[11 Oct 2021> digging back into our journals, last 3 months of 2000, picking up from post # 930, our 1st year in NYC...]
Oct. 1 – NY [upper east side]
It’s getting to be chilly. Starting to feel like fall. [Bedder-½] got strep last week and stayed home most of the week. But today was beautiful and we spend most of it in Central Park soaking in the sun and reading. Before that I ran around Central Park, the whole loop road in 47 minutes (about 6 miles plus another mile and a half to a from the park). I want to start doing that run once a week.
I started my writing class on Monday. The Gotham workshop is like a factory that spits out writers. The teacher is Darleen Lev, she spells admittedly spells her name that way so no one mistakes her for trailer trash. She immediately went into this spiel, a recap of Fiction I, which much to her dismay I didn’t take. But she outlined how every story has to have a character, a conflict, ya-da-da-ya-da, the same old shit. Then she asked me if I agreed. What am I supposed to say. I said to me fiction was words on paper. She asked why i didn't take poetry then and I said I didn't like poetry. What’s the point of debating? I concede, yes, the reason I’m taking this class is that I understand that there is an agreed upon framework that seems to work, and if you don’t write like this you’ll never get published, so I want to learn this technique (not that I will necessarily apply it). I guess the workshop elements should do me good. I’m first up, I handed out “Tombstone Skiing” and everyone’s gonna read it and tomorrow I go in the patented “GW booth” where nobody will look at me and everyone will talk about me in third person and I can’t respond back. Fun, fun. Should be interesting.
What else. Finished the 5.0 stuff for the CD release. Worked a lot of hours the past two week, so didn’t do much writing. Pozole Alimony hit a wall, so I dug up Navigating the Senses and started to gain momentum on that, but got overwhelmed, and hit a glitch of writer’s block.
Oct. 7 – NY
Went to the Cloisters today. Like being in some medieval castle overlooking the Hudson and the Palisades, a good place to think. We walked there from [G’s]— she wanted me to carry a chair up to her apartment. Her apartment is bigger than ours and pretty cool, but it’s way up in Washington Heights. Not that bad really. We walked through a few parks (Tyson Park?) and then up to the Cloisters, beautiful area, gardens, rocks (chalked up with climbing problems), flowers, views the river and then the Cloisters itself. Saw the Annunciation Triptych by Campin, in the Campin room, which is a pretty incredible and luminescent painting with vivid detail almost like an enhanced photograph. We also saw the whole unique series which was a shock, I didn’t know those were there. The allegory of passion. Hung out in various cloisters and saw lots of cool stuff. Took the train back to Lincoln Center and saw “Best in Show” which was a surreal experience. Hard to say whether the movie was even good or not, the people behind us were laughing hysterically at everything, even if it wasn’t funny. Almost like they were being sarcastic. Other people were laughing too. It was like being at a dead show where everyone else is on drugs. I mean, there was some funny stuff in this movie, but these people were going nuts. I think it’s pent up aggression or something that gets release through laughter, all they need is an excuse to laugh and the floodgates open.
I had “Tombstone Skiing” in my workshop and people pretty much hated it. First we workshopped that Kevin guy’s story, the guy who runs the children’s circus. I though his story was complete crap but people seemed to like it. I didn’t say anything, I just found something nice to say. The way it works is you go around and say something you like and don’t like about the story, and the author is in a box essentially, they can’t respond to anything, and you can’t say their name or look at them. People had a few nice things to say about my piece but for the most part ripped on it. When it got to the Kevin guy, he started saying all this crap and the teacher asked him to say something he liked about it and he shrugged his shoulders, and after more imploring, he was huffing and opening to a random page and reading a sentence and saying he liked it. People just didn’t get it, said there was character development, thought the ending wasn’t justified, etc... all the cliche criticisms acting like this was a standard story and not taking it for what it was. It was pretty depressing and made me realize I must be living in a vacuum if people didn’t have anything nice to say about mine, but plenty of good things to say about Kevin’s. And the next day I get a review on Zoetrope for “Milking St. Jude” that just talked about how much he hated it. I’ll just take it as promising that the story had enough of an effect on the guy that he took it personally and maybe even thought it was true or something. This criticism has made me depressed, but it also has made me realize that there is a lot of writers out there, and that if something comes along that is just plain bad, what would be the point of criticizing it . . . they would be like, yah, go ahead and submit that, good luck . . . but if something touches a nerve, they will rip it to shit and try to break you to get rid of the competition. Or maybe I really do suck. I must. I’ve never heard anything to convince me otherwise. I must be insane. I am completely out of touch with the common people’s interests. I am living on an island and evolving away from the rest of humanity in my own little habitat. I wouldn’t like to think that's not true but it must be. Then our teacher asks us to read Joyce Carol Oates like she is the god of all short story writers and “Where are you going, where have you been?” is the mother of all short stories. If it wasn’t for the fact that I didn’t have to read it, I would have skipped it. I must be insane. I don’t get what inspires people. But the prospect of giving up writing is so depressing that I would probably just kill myself. I can’t think of anything else I would want to do. Sure, in retrospect I might have gone on with film school, or continued my music. But then I look back at music and it was the same thing. There was no reward to doing music, I was living in a vacuum. And I guess I still am.
Ran around Central Park in 45:17. Actually ran like fifty yards past because that’s exactly six miles according to some mile markers they had set up for a half marathon. It was kind of cool running side by side with all the racers. I crossed the finish line at the exact moment that the first woman runner crossed. Then we went down shopping at Union Square and Soho. Sat in a café in Soho and people-watched.
Oct. 15 – NY
We’ve got this new thing going for Saturdays or Sundays when we’re deciding what to do. . . Bedder-½ and I are each going to give a word, and juxtapose them together and that will be the them of the day . . . last weekend it was “dog” and hence we went and saw the Frisbee Dog World Championships in Central Park and then we went and saw “Dog Show” and then had roasted dog for dinner, just kidding about that but you get the idea. This weekend’s one wasn’t that exciting in terms of theme or adhering to theme, Bedder-½ said “Sun” and I said “Leaves”. It was probably the last nice day of the year so we went and sat in Central Park all day Saturday. Actually got some sun, which was good because my whole body is covered with this ugly rash/acne that I don’t know what from, maybe from the antibiotics, maybe further adjustment to NY, I think my immune system is getting hardened though, now.
