Thursday, March 31, 2005

The final goodbye for Camilla did turn out to be quite tearful. She then left half of her stuff in the car and Vick had to go track her down in the airport. Leaving things behind falls into the basic psychology of not wanting to depart. She should actually be getting home about now.

Vick compared Camilla’s hasty departure to her own flight home from New Guinea in the late nineties. She had been teaching there in the school she had attended as a child when her ex husband Joe made a legal play for full custody of the kids such that she had two days to get back to Sacramento in order to contest. The simple act of showing up in court, not so simple considering she had built a life for herself there that she had to scrap entirely, convinced the judge that Joe’s motion had no merit.

At some point today I have to go over and get the Weimaraners. They are pretty dogs but about as high strung as could be. I am afraid that it might be a long weekend on the dog care front, especially since Sebastian loveth them not. His basic attitude is that he is too old to suffer puppies and I don’t blame him. Bringing them here is an experiment intended to conserve gasoline. Let’s hope for the best.

So, I took Vick to the airport at Seven a.m., got the dry cleaning for my interview tomorrow, took back the movies (Delovely – good and Pauly Shore is Dead – so bad), returned Angela’s missing house key to her at work (it was in Vick’s car), ran by the booth to see what I’ve sold this week – I’m giving notice tomorrow and putting everything still there on closeout special, took out the backseat of the van to make room for the dog kennels and so I can help Kat move some furniture this afternoon. I’m supposed to meet up with Tyler and Dan for some pool later, but that will depend on dog interactions. That’s my exciting life, you?


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

My second interview for the high-end restaurant job is now scheduled for Friday afternoon. If all goes well I’ll be serving random Chaucer quotes with French fries in no time flat. Fuck it, it’s a service economy.

Camilla leaves at 5:30 today. I think we are all agreed that it is easier to leave fast then to leave slow. It didn’t really feel like goodbye. I’m sure we’ll see her again sooner rather than later. If nothing else Vick and I have hatched a plan to go stay with her in Chile for a visit.

So, to celebrate my coming interview and hopeful employment status I am going to go sit in the backyard with an iced bucket of Coronas and read my new book – Hyperion – since I finished Neverworld this morning.


Recipe for a sudden going away party:

Begin outside to enjoy the night air and the smell of the grill

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move the spread inside for comfort and convenience

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eat, drink and by merry

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have dessert

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and receive Chilean wax for depilatory purposes

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discover that your dog is a space alien

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Red tails in the sunset:

Towards the end of winter in 2002 I had a poker night here at the house. BJ, Tyler, Dan, Jonathon, and Anna came. Jonathon & Anna were getting ready to move to Florida after he graduated from law school. They had this fish tank in the back of their car because they had been planning to give it to a coworker of Anna’s from the hospital (Anna worked maternity at Barnes). When they brought the tank over to this coworker, with two large sharks still swimming in the tank, the women pretended not to be home and then, when it became obvious she was home, said through her sister that she didn’t want the tank. The little sharks died.

We took the empty tank on as Jonathon’s stake for poker night and I ended up winning it, which is what started my aquarist hobby. Ruthann and I were still together then and when we bought fish for the tank we decided that instead of naming them we would refer to them by the kinds of cars they drove.

This morning the Camaro driving red tailed shark ran out of gas. In death his black scales turned white and at first I thought the golden Gourami had passed. All the other fish seem fine and other than the discoloration there was no sign of disease. He was floating like a spawned salmon in a stream. At an estimated lifespan of three and a half years I’d say he had a good run. I did the burial at sea and I thought I might eulogize him.

He was the centerpiece of that first tank and he was very happy to have the room to zoom in the upgraded thirty-five gallon. As a good looking freshwater shark, with a line like a submarine and a penchant for sudden bursts of speed, he had a something more that made children point and tell their parents that he was their favorite. If he’d been a man instead of a fish he would have driven a superfine Camaro with the rear jacked up and eighty inch white walls to smoke you in the street race with their unexpected grip. That fish had both power and finesse. He was a stylish fucker and will be missed.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Camilla's fairwell party is tonight - if you're a usual suspect we'll see you at circle K eight-ish - Pictures for the rest of you on the morrow.


Took the dog for a morning hour walk. We found a marker with latitude, longitude, and sea level on it.

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and then one of us marked it

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The workers have turned the fountains on

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and some of the trees as well

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Insomnia... woke up because I was too hot and now can't get back to sleep. Reading Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere and I am regretting not buying Simmons' Hyperion. I feel like I am reading a kid's book on a par with Lloyd Alexander, which would be good if I were ten years old again. I also started Anita Desai's Bye Bye Blackbird so I am edging back into literature from the crap that has gotten me devouring books again.

I didn't have a good day today - it was a productive morning, but then my steam ran out. I am wrestling with feelings of failure. It didn't help that there was a long interview with Scott Sandage on NPR about his new history Born Looser: A History of Failure in America. Scott got so melencholy during the ten years it took him to write the book, ironically afraid he’d never finish, that he was treated for clinical depression. I needed to be treated for depression after listening to the interview.

We got to hear the “lucky for us they failed” stories of Thoreau and Truman. Every unemployed listener in the bi-state area called in to talk to Scott about their personal Damoclesian swords. Frank Capra even called from beyond the grave to remind us that no man is a failure who has friends – Scott responded to Frank succinctly, “What if the failure’s friends are all failures too.” Oh the webs of Potter. Potter, hm, Patter Familias – I guess Capra had it in for the old boy network.

When I was having the long conversation that led to my departure from my former job a coworker told me that I was a round peg in a square hole. I don’t seem to fit anywhere and am increasingly tempted to pull a Charlie Kaufman and get a job bussing tables at Shoney’s. How should I embrace my not fitting-ness in the world, my own un-sellable kitsch-ness?

Maybe I need a jack move, something totally out of left field. Tom Hanks is in town filming The Da Vinci Code and they are auditioning extras – lately I look in the mirror and can only see myself appearing in a zombie movie – we fight depression with exercise, fresh veggies, and a new round of job apps. You just put one foot in front of the other and soak up as much sunshine serotonin as you can. Maybe I’ll get in nine holes tomorrow. Golf anyone?


Monday, March 28, 2005

Today was errand day. No, I haven’t heard back from the restaurant yet. I spent some time at the unemployment office checking in and doing some job searches as well as laundry and grocery shopping. I have to tell you that what is listed on the employment search engines is quite discouraging. So, to lift spirits I took the dog to Forest Park for an hour’s hike, I am trying to do that hour of exercise per day thing, and then we ran to the plant nursery to get the herb garden started. It’s still too early for basil, but I got rosemary, sage and thyme.

I got a call this evening from Vick regarding Camilla’s grandfather who is apparently not doing well. This means emergency machinations to get her packed up and out of the country back to Chile – she had been planning on staying until June or July, but that’s all done so she can be sure and get home before he passes. She does have a form of insurance that is covering the costs of her emergency departure, but I don’t think we’ll manage much of a goodbye party. If we did it would be either tomorrow or Wednesday night, so I’ll keep you posted.

Vick is leaving before Camilla will, to go on a graduation cruise to Mexico with my nephew Trevor. This leaves me once again house and dog sitting for those two crazy dogs, as all the kennels are booked for this weekend already, and with four more airport trips to make. I have a job apparently; it’s called my family. Honestly, I don’t mind at all and she’s paying me for the dog care, so that will cover a utility.

Ok, off to make the evening meal.


Sunday, March 27, 2005

You got action movie in my Oscar winner – you got Oscar actor in my action movie – two great tastes that go great together.


I just did the round trip to KC and back to spend a little time in my own holy trinity of friendship with Jason and BJ. I wish I had pictures for you but we forgot the camera. Imagine the three of us at the Japanese steak house simultaneously drinking a pineapple rum concoction out of a ceramic volcano through two-foot straws while the 151 in the center burned with a three-inch flame. It would have made a great picture post. Forget the sushi and the steak, that third volcano was the real kicker (they gave us the third one for free as the service sucked). By the end of dinner I was asking Jason if full Scottish brogue why they’d named their daughter after a pitchfork (Neptune’s son actually).

BJ’s thirty-second birthday is coming up at the end of March so we did a guys weekend of cards, food, and cocktails. Tiff and Triton joined us for many of our misadventures so it was a very good time for all and a chance to get to know Tiff better. I had Triton Emily walking across a small section of the living room holding my fingers. She is an angelic child with a very sweet disposition.

