Journal Entries (June 29–July 6, 2012.)

Friday, June 29th–Oh, is today only Friday? I woke up thinking it was Saturday.

I got up a little before 8pm, after having several dreams.
In the last I was attending some sort of school, most of which seemed to be housed in a very tall high-rise overlooking some large city.

We were given notice that several things were to happen that day. I forget most of them, but one was that the electricity was to be cut off for an unspecified amount of time while workmen repaired on it.

While this was going on, most of us sat around listlessly, in a corridor or in the stairwell, which had a huge picture window that looked out upon the skyline. From appearances, ours was the tallest building in the city.

I took off my glasses for some reason, and began going through to metal racks of magazines that sat in a corner of the stairwell. They were mostly freebie magazines, and with my glasses off I couldn’t make out the pages well.

There was one magazine I recognized chiefly by the heft of it and the thick, waxy quality of its pages. I thumbed through it, and was about to put it back, when I noticed someone had inserted a poster in the center–a poster of a cute animal, probably intended for the enjoyment of children. And so I then poked around and found every copy there was of that magazine, so I could have each of the posters.

I wondered when we’d be told the electrical project was finished, and then concluded they’d probably just switch the power back on without announcement, and within a few minutes, that’s exactly what happened. Shortly thereafter, the school band began rehearsing in the large room just to my left. Everyone soon started smiling, because within a few notes we all recognized the band was playing “Knights of the Round Table” from “Monty Python’s Spamalot.”

But I was humming along, though I was humming the chorus to the tune “I Am the Captain of the Pinafore,” from “H.M.S. Pinafore.” I commented, “Someone’s screwing up the tempo. They’ve got it all wrong.” And I tried to pinpoint who in which section was playing incorrectly.

I looked into the band hall. There were about three dozen students already sitting in the band hall, in seats between me and the director’s podium. The band was seated, naturally, around and beyond the director. I was expecting to see one of my parents directing, since they had both been band directors, or failing that, one of their assistant directors from the last school where they worked.

Instead, the director was a slim young Asian woman, with her head wrapped tightly in a scarf. She turned her head swiftly over her right shoulder and gave me a sharp look. Apparently, my talking in the hall was loud enough to disturb the rehearsal.

I went back into the hall, but the band kept making mistakes and I kept commenting. The rehearsal came to an abrupt halt and I was told to come into the room.

Now I have a violent hatred of authority, and there are few people on this Earth from whom I am willing to take orders or correction, and this young director, who looked to be fresh out of college, was not someone whose ass I was prepared to kiss. I didn’t even acknowledge the right of the school to punish me for anything, but I still went into the band hall to see what was what.

I explained what my problem was, that I was annoyed by someone playing the incorrect tempo. Of course, the band director was probably offended, because she should’ve picked up on an error like that. She said something to me, but I couldn’t understand a word she was saying. It came out like, “Rurr rurr rurr rurr….” (Rather akin the Charlie Brown’s teacher’s “Whah whah-whah whah whaaaaah.”)

I turned to other students, confused, brow furrowed, and said, “I can’t understand a word she’s saying.”

Some girl in the band got up, made a comment that was equally unintelligible, and began stomping off. I asked her to repeat herself, and someone said I didn’t know what I was talking about regarding the tempo, because I clearly hadn’t heard the bell.

From what I was able to piece together, when the band gave a concert later in the day it was either going to be broadcast on a Muslim TV channel or broadcast into a Muslim country, and the Powers That Be there had a serious problem with women performing music or appearing on television. (I guess in my dream I’d forgotten about the Muslims who disapprove of music altogether.) The only way to keep the Muslims pacified was to play a bell at some point in the music.

The director went back to lecturing me, but I was getting very upset, frustrated, and even a good deal worried, because either I was not able to hear her, and my hearing was beginning to disappear, or she was just talking utter jibberish. I think I finally decided she couldn’t speak English clearly and I was suffering from a degree of hearing loss. (This aspect of the dream, at any rate, is sadly very true to my real life. I have some hearing loss, though some people don’t believe me when I say this, because when I say I have problems hearing they jump to the conclusion I am claiming to be stone deaf, which it’s obvious I am not.)

…………………

When did I get up? After 8pm or so?

Ah, yes.

I was quite tickled to read of the impending divorce between Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. I suspect one reason the marriage didn’t work out was because Holmes didn’t have enough of a penis to suit Cruise.

I’ve never liked Cruise, and I especially despise everything about Scientology. I think it should be banned and outlawed, and even violently crushed if need be. It’s a dangerous cult.

I know the hard-core atheists out there will say there’s no difference between Scientology and any other religion (though I refuse to recognize that Scientology is a real religion), but most normal religions aren’t controlling of all the details of their members’s lives and finances, they don’t have a security division designed to investigate and harass people, nor do they follow members around and make their lives life hell if they try to leave the group.