We went out last night to TriBeCa. Weird, it’s all quiet and chic. These way too hip for me places like “Teddy’s” and Nobu that are just ultra-expensive and you’re paying the price to be seen, to be seen by whom? Very pretentious vanity mongers and eurotrash. We ended up eating at some French-Malaysian place on Franklin St. that was pretty good and not overpriced and had a great view of downtown and the world trade centers, sitting outside on the patio for probably the last time this year. Excellent food, jicama salad, mango shrimp curry and I had a peanut-pineapple noodles. We walked around the empty streets, every once in a while running into a group of weird looking club-goers. We ended up at the Knitting Factory. The band was Pere Ubu and it was sold out, but we probably wouldn’t of gone anyway. We sat in the bar and people watched and watched the Yankees. Weird to be at the Knitting Factory, we remember that NY noise album we had recorded here, it's got so much history. Have to go back to see a band or a poetry reading or something.
Ran the park this morning in 45 minutes. I rearranged my office to make room for a desk for Bedder-½ so now I’m sitting near the window, which is good because I’m getting some sun. Oh yah, Bedder-½’s birthday. Went out to some Italian place that was actually on 24th st. next door to that evil Jill’s apartment that we almost subletted. Thank god we didn’t, I probably would’ve killed myself by now. What a depressing area compared to where we’re at. Went with [J and P], had a good time. I got Bedder-½ a tiny Olympus camera for taking street shots.
Friday I met Bedder-½ up at Columbia and got to see her lab and meet the people she works with. [S], this squat Indian guy with a beard, [F], some psycho Italian woman that purposely burned me with dry ice and others, but not [Dr. P]. We stopped at 125 st. and walked through Harlem to go to Sylvia’s. I don’t know why Harlem gets such a bad rap, seems nicer than 86th and Lex area or just north of here in the 90’s. We almost didn’t go to Sylvia’s because G said they cook everything in bacon fat and it’s super rich. To the contrary it was delicious, wasn’t greasy at all, just fresh and tastey. I had catfish with collared greens and black eye peas. Wasn’t crazy about the collared greens. The cornbread was awesome and fluffy. Bedder-½ had fried chicken that rocked, with garlic mash potatoes.
Oct. 21 – NY
The words for this weekend are “Shiny” and “Taming”. So far can’t think of anything to do besides go to the Nightclub “Shine” tonight. Maybe go to Diamond Row, 47th street, also where Andy Warhol’s factory was, but now they’ve torn it down. But right now I’m taking a break from re-speed-dialing the Mets ticket hotline over and over to try to get, yep, that’s right, Subway Series tickets. Mets and Yankees are both in it. Watching game 2 right now. Game 1, last night. [T] met us for dinner. He’s back in town on work. We went to Penang and he brought one of his blast’s from the past along. Here we are talking about G, he had coffee with her and they are both being immature like they aren’t over it… and little do we know that T’s “friend” is [A], the lawyer in Tucson that Tim dumped for G. “Hi-Fidelity” is definitely T’s movie. Anyways … as if we care, just makes me glad I’m not in the dating game. We tried to hit a bar afterwards to see the game and every bar was packed. We ended up back at Penang and luckily got a table before that got packed. Lots of beer, people-watching the upper-east side, quite the scene, the game was close, Yankees jumped ahead, Mets came back, damn ball hits the top of the fence, otherwise they would’ve had it. So really a matter of inches out of 400 feet is what made the difference. Oh well. It was the longest game in World Series history, and Bedder-½ was falling asleep in the bar, and at that point I didn’t care who won as long as we didn’t have to endure another inning.
Had to do anther demo this week for the HSBC bank. Had to give a demo of Project Tracker and Time Tracker. HSBC bank is next door to the NYC public library. They had the lions out front decked in Yankees and Mets hats. The city so nice they named it twice. The person I was supposed to meet wasn’t there and nobody knew what to do with me. These two people thought I was there for an interview before I had to explain what I was there for. Finally I’m shown to a board room while they sort it out. Three guys finally show up, I go through the demo, and about half way through one of the guys sits back and folds his arms. Interrupts me and says that the Project Tracker is way too much for them . . . way too complicated, way too many features they don’t need. So what the hell was I doing there anyway? What to do at that point. Finished the demo and bailed.
Still wrapping up the 5.0 release. Starting to piss me off. I wrote an e-mail to both the Steve’s demanding an answer as to when I was going to get the rest of my bonus. $2500 would be a nice lump of money right now before Christmas. Actually, it would probably be just enough to get us out of debt. But it’s just hard to be inspired about doing the work. Applied to a few other jobs but not much going.
Oh yah, I got published! In a fairly reputable review … CrossConnect. Not sure yet it if it will print or not. It’s an online magazine, but they mentioned they’re sending me galleys for review. Either way, it’s one of the better online magazines, and to top it off, the story they accepted was “Taming Miki Moto” … some story I wrote back in 95 or 96 and haven’t even really been sending it out. Surprise, surprise. Hopefully that might open up some other doors.
Walked through the Northwoods of Central Park, taking advantage of the last of the good weather. Saw the three waterfalls, ended up on the West side at 110th st. Went to St. Paul of the Divine’s … incredible… the biggest cathedral in the United States. Puts St. Patrick’s to shame. Ominous as you are approaching, perched up on a hill. Inside it’s huge, but you have to pay and then there is all this random art work and exhibits inside the church … like Wegman photo’s of Weimreiners (sp?) … including huge blow ups of the dog’s penis. And this is a church. Strange. It was a bit disappointing. Walked across the Columbia campus. Beautiful. Wouldn’t mind living in that area. Of course, ran around Central Park this morning. So what did any of this have to do with Shiny or Taming?
