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Thursday . . . As I trudged across the huge white striped and sometimes shaded parking areas towards my apartments management office in the 104F degree heat, I smiled as I found myself approaching a young lad as he counted down while his two playmates scurried away from him and ducked behind bushes and cars. They were playing 'Hide and Seek' just like I did forty-five years earlier. I'll bet children have been playing that game for thousands of years. Not too long ago Saddam Hussien was playing that game in Iraq. The office was temporarily closed, so I sat on a short decorative wall in the shade (where the aforementioned temperature is measured) and read the free Frontdoors newspaper that I found carefully rolled and fitted into my Saltine-sized cubby in the honeycomb of my building's mailboxes. Planning ahead, because I had to spend an unexpected 600 bones due to Aili's Texas wedding, I had put off some June bills and paid ahead about 35% of my upcoming July rent last week and the remainder due July 1st, when paid, will leave me with maybe 22 cents for the next week. For the first seven days of July, I'll be thawing out unidentifiable zip-locked shapes removed from my freezer praying they are still barbecue-able and edible. Which brings me to what I was thinking of this morning at work as I stepped outside to sweep up the bushel of seeds the monster Century Plant had dropped on the sterile, black, asphalt. I was surprised they weren't dancing around like popping corn at minute number two in the microwave. I was also thinking to myself, that even though as an hourly-paid employee, I work up to eighty-eight hours in one week (a Saturday and Sunday not working, feels like a week off) and spend money like a person from Bangladesh landed in downtown Tokyo, I have very little discretionary income. At the same time, I work in a residential community where I see "my people" trade-in a luxury vehicle with less miles than you'd put on a Segway in a year, only to drive in seated behind the Momo steering wheel of a new $167,000 vehicle. And then leave that investment in their Scottsdale garage for ten months out of the year, while they retreat to the northern hemisphere to escape the dry desert heat. You know how many of you open your mail and every single day have a bill or two or three to pay? I have one or two or three bills to pay every month. That's a little bit of hyperbole, but I really spend very little money. I use a debit card, not the credit card that is sitting in solid ice in the old peanut butter jar in my freezer. Hell, I very rarely stop at a convenience store much less buy expensive prepared (TV dinners) food. I never go through a fast food drive-in. Oh, oh, I took a break from my writing and set my Dish Network to Sirius's "Love Music" Channel. Yup, I'm missing the Mrs. Dr. Malamud again and am surprised by how many of my all time favorite songs are classified as love songs. Damn, I wish I hadn't gone to stay with her for three days two weeks ago. If I don't get a handle on these emotions, I'll be weeping like Howard Dean at the Democratic Convention this Summer. And speaking of her, she also labors eighty hours a week (while being management, she is paid for only forty) earning approximately 35% more than I do. Of course, she endures a much higher level of stress, I assure you. And while she faces higher expenses, being she lives in a 3,300 square foot two story home, she too has minimal discretionary income. And with all that said, I come around to my thought of what I've come to believe everyone wants when everything is said and done. When Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is examined, after the needs of food, drink (tequila, naturally) and housing are met, I believe the only thing that matters is whether you are happy or not. Is MDM happy? She says she is. How Mrs. Dr. Malamud can be happy without Dr. Malamud around is beyond me <grin>. But she can be the only true judge of her own happiness. And your Dr. Malamud, as he sweeps up plant droppings like a below-minimum-wage illegal alien, is fairly happy. Sometimes you might even catch me wildly laughing at my own jokes, told out loud, or on rare occasions, dancing. I'm happier than a majority of the people I meet while I'm working or skirting the aisles of Safeway looking for the best bargains. Maybe that explains why I'll be experiencing my third year in the profession so many American's look at as if it had just slipped out of their rectum. But, I would be so very much more happier if I made my living writing, teaching or acting and actually earned the six digit annual income my efforts should easily command. What's keeping me from moving into those arenas? Fear. Sloth. Fear of Sloth?
