Tuesday, January 22nd–I spent over two-and-a-half-hours editing and rewriting apiece for J___ and N___’s blog. Later I read briefly, then watched “This Gun For Hire.”
Wednesday, January 23rd–I slept into late afternoon, puttered around, worried about my future, did tutorials, then read in Douglas.
Thursday, January 24th–I wasn’t awake long. I got up in the evening, puttered around, talked to J___, edited another one of N___’s articles, looked at travel books but got no reading done, then decided I didn’t want to stay up all the way until Friday night, and that I wanted to try and get at least a little sleep. I think I finally drifted off around 5am.
Friday, January 25th–I woke at 10:30am, after getting maybe five hours of sleep. As usual, I stayed exhausted the rest of the day.
I did my usual rituals quickly, and then, right before I was about to leave, my DARS Case Worker wrote me, saying the Career Trainer said I’d neither attended his sessions nor called him about it. I shot back a quick response, saying I’d e-mailed the guy early Monday morning, then said I had to leave in about fifteen minutes for an appointment, but would discuss the matter further later. And I also pasted the test of my message to that guy. And off I went, with something else to brood and obsess about the rest of the day.
I left the house at 11:15, got to the bus stop by 11:30 for 11:44 bus, but it was rather late–so much so that I don’t think the driver even had much of a lay-over when we got to the end of the line a few blocks away.
I got downtown and to my next stop just in time. This second bus took me through southeast Austin in the Riverside area. I’d forgotten how run-down and ragged that part of South Austin is.
I got to my destination, in a bleak area behind the IRS Processing Center, around 1:35pm or so, went to the building where the MAP application office is located now, took a piss, went to a Wells Fargo branch bank in the building and cashed a check my mom had sent me to pay for a flu shot, then went to the MAP office and signed in at 1:45 for a 2:20 appointment. I tried to find a chair that didn’t have disturbing-looking goo on the seat or arms.
Within about ten or fifteen minutes the receptionist called me up to hand over the documents supporting my application, and she said someone would see me.
2:20 came and went, as did 2:45 and 3:00. People who came in after me got waited on before me, including some snaggle-toothed woman with a baby in a gigantic stroller which she felt entitled to park in front of one of the two check-in windows.
As is usually the case with public health care waiting rooms, there was a large flat-screen TV mounted high up on the wall, blaring inane programming and hindering my ability to read or listen to my music. I gazed slack-jawed at the screen now and then, feeling almost as a visitor from another planet, horrified at how silly it all was, how grotesquely the “stars” of the network, none of whom were familiar to me, were dancing and contorting and gamboling about in the advertisements, like so many over-paid apes.
I became aware of the vast repertoire of expressions that played across my face between heavy, disgusted, defeated sighs. I looked sad, depressed, ready to cry, bored, angry, disgusted, impatient, disbelieving….
Oh, funny thing I mention disbelief. After a variety chat show, “Let’s Make A Deal,” (which I didn’t realize was still on the air, and which I last saw when Monty Hall was the host), the next program was the Christian Broadcasting Network “news.” I had to wonder if it was a violation of the separation of Church and State to play that silliness in the waiting room of a State agency.
I was getting very uncomfortable. My tailbone was sore. The tiny child who seemed so cute when I’d first arrived was beginning to get on my fucking nerves. Everybody around me was coughing and hacking and sneezing, and I was sure I’d get sick from either these people or those on the bus.
I had a bit of a headache and was also getting dizzy with hunger. I wondered what a diabetic coma was like and if I was about to lapse into one.
Finally, at 3:20 I was called in. I went to the officer of an assessor (or whatever you call the people who assess such cases), commented that I thought I recognized the music he was playing (Penguin Cafe Orchestra) as something I had on my I-Pod, and when I got to listen a little closer, I confirmed that I was right. He had absolutely no reaction.
The guy was polite, strictly-speaking, but he was barely alive, but then again, considering his job and the dreary location and all the other aspects I’d seen of his professional life, I could hardly blame him.
The formalities took less than ten minutes.