Oct. 28 – NY
More house guests. More distractions. Now [B] is here. Next weekend [S + S]. The week after that I’m going to Tucson for the whole week. Time comes in batches where I just organized enough that I know what I’m going to do, then I have to work, or it’s just such a nice day out that I have to just get out of the apartment. I’m back onto “Pozole Alimony” which probably won’t be called back. I’m setting more of a stage for it, starting back in Portland and giving the narrator Val a brother. I know where it needs to go in my head, when I’m laying in bed at night before I go to sleep, or when we’re out to dinner or a bar with Bedder-½ and B, walking the streets or whatever. It’s just a matter of sitting down and writing. Last night we saw the Josh Dodes band at the Bitter End. Before that we were eating at the Figaro Café and I said some comment about S and S coming the following weekend, like I’d get a hotel room. I’m just getting sick of these house guests, it’s like life is on hold. I mean, this is not just our home, but it’s my office and where I write. So everything gets disrupted for me. And it’s not like there is a lot of space. Right now, B’s stuff is spread all over the floor of my office and I can barely walk in here or have room to put anything. She slept in till eleven so I was just reading whatever I could get my hands off, started reading “Wildlife” by Richard Ford before realizing that I’d already read it, but read it anyway, the first few chapters, trying to figure out what’s effective about his writing. I mean, it’s not like there’s much of a story, a teenage caught between the strained relationship of his parents in Montana, but there is something engaging about it. The style is so simple, not like Raymond Carver simplicity, I mean like that, but at the same very impersonal, far removed, distant. But there is something there, there is no story, and there’s nothing creative in the writing style, but maybe it’s something between the lines. Maybe it’s the lack of distractions from the writing. Then finished “Smoke” and “Blue in the Face” … Blue in the Face was interesting, first read the notes they gave to the actors, there wasn’t really a script, just ideas or suggestions they would give them. Actually, speaking of Paul Auster, he spoke in Bedder-½’s building, Columbia physicians or whatever, who knows why, except the guy who wrote the “English Patient” is doing some sort of writer-in-residence in “narrative medicine” and invited Paul Auster to speak. He read some of his short-short stories. I like his style. Very conceptual, like he starts with a concept and fills in the characters and stories around that. Just enough to tell the story and get the concept across. The one story (true?) about when he was a kid and went to see the Brooklyn Dodgers and had the chance to get his autograph afterwards but they couldn’t find a pencil and that’s why he’s a writer was classic. Met Bedder-½’s boss while I was up there, her lab’s got a few characters, besides that Flavia woman that intentionally burned my hand with dry ice, there’s Sanjay who gave us some betelnut, there’s Andrea, a half-Chinese, half-Italian, new post-doc who we’ve run into near Central Park, didn’t talk to her boss much but she seems nice, and it seems like a healthy environment to work in…. anyway, back to the current situation, last night ended up being a real drag, I guess B was uncomfortable or hurt or whatever, and felt like she was imposing (after the comments about S and S), would I even bring that up in front of her if that was the case? So we went to the Bitter End and she was being poopy and it was just kind of a bummer. Kind of funny, the band before (the Coopers?), a grungy kind of Spin Doctor band, with this weird British singer who was writhing on the floor in front of us staring at us and shaking his hips like we were at a strip club or something (then he preceded to pull a tin of mints out of his pocket and offered them to us and I was the only one who accepted). But the contrast to stone-faced and proper B was, well, not funny, I mean I felt bad for B, but you know… what can you do? People need to be exposed to that. The Josh Dodes band was good as usual, they’ll definitely go places, not that i'm totally into their sound. It was a pain getting home, couldn’t get a cab, and the 6 train was down, so we had to go south to Brooklyn Bridge, only to wait more to come back north. B was falling asleep. The height of the evening was when this guy got on the subway with a big pair of black wings. Like Angel Wings made of black feathers. This other guy was asking him questions about them, he had to wear something at work for Halloween, no the wings weren’t heavy, but they were fragile, he was concerned that he would damage them, he borrowed them for a friend, his other friend borrowed them that played in a band. I don’t know, just the image of the guy standing in the doorway of the subway with this pair of black wings in his hand was inspiring. Anyways, then there was the talking til 2:30, Bedder-½ saying she was sorry about the house guests, disappointed in her job, disappointed in her job, disappointed in pretty much everything (except me, so she says anyways). She’s really depressed. I hope she snaps out of it. Going from the cushy Tucson college country club lifestyle to the harsh reality of NYC is a big jump to make, and she’s definitely plunged into the deep end. I just hope that she learns from it and adjusts, but it doesn’t make her shell too hard, or let it break her. Then the next morning, I go out to buy eggs and stuff, just glad to have something to do being that my office is occupied, and I come back and Bedder-½ is pouring her heart out to B. I hope it helped. Sometimes she needs to tell other people these things besides me. They’ll give her the same advice, but it’s good when she hears it from others. Then we went to Central Park for the big Halloween bash. All the crazies were out and the parents with their kids. Walked around, it was hard for me to keep my patience. B walks unbearably slow. I was trying to act excited about going into places like Tiffany’s or Bergdorf whatever it’s called. And actually when I go into the mindset that we are evolved from apes it helps. I mean, human behavior is truly bizarre in this light. These weird rituals where people go into these symmetric and crisp and clean buildings and test makeup, and look at necklaces from mined rocks that cost $310,000. I’m just glad Bedder-½ isn’t into that crap. I am just grateful that Bedder-½ and I get along so well, because really no human is without some weirdness, hangup or annoying habit. Most people are intolerable to not only me, but Bedder-½ too. So it’s good we have eachother. We walked down 5th avenue, it got colder today. Saw the usual stuff, people skating at Rockerfeller, the clothes stores, waited forty minutes in line at Starbucks to pay $4 a piece for some crappy coffee drinks made by imcompetent servers that always screw up your order. Starbucks enrages me that it continues to exist as a successful establishment. It’s unbelievable. But B wanted to go so what do you say?
