Saturday, July 14th–It was a non-descript day. I woke in the afternoon. I did not renew my lease or go by the copy place. I sorted my paperwork into chronological order for my meeting Wednesday, though I’ve still not finished the application. I did not watch a movie, though I did read in Maugham and Fugate. There was another big storm late at night, which I think scared Belle a little.
Sunday, July 15th–I remember two dreams. In one I was at a shopping mall. This was inspired certainly by the distressing article I saw yesterday that said indoor, enclosed shopping malls are dying out in the US in favor of outdoor shopping centers consisting of separate buildings. I hate to hear that, especially because I hate to be outdoors and away from air-conditioning.
Anyway, this mall seemed a combination of indoor and outdoor mall. It had two stories, and broad promenades covered with red tiles. On the second level bands would often perform. Though the view was great from the second level, I doubted many people could see the band from downstairs, just from the way the promenades were configured.
At some point and for some reason, I agreed to move into a glass display case located along the main axis of the mall. The case was tall and triangular, or to be more accurate, it was shaped rather like the Flatiron Building in New York, with two long sides that sloped inward ( \ / ), with a relatively small flat side in front, and a broad flat side in back, where, I think, a clear glass door might’ve been located.
There were no toilet or kitchen facilities, but I believe there were trap doors in the floor that gave access to small storage spaces. Mostly I just sat and slept on the floor in a tangle of quilts and blankets. Apparently I slept mostly during the day when the shoppers were around, and didn’t mind being gawked at. My only stipulation was that the case be fitted with soundproof glass, so I’d not be bothered by people rapping on my windows.
In the other dream I was in Britain–possibly London or maybe one of the industrial cities. I found my way to a sort of island or isthmus in a river. The area was bare, dead, industrial wasteland. I walked up to the open door of a pub. A man ahead of me walked to the cash register that faced the door, pressed one of the keys, and the drawer popped open. He got change, then put it into a slot or possibly handed it to a bartender, who then got him a drink.I was amazed at the use of this honor system.
I did as the man ahead of me had done, and got four coins for the bill or large coin I’d put in.
Then the camera moved up into the sky, and I had an aerial view of the whole isthmus, which was surrounded by a wall. The camera moved over to the upper left-hand side of the isthmus, where there was a yard surrounded by a board fence, with a hut and maybe a tent set up. From the air I could see that Arabs occupied this space. They had bought, stolen, or impressed into slavery a number of young Russian soldiers, and had smuggled them to Britain, where they were using them for the most violent, brutal, and degrading form of sex slavery.
As soon as I realized what was going on, I got scared, the camera moved further back up into the sky, and I looked frantically around for a way to escape this isthmus.
I woke after 4pm. It rained off and on for much of the evening.
Monday, July 16th–Sadly, there was no rain today. I’d been enjoying this run of weather the last week.
I got up some time after 2pm and set about attending to the duties I’d put off for a week. I went to the apartment office, where a ditzy girl told me no one had prepared by new lease (never mind that I told them about it a week ago), and she said I could either wait or they could leave it on my door. I told her just to fill it out and have it ready by Tuesday.
From thence I went to the UPS Store, where I discovered that the tax forms and resume I thought I’d e-mailed to the store had never arrived. (It turned out there’d been a server problem on my end.) I did some xeroxing, then bought $20 worth of largely useless food at the dollar store, then returned home. Belle was beside herself, and took a long time to calm down….
I finished Somerset Maugham’s “Don Fernando,” which was Maugham’s personal favorite of all the books he wrote.
It has been described as a travel book, but I don’t think that’s entirely accurate, though there are a few scattered sections that could be described as travel writing. The premise is that Maugham long planned to write an historical novel set during Spain’s Golden Age. He traveled extensively and read 200-300 books on the subject, but was never able to get the book past the initial planning stage.
“Don Fernando,” then, is a loose collection of observations on Spain in general, and especially Spain in the Golden Age. Maugham discusses food, architecture, painting, literature, the practice of writing, drama, mysticism, Catholicism, the Spanish obsession with honor, picaresque novels, and such figures as St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Teresa of Avila, Cervantes, and Lope De Vega.
The longest chapter, I believe, is devoted to El Greco. Though Maugham admires El Greco’s work, he also criticizes it. According to the Maugham biographies I own, the book is most famous for the El Greco chapter, chiefly because Maugham claims that he suspects El Greco, notwithstanding the fact that he had a mistress and a bastard son, was homosexual. (Maugham, despite the fact he was once married and had a bastard daughter, was himself predominantly homosexual.)
Though elsewhere in the chapter Maugham hails El Greco as great, he attributes what he perceives to be El Greco’s flaws to his supposed homosexuality, saying that a homosexual is generally not capable of making great art, because he is essentially superficial, with an incomplete knowledge of the human condition. He cannot create great art–he can merely draw pretty decorations. This is why, for example, Maugham thinks El Greco’s religious paintings are devoid of any true religious feeling–they are just excuses for him to draw elongated bodies, experiment with posing the hands, and paint dramatic clouds with lovely colors.
The relentlessness of Maugham’s attack, and the negativity of his attitude really reveal more about Maugham’s self-loathing than they reveal El Greco’s flaws.
All this being said, it was a wonderful book. It rambles so much that Maugham doesn’t have a chance to get too entrenched in an esoteric topic or point and the reader doesn’t have a chance to get bored. It made me want to travel to Spain and to do some research into its literature and art, which is the best you can ask from a book of this sort.
