Tuesday, January 1st–I had a dream last night that Joseph Gordon-Levitt, his mom, sister, and maybe other relatives were renting out my grandparents’ old house. Mrs. Gordon-Levitt even drove me around some small town, and waited in a parking lot while I went inside to photograph an enormous Catholic Church.
Unfortunately, it was basically just a big ugly barn inside. Instead of having a traditional Mass, the members were putting on some sort of elaborate Bob Fosse-style song-and-dance extravaganza. My camera flash was becoming such a distraction that the choreographer came over and asked me to leave.
At 2am I was awakened by an alarm going off in two or three short bursts. I didn’t think it sounded like my smoke alarm, though. I jumped out of bed, stepped into a cold, mushy pile of dog shit–one of two Belle had left for me, tripped over one of her water bowls, and stepped into some of the soggy newspapers onto which she’d pissed. I looked and sniffed all over, but found no evidence of smoke or fire, nor did I figure out where the alarm had originated. Outdoors? Upstairs? Downstairs?
I hope these aren’t bad omens for 2013.
I finally got back to sleep and got up around 6 or 7am.
I burned incense during my shower, and heard the smoke alarm go off in two or three short bursts and decided that may well have been what I heard this morning. Probably the battery is just going out. I’ve been awakened by dying smoke alarm batteries before.
By late morning I was thoroughly depressed and already sick of 2013. This is already shaping up into a terrible year.
Later on in the day, I got onto the floor and began reading Norman Douglas’s “Old Calabria” until I got too tired to keep on. But I wasn’t able to fall asleep either. The depression stayed around all day.
Wednesday, January 2nd–I forget when in the morning I got up.
I went through my rituals and kept busy, somehow managing to avoid depression for much of the day. I did some sorting of paperwork, then mailed off a bill at the UPS Store, bought two bags of dog food and a good deal of heavily-discounted doggie Christmas treats at Petsmart, and some munchies for myself at the dollar store. This was my first outing (not counting walking Belle around the apartment complex) since December 20th.
I showered, read in the Cavafy book, puttered, began to get sad again, made some pasta, and retired around midnight.
Thursday, January 3rd–I woke after 10am–much later than I thought I would.
The day got to a bad start. I spilled some dry oatmeal as I tried to pour it into a bowl. I dropped an egg onto the floor while trying to fix Belle’s breakfast. Now I won’t have enough eggs for her to last until I get my Food Stamp payment on the 7th.
I had to re-boot my computer. In doing so, two days of journal entries seemed to have disappeared.
I did my rituals and got ready to leave.
It was cold out. I went to Randall’s, bought some food, and roach traps and a magazine I couldn’t afford, then got stressed-out to the point I thought I was going to cry, due to my inadequate funds. How would I ever get through the month? How long am I going to have to live in extreme poverty like this?
I went to the bank, deposited some money, and got some cash.
I considered just going home right then or going home after I got my medications, because I was so upset and frustrated and had gotten such a late start.
I had a fairly long wait for the first bus. There was some asshole sitting in the back near me who talked loudly on his cell phone, then turned to a toothless young Mexican guy and his fat girlfriend, to tell him how he’d just gotten out of the hospital for the flu, and that he still had it to some extent.
That’s all I need–to get the flu from that sick asshole, and have no way to buy medicines or get them home. So I was paranoid the rest of the day about getting sick, especially considering how filthy the buses and their riders always are. Most of the people the buses serve, for some reason, don’t believe in covering their faces when they sneeze or cough.
I noticed my I-Pod was almost out of energy. It wouldn’t last me for the entire day.
I got my second bus fairly quickly, and got up to HEB. I had no trouble filling my prescriptions, but then I had a long wait for my next bus.
But I finally got to UT and set my camera up on my tripod. There was hardly anyone around, and I began to feel a little better. I took some architectural shots and noticed how much the tripod helped. Not wanting to slog up that damned hill to the Texas Memorial Museum, I entered the parking garage next door and took an elevator. I got off two levels too high, but took some more photos, took another elevator down to where I needed to go, and went over to the museum.
I think this was my first visit since I got my digital camera.
I had wanted to devote at least an hour per floor today, taking my time, savoring the experience as I so rarely do in museums, reading all the labels, but instead I got there only two hours before closing. I went straight up to the fourth floor, went to the uni-sex restroom, because I badly needed to piss, but it was locked. I took the elevator to the third floor, and found there was no restroom. I finally had to go all the way down to the ground floor. I set my tripod up next to the urinal whilst I pissed, and I was worried some museum official would come in and think I was some sort of pervert trying to photograph people in the restroom.
I went back to the fourth floor and realized that even with two hours I’d probably not get to read all the labels and take in all the exhibits on that floor. Visiting this museum properly would either take an entire day or several visits.
The exhibits on that floor are devoted to evolution and bio-diversity. There was a table with a sign that read “What Do You Think?,” which encouraged visitors to write down their comments on the exhibit and slip the pieces of paper with the opinions into a slot on the table.
