Journal Entries (January 22nd–28th, 2013).

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.

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Journal Entries (January 15th–21st, 2013).

Tuesday, January 15th–I got up around 7:40am, I think. I sent my mom an e-mail about the bills, DARS, and so forth. I had an IM discussion about the Italian trip with J___.

…[I got a phone message that upset me.]

That, along with my intense worry about this trip, which I’m not at all sure I will or even want to go on, plunged me into a depression all day.

After many hours of dealing with computer problems, and dawdling and reformatting articles, I sent my Case Worker the writing samples she’d wanted yesterday afternoon. It took several more hours before I could bring myself to start work on my tutorials. J___ then interrupted with some IM talk, then disappeared for awhile. I had some brief crying sessions, talked to J____ again, and eventually finished the tutorials after I don’t know how many hours.

Wednesday, January 16th–Early on today I thought I’d avoid my bad mood, but it soon fell upon me. I had had an IM conversation with J___ about the trip, and the way he made it sound, they’re not even intending to go to any of the major cities I’d like to visit, thinking there won’t be enough time. And if they did go to any of these cities, they seem to want to avoid a lot of the sort of attractions I would want to see. I think they want to just stick to small towns and just putter around, which makes me wonder why I would even want to bother with going at all.

Then J___ offered to hire me to do some editing work, for a very small amount of money. He said he had to go run errands first, so I had to put off the reading and other activities I had planned for the day and just wait and wait. Then the maintenance men started making a bunch of goddamn noise outside, for several hours on end.

Then I got a notice that there’s to be a property inspection tomorrow and some assholes might want to come into my apartment between 9am and 5pm. I’ve gotten a few of these notices every year for several years now, and it’s been a long time since they ever actually came inside, but the mere idea that this might happen upsets me greatly.

All of these events made me more and more depressed and stressed-out.

Eventually J___ reappeared, and sent me one of the pieces he wanted me to edit. I did a good job on it, but it took almost an hour to fix–much longer than I’d planned–and I only earned about $9 for it. After that I was too tired and sad to do anything else, so I retired around 11pm.

Thursday, January 17th–I had a dream that was a vast, epic-scale 1970s stoner comedy. I think the premise was that a bunch of young men were going to an old hotel or resort in the country, next to a lake, possibly for water-skiing. One of the guys took his own car and arrived later than the rest, bringing along with him some stoner friends/hitch-hikers who helped change the whole course of the weekend.

One of the main characters was played by Ashton Kutcher. He was a big bullshitter, and had this older man convinced he was personal friends with all these famous people, and kept telling stories that supposedly offered secret, personal insights into them. I noticed, but didn’t say anything, that he referred to several of these people, including Neal Cassidy, in the present tense, though some of them were long dead by the time of this dream.

So I came across a friend trying to rip a flimsy, tissue-thin page out of a Bible, intending to use it as a rolling paper. I slapped him across the backs of both hands, and sharply said, “NO!” He looked very disappointed, started pouting, then slunk away with slumped shoulders.

……………………

I woke up earlier than I wanted to and got up to piss, then went back to bed. I’m not sure if I went back to sleep or not, and I finally got up close to 8am.

I got into an IM discussion with J__, and he said he’d be by later on. He showed up in late morning, and we took a quick trip to Petsmart, where he bought me two bags of dog food for Belle and a $50 gift card as well. He also gave me a toaster oven and a rice cooker that he and N___ had received as gifts, and a dog poop bag dispenser, as well as the money for that piece I wrote for him last night.

J____ says he has a guy whom he thinks could take care of Belle while I was in Italy. Apparently this is the guy that takes care of J____’s cats, but I’m still not sold on the idea at all.

I got back home, took a shower, and began preparing my Big Ass Soup. I cooked it from 2:30 to 6:30pm and the quality was so-so.

While I was doing the prep, though, that career counselor for DARS called. I actually had the volume of the machine on, so I spoke with him. He wants me to come to four group sessions next week from Monday to Thursday, each lasting from 9am to 1pm. There will also be a fifth one-on-one session, which is really the only thing I want.

I specifically fucking told my Case Worker that I didn’t want to go to one-size-fits-all career training, and that looks like exactly what I’m going to fucking get! I don’t like generic training sessions. I don’t like groups. I don’t like doing things early in the morning. I have very specific problems and issues that will only be fixed–if at all–by custom-designed treatment, and I’m not fucking getting that.

This guy also made it sound like he assumes everybody going to these sessions is hossing to get to work as soon as possible, which is not true in my case–not exactly. I am only looking for work under very special conditions, and even then I’m really not sure I can hold any job outside the home.