Later I read more in Fugate.
Tuesday, July 17th–I woke a little before 3pm. I got ready, then went and signed my apartment lease. It’s like vowing to the universe that my life is not going to improve for at least one more year. I learned that despite this vast renovation program the management company is doing, they have no plans to fix the two broken hot tubs. I also reported the neighbor who has a barbeque pit and tiki torches which he regularly fires up on his balcony.
Then I went to the mailing center across the street and got my resume and tax forms printed out.
I noticed that the guy who has been working at the mailing center the entire eight years I’ve been patronizing it no longer has his fancy sports car. For years I thought an old man owned the store and this younger guy, who is probably in his early forties by now, was just an employee, but apparently the younger guy owns the business.
The car seemed the sort of thing an empty-headed kid of twenty would buy to bolster up his macho fantasies. The guy always parked it at an angle, taking over two parking spots so as to keep people from parking next to it and getting a chance to scratch the paint.
I assumed that since the younger guy was merely an employee, he was probably only getting about $10 or so an hour, and that consequently paying off, caring for, insuring, and maintaining this vehicle ate up almost everything he earned. It seemed to me a perfect example of one of the things I hate about the car culture–that is, the extent to which some people let their cars take over their whole lives. I’ve never really understood the obsession so many people have with cars. They are to me basically just a way to get from Point A to Point B.
At any rate, I heard this guy talking to a vendor today, explaining what a money pit the car had been, and that he’d finally gotten rid of it, in exchange for something more practical.
After getting home I showered and sorted and finished my paperwork for tomorrow.
Later on, I read in Fugate and started Ray Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man.”
Wednesday, July 18th–I had trouble getting to sleep. the bed was over-heated and uncomfortable, and when I finally did get to sleep I slept badly. I got up on time and got ready. My first two buses were a little late, and some gal on the second who I thought was black, but was actually either Hispanic or an albino or something else, yelled into her phone for most of the second trip, bragging about what a bad-ass she thought she was.
My DARS appointment lasted about an hour….I gave the clerk a basic over-view of my situation. I’m supposed to have a check-up or something–possibly next week–by a shrink, I think–and then I’ll meet with some other gal on August 22nd to see if they’re going to admit me to the program.
I walked back to Lamar and caught a bus. I sat in the back, and was soon surrounded by several older guys who stank as if they had shit caked all over their bodies. I went to UT, back to the HRC, and looked at that King James Bible exhibition one more time.
After that I had a long wait for another bus to take me back up to North Austin, to the MT Market at the Chinatown Center. I wound up spending more money than I’d planned on, since I now only have about $12 and change left on my Food Stamps to last me through August 7th.
Once I’d done my shopping, I went outside to load my groceries into my big mesh bags, and also to look for free newspapers to take home, so Belle can relieve herself on them. I didn’t get any papers, but instead found a flimsy bookcase with stacks of Buddhist books that were apparently being given away. Most of them were in Asian languages, but I found seven that were English and helped myself to them. Hey, I’ll take my dharma wherever I can get it.
I had a long wait for my last bus, and ate some odd snack I’d bought at MT during my wait. Belle went nuts when I got home. I was very hot, sore, and tired. I couldn’t wait to get under the shower.
Thursday, July 19th–I dreamt I was staying at a hotel–possibly a resort–near the sea. I kept going into a dark, dusty, labyrinthine used bookstore, looking at books. I couldn’t make my mind up about the books. Did I even have money to buy them?
I looked at a huge one-volume encyclopedia–was it one we had when I was a kid?–it was over one-foot thick and very hard to remove from and replace onto the shelf.
I was looking at children’s readers from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s–like those I collect. But I couldn’t find any in a condition or at a price that suited me.
I made my way to the beach. I had to go through a dark forest, and discovered that a recent storm had knocked many trees down, blocking my path to the beach. But already somebody had carved out an alternate path to the left, which went through a short tunnel under a cliff, then opened into a secluded beach and cove.
I slept as late as I possibly could, because I was really tired and sore from yesterday. I read in Fugate, reluctantly killed some ants that were coming into the apartment, and vacuumed.
I talked with a neighbor I often meet while dog-walking, and we discussed the renovations here at the complex. She said one of the hot tubs has been filled in and turned into a flower bed. She claimed that the talk that Austin apartments were almost at full capacity with no new apartment building on the horizon was probably just a ruse by powerful apartment management companies to raise rents. She has been looking at Houston rents on Craigslist and was amazed at what you can get down there for $500.
I mentioned that just about everywhere else–Houston, Dallas, San Antonio–even Cincinnati–offers better deals for much less money.
Friday, July 20th–I slept as late as I could. I didn’t get a message from DARS about my shrink appointment.
My friend D___ sent me a message about a pro-animal rights post I’d made, and made a statement I found both offensive in respect to animals and insulting and condescending to me in that he lectured me as if I were an ignorant child, the way so many of my friends do.
I got into a long IM conversation with M___, who eventually got on a tirade about politics and Obama. He seemed to blame me for the reason things were fucked up. He was also condescending with me, and then got mad when I said I wanted to live outside the US. He seemed to take the paradoxical position of criticizing the US for everything that was wrong with it, but thought me an elitist asshole because I’d rather live somewhere else. But then again, he’s always been hyper-sensitive of the fact I feel intellectually superior to everybody else….
I read more in Fugate, and did more Photoshop tutorials.