Jason and Tiff’s wedding is coming up in Oregon soon and they’ve asked me to help them script and stage parts of the ceremony to reflect their interest in several alternative religious and cultural traditions – they want a non-traditional ceremony to reflect their non-traditional marriage. To say that I am honored that they’ve asked me to help is a bit of an understatement.

So this new responsibility, as well as spending time with people who know me very well, has fit into my ongoing thinking about how to live a valuable life. A wedding celebrates a shared choice, honors a union, blesses a couple and in the best of circumstances it should inspire both in anticipation and later, in memory.

So often we settle for the wrong job or the wrong relationship because we let ourselves forget what inspires us. As someone who is struggling to find my way into a new career and future, I can feel pretty far from the things that inspire me. Some days, maybe most days, I couldn’t even tell you what those things are or were. One thing ceremonies can do for us is help remind us of our inspirations – put us back on a better path when we lose sight of who we are or who we want to become.

I am inspired by my friends of late, and the support that they’ve all shown me with the losses and difficulties of the past few months. I do feel like I am finally coming back together into something resembling the man I once was, a little more worn but maybe a little more me. We are all all the better for our reciprocity.


Saturday, March 26, 2005

It’s three fifteen a.m. and I am just in from John’s birthday at the bars. Tomorrow a.m. I think I am off to Kansas City to hook up with BJ and Jason. You have wisdom. I have folly. Five minutes ago on the drive home from Kelly’s Dan gave me “props” for using the word obsequious in a sentence at this time of night. We closed out Off Broadway around one and then went to the closure of Kelly’s next to The Broadway Oyster Bar.

With the new stadium coming in the owner of Kelly’s, John, got the shaft on a new lease and so tonight was the final gasp of Kelly’s. Soon it will be a chain Syberg’s. I could, and perhaps will be, more poetic at some later date about the loss of this fine watering hole – right now I am off to bed.


Friday, March 25, 2005

Ah the festival of sex is upon us - let the mythic rabbit procreate pandemic. Don't forget to hide your basket!


Do you have a flag?


Cat on a hot wood floor

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Green man smoking

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Green Man Pipe

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Bozo is a reader's helper

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Sebastian and Two Fish Tanks

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Here are some shots of Angela G. and I at The City Museum back when I had the beard.
1. Is this thing on?
2. Should we pose?
3. Well, we looked like idiots in that last one?
4. Jesus, it's still taking pictures.


It’s been three years since I’ve been behind a bar (in a professional capacity) and even longer since I waited tables, so I woke up remembering all the basic things that I would tell people when I was training them. Simple stuff. Memory is essential in fine dining, as people want personal, or impersonal and efficient, service. On a busy night you need to have a system in place to help you and it’s all about the numbers. Every table will have its own name and section number, which you will need to memorize before the first shift.

From there I recommend always taking orders in a clockwise direction starting with the person who is physically closest to the main entrance of the room you are working in. Get your orders in asap – don’t go to the next table. This is especially true in places that use computer networks with touch screens as the cooks come to rely on that machine for their timing and there is far less room for adjustment.

Write the specials on the back of your ordering pad, but memorize them as fast as you can – being sure to append sun dried or wasabi roasted where appropriate and make sure you have a favorite. Good recommendations can be key to boosting your tip. The specials are like catechism versus, but be careful not to cant them too fast as rote is less than appetizing and many of your older clients are reading your lips. Always beware the fish special, it’s often past its prime. If the price seems too low it probably is for a reason – this is true for all specials.

Is there some loss of pride putting my degrees on a shelf and going back to the service sector? Sure there is. That’s life, life is long, it’ll all work out, get over it. Nuff said?

Bartending is about ears and radar – also a memory game. Learn the names and drinks of your regulars from go. A person comes back to a bar where they feel known, as that is in part what they are looking for. As for the drinks themselves there are really only about thirty basic drinks and at least half of them tell you what they are – as in a gin and tonic or seven and seven or crown and coke – this is of course less true now in the cocktail renaissance, but in a certain sense martinis are replacing shots so you’re just shifting your knowledge base and doing a longer pour into a chilled glass. People will always order jager shots, tequila shots, sex on the beach, slippery nipples, kamikazes, dead nazis, etc. Recipes for some of these shots vary by region so make sure you know the local variation.

In fine dining bars you get to play the matching game. Make sure you use the right glass for the right drink. This is mostly a no-brainer as Collins drinks go in Collins glasses, as do tequila sunsets. Most drinks go in rocks glasses. Single malts have shifted to the snifter. If someone is having a single malt on the rocks, always save their ice, or at least ask. The Nuevo Riche may prefer fresh ice on principle in the same way that they prefer to live in soulless subdivisions of Wal-Mart style easy bake oven mansions. Best bet is to ask.

In any bar the first lesson of bartending is the pour. You must fully invert the stoppered bottle for a three second count to rapidly get the shot- shot and a half – into the glass. New bartenders are always afraid to invert the bottle. One of the best ways to conquer fear in any area of life is to be at the thing you are afraid of, moving towards it as directly and rapidly as possible. In the crucible of the drinking life, fear is Scylla and doubt is Charybdis. Confidence, even faking it till you make it, will get you through.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Fuck, where do I come from. What I mean by that is that sometimes I can be so good on the fly. I aced a preliminary interview for a restaurant job today with hiring firm that staffs four high-end restaurants. They have medical, dental, and 401k for their staff. Leslie tells me that Jim will call me back tomorrow to schedule the sit down.

I’ve always loved working in restaurants – there’s something in my nature that clicks with helping people have a good time and in a tipped profession at high end service it’s possible that I will work far less and make far more than I did at my last job – it’s also astounding that they have such a financial safety net for their employees. But it’s not about the money, it’s about getting a little momentum going again and doing something I’m good at will be good for my self-esteem. Cross you fingers kids, I could use the luck.


Isn’t it ironic that the religious right led forces of conservative justice are campaigning against a so called culture of death in their attempt to perpetuate one brain dead woman’s shadow life while the bodies of the not so brain dead fallen soldiers stack up like lumber in hidden hangers. Would that this kind of national attention, legislative wrangling, and political posturing have been employed to prevent or now end our wars, perhaps then we would see some real progress in undermining the American culture of death.


Two days ago I went over to Brad and Beth’s to watch a little TV – get out of the house. Brad was doubled over with a stomach flu wondering when he might get physically sick. Today that is me. I’m having that chilled to the bone, can’t get warm, all over body ick that leaves you determined to slide out of consciousness as frequently as possible – bed – couch – back to bed – back to couch – book, blanket, belly, and now blog.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

(click me)Easter(click now!)


Disorganized obvious:

Back in January I called the Social Security one eight hundred number to order a new card since I hadn’t seen or needed mine in several years. I used to keep it in my wallet and I figured I must have lost or misplaced it. Instead of sending me a card they sent me an application, which I filled out and sent back – weeks ago. Yesterday they sent me a letter stating that they would need additional information to process my request including a certified copy of my birth certificate and a copy of my driver’s license. They also warned me it would be weeks, even with the new information. I need a social security card to work temp jobs so this has been a bit of a barrier.

This process of card replacement is slightly more complicated in my case since I am a foreign born citizen. I was born in New Guinea on May 23rd, from which I have a State Department document called an Extract of Entry. It’s a funny sort of document that reminds me of government travel papers intended to ensure that my passage from contained uterus to general atmosphere was done so legally and with full citizenship pursuant to the provisions of the Registration Ordinance of 1963, section 25.

If you figure my entry was actually an exit from the gestation green room, noted for its comfort such that extractions, caesarian and otherwise, are often required, then the terminology becomes more humorous.

My birth certificate is from Brisbane, Queensland Australia dated September 11th 1973 because back then New Guinea was an Australian protectorate rather than an independent state. When I was eighteen I had to declare as a U.S. Citizen, but Australia is more open with their employment law so I could actually work there without the normal sort of employment visas that a regular U.S. citizen would need. In turn Australia has a deal with Britain that would allow me to work there as well, which begs the question “what the fuck am I doing here?” As I understand it this work loophole pisses the U.S. off and has been a point of contention, mostly manifest not in departure but in attempted return. Perhaps something for a kinder gentler future if we ever manage to get these assholes out of power.

Anyway, I went to my files to get the actual certificates thinking I would skip the mail and just go to the office today and brave the lines and manifold explanations that I had been hoping to avoid with the mail in process. I had to go through the same thing a few years back to get my passport, so I have extra copies all ready to go for just this sort of situation. There, in the folder with my birth certificate, was the missing social security card. It’s a little worn, but still functional for purposes of temporary employment.

It’s a nice Buddhist reminder – you already have everything you need, you had it at birth.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Lurker is the widely accepted mostly neutral term for people who read a blog, but don’t comment or otherwise engage via email- etc. With an average of 120 hits a day (170 today) I have developed a lurker readership, which is nice. That’s part of the point of writing – to reach an audience. It’s a mild hobby of mine to find out more about the people who know so much about me since this is such a confessional medium.

Maureen drops in from Virginia, there are a ton of people in Kirksville, Michelle in Seattle must open my page at home and then leave it up while she goes to work as I don’t think there are eight hours of reading to be had here, I think that’s Doug in New York, I’m not sure on the Kansas readers, I think some of the Canadians are Christine’s relatives. There are lots of lurkers who I know by ISP, but Japan, The Philippines, Ireland, etc. that’s all just random. Sometimes the stat counter helps in my inquiry, but the data is limited and helped along mostly by guessing. Lurker Bridgett, are you from Millstadt Illinois? Sorry I keep missing you in the chat room.


So I am a Fiona Apple fan and I was surprised to just learn that she completed an album in 2003 that was shelved for not being commercial enough – full story. Hmm. Well, it’s been leaked – so give it a listen if you like.


How I am feeling today:

I have this pipe, I have lots of pipes actually, but there’s one I want to tell you about. Did you know that I smoke pipes from time to time? It’s a habit I picked up from my father. I’m sure that it fits with the intellectual disguise, English teacher with beard in camel hair coat and all that, but I rarely do it in public – and I shaved the beard off months ago.

Anyway, I have this pipe that is made from meerschaum, which is a rare form of fossilized sea foam that is only found in Turkey and some parts of Africa. My pipe is Turkish. Meerschaum is prized because it allows for a cooler creamier smoke than briarwood. The mineral is porous and the oils of your tobacco seep slowly into it over years changing it from soft white to a golden tan. The longer it’s been smoked, the darker its color and the greater its value. It’s one of those rare items that increase in value with use. It’s also fragile and will shatter if you drop it.

The bowl of the pipe is generally decoratively carved, mine is carved appropriately enough into the face of Dionysus/Bacchus, or the green man if you prefer, Tammuz if we want to go back to the Sumerians – god of the vine and mythic precursor to the right of Christian communion. It’s the Osiris slot for the Egyptologists in the room, the agricultural god who follows the planting cycle, born in spring – laid in summer – burned in fall – penis goes missing until the spring when he’s set to start all over with a fresh mug of beer and a glint in his eye.

So we’ve established the pipe in your consciousness and you’ve linked it to me both as a possession and metaphorically because you’ve come to understand that I am a Bacchanal kind of guy. Now we can start throwing curve balls. The pipe reminds me of my relationship to literary criticism and academic life in general. It’s a thing I sometimes smoke and the purpose is pleasure and affectation. It’s something to do since you have to do something.

The pipe is a fine and useless thing. Don’t get me wrong – I think there is great pragmatic utility and avenues for empowerment and change through education – but there are also these textual readings that we English types generate as part of the business of being academics and they are like meerschaum pipes. They are carvings made from the fossilized foam of ancient waves. They are handholds in the ascent of a climb wall, anchors of temporary utility. They are sand castles no different from the worlds I made as a child. I just can’t see the value for me in trying to give voice to my reading of novel.

I was just reading a bit of criticism about Gibson’s Mona Lisa Overdrive and it was good crit unpacking patriarchal and cultural currents in the work reflecting both Gibson’s biases and those of the critic. I could write criticism of the critic in which I could use their reading to map out what classes they had taken in grad school. Someone else could crit my crit in subsequent nexts – a thousand Citizen Kanes stretching to infinity in the doubled mirrors. The only why of it I can figure is aesthetic, its why-ness in part its why-not-ness.

To summarize like a good Sumerian, I think I am making the decision that, flawed as my efforts may be, I would rather write fiction than critique it in my future incarnations.


Monday, March 21, 2005

Ok kids – this blog is all about memory lane so here we go

Summer graduation from Truman 1997

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Kelly’s, then Jed’s, then my, then BJ’s roommate Angela (who has vanished), BJ, myself, and a distracted Angela B.

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Angela B and I at graduation BBQ at the Normal Street house. I think my mother is showing Angela childhood pictures of me to complete the meet the folks at graduation cliché. Judging from the color of the label and the inference that my mother is near by, I am going to guess that I am drinking a Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss.

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My parents got me a large beer for graduation - it had one of those latch tops like Grolsch does and was covered with scenes from the life of Martin Luther – that about sums up my life doesn’t it. I think they bought it at Sam’s Club. (Chris, I am wearing an original “Beer is not just for Breakfast Anymore” shirt from the opening of the Schlafly Tap Room brewpub in downtown St. Louis.)

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A visit a few years later – not sure on the timeline, but that’s the house Beth and I lived in on Washington. Only the left hand chair has been recovered from that horrible green, so my guess is 1999.The open book on the table is Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar so I would have been in Joe’s Latin American writer’s class which Missy sat in on even though she had graduated which means Fall of 1999, but I seem to recall that Angela bought me a tiki shirt with the following pattern:

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– so that implies birthday perhaps in the spring of 2000.


I feel like I just got back from vacation. I had lain low almost all week from my usual raucousness. I hadn’t even been home for an hour on Sunday when Erica called, “It’s beautiful out. What are you doing? We should be outside drinking beer.”
“We could have a BBQ.”
“Yeah! I’ll be over within the hour.”
… as would Beth, Kat, Angela, M.B., & neighbor Katie (who has now attended two parties). So that took up the afternoon and into early evening with food and conversation. I was teased about the lack of any other men at the shindig – the boys were called but were apparently otherwise occupied. We had pork steaks, beer brats, onion burgers, acorn squash, and teriyaki mixed peppers and onions – and Katie brought chocolate cake and ice cream. So, BBQ #4 for the year is out of the way (should I keep up the count?). I still have to do the dishes.

Ah well, my posting is going to be short for awhile as I am kicking the job search into high gear. My ex Angela B. found this blog last night – Hi Angela – and sent me a very nice renew friendship email – Jesus, were we really 23/24 when we dated?


Saturday, March 19, 2005

This is sad. My nephew is on a double date at the theater up the street (they are seeing The Grudge) and I am blogwalking with one eye and watching Legally Blond with the other. Thanks for that quiz Jen, that was actually tough - I want to see the answer key - all my booze reference manuals are at home. I might run up to Dierberg’s for a bottle of wine and a fire log to ambiance my way through the evening.

In addition to having their first kiss last night T and his girl have managed to set up Mat with Jennifer. This is exciting as Mat really hasn’t dated much and Jennifer is the one pursuing, so this romance has the potential to last several weeks, assuming the double date goes well. I wasn’t feeling all that ambitious food wise so I made the kids turkey burgers. Turkey burgers on wonder bread are like pot pies, something that everyone should eat at least once every five years or so.

I brought my play station over to have fun with and after a few hours of use it gave up the ghost - ten years - we had a good run - I haven’t played video games in years so I am slightly tempted to upgrade systems, but only slightly. Yup, it’s as exciting as it sounds. And to think I’ve resisted domesticity all these years, what was I thinking?


Bacardi 151
Congratulations! You're 153 proof, with specific scores in beer (100) , wine (100), and liquor (130).
All right. No more messing around. Your knowledge of alcohol is so high that you have drinking and getting plastered down to a science. Sure, you could get wasted drinking beer, but who needs all those trips to the bathroom? You head straight for the bar and pick up that which is most efficient.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 91% on proof
You scored higher than 93% on beer index
You scored higher than 94% on wine index
You scored higher than 98% on liquor index
Link: The Alcohol Knowledge Test written by hoppersplit on Ok Cupid


You remember being fourteen and hanging out with the neighborhood kids until all hours, right? I had it in mind to be cool uncle - Kat reminded me that Third Degree was an all ages friendly environment so I thought it would be cool to take T down there to see the glass blowers and the fire workers, thanks for the reminder Kat, but one of the girls in this complex was having a slumber party last night and T‘s new girlfriend was to be in attendance - it turned out to be first kiss night - which suddenly meant in the style of Happy Days that we were having a slumber party for the boys. My role was to occasionally call T on his cell and tell the group on behalf of the neighborhood to quiet down. There is a small pond behind the house that serves as the backyard for several units so all the kids were just gathered on the shoreline basking in the radiant energy of the moon and the complex’s halogens.

After the neighborhood curfew was in effect the boys retired to the upstairs to play X-box while I lit a fire in the fireplace and watched Moonstruck, About a Boy, and Return to Me. I think of the county as being in part about the valorization of sameness - all the houses look the same etc - the business repeat on a grid as though dropped into place by someone playing Sims St. Louis.

Part of that gestalt is to watch sappy movies that you’ve seen multiple times so you can repeat ad infinitum a mildly pleasant experience. Actually, since I’ve been staying here I’ve watched the updated Thomas Crown Affair four times so I think I am getting into the aesthetic. V and Camilla won’t be back until tomorrow night and neighbor girl is having another slumber party tonight so I can only assume that in the local spirit of repetition my evening will involve another three romantic comedies from the late eighties or early nineties. If I get an early start on it I might be able to get four in.


Friday, March 18, 2005

I had a great time and I want to write about it, but I’ve had a bit of the block on me of late - the block comes for me when there are things that I need to be writing about, but am avoiding such that I shut down and can’t even convey the “here’s what we did” pap that I often spread out on this little piece of blog toast. Let’s force it anyway and see what happens.

I told John early as we made our way up from the family lawns and churches towards the heart of the street party, “If Kansas City is the city of fountains St. Louis should be know as the city of the public drunk - it’s one of the things we do quite well.”

“If we walk north while the parade heads south we can watch the parade on fast forward.”

I didn’t take a camera to the Dogtown St. Pat’s parade, but I thought about it and then I kept framing shots - the half drank corona with a lime in the drink holder of the plastic stroller fortress that looked more like a gardener‘s workspace than child transport - summation of the day - Irish families at drink. The fifteen red haired college girls with their legs hanging off the flat roof of the three story brick lofts at the intersection of Tamm and Clayton - infinite instances of green beads on power lines. Tall trash can girl, Lisa’s friend, with the bottle of rum down the front of her shirt - held in place by “the real ones” until she passed it joint like round our street circle and it went from half full to empty in two rotations.

You know those ten minute date parties that singles can go to where they get a new potential match ever few minutes - that’s what the parade was like - I can’t really count the number of groups we joined, moved with and then abandoned… like I am abandoning this thread for the moment while you move on to the next blog, and the next.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Could blogger be running anymore slowly? I’m glad I have haloscan comments.

Last night I sat through three hours of various student bands from Parkway North and surrounding schools. It’s always odd to be closer in age to the parents than to the kids. Then we finished up Taylor’s rough draft for a paper about the impact Mountain Men had on westward expansion – Mountain Men influenced westward expansion by exploring the Great Plains, establishing a fur trade, and discovering the Northwest Passage. Who knew? Ah, social studies, but for the Texas textbook lobby dumbing you down as a discipline what a fascinating subject you would be.

Today, St Pat’s that it is = public drinking of Guinness at the Dogtown parade – actually in less than an hour as the parade starts at noon. Maybe I’ll see you there.
If you find me at the parade and tell me the magic password "westword expansion" I'll give you a bottle cap. Mark, get set, go.....


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Twelve fifty five. Do I have a blog in me? Well, the Scottish bar interview couldn’t have gone worse. They are months from opening and did not seem interested in hiring me, in part because one of the construction guys suggested that I had walked on their newly poured sidewalk, after that I was lucky to get out of there without an ass kicking – one was certainly intimated. It’s strange how the universe redirects us – maybe bar work is over for me until I own one – Michelle in Seattle suggested via a mailed Dilbert Cartoon that there might be the ownership of an ugly art bar in my future. Thanks M – I’ll scan it at home when I get a chance and post it here.

I spent much of yesterday debugging my nephew’s computer only to have it tank again before bedtime. He deactivated the firewall as he didn’t understand that he was being told that the site he wanted to go to was profligate with spyware etc. so this am was system restore etc. Not his fault – I put a bunch of new software on and didn’t teach him how to use it – my bad.

Sorry, I’ve got nothing more exciting for you. My current substitute domestication is a little on the dull side. Though I did do a day drunk on Monday with Mary over at Blueberry Hill after my shitty interview, a couple pints of Guinness to ease my pervasive sense of failure.

I’ve been cooking creative meals from the random food in my sister’s freezer. I’ve been helping prep for today’s social studies test on the restoration south. Tonight I am the supportive guardian at the band concert. They live in one of these complexes that has constantly audible geese and ducks and lakes and … it feels like an odd collision of California condo and North Woods cabin – On Plastic Pond with Jane Fonda. There is a gym, pool, and sauna which perhaps I’ll take advantage of tomorrow. I’m still on my Gibson jag having read two more of his early books over the weekend – Mona Lisa Smile and Virtual Light.

Vick and Camilla get to New York today. So far their trip has sucked. The tour guides are apparently incompetent and promised destinations like The Pentagon, The Vietnam War Memorial, and the Washington Monument keep getting dropped in favor of shopping at high-end malls that only the tour guides can afford – come children of the third world and gaze not upon our history, but upon the vacuous materialism that has replaced it – when will prodigal Prada return? Did you hear that more people voted for last weeks American Idol competition then voted in the election? Yup, that’s the magic of America. Even if I just perpetuated an urban myth, and I don’t think I did, the believability tells you something.

V and Camilla did see the poignantly cracked Liberty Bell yesterday and also Vick was quite taken with the many bridges of Philadelphia. She is primarily attempting to use Zen knitting to keep from having the suffering fools meltdown. The primary fool I have to suffer is myself so I doubt knitting would help. I alternate between being knotted and in stitches according to a rhythm not quite circadian, strung out in a labor labyrinth waiting for Ariadne's phone call.


Monday, March 14, 2005

I may not have a job, but I now have a commute. I’ve been managing two households since Saturday – well M.B. is really managing our place as far as pet care etc. goes – I am in the world of two monster dogs and fourteen-year-old concerns over pizza and long phone calls to his new girlfriend. Last night this resulted in me watching Euro-trip (don’t blame me, he owns a copy), a teen angst film often both dull and oddly transgressive.

For example, the main character’s “girlfriend’s” German younger brother inks a Hitler mustache onto his upper lip and goosesteps through the background of a scene for no apparent reason. There are many such WTF moments in the style of the Farley Brothers – There’s Something About Mary. One of the outtakes at the end is the director teaching this child to salute like der Fuhrer which is coded as “isn’t this director funny”. Yeah, I’m thinking not so much. You can laugh with films like this but you also have to keep your thinking cap on and be critically vigilant about the pap you’re getting served.

Lucy Lawless, of Xena fame, as the anal probe toting dominatrix in the Amsterdam brothel was something of a casting and plot turn surprise, as was Buffy’s younger sister engaging in “watersports” as part of a hitchhiking routine. She also French kisses her twin brother at length while drunk on Absinth. The watersports moment was only presented in the closing credits of this version of the film, but I still have to wonder how that played over at Disney what with her film Ice Princes poised for the big family draw. Pissing to hitch doesn’t seem to fit Disney’s draw.

I understand there are several versions of Euro-trip marketed like American Pie was with un-rated, super-un-rated, and director’s cuts. One time, at band camp I learned repetitive marketing strategies that encourage repurchasing while at the same time reducing human sexuality to the level of the fart joke and ignoring all risk/consequence of pregnancy/disease at the same time reinforcing sexist gender stereotypes. Rhetorically a conservative gesture masked as the “dangerous” result of extreme liberalism.

It’s no more transgressive than Revenge of the Nerds was. In both flicks the transgressions serve to reinforce rather than complicate conservative norms. I thought that the constant homosexual panic was fairly disturbing, with a recurring vaguely Italian male predator trying to get the boys whenever their train enters a dark tunnel – sometimes a cigar is... at the same time ubiquitous lesbian make-out scenes sanction that version of homosexuality as long as it’s re-sexualized by being subjected to the heterosexual male gaze.

The most positive and salient feature was the reminder that America’s puritanical hangover has resulted in a culture of intense repressive prudery. Yet the film does more to reinforce that prudery than cut against it, giving the bloodhound gang cast experiential reasons to return to America with many myths intact, though not their virginity, as all the major and minor characters do get laid, including a bald Mat Damon, who has been “banging Scotty’s girlfriend in his van every Sunday after she lied and told him she was going to church” – which is an enactment of the lyrics to the popular title song which predates the filming script. This is quite the bizarre little cultural artifact.

Taylor and I have had some interesting conversations about film. I think it’s almost all good if you can learn from it. He wanted to watch the Truman Show yesterday and while it was on he began to talk about the ethics of forced utopia and draw comparisons to The Matrix, all unprompted. This is a very bright kid. He also wanted to talk about how it seems like more and more Christians are reconciling with the unavoidable truths of evolution, finding some midpoint of reason and faith – again he started that one.

I took he and a friend to garage and estate sales on Saturday (they wanted to go to the library to use the computer and because the DVD rentals are free - I saw a few sale signs in route so we detoured). He kept explaining to his friend how shallow he thought many of the kids at school were with regard to money and how happy he was that he was learning that the deal mattered more than the bragging rights of brand name. Even with crap like Euro Trip in his collection he’s going to turn out ok.

“How does an estate sale differ from a garage sale? I don’t think I’ve ever been to an estate sale.”

“Well, generally there has either been a bankruptcy or a death. I would say that the slightly catatonic old man, who was watching the TV that was for sale, is either going to go live with one of the children who was ignoring him or be put in a home. I imagine his wife recently died and she was his primary care giver.”


Sunday, March 13, 2005

I was all wired for sound last night and ready to write long epics of contemplative meandering – as I am want to do – but alas there is no internet at my sister’s. She’s getting a cable modem installed Tuesday, but for now we are in the land of shhhhhhh. Maybe I should just go on spring break like many of my fellows.


Friday, March 11, 2005

Details of late:

So, as you may or may not know I see a lot of movies. Mostly I rent, but occasionally I go out see films and earlier this week I went to see Be Cool at the Moolah. Please avoid this terrible film at all costs. It is the worst film I have seen in maybe five years. The only reason I went to see it was because it was at the Moolah. They have shriner hats for chandeliers and an open bar. Image hosted by Photobucket.comIf it weren’t for the gin and tonics I would have shot myself halfway through the film. This place also has a bowling alley in the basement so that’s an evening.

Erica came over last night to drink tequila and we watched Pitch Black, the Vin Diesel prequel to The Chronicles of Riddick. Not bad as science fiction goes. She’s off to Chicago for the weekend (Hi Justin). BJ will be in this afternoon and we shall play pool at the usual gin joint until such time as a poker game arises in one of our habitations. Then for the next seven days I’ll be living out in the county taking care of my nephew while my sister and her foreign exchange student do a whirlwind tour of Chicago, New York, and D.C. – a taste of the domestic life in the land of strip malls, helping with homework and defrosting dinner.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Courtesy of Kat we have some BBQ pictures.

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I’m not sure this was from the BBQ but it’s still true, and neither is tequila

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enjoying the evening under the lights

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it’s sad to say but with a fire this hot

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Vanessa’s veggie burger did not fare so well
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The meat came through ok

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and all the homosexuals survived as well

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Thanks M.B. that’s hysterical.


I need to take some Quaaludes because I have lost my mind. I don’t know what is up with my testosterone levels but I have just recently started feeling uber aggressive. Is it just a spring thing? I jumped out of bed today feeling like an overcharged battery. Sure, I have been eating lots of meat and walking the dog a great deal, but if I’d known this was going to happen I never would have abandoned my sedentary lifestyle.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Shit Sandwich

I was eighteen and living in California with my friend Jason. We’d gotten a place just a few miles from my sister in Rancho Cordova along the American River as it wound its way down from Lake Natoma. She’d found us an apartment to land in, a two bedroom two bath with a working fireplace and a small deck for six hundred a month. After our three-day drive out from Missouri along the southern highway route 66, down through Oklahoma and into Texas and then across through New Mexico and Arizona, sleeping in KOAs and a Wal-Mart parking lot in the center of the Mojave we were ready to arrive in our new lives.

After a swim in her backyard pool, dodging the snakelike motions of the self-cleaning pool shark, we went to check out our new digs. There’d been some problem with our ages etc. and not being present to sign the lease, but Vick had thrown her weight around. She was married to a local lawyer with some pull and they’d grudgingly rolled over for her. She only told me this later as an explanation for why there was a large pile of dog shit in the center of the master bedroom. Apparently as a self-described rich bitch my sister had become accustomed to strategically placed piles of excrement.

We each, Jason and I, bought bed roll futon mattresses from the local Pier One, moved in our fit-in-your-car lives and set about our attempts at employment. I never held a job during my stay in California. I just burned through savings unable to find work. This was in the fall of 1991 and a slew of environmental restrictions had just gone into effect sending many industrial employers to Nevada or south to Mexico. At the same time there was still a huge influx of population such that one in nine United States citizens was a citizen of California.

This was the start of the recession that would spread across the country and sweep Bush senior from office. A manager at a local Burger King told me he was hiring only college graduates. The universities began to fire humanities professors in order to use their salaries to cover welfare payments. Those humanities professors then flooded the midwestern markets and I was both taught by and am currently in competition with them.

It’s not true that neither of us held jobs. Jason went to work for an environmental lobby group doing door-to-door canvassing. He never made much money at it but we did meet some interesting friends to drink with. I took a job selling encyclopedias door to door. I went to the training and got my script to memorize. I took it home and by the time I had it committed to memory I knew I would rather eat glass than recite this to a single potential customer. Just because you can do a thing does not mean you should do that thing.

I called the owner of this encyclopedia company and told him I was quitting. He was very angry with me, especially when I told him that I’d already memorized the script. I still remember this conversation and an odd statement that seemed so out of left field. He said, “Everybody thinks they have a book in them.” Why he took me for an aspiring writer or why he wanted to dash my hopes on the Willie Lowman world of door-to-door encyclopedia sales I can’t imagine. All I can hope is that he did have a book in him and maybe when the home encyclopedia became a thing of the past he was able to get it out.

I started thinking about this time in my life today not to tell the story, but to remind myself that this isn’t the first time that I’ve had trouble finding work. And then, as I was thinking about that time, I remembered an odd lunch halfway into my California life. I had met my sister and her best friend out for burgers at a local upscale chain. I’d been making what money I made while there by running errands for her and her husband, but her friend thought she might be able to get me on as a pizza delivery boy on the military base.

A man with short blonde hair who they knew through their church joined us for lunch. He seemed a little off. There was something innately flawed about him that made all three of us uncomfortable. They knew what it was and I had only a guess, that perhaps he was too flirty and they were both married. I was very wrong and when I asked my sister told me, “You’d be off too if you went through what he just did.”

Apparently Kevin, that was his name, had recently discovered that his depressed mother had just shot his bedridden father with a shotgun and then turned the weapon on herself. My sister punctuated the short story by explaining that as the only child it had fallen to him to clean the carpets so the property could be sold. She went on about how white the carpets were and what a shotgun blast to the face could do to a person. How he would never be right again after the discovery and then the practicalities of a pail and brush.

I haven’t had to be so intimate with my dead as Kevin was, but they’ve still changed me, taken me down into darker places then I ever hoped to go. I’ve carried the Paul twice now and spoke at many more wakes, touched faces in caskets and said my goodbyes. We all have or will, and yet the sun still rises every day and the meters on my utilities and debts keep clicking away in green lights and at reds, regardless of the traffic in and out of life.

It occurred to me back then in California, beyond the framing of my own naiveté finding darker still under imagined or sensed darkness, that there were many worse things than my own lack of direction and joblessness. By this time I could see that I’d landed on a bad seedbed where I didn’t know the market and the market didn’t know what to do with me. Soon Jason and I both decided to move back to Missouri where at least we knew we could get jobs, then college, and then my teaching and professional life.

When we moved back to St. Louis Jason got an apartment with our friend Mike just up the street from where I live now. I moved home to save money for school. The woman who lived next door to them, Carol, was on welfare and she explained how she made more on unemployment than she could if she were working. Sometimes she’d hit Mike up for money and he’d give her food instead. Her boyfriend called me Red or Chief and I still see him from time to time in the Loop.

I was standing on the fire escape with her and her pregnant teenage daughter and she said, “Life is like a shit sandwich, the more bread you got the less shit you got to eat.” It wasn’t too long after that that her daughter and unborn child were killed in a drug deal that went south. I don’t know if more bread could have kept Carol from that shit. You know enough people and you hear enough stories and the shit becomes pretty much constant, just sitting there like that pile in my long lost bedroom, a greeting of resentment and inevitability.

I’ve been fairly money motivated the past few years, working at a job I hated just to get the bills paid rather than getting creative with my life. Maybe now that I’ve found myself again run aground on a bad market it’s time to do two things: to return to what I know and to see at last if I have at least one book in me. What I know is working in restaurants and teaching. Working in restaurants is good because you get to see the presentation and the pleasure in consumption before everything turns to shit. Teaching is good because you get to remind people about their humanity, lest they get the wrong idea that the bread course will do more than ruin their appetite.


Here’s one for the books – I have an appointment on Monday to interview for a lead bartender position at a new Scottish bar and restaurant in the Central West end. That’s like getting a telegram from god. If ever my Scottish looks and braveheart hair were going to work for me on an interview - I'd wager this would be it. They are still under construction and five weeks from opening - which would mean additional coast - unless i can get hired to help with the construction as well. I've helped build more than one restaurant.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Oh internet, with your vast resources and the power of randomness evident in every click through, how do I make large amounts of cash quickly? Please respond in the comments, or via email if it needs to be kept secret.


The Bodhisattva of the Lottery:

Sleep (and writing) schedule has gone totally random. Did the three am wake up followed by the nap later in the day and then again I crashed at ten only to wake up at midnight wondering how late I’ll be up.

Every once in awhile you come across a voice you connect with, it can be a teacher or an author, some other source perhaps, but whatever reason the stars align and you get more out of your encounter with that voice than you normally would. Somehow your receptors line up, as though you’re an ant with just the right pheromones on the antennae to hatch a mutual plan.

I’m feeling that way about William Gibson right now and I think that I am actively not writing in part because I need to process what I’ve learned. To be sure, he has notable weaknesses. His characters are on the two dimensional side and he can at times tend toward repetitive structures and vocabulary (we each suffer from the run on sentence), but you can forgive the two dimensionality in deference to his power of description. His true characters are his settings. The complexity of his farms out weigh the ubiquity of his ants, and all his ants are less there to act than to observe; to witness the worlds he’s made for them.

If you read this blog with any sort of regularity, or ever listen to me talk, you might be aware of certain proneness to hyperboles. What Midwestern “writer” who lives along the Mississippi and has been to the boyhood home of Samuel Clemens on numerous occasions wouldn’t be influenced by the power of exaggeration to season a story? I’ve got a Clemens like hang up for living in those exaggerations, maybe even for living larger than I am able to; myself a flawed character, missing his third dimension.

I stood in the Shakespeare home in Stratford-upon-Avon in the spring of two-thousand-and-one looking at evidence of notable tourists to the site. As a fan of Jorge Borges I am into doubling, so the Russian nested doll-ness of me at the boyhood home of Shakespeare looking at the guest book signature of Clemens on the same tourist wander, when I as a tourist had taken students of mine to see Clemens’ home in Hannibal, was entertaining.

I am nothing if not a man of excesses. I couldn’t afford that trip to England, but I took it anyway. I can’t afford to live like I have been living this past weekend, but I’ve done it anyway, as sometimes you must. Then, oddly, enough unexpected income came in, from an early birthday gift from my brother and a little money for helping a friend move on Friday and again on Sunday, to cover exactly what I’d spent out on Friday reconnecting with my sister, on Saturday with an impromptu celebration of Brad’s birthday, on Sunday with a late afternoon and well into the evening BBQ. (To be sure, most of the money went to gas, laundry, groceries, and a memory card for the digital camera. So it wasn’t all squander and motion.) Even in unemployment with the bills rising, why does there always seem to be enough? Is trust enough?

The newagers have this fingernail theory of abundance most notably and recently championed by Wayne Dyer, who I saw on his last visit to St. Louis as a required gift of my previous employer (I was expected both to be inspired and to save the seats). To paraphrase Wayne, you shouldn’t doubt that the same universal force that grows your hair and beats your heart will also keep you in financial threads that meet your needs. The newagers are often closet Calvinists looking to join the elect, but rather than investing they try to clap their hands for Tinker bell and ride into tinsel town on the belief train.

The newagers tend to be about empowerment, so Wayne will judge you for seeing yourself as a victim in order to motivate and inspire you with his criticism, like Catholic guilt. You are fiscally and spiritually self destructive by coming to the well of abundance, which is in fact an ocean, with a thimble rather than a bucket. This theory draws from adaptations of karma and caste in that it ignores the socio economic pressures that could construct barriers to abundance for whole genders, races or nation states. It simply states that you’ll get exactly what you expect to get in life (so the third world just needs to set their sights a little higher).

The thing is, I have always been a nail-biter and my mom collected thimbles so I’m not sure how to get to bucket from here. I actually want to believe some of Wayne’s nonsense and I’d like to use “the power of my intention” to get there from here, but I have no idea what my future looks like and I seem unwilling or unable to find the path that leads to it. The Taoist method of waiting for the correct action to arise seems to be a bit of a crock. Perhaps I simply lack the inner quietude to recognize the call to action, which from a Taoist perspective should be constant.

There was a woman in Schnucks today buying pick three lottery tickets and she had these five sheets of notebook paper on which she’d worked out this complicated system of what numbers were more likely to hit on a given day – no training in statistics there, just the same kind of pseudo science of faith and will that you get from the newagers. She was explaining to the young girl behind the counter how you can’t go for the big score, you have to get a system and work the angles. She was pretending to a knowledge, which if she had she wouldn’t be there trying to explain it, unless she was the bodhisattva of the lottery, there to save my eavesdropping soul, there to remind me that angles have edges and all I want is smooth.

Maybe that’s an American thing, a hyperbolic hope that we’re all just a red ticket away from the big score, if we could just figure out how to show up at the right ocean with the right bucket when the tide is coming in. I am beginning to think that thinking about money as a motivator is the problem, instead of seeking the big score and the life of leisure perhaps I should get working on that third dimension of character and leave abundance to sort itself out. After all, it always seems to.


Saturday, March 05, 2005

Why is my rug on the front lawn? Are we reenacting The Swimmer? NO! It’s drunken cleaning day!!!!!!!! Where only half of the solvents are intended for surfaces, the rest are for depth. I have one of those roommates who gets on cleaning tares – she is oiling the baseboards as we speak. I just took some of the plants back outside – was this wise? Is spring sprung? We shall see. All things are possible on drunken cleaning day. Just don’t forget to give the house gods their shot of rum!!!


Jen wants more, more she gets:

We are experiencing a delay in the moving John plan as he is opting for a u-haul over my van and it won’t be available until three. So that gives me more time to sober up and blog at you. Where we were we? Arriving early at Riddle’s – sevenish – for a band that wouldn’t start until nine – we got a bottle of Australian white to sip on while we talked all things family. She wants to take me to New Guinea at some point because there’s this whole chapter in my family’s history that I don’t have experiential context for. I was born there, but had my first birthday on the plane home.

My favorite part of last night was a moment when an elderly black man, potentially a homeless man, walked into the bar and in loud music sign language I offered him a seat at our table, two feet from the trumpet player. He was wearing a blue cap with gold ropes inlaid in the bill that I recognized as a navy hat. He had gaunt look and a slightly stooped walk that may have been a gesture rather than a condition. He was a supplicant of place. He produced a blank white sheet of paper and a pen from the folds of his jacket and began to furiously sketch the band.

When he had the paper half full Vick and I had decided to leave for the next bar. We had gotten to Riddle’s early enough such that our table was closest to the band. It was the best table in the place – the envy of many. Three men walked into the bar as we were standing and I offered them our table on the condition that they allow the man to keep sitting there and drawing. “I think we can do that.”

They warmly accepted the offer and slid into the seats amid the press of the crowd, all of us glancing at the immerging images in black ink of the twenty something drummer with his fresh out of high school face, the enormous base player whose tree trunk frame wrapped itself around the fretless, dark wood base, the fifty something soul patched guitarist with his lightwood Stratocaster gliding his gaze from player to player in an ocular negotiation of solos, happy as hell that the trumpet player showed up before the end of the first set, just in time for his turn, just in time to be the foreground in a homeless navy vets sketch.

The seventeen year seperated siblings, oldest and youngest of a brood of six, hit the proud highway, off to meet the lesbians at Amp.


While Corona, Guinness, wine, gin, margaritas, and Jameson’s might get along just fine when they lounge shelved at the local mercantile I do not suggest that you invite them to a party together, especially if they intend to come over in the same car, or more to the point – in the same stomach. Ouch.

It always starts innocently enough. My sister wanted to take her dog Silver to the dog park so she came and picked me up. I didn’t want to take Sebastian, as he does not always play well with others. Silver had a good time at said park, but the owners of the various dogs were icky. One woman had a dog that attacked several others and her response was to check the victim dog’s tags to see if they had a right to be there. Vick asked me, “Are you sure this isn’t Creve Cour? These bitches are awful.” “Yeah, I think we should go get a beer.” “I am becoming reverse pretentious as I age, the more airs people put on the less I think of them.”

So we took Silver up to the loop. Gorgeous day. Brandt’s was packed and Riddle’s wasn’t open yet so we sat at this new Mexican place where the laundry mat used to be, just down from blockbuster. I used my wait skills to carry out a plate of nachos, a cup of ice for the dog, a Corona for me and a Margarita for Vick and we wiled away the day doing the bustling city people watch. That margarita fit the day so well that I switched up for the second round. Vick wants to move to this part of town when T graduates from high school. She’s a gregarious person and plenty of random people stopped to chat about Silver.

Two Bosnian guys sat next to us and bummed Vick Menthols. Their rolling banter had absorbed only the colloquialism “fuck”. After a long talk about the cult we were raised in we decided to take the dog back to mine, and return to the loop sans canine to catch the jazz at Riddle’s and then we were out, first for music with wine and then on to Amp to meet Hannah and her new girlfriend. I could write in more detail, but I need coffee and then it’s off to help John move.


Friday, March 04, 2005

It’s fun to read a writer chronologically. You can feel them getting better. Their grip on the prose gets lighter and at the same time the cuts are more skilled. It’s like that passage in the Tao Te Ching where the better the butcher gets, the less frequently he has to sharpen his knife from joint ware. As his awareness sharpens the interstitial spaces widen to allow the passage of whole boatloads filled with knives. You could captain schooners through those gaps if needed.

I’m reading All Tomorrow’s Parties, the third book in my little Gibson binge and I have to tell you that I am impressed and grateful that he is writing.

I feel like a seamstress examining haute couture that she might want to knock off. Her sympathetic nervous system spins a pattern out of the fingertip brail and she ticks off notes to herself about how each stitch fell into place, how her version will be cheaper, faster, better in reproduction than the source, she hopes, an inverse law of inspiration echoes (not the first one, but the fiftieth).


BBQ #1 for 2005 is safely behind us. It had many of the usual elements and a few surprises. Actually March 3rd is quite late for my first BBQ.

After Neverland, which is a stunningly good movie by the way, I went to hook n’ schnuck (so named for its single’s scene reputation) to get grill fixings. I got some Johnsonville Beer Brats, yellow squash, acorn squash, and a zucchini. The sweet smell of the acorn squash in foil halves, coated with butter and brown sugar, mingled with the beer brats and it hinted at syrup, an aroma like I was making Jimmy Dean’s breakfast links. I did the other veggies in the grill basket with peanut oil and crushed black pepper, that was accidental as we were out of olive oil, but actually better = new trick.

Just as I was getting ready to throw everything on the grill, backyard set for summer with the umbrella back in the table and the folding chairs unfurled, Dan showed up with a job description; pay rates that sort of thing for this tax rep gig. So this weekend is tweak the resume and whittle the cover letter, in which I am to namedrop the politico who set this all up. Might be time for that haircut we’ve been talking about. The job is twelve an hour to train and twenty-five an hour to do – contract work through the end of July. If I apply now for teaching jobs I might land one for an August start or use the contacts from the tax job to swing onto something else more political in nature. Let's use our combined will to make this happen, shall we?

Also I will be learning and then teaching, assuming I get the job, about property valuation in south city. This is good as I’ve been contemplating buying a south side house and rolling my credit card debt into it. I think I am in this city. I think it might be home.

How did the world work before coffee? Without coffee I feel like a puppet without a hand. Coffee hits the blood and the puppet animates, broadens like an inflating hot air balloon and the tether lines get tight with anticipation. I am tight with anticipation, and it’s not just the coffee. I think I’ve found what I was looking for, the plot behind the plot of my hindrances, and now it’s time to go.


The literary mind:

I’ve been colonized by a canonical suckerfish, a well-informed lamprey hanging off the side of my consciousness.

I am in the grocery store and I say to myself, “Jesus, it’s crowded in here. Do you remember when we first moved back to St. Louis and we had to get used to crowds?” and my literary mind says, “HCE – here come everybody - from the beginning of Finnegan’s Wake – Joyce had gone from trying to write the stream of consciousness of the individual to the stream of consciousness of the world. That’s what this store is like right now: a diversity – here comes everybody.”

“Clever boy Joyce, I wonder how many other people are thinking about that right now? Writing in the style of the stream of consciousness and becoming integral to the actual flowing stream in countless minds. What’s up with the eye patch in that picture of him that I see everywhere?”

“He is a literary a pirate, he could be Odin the-all-father, or maybe just a guy with a bad eye?”

I am getting dressed this morning, pulling on yesterday’s blue jeans. “Everyday we get dressed. It’s like putting on armor.”

The literary mind says, “Athena on the beach – from Ong and Foley’s analysis of the oral tradition and the origins of the Odyssey - not with a historical Homer, but in that ancient tradition. The tales have repeating rhythms and structures and one of them is the arming sequence like the one where Athena shows up and give Odysseus his weapons.”

Does your mind keep up a constant patter like this? It’s like living in a who’s-on-first skit.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Today is count your blessings and be grateful day.

After I got the camera from Beth last night and did some bar research with Brad for an upcoming bar related project I got a call from another friend of mine who is going through a personal crises thing that I can’t really talk about. He seriously needed to get out of his house so we made the rounds and ended with an Uncle Bill’s breakfast – mmmm pork chops at 2:30 a.m. Anyway talking with him about his depression and such got me to access my own little personal growth cycle that I continue to spin through and I woke up this morning feeling a little raw.

I’m in this much-needed practical mode (Job fair for restaurant workers this weekend – target fine dining or higher end bartender – rejecting the stress of management positions) so rather than allow the wallow of depression hippo in the self-pity mud I responded to my welshmertz by opening up all the shades and letting the light in. I made the coffee and then took the dog to Forest Park. It’s a beautiful day and I wish I would have gotten the memory card for the camera already because I saw some great potential photographs.

Dog and I did the whole Eastern half of the park from northern corner to southern corner. There were a lot of people out today and almost every person I passed made eye contact and said a very friendly hello. On the basest of base lines we are all so very lucky to be alive. I’m off to treat myself to a matinee of Neverland – take care all.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005


I've been having some trouble with my web resources. Hotmail has been on uber fritz for weeks now. I set up a gmail account a few months ago and never really started using it, but am thinking now that I need to make the switch. I can't be left wondering if resumes went out or not.

And then blogger has been interminable of late - freezing up and generally frustrating me. I don't want to bite the hand that feeds as I like my little blog and I've liked these digs, but I might be moving. In fact I might have already moved. The ubiquitous blogger question at this point would be, "would you all follow me if I moved here?" Despite the finished look of it I am not totally committed to this move. It might be a transitional space until I get my own url.

In other news I did get that "nap" in between 5:30 and 8:30 a.m. I paid rent, did four loads of laundry, found a cheap copy of All Tomorrow’s Parties by William Gibson - I am hooked on Gibson - and I got in sixty pages at the Laundromat. I did some booth rearranging. Someone unfolded my velvet wall hangings to see what they were of and then just left them in a heap on the floor – see what I mean – these people are rude (Oh my god, you’re selling the velvet rams and the moose with the canoe? Yup).

I am getting Beth's digital camera tonight and buying my own memory card for it, so the ebay page should be up within the week (Michelle). Stuff is still selling at the booth, but I aim to transition to web sales after all the large items are gone. Don’t get too excited as I am planning to start with comic books. Example: for reasons which entirely escape me I have a complete collection of Dazzler & ROM comic books – including the graphic novels - from the mid seventies. They are in mint condition in the sealed bags. I have all ten volumes of Preacher in trade paperbacks that I bought on ebay five years ago for a hundred bucks. Eventually we’ll get some barware up there, god knows how many shakers and portable bars I have.

I noticed the coconut shell bra sold for twenty bucks. It’s a shame I never saw anybody fun wear it. I think it was a gift from Vick to my ex R when I was visiting Hawaii in 2000. R was not into Polynesian kink. Right now someone in Maplehood, which is where the booth is, could be engaged in some sort of Gilligan’s Island fetish folly. Be ginger with me Ginger.

Venders seem to be fleeing that place like rats off a sinking ship. I worry about Chuck. I think his business days are numbered. That's a tired metaphor isn't it? We don’t generally experience sinking ships like we used to. We don’t experience varmints like we used to either.

I got home today from laundry and two of the maintenance guys were milling around on the front porch.

“You haven’t seen any mice have you?”

“No, but with the pets I don’t imagine that I would.”

“Katie says some kind of mouse got into a loaf of bread. Dragged it across the room. I bet there was only one slice in there, but still, if you see anything call us and we’ll get some traps out.”

“Actually about two weeks ago I opened the door to the basement and there was a squirrel on the steps. I don’t know how he got in, but I just left the outside door open long enough that I figured he got back out.”

“A squirrel huh, yeah that would do it.”

We have squirrels. Fuckers. Or at least we have one rabid non-Atkins squirrel, basement dwelling carb loader! Was there a squirrel at the battle of Marathon? Does anyone get that joke?

My ex Kelly, the one who is an Air Force doctor now, used to work with this rare population of native North American flying squirrels just south of Kirksville. I think they were red and were more gliders than flyers. One of the biology professors was doing research on them and Kelly would climb trees to set traps so they could weigh them and get other poke the critter data of international significance.

They had this odd climbers rig that they would use to ascend the trunks of tall trees without harming the trees. Kelly was such a tomboy – for our second date I brought her coffee at the deer check station where she was using a buck knife to cut back deer mouths so she could age the kills by their molars. She had a butcher’s apron on and was covered in deer blood. Sexy. I brought her my roommate’s neoprene scuba gloves to keep her warm. Awe.

Michelle-in-Columbia’s ex fiancé Chris worked on that flying squirrel project too. I think that’s how I first met Chris. He met Kelly and I out for drinks at the Dukum and told us some bizarre story about swimming naked with manatees off the coast of Florida while under a curtain of stars. All the girls at the table swooned over this story and I think perhaps that Michelle was one of those girls. Commenter/lurker Linnaeus, thoughts? Confirm or deny? Any recollection of a Florida beach story? I ran into his sister at one of the LOTR movies – still doing the pincushion facial accessories that hamper air travel. Didn’t you tell me she got married?

Oh job news – Dan may have a line on getting me on with city government as public tax advocate. I’m up for a little social service and I do my own taxes so this could be a possibility. He got the lead through a Republican Party meeting, so I may have to do a little sleeping with the enemy, maybe not, anyway it’s a possibility and evidence that one does need to work ones network. With the Famous Bar buyout we are looking forward to an expected additional 3000 people out of work in the metro area by the start of summer to add to the TWA kids, so cheers to the competition. Methinks multiple part time gigs will soon be my future. That’s ok. My new goal is to squeeze as many new professions into my life experience as will fit, by retirement my resume will resemble a phone booth stacked full of nineteen fifties college preppies in a Guinness Book of Records photo op. Can I still letter in career diversity? I want a big M on my jacket for multitasking!


I have been boring me lately. Do you ever bore you?

Are you ever mixing a gin and tonic at three a.m. (since insomnia might as well come with a cocktail hour) and you’re standing there in the kitchen at eye level with the ice trays in the open door of your freezer and you think to yourself, “There’s something not quite right about this? What is it?” and then you realize that you’re not wearing any shoes so everything is maybe an inch higher than you’re used to seeing it. Ah perception, so relative.

I hate the thought that I am probably up for the day. Ah well, I can nap later.

Soon spring will be here and the BBQ season will begin again. My father trimmed the apple trees in our orchard, I guess you have to trim the tops of the trees every few years so that they grow out instead of up. Did I mention we have a small apple orchard on the farm and that when mom brings homemade apple pie from Wisconsin that it’s home grown as well? Have you ever eaten apple pie with sharp cheddar cheese slices for dinner? You haven’t lived.

Some of my earliest memories are actually helping my grandmother jar preserves. The orchard looks odd in the winter because we keep these cut up gallon milk jugs in the trees. You fill them with sugar water and they trap the bugs that would otherwise eat the apples – but in the winter they look like medieval warnings to roaming bands of milk jugs, “we string our milk jugs up around here so you best beware, you lactose toting bastards.”

The orchard is right next to the asparagus patch on the southeastern corner of the golf course – when Dad first retired he turned the cornfield into a nine-hole golf course. It is now a full eighteen. MMMMMMMMM golf and apples and asparagus MMMMMMM. Anyway, the folks are coming to visit in April and I need to make sure they bring me some apple wood for a summer smoke fest. I should have loaded up the van when we were just up there. Apple wood, smoked BBQ pork chops, or a side of ribs from Jack’s Cash Saver.

Do you know these local shopping tricks? Buy your seafood in bulk up Olive in the Asian fish markets and your ribs down Olive in the hood. Jack’s keeps pigs feet and breakfast steaks in the impulse buyer’s isle at the front of the store. I started shopping there during the Schnuck’s workers strike (because I’ll be shot dead before I ever cross a picket) and I’ll be damned if they don’t have some of the best, and best priced, cuts of meat in town.

Now that we have a Trader Joes with affordable flash frozen fish in smaller sizes (at the Asian market you buy the whole fish) I can glut myself on tuna steaks and swordfish all summer long. Missouri grillers revel in modern global trade particularly when we can buy from environmentally friendly food sellers “at lower prices than the chain stores”.

It’ll be time to start the herb garden again soon. I should bleach the pots tomorrow. This is a rite of spring. Ceramic pots get nasty molds in them that can affect the quality of your herbs, so at about this time of year you should soak all your empty ceramics in a mild bleach solution to kill and clean for your April planting. I think I am going large with basil this year. My basil crop was insufficient last year for my pesto demands...


My sleep schedule was sort of f-ed up from the Tom plane incident on Monday so today I fell asleep watching American Idol. It’s no surprise that the teenage popsters would knock me out, but now it’s one thirty a.m. and I am wired for sound. Not good. My real mistake was that kitchen snack. It woke me up too much.

I’ve been trying to make small progress in lots of areas. The booth is doing well. I made a profit of two hundred bucks for February. Local friends, I’m only going to keep it open another two months so if you have stuff to sell best contact me asap.

My house is ridiculously clean since I steamed it Monday, carpets and couch. I cleaned out the garage and the basement today. I took in the dry cleaning. I did the errand running of post office, booth, unemployment office. Tomorrow I will do laundry and wash the car. I applied for several jobs online and snail mailed my resume to a few places.

I went to the wine and cheese place and talked with the owner – it was less an interview than an inquiry. There might be a job there for me if I can stomach the pride swallowing – what the hell, it’s a service economy after all.

I have pride issues. I don’t want to devalue my education by taking yet another underemployment position, which is why I haven’t snapped up the few jobs that have come my way – I’ve obviously been able to creatively maneuver my finances to give me this three month break – and after three years without a vacation to speak of – one week off a year – I think I’ve earned a break.

I balanced my checkbook and paid my credit cards. While I still have a lot of debt I am doing slightly better there than I thought I was. The utility situation is a little ugly. I changed the phone services and shaved off twenty bucks in monthly charges. I’m locked into contracts on the killable utilities, smart bastards on the contract front, so I’ll have DSL until June 30th and a cell phone until August 30th, but then you can say goodbye to them both. I made my break from cable last year and have been on the rabbit ears December 2003. We are on the simplify path.

I’ll have to set up a payment plan on that thousand-dollar gas bill (did I mention that they want to re-bill us at a higher rate from August on – can they do that – apparently they can). The gas folks are evil bastards. It seems like they are trying to force people into budget billing. My sister shut the gas off and got space heaters, she doesn’t want to give them another dime.

Ah, well – I’m getting sleepy again. Chow kids.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005


So, I took this career test and it told me I should be a Sommelier. Doesn’t that sound like a great job for me? I’d get to be an educator of sorts and drink for a living. I could then write about what I drink. I could learn French, German, and Italian. Get paid to think about what I drink. Travel to all the great drinking capitols of the world. My dears, I do believe I am onto something.

Is thirty the new twenty? That’s the buzz among my compatriots. Is thirty the new twenty because we are all, well me anyway, hopelessly immature? Is thirty the new twenty because we all invariably need to start over? I feel like I need to start over. Like I need to push the big reset button and build a life I can live in. I am certainly reprioritizing.


The most logical answer to the Tom question was simply to add twelve hours and try again, which I did and which worked. I decided to be a little late rather than early so I ran the carpet cleaning equipment (I steam cleaned my carpets yesterday) up to Dierberg’s by Vick off 270 and then I parked in the lot and went looking. Tom found me in short order and had only been waiting for twenty minutes or so. He gifted me with a rather nice martini glass and shaker set with a purple hue evocative of our school colors. I’ve learned an important lesson friends: get a flight number. None of this is a huge deal because it’s not like I’m doing anything anyway and I only live ten minutes from the airport. It’s possible that the wires got crossed Friday morning because we were out at bars until one and then I put him on the outgoing flight at four forty five. OK kids, off to read the classifieds.