Nov. 5 – NY
Things are starting to brew. On the job front, I had two interviews on Friday. Not like I am even actively sending out resumes, I get a few e-mails or calls a day, most of which I stiff-arm. Some I even flaked out on, and they would still call me back and ask for another opportunity. But I figure I have to be picky. The two interviews I did grant were with Plumb Design and Universal Music Group. I mistakenly thought my plumb design interview was at 2:30 and it was really at 2:00. Luckily I left at 1:30 and it didn’t take nearly as long as I thought to get down to Tribeca … but I was in a rush and it was making me sweat as the Plumb offices were stuffy and hot. They were going for the industrial loft effect, cement floor painted gray, garage door, lime green walls and strange glass doors, all the inner ducts and workings of the building exposed, steel desks and flat screen monitors. I was supposed to interview with the brainchild Mark Tinkler but he wasn’t there, so I interview with this guy Michael Freedman, who wasn’t really expecting me. To top it off, did I mention that my hassles with my Toshiba last week led me to the last resort of f: disking my hard drive, and the back of my “technical writings” folder was corrupted, so I lost my resume. The only copy I had was on my Website (which I moved to the FirstGate site). DSL rocks incidentally, but back to the interview, he asked for a resume which I didn’t have, but it worked okay because I directed him to my Website and he saw it there. He showed me their product which is my interest in this company—Think Map, a sort of non-linear information navigator that relates words and concepts in a branching 3-D map, that gyrates subjected by physical forces. For example, they make the Visual Thesarus, you see a word, and all the related words branching off in the background, point at a word, and then you see the words related to that … hard to describe (thus would make a challenging tech writing job). Definitely interesting stuff. Conceptually anyway, and I guess they must be doing well with it financially. That interview was short, he didn’t ask me many questions, and I wasn’t sure how things were when I left. He was kind of short with me. I had the Universal Music Group interview right after that. Took the train uptown to Columbus circle and headed west, it’s kind of in a weird industrial part of town with car dealerships mixed with sound and TV studios. I was early so I checked out the NYC Marathon expo and saw Kanouchi, the world’s fastest long distance man. The Universal interview went well. Met with some nerdy guy first, who was the director. He didn’t ask too many questions, but seemed impressed from the beginning. He turned me over to the tech writer, and quickly dropped a hint that the guy wasn’t too technically inclined (“just between you and me”) leading me to believe that perhaps I was replacing this guy? His name was [L] and he had frosted grey hair and looked like he went to a tanning saloon. He was nice enough, though somewhat reserved, not sure what his whole take on the situation was. So now I can only cross my fingers and wait. One of the nice things about this job was that it’s through an agency, it’s a consulting position, so it’s hourly, and the hourly rate she put me in for was $40/hr. … and time and a half for OT! But once talking to him, he seemed more interested in putting me on full-time permanent, which is fine (they don’t seem like dot-com workaholics … this is the biggest music company in the world after all…) and I said $75K. Now I can only wait until tomorrow (when I’ll be flying to Tucson). Oh yah, it’s “technical” writing, but it’s towards their Global e-division product which is basically for distributing music on the internet.
The timing of all this is weird as I am going to Tucson tomorrow for a whole week to discuss my future with Automation Centre … I guess all I can do is act excited about it all, especially considering I have a $2500 bonus coming to me which is long overdue. It’s been a great gig, working at home, and it’s allowed me to get a lot of writing done and everything, but it’s starting to get, how do I say, demoralizing. I’m feeling isolated and detached from the culture here. I’m in Manhattan … I should be experiencing it to the fullest. I wouldn’t say I’m completely burnt out, but I’m at the apex where I think the benefits of working remotely are starting to decline, and rather than wait to hit rock bottom, I should abandon ship. We’ll see.
So yesterday I got Galley proofs for “Taming Miki Moto”. I would say this is my first official publication, even though it’s online. And, yesterday I also got a reply from Bridge Works Publishing requesting the first 50 pages of Our Mother the Fish! Now I’ve got to review the first 50 pages and make sure their good to go.
S is on her way over and we’re going to watch the NY marathon…. Or at least I am in. And tonight Bedder-½ and I are going to Anni Di Franco. Then early tomorrow morning I’m going to Tucson, which kind of sucks because I won’t be able to vote.
Nov. 6 – Dallas
Sometimes you have to leave to see where you are. I’m in the Dallas airport and it definitely doesn’t feel like NY. Everything is more or less the same, it’s just the way the people act. And the efficiency with which things are done. This is NY. I get to the airport and my flight is cancelled and the airport is packed with people waiting. But I find some woman and she quickly bumped me on to an EARLIER flight. Go figure. So I got here in Dallas earlier then I’d like to be. Some smelly wide guy with en emphysemic cough picked me up in a town car at 6:30 a.m. After a late night out seeing Anni DiFranco. Every time we go to a concert we wonder what the appeal is. You spend a lot of money to stand in line outside on the cold sidewalks for hours, to pack into a crowded ballroom full of cigarette smoke to barely be able to see Anni on the stage. Makes you wonder whether you’d gain more from the experience by watching it on TV. But she was good and we got lucky and we actually got seats in the balcony, probably the last ones. There’s a certain frankness in Anni DiFranco that I appreciate, like nothing could embarrass here, an expression of herself that comes very naturally to her. Then the subway home, the blur of faces all seems so foreign right now. Everything is going so slow, it’s almost frightening. I can almost appreciate Lou Reed's speech about NY in “Blue in the Face”, but really I am stuck somewhere in between. The perpetual outsider. Which fits in in NY.
Reading Robert Olen Butler on the plane, good stuff i guess for mainstream stuff. He captures the Vietnamese—American essence, especially when put in the Louisiana framework, the combination is interesting. I got stuck in a middle seat so it was hard to do anything else, although I did make some revisions on Our Mother the Fish. Right now I have to take a crap.
