Journal Entries (August 4-10, 2012).

Saturday, August 4th–I woke in the early afternoon. I wanted to see a movie, and hadn’t been to one in a year. And so, though I really couldn’t afford it, I went to the Arbor to see “Ruby Sparks,” with Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Benning, Antonio Banderas, and Elliott Gould. I went to the 7pm showing and paid full price. My, but it was nice to go back to a theatre again.

Afterwards, I went to HEB, looking for a light bulb for my desk lamp, but couldn’t find one in the right size. I bought a magazine instead, then headed back home, returning after 9:30pm.

Did I finish my Photoshop Elements tutorials today, or was that last night?

At any rate, I had some over-cooked hush puppies for dinner, read some in “Lolita,” and retired early–around 2am, because I’d been worn out by the walk and the heat. I just didn’t feel like forcing myself into staying up later than that.

Sunday, August 5th–I woke around noon.

Around mid-afternoon we had a brief rain storm.

I put off sending a couple important e-mails, because I was afraid as to how they’d be received.

I made pasta for dinner. I over-did it with the garlic.

I started tutorials for Photoshop Lightroom, but the fifth video wouldn’t play, so I was left hanging.

Monday, August 6th–Some dream fragments:

A mad gunman was prowling around an apartment complex where I was living, shooting people. (This was no doubt inspired by the shooting at that Sikh temple yesterday.) I figured what with the size of the complex and the law of averages, if I just avoided windows and stayed flat on the floor, the guy would avoid me, and either get tired of this place, or the cops would have time to arrive and come kill him.

In another dream I was stripped to the waist, trying to darken the skin on my face, shoulders, and upper chest, by drawing on them with a red marker. The result was a sort of tan brown color. Would it wash off? And what was that white film all over my scalp, visible only if I looked very close into the mirror?

In still another dream I was in a bar with some people. There was an older woman, ostensibly my mother, but she looked nothing like my mother. I tried to decide what to drink, and settled on a Salty Dog. Then I asked what sort of nuts and snacks they had available, and the waiter/waitress rattled off a surprisingly long list of this too-often neglected bar amenity. I asked for a mix of everything mentioned.


There’s still problems with that tutorial video, so I sent the site a message.

I spent a good deal of time looking at Craigslist apartment listings for all sorts of cities: Houston, Dallas, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Paris, Amsterdam, St. Louis, Kansas City, Boston….My main conclusion is that just about every place is cheaper than Austin–except for maybe LA and New York.

Tuesday, August 7th–While I was on my way to go grocery shopping this evening, around 7pm, I was assaulted.

I was about fifty yards from the apartment office, on a sidewalk alongside the street, listening to my I-Pod. I saw this tall black guy shuffling along. He was maybe in his late thirties or forties, dressed in a shabby manner. He might’ve been homeless. Even from a distance with my bad vision I could see he was glowering.

I looked the other way, feigning interest in someone to my right who was walking across a parking lot. I then looked down and concentrated on adjusting my I-Pod.

Then I felt an explosion, the music changed abruptly, and when I got my bearings I realized this guy had walked past me and punched me in my left shoulder.

I looked up. He was smirking at me. He looked sort of like a younger version of Michael Dorn or Moses Gunn.

I said,” Excuse me?”

He said, facetiously, “Oh, I thought you were my friend….Are you not my friend?”

“I have no idea who you are.”

And he lumbered off.

I don’t have a cell phone, so I couldn’t call the cops on him.

Needless to say, it took quite awhile for my adrenaline to go down.

Now my gun-nut friends would argue that this is why everyone should carry a concealed gun. But the thing is, had I been carrying a gun when that happened, I’d have shot and killed that guy without a second thought, and had no moral qualms about it, either. (Hell, I would’ve at least winged the son of a bitch for having the effrontery to lay hands on me.)

But society, instead of giving me a medal for getting useless and violent filth out of its midst, would have arrested me, and dragged me before a court, where it would’ve taken a clever court psychiatrist and a slick lawyer just a few seconds to prove that I place almost no value on human life, and a jury of my inferiors would’ve clapped me in chains for the rest of my natural life.

Had I been carrying pepper spray, knowing my general lack of co-ordination, I would probably have gotten the spray into my own eyes. A friend has suggested I carry a stout walking stick with a steel head, but walking sticks look absurd unless you’re dressed up and of a certain age and dignity of bearing.