If you say something negative about, say, the Presbyterian Church, in a small town newspaper article, you won’t have Presbyterians from all over the country writing in with angry responses. Trust me on this one. I once wrote an anti-Scientology article for a small alternative weekly that was published in Conroe, Texas, and the loonies soon spilled out of the woodwork.

I think what probably happened with Tom Cruise was that in the late 70s or early 80s, he decided to go into acting, decided he had the chops, was told he was handsome (though why some people find him attractive, with his beetle-brow, nearly-crossed eyes, and perpetually crazed look, I have no idea), but realized his homosexual inclinations would prevent or cost him a career as a movie star. (This, of course, is just me speculating.)

So he went to psychologists to get cured, and indeed there were and are many psychologists who have claimed they could cure homosexuality. But when someone enters into therapy with unrealistic expectations, they will likely come to grief, as Cruise surely did. The failure of the therapists to turn him straight made him angry against the whole profession and discipline of psychology.

Then, lo and behold, someone turned him onto the “Church” of Scientology (CoS), which not only condemned homosexuality, it insisted it could cure it. The CoS is also virulently against the profession and practice of psychology. And the CoS panders to celebs, exempts them from the more unpleasant and rigorous training and treatment the rank and file have to suffer, and promotes and assists young up-and-coming stars.

Cruise jumped feet-first into the CoS mind-control sessions, was convinced he’d been cured of the main obstacle to his success, and showered the CoS with his wealth as it started coming in. Cruise is clearly so deluded and brain-washed by now that he cannot see that three failed marriages are proof that there’s definitely something wrong with him.

Of course, I’m not saying that everyone who fails at marriage has a problem with their sexual orientation–I just think that’s one of the factors involved in Cruise’s case. (Reportedly, he’s also a control freak, which needn’t be tied to a person’s sexuality, but is a quality that’s certainly exacerbated by being a high-ranking member in an authoritarian cult that’s known for being very controlling of its members.)

Now I always enjoy it when a marriage or relationship that I predicted would fail does fail, and I especially enjoy it when it is a relationship that was over-the-top, when at least one of the members rubs everyone’s nose in how great and wonderful and important the relationship is. When a couple says, “We’re in love. We’re very happy together,” when the couple is normal and realistic, and doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is, there’s a decent chance that relationship will work out.

But it’s the people who insist on claiming that their relationship is one of the greatest in recorded history, that no two people have ever loved the way they do, that they love in a way ordinary mortals wouldn’t understand, et cetera ad nauseam–well, that’s when you know you’re in for a pretty spectacular fireworks show a few years down the road.

I just wish the Cruise/Holmes divorce would tear the curtain away and expose Scientology for what it really is, but I doubt that will happen.

I think some celebrity worshipers have a strong dose of schadenfreude in them: they adore the celebrity for having beauty, wealth, fame, power, mass appeal, and glamour, but they hate them for just the same reasons, and exult when the celebrity fails and is brought low. When the celebrity is disgraced, this sort of fan thinks, “Yeah, Mr. Bigshot–you’re not so big now, are you?”

I think this is one of the reasons reality TV has become so popular. Reality TV takes nobodies, turns them into instant celebrities, long before they’re ready to handle it, and then the instant celebs crash and burn within a matter of months, rather than years, giving the twisted fans immediate gratification.

……………………

Belle continues with her obsessive desire to go out about once an hour and walk the exact same route, in hopes of finding cat shit and chicken bones.

I did 29 tutorials tonight.

Saturday, June 30th–I had a variety of dreams. In one someone was making a documentary about the lives of the child actors from the “Harry Potter” series now that the series is over and the kids are now adults. I’m not even sure the three principal kids were in this film. Supposedly I’d played a small role in the series as a Hogwarts teacher/mentor, so I was asked to be in the documentary, but I don’t think I had any lines.

One of the adult actors was friends with Roald Dahl and brought him to appear in the documentary (although in real life he is of course dead), and Dahl arrived on the set dressed supposedly as one of his own characters. I was the only person who recognized him, I think, and was so impressed to see him I burst into tears.

………………

I woke close to 10pm. After our first walk, Belle brought back something in her mouth, then started chewing on it once we got back inside. She briefly spat it out and I grabbed it up with a tissue. I don’t know what the hell it was–animal or vegetable–but it was mostly black, seemed to be organic, and I think was probably a dead bird. I threw it away very quickly.

I finished the last of the soup I made on the 21st, though all that was left at this point was pretty much stems and seeds, or to be more exact, bitter, stale chunks of carrot.

I did a bunch of tutorials.

