Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Trivia team update. Continued.

Miss Gibson, upon reading the initial trivia team narrative, asks the question, "Why did you shout at the waiter and not Jonathan? Wasn't he the (very unfunny) prankster?"

My reply:

Good question. And therein lies the rest of the story.

My yelling at the waiter consisted of me telling him rather angrily that I didn't want the damn drink, to stop offering me that fucking drink, that I didn't want it, that I didn't want him lying to me, that I knew who sent me the drink (which is when I kept pointing out Jonathan and calling him "that skinny, blond bastard over there"), that I didn't think it was funny and that I wasn't in the mood.

The people at my table were both staring at the scene and trying not to look directly at me, as though I were Medusa and capable of turning men to stone.

Debi, of course understanding what we'd just been talking about, seemed to shrink away from the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Jonathan kept smiling and telling me not to get mad, that he was just trying to have another ugly man buy me a scotch - like it happens at Burkhart's.

"Honey, are you OK?" the waiter finally asked me.

"No," I said. "Go away."

"OK," the waiter said, then he turned to Jonathan and asked who was going to take care of the drink.

The waiter, who was nice and was just doing what he was told - even if he knew it was a prank and should realize the way that pranks will be received, later accepted numerous apologies from me and a $9 tip on my $20 check.

("Nick, you're a waiter," I asked Nick the Cute Waiter, sitting next to me. "Does this tip say 'Sorry for going apeshit'?")

The waiter at one point advised me to next time direct my anger at the person I was mad at, not at the messenger.

Trivia team update. Continued.

Miss Gibson, upon reading the initial trivia team narrative, asks the question, "Why did you shout at the waiter and not Jonathan? Wasn't he the (very unfunny) prankster?"

My reply:

Good question. And therein lies the rest of the story.

My yelling at the waiter consisted of me telling him rather angrily that I didn't want the damn drink, to stop offering me that fucking drink, that I didn't want it, that I didn't want him lying to me, that I knew who sent me the drink (which is when I kept pointing out Jonathan and calling him "that skinny, blond bastard over there"), that I didn't think it was funny and that I wasn't in the mood.

The people at my table were both staring at the scene and trying not to look directly at me, as though I were Medusa and capable of turning men to stone.

Debi, of course understanding what we'd just been talking about, seemed to shrink away from the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Jonathan kept smiling and telling me not to get mad, that he was just trying to have another ugly man buy me a scotch - like it happens at Burkhart's.

"Honey, are you OK?" the waiter finally asked me.

"No," I said. "Go away."

"OK," the waiter said, then he turned to Jonathan and asked who was going to take care of the drink.

The waiter, who was nice and was just doing what he was told - even if he knew it was a prank and should realize the way that pranks will be received, later accepted numerous apologies from me and a $9 tip on my $20 check.

("Nick, you're a waiter," I asked Nick the Cute Waiter, sitting next to me. "Does this tip say 'Sorry for going apeshit'?")

The waiter at one point advised me to next time direct my anger at the person I was mad at, not at the messenger.

Trivia team update.

Ron asked me how my trip back to trivia at Joe's on Juniper went last night. I told him that the team came in third. And I told him that I went psycho and screamed profanities at a waiter.

Ron asked me for details.

I wrote this:

My friend Jonathan joined the trivia team a week ago, and, since I didn't attend that one, he called me up drunk that night and told me that I missed out on a good time. He told me that he and Michael - the salt-and-pepper-haired, sulking one who's partners with James - had played a prank on someone that night. They'd sent a waiter over to an ugly-ish girl on our team, and they'd had the waiter tell her that a badly dressed, creepy man was interested in buying her a drink.

Apparently, she got all flattered and confused until she found out the truth, and Michael and Jonathan found the whole thing really funny. Jonathan played a similar joke on me four years ago, and I didn't take too kindly to it then.

So, last night, I was there with my friend Nick, and we were talking to Debi, who asked Nick what he was looking for in a man. Jonathan and Michael were on another side of the table.

Since Debi was listening to his list of requests, I went ahead and gave my list of "what I'm looking for in a man."

At first, she told me that maybe I should look for a man when I'm sober, which was funny. But then she got serious.

"You think too much," Debi said to me after a while. "And I wouldn't set you up with someone I liked because, after dealing with you, they wouldn't like me anymore."