Saturday . . . I'm torn between sliding across the leather seat of Mr. G's borrowed Cadillac and driving down to the ink aroma filled Barnes and Noble, or staying home, saving an hour of driving and preparation time (hey, I have to put on my face, eh?) versus, maybe just laying on top of my $400 bed sheets MDM bought long ago and falling asleep. One thing about being in the habit of waking up at 4:00AM is that even on weekends I put in a full day, because I cannot sleep past 6:00AM without being awakened by hot burning sweat seeping under my closed eyelids. Weekends not working are an unusual occurrence in the sad life of Dr. Malamud and their relaxing rarity is one of a number of urgings prodding me to search for a five day a week job. Driving the 300 horsepower, 300,000 pound DeVille is another thing that makes me miss the days of earning $6,000 a week and being able to own to pilot luxury land yachts such as my Alaskan white 420SEL Mercedes. With the forty-first anniversary of the suicide of the unbelievably talented author Ernest Hemmingway only two days past, I am very aware that I must venture out into the public as an un-badged, un-licensed, private citizen, lest I too become unnaturally isolated and also possibly fatally depressed. Even though I am in awe of the superior intelligence of many around me, I've finally come to realize, not in a haughty way, not in a manner that I actually had something to do with it, that I too am highly intelligent. Highly intelligent, but sadly, not highly disciplined. And I have always wondered, how many of us, with the God-given gifts to see and feel and grasp and comprehend and emotionalize so much more of the fabric of life, than most people, are ever happy? Are we ever fulfilled? While I delight in the perceptions and delightful abilities the Lord has blessed me with, I too often succumb to the burdens of all I see, and know, and feel and fall into depression. It's like the science fiction movie where the hero puts on special sunglasses and can see all the alien-monsters who appear to everyone else as normal people. My own sibling, "Crazy Brother Pekka", who, being legally blind, memorized the eye chart to enter the Armed Services decades ago, is incredibly intelligent and incredibly troubled. Not that I'm never happy, as I've stated before, I appear far happier than most people I meet. And I meet hundreds strangers each week. It's just that I see the sadness in their lives. I see the sadness coming in the young people's lives. It's unavoidable. I see the optimism and the vitality being squeezed out of our children as they age. It's all so depressing. Speaking of depressing, they wanted me to come into work this Saturday. On two hours notice. Ever wonder how much your free time is worth? How much you would pay to have an hour of free time? A day of free time? Well, my eight hours of laying around on a Saturday, just cost me one hundred and forty dollars and ninety six cents. And it was worth it.
Friday . . . Wow. Oh wow. Just finished watching the DVD of Secret Window and it was amazing. As an actor (which, after thirteen years of study, might indicate I understand a little bit more about drama than many people in his audience) I believe Johnny Depp may be one of the finest actors of the 21st Century. (Remember we are only into the fourth year of this century and I have yet to be 'discovered'. <grin>) It's also strange, with literally thousands to view, that I picked out this one. A movie which has a struggling writer struggling with a long drawn-out divorce. Gosh, does that sound at all familiar? After a couple, or three or cuatro, doctor-prescribed one and one-half ounce oral injections of Jose Cuervo, I feel so damned optimistic! I want to reach for my acting and writing goals. (Never mind that I'm so scared I have never set any.) I want to move to LA and start hitting the offices of the casting agents, every. Single. Day. Until they take a "chance" on me. I want to mail out book proposals . . . then, six hours later, after a sleep usually interrupted by a triplet of trips to the toilet, feeling the sting of the agave tequilana cactus and struggling to rip through the gauze I woke up wrapped in, I soon settle down to the going-nowhere, doing-not-a-fucking-thing-with-my-life job. Just like my daddy predicted, that I could never do better than him. That I would never amount to anything. How important is it what parents say to their children?
