[1 May 2021> Here's the last 3 months of our 1997 journal, picking up where post 874 left off:]
October 5, 1997 — Portsmouth, NH
My first week at Opus [ OPUS 2 Revenue Technologies—a company that developed hotel yield management software... i.e. evil software that hotel's use to price gouge u based on supply + demand]. It was a little nerve-wracking. Not used to this "real" job thing. Working at a desk all day, in an office, interacting with people, etc... I was pretty much just let loose and don't have much guidance, everyone is busy doing their own thing. Trying to learn Delphi (programming language), SQL (database query language), Top Line Prophet (Opus's yield management software) and SMS (clients property management software). Juggling them all, with the big picture in mind of interfacing the client's software with our software. It's incredibly complex, just the databases alone and the way they our linked and organized. But imagine all this before computers.
I'm still in the installation phase of the client's software. Was back and forth to the support person to iron out the gliches. It's in this other database language called FoxPro which is in DOS. I am told I can "black box" their software, so I don't really need to know FoxPro. All I need to know is what gets outputed from the software. But where to begin? I had it pretty much installed and was fooling around with different commands when I executed this command that started erasing all these database files without warning. I was trying to patch this all together but it wasn't working right so I reinstalled the whole thing and had to call the customer support guy back (who at this point is already impatient with me as I was asking him DOS commands that any software developer would probably know). So I still don't have it installed. Not like Opus is putting a lot of pressure on me besides checking up on me and letting me know the priority on this has been upgraded on this so they want to get the ball rolling.
The people working there are pretty cool. There's like 15 or 20 people working there, most of them computer geeks. They play computer games during their lunch breaks. I am a little stressed at this point and feel misguided and clueless, but hopefully this will go away soon.
Yesterday our bedder-½ and I woke and went to Portland. We went mostly for the drive, to see the changing of the leaves. It was amazing. Explosions from green to infrared like supernova orgasms in their last gasp of air before the morbid winter. We meandered up back roads, sticking to the coast when we could but this involves a lot of backtracking because of all the bays and inlets. Passing quaint little lobster-towns with seagulls roosting on rusty iron bridges, chowder restaurants, etc... Portland is a little more industrial in nature and populated by a somewhat hipster population. Good bookstores, art galleries, coffeeshops, etc. Kind of like Berkeley meets Rapid City, South Dakota meets Seattle. Kind of what you'd expect from a city north of Portsmouth, almost to Canada. I've always tried to picture Portland, Maine, being that I'm from Portland Oregon. When I was a kid and would see it on the map and try to visualize it but didn't even know where to begin. It's actually kind of like Portland, Oregon is what's ironic. An east coast version. It was gray and a little depressing, looks like they probably have a substance abuse problem. We walked around, shopped and ate lunch at some French restaurant that didn't have any french food really (more Italian and American). Drove back a more inlet route on the quest to see Moose. Still no sighting, but lots more fantastic foliage displays.
There was this murder in Cambridge a few days ago and evidently the killers say the body is in the Piscataqua river. Evidently they boxed the 10-year-old boy (after they sexually molested and killed him) and encased him in cement and threw him off a bridge in Portsmouth. So there's been helicopters buzzing overhead for the past few days and boats and divers combing the waterways in front of our home with no luck. People are hysterical about it. This one woman that was just driving by the rescue efforts evidently was literally "paralyzed with fear" and stopped her car in the middle of traffic. She had to be removed by ambulances. That's small town for you. So yah there's this little boy's body somewhere in the bottom of the river below our window.
October 12, 1997 — Portsmouth
Columbus day and [our bedder'½'s] birthday. She celebrates her birthday with America. She is America. The new America. She is precious. I tried on one of her dresses on a whim and it was so small and feminine smelling. It barely fit on me as an unbuttoned shirt. It made me a monster, not to mention a flaming transvestite. Weird what an article of clothing can do to you.