So I guess I should just chalk this up to one of those lightning bolts fate sends my way with no point or explanation.

[Odd, though, that I dreamt just a few days ago of being in danger on that very same street.]

Well, after this, I went grocery shopping at Randall’s, Sprouts, and HEB, spending $19, $35, and $46, respectively.

I read in Bradbury and Nabokov, and retired close to 10:30am on Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 8th–Some time in the afternoon I woke with violently painful gas and, doubled over, made it to the bathroom, where I had a slow, terrible wait for explosive diarrhea to arrive. I had to make a second visit shortly after the first. But while this ordeal continued I was drenched in sweat and had severe chills. Afterwards I had to wipe the sweat off with a bath towel. Fortunately, I was able to get back to sleep.

Later on in the day, James–bless him–brought the money I need for Belle’s vet visit….

Later on I read in Nabokov.

Thursday, August 9th–I got up at noon, got ready, threw out two huge bags of trash, left home, went to a mailing shop, had to wait so long to get postage for my bills I missed my bus, had a long, hot wait for the next bus, changed from that bus to the one I missed a few blocks later at the end of the route, and had a longer ride than usual into town.

I went to the Blanton, chiefly to see the “Fifty Pieces for Fifty States” exhibition from the collection of Herbert and Dorothy Vogel. It was very nice. I’m glad I made the effort to go see it. I then looked at another exhibition, “The Human Touch: Selections From The RBC Wealth Management Art Collection,” (which included works by Nan Goldin, Robert Longo, Chuck Close, and Tom Sachs), then went upstairs and took a bunch of pictures of the permanent collection. Those pictures are becoming old friends by now.

I went over to the museum store in the other building, to see if there was a catalogue to the Vogel show–not that I could afford one had there been one. They had a whole table of Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired gift items, including a FLLW plush doll I was enchanted by.

From thence I went on to the PCL. My topics of research included books about the private libraries of the famous, Oswald Spengler, historic furnishings and landscaping reports for various historic houses supervised by the US Department of the Interior, Yukio Mishima, Paul Léautaud, Virginia Woolf, Edgar Wallace, Vladimir Nabokov, and Robert E. Howard. I had a little trouble finding some things, since some sections have been moved around for the first time in over twenty years.

I gathered up three books–biographies of Denton Welch, Alfred Jarry, and Sax Rohmer, and examined them for an hour or so at a study table, to decide what pages I wanted to copy. The PCL has new study tables now. The thick wooden tables and carrels have been replaced, at least in the area where I sat, with spare-looking table with slim vertical panels rising up between them, with plugs for lap-tops.

I headed downstairs to add money to a copy card and make photocopies. I wound up spending two dollars–partly because the machines weren’t making decent copies–there was probably a toner problem. I also had to stand down-wind of a vile-smelling, tattooed cyclist who was reading a newspaper.

I was shocked to see most of the shelves in the Reference Room have been taken down. Were they getting rid of their reference books altogether?! Then I saw a note to the effect that they’re building new shelves.

I decided the bus stop at 22nd and Guadalupe would be more interesting than the one at 20th, so I headed over there. Most of the people waiting were standing thirty or more feet away from the actual bus stop signs, because the sign area had been taken over by a man who kept loudly vomiting into a nearby planter.

He was in late middle-age, was short, with a small pot belly, curly white hair, a high forehead, thick glasses, bulbous lips, and a way of holding his mouth that made me wonder if he was at least mildly retarded. I waited for the bus at least ten minutes, and every few minutes this guy would go back over to the planter to puke.

I tried to read in “Lolita,” but a young woman with a brassy, piercing voice and laugh was having a conversation nearby, and I couldn’t concentrate.

When my bus arrived and I boarded, two men sat behind me–a young white guy who looked like a junior management trainee, and an old black man with an odor so pungent I had to hold my handkerchief to my nose. They got into a conversation on politics which they evidently felt had to be conducted in full voice. Though I had on my earphones and tried to cover one ear with my forearm, and even took to reading aloud, albeit in a low, muttering voice, they continued to bellow for almost the entire ride.

After I got back to my neighborhood I bought $41 of groceries at Randall’s (not counting a light bulb), and $10 more at the dollar store. I was quite weighted down on my way home. Later, I walked Belle, showered, and resolved to stay close to home until I have to go to my psychiatric examination early Monday morning.