There was also a notebook filled with some of these comment sheets, covered with lamination. There were a lot of comments from children and plenty from adults. Almost all of them had a Christian religious slant, either condemning evolution outright as a Satanic lie, or attempting an argument for intelligent design. I don’t think I saw anything that was 100% supportive of science, but then again, that’s America for you.
I was halfway through the section on whale evolution when a young man and his mother came into the hall, and he turned on a loud, blaring recording, which made it impossible for me to read the labels. Then he turned on another recording so both played loudly at the same time.
Eventually they left, but I was running out of time, so I took some pictures, and decided to, for the time being, skim through the other floors, and take some more photos, and planned to return another time. I hit the third floor, the ground floor, then the second/entrance floor, chatted with the guard, and left shortly before closing.
I got some more pictures as I made my slow progress west across campus, then had a fairly long wait for my bus. I actually got into a conversation with some passengers, but by the time I got to my neighborhood I was severely depressed, tired, sad, and again on the verge of crying. To that list of emotions was added frustration when I had to wait ten goddamn minutes just to get across Jollyville Road thanks to the evening traffic.
The postman accidentally stuck a letter meant for my asshole upstairs neighbor (the one who lives directly over me, who likes to listen to dub-step and techno) in my mailbox, so before I went into my apartment, I climbed the steep stairs (which have always felt to me to be pitched at a treacherous angle) to his floor, and rang the doorbell. He took his time answering, seemed very surprised to see me, and even more surprised that I was nice enough to bring him his letter. Maybe now he’ll stop being so goddamn rude to me.
I took Belle for a quick walk, then showered. While I was doing the latter, Belle got over-excited and snatched something out of the bathroom trash. It turned out to be the cellophane wrapper from some chocolate something I’d eaten. She took it into the living room, ripped it up, and licked it. I don’t think there was enough chocolate on it to do her any damage, and indeed, what worried me was that she might’ve swallowed some of the cellophane.
I finally settled in for the night, and found myself extremely sore, and had difficulty walking and standing from all the walking I did today. The backpack with equipment also didn’t help my back any.
I discovered that the journal content I thought I’d lost had been magically restored.
Someone on Tumbler who added me enthusiastically on Wednesday, commented that she adored me, and encouraged all of her followers to follow me, dropped me today. I wonder what she found in my past posts that turned her off.
With some difficulty I uploaded the photos I took today, but was too tired to edit them.
J__ had left me a message. I called him back. He said that he and N__ were spending the night at some place called the Magnolia Hotel in Houston, which he said had originally been the home of the “Houston Post-Dispatch.”
Flipping through my mental Rolodex I offered, “That was owned by Ross Sterling, wasn’t it?”
J____, stunned, but also impressed, said matter-of-factly, “Yes. Yes it was.”
I then went into a mini-history lesson about Ross Sterling, particularly about his house in Morgan’s Point, Texas, a semi-replica of the White House, and at the time of its construction, the largest house in Texas. Sterling, one of the four co-founders of Humble Oil (now Exxon) and later Governor of Texas, supposedly handed architect Alfred C. Finn (later architect of the San Jacinto Monument and friend of my paternal grandfather) a $20 bill, flipped it over to the back side, and said, “Build me that.”
The result was a 20,000 square-foot, three-story mansion that’s been a white elephant on the real estate market for decades. (I acquired the floor plans about thirty-five years ago.) The last I heard, some investors had purchased the house, intending to restore it, and turn it into a combination bed-and-breakfast/day spa/museum. I hope they’re successful. I’d love to see the place in person.
I concluded my speech by mentioning that I’d been born in a hospital that was located on Ross Sterling Avenue.
I retired around 4am or so, never having gotten around to doing any reading.
Friday, January 4th–I woke around 10 or 11am, got up to piss, tried to sleep some more and didn’t really succeed, and finally got up at noon.
I had a message from D___ that his dad died this morning. That means D___’s lost his wife and both parents within only two-and-a-half years.
I did my usual rituals, and after some difficulty, paid my delinquent phone and electric bills online, showered, then set out eight roach traps.
I puttered around online and became depressed. It drizzled most of the day.
I found an e-mail dated from two days ago from my DARS Case Worker, wanting to set up an appointment for next week. That stressed me out. I knew it was coming, but I always dread appointments–especially with DARS.
Saturday, January 5th–I had one dream where my father had a very nice art collection, displayed mostly in a lofty, two-story rectangular living room. My mother’s paintings, upon which he doted in real life, were nowhere to be seen. This collection was a nice mixture of modern, contemporary, and traditional works. And I could see that if I wanted to continue hanging paintings in that room, mainly along the upper half of the room, above the tops of the windows, I still had one-and-a-half walls left to fill up.
In the next dream I went out to LA for an important job interview. I think I went by car. I arrived on Oscar night and the traffic was horrible.
I went to a friend’s house. I think the plan was for all these big shots to gather there and we’d all watch the Oscars together. It would serve as either my job interview or maybe my preliminary interview.