We really celebrated her birthday yesterday (if not all week, i've been getting her a present a day). We started to go up to the White Mountains thinking maybe we would do Mt. Washington or something but the traffic was back-up'ed up to a standstill miles before we even got to N. Conway. So we did a U'ie and explored around lake Winnascet (?). Didn't matter where we went the leaves and trees were beautiful. Saw this covered bridge. Why do they shelter a bridge? The only problem about New Hampshire is it seems there is very little public land. It's not like you can just stop and hike anywhere. Or at least they don't make access obvious. We wanted to go for a hike couldn't find a place too (had a book for the white Mountains). It just occurred to me, I wonder if the "White" mountains are named that because they are white or after someone named "White"? I just looked it up and they received their name from sailors off the coast who could see the white peaks in the distance.
We stopped in Wolfesboro as we were on a mission to find a canoe. We went into this SCUBA shop (yes, freshwater diving in the lake) and they had some canoes out back. I was surprised as there were a lot of motorboats on the lake but not many canoes. So we got it in the water and embarked into this inlet of the lake, going under this stone bridge in town. It was spectacular. The reflection of the leaves on the crystal clear water, everything in a crisp autumn definition. Loons and mallards milling about, fish swimming beneath us. The canoe gliding through the water. We explored all the way to the end of the inlet then went back into the main lake. We were watching this loon dive and it came up with this big bass (6 or 8 inches) that it seemed there was no way it would fit down it's throat. It struggled with it for a while, it lost it a few times and would dive back under and come back up with it in its beak. Finally it flipped it up into the air and engulfed it. We got the whole thing on film. The main lake was a lot choppier and full of big muscle boats. Nevertheless we veered off along the shore and found this secluded beach and beached the canoe. Laid in the sand under the perfectly blue sky, couldn't've asked for a better day. Capped by a dinner at the Oar house.
Getting settled into Opus. My learning curve is exponential to the point where I am getting saturated. Later on in the week I started working with Steve and actually doing some programming, or watching Steve. He's not a great teacher, doesn't explain what he's doing at all and I kind of just have to guess. It's bizarre when you think about. A language that you have to say and spell and punctuate everything just right or it just won't work. It's poetic in a twisted sort of way. I'm sure it will influence my writing, if ... then, until, case of, calling procedures and units, etc... a non-linear transgression as seen on the paper. The logic skips around the paper jumping to procedures, pulling information from the depths of Delphi or from an "inherited form". Elegant in the sense of elimination re-writing "the world" in that if you've done something before you just inherit that and change it. Kind of like if you wanted to write a book that was like Moby Dick. You would tell the reader to go read Moby Dick or recall it from their memory, inherit it all except maybe the environment and the whale, "override" the environment for, say, Australia in the present and "override" the white whale with the red Ayers Rock. No need to re-write what's been written.
October 18, 1997 — Portsmouth
Weird typing on this little keyboard, so used to the Gateway at work and all its operating system (which of course is fundamentally inferior, though at this point I wish had gone the IBM route, but should've could've would've). I'm settling into Opus and soon I will stop writing about work and concentrating on extra-curricular mind exercising and fiction. I don't leave Portsmouth. It's my little world. our bedder-½'s world extends to Durham and I guess mine does too the few days a week when I go to work out there. But mostly it's Portsmouth. Still crowded with tourists, though it's getting brisker. Then again the leaves are spectacular right now. I walk up market and down Congress to work, right about nine I join the bagel train and grab a bagel. There I'm exposed to the walks of life that don't have to work and just hang out in coffeeshops all day long. Then back into the Opus world. Hacking away at my computer, at this point everything is new to me and I am a sponge soaking whatever I can (though a lot of it spills over the rim). I've finished my first little project (interfacing with South Seas) and worked out all the bugs on my end.
Listening to Lindsey Buckingham belt out "Big Love" on their new album. Incredible, the live version is so much better than the original. I got our bedder-½ some Bonsai trees for her birthday (sure is nice to have an excess of money piling in). I think I can really get into them. That's probably the only "pet" (or a replacement for kids) that we can handle. Even mice would be too much to handle, which is too bad because everybody here had dogs and it would sure be nice to have a dog or two, but there is still no way, especially in this apartment. So at this point nurturing Bonsai's will have to do.
Lots of death going on.
