Tuesday, March 26th–I woke, reluctantly, around mid-day, talked on IM to J___ D. a bit, and though I was in a decent mood, I grew quickly bored, went back to bed, read some in Nichols, and took a nap.
I dreamt I was over in Phase II of my apartment complex, over by the building where the people live who have their balcony garishly over-decorated. Someone came up and told me that I wasn’t going to be allowed to keep Belle forever, and that he was taking her away from me, and I sobbed in my sleep. I woke while seeing images of and hearing music by the Lawrence Welk Orchestra.
I got up, cooked, and two or three hours later frightened myself when I discovered I’d left the oven on all that time. I’ve long been afraid of spacing out, leaving the oven or stove on, and burning down the house.
Wednesday, March 27th–I woke close to 2pm, and panicked that maybe J____ D., who had said he had an “open day” today and would be in town, had already given up on me and gone back home.
[There was a complicated mess connected with the DARS agency and a document.]
I tried several times to reach J___ D. by phone and IM, but he didn’t answer. He was probably being talked to death by that goddamn Cajun oilman he works for. I was hoping that in addition to taking me to lunch and so forth, he could run me by DARS before it closes so I could sign that goddamn release.
I knew [my Case Worker] would want to know about whether or not I’d applied for SSDI yet, so I called the North Central Clinic to try to set up an appointment to see a therapist, as that fucking nurse suggested last week. But the goddamn scheduler was cagey with me, acting like I wanted the password to a secret society. I told the scheduler the name of the nurse, was put on hold, then told I had to go make a goddamn appointment with my … doctor, and get her formal approval, before I could get passed up to the goddamn therapist, before I could get his approval to be passed up into the Sacred Presence of the goddamn psychiatrist. I made no secret to the scheduler that I was put out by this, because it means I have to go through the trouble of going over there first and doing urine and blood tests, then waiting a week or so, and being put through a long, drawn-out process to see that … doctor.
I called DARS and asked to speak to my Case Worker, but some snitty operator said she was “seeing a consumer” (what a stupid fucking term). I asked when she might have an opening in her schedule, and the cocksucker, who presumably had a schedule open right in front of him, said he didn’t know. He asked if I wanted to leave a voice-mail. I said I did, but instead of a voice-mail got some annoying message that just asked “Are you still there?” over and over again.
By this point I was overwrought. I contemplated breaking dishes, but instead just slammed the silverware drawer twice, which I was sorry to see scared Belle.
I sent an e-mail to [my Case Worker], but naturally she didn’t answer. And J___ remained AWOL.
Thursday, March 28th–Since I had trouble getting to sleep, when I got up at 8am I was exhausted. I took about an hour to get ready, then stumbled into a cab and went to the North Central Community Clinic.
I went first to the lab, and had blood drawn from the back of my hand. I even did it while seated–I didn’t have to go lie down on a table. When I walked in, I didn’t really have a need to piss, but I needed to leave a urine sample. Fortunately, by the time the blood was drawn, I was good to go.
The nurse gave me a tiny plastic cup, told me to fill it about halfway, and also handed me a little packet containing a sanitary towelette.
–Is this for my hands?
–No sir. It’s for your private area.
Oh. I guess a lot of her male clientele are uncircumcised and are lax about keeping their willies clean of nasty smegma build-up.
So I went into the lavatory, pulled down my pants, and gave the tip of my penis a perfunctory wipe with the towelette, not really sure what they were going after. (Did they want my piss to have just the slightest suggestion of the scent of rubbing alcohol?) I then discovered that pissing in a cup is more difficult than you might imagine, and I found myself in an awkward semi-squat, with the cup in one hand, my penis in the other, and everything hovering over the toilet. I was just sure I’d either piss all over my hands, my pants, or the floor.
After this I went over to Internal Medicine to set an appointment with my doctor. The earliest she can see me is April 23rd….
I called another cab and went to the DARS office. the front window was being worked not by the prissy Hispanic guy, but by an older Hispanic woman. She told me my Case Worker, and indeed all the staff, were in a day-long meeting. I said that was okay, since I wasn’t really there to see her but to sign a release. The receptionist said she didn’t have any releases and that I would have to meet with my Case Worker. I was not willing to wait around until 4:30pm, when the meeting let up, but she suggested I come back tomorrow, which I have no intention of doing….
I just missed my bus by seconds, and had to wait for about twenty to thirty minutes for the next one. It was the dreaded #1M bus, which is always filthy, stinky, and filled with the dregs of humanity. My clothes always stink after I ride on that bus, and I leave it feeling sure I’ve contracted a half-dozen diseases.
I got down to Campus, to the Drag, with my heart set on a big cup of coffee at Caffe Medici. I walked the half-block, only to find the goddamn place was closed for renovations. (I hope they get rid of those incredibly uncomfortable metal chairs they have, which seem designed to keep patrons from lingering more than a few minutes.)