I finally finished the last of the end-notes to “Lolita.” I found it a remarkable book.

I’d seen, and mostly forgotten, the Kubrick film of “Lolita” about twenty years ago. All I remember about it, in fact, was Peter Sellers’s role, which I found over-long, tiresome, and insufferably self-indulgent.

I’d not realized that the book is more than the chronicle of an older man perving on a young girl, but is also one of the most allusion-heavy works this side of Joyce, not to mention wickedly funny.

Many books and academic articles have been written on “Lolita,” and I cannot improve on or add to them, but I will say I liked that Nabokov had Humbert Humbert on the one hand rhapsodizing about Lolita’s beauty and effortless grace, but on the other, also mentioning, with an unemotional camera eye, Lolita’s crudeness, ignorance, tackiness, bad taste, poor hygiene, and other negative qualities. Through this Nabokov shows with brutal clarity how blind to the other’s faults a person can get when in love.

Now this annotated version alerted me to and cleared up a lot of things I might have otherwise missed or not understood. It greatly added to my appreciation of the book. At the same time I found the introduction very slow reading and the end notes only somewhat less so.

Both sections tend to get pedantic and overly obscure and detailed. While I appreciate it that the annotator wanted to be thorough, that he knew Nabokov personally and got Nabokov’s help with the notes, and that he read every book Nabokov had written, the fact that his notes explain how a given reference fits into the overall fabric of “Lolita,” as well as how the reference is used in all of Nabokov’s other works seems to me to be overkill, although this might come in handy should I read Nabokov’s other books.


I listened to the audio commentary for “Poison” and even watched a few scenes, but mostly jut listened while doing other things. While the commentary was interesting and answered all of my questions about the film, there was one problem: someone, probably director Todd Haynes, kept taking lots of drinks of some beverage, and his microphone amplified his swallowing noises to a great and annoying degree.

I read in Bradbury a bit and retired a little after 7am.

Friday, August 10th–I slept long and hard, waking after 7pm.

I had several dreams, including the usual “Back to College” one. In this one I was rooming with my first college room-mate, Phil, who was a nice guy, but very straight-laced, and obsessive about studying. He disapproved of my habit of taking afternoon naps after class.

Anyway, the main point of this dream seemed to be the arrangement of our dorm room. I liked the way it was originally, but I went somewhere–maybe away for the weekend–and when I came back he’d re-arranged everything. I didn’t make a fuss, and gave lip-service that I was okay with it, but in fact I didn’t like it at all.

Originally, my bed was off to the side, far off the the right as you walked in the door. In the re-arranged room, the side of my bed was now directly opposite the door, in direct fire of anyone barging in to bother me and most susceptible to bright light streaming in.

In another dream, Madonna decided I was to be her next man. I learned this from some reporters. I found this highly amusing, since I haven’t the slightest interest in her, would not reciprocate her attention and interest, am not a sexual person the way she is, I do not share her morals or values, and am, for that matter, not attractive, famous, or rich. I would not give her an exciting life. But I let the press know that if Miss Ciccone-Penn-Ritchie wished to woo me, I’d certainly find the whole experience entertaining.


During one of our walks, Belle got really dirty. From what I can tell it looks like she must’ve brushed up against a car exhaust pipe and gotten the exhaust dust onto her fur. A wet sponge and a brush failed to remove the dust, so I gave her her first bath in well over a year.

She is so hard to pick up and lift and it was so difficult for me to squat and bend down to wash her that I can see why I do this so rarely. But she seemed to be happier after the bath (which still didn’t get rid of all the stain), and she was quite fluffy.

I finally finished Ray Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man.” This was highly entertaining. I mostly started it because there was one story I’d heard about (“The Last Night of the World”) that sounded interesting, and I was in the mood to sample some more Bradbury right after his death, since I’d only read “Fahrenheit 451” prior to this. But this collection was so enjoyable I’m sure I’ll be reading more of his work.

I found pictures online of the graves of one of my grandmother’s closest friends and my oldest friend’s mom. I discovered that the old First United Methodist Church in Katy, Texas, where I was christened and went to Sunday School, has started a major renovation, and may demolish parts of their buildings that I remember fondly. It’s odd–I’ve not set foot in that church in thirty-nine years (!!!) and am not even a Methodist anymore, but the idea of those old buildings being torn down or altered makes me very sad.

I started Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” before bed.


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