November 1, 1997 — Portsmouth
My favorite month, November. November in Portsmouth and the display of leaves is waning. I'm getting lazy about writing. Probably mostly because my life is getting routine. Daylight savings time robs us of daylight. It's dark before I even get off work. Sometimes I do the drive to Durham to work out, but now it is too dark to run out to Newmarket after work. The weekend comes and I've been writing. Still working on "Shadow Puppet" which I am now calling "Our Mother the Fish" [+ ended up publishing as Marsupial]. Almost finished with what I hope is the last working draft. I need to get stuff out.
Our reality was shaken on the eve of Halloween. We went to go see the Counting Crows in Portland. When I was walking home from work I saw our bedder-½ parking so I just jumped in the car and went straight to the concert, though I felt a little funny about it, in my work clothes. The concert was okay. Some lame band opened up which was just a waste of time and got my ears tired of hearing loud music. Getting disillusioned standing around with a bunch of dumpy looking teenagers on an ice rink. Literally on ice. The ice was covered with plywood, but we were still standing on ice. The irony kills me looking back on it, we were standing on ice while meanwhile back at our apartment firemen were axing our door... We meandered around getting a different perspective. Then we saw the dark shadow of Adam what-ever-his-name-is walking up onto the stage and the Counting Crows went on. At first they rocked out and it was loud and you could barely distinguish anything. I mean, still, it was the Counting Crows and it was good, but it got much better once they did an acoustic set. The sound was much cleaner and audible and they embellished and improvised a lot more. Sometimes the song was done so differently it was hard to tell which one it was. But still, a certain tiredness showed through. Imagine touring for a whole year and playing in crumby American towns and trying to make yourself sound exciting. A lot of Adam's improvising seemed more to preserve his own sanity. It seemed almost ironic, like spoken word. He would speak the lyrics which is hard to do without sounding ironic or pretentious. But that's what the Counting Crows are about anyway, the lyrics. "Round Here" was probably the best song they did. By the time we drove home it was midnight. When we got to our door it was bashed in. Splintered pieces hanging off the hinges. I entered cautiously in case someone was still in there. It smelled smokey. Nothing was stolen. But if it was the fire department how come there was no note? No sign of fire anywhere. And nothing missing. I'd left a rent check for $850 on the counter but it wasn't there. Our bedder-½ found it on the stairs. Our skylight was open. So the fire department bashed in our door and left our windows open to clear the smoke but we still had plenty of questions. It was hard to sleep. This was just another reminder of how unsafe this building is in a fire. I don't know what we'd do. No fire escape. I've thought it out. We could climb out on the roof or we could rappel out the window. Last weekend there was fire in the next building over. I saw fire men storming the building next to us with axes and stuff. More fire engines blaring through the city and stopping in front of our house. I went downstairs and made sure nothing was on fire. There is no doubt about it, this building is a fire hazard. So anyway, there was fire on the eve of Halloween and everything was still intact except the door. We had it propped shut while we slept but how would we leave in the morning?
We got more details from our neighbor in the morning, there was a fire next door (on the other side, not the same as last weekend). That was at around 8:30. The fireman came and put it out. Then he came home around 9:30 oblivious to the fire and smelled smoke. Our fire alarm is still going off. So naturally he calls the fire department and they come back and kick our door down so they can open our windows and let the smoke out.
I couldn't get a hold of the landlord so I called work to say I'd be late. I felt terrible and worried. Now I know I'm getting old. I go to a concert and the next morning I'm tired and feeling gross. Hangovers are not about alcohol. They're about staying out late in smokey places and getting dehydrated, on top of very salty mexican food before the concert which made my breath smell horrible. And this punctuated by worry-filled sleeplessness. I finally got a hold of the landlord and he's just like yah yah, I'll fix you're door but it might not be until tomorrow. If this place didn't have such a killer view we'd be out of here. So I left to work with our apartment wide open. A splintered plank as a door.
Now we're waiting for old plumber butt (Lew's carpenter) to come fix our door. I just called the schmuck and he was all bent as usual, "just like I told you yesterday, the carpenter would be here sometime today. It's not easy you know, getting a carpenter."