Debi, of course, always has method behind what she says - even if she says it bluntly - so she elaborated after she saw that her initial comment kinda stung. Her son Ian even mentioned that, maybe, what she'd said was sorta hurtful.

I sat calmly and listened to her tell me about why I'm really incompatible with most men, though she didn't exactly tell me anything new. I'm high-maintenance, paranoid, untrusting and a handful.

"Yeah, but that, unfortunately, doesn't keep me from looking for a guy - even if I should," I said.

"You shouldn't stop looking," she said, then she saw the look on my face and asked me if I was all right.

"I understand why I'm single," I said. "I've been pretty much single since I was 19, and I understand why."

"How old are you now?" she asked.

"28," I said. There was a silence.

I got up to walk around. I looked at the jukebox, which was unplugged.

I saw my friend Jonathan up, talking to our waiter. The waiter had a pad out, writing an order down. Jonathan then walked past me at the jukebox, not looking at me. I followed him back to the table and sat next to Debi again.

"You all right, honey?" she asked me.

"I'm fine," I said. "Is Jonathan playing a joke on that girl Lynn again? I saw him talking to the waiter."

"I don't know," Debi said.

"How'd she react to it last week?" I asked Debi.

"She was upset, but she didn't really rub Jonathan's face in it," Debi said. "I would've tried to get him back."

"He tried to trick me four years ago into thinking a guy liked me," I said. "And I went off on him."

This was the conversation the waiter walked into.

"There's a gentleman over by the bar over there," the waiter said to me. "And he sent me over because he wants to buy you a drink ..."

Monday, August 23, 2004


It's been weeks since I gave a proper update, as any good book salesman should, of what I'm currently reading, eagerly awaiting and hearing about.

I picked this book up a couple weeks ago at the bookstore after reading some reviews, and it's fairly light and only a little creepy, even though it's narrated by a deranged serial killer who hacks a priest to death in the first chapter. Reading it, I was surprised to realize that it was my first serial killer novel, for I never finished any of the Thomas Harris books I started when I was in high school.

People like Kacoon may not like "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" because it's not bloody enough. Kacoon once recommended Poppy Z. Brite's "Exquisite Corpse" to me, calling it beautiful and disgusting. I couldn't do it. The idea of a teen gay boy getting raped, cut apart and eaten was too much for me, even if Kacoon says the descriptions are really, really pretty.

My cousin and her husband recommended this to me at my family reunion, and they were among the dozen people to do so. When I was in London in April, this was advertised on the walls of all the tube stations, as well, so it's got that coolness factor. And it's selling incredibly well at my store, even if the cover to the American version is a lot tamer than the British version.

Reading the plot synopsis, I didn't know if I'd be able to identify with the narrator, who is an autistic boy unable to cope with regular emotions, by my cousin's husband, a high school English teacher, says it's a great book and a good mystery.

I've already gotten myself a copy, and I got Vic a copy of it for her birthday Saturday. So I'll find out probably before I read it what she thought about it.

Of course, Vic - in between getting older and getting herself a cute, official boyfriend - is currently reading this Michael Cunningham book, which I had shipped to her after Kurt recommended it to me.

Since both Vic and I read Cunningham's "The Hours" and loved it, I've been trying to make sure that, among the two of us, we have copies of all of his fiction.

Of course, Vic's not the only one I've bought books for.

Before Harrison left the bookstore for our rival down the street, I gave him a copy of this book, which is one of my personal favorites and the one I share with most smart, gay men who haven't already read it. It's not just a gay book, certainly, but I liked that aspect of it a lot. (I'm snobbish and try to avoid "gay books," yet I claim to be able to write one. Isn't that fake of me?)

I started "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" in 2000, and I think I've bought four copies of it for people since then. I buy it almost as much as I buy "Good Omens" or "The Secret History" for people.

Since it is my dream to next travel to France with Miss Gibson, I bought this book, which came recommended from my UGA film prof Dr. Neupert. He told me that I'd like Gopnik's American-in-Paris sensibility, and I thought Miss Gibson might like it because it was cultured, non-fiction and mentioned the word "colonialization" in its synopsis. I've never bought a book for Miss Gibson before, I fear, not even when I was over visiting. (Then, though, I brought her contraband Girl Scout Cookies, but that's hardly an excuse. I buy books for people, and I should not have neglected her.)