Nov. 12 – NY (Tucson)
Let’s see… got to Tucson on Monday, went straight to work. Was only there briefly, so when Steve & Steve mentioned future projects I kind of just went along with it. But I also plugged in my computer and checked my e-mail and checked my phone messages and I got the offer from Universal Music Group… $40/hr. yee-haw! I didn’t talk to her until the next morning before I went into work. Then I got to work and Steve B. had a list of all these new marketing projects and I was just like, “whoa, hold on” and I was just honest and told them. They took it well. After all it comes at the culmination of the 5.0 release so it is a good a time as any. But it was awkward being around for the rest of the week in all these meetings discussing initiatives for 2001. But I wrapped up what I had to do for them and gotta see everybody one last time so there was good closure. And I got an all expense-paid trip to Tucson out of it. Saw [M and G] a few times, one night we went to La Parilla Suiza, another night out to Sushi. They are the same as ever, genuinely good people with a few weird hang-ups, but doesn’t everybody? They are both doing well, M is on the verge of success with the Fox thing, G was rehired and promoted at the old job she used to have with the Pima Prevention center (?) It was good to see them. Also saw Shaheen a few times, met him at Congress and ate at the Grill, then met him another time at Rosas for lunch. Saw the old house, it was always dark and vacant, everything still the same. Monty’s had a for rent sign on it. Saw Greg the Frankenbike guy. It felt like I hadn’t gone anywhere. It’s funny how quick the body adjusts. Stayed at the Double Tree which had a nice view of the Catalinas, the first day the snowline was low and when I awoke the mountains were caked in snow. But it was also where the southern AZ republicans were watching the election so had to endure all the cheering whenever Bush won a state.
One day I went up to Gates Pass and watched the sunset. Ran a few laps around Randolph for old time sake. Got bored during the company meeting and took a walk around the old hood, past the 5th street house, past the 5th avenue house, past the University Ave. house, past the 8th street house… trying to squeeze what nostalgia is left out of Tucson. Trying to make sense of the changes happening now. My how the times have changed. Saturday I changed my flight to that afternoon as I was anxious to get back to get stuff done before I start my new job … did I mention that a publisher was interested in Our Mother the Fish? Haven’t looked at that in a while, and have to make sure the first 50 pages are ready to go. And then go to the agency tomorrow to fill out paperwork on my new job. I’m excited to start this new gig, but ask me in a week or two. Once I get paid all the money that Automation Centre owes me … $1150 in expenses, a $2000 paycheck and a $2500 bonus. I can only cross my fingers at this point that they pay me. Then we’ll be out of the hole and then pulling it in. Time to invest! A foreign concept. Time to not worry about money. Time to be able to travel.
Saturday I was going to go up Mt. Lemmon but it was closed for snow or landslides, they wouldn’t even let me hike at hairpin turn. So I turned back and went to Sabino. That was crowded and I couldn’t get across the river (although the changing of the leaves in Sabino canyon was incredible) and I went up Esperero. As far as I could before I had to turn back and meet Sean for lunch and catch my flight. Made it to the waterfall I’ve never seen running and then to the saddle above that with excellent views. The distant waterfalls were gushing, everything was crisp, just above the rocks and trees were laced with snow. I was gazing into a huge hidden valley the size of Manhattan and not a peep, not a soul, just a huge quiet vastness. A much needed exhilaration.
Nov. 19 – NY
Started my job at Universal Music Group on Tuesday. So far so good. It’s definitely a sacrifice as far as free time and such, but the others there are short, and once I get my first paycheck I’m sure I won’t regret it. I don’t mind the commute so much. I’ve been trying a variety of ways, bus-subway-walk, walk-subway-subway-walk, bus, bus-walk, walk-subway-walk, and just plain walk. It’s usually around 45 minutes, except for just the bus (the 31) which goes door to door, but takes an hour and ten minutes. I walked the whole thing in 55 minutes one day (but I was speedwalking), but walking is kind of cool because I can take a different route virtually every time. Walk down 57th street and Madison Ave., or walk along the park, walk up Park Avenue, etc…lots of stuff to see. Still can get my workout in the morning then take the crosstown bus with Bedder-½ and then she goes north on the C and I go south to Columbus circle. There’s not much in the area of UMG’s Global e office (54th and 11th ave.). The main UMG is down on Broadway, but they moved these office’s six months ago. There’s a lot of car dealerships and some studios, and the sanitation department and recycling centers, lots of homeless people, very industrial. Kind of sketchy. Not many places to eat in the near vicinity, have to walk to 9th ave. or 57th street. There’s “street meat” of course, the hot dog vendor that also has grilled chicken over rice. It’s amazing what they can pack into those little carts. The people at UMG are all nice, or most of them. I’m working mostly with L, the other tech writer that’s been there a while. He’s got better people skills then me but I’m not sure about his technical knowledge yet. He teaches lit classes downtown in the mornings before he comes to work. Interesting guy. Kind of looks like Kevin, but with frosted gray hair, tall and lean, does triathlons and swims a lot. He teaches composition, and share similar tastes in writers, Carver, Ford, etc. but he also likes the classics, or at least teaches them, but he doesn’t write. Guess he just doesn’t “understand the writing process”. He’s a little odd in a lackadaisical kind of way, but sincere and nice. Lives in a high-rise in TriBeCa with a few kids and a wife from “the Islands”. Very New York, don’t think he’s lived anywhere else. Sharp dresser, but for the most part it’s casual there. I think. I’m still testing the waters, but I think I’m more or less adjusted.
Then there’s [A], whose from British Guiana, I assume he’s the technical lead. [S T] (the guy who interviewed me) is the director, and there is a CTO named [B P], who I finally met on Friday. There’s a couple guys named [B], an Israeli woman name [K], … most everybody has that ethnic look where you can’t really tell where they’re from. But everybody is nice, and we listen to music a lot. One thing I’ll say (or predict), is that I’m not too impressed with the competency of their product. I’ve been testing it from the standpoint of an end-user and have discovered some major bugs. I try to download music and it locks up right in the middle of it, but I still get charged for it, etc … and you can go to places like Napster and download MP3s for free (or maybe they’re actually charging a nominal fee now just to be legal) … basically if I was a customer there’s no way I would buy from bluematter (the name UMG has come up with for this platform, to disassociate from the digital electronic music biz). I’ve tried to ask people about these bugs and problems and get brushed off, and was finally told to submit a formal complaint through the customer care pages to test out their customer service (which is contracted out) and got no immediate reply. Hmmm. Well, they just went live in August, so maybe they’re still working out the kinks.