"Well it's not easy having a splintered plank as a door. We can't go anywhere."
And the conversation goes in circles.
November 11, 1997 —Portsmouth
My journal entries are getting more and more spaced apart. Usually when I have time to write I want to work on fiction. Not much in the news of the real world. [S] came to visit this past weekend and it was disastrous. I have tried to accept S just because she is our bedder-½'s friend, and just when I have gotten used to coping with such a weak, over-sensitive and generally uninteresting personality, our bedder-½ had her fill.
Thursday night I went to go pick her up down in Boston. Mayhem. We went out to eat and it wasn't so bad. She is the first guest we've had in our new home. Friday our bedder-½ took her to an interview in Boston at a hospice. It's interesting that S would dedicate herself to such work, working with dying people, working with victims of drug abuse, grief counseling, etc. But I really can't imagine her being good at it, but she got the position and S accepted the position on the spot. So that started to freak our bedder-½ out because now she'll be living near us and undoubtedly relying on us heavily and impacting our lives. I think our bedder-½ feels like me in that we've found our niche and don't want any past life invaders.
They hung out in Boston and picked up Gwynn who came up from New York to see S and us. As far as what we all did it was pretty uneventful. I was just wishing that I could write and relax rather than entertain deadbeats. Saturday afternoon this guy [T] showed up who was S's boyfriend in Austin for the summer. He drove up from Connecticut. It felt like I was back in college again. The little drama going on. S running off into the bedroom with T, ignoring her friends, having loud sex seemingly on purpose. T was like a male version of S that looked like an out of style Serpico. Studied religion at the University and now just lives with his parents for lack of better purpose in life. But hey, he says he's a Buddhist and he drives a jaguar.
I was just going with the flow trying to make the best of a boring situation but our bedder-½ was coming to a climax with the whole thing with S. And Gwynn too. They were all mad at S (for good reason) for ignoring them and clinging to T and just generally being a poor
friend. So everyone was talking behind everyone's back and nobody was having a good time really and I just couldn't wait for the weekend to be over. It rained all weekend so all we really did was watch the Godfathers (we now own parts I and Part II so we watch them whenever we want) and saw "Boogie Nights" in the theatre.
I finished probably the last draft of "Our Mother the Fish." I'm starting to go through old short stories and poems and reworking them and sending them out with renewed enthusiasm. Sometimes our bedder-½ wonders if I'll regret all the time that I spent writing if I never get published. Of course I say no, but it is strange how much time I spend writing, to what end? It's nothing I really want to share with friends or family. I guess it's all for the sake of art, of seeing these thru to co completion, of writing works that I'd like to read. Even if I never get published I would still be proud of these works.
November 15, 1997 — Portsmouth
First snow. Everything's blanketed in six inches of white powder. The week went by fast. Nothing really eventful except I came home for lunch one day and all these tubes were going up the stairs and into our apartment. That morning our bedder-½ called me at work and the fire alarm was blaring in the background and meanwhile 911 does an emergency breakthrough and cuts us off, our bedder-½ comes back says she can't figure out how to get the alarm off. Then the sirens and they're on their way even though our bedder-½ told them she just burned a little oil in a pan making eggs. So what did these tubes have to do with that? That's what I was wondering. All our furniture was rearranged and the carpet was wet. These guys cleaned our carpet. Nice, I guess, but no warning. Creepy that these guys are going through all our stuff to move things around.
We woke up yesterday and it was just starting to snow. At lunch I went to go work out (I'm getting a membership at the local gym so I can work out on lunch breaks) and the snow was piling up. But it was more like sleety rain. It was hard to work as the power kept going out and the worst part was that it was consistently periodic. Five times at intervals of like a half an hour. So just when you got rebooted and reconfigured everything and got reattached to the database and remembered what you were doing before the power surged off and on— it goes out again. So I left early and tromped through the slushy streets. We went to eat in the Rusty Hammer, a warm, cozy pub. I could get into this New England lifestyle for a while.
Furiously writing. Never seem to have enough time. Editing "Our Mother the Fish", re-editing old short stories and poems and sending them off, and also wanting to work on a new piece about the salt piles and the freighters and maybe snowplows. Been Reading Dostoevsky 's Notes from the Underground which I got all psyched up for but wasn't too impressed. Maybe I will try reading it again. Read Jean Cocteau's diary on the making of Beauty and the Beast. The guy was a freak. He seemed to suffer from every ailment known to man. Interesting to see what he was going through in making such a beautiful film. What else? Elizabeth Bishop here and there.
our view in the snow
November 26, 1997 — Portsmouth
My birthday came and went, I'm getting terrible about writing. Writing in my journal anyway. Went bowling on my birthday. And went to see a Don Quixote play in some cramped playhouse. It snowed. It's been snowing quite a bit. There's been a lull in the salt ships. What else. Our bedder-½ permed her hair. Tomorrow is thanksgiving and were going to Laurie Z's.
Starting to feel somewhat comfortable at Opus. Getting to know some of the people. But I'm still a freak. I still have flushed sweaty spells and panic attacks. Everything is just too normal and sometimes I get these reality checks like what the fuck is this place and what the fuck am I doing with my life? But I have to play the game. It's not a dull game, or at least not excruciating or terribly boring. I tinker and hack a lot trying to get things to work or trying to get things to purposely fail (finding bugs in the system). Time passes fairly quickly. Not too many demands are made of me. But it all just feels like a farce and then I think that 99% of the world live lives like this.
Last Friday went to get a beer after work with Chuck, Eric, Dave and a few other people. Eric is making a concerted effort to bring some sort of social cohesion to Opus. Held a brown bag meeting, kind of like where we come from and where we're going kind of pep talk. He was talking about New Englanders and how stereotypically indifferent they can be. How you can live next door to someone for twenty years and never meet them. That's us in this apartment complex. Still haven't met anyone outside of work or our bedder-½'s friends. Not that I go out or anything. I look forward to writing every night and on the weekends. Or going out to eat and seeing a movie. Just saw Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It's hard to be subjective about that movie as most of it was nostalgic, all the scenery, even the details down to wrought-iron fences and the park benches were the same ones we passed in our wanderings. Some scenes we watched them film, or we remember they had set up but we didn't know what they were shooting til now. It seems so far away.
My 30th year lasted for a long time. A lot happened while I was 30. I got married, I switched jobs countless times, my brother died, we moved to Savannah and then we moved to here. Now for once I don't lead my life as a means to something else. Thinking I can't wait to go somewhere else. I look forward to a couple years passing and our bedder-½ graduating and then maybe we will move to Italy or something. But for now this is fine. Nothing interesting will pass through these journals but hopefully more fiction will come of it.
December 13, 1997 — Portsmouth
I am getting increasingly worse at writing in my journal. I've got many more dream journal entries then "reality" entries. That says it all. All the exploring I'm doing is in my head, all the new experiences. I've almost finished "Our Mother the Fish". It will actually be the size of a full novel, thought the format is a little on the experimental side. I love it, but it's hard not to question myself as no one else has read it (I'm trying to finish it so our bedder-½ can read it over X-mas break). But even still, our bedder-½ can't be too subjective or critical. She wouldn't tell me if it really sucked.
I'm getting more comfortable at work. Enjoying learning all the different stuff involved (besides programming there's the whole database structure, SQL, etc.) Finally more or less done with the SMS system, except that Diane and Steve were down installing in Florida and they would call me for frantic questions to check out. I'm now working on a Choice PM which is to be installed next week. But the interface to that has already worked out. It's just a new version of both our software and there's so I just had to test it and indeed I came up with some pretty major bugs. Next week I start on Caesar’s. It would be nice to be doing more programming per se, but oh well. Sean (my in-law, brother-in-law?) called last week and he's getting out of the commercial design thing to start up a new company that makes software to interface with (or combined with) GPS units in which you can load data points to fishing holes, etc. He basically offered me a job if he ever gets this thing rolling. Sounds like a cool job. The application would definitely keep my interest far more than hotel yield management and part of it would involve hiking around and collecting way points and data. But it's probably too good to be true, he's all like, I don't know what you're making now, but we'd start you out at least $50K, etc. talking shit out of his ass, and he really doesn't know the first thing about this stuff. But on the other hand, it's people like him that get all the lucky breaks, that don't question themselves or assume that something's been done (I've already thought of this idea for climbing— all those times reading a cruddy guidebook, when they could've just given the way points that you could plug into a GPS). But the more I think about the more I think it's a pipe dream, crazy as it sounds. Like I thought earlier, it's just a matter of giving out the way points and someone can plug the points into their GPS. Sean wants to make it all high tech and stuff, and people do love that shit, but in reality I just don't know. It's probably been done or there's a reason why it hasn't been done. It's not like it's that hard to do, you already have GPS devices for navigating and Japan is completely digitized so you can locate pretty much anything with a dash-mounted interactive GPS device.