I found myself in a tiny, messy room with a narrow bed in it and a lot of junk and papers and rags and stuff. This was the storage or junk room of the house, but it was also where I was to sleep. I noticed the chair had a seat that lifted up to reveal a toilet beneath it.
Eventually I went out into the living room and everybody showed up and took their seats. But I had a strong need to take a dump. And the chair I was sitting in also had a toilet underneath it, or maybe it was the chair moved in from the other room.
Anyway, as subtly as I could, I slipped down the back of my pants and went to work. I was careful and discreet, but the big shots were disgusted, and all got up and left. I’d blown my interview and my shot at the job. But I couldn’t help it.
I interpret this as having to do with the way I am humiliated and infantilized by jobs and the job-hunting process. I am made into a dependent, embarrassing, helpless baby.
I got up and went to the bathroom, then returned to bed.
I eventually got up around noon, still very tired and unhappy. I lasted about two hours, if that, before I got too overwhelmed and went back to bed.
There was some dream where I was handling an invention. It was rather like a folding, collapsible antenna, but it was hand-held, and the antenna extended or collapsed by means of pressing a button on the base. But the antenna was slightly bent and it wasn’t collapsing the way it should. (You Freudians go have some fun with that, okay?)
I had another bad dream where I was forced back to work at Half-Price Books, and was only being paid a handful of dollars a day. I was so upset that when the prospect of waking up offered itself, I took it.
I got up some time after 7pm, feeling a little more rested, but definitely no happier.
Jesus, what a way to live–driven to sleep when overcome with misery in my waking life, then driven to wakefulness when my dreams become too terrible to face.
I read some in Douglas and retired maybe around 8:30am, but I’m not sure.
Sunday, January 6th–I was dreamt I was somewhere in public–possibly outdoors at Spider House Coffee House, sitting at a table, writing a term paper (something I last did for money twenty years ago this year, believe it or not). I was very busy.
A very black-bearded Fidel Castro came up to me from behind my right side and began chatting familiarly. I wondered why Castro was here, and why he seemed to think he knew me. Then I realized it was not Castro at all, but my old college friend J__ C___.
He started rambling off onto crazy topics, and then got this idea in his head that I needed to write a paper about how a woman would feel right after receiving anal sex. I wanted to tell him that that was grossly inappropriate–certainly for academic usage–and anyway was not something I knew about or had any interest in researching. I didn’t want to insult him or anger him, since he was the one that referred all these term paper customers to me, and was the reason I was now so busy and soon to be rolling in money.
So I came up with some silly project idea or suggestion that I offered to ponder over, something he would soon forget all about, allowing me to concentrate on my work. I told him my idea, he was delighted, and off he went.
I got up at 3:28pm, did my usual rituals, went through a sad patch–again–due to something I read online, then went to the dollar store. I did some tutorials and read in the Cavafy biography and in Douglas.
Monday, January 7th–I dreamt that for some reason, a friend of mine and his family moved halfway across the country to an upscale neighborhood in Texas. I was a house guest, scheduled to stay for the better part of a week.
But my friend was often gone during the day, leaving me with his mother and possibly his father. The parents and I had nothing in common, and exchanged no words at all when my friend was not around.
My relationship with the parents was borderline icy, though I wouldn’t go so far as to call it hostile because there was too strong a current of indifference. I just spent the day shut up in the guest room while the mother quietly knocked about the house with her lips pursed.
There was, however, an occasion when I was seated on the toilet in my guest bathroom when the mother came in with some other woman. The other woman needed some item, which looked rather like a large bottle opener, which was either hanging on the wall to my right or was on the floor to my right. The toilet was enclosed by hanging walls and a door, rather like toilets in public restrooms, but the ladies poked their heads in nonetheless, and my friend’s mother actually had to speak directly to me to explain what they wanted.
I was a little weirded out that they wanted to use this item, and I wondered how clean it might be, having been left there in direct line of piss splashings and toilet germs. I seem to recall they reached over my lap to take the item, rather than wait for me to hand it to them.
Eventually, my friend returned and the tension dissipated. And I learned that my oldest friend and his family lived two or three houses down the street and was acquainted with this family, which made my stock rise a little bit in the eyes of my friend’s parents.
I woke in the late afternoon. I did my usual rituals, put on the dish-washer, ate, had coffee, checked to make sure my DARS Case Worker hadn’t written me back, checked to see my Food Stamp money had been deposited, then prepared to go out into the world, something which I was, of course, dreading.
I went first to Randall’s to look for those Indian food heat-and-eat packets, but they weren’t stocked there, or, as it turned out, at HEB either, so I guess I’ll have to make a special trip to Sprouts soon. I bought almost $42 worth of groceries, and for a change, did not buy so many that the walk back home was an ordeal.
I got home, attended to Belle, showered, got very irritated, scanned over sixty pages in that Lovecraft book, but had technical problems and then had to do it all over again. Then I puttered for awhile and updated my blog.