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Since the ex-Mrs.Dr.Malamud has chosen to revert to her maiden name, in a bid to make her seem more human, from this page forward, I will refer to her as Hanna-Marie Malamud
Saturday . . .
To sit and simply relax. Not to read, not to write, just to sit and think. Talked with Mainio on the cell phone during most of the thirty-five minute 'drunk-hours' PM drive into work tonight. I was thinking about Harry Chapin's song, Cats in the Cradle (or the Jewish version: 'Cats on the Dreidel') and how about one day too soon Mainio will be too busy to talk to me because he will have his own children to tend to.
My life really sucks--not that I don't have the ability to change it . . . I look around my apartment without even the room unpack all my meager boxes. Unpack my life. My sad life and my sad boxed belongings. I stack them against the walls as if I'm moving still. In my mind I keep seeing the place looking like the Mel Gibson character's walk-up in the movie Conspiracy Theory, with cartons and newspapers stacked shoulder high with barely room to squirm between them like a rat in a laboratory maze.
I'm holding out so much hope for my new psychiatrist, it's so hard believing that I need someone else to tell me what to do. And then I remembered that my paid counsellors are functioning as the parents I never had. I had parents, but they had their own problems, too many to give me much verbal advice.
My future stems on getting a decent-paying job. Then I could stop working seven days a week for weeks and weeks on end. Then I could stop cutting back on everything, especially the Bush Honey Baked beans I seem to eat far too often for breakfast and lunch. I could get my knee operated on so its pain stops ripping me awake ready to battle the badger that is gnawing on the southern end of my femur. I could take a vacation. (My last vacation was from November 1991 until sometime in 2001. Ten years is not enough, my friends.) I could move to a safe place. I could pay someone else to pack and move me. I could sign a mortgage for a maintenance-free townhome. I could follow my dreams. But what about that damned badger?
It's so odd> that I have so much to offer and yet I'm fearful of even exposing myself. And what better job could there be than writing? Why am I looking elsewhere? Writing can be done from anywhere, anytime for virtually anyone. And, at least in my lifetime, there is very little chance that anything non-human or anyone out of country is going to replace writers.
I am at the farthest north Starbucks once again, prior to going to work. A group in the corner was talking and vaguely listening, I assumed the big talker was a soldier from Iraq. Maybe that was because I am reading a book about Islam. In any case, he is not fresh from that battlefield in the Middle East, but from the war-torn streets of Hollywood during a writer's strike.
Closer to my own table, I hear the young people speaking from the heart, exposing their dreams, their innermost hopes and thoughts. Delicate, yes, almost delicate conversation even though it is between a boy and a girl.
The 'adults' at the 'Hollywood' table are rowdy and either trying to impress, 'the actor' or listening to him run through some often told, and maybe even carefully memorized, stories of Hollywood.
Him being here is not an accident. Does God want me to be an actor? In Hollywood?
Friday . . .
At the counter of the far north Starbucks, the patron, or is it guest?, ahead of me insisted on paying in pennies, or was it mills? In any case there might have been five people in front of me vs. the one for the time it took. And then once I got my mug filled with magma hot Sumatra crud, my first daring sip reminded me of a hash pipe that badly needed cleaning.
Divorced for over four years and still having a hard time of it. That's not right, if 'right' even enters into it. My head, my brain has accepted it, almost immediately accepted it. It's simply my heart.
I'm at the eco-friendly store of the world and I half expected the employee to empty the garbage by grabbing it with her bare hands and pitching it into an ancient rusting wheel barrel hammered out of recycled aluminum cans held together with silver solder. But no, they use planet-killing plastic trash bags just like the rest of us non-Gai worshippers.
The last couple of days I've been sad. Not depressed, but simply sad, which I suppose is an improvement. My sadness flows from two fonts 1) the financial-I'll-never-get-out-of-this-hole-I've-dug and 2) I'm still divorced and starting, once again, to get quite lonely. "Boo hoo", I know.
At Mainio's apartment this afternoon with Aili and her infant, Kimmo, when she revealed Hanna-Marie was coming to town next week. And I was once again reminded that, with her December 7th, 2003 divorce decree in hand, we are two separated adult people who, any longer, only have our three children in common. It still feels almost rude that she not tell me--even though we e-mail frequently-that she is coming to town. But I'm sure, as the only person who really knows me, she keeps her comings and goings secret to not hurt me even more.
I am so fortunate that her vindictiveness only struck out a few times or I could be in dire emotional straits.
On the financial front I've finally dug such a deep hole--although I continue to have many thousands of dollars available credit-wise--that indebtedness would require monthly minimum, MINIMUM payments I could not afford. Which exposes the fact that the 'credit grantors' still have no idea, or don't care, that their customers cannot pay their credit card bills.
I'm to the point where the despised and evil "B" word has raised it's yellow and college-ruled blue lined head. Yes, it's time to write out a budget.