Oh well, something to think about. Not that I think I'm even in a position where I've learned enough about programming or SQL to move on. People are leaving OPUS left and right (Fritz left yesterday, Bill (the DBA) left a week or two before that). The whispering around the office is that OPUS doesn't pay well. I can't complain, I'm making enough. People just always want more.
I haven't written since, when, Thanksgiving? I'm out of it. We went to Laurie's house in wherever, Exeter or somewhere out in the boonies. Pet the dog and watched football. I think I'll go back to bed. It's 6:15 a.m.
December 21, 1997 — Portsmouth
First day of winter. The sun loomed low on the horizon all day. from here the days will only get longer. This is reassuring even though the worst of winter has yet to hit. It has still been mild. No snow, besides a few flurries and a violent squall that swept through with no warning and was over in 10 minutes. It was like a desert monsoon but it was snow and there was no lightning. Dust and leaves blowing everywhere. The wind was blowing so hard that the snow couldn't stick to anything. It was rather impressive watching it from our room with a view.
First day of winter and I've finished "Our Mother the Fish". I consider that a loose end tied up from Savannah. What started out as a short story turned into a 239 page novel. Our bedder-½ is reading it right now otherwise I have been locked up in a void with it. Not sure whether I can share it with anyone as it has a lot to do with Kevin. Then again, not really, but I would be afraid that people would take it wrong. Anyways it has done and I can concentrate on sending out poems and short stories or trying to get "Our Mother the Fish" published (and continue work on Navigating the Senses"). Sometimes I read a literary journal and am amazed at the crap that gets published and it gives me a little hope. But I am also overwhelmed that I have no connections or any leads, and no qualifications whatsoever. It's crazy.
There has also been closure in our bedder-½'s life, she has finished this semester. It has been a hard semester for her, a tough load of classes and being her first semester I think she felt particularly inclined to make a good first impression. She studied (and I wrote) most every weekend this semester and a good percentage of the nights. Hopefully that won't be the case next semester and we will take some interesting trips, ski some, climb some, etc...
Today we hiked up Mt. Major. It is only 1700 feet or so and is not dramatic like mountains on the west coast, but the details and the feel were nice, when you're looking at the trail and your feet and you see granite and ice and snow and dead leaves and you look up and you see strands of trees. And it was no easy feat. When we got to the trailhead people were gearing up with crampons, ice axes, full goretex and pile suits, etc. like they were climbing Everest. And to be honest, an ice axe and maybe even crampons may have come in handy in spots. It was very icy, whether crusted-over snow or frozen waterfalls and frozen springs seeping out of rocks. Didn't feel that different then climbing a fourteener in Colorado (taking into account this was a winter ascent) and the summit was actually quite exposed and afforded spectacular views of lake Winnepasaukee. We spent very little time on top as it was vey windy and cold (though in the scope of things it was a very beautiful and sunny day). We happened on this trail quite by chance.