I am so goddamn sick of people not listening to me when I speak to them clearly and explicitly, of people just ignoring me and going off and saying and doing towards me what they’ve already fucking decided on with no regard for my wishes.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day very upset.

I e-mailed M___ and told him how on the fence I was about Italy, and he said I should go and he’d do whatever I needed doing to help make it happen.

Around the middle of the afternoon I heard loud voices talking and saw what I assumed were those inspectors poking around. Fortunately, they stayed outside and didn’t bother me, and one more crisis passed.

I talked more with J___ when he got home. He said if I didn’t want to go along with his agenda I could just get a train pass and go wherever in Italy I wished, just so long as I came back with stories.

Friday, January 18th–Another day of depression, stress, and sadness.

I spent most of the day brooding and obsessing over this fucking generic job-training bullshit next week, and over how upset I am with DARS failing to help me. I devoted a lot of time thinking how to sabotage all this and say shocking, upsetting things to the guy conducting the meetings and to my Case Worker, to make it clear how displeased I am.

I did some reading in travel guides and in Douglas, puttered around online, and retired about 11pm or so.

Saturday, January 19th–I did some reading, and spent ninety minutes editing and rewriting a new piece from N____.

Sunday, January 20th–I got up around mid-day, did the usual things, ate lunch, then got a message from J____, stating that he was coming to town, and asking if I wanted to go run errands with him and go to lunch, and of course, I agreed, though I showered beforehand. (That was odd for me, since I usually like to shower after going out into the world.)

He gave me some more money from N___, and we ate at the Opal Divine’s by Fry’s.

We discussed the trip. It’s still not a certainty. He’s not told his in-laws. He expects they might be bothered by the idea of him paying to bring me along, and call him an idiot for doing so, but said they won’t make a scene in front of me.

He’s trying to decide what would be the best route to go. Flying from the US directly to Italy, he thinks, might take too much money and time, and he’s considering flying to Madrid and taking the train on to Italy. I perked up like a yappy little dog at the idea of Madrid, and said, “Oh, then we could go to the Prado!…,” but he shot the idea down, saying that touring Madrid is not on the agenda.

He said I should just assume that from now on I will be taken once a year on a vacation to Europe and once a year on a vacation somewhere in the Western Hemisphere. There’s a lot in that statement worth pondering….

We then got into an involved discussion on gun control, and he said that the people who went to the pro-gun rally at the State Capitol the other day were very insistent that they didn’t oppose gun control because they wanted guns for hunting and home protection, but because they expect they’ll one day have to fight the government.

I said, “Do these people really think they’ll be able to hold their own again the largest, best-armed military force in world history?”

He responded, “Well, the US has been in Afghanistan for over a decade and it’s still getting its ass handed to it by a bunch of goat-herders living in the mountains.”

The rest of the discussion continued in similar circles….

While he went to a hardware store, I went nearby to a Half-Price Books–possibly my first visit to one in over a year–and bought four books. We then went to Target, where he got a few art supplies, and bought me three loaves of bread. He revealed that the appliances he gave me recently were not unopened gifts he and N____ had received from other people, but new appliances which they’d purchased at Target for me.

I retired a little after midnight, but tossed and turned due to worry, stress, and anxiety. Finally, around 2:40am, I got up and wrote and e-mailed the following to the Career Trainer:

Dear Mr. B____:

To get right to the point, I am not going to be able to attend your training sessions this week or under the current framework. Ever since we talked, I have been in a state of anxiety, panic, and dread. It is now almost 3am on Monday morning, and I have not been able to get to sleep after trying for several hours.

I suffer from, among other things, social anxiety. Sometimes I have a handle on it, sometimes not. I find the best way to control the panic is to avoid situations that induce it. I don’t like group settings or enforced socialization. I don’t like long meetings or feeling confined. I’m not a people person or a morning person.

I had specifically requested private, custom-made assistance, rather than more general, “one size fits all” training. I only very reluctantly agreed to attend some group settings, but I find now, as I’ve said, that I can’t do it.

I hope this in no way inconveniences you, and that we are able to craft some sort of approach that best suits my unfortunately complicated circumstances.

Thanks.

J___ B_____

………………………..

A Tumbler post I made after e-mailing the Career Trainer:

Well, I hope I didn’t just ruin my chances at ever having a career.
I am in a program that is designed to help people with disabilities find work. It’s not helped me at all thus far, and I’ve been in it for several months.

The thing is, I’m in no mental condition to work outside my home right now. This agency seems unwilling to provide me with the necessary treatment for, among other things, my social anxiety, and I’ve basically been told that if I don’t seem capable of working within a relatively short time, that I’ll be dropped from the program, which makes no sense to me. So I feel pressured to agree to things I am really not willing or ready to do, because I’m afraid that if this agency doesn’t help me, I’ll never have a decent career or be able to break out of the dead-end, low-wage jobs I’ve done all my life.

At my last meeting with my Case Worker I was told she was going to pair me with a career trainer. I said I didn’t want generic, one-size-fits-all training, but training specifically tailored to my needs, as the agency claims it offers. But she and the trainer pressured me to agree to going to some group sessions this week (16 hours worth) followed by only 4 hours of private sessions.

Since talking with the trainer, I have spent the last 72 hours in a state of panic, anxiety, stress, and dread over the prospect of what all could happen at these meetings. I tossed around in bed for three hours, unable to get to sleep, before I finally got up and write the trainer, saying I wouldn’t be attending and that we needed to work out some alternative plan.

I hope I didn’t screw things up just now, but I was just not ready for all of that, plus another ordeal with a different agency Friday.

………………..

I retired around 4am and almost immediately went to sleep like a baby.

Monday, January 21st–I woke close to noon after a deep and dreamless sleep. I woke tired, as if I’d just completed some act of great physical exertion. I had a bit of a headache, but also a sense of a burden lifted unlike any I had felt since Election Night and the barbarians were fought back.

I spent a few hours with my usual rituals. The Career Trainer had left a message early in the morning, reminding me of the meeting. Evidently he’d not yet seen my e-mail.

I told J____ about what I’d done, and he described my e-mail as “reasonable and well thought out.” He added that he was impressed I stood up for myself. Well, we’ll see how the Trainer and my Case Worker respond.

Since the bank was closed due to MLK Day, I couldn’t cash the check my mom had sent me to pay for a flu shot, so I went on errands closer to home. I took note of all the detritus left on the street and sidewalk from yesterday’s car wreck. I dropped off some letters at the UPS Store, went to Petsmart and bought some chews and discounted Christmas treats for Belle and a very much discounted Basset Hound calendar for myself, then went to the dollar store to spend the last $10 of this month’s Food Stamp money.

I returned home, took a much-needed shower, and watched a video of President Obama’s second Inauguration ceremonies. I made two observations: 1) The US would be a much better country if we had a lot more pomp and ceremonial, and 2) Inaugurations are rather like the Oscar broadcast–very much in need of fat-trimming. There were too many songs, too many speakers, too many prayers that just went on and on and on. I kept expecting for the accountants from Price-Waterhouse to be introduced to explain how the Electoral College works.

Journal Entries (January 8th–14th, 2013).

Tuesday, January 8th–It rained all day and night in various intensities.

I woke up in mid-afternoon.

My DARS Case Worker suggested a meeting next Monday afternoon, and I agreed on it.

Not long after I’d eaten, I noticed J___ had left me a message that he was in town and wanted to get together. I got ready, then J___, N___, and I tried our best to avoid the traffic by driving through the really nice residential neighborhoods that are between Mo-Pac and Lamar.

We went to the downtown Library, where I tried to get my materials as quickly as possible. J___ also added two photography books to my pile, but I really don’t know if I’ll have the time to read them, what with all the other books I’ve got checked out.

Our next stop was Fiesta Mart, where I spent $123, leaving me with only $38 to last through the next four weeks. But once I get some frozen vegetables for my Big Ass Soup, I should be okay. (I did most of my shopping in the International and Produce sections, the latter being made more picturesque by birds swooping down from the ceiling to examine the food and the people; the customers were totally unfazed by this.)

We dropped N___ off at Central Market, ate at EZ’s, went to Zinger’s Hardware, where J___ bought a great deal of cookie cutters for N___ to use for her ceramic projects, prowled the Central Park Center, then wound up in Central Market, spending most of our time in the beer section, marveling at the breadth and diversity of their stock. J___ bought me a four-pack of a brand of beer he likes.

I think it was about 8:30pm or so when I got home. I had avoided all stress and panic attacks during my outing–that is, until Belle started barking incessantly. It took a long time to calm her down.
I had big plans for the evening, but didn’t get around to doing anything.

Wednesday, January 9th–I dreamt I went somewhere to observe some happening in the company of a lot of people. I think it was in some small town. I don’t even remember what I went there to see, only that it seemed to stretch out over several days and take place in a large barn.