James and I got into an IM discussion and he got me so angry my stomach was churning and my heart was pounding. He was preaching his fucking sad-sack, poor-mouthed gospel again, saying I should learn to enjoy things by merely seeing them instead of buying and possessing them. Even now, thinking of the conversation again, I get angry.

I finished Denton Welch’s “Maiden Voyage.”

It’s a cliche, but the worst thing about the works of Denton Welch is they eventually end. It’s so delightful to spend several hours inside his peculiar head, luxuriating in his exquisite, microscopic observations and roller-coaster emotions. It’s amazing what he could make out of so little–a visit to a neighbor’s house for tea becomes a hugely important event. Furthermore, it’s difficult not to chuckle and shake your head when he engages in yet another activity that is singularly “Dentonesque.”

There’s a scene where Denton finds a nineteenth-century book in his father’s library and discovers a recipe for something called “sweet jars,” which sound to be like potpourri. He goes to the park to gather all the flowers he’ll need, then brings them back to the family penthouse and spreads the flowers out to dry in the sun. His father comes in from work, asks “What are these things?,” to which Denton replies, “I’m making sweet jars.” I can just imagine the father rolling his eyes, letting out a groan, and calling the servant to bring him a very strong drink.

Welch always wrote about himself, and this book he doesn’t even bother disguising as a novel. In Part I, he runs away prior to the start of another term at his hated school. He spends a few days visiting cathedrals and staying in small inns and hotels, until his money runs out and he has to return to his disapproving and emotionally distant relatives, and from there back to school. During the term his father, a successful Shanghai-based businessman, writes and suggests that Denton come out to China. Part II covers the sea voyage from Britain, and Part III Denton’s experiences in China.

JULY
Sunday, July 1st–
I had at least four or five dreams, but they broke up and I forgot them upon waking. I was awakened around 9:30pm by a fireworks show, presumably coming from the Domain several miles to the east. It was too far away to see, and anyway, my apartment is positioned oddly. On the upside, it didn’t upset Belle.

Most of this short night was spent scanning books I have to return to the library tomorrow.

Monday, July 2nd–I woke at noon, still somewhat tired. I walked and fed Belle and got ready. I called the MAP eligibility office and was delighted to learn they finally caught up with the twentieth-century, and will now let me set an appointment over the phone, rather than having to waste half a fucking day going down to East Austin and back.

My luck was worse with DARS. I kept getting an annoying recording that repeated “ARE YOU STILL THERE? ARE YOU STILL THERE? ARE YOU STILL THERE? ARE YOU STILL THERE?” over and over. Since repetition angers me, I got pretty upset pretty quickly.

I got my stuff together. I bought dog treats at Petsmart. At the bank I deposited $10 and got $10 in cash, a process the teller seemed to find very difficult. She referred me to one of the bankers when I asked for print-out of my account activity (for the DARS and MAP people). I was just walking up to the door of the bank when I saw the bus coming, so I had to run to catch it.

I went to the Yarborough branch of the library, turned in some books and DVDs, went through a big rigamarolle to print out my Pay Pal balance, then checked out five DVDs. I also loitered around the free magazine section, and selected a nice stack to take home.

I had a fairly decent wait in the heat for a bus. Once back in my neighborhood, I went to McDonald’s for a Dr. Pepper, fries, and apple pies–it was over-priced and not worth it. Then I went to HEB and did a little shopping.

The store was crowded with freakish and annoying people, getting in my way, getting underfoot. Whenever I got ready to turn into an aisle, I’d see a person already there, so rather than have to pass or speak to him or her, I just went on to another aisle. The noise and kineticism stressed me out, and the long, hot walk home did me in. As usual, my arms were weak and shaking for some time after I got home.

Later on in the morning I watched “The Hours,” then read a bit before bed.

Tuesday, July 3rd–I slept late, puttered, did tutorials, and watched the DVD extras for “The Hours.” I read in Fleming before bed.

Wednesday, July 4th–I got up around 9pm. I took Belle for a walk. I realized that all my life, hardly anyone has really taken me seriously. Everyone has just regarded me as a big fucking joke, though some were more polite about hiding this feeling.

Belle continues to want to go out every hour or so to scout for cat shit. Once tonight she got all beside herself just an hour after the last trip, so I decided she was faking it. A few minutes later, however, she pooped on a newspaper on the bedroom floor. Oh well.

I did more tutorials. The Fourth of July was just another day around here.

………………………….

As long as I can remember, I’ve held human weakness in contempt–especially the weakness of human emotional neediness. Nowhere is this more disgusting to me than in the need some people have to make a romantic and/or sexual connection with others. There seems to be no level below which some people will sink and degrade themselves in order to make this happen, especially in the humiliating practices of personals ads and online dating sites. The culture has told them, as the song says, “You’re nobody till somebody loves you,” and by God, they believe it.