I went to piss again. The urinal didn’t flush properly and still had the urine of numerous men sloshing around in it. Since I’d been waiting a goddamn hour-and-a-fucking-half, I had a rather full bladder, and when I let flow the stream came out with the force a horse would envy. This caused the over-abundance of piss in the urinal to fly out of the bowl and splash all over my bare legs. And while I did dry them off with paper towels, I was nevertheless contaminated.
My bus arrived pretty quickly. I got downtown, and wanted some fast food, but since I couldn’t think of any fast food joints there I went to a pizzeria on Congress, had a greasy slice of pizza, a bag of greasy chips, and a Dr. Pepper. The woman at the next table over picked at her pizza while talking on the phone. She had a ring through her bottom lip, which rendered her speech unintelligible.
I walked two blocks over to the Omni, where I worked a dozen long, long years ago, intent on catching the #3 bus at the bus stop on its western side. But the big San Jacinto Street reconstruction project that took however many years and millions of dollars to complete had removed that bus top entirely, and replaced it with a large number of benches.
In fact, where San Jacinto runs through downtown, there are only two goddamn stops between First Street (Cesar Chavez) and Tenth.
Everything else is planters and benches. But the thing is, the only people who even use benches in Downtown Austin are homeless people and people waiting for buses, and while these benches are reasonably attractive, none of them have any shade or protection from the sun that sets this goddamned city afire eight or nine months of the fucking year.
And so I re-crossed San Jacinto, and walked up to the stop at Tenth and Congress. I waited for about fifteen minutes, wondering about the scaffolding and construction going on over at St. Mary’s Cathedral. After all, it was just a few years ago when it had a massive renovation.
An older homeless guy came over to me, his face covered with alarming red and brown spots and lesions. Apparently he didn’t know that when a person has headphones on that’s the universal symbol for “Leave me the fuck alone–I don’t want to talk to you!,” and went into an elaborate routine to dun fifty cents off of me. I admitted that I couldn’t give him fifty cents, as I never carry change, but I would give him a dollar. This seemed to surprise him.
Anything to get people to leave me alone.
The ride home was uneventful. I got even more sore in the uncomfortable seat.
I went to Randall’s, to the pharmacy department, for a flu shot. An older couple was at the pick-up window, so I went and stood over by the order window, but behind the line where customers are instructed to stand in order to protect the privacy of people who are being waited on. Still, with my poor hearing and the store’s sound system cranked up so loudly, I wouldn’t have been able to over-hear any conversations anyway.
So I waited. No one bothered to ask if I needed help.
The older couple left. No one bothered to ask if I needed help.
After several minutes, I moved up to the order window. No one bothered to ask if I needed help.
Finally, but only when they were goddamned good and ready, someone waited on me, and handed me a clip-board with a form to fill out. I couldn’t answer all of the questions–I don’t know my doctor’s name–it’s long and Indian and unpronounceable–but I did my best. Then the clerk said, “All right, it’ll be about thirty minutes. You should do your shopping and then come back after that.”
I looked around with a dubious, disgusted expression on my face. No one else was around. There was no line of people waiting to get flu shots. Why the fuck did I have to wait for thirty minutes? And no, I didn’t have any goddamn shopping to do.
So I poked around in the magazine section, thumbing through every magazine that held the potential of an interesting article or photo. I was so bored I almost picked up a fan magazine for the British boy band “One Direction,” but I knew I could never get that bored. Then I looked at the magazines and tabloids at the registers. Then I prowled among the aisles of the pharmacy department. Then I took a seat in the pharmacy department and took a book out of my back-pack, whereupon I was finally called forward.
I was instructed to go to a little lounge/waiting room that had been constructed in the last year or so next to the pharmacy counter in what used to be the health food section. (I had initially thought it an employee lounge, but I know that stores don’t treat their employees that well, and that employee lounges and break rooms are always grim, spartan affairs.) It had walls of shiny wood and frosted glass. Inside was subdued lighting, a counter and register, a good number of seats, and a high-definition, flat-screen TV playing a continuous loop of underwater sea-life footage.