Yesterday was the Christmas Opus party. It was just as I imagined office parties to be like. Actually, there was a more family-oriented party on Friday in which we handed out our "Secret Santa" gifts and there was all sorts of food. I received a sculpture made of dung as my gift. My secret recipient was Diane and I gave her a Bonsai tree (she still doesn't know). But last night was the real party. I was horribly underdressed, either that or everyone else was terribly overdressed, everyone else was wearing suits, etc. The food sucked and luckily our bedder-½ and I ended up at a table with only Chris Woofter and his girlfriend (still unsure of their status) Heidi. After dinner there was dancing and we made fools of ourselves but nearly as bad as most everyone else there. I mean get a roomful of programmers who haven't been out since last year's Christmas party, get a few drinks into them, and then play disco music and you can only imagine the outcome. It was actually entertaining. We left early and met up with Chris and Heidi again at the Press Room in Portsmouth (the Opus party was at some golf club in Dover). Probably our first night out in Portsmouth. The Press Club wasn't such a bad little place. Good beer and a blues band.
This will the last entry before our first anniversary (paper! That's easy enough. Lots of things once can do with paper.) And before we go to New York. Should be grand.
Sometimes I find myself depressed—I don't know if depressed is the right word, it's more like a restlessness, a desperation—but no matter what I label it, what's strange is that I am emotionally detached from this "depression." I am depressed without feeling it if that makes sense. It surprises me sometimes that life goes on. That we go to bed and wake up. That we are fairly happy, that I have a decent job, that we have a nice place, that we don't fight, that we eat well and we both are healthy. This all surprises me at times, and I think maybe I'm tricking myself, maybe I'm alcoholic or a drug addict but I'm in complete denial. And then sometimes I'm surprised and how little Kevin's death has affected me emotionally. I mean sometimes it sinks in and I definitely think about it a lot, especially in writing about it. But I guess maybe that's it. It's almost like I feel my life is a work of fiction that I am writing and I have complete control over my emotions and the outcome of things. Well, almost complete control. I guess if I had complete control I would be a writer and we'd live in Bora Bora. Pipe dreams are better than no dreams, because life would really be depressing if I had no far-fetched dreams to live for.
Old Man of the White Mountains
December 28, 1997 — (NY, NY)
1st anniversary, Christmas, 1st time in New York . . . Short week of work. Wednesday was our 1st anniversary. Xmas morning woke up and looked at the clock and thought it said 4:45. We had a 6:00 bus to catch so I got up to take a shower. When I got out and got dressed I looked at my watch and it was three in the morning. our bedder-½ was up and Adam too. Oh well. She was able to go back to sleep, but I couldn't really.
It dumped almost a foot of snow the day before, so it was a white Christmas! We drove to Pease to catch a bus to Boston. When the bus got to Newburyport it got stuck in the ice and snow. Wheels spinning, smell of rubber. Spent at least fifteen minutes spinning tires. This guy with his wife and baby was all impatient and he finally freaked out and left the bus. The driver had to get their baggage and all that and when he got back on the bus we drove right out of the ice leaving the family just standing there.
Got to South Station and hopped a train. It was fun. My first time on an American train, I mean like Amtrak, maybe. I'm thinking I have before but can't think where. I mean there's the commuter train between San Jose and San Francisco, but this was a 5 hour ride. And it was our bedder-½'s first ever train ride. Through Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. And then on the outskirts of New York. Big apartment buildings in Harlem that seemed like big factories to keep people alive. Rows of projects with smoke billowing out of them. And then the New York skyline, under the Hudson, our ears popping and then up into Manhattan. We walked out of Penn Station and there there we were, in New York. Most of my image of New York is from movies, and I guess it's pretty much like the movies. We walked around with our backpacks, thought we'd get an overview of it by going up the Empire State but the wait was too long. Couldn't get a hold of Gwynn so we were walking around in circles trying to get a hold of her. She lives on 20th st. and 7th ave. but the place we were staying was at 30th and 7th, so we walked back and forth on different routes. Finally got a hold of her and went over to the apartment we were to stay at. Friend of Gwynn's mom who was a star on "All My Children" and some other Broadway shows. He had pictures of himself all over. It was a great apartment. On 30th st, right across the street from St. Johns Cathedral with a view of it. Big apartment, wood floors, elevator that opens right into the living room, etc... We had Christmas dinner with Gwynn and her brother and her mom. Gwynns mom [Mary Beth Peil] is in an actress. She is going to be in an upcoming t.v. show Dawson Creek and she starred in the King and I in her heyday. Her brother is also a wannabe writer, kind of an interesting guy. We had some time before dinner so our bedder-½ and I went out to see Times Square (we were going to try the Empire State again but it was still nuts). Times Square is what I imagined Tokyo to be like, or Piccadilly circus. Like the city in Blade runner. Lots of advertising and lights, smut, lots of people, cabs, hectocity. People crossing in front of cabs, cabs honking, not slowing down, yelling . Complete Bedlam. We went back to the apartment and had Christmas dinner. Slept on the hide-a-bed in the living room. They have two cats that were running around making me allergic. The noise in New York doesn't let up, cars honking, sirens, car alarms, street sweepers, people yelling, etc... New York is cool and all but you got to be crazy to live there.