I was thoroughly annoyed by this point. I crossed the street and caught the “Forty Acres Shuttle,” and got off at Jester. I’d been looking forward to lunch there, even if the food is only so-so. I ordered stir-fry.
The cafeteria guy (or food ladler, or whatever his title might be) got condescending with me. He asked what starch I wanted, and I absent-mindedly said tofu. He corrected me, saying that was a protein, then said the starches included rice, noodles, etc. I picked rice. While he was busy talking down to me, he screwed up my order, and forgot to give me the extra egg roll I’d asked for.
And so I ate.
Afterwards, I got a Latte, which had a restorative effect upon me, and I headed over to the Blanton, convinced the students all thought me a shabby bum.
I strolled slowly over to Blanton, enjoying my coffee. Some women with a stroller were seated near the entrance. The mother was complaining to the rest that apparently she’d not been allowed inside with a small child. Well, if that’s true, then hooray for the Blanton! At least there’s one place whose peace and quiet have been preserved against the little shrieking monsters!
Around 12:10 or 12:15 I walked into the Museum. The lobby was quite crowded, and I actually had to wait in line to check in–a first for me. Apparently most of these people were there not for the 12:30 to 1:30 free tour of the Alumni art exhibition (which had been moved to 12:45), but the 12:30 performance of a dance and video performance art piece. I checked in, put my bag in a locker, went to the restroom, and went to the first floor exhibition galleries to snap some pictures before the performance started.
Periodically I peeked out into the Atrium to see if the show was about to start. Most of the floor was taken over by a low polygonal stage, made of plywood and framing, raised about five to six inches off the floor, and painted chocolate brown. There were three large video monitors–two facing south and one north. A number of young people moved about, talking, fingering still or video cameras, adjusting equipment, looking serious and artsy.
Along one side of the stage I saw what looked more or less like a threshold, marked by a “C” of white gaffer’s tape. I assumed that when the show started, the performers would take the stage from that point (and indeed, some did). I positioned myself by this threshold early on, before the crowd began to gather around in earnest.
I gathered that I was the only person there who failed to appreciate that we were about to witness an Event of Great Importance. Quite a crowd gathered, one person saying to another, “Oh, I’m so glad you came out for this.”
After awhile, the young people turned the video monitors on, and for ten minutes or so the screens showed footage of shabby men in some Third World shit-hole (in either Latin America or the Middle East), shuffling through trash-strewn streets, past graffiti-sprayed walls and crumbling concrete buildings. A few of the men eventually raised their hands and put them behind their heads, as if they’d just been put into police custody. A few walked into the shadowy entrances of large concrete buildings. Eight or ten men sat on the ground, their hands behind their backs as if handcuffed. No police or soldiers were in sight.
At some point the audio kicked in–a melange of unrecognizable language, music (of a kind), and just plain repetitious noise. The dancers appeared–first two together, then one, and then another one. They were rather ordinary-looking, college-affiliated white women of about the same height, and appeared to range in age from early twenties to late thirties. They wore single-color turtle-neck sweaters and loose khaki trousers and were bare-footed.
They went through the usual round of modern dance moves– hiking their legs like excitable dogs, beating their breasts like frenzied Pentecostals, going through a regimen of old-fashioned calisthenics, then thinking the better of it and throwing themselves upon the floor.
I thought I was getting some decent photos of all this, then realized that the varied reactions of the audience were far more interesting.
Finally, the women feigned combat, raised their sweaters over their bellies several times, then fell again to the floor, where they frantically stripped off their sweaters and pants as if covered by colonies of ants. Dressed now only in shiny, baby blue Lycra onesies, they went through a range of positions that I have to assume were meant to evoke the now-iconic images of tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib, before dancing blithely and one at a time, up the main staircase. Once they were out of view, the repetitious noise came to a merciful end, and the audience applauded.
I concluded the performance had been a commentary on the brutality of State Power.
The tour was also a few minutes in progress when I returned to the exhibition galleries. The docent leading the tour was a charming older woman who seemed to be of European origin. There were at least fifty patrons along for the tour.
I enjoyed what the lady said, but had to fight the temptation not to raise my hand and show off with intelligent questions and comments, but since I respected the lady and what she was doing, I kept my mouth shut. (Although, at one point she did say that Chauncey Bradley Ives, whose work was represented in the exhibition, was the only American sculptor of his time to have the respect of the European art establishment, at which point I muttered, just audible enough to be heard by those standing right next to me, “What about Hiram Powers?”)
At times I drifted a bit from the group to take a picture. During the last fifteen minutes or so, the docent’s voice was often drowned out by a group of loud-mouthed older women who felt it necessary to bray their observations at one another, and who paid no mind to my dirty looks and pointed throat-clearings.