Just a couple weeks ago, I bought Larry a copy of Jeffrey Eugenides' "Middlesex" because he was going on a long trip. Midway through his trip, I ended up on the phone with him, and he told me that it was one of the best books he'd read in years. I tried reading it a couple years ago, but I found it too difficult and weird at the time. But I'm fickle like that.

This book, which comes out next week and caught my attention because it's already on a bestseller list, is my next buy, in all likelihood, though I already shop too much. The website for it is just neat, and the plot synopsis sounds really different, a bit British, a bit magical and rather intriguing. Plus, the first-time author has received advance praise and special attention from Neil Gaiman, which is always a good sign when it comes to a fantasy novel.

I sent out e-mails recommending "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" to everyone, even though I've not even seen the book yet. I have a hunch that it's going to be big.

And what did we learn today ...

I'm writing post-meeting with Larry from his computer while I wait for my clothes to dry. (I'm guessing it's likely unprofessional of me to do two loads of laundry while we research literary agents on the web, but I needed clean underwear.)

I learned that there are lots of agents out there, and you have to write letter after letter to find the right one. I learned that I need to have a letter and my two favorite essays picked by next week for potential submission. (I'm meeting with Poli Sci Guy to see an example submission letter.) I learned that I know surprisingly few authors who can actually give me advice about this sort of thing, and I know no authors who are advocates of me or my work.

And I need to come up with the best sample chapter of my "I Dated an Arsonist" book that I can.

This is going to be difficult. And I am still going to have to go to work in the morning.

Write me if you have an essay that you consider my best, if you want. Or, if you think this is a good idea or maybe know an agent or something and don't think that I'm following some pipe dream, contact me.

The e-mail address is the same.

I don't want to be here today.

Friday night, I went home and tried to take a nap. Then, I ended up seeing OPEN WATER, which I think most people will hate but I kinda liked it.

Saturday night, I went to Gainesville and Duluth for my friend Vic's birthday party. At the point where I paid a $10 cover to get into Wild Bill's in Duluth only to spend the majority of time watching girls with breast implants in revealing tops ride a mechanical bull, I realized I was kinda uncomfortable and out of my element - though I don't know what exactly my "element" is.

By Sunday, Nick the Cute Waiter called to tell me that he'd successfully moved into his dorm and that he'd be at trivia on Tuesday. In my paranoia - added to the fact that I'd just woken up, I asked him if trivia captain Debi had prompted him to call me in an attempt to get me back to trivia after weeks of absence, not realizing what a stupid, paranoid thought that was.

At 4 on Sunday, I headed into the bookstore, even though I wanted to call in and say that I couldn't make it. I ended up there in a really, really bad mood.

I've decided that I want writing books to be my job, not that I wasn't aware of that notion before. But I realize that if I don't take the time to do it now - making it my job instead of these that I have - then my life, the way I keep living it, is wasted and meaningless.

I wanted more than anything not to be here today. It took a major effort to get out of bed this morning, which included me calling my mom at 8 in the morning and presenting her with my reasons and options for not wanting to work today.

My mom suggested I eat chocolate to boost my energy, pick up my mood and get here because I wouldn't end up writing or doing anything when I was at home and depressed anyway. She suggested, as she always does, that I increase the level of anti-depressants I take, because she apparently would prefer me to be blissfully numb to all this.

Then, she talked to me about grad school, and I told her that my GPA wasn't high enough to get in and, beyond that, it doesn't really solve the problem nor create a solution to it. It's just adding another step.

I have a meeting with Larry tonight. We're going to see about getting me a literary agent, what steps that involves. (I hope I just don't go over there and do laundry.)If they need examples of my writing, I was gonna pull stuff from the blog, though the idea for my first book comes from the arsonist I dated in college.

I think I can convince someone to let me write that book. And I think I need the discipline of treating it like it's my job to be able to actually get anything other than just "started" with it. I think once I have that discipline and time available, that a first draft might come easier. At this point, without it, I just doubt myself and mentally trip myself into doing nothing.

Poli Sci Guy offered to meet with me this week, as well. He's gotten some queries from agents about his political book, which he wrote and is revising while working only part-time for Barnes & Noble.

Sunday, August 22, 2004


I wish that writing books were, quite literally, my job. I wish that I could start writing a book about the time I dated that arsonist, and I wish that I could work it like it were a paced, 9-to-5 existence.

It'd probably get done really, really quick if I could just start it, write the middle and then write an ending. (Yes, I know exactly what I just said.)

Once I got through with that one, I might even be able to write another one.

I wish that it wasn't something that I was only something I was compelled to do in my free time, for I'd rather use my free time to do things like see movies, read other books and hang out with friends.

Poli Sci Guy, who works part-time at the bookstore while looking for other work, has managed to write a book and get agents interested in it. When he told me this, I was really proud of him. And I was really jealous.

I'm going to have to find a way to actually write my arsonist book. I think it might help me.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Special features.

This guy Ron in my office routinely asks me about movies.

"So what's new on DVD this week?" he asked me today.


"Next," he said dismissively, rolling his eyes.

"Oh, oh yeah," I said, reminding myself that Ron's Jewish.

Then, Ron said, "Actually, I thought I might catch that on DVD so that I could see the alternate ending."

Paying down a debt.

Last night at the store, Poli Sci Guy told me that I should do stand-up comedy after he heard me tell a customer that the reason I worked for Barnes & Noble was because it was run by Teamsters to whom I owed a debt.

(All the customer had said to me was "Gosh, this must be a great place to work.")

I told the customer that, a long time ago, I'd written a dozen bad checks in a month, when I wanted a complete collection of Dickens' works that I bought one volume at a time, and that the Teamsters who ran the store initially went after my left knee with a lead pipe. ("That's why I walk like this," I told the customer.)

Now, I told her, I'm just there trying to pay down my debt to them.

"I know where Hoffa is - and he's watching us," I said to her.

Harrison, a former manager who's now retreating our store for Borders, heard me tell the story and looked all puzzled at Poli Sci Guy.

Then, Harrison said about me, "Oh well, he's not my responsibility anymore."

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Finding themes that maybe aren't there.

I was supposed to work at the bookstore tonight, but, when I walked in, they told me that they didn't need me.

Which is cool because I needed desperately to clean my apartment, and some friends organizing my high school reunion really could've used my help.

So, in typical-me fashion, I didn't do any of that and instead went to the movies for escapism, avoidance and plenty of self-reflection.

I saw "Collateral," which was a really great thriller about how it takes having a dangerous, scary contract killer riding in your cab to get you to finally give up the night shift after 12 years AND call the really nice person who's attacted to you.

Then, after making some phone calls and never once setting foot in my messy apartment, I went to see "Garden State," which was a really great comedy-drama about how it takes your paraplegic mother drowning herself in a bathtub to get you to finally wake up from your anti-depressant haze and clouded feelings of immense guilt AND go out with the really nice person who's attracted to you.

I'm guessing that the filmmakers maybe didn't see the films that way. Maybe I'm in a mood.

My mom called me today to let me know that my stubborn, ailing grandfather is scheduled to have back surgery in two weeks. This, of course, is the back surgery that we're opposed to him having because we fear he won't live through it, but he insists that he doesn't want to live with a limp or live in physical pain. (I, for one, consider that a personal affront, even if it's not right for me to do so.)

The part of my trip to Ohio that wasn't fun was the incredible, all-encompassing, dark fear that I was never going to see my grandpa again. I was never going to beat him at Rum 500 again, a game that he taught me to win after I told him over and over about how I couldn't do it and couldn't get any better. He sat me down, and he made me learn it. He sat me down and kept at me mercilessly until I beat him. My grandpa taught me how to trash-talk people during board games. He taught me that you can be mean, blunt, formidable, distinctly yourself while forsaking all others and still manage to get people to love you. Wholly love you.

My grandpa taught me that it was no fun to be had if you didn't pull up to the table and play.

In my life, I feel like I'm not doing that enough.

I haven't written much about the rest of my trip to Ohio because the thing I remember most clearly is that, for the first time ever, I beat my grandpa at checkers. Having already given him one victory, I put my mind to it the second match, came after him offensively, then antagonized him until he had to yield.

When the game ended, he immediately called for a rematch so that he could beat me more times than he lost. And he did.

But I did beat him. And when we were putting away the checkerboard - a nice wooden, folding carrying-case board that my brother Dan got for him years ago - that was when I felt close to crying.

That was when I was reminded of when I was eight and he walked with me in the mall past the store that had models pretending to be still mannequins. To get them to break their plastic composure, Grandpa had me wink at the models until they giggled. He loved that.

He's going to make it through this surgery. I'm being silly.


Anyway, so the movies were good tonight. Really, really good. Jamie Foxx is really good in "Collateral." And Natalie Portman's hilarious in "Garden State."

Talking in circles.

Today isn't the day Benjamin Carr became a great writer. Today isn't the day that he finally quit his dead-end job after four years, decided that now's as good a time as any to go ahead and began to lead a life that didn't feel like he was wasting it by sitting around idly, waiting for something to happen.

Today isn't the day that Benjamin Carr, for the first time in ages, actually took a goddamn risk rather than just talking about it.

Today isn't the day where he finally tracked down and kissed, if only a for a second, a guy he had a crush on in college. Today is more likely another day when he allowed himself to be convinced it wouldn't be right or nice or good enough. Today is more likely another kiss that he got talked out of before going for it.

Today isn't the day when Benjamin took a more daring path. Today is just another day he spent on the same old, safer path - even though it doesn't lead anywhere that Benjamin particularly wants to go.

Benjamin's just like everybody else today. He's looking only at the choices in front of him and determining which one he could maybe be happy with, which one he could maybe settle for.

Today isn't the day when Benjamin tries to be published. Or gets discovered. Or figures out the proper formatting for a submission to a magazine or something that would provide him with greater exposure than the kind he currently receives.

Benjamin's scared of failing today. He's scared of trying. Of succeeding. Of anything other than the life that he knows, even if it's not at all good.

Today isn't the day when Benjamin will meet someone special. Today is more likely the day when Benjamin tries too hard to impress some guy who's really neither interested nor worth the effort.

Today's more than likely another day when Benjamin sells himself short and proves to be his own greatest obstacle.

Benjamin wonders how many more days there are going to be like this one. Benjamin wonders if there's ever going to be a day when he decides to finally, after too much deliberation, break from the routine that's managed to both keep him afloat and keep him shackled to an existence that's robbed him of his ambitions or his feelings of worth.

Benjamin says he wants to make that choice, to be that other guy. But he doesn't. He can't. He's scared.

He doesn't know what to do, and no one else can do anything for him.

He's all right. Not great. But all right.

Monday, August 16, 2004


Miss Gibson just asked me what was up with the blog. To quote her, she actually asked me, "Why the hell aren't you writing?"

I told her that I have writer's block, which I sorta do.

I told my friend David (of the oft-mentioned "David & Larry" coupling) that I hadn't written anything real and substantial in weeks.

"Has nothing particularly weird and twisted happened to you lately?" David asked me, trying to be helpful.

"Um, it's not that," I said. "The usual stuff has been happening. I mean, I got taken for $30 by a con artist at my store, and I still hate my job - which is still in trouble. But I just haven't been moved to write about anything."

This morning, I checked the blog counter, and I saw that the site's finally rounded 20,000 hits, so I figured I would write this to mark that occasion.

Even if the new visitors coming here might not see what the fuss is all about.

Hennessy and I went for a drink last week, which was so awkward that we later had an e-mail exchange about how damned awkward it was.

My lesbian former carpool partner Navarre, who works with me, is trying to set me up with her friend Victor again. She tried about two years ago. I think Navarre waits around until I've been burned or something before she mentions Victor again.

Granted, this time, she says Victor's been asking about me.

Victor called early last week, and I suggested coffee. But we haven't made my schedule work out yet.

After I finished my Saturday closing shift at the bookstore, Victor called me. It was 12:45 a.m., and he was at a nearby bar. When he found out I was tired and wasn't coming out, he asked if he could come over when he got done at the bar.

I repeat, it was 12:45 a.m. I have only met this man once, and he hasn't called me for two years. And I was not out that night.

I told Victor my apartment was too messy for guests and that it was against my virginal, pure sensibilities to receive gentleman callers past midnight.

He told me my apartment couldn't be any messier than his room. So I mentioned the CDC and the need for a HAZMAT suit.

So that took care of that.

I met a cute boy at the bookstore yesterday. I think he told me his name was Eric, and he talked too fast and wore glasses. I recommended both "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" and children's books to him - and his girl roommate - before I found out for certain that they weren't married with children.

"How old is your daughter?" I asked I-Think-His-Name-Was-Eric, since he was asking me about children's books to read while preparing dinner.

"What?" he asked.

"I thought you said you read books to your daughter - you said 'her,'" I clarified.

"Oh no, we read books to each other," he said, indicating his short-haired, female roommate.

Then he laughed and said about the roommate, "Oh trust me, REPRODUCTION between US is NEVER gonna happen."

I-Think-His-Name-Was-Eric was cute. Maybe he'll read "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" and then come back in the store to talk to me.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

I saw my friend Pam and my old film prof Richard yesterday, and we had drinks at the Globe.

I walked Pam to her car, heading past the old offices for The Red & Black, where I toiled as a student reporter. And, upon seeing them, I promptly threw a vocal, hand-wringing fit.

They've turned the old front offices and production area - complete with the now painted-over wall of blood - into a PITA PIT restaurant with bright pastel walls and painted google-eyed chicken cariacatures.

So Pam stood next to me, as I took in the travesty.


The staff was watching me through the windows, confused looks on their faces.

The only thing still there is the bank vault, and I fear it's right next to the place where customers deposit their used trays of food.

It was wrong, wrong, wrong. If they were going to change that place, they should've waited respectfully until I was dead.

Pam tried to tell me that everything changes, that you just have to accept it.

It was like someone had turned my childhood home into a Starbucks.

Friday, August 06, 2004

"Your next stop is ... Concourse C."

By the time you read this, unless you're Miss Gibson and happen to live on a different continent with a five-hour time difference, I'll probably be in the air on the way to Ohio. With my mother.

Just the two of us making our way through the airport. Just the two of us on the plane to Dayton, sitting next to each other. Just the two of us for hours and hours.

So we don't end up talking about how big the pimple on my forehead is or how much my car needs fixed or replaced or how I wouldn't keep getting stood up on dates if I just changed my mind about being gay or how I need to change jobs and better fulfill my potential as a salesman and writer, I've packed lots of books to occupy her - and my photos from London - into my carry-on. I did this in the hope that we could stay on good topics - or just not speak.

I love my mother. Perhaps to an irrational, creepy, "Manchurian Candidate" degree. But yesterday, when I vented to her about my 400th thwarted potential date this year, she told me that I really sounded like I just needed a good nap.

My brother and his fiancee will be joining us sometime Saturday, I believe. Until then, it's me and my mother.

My mother is having me drive the car in the morning, so I have to drive to her damn house in Buford tonight - even though I live closer to the airport AND next to a damn MARTA station.

She's having me drive so that her husband Jerry can have their car this weekend - and so that she can listen intently to every possible bad sound my car might possibly make on its way to the airport and ask me if I heard it. (My mom's 80-percent deaf, by the way, but her 20-percent hearing ability somehow maximizes when she rides in my car.)

Jerry needs the car this weekend because his brother died today.

"Which one?" I asked my mother when she told me on the phone this morning, making sure I brought my car so that we could still go to Ohio.

My mother thought for a moment about not going, but I'm assuming Jerry told her to go. The last Buford funeral she attended for his family, I think, became a spectacle of wailing and/or snake-handling. I'm glad she's coming to Dayton with me.

The brother that died was apparently Junior, who I think is actually older than Jerry.

I never really got to know Junior particularly well, though I graduated from high school with his daughter Nancy, who used to bully me and steal my pencils when we were in the first grade.

I mostly knew Junior because he would come over and mow our lawn, and he would wave at me.

I tried not to talk to him too much, even though he seemed nice enough, because Junior had a trachaeotomy before I'd met him about 20 years ago and he had to use one of those electronic devices to speak. And when I was 12, that electronic voice just freaked me out.

I mean, it sounded like the old terminal-shuttle voice at Hartsfield Airport.

Every time I heard Junior, I was tempted to move to the center of the vehicle and away from the doors.

Junior's wife was once in the hospital, and we went to visit her. I still remember asking my mother how his wife caught cirrhosis of the liver, and Mom replied by quoting from an alcoholism pamphlet in the waiting room.

Tonight, at the bookstore, some co-workers asked me if I was going. I told them no and started making death jokes.

I said that I was surprised that Junior had lived this long. (Seriously, I thought he was already dead.)

Then I told them that the funeral program may as well have the words "Brought to you by Skoal" printed on it.

My co-workers at the bookstore concluded that I'm not very nice and I'm a total snob.

My asshole stepfather probably could've told them that.

I'm, of course, telling these jokes now because I have to forget them once I get to my mother's house.

I'm afraid that, even though my favorite cousins will all be there, it's gonna be a LONG weekend.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

If I ever feel better.

People who read the last blog entry have been writing me for days to ask me why I was so depressed.

I honestly don't know why the mood hit me on Saturday, but it did. Then, Sunday happened, as it often does, and Sunday was better. And this week's been pretty much OK.

I mean, I saw "The Manchurian Candidate" with Ron this week, and a movie with Ron is usually a spirit-booster. (This time, I curtailed his usual cry for the no-longer-sold Raisinets by sneaking a pack into the theater, and he was happy.)

The fact that "The Manchurian Candidate," a remake of one of my favorite movies, was actually quite good made it an even better trip to the cinema.

Last night, I was supposed to go to dinner with Hennessy, but he got really sick and had to cancel. (Now, we might be doing something next week, according to today's e-mail exchange.)

At first, I was sorta upset about the plans being cancelled. So I put in a DVD.

It was a movie I hadn't seen called "Bubba Ho-Tep," and it's about an elderly Elvis Presley and a now-black JFK battling a 3,000-year-old mummy while living in a Texas nursing home.

And that cheered me up enough to make plans with Vic and head out of my apartment.

So I ended up in a bar in Buford last night with Vic, singing a karaoke version of "Luck Be A Lady" to a crowd of drunken people wearing flannel and tube tops.

So I guess I'm feeling better. I mean, I'm tired of having guys cancel on me at the last minute or the day of. But I'm fine.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

The result.

I'm not cold, angry and bitter. I'm not jaded yet.

It's funny to me that I know you're probably reading this, and I know you don't want me to think of you as all that bad of a guy - so you'll write me when I've gotten close to writing you off.

I'm bothered that I'm bothered about you. It makes me feel like I can't just have sex and forget about it, like normal people say they do but probably don't actually do.

I'm not hard-hearted yet. Is that the goal?

Is the goal confidence? Self-esteem? Forgiving yourself? Making yourself feel better?

Writing it down, is that it? Am I supposed to write something so worthwhile that even I will finally take a risk?

Am I supposed to be so hurt? Feel so hurt?

It travels in waves. I can look at the same thing from two different sides, two different moods, two different emotions.

Hope is gone. Isn't it? My time is passed, and I'm promise unfulfilled.

Or I'm impatient, and I just need to wait. And build. And not give up. No matter the thing that never seems to come, that thing that makes everything better and gives me something to focus on besides myself.

I'm supposed to withdraw, to feel free.

What is the goal? What is the end?

It's time to change. Again. It's time for ambition. Again. And confidence. Again. And maturity. Again. And a renewed sense-of-self. Again.

And nobody can fix you but yourself. And nobody can fix you but yourself.

You're sitting on a park bench in St. James's Park. Your leg hurts, and you can't move five steps. But you get yourself to the ice cream stand. You get yourself across the bridge. You get yourself to the next bench. Then the next. Then you get yourself up Waterloo. Then down the street a bit. Then past the visitor's center to a Pizza Hut. Then, outside of the Pizza Hut, you get yourself to a phone, and you try to call Miss Gibson. Then you get yourself to Piccadilly Circus. To the drugstore. You get yourself something for the pain in your leg. You go and you sit at the dentist's office.

You hide the fact that you're so hurt that you can barely move. It's a good pain then because of where and why you have it. You have it because you've been walking too much. You've been walking too much because you're in London. You're in London because you've always wanted to be there.

It's April in London. You aren't about to let the pain stand in the way of everything you want to do.

Here and now, you're letting the pain, the fear, the insecurity have you. It's eating you alive. You're worse than a loser. You're inconsequential and finding yourself uninteresting. You don't even know what you're escaping from anymore. Or what you're mad at.

You're all madness. Grim, unfocused, alienating madness.