Nov. 26 – NY
(this journal entry was lost … who knows where those words went)
Dec. 5 – NY
Don't know when the last time I wrote was, i accidentally erased over the last entry. I'm at work now. It's always hot and stuffy when I first get here. Just walked through Central Park. I think I've gone a different way to and from work every day for the past week or two. Today I walked. Yesterday I rode my Razor that I bought over the weekend. I'm sure I looked goofy but it cut my commute in half. I'll do combinations of walking and bus, or walking and subway. Subway to subway, or bus to subway. One thing I won't do again is just the bus. That's a waste of time. Yesterday I walked over to Times Square after work and met Bedder-½. Did some X-mas shopping. She wanted to get [R] something at the Yankee store. Then we went to Sephora and got some cool presents there. Went to Indonesian food for dinner.
Been obsessed with trying to find cheap vacation specials ... Bedder-½ found out she can take that week off. But at this point it's too late to plan anything, unless something comes up last minute. Everybody is going everywhere that week. Can't use our Continental passes for anything. We were thinking about going to Antigua or somewhere in the Caribbean, but we'd be looking at spending around $2000 minimum per person just for hotel and air, and we can’t book anything anyway.
Now it’s later in the day. It’s 5 and I haven’t eaten lunch yet. It’s already dark. This job has inspired me to dig up some of my old tapes and digitize them and put them on my Website. Of course I’m getting sidetracked on all these projects and am not working on Pozole Alimony. At least I didn’t go to class last night. That class is a total waste of time. They hated “The Bait Shop” (chapter from Pozole Alimony) and really disliked my re-write of “The Expectancy”. Especially the teacher. She was shaking, saying that she was so frustrated she couldn’t read it. She hated the characters. I don’t know, it was almost comical how much of a reaction it provoked out of people, the fact that they adamantly detested it shows that I’m doing something to provoke them. What a joke. They all fucking suck, and oddly feel threatened by my originality. Either that or I’m completely insane. Probably the latter. [D] is trash, she’s a loser, talking down like it’s as bad as reading a screenplay. So finally when I was allowed to talk, I said that I liked to read screenplays, she asks condescendingly “do you ever read fiction?” Like her opinion is what qualifies something as “literary”. What a waste of time. I might be crazy, but I read somewhere yesterday that the only people that will change the world are the only people crazy enough to think that they can.
Had a bite on “Beneath the Shingles”. In Posse Review rejected it but said they liked it up until the ending (funny thing is I only added the ending after people complained about needing an explanation), so I reworked it and sent it back. Haven’t heard back.
Dec. 9 – NY
I want to write a story about a jukebox and sitting in a seat where somebody famous was sitting. Yesterday I got on the bus at 86th and Central Park West and opened up a short story collection by Robert Olen Butler and there was a story about some guy who buys one of John Lennon’s shoes that he was wearing when he was shot, and he was describing how the shoe was scuffed from when he fell, and here I was fourteen blocks from the Dakota where this took place, and I don’t know, it just struck me as profound and sad, the proximity to locations of past events. At times like that you appreciate living in NY, so much history on every corner. Not that I would become one of those writers that writes about NY in all it’s glory, but it makes more meaningful to read or see things that take place in NY and a casual reference to a street number or name means so much more.
Bedder-½ is still sick, can’t seem to quite kick whatever she’s got and I am worried. I hope she can get accustomed to NY … or should she. Poor thing is so fragile. I felt like after that bout with pneumonia I’m acclimatized. Bring on the rat dander, I can handle it. Cram me in a subway full of sick people, I don’t care. I think a lot of it is mental and unfortunately Bedder-½ doesn’t agree or her mind is not strong enough and she is getting worn down by working long hours at a job that she doesn’t enjoy. Not that I’m crazy about my job. I’m starting to get sucked into the politics. L is a very bitter man, classic NYer, drove a cab for five years, always lived here, and he’ll admit that it made him bitter and paranoid. We discussed this as we were waiting in line at the Soup Nazi. Yes, the infamous Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. It was all that it advertised at exuberant prices, $13 bucks for a cup of soup to go. He doesn’t speak just gives you the hand signal to give him money and then scoot over to wait. And of course wait in line before that for thirty minutes. But the soup was damn good. But back to Laurence, I get the impression that he is stifling me so I don’t upstage him. We work on everything in tandem so he can take credit for my work. He’s not too bright and tries to act like he knows more then he does. He’ll ask me to make edits to a manual and I pass it back and then he edits it and then he passes it back and when I get it back I notice that a lot of my edits were not taken in to account even though I was doing it in edit mode so it was obvious what had changed, but when I confronted him about it, he said he didn’t accept the changes, but copied and pasted from Word … and he refuses to upgrade to Word 2000 and doesn’t want to use SourceSafe for version control because he is paranoid about Donna in LA getting a hold of the documents. He’s very possessive about information, and doesn’t let me in documents that have already been written if they were written by Donna. It’s like they are both are stealing each other’s material and reworking the same document and applying a different name, and then taking credit for and ownership of it. Whatever, I told him that I was just a tech writer and wasn’t out to change the world or anything. It’s just a job and we write about just what we're told to write about.
In the meantime I want to write a story about a jukebox and being in close physical proximity to past events. What is a juke anyways?
I’ve done some work on my Website and digitized some of my songs. Digitized all the songs on Starfiseye, and put three of them on my Website with lyrics and stuff. I’ve maxed out my 5MB capacity so I will just have to post a few songs at a time.
So I guess the big news is that we’re going to the Bahamas for four nights... finally got a package, $800 or so per person. Not a great deal, but I couldn’t be choosey. We were very close to going to London and Rome for 6 nights on Virgin Atlantic for the same price, checked availability online and it was available, and I paid for it and everything with my credit card and we tried to not get too excited about it, but we were anyway, and sure enough the next day I called after I never received confirmation and they told me the hotel in London was booked, and I couldn’t just use the airfare or just go to Rome… it was frustrating, I spent a lot of time looking for vacations and am just happy I find this package to the Grand Bahamas. At least it will be sunny and warm and relaxing, and a little more cultural then just going to Florida. I hope.