Sunday . . . My five month old grandson--who naturally would not exist had Hanna-Marie and I not hooked up thirty-one years ago--has a circular bouncy thing he enjoys. His massive baby thighs fit through holes in a saddle that allows his feet to touch the floor. Pushing down with his legs he can bounce up and down for many minutes, if not for many hours, and if not for diaper changes and bottle breaks, possibly for many days.
As I amazed at his display of Niagara Falls type non-stop energy and looked at all the spinners and do-dads while listening to the various electronically generated animal noises that came from the circular flat surface that surrounded him, I imagined this blur of activity to be equivalent to a businessman ensconced behind his office desk.
And then it struck me that, what Kimmo is 'accomplishing' at his office, while bouncing up and down like a 100 compression golf ball dropped on concrete from a four story building, is just as delightful to God as any Wall Street derivatives broker inking a billion dollar deal aft of his agate and jade inlaid mahogany two-ton desk.
Because we will all die, and although we will be interred swathed in our finest linens, both Warren Buffett and Billy Graham alike, all will stand stripped-naked for judgment in front of our Creator with our lifetime of wealth and achievements reduced to so much belly-button lint gathered into and not quite filling a silver, knurled knitting thimble.
As I rocket through the last few decades of my largely wasted existence I think more and more often of my inevitable death. Having only known this life, I've always been of the opinion that it would never, ever, end. I think that 'opinion' is designed in to all humans, as our constant fight to stay alive at all costs, and under all conditions, keeps mankind stumbling along steamrolling over all obstacles.
Friday . . .
Working nights and going out during the day to sit in coffee shops, it almost feels I am retired. Again. On my third day off from work, and like some depressed movie star, having not left my far too-cozy 700 square foot apartment during the proceeding forty-eight hours, I forced myself up and out this morning at 5:00am, an hour when I would normally be wrapping up an eight hour workday.
Trudging out to the dew covered and fog shrouded Peugeot, with a start I realized a large portion of my February rent would be coming out of increasingly diminishing credit-balance of my bank card. I'm driving a seven-year old car bearing down on 100,000 miles, that apparently now needs it's third battery, wearing a knitted skullcap I found at a construction site, and I'm writing in my journal with a perfectly good pen I picked up off the street. Life couldn't be better.
Sitting at the Starbucks near Tatum and Thunderbird Roads at 5:30am, under the illuminated and speckled globe that resembles an ostrich egg, outside I notice the middle-aged executive park his FX35 Infiniti crossover diagonally to prevent door dings, during what is probably his only break during his hectic Friday.
I recall when door dings on my one-of-a-kind Hardy & Beck modified, 1981 745i turbocharged gray-market BMW, were a huge concern for me too. Now, as you might surmise, I am concerned with more basic things: like groceries (bought only on sale) from Albertson's, electricity, rent, my Cox broadband connection and either the golden flow of Jose Cuervo or the copay on my tiny white Wellbutrin-XL anti-depressant pills.
Mainio, my youngest son, took me up on my offer of trading the huge, elephantine, king-sized Malamud bed in exchange for him buying a new full-sized one for his creaking father. No longer will I be able to write about the "half-empty Malamud bed." However it does remain in the family.
Compared to the Malamud marriage bed, my new one is a lowrider. What's nice is that after a too long workday, it no longer requires a short jog, pushoff and leap to get up onto bed. Almost as if I was running hurdles again at Cortez High School. I was never good at that. Either high school or high hurdles. Who was? Greg Hull. Everyone hated him.
So odd, that obeying my thirty-year habit, I found myself continuing to sleep on 'my side' of the bed (the middle being reserved for 'the spot'), the right being her side. Silly me, when you're two hundred and forty pounds of spring steel muscle and blubber prone on a full-sized mattress, there are no sides of the bed any longer. Laying my paperback down as I fell asleep last night, I was surprised to find it on the floor this morning, where prior to that, it would have been simply waiting for me on the far side of the huge Malamud bed. But, with the space this new bed does not consume I can place more bookshelves and unopened moving boxes to fill-in my lonely room.
Thursday . . . The last day of the first month of the 'new' year and life gets no easier as I learned that the mother of the same person who put my only grandson into intensive care for four weeks (and almost killed him), will now be fighting for custody.
I was born in the middle of the last century when things still made sense. That has not been the case the last two or three decades.
It's 5am and I'm at my Starbucks on Tatum and Shea Boulevards, dealing with unfamiliar barristas. Treated pretty much with disdain at the counter as I reluctantly hand over two worn dollars for my $1.90 worth of oddly fresh java. But this indifference displayed is simply normal human behavior, for study after study has demonstrated, the more we see an individual, the more we like, or at least feel comfortable with them.
As beautiful lady, after beautiful lady enters to fetch their chocolate-vanilla-iced-double-latte, I am reminded why I enjoy hanging at this particular caffeine cafè. These affluent females, even when dressed quite casually, look great. Even the 'fatties' look good.
I recently read yet another self-improