and washed it down with ice water, and also bought two other pies to eat during the class break.

While I was waiting for my bus in the unbearable heat I saw a fat woman park her car under a tree near the bus stop, and walk all the way across the lot to Randall’s. I heard a noise that sounded like a dog barking. I heard it over the sound of the gentle instrumentation and softly tumbling surf of the New Age-y relaxation music I was listening to on my I-Pod.

I looked around. There was indeed a dog in the car, barking wildly. The woman had rolled two windows down maybe four inches, but she had left her dog to suffer in the heat.

I flew into a rage.

The woman was almost to the door of the store. I ran over to the hedge and yelled out, “HEY…YOU FAT BITCH!!!”

She turned around immediately, and pointed her hand to her chest. I was amazed at how, 150 yards away, she knew I was talking to her. She then brought her hand up to her brow, to shield her eyes from the sun and see who was yelling at her.

“HEY, YOU FAT BITCH!!! YOU LEFT A DOG IN THIS HOT CAR!”

She shrugged, turned, and waddled on into the store.

I started screaming, mostly to myself and the other people waiting for the bus, “THAT FUCKING WHORE!!! THAT FUCKING CUNT!!!” I ran around the hedge and up to the car. The dog was jumping around, frantic.

Obviously the woman knew she was doing something wrong or she wouldn’t have parked as far as she could from the store. There were other trees under which she could’ve parked that were much closer to the door, but of course, more people would’ve seen her dog that way.

I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have a cell phone, and calling the fucking Austin Police Department for an animal cruelty case is like calling the SS to report someone beating up on a Jew. I considered smashing in a window with a rock, but I didn’t want to get arrested, plus the dog might’ve escaped and run out into the traffic and been killed that way.

Maybe I should’ve gone into the store and had them announce the license number over the loud speaker, but like an asshole, I didn’t want to miss my bus.

Unless I’m taking a shower, I always have a paper and pen within a few inches of my hands. So I left a feeble note, “IT’S CRUEL AND ILLEGAL TO LEAVE A DOG IN A HOT CAR!,” but I doubted that would do any good. I always worry when I leave note on cars with dogs inside that the owners will take out their rage on the dogs later.

The bus arrived a few minutes later, and I eventually calmed down. (And no, the fact that I was screaming angry obscenities while listening to relaxation music was not lost on me.)

Class went okay. The creepy guy with the rumbly voice didn’t show up. Hopefully that nasty cough of his finally felled him.

I understood the material tonight a little better.

My classmates got into a discussion about the things needed in the Austin workforce nowadays. They said that since Austin is such a high-tech city, a good collection of computer skills are expected. One woman said training in Project Management is also pretty well needed, but she spent $5,000-$6,000 on a course and even then found it wasn’t the magic key to a good job. Someone else said companies expect you to own or buy a cellphone and an I-Pad before they’ll even consider hiring you. All of this distressed me.

Jesus Christ, I will be glad to be done with this class and this week and that fucking appointment Monday. This week has dragged on like a night with a Jehovah’s Witness insurance agent.

The trip home and my time at home were uneventful.

Thursday, June 7th–The day was promising for two reasons: 1) I was finally getting my Food Stamps payment, and 2) my Access class was finally coming to an end after a four-day week that has seemed to take for-fucking-ever to get through.

I had a phone conversation with James. We discussed me and the computer classes. He said he was surprised I lasted so long. He was sure I’d quit after the first day. He then said that “as the Libertarians would say, you’ve been ‘boot-strapping,'” a sentiment which hugely pissed me off.

I left the house earlier than usual, took a bus to Sprouts, bought some good coffee, trail mix, banana chips, and stuff to make a meal of then and later on during the class break.

The ride south was fairly uneventful, though I had to sit in the very back, which is the hottest part of the bus. I think the seats there may be over an engine or something.

At one point some young hospital employee–maybe an intern, male nurse, or something else–boarded, and sat near me. He had deeply-sunken eyes, rather like those of local Congressman Lloyd Doggett, the sort of eyes that always have struck me as creepy and sinister, with dark, mascara-like rings about them. He removed from his bag two huge U. S. Military atlases, commissioned by West Point, which were in very poor condition, and held together inside and out with tape. He bent over the atlases, scanning the maps with his raccoon eyes, occasionally bobbing his head to the music on his I-Pod, or waving his hands along in time. I noticed he had longish fingernails, yellow to orange in color, jagged, unclipped, and unfiled.

I got to the [Tek Skilz] offices, used the last of the toilet paper in the men’s room (someone had finally, after several days, cleaned the shit stains off the seat), then had a leisurely meal.

Unfortunately, the creepy guy with the rumbly voice was back, coughing at my back, and muttering comments into his phone. At one point he left his snot rag wadded up on the desk between our two computers.

I only gave the course and the instructor a so-so review in the online class survey. The construction noise Monday and Tuesday nights was intolerable. I thought the instructor knew his subject well, but he needed to make better transitions between topics and sections of his lessons. It was easy to blink and miss a step or two and get very behind, which was hugely frustrating. I am so unsure as to my skill level after taking two weeks of courses on this subject that I’m not certain if I’ll list it on my resume.

During the break I took a walk around the next block, past the Christian Science Reading Room. I have to wonder how those places manage to stay open. Who ever even goes into those places? I can say that in my nearly fifty years of life I’ve never known a soul who was a Christian Scientist. Working in one of those Reading Rooms must be one of the least stressful jobs on earth.

The last hour of class went down as usual. By 8:50pm the instructor was still droning on. I got up from my seat, asked a classmate to hand me the stack of attendance certificates, found mine, and the instructor finally shut up, extended his hand, and said, with a smile, “I know you’re in a hurry to get out of here, so I won’t keep you.” I felt a little embarrassed. I wasn’t trying to offend him, but on the first night of the first week of classes he said if any of us needed to get up during class to go to the bathroom or needed to leave a little early to catch a bus or something, that we shouldn’t feel bad about doing so.

So I left.

This was the ninth class I’ve taken, and the last before a long summer break. Unless I find a job before the Fall semester starts in late August/early September, which is unlikely,….this might be the last class I take from [Tek Skilz]. If not, there are seven others left to take.

The bus ride home was fairly uneventful, except that I was seated across from a crazy old homeless man, toothless, bearded, his forehead covered with electro-shock scars, and who was wearing something that looked like a cross between a Nehru jacket and a bathrobe, loose, pajama-like pants, and slip-on shoes. He mostly just muttered to himself, but once turned around angrily, opened his disgusting maw–which looked to me like the mouth of the creature in the right-hand panel in Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion”–and bawled out a feral, atonal imitation of the laughter that the two big black guys in the back of the bus had been making.

The teenaged skateboarding couple a few rows up turned around; I was expecting an incident. If the old man went nuts and came after me, I was planning to grab one of those skateboards and beat the old fucker in the head, but he mostly kept quiet, and got off over by my church.

I got back to my neighborhood, bought some groceries at HEB, had the usual hassle bringing them home, then returned to my apartment, to sweet Belle, and air conditioning.

I had considered doing some tutorials, but as with Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights, I was too exhausted by class and the commute and the hot weather, and my eyes were already starting to burn, so I marked the week down as a loss and went to bed.

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