Dec. 23 – NY
It's been two weeks since my last confession … and it is now the first day in a week long confession so I have no excuse. It has snowed a few times, I have gone to work fourteen times, been to many fine dinners, went to the Guggenheim, went to an off-Broadway play last night, made love, taken showers, worked out, walked on many different streets. To be honest, things have been terrible the past few weeks. Bedder-½ was perpetually sick, I was getting really depressed about my writing. More reviews on Zoetrope that infuriated people, they would just flat out say it was horrible, and that it wasn’t literature. Hard not to let that shit get to you. And when I missed the last day of class (purposely) I still read those stories and submitted reviews to those people and sent an e-mail apologizing and not one person e-mailed me back. All my e-mails go unreturned. Every day I get nothing besides the occasional rejection slips. All I get is geeks offering me tech-writing jobs even though I pulled my resume off Hot Jobs months ago. Anyways, I was getting obsessed with writing, and I just wasn’t having enough time for it. It was starting to eat away at me. Wake up go to work, come home and take care of Bedder-½. Bedder-½ would be laying on the couch watching TV or something and it was difficult to concentrate on anything. The weekend would roll around and I wouldn’t want to do anything but write. I was becoming bitter and depressed that I was wasting all this time writing and not getting any payoff. And I’m sure I was taking it out on Bedder-½. It escalated until a few nights ago we had a blow-out. She wanted to move out, which is a typical response of Bedder-½. Finally, after hours of tears and just feeling really shitty, I finally talked her into being rational and trying to work it out rather than just running away from it. Of course part of me wishes I had the freedom to be on my own and write all I want, but I know I would be lonely as hell and miss Bedder-½ (and maybe that would make me a better writer but it would make for a miserable existence). Bedder-½ is the only thing I have going in the world. She is my friend and lover and family. Not that I’m clinging to her for lack of anything else, but I perhaps I am putting too much into her, expecting her to be all these roles. And then of course the issue of sacrifice comes up, yah of course I can’t help to think about the fact that I have helped her through her college and now through a post-doc where she doesn’t make much money, and what kills me is that she complains about it and is not happy, and here I am sacrificing everything wishing I could have a full-time stab at what I wish I could be doing with my life (be a writer). And then when she gets sick for weeks on end, then it really comes out, because after working all day, I’m coming home to take care of her, do all the errands.
Anyways, it was kind of a reality check. That I put too much into my writing. So I need to just take a break off from writing (which I have been doing for the past week and for the next week while we are in the Bahamas) and just have fun. Bedder-½ is feeling better and last week she had two interviews, one at Gravity fitness, which is this exclusive club in the Parker Meridian on 56th st. and another at Chelsea piers. Both went well, especially the one at the Parker Meridian (she has been back for a second interview). It is a position that they are creating for her that will utilize her nutritional background and also her personal training. And they’re flexible and are letting her ease her way into part time. Nothing, definite yet, that will have to wait until after the holidays. So despite our little spat, things are looking up. It was just a reality check for us really, not to take each other for granted.
I’ve been walking to work a lot, and now Bedder-½ walks with me in the mornings, across Central Park to the Subway stop on Central Park West. It’s a great walk and beats the bus. Bedder-½ says she feels like a loser on the bus. I know what she means. Why sit on the bus with all the other losers in silence, in the daily grind, when you can walk in the open air and get exercise and see stuff?
Last night we saw “Jesus Hopped the A Train” down in the East Village. It was incredible. In a small theatre that only fit maybe like 100 people. Weird to think that every day across America people pack Cineplex 16 theatres, each one bigger then this one, watching crappy blockbuster, when there is this sheer talent that you can see LIVE, right in front of you. I can’t believe we haven’t seen more. We’ve seen lots of musicals and On Broadway shows, but I would really like to see more Off-Broadway plays. This was incredible. Directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman and presented by LAByrinth (?), the acting was incredible. Just these long tirades of witty monologue, well-written, explosive, provoking, flawless… the acting was better than most movies you see. And it was live, for a small audience. The writing was excellent, everything was excellent. And to think that this opened a few weeks ago and in another week, it will be gone to the wind…. no permanent record of it (unless somebody videotaped it) but it’s not like it is going to come out on video or there will be another chance to see it after this. It will be gone. We had a great dinner before this at some Chinese restaurant on 16th and Irving. It had been a month or so since we’d been down to the Village. Definitely a different feel. There’s just so much to do and see in NY.
What else? I’m sure a lot has slipped by without me appreciating it or recording it in this journal. There has been a lot of inspirational moments, and a lot of not-so inspirational moments. A lot of eye-opening moments… like [L], the Lithuanian Immigrant that sits next to me at work. When he told me what it was like to move from Lithuania to here and how great America is … how if you set your mind to it, you can have anything in America. It really is still the land of opportunity. You just have to jump on it.
But for now, we’re going to the Bahamas tomorrow. Getting ready to end the year and start a new one.
Dec. 29 – (Bahamas)
Back from the Bahamas. Here’s a day by day summary:
Flew from JFK on TWA to Freeport direct. No hassles probably because we went early. Landed at some Powdunk airport. Everything pink and blue. Cloudy and not exactly like hot. Everything seemed familiar from a Bond film, except not the guys wear stocking caps and wrap-arounds and button-downs with tigers and oriental characters. Got a cab to Pelican Bay, driving on the wrong side of the road even though the steering wheel was on the left. Signs of the British occupation such as this remain, but really more like America. Our hotel was a smaller hotel on the harbor, but across the street from “Our Lucaya” which is a mammoth resort with many pools and restaurants so we spent most of our time over there. The first afternoon we didn’t do much because it was raining. Had conch and beer for lunch. We went and looked at the water. Aqua blue. Flying in I could see all the shades of blue, magenta, aqua, turquoise, it was incredible. Since it was raining we decided to hit the Casino. What a joke. It was pathetic and dumpy as was the Bahamian resort where it was located. I lost 60 dollars immediately at Caribbean Stud poker. Bedder-½ lost 10 dollars at slots. We went and got happy hour Bahama Mamas in the leaky lobby of the Bahamamia, a depressingly 70’s and dilapidated resort that had seen it’s day. Some band was playing decent Bob Marley cover songs, but the singer was more concerned with the football game on TV then singing. Tried to find somewhere nice for our anniversary dinner and ended up at some Chinese food place that was probably the worst Chinese food I’ve ever had. Either that or New York is spoiling us. Oh well. It was amusing, I guess. Ride back to the hotel in the Cadillac limo with the guy blaring gospel music.