Monday . . . Here I am, after having worked on both Saturday and Sunday, on a Monday afternoon again rushing towards oblivion, having injected four precisely measured doses of honey-colored Cuervo in less than ninety minutes. However, having the finely functioning filtering Finnish liver the size of a Chevrolet Aveo, I am able to do this quite easily and without placing my body in serious danger . . . providing I've hidden my cars keys sufficiently well. So, readers, as you have heard elsewhere, "Do not try this at home." You know what the effing problem is? The damned Hallmark Channel, switched running re-runs of Magnum P.I. to only 11PM at night. They used to have him on at 4PM and 11PM. 11PM is past my bedtime since I get up at 4AM to go to my incredibly scenic but under-compensated place of employment. And, before the Hallmark Channel halted the afternoon showing of Magnum PI, by 5PM each weekday, I felt just fine after watching another episode of "G-Rated" television. G-Rated television, from the days when actresses relied on the size of their acting abilities, not the size of their breasts. Now, I'm watching the DVD Perfect Score and even though it is an MTV Film, it seems rather fun. How did I choose it at Blockbuster? I chose it because it was the only one out of several copies left on the shelf. That is also why I did not grab one of the forty "Masturbate and Commander" DVDs or whatever the latest Russell "I am God" Crowe epic film is titled. "The Perfect Score" is about the trauma of taking an SAT; Stanford Achievement Test. A test which attempts to quantify how much you actually, really, permanently, forever learned during high school and is used as a "go" or "no go" for college admission or for instant enrollment into the rank of a ditch digger. I always detested this #2 pencil-dotted bastard quiz of all quizzes, and I am coughing up fearful and painful memories of three decades earlier when I was matriculating at Cortez High School. Gawd, I always hated tests. I always believed (even as an acne-faced teenager with nickel-sized pustules, who couldn't possibly know a damned thing) that tests are not an inventory of what you have learned, but are a "test" of who has the best memory. Although the MDM is quite intelligent, she also has a fine memory, along with the knowledge of precisely how multiple choice tests are laid out and consequentially, she always scores high. Back in the here and now, due to a electrical power station fire, the utilities are all begging us to keep our thermostats set several degrees higher than normal. I'm preparing to take a nap in the 78F degree climate of my apartment, wishing I could make it colder. But, I have to do my part, right? And then I remember that, from 9AM to 9PM, Arizona Public Service charges me four times more per kilowatt hour than it does from 9:01PM to 8:59AM, so I couldn't afford to turn it down even if I wanted to.
Sunday . . . Just got home from a ten hour day in the desert north of Phoenix. At 103F degrees and probably 35% humidity, I kept the door shut most of the ten hours. This is the time of the year, the only time of the year, the humidity climbs and we finally get some badly needed rain. In a normal year we will get maybe six inches. Yes, we do live in a real live desert. Driving Mr. G's overpowered Cadillac Ark home after 6PM this afternoon (Six O,clock and you can still need sunglasses) I was quite depressed believing that I had to awake tomorrow at 4:15AM to get ready to go to work. Get up and go to work after only nine hours away from work. That's no way to live, even if you don't have a life, like me. I was thinking I'd be missing out on my medicinal mescal. When one works seven days a week, one does lose track of time, for "tomorrow" is Sunday, a rare Sunday not working. Sigh. I wonder how my prescription tequila will taste tonight chased with Diet Vanilla Coke instead of my usual iced-tea frosted with three bags of Sweet & Low? Not bad. But unless completely cease drinking carbonated beverages for an extended time, you never really realize that they do not quench your thirst. They just keep you wanting more. Just like Dr. Malamud, I keep you wanting more. Today, at work, I was slinging my everyday sexual perversion and filth about the office (regarding my fantasies with that most beautiful of creatures: Woman) and the far older Cornelius turned to me and said, "And you're the guy who always has the Christian music blasting." To which I responded that, "Yes. But I am a real Christian, I'm the same outside the church as inside. That's why they don't want to see me too often." And then he accused me thinking of all the pretty girls while I'm at church and I said, "No, I think about all the pretty married women at church. All the women I crave are married, especially Pat." Pat, put my makeup on during our last, hell, during every play down there. And for a guy, for this guy, to have a lady apply makeup to your face, touch your face while you have a huge crush on here is quite emotionally erotic. We were in the church basement, don't go thinking anything else. Gawd, you are so filthy. And the sad part is, now that through my own experiences I can see, I can feel the hurt in other people's marriages and I can tell there is great pain in Pat's marriage. I feel so sorry for her and Mr. Pat. Pat is so much like the Missus Dr. Malamud it is uncanny. I guess I prefer a certain type of lady. And some of the non-negotiable characteristic traits are that she be modest, have class, display intelligence and be pretty for her age. "Pretty for her age." (Yes, I am realistic enough to know people do get older, people do age.) These are all attributes which I'm sure Morgan Fairchild possesses too. <grin> Speaking of sadness in marriage, I had a transaction with this man & wife couple, and she, believing my bullshit, has a crush on me that is as evident as the moustache on our Governor Janet Napolitano. And, knowing the thousands of connections and experiences husband and wife share I just want to tell him, "You have got to spend more time with your wife or you will lose her." He won't be losing her to me because her "crush" would quickly fade when she discovered I was as a responsible provider as Patrick Swayze is a responsible pilot.