It was while looking at a Modigliani that a question popped into my mind–What was the inspiration for his trademark elongation of form? Only two possibilities suggested themselves to me–the influence either of El Greco or African art.
When the docent concluded the tour, she said she’d mill around for a few minutes in case any of us had questions, and I put my Modigliani question to her. She thought it an excellent one. She said she had no knowledge of Modigliani ever seeing El Greco’s work.(Really?) But she did know he had seen African masks.
I added that of course, everyone in his group had been exposed to African art, and that the elongated neck of the woman in the picture the Museum had on display reminded me of the photos I’d seen of African women with elongated necks with tall stacks of necklaces and ornaments around them. She said she would look further into the subject.
I went back through the galleries and took more photos, and before long it was after 2pm and time for a repeat of the video and dance performance. I was hoping for a new show and a new cast, but it was exactly the same thing all over again. Though I took some photos of the dancers, I concentrated more on taking photos of the audience. I giggled over the stern-faced man who looked like “Deadwood’s” Al Swearengen, and wondered what the older man with one leg was thinking watching young people dance.
I then went upstairs and an older female docent came over and told me about a large work of “found art” at which I was looking. We chatted pleasantly, and then she took her leave and started discussing some other work with a couple of scruffy young men who were almost certainly art students. I ambled over and listened in.
She was talking about the artist Luis Jimenez, and I asked about that statue of his that used to be in front of the Art Building about twenty years ago, but she insisted there had never been such a sculpture there. I knew better, but thought her too nice a person with whom to argue.
I looked over all the works in the special exhibition, and selected works from the permanent collection. Again, as last year, a guard came over and asked if I would turn off the “audibles” (the beeps) on my camera, and I confessed that I didn’t know how. But it made me feel persona non grata, and I decided to leave shortly thereafter. I’d had about all I could take anyway. It was about 3pm.
I went over to the PCL, added a dollar to my copy card, looked up a few books, but left without copying anything. I got some fried rice and a Coke at the egg roll stand by Littlefield Fountain, ate it while seated on a bench, feeling again that I looked to the students like a bum. I walked through the Catholic Students’s Center, in hopes of finding Pope Francis holy cards, but I saw none. I also skipped the Arnold Newman show at the HRC–another time, I’m sure.
On the express bus home I was too exhausted to read. I had already decided against going to Barnes and Noble or HEB, so I got off at my corner and went straight home.
Friday, March 29th–I was so exhausted from Thursday’s efforts I made a point of staying home and staying put. I did the usual puttering, and read for awhile in Nichols.
[The controversy over my DARS release form continued.]
I read a little in Wharton before retiring in late morning.
Saturday, March 30th–I got up around 6pm or so and walked and fed Belle, then went over to Petsmart and bought treats, and the dollar store for stuff for me. I spent most of the night farting around online.
Sunday, March 31st–Easter Sunday–It was after 6pm or so when I got up. I walked and fed Belle and felt a bit like crying. Belle’s first walk was longer than usual, and her second one was all the way around the block.
A few people tried to correct me online and I flew into a rage and stayed beside myself for an hour or so.
I remember once in elementary school my class was going to have an Easter egg hunt. My mother decorated my eggs for me. I preferred that she do them, because she made them look more orderly and attractive. (She used to color my coloring books for me for the same reason.) But when it came time for the hunt I decided the other kids had ugly eggs and that I wanted to keep my own for myself. The others deeply resented me for not sharing. And all that’s pretty much the story of my life right there.
There are times I wish I could stay in the shower all day long. We have two pools here at my apartment complex. But I have body issues and don’t know how to swim. Plus I’m hugely germaphobic and would not get into water other people had occupied unless I was wearing a Hazmat suit.
Expensive coffee and dollar store pound cake. I am living the dream.
I would not recognize a song by Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, One Direction, Taylor Swift, and quite a few more if I heard it.
I finished all of that soup I care to have. Most of the chunky parts are gone. Belle can have the left. I know she’ll love it.
I read in Howells before bed.
Monday, April 1st–I woke around 7pm and was soon depressed, wanting to bash in my skull with a rock.
I was surprised to see I’d lost one of my longtime [social media] followers. I wonder what upset him. Granted, he was high-strung and prone to get angry, and wasted his time and brain-power with any number of silly fashionable theories, but we did have a few points in common, and he did make the odd posting that I actually liked.
I spent a good part of the evening trying to fix things in my Picasa photo editing tool, specifically with the stored photos, some of which had been edited due to some computer snafu, and not because I had personally made those changes. So I had to go through [thousands of]photos in one file (or rather start to do so), and look for these errors.
I went to bed and read in Nichols, including a charming passage where in very elaborate detail he compared a thunderstorm and its approach to a symphony. And I thought about how rain storms–especially thunderstorms–are among my favorite things.
I forget when I finally went to sleep.