Christmas day the rain had stopped but it was still windy. Had a nice breakfast at our restaurant and then walked the beach. Bedder-½ got talked into getting her hair done in braids. The lady said $2 a braid, she had like five or ten braids on her head, so we figured that it wouldn’t be too bad. She sat Bedder-½ down and started yanking Bedder-½’s hair and tying it in knots. Bedder-½ skin was red and she was almost in tears it hurt so much. I occupied myself by finding conch shells that were “clean”. When I looked back the lady was doing these tiny braids that I figured she wouldn’t count. Stupid me. Stupid Bedder-½. When she finished she counted every single braid, that’s 32 braids. I did the math. $64 dollars. We tried to reason with her, but she was a big Bahama Mama that was not going to budge. Suckers. Bedder-½ was bummed out after that. We went down to a more secluded beach lined with feathery pines and coconut trees. I found us some coconuts and pried the husk off using my technique that I learned in the South Pacific. Drank it, then cracked it open and ate it. It was still windy and chilly so we retreated back to Our Lucaya and got in the hot tub along with a dozen other idiotic tourists. Then we had lunch at this Greek Restaurant where the owner was counting all the money and bitching at the waitresses right there in front of us. Bad Karma prevailed in that they added our bill wrong and it was half as much as it should have been but we didn’t say anything. I don’t know what we did after that, went back to the pool or beach, I’ve been reading Tim Sandlin “Sorrow Floats”, read about half of it before I got bored with it. Been reading Hambone, a great literary review out of UCSC. They publish lots of truly experimental stuff with metaphysical themes, a good fit for my work. Christmas dinner was a fiasco. We made a reservation at this Italian restaurant, Portobellos. Table wasn’t ready so we sat in the bar and had a drink. They never called us. Went back in, waited in line, waited, to be told to wait some more. Everybody trying to schmooze their way into a table. I finally got a table without having to yell. But then we sat down and nobody was bringing us anything, and everybody was pissed off that they were waiting for hours. It was almost comical, this fancy resort that was coming apart at the seams, the wait staff split and they had filled the restaurant but couldn’t handle it. We split even though the rumor was this was true everywhere. All these tourists were walking around just trying to find food and it was getting late and getting down to a matter of survival. We found this powdunk place and ordered lobster and conch and shrimp, and they sedated us with Bahama Mamas while we waited, and we just sat and people watched. Bar across the way where the locals were busting into spontaneous rap and song, trying to outdo the previous. By the time we ate it was ten o’clock and the restaurant was closed and was probably the last one open and there were still hungry tourists prowling about.
We wanted to take a snorkeling trip to this remote island, going out there by Kayaks, but they cancelled the trip due to bad weather, so instead we went on the inland kayak trip. Chipper Bahamian picked us up at our hotel and took us to the staging area where we got in a bus with 20 or so other tourists. We had two tour guides that were quite funny and amusing and tried to keep us occupied on the drive out. We split up and half went kayaking and half went on the nature walk. We went on the nature walk first with this guide Jeffrey. He showed us all these plants and took us into a couple of caves that were really cool. Crystal clear deep water with fishes and stuff in the caves, vines and bromeliads hanging from the ceiling. The cave goes on underwater for miles. Weird to think that the island is really like this hollow limestone rock. Then we went to Gold Rock beach which was incredible. The kind of beach they use in commercials and travel brochures—picture perfect. I swam in the water but I was like the only one. We were supposed to go snorkeling but it was way to choppy and the reef was way out. We had lunch with a rat. Then we got in kayaks and paddled through the Mangroves. It was cool. At times it was so narrow that you couldn’t use paddles and just pulled yourself along by the Mangrove roots. The water was clear and you could see fishes and stuff. Bedder-½ and I were the best team. This other couple kept getting lodged into the mangrove roots and getting stuck. We had it down, after our experience in Acadia. Our guide gave us an interesting spiel on the biology of Mangrove swamps and taught us some Bahamian vernacular. When the locals talk to tourists, their English is very proper. But when they talked amongst themselves you can’t understand a thing they are saying, even though our guide at first insisted that they were just talking fast and didn’t have an accent like the Jamaicans. At first he taught us dumb phrases like “no problem, mon” but then he taught us some better words, like “bungy” for a woman’s butt, and “doggy” for a man’s penis. That night we went to eat at some restaurant overlooking Count Basie Square, terrible service as usual, but it was okay because we just people-watched and watched this band play amidst all the lights and Christmas decorations. The kids were dancing and running around.
We never did get a chance to snorkel because it was so windy. The last day we were just hell bent on getting sun. Had Breakfast and then laid on the beach until it was too cold from the wind to bear and went to the hot tub and the pool until we were kicked out and then we went to the secluded beach and laid out more. I gathered more coconuts and built pyramids and swam in the ocean and buried myself in the sand and we exfoliated ourselves and then Bedder-½ got this rash on her chest so we split. Probably a good thing as we were getting burnt. Had conch curry for dinner at Pisces and then went to Count Basie square and sat at some outdoor bar downing daquiri’s (after a bottle of wine at dinner and a couple of beers before dinner watching the sunset …) we were pretty lit by this time. Watching the American ladies make sluts of themselves and pick up on the young Bahamian bucks. Watched the young kids playing and dancing, and another band, and this time stayed until the limbo roller skater came out. He limboed under with skates, limboed under the stick on fire, an old 69 year old limboed … it was pretty cool. Even got the audience into it.
Woke up and had breakfast. Went to the beach one last time and then to the airport and back to NY. Actually got our passports stamped. The Bahamas is not exactly our idea of a cultural adventure, but definitely a nice vacation. The best part is that we didn’t have to come back and go right back to work. Still on vacation in NY. Worked out and went to Japanese food.
Went shopping down by Union Square. Saw “Before Night Fall”. Incredible performance by Javier Bardem. Plot was a bit random. Ate Mexican at Gonzalez Gonzalez. Worked out. Preparing for the big snow tomorrow.
[continued (January—March 2001) in post #947]