Along with a lot of other people, I sat and slept on a big shelf that was several feet off the level of the floor, ran across the entire back end of the barn, and was three or four feet deep. There were other seating shelves elsewhere in the barn.

I made friends with a young hipster who was sitting on the shelf nearby. He was a film-maker and had come to record this event. He waved to his female camera operator, and indicated she should film me. Because I was shabbily-dressed and was embarrassed of this, I covered my lower half with a blanket.

There was some older bearded man standing by the door to my right. I forget what annoyed me about him, but I yelled out some insult at him, he looked offended and a little angry, then stalked off, crossing to the left, then down the length of the barn, and exiting. Through a window I then saw him cross past the opposite end of the barn and across the lawn. He eventually showed up back by the door, gave me a dirty look, drew himself up, but knew better than to say anything. I was thrilled at having gotten away with being a complete asshole to him.

It became obvious that this big event was winding down. Then, Michael Landon/Little Joe Cartwright, acting as a pseudo-parent, came into the barn by the door to the right. I climbed down from the shelf and tried to put my shoes on, but I discovered they were made of very thin vellum-like material, and there were rocks in the toes of each one. I shook the shoes and Michael/Joe began ordering me around.

He said he was taking me home, and that, among other things, I’d have to start regularly attending the Baptist Church. I was embarrassed that he was treating me like a child in front of all these people, especially my new friend, whose name I’d not even asked yet.

I said, “Michael, with all due respect, I’m not going to go to the fucking Baptist Church. I’m a Catholic. You of all people should be sensitive to that. [In real life, Landon was raised by a Jewish father and Catholic mother, who were always squabbling about religion.] And I’m also a middle-aged adult, so I don’t take orders from you.”

I don’t know what happened next.

…………………….

I got up around 4:45pm, did my usual, took Belle on several walks around the soggy grounds, and ate. I got two excellent and moving pieces of good news online, and they quickly lifted me out of a depression that had descended upon me as soon as I’d awakened.

I showered, had coffee, and had one of those strong beers while watching the film and DVD extras for “Religulous.”

Thursday, January 10th–I dreamt I was living in a combination dormitory/classroom building, somewhat like my old dorm of Kirkley Hall, but substantially larger. The school was entering into a program of improvements and renovations, and apparently my room was to be painted, so I had to move a great many of my belongings out into a hallway. These included hundreds, and possibly thousands of books.

Some sinister female teacher had it in for me. (Gee, I wonder who that could’ve been?) She was determined to separate me from my books, and decided that since these books were not located in my room, and I had no invoices or paperwork proving ownership, then they didn’t belong to me, and she was having them seized and possibly destroyed. I did have a small collection of really old books with faded spines and bindings still in the room.

I went into a panic, considered acts of violence, and decided to steal back my possessions. But there were too many books for me to move on my own, and besides, I needed places to hide them. And time was of the essence, because the school authorities were coming to get the books soon. I looked up my friends, most of whom were lounging around in the TV rooms, but they were in no hurry to help me, couldn’t be prevailed upon to get up off their lazy asses, or had elaborate excuses for not helping me.

……………………

I slept until late afternoon. I got up and did the usual, puttered around online, then read in the Cavafy and Douglas books. I was in a pretty decent mood.

In the wee hours of the morning, I took Belle out for a walk. I saw some short, chunky guy waddling out from the other end of my building, and get into a truck. He looked like a redneck or maybe a frat boy, but he was wearing one of those heavy, rough, grey, Latin American sweaters so popular among stoners and neo-hippies.

I walked Belle around the southern parking lot, then returned to our own in time to see a truck driving around erratically, and at a dangerous speed. It tore around the central area of our parking lot (which consists of two grassy medians with trees, and several parking spaces), then, as it got closer to us, left the pavement, hopped over a curb, and drove through one of the grassy medians, barely missing a large Live Oak, before turning and attempting the circuit again.

I got scared for Belle’s safety and my own, so I led her behind a rank of parked cars, and moved her quickly over to our bridge as fast as I could. I figured the driver was at least drunk and might possibly be violent and armed. We had just reached our door when the driver got out–it was the squat asshole I’d seen earlier–presumably on his way back from a beer run.

I retired close to 9am on Friday.

Friday, January 11th–Belle tried to wake me after I’d had only about six hours of sleep, but I wasn’t going for that. I was getting over-heated also because the blanket and heater were too warm. I went back to sleep, then Belle tried again–this time successfully–after 7pm.

It was considerably warmer outdoors. It drizzled all night. I read in the Cavafy book, started Ram Dass’s “Be Here Now,” piddled around online, and thought about watching a movie, but never got around to it. There seemed to be something I was forgetting….