After I waited another ten minutes or so, the little clerk who’d initially waited on me walked through, and I asked her if I needed to knock on one of the doors that opened off the lounge.
“No, he’ll come in and get you.”
And eventually, on his own good goddamn time, the head pharmacist walked in and ushered me into a tiny, yet rather exquisite room, about the size of a walk-in closet, with a really cool sliding wood and glass door with nickel-plated fixtures and a nifty wall of cabinets and drawers.
I had been imprecise on my form: I had claimed to have had a history of black-outs and convulsions during injections. That wasn’t exactly right. I had to explain that those things happened sometimes when blood was drawn, especially if the blood tech working on me was inexperienced and, frustrated by my rolling veins, started poking her finger at the point where the needle entered my skin. Regular injections, however, posed no problem.
I rolled up my left sleeve and tensed-up my arm. He told me to relax, wiped alcohol over my upper arm, then gave me a butterfly’s kiss of an injection that wasn’t even as obtrusive an acupuncture needle. Indeed, I glanced over suddenly with a “What the fuck was that?” look, so surprised was I by the complete lack of sensation the injection induced.
And the pharmacist noticed that he’d brought up no blood, so he saw no reason to put a Band-Aid over the spot. If only all shots were that painless! I thanked him and went on my way.
I then headed over to the dollar store to get some stuff for myself. Some rather scraggly-looking middle-aged woman was outside, arranging her purchases in various bags, a cute little yappy dog at her heels. I said hello to the dog, then went inside. I came back out about ten minutes later and the woman was still getting her shit arranged. She then got onto a bike, balanced all her bags, and rode off, her little dog trotting alongside, on a leash, barely keeping up. Then woman then turned into the road, and I really worried about the dog’s safety.
By this point I was so physically and emotionally beaten I was bent forward with my torso almost parallel to the ground.
When I finally got home it was after 7pm. Belle had left for me on (and off) her newspapers what I believe to have been the largest collection of poop she had ever made in one day in the three years she’s lived here.
I filled up two trash bags with the soiled newspapers, and eventually sat down on the floor and cried.
I puttered around and retired around 11pm.
Saturday, January 26th–I got up at 12:02pm, though Belle had awakened me some time before, by nudging me, whining, squirming, and resting her nose and mouth on my face. I was really tired and sore. Even my fingers ached. I felt as if I had serious arthritis trouble.
I got up, walked and fed Belle, ate, and decided there was no point in staying awake when I was that tired, so I went back to bed around 2pm, and slept until around 7pm.
I had one dream where I was one of several security guards at a complex of old skyscrapers. The boss made us patrol all of the buildings, including one which had been condemned and was unsafe to wander around in. I prowled around in there and became convinced that something sinister was going on inside–either a haunting or some unspeakable crimes.
I had another dream that involved my typical nightmare of late–having to go back to work at Half-Price Books.
My latest desk chair seemed finally about to break under my weight, so I brought out my “baby chair”–a chair that goes with the hutch desk I got when I was a child over forty years ago. I really hope that doesn’t break before I can get a new chair.
I got up and watched the highly enjoyable noir “The Street With No Name.” Then came “In A Lonely Place.” This is about the third time I’ve seen it, but I go so long between viewings I always forget the plot, so with each screening it’s like I’m watching the film for the first time.
I finished the evening with “Shortbus.” It was one of the most boring films I’ve ever seen in my life. Most of the cast members looked like they were in serious need of a shower. I couldn’t wait for it to end, but if you’re one of those people who’s convinced that what you do with your genitals makes you fascinating, you might enjoy it. I am so glad I didn’t spend any money to see this.
Sunday, January 27th–I slept until about 7pm or so, and woke with a cold or allergy problems. I edited another piece for N___, watched the DVD extras for “In A Lonely Place” and “The Street With No Name,” then watched the latter again with the DVD commentary on.
Monday, January 28th–I wasn’t awake long. I did some scanning, but felt too sick to read, and too sick, bored, and indifferent to watch the DVD extras for “Shortbus.” I talked to J___ on IM, I think. I acquired my 1000th Tumbler follower. I went to bed fairly early.