I remember how, several years ago, some friends visited from out-of-town. Nowadays they’re both married, and like most young-to-young-ish men their insecure, castrating wives won’t allow them to have male friends or indeed fun of any kind, but in those days they were free men. They had come to Austin to attend a pub crawl, and invited me to join them. I was still at least moderately sociable back then, so I went along for the last few hours of the pub crawl.

At the last stop the pressure they felt to get from Point A to Point B in a certain time was over and they could finally concentrate on relaxing, drinking, and talking. Then, as now, I was out-of-work and looking for something pleasant to do that paid decently. They told me I should try to suck up to a certain guy who was the organizer of the annual pub crawl, and whom they said was “a big deal with the Internet.”

Well, I’m no good at networking or selling myself or anything else. When this big shot, who looked to me like just another skinny young man in dirty, sloppy clothes, came by our table, my friends tried to introduce me, but neither their efforts nor mine to impress this twerp came to flower. Afterwards, I was in a funk, as my lack of money and decent work has pretty much dominated my waking thoughts for the last eleven years and made me absolutely no fun to be around. I felt I’d blown a chance at financial and professional happiness.

I asked my friends what exactly this guy did. Why was he considered so important?

They said he ran a major online dating site. (It might have been OK Cupid, but it could’ve been something else.)

I said, “A dating site?! A fucking online dating site?! You’ve gotta be kidding me. How fucking pathetic can you get? I thought you said this guy was important!”

Then my friends, with sheepish, embarrassed looks, admitted that they occasionally sought out company on sites such as that. “It’s hard out there, man,” one said. I recoiled with my lip curled in disgust and contempt, as if they’d admitted to privately wearing women’s underclothes or hiring dominatrices to whip them.

………………………..

But to return to today, later in the evening I watched the documentary “Huxley on Huxley,” about Aldous Huxley and his widow Laura.

In the morning I checked my friend D__’s Facebook page and saw a big picture of the demolition of Smith-Kirkley Hall. Kirkley was my happy home at Sam Houston State off and on from 1983 to 1989. I still have recurring dreams where I move back in there after all these years, find my mailbox crammed with 23 years of mail, and try to figure out how to fit a lifetime of possessions and a large Basset Hound into half of a 13 by 13 foot dorm room.

The sight of the old dear in ruins felt like a punch in the gut. I was surprised at how sad and depressed this news made me. I spread the word around to a few old SHSU friends. A friend who’s from Huntsville says he’ll ask his folks to swing by and try to grab a few bricks for us….

I finally finished “Casino Royale” before bed. One of the pleasures of this book is seeing one of the great fictional characters of the last century take shape.

I saw the movie version a few years ago, but remember very little of it. Plus, the book was so different from the movie that the former was practically a new story for me.

I retired around 2pm.

Thursday, July 5th–It was well after 10pm when I woke.

I’d had a dream that I was in Paris. Somewhere, far to the east of the Eiffel Tower, I came across an American-style convenience store, rather run-down and seedy. Hanging out in front were somewhat scary, disreputable-looking young American men, mostly around the ages of 19 and 20. It seems they spent all their town outside this store, and one of their kind clerked there.

I wondered what they were doing in Paris, since they clearly did not come from the sort of families that could’ve afforded to send and maintain their sons in a foreign city as expensive as Paris.

Normally I’d have been scared of them and would’ve avoided them. But they approached me and seemed friendly, albeit in a somewhat dangerous, threatening way.

What captured and held my attention was that the store clerk owned, and apparently carried about with him at all times, a lovely old American children’s picture book. He figured quickly that I knew a lot about books, and let me examine it.

I think it was a treasury of children’s poetry. Since it had been handled a great deal, the book was in rather worn condition, but the illustrations inside were beautiful. Judging from the artistic style of the illustrations, the clothing of the people in the illustrations, and other factors, I guessed that the book dated to around 1927. Only then did I look for the copyright page to confirm my finding.

The strange thing was that the date was listed in Roman numerals, but whoever put it there didn’t know how to correctly list Roman numerals, for though I was able to conclude the date said “1927,” it wasn’t done properly. I can’t really explain it beyond that.

After this, I was supposed to go running around Paris with this gang after the store clerk finished his shift. It sounded dangerous, but I agreed to go along.

……………….

The night was uneventful. After my shower I sat down on the toilet to put on my socks, and was so depressed I could barely bring myself to move from the spot.

I did more tutorials and watched “The Art of Getting By.”

Before bed I started reading Erle Stanley Gardner’s “The Case of the Crying Swallow” and W. Somerset Maugham’s “Don Fernando.”

Friday, July 6th–
Most of Friday’s activities are listed as happening on Thursday.

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