Saturday, January 12th–There were several dreams, but the only one I remember right now was where I stood with a number of people at an open high gate made of chain-link fencing, looking off to the right where some event was supposed to be unfolding.

I was the only one who noticed that behind me, to the left, Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry were coming through the gate. They had no security detail or entourage, and the press was taking no notice of them. I knew that Prince William was to have attempted to swim the English Channel at that time, so I asked him if he had succeeded, but he shook his head and said he hadn’t, he’d had to abandon the attempt early.

And then, in a most corny manner, I came up behind his left shoulder and said, “Sir, be strong.” The three continued on, then circled to the left, and I approached Prince Harry and said the same basic thing. I guess I was advising the princes to behave as role models for the British people.

…………………

It was around 10:40pm when I got up. It was cold outside again.

J____ invited me to come with him, N____, and his in-laws when they go to Europe in April or May. At first I thought they were going to Paris, but no, they’ll be going to the Cinque Terre in Italy. He said he’s willing to pay my way if I would actually go, but I’m not sure about it. I certainly couldn’t stay the entire month they’re planning to be there, and I’d need to have Belle boarded and get some decent clothes. Nevertheless, I started reading up on the area and the major cities that are a reasonable train ride away.

Sunday, January 13th–
Saturday flowed into Sunday. I read in the Cavafy book, and developed either a cold or allergy trouble.

Monday, January 14th–I got up around 10:40am, fifty minutes before my alarm was to ring. The extra sleep I’d gotten helped a good deal. It was so cold outside I put on thermal underwear.

I called MAP to set an appointment to renew my card. They didn’t have an opening until the 25th. To complicate matters they want my mom to write a letter explaining that she pays my rent and utilities, they want Belle’s former owner to write a letter saying she sends me money every month for Belle’s food, and they’re sending me to a new office, way the fuck out in southeast Austin next to Ben White Boulevard! I don’t know why these fucking agencies can’t have centralized offices downtown, why they keep relocating again and again, to ever more remote offices in ugly office parks out in the middle of fucking nowhere.

I got to the bus stop at 1:15pm, intent on catching the #3 bus at 1:32pm. It never showed up. I was getting very upset, and wondered if I’d miss my appointment, and have to call my Case Worker when I got back home and try to explain things.

Around 1:40 I finally had to catch a ride on the #392 to the end of the line at Target. I got out, waited about ten minutes, (the #3 was supposed to reach that stop at 1:43 and leave at 1:51), and when the #3 still didn’t show up, I re-boarded the #392.

I tried to get off at the stop at the corner of Braker and Burnet around 1:52 or 1:53, but the goddamn thing didn’t stop there. I had to get off a little further north up Burnet, then walk about one-hundred to two-hundred yards south to my next stop, where I was to catch the #240 at 2:05. Around 2:05, I finally saw #3 dragging ass by. The #240 finally showed up around 2:10–though it was supposed to deposit me at my last stop at 2:11, which it didn’t do until 2:20pm.

My appointment was for 2:30pm. I signed in with the prissy receptionist, went to piss, then took my seat. He said my Case Worker was in a meeting and according to his records, my appointment wasn’t until 3:30, but he said he’d let her know I was there.

I waited maybe fifteen minutes and then my Case Worker decided to see me. (When I got home I re-checked my e-mail exchange with her and the appointment had indeed been for 2:30pm.)

My Case Worker claimed that the last therapist had only filled out a questionnaire in a cursory fashion and hadn’t provided many details. (She’d said something similar about the guy who tested my intelligence. I have to wonder if these evaluators are all doing a half-assed job, if my Case Worker isn’t bothering to read their findings, or if this is some technique of hers to get her my interpretation of events.)

At any rate, she wasn’t much help. I expressed my fears about getting kicked out of the DARS program, and she suggested I meet with a career counselor and possibly go to some meetings of the DARS “Job Club,” which sounds awful.

After riding in buses full of nasty, coughing people with poor hygiene, I got to my neighborhood, bought groceries at HEB (and now have about $10 in Food Stamp money left until February 7th), then had a great deal of trouble lugging that shit home. The weight and the bulkiness of the bags, combined with my loose warm-ups and even more loose thermal underwear, kept pushing my pants down, so every few feet I’d have to stop, sometimes even put all the bags down, and hoist my pants up again so I’d not expose myself in public. I am getting really fucking tired of having to lug groceries in that manner.

I got home. Belle was loud and excited, as usual, and I was nervous and stressed-out, as usual.

I forget what I did this evening.

I retired around 11pm.