Friday . . . Just read an email from the Mrs.Dr.Malamud advising me that she had the "divorce papers", but she couldn't afford to file them. That kind of shook me up.
Brought the reality of my non-marriage front and center. Of course I've gone through most of the trauma of a divorce already. Even Oprah wouldn't have any tears left for me. I have mixed feelings about it now. I'd most certainly rather not go through with it . . . but she does have the knack of being so condescending towards me, that at times, I feel like I'm a Secret Service guard for Senator John Kerry. And that condescension really, really, really rubs me the wrong way. Changes need to be made on both sides. That's what this whole exercise in writing was about, my up-coming divorce. Why, why, if it comes to fruition, what will I write about? <grin> One of my client's passed away the other day at age 59. Millions in the bank. Retired. A drunk like me. No, a drunk more like Glen Campbell. And I don't blame Glen. Hell, if you have millions of dollars and millions more coming in basically forever, and you don't have to go to work every day and you like drinking, what is the problem? Yes, I know the problem is, that other than Stephen Hawking, none of us live in a vacuum. I have to admire all the independently wealthy who are not drunks. The MDM has two drinks and is hungover and grouchy for two days. In contrast, Dr. Malamud must begin gently sipping alcoholic brews at five pee em and continue well into 'after-hours' in a not always successful attempt to earn a headache. Genetics, dear reader's. Once again, "Do Not Try This at Home." An exception would be if you are a female, pretty, large breasted, and possess an IQ of at least 130, you may "Try This at Home". However, it must be under my personal "hands-on" supervision. Ahem. Apparently, before I was married and possibly into the beginning years of my marriage . . . okay, okay . . . the first twelve years, I was swilling beer the way Lance Armstrong does water. Before I was married, I guess I was suffering alcoholic blackouts. And because I assumed, like you probably do, that "blackouts" were when you physically blacked out and hit the floor, I didn't know I was suffering them. It's like having leprosy and not knowing it and wondering why your forearm just fell off. An "alcoholic blackout" is when your memory blacks-out, ie., you have no recollection of what you've done past a certain moment in a night of socially-aware drinking. I thought my friend's were making all these stories up, ". . . Yeah! Hammurabi, you single-handed closed down that Village Inn Pizza! . . . " I'm sure it stems from the manner in which I was raised by my alcoholic Nazi-father and Finnish mother. (All Finn's are alcoholic's <grin>) And that is not an excuse, just a reason for my occasional bouts of battling the bottle, whether it contains Cuervo or Heinken. There is no more important (or when all is said and done) higher paying employ, than being a successful parent. Sadly, so many American's, too many American's, think parenting is something that can be put-off or passed off to babysitter's, teacher's, cable-television or the child's peers.
Saturday . . . Two days off in a row. As my checking account attests, it's becoming a way too common occurrence. But do I savor the "unpaid" days of my life. In total, if I live as long as my pappy did, I've got only 10,981 days left. In this book I was reading I learned that just because "X-number" of hours passed in your life, it does not mean that they all whisked by at the same sixty minutes per hour speed limit. Our perception of time does speed up and slow down. For my student reader's (oh, yes, if you are reading me, you are all students <grin>) picture sitting in a class you hate. Time moves pretty slow, eh? Forever will I remember the two weeks (costing three hundred cash dollars per day in the 1980s) while the MDM and I lolled away at an exclusive resort in the British West Indies. The time absolutely crawled along at the pace of a sand crab traversing one of its laundry-soap-white beaches. It was delicious. I imagine I'll be phoned with some "emergency" Saturday and my quandary is: When to start drinking on day off number one? Since my shifts run anywhere from 10PM to 6AM, or 6AM to 10PM, I have determined I'm not confined to the "I'm-not-an-alcoholic" accepted drinking Tee Time of one minute after 12 O'Clock Noon. Tonight, Friday evening, I'm floating along on the cactus juice and watching one of my all-time most favorite film's, Ninth Gate. If I was feeling sad, I'd be watching the 1985 DVD, Into the Night
with Jeff Goldblum and a very smooth-skinned Michelle Pfeiffer in a screenplay in which the beautiful wife two-times her incredibly intelligent and handsome husband. Ahem. Anyway, since the first time I saw it in the late 1980s, it still never fails to make me laugh. It never fails to fill my drooping spiritual sails. And Michelle Pfeiffer, who, shall we say? necessarily appears nude in one short scene, is one of the few Hollywood beauties who as she matures, continues to become even more attractive, even more handsome. (That damn David Kelly!) Viewing The Ninth Gate, I'm noticing things in the titles at the beginning, I'm noticing how the screenplay is logically laid out, how everything in its one hundred and thirty-three minutes is there for a reason. I am again being amazed at how very intricate and thousand piece puzzle-like a really good movie is. And, like I've mentioned before, what finer subject could any movie have, other than books? Using my "2 for $14.99 One Topping Pizza Hut" coupon, I phone-ordered my pair of pies. I will eat a few of the top-of-the-roof-of-the-mouth-burning slices tonight, ziplock-bag the remainder and then, like a two hundred pound Black Widow spider, unwrap and completely consume over the next two to four days the remaining cold morsels. For me, it's like home-cooking. Sure do miss the MDM working the range and the oven. And the dishwasher. And the vacuum cleaner. And the . . . The operator told me that, ". . . tonight it would be 65 minutes . . ." but, I've never seen them take longer than twenty-five. (Of course, I always add-on a $3 tip and am also always reminded of how, as a sixteen year old piloting a gray 1950 Desoto with a back seat as large as most living room couches, considered it a good night if I averaged a simple dime (10 cents) tip from each of my deliveries.) Hell, my tony Paradise Valley apartment is maybe one thousand feet away from the churning 600F degree Pizza Hut ovens. There goes my timer, "beep-beep-beep-beep", optimistically set at 35 minutes. No one is rapping on the door yet. Drat! "Tap, tap, tap". Sounds coming from the front door? Yes! Pizza, in 38 minutes, they really must be busy.
Saturday . . . I'm back at the Barnes & Noble brick and mortar bookstore that I wrote so many of my pages inside of last winter. Earlier, as I stepped out of the handsome Peugeout, and while pulling out my B&N gift card, my Visa debit, and grabbing my clear plastic satchel containing the four books I reference during my writing, I was delightfully assaulted with the sharp and spicy aroma of Uncle Sam's Pizzas and then with more expensive flavors floating over from the kitchens vents of Mimi's Cafe and Red Robin. I spy an auto model that I do not recognize, as I approach and identify it, I see a Kerry/Edwards sticker on the rear window. Inside, at the Starbucks, as I pour my five packets of Sweet & Low into my typically awful coffee, I think that, "Being here is a lot more hospitable than sitting alone in my apartment." Sadly, I wasn't seated very long before I was reminded of one of the minor annoyances of venturing out. Cell phones. I had an afternoon dream about life with the MDM, almost as if we were still married. And, in the logic known only while you are within a dream, this one centered around the location of the clothes washing machine. On his short radio program, Garrison Keillor had mentioned Tom Robbin's Novel Another Roadside Attraction which I had plucked from the shelves tonight. Even though it is advertised as being among the currently popular (and highly profitable) books debunking the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ, I'm certain my faith can stand up to its size 10 font assaults. Within a few pages I'm laughing and wondering how an author comes up with such wacky people as "Amanda". I look out at the aisles and witness a slim and attractive, from the rear anyway, woman possibly near my own age. A rare site. After waiting the appropriate number of minutes, I leave my table and comb the rows, but do not find her. However, I do see many books I own, or more important books I have actually read. And that is notable, for something like 90% of all books bought are never read. As a matter of fact, just this afternoon, via parcel post, I received from a book-discounter another five books for my own library including the complete works of Shakespeare (my last one fell apart) and a 'pop-up' book of nightmares. I'm becoming pretty much disgusted with my low income lifestyle fueled by my low income income. While thinking of my next sentence, I gaze up to the ceiling of the huge bookstore, wondering which mirrored panel has an attic-dwelling employee looking down. Looking down for book burglars. Gawd, I love books. I love the beautiful art many of the paperbacks flash at me like cheerleader's pretty panties you see, but you're not supposed to see. I love the smell of the ink. I sometimes carefully spread open the pages of a freshly printed book and stick my nose in to inhale the fumes and I am flung back to the cool and carpeted floors of The Phoenix Public Library circa 1959. (Of course, I also purposely stick my schnoz in the path of the two-stroke exhaust cloud fleeing the pipe of a gas powered string trimmer and inhale . . . and hold it.) What emotions I experience as I run my fingers over the multi-textured covers made with 21st Century techniques that almost allow the sighted to read braille . . . gosh, I need a girlfriend.
Friday . . . I am about so fed up with my low income life. It's damned depressing when I search the 'Want-Ads', knowing what I am capable of, knowing of all I've learned, knowing of all the books I've read and all the training I've had, and solely because I do not have a specific college degree (circa 1974) I am seemingly qualified only as the assistant of an assistant plumber, or a used car salesman at a used car only lot on Van Buren Avenue. I'm not even good enough to work with the whore-salesmen-lying-bastards on Camelback Road. It's so odd that in any company that I'd go to work for, I would soon rise to the top 1% of most valuable employees (and threaten the tenure of the President or CEO, most likely both) but reading the 'Want-Ads' (well, I did read them back in January, 2004) but in reading the 'Want-Ads', they do not want anyone as unqualified as Dr.Malamud darkening their HR doorstep. My own father, from sometime after August 1945 until he founded his own company in 1959, with a borrowed $10,000, had twenty-six different employers. So perhaps it's best I not even attempt employment outside of self-employment <grin>. Even with the young Mainio being in Texas rooming and working with the MDM for the summer, I still have expended every single drachma earned. I imagine if I grossed around $40,000 a year, only $8,000 more than I reported to the I.R.S. in 2003, I'd be fairly happy. Happy with my immediate income anyway. Not my future. Not my savings account. But 'financially happy' for the moment. I have mentioned before, what a comfort it is to me to be absolutely certain, that without a doubt I would not be commensurately that much happier even if my income were to go up by twenty times. I know that because I am surrounded by individuals earning $40,000 a month and more. With a surprisingly few exceptions, I'd say I'm far happier than these individuals who have, granted by using their wits, putting in hard work and enduring sacrifices, attained a level of wealth that 99.8% of American's will never enjoy. (Well, the guy I know who won the Powerball Lottery didn't really work that hard for it. And do you know what? If I had to rate the unhappiest millionaire - or billionaire - in my acquaintance, I would put this family at the top of the "sad heap.") Can you imagine laboring a lifetime, ignoring growing children, living the "Cat's in the Cradle" life, suffering through divorce(s), heart attacks, scorching stress and after too many arduous years and retirement, only then discovering that an eight-digit on-line bank balance, summer and winter homes, garages crowded with cobalt-black Mercedes in the East and Alaskan-white Lexi in the West, more jewels than the Queen of England, front row season tickets to the pro-ball teams and the symphony and progeny possessing Ivy League diplomas seemingly scribled on saffron, still fails to deliver the promised happiness? Or sense of fulfillment? Or even an occasional smile?
"I've long since retired and my son's moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind."
He said, "I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time.
You see, my new job's a hassle, and the kid's got the flu,
But it's sure nice talking to you, dad.
It's been sure nice talking to you."
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me,
He'd grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me."
Cat's in the Cradle and speaking of lost dreams, take an ear to "Taxi" (#1) also.
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