We woke up the next morning and went off on our own to explore. We walked all the way down 5th ave. Stopped for breakfast and had bagels and lox and listened to the waitresses yelling at eachother. New York is definitely the melting pot. You hardly ever hear English being spoken and most of the people are of indeterminate race like they could be from Pakistan or South America. We continued on and saw Rockefeller center, Radio City Music hall, all that kind of shit. Dealt with holiday crowds, ate at some place overlooking Central Park. Some old man was freaking out and grunting loudly like a bird having his head chopped off. We walked through Central park. I like all the rocks, you can even boulder there. We went to the Met. Big and crowded. Crossed through Central park and saw other sights and I guess we must have walked all the way back a different way. We picked up Gwynn and she took us out to eat in Chelsea (the area where she lives). At some Italian place. Then we took the Subway to Greenwich and went to some little seedy smokey bar. I wasn't impressed. We were going to go to some dance place but there was a bunch of balding guys with slicked back ponytails and trench coats undoubtedly going to scam on underage "bridge & tunnel" girls. We didn't go in. We lost momentum, went to Starbucks and just cabbed home. The cabs are quite an experience. Every stereotype you hear about New York Cabbies. Usually some Arabic or Pakistani name like Azrad Falekamenc that never talk to you but just play a recording of Placido Domingo or Joan Rivers telling you to fasten your seat belt. Gunning it only to slam to a stop a block later, in between lanes, honking, jerking, swerving.
S was coming in the next morning and there was big drama going on, (now that our bedder-½ is not friends with S anymore, but Gwynn is) so Gwynn left us the keys to the apartment and went off to pick up S and entertain her (they were staying at Gwynn's mom's place which was a typical New York apartment, you could walk across it in three steps and every nook and cranny was stuffed with some knick-knack.)
We went to explore "downtown" as opposed to "uptown". It was a shitty day, raining or I guess it was snowing but it wasn't sticking. Very wet and cold, not a good day for walking. We walked randomly trough Soho, Washington Square, Little Italy, Chinatown, the village, etc. Ate an early lunch in Little Italy at some dive. Took the subway to the MOMA. Lucked out as they had an Egon Schiele show taking up a whole floor. Angst-ridden and jaded self-portraits and nudes. But the MOMA was also very crowded and our feet were tired from all the walking. Had a New York hot dog. That's one thing very particular to New York is the smell emanating from the hot dog and pretzel carts, a very unusual and indescribable smell.
So we took a cab, had a hot dog and rode the subway... we've seen N.Y.! After the MOMA we went back to the apartment and changed. We got our bedder-½ a nice black dress the night before. We cabbed to the Bistro Latino which I guess you could classify as Cuban or South American food. It was a salsa club straight out of Mambo Kings. Then we went to Lincoln Center and saw The Nutcracker. My first real ballet. We had nosebleed seats, fourth tier, but I thought it was kind of cool up there. Cabbed home, stopping once again to try to go up the Empire State but it was closed due to weather (we thought it might be cool in the snow, but evidently there was zero visibility).
This morning woke up and it was a hectic train ride back, standing room only but luckily we got a seat. It was stuffy and hot as hell and they ran out of food. A long trip just to get back from New York. It's nice to be back home. The year is almost over.
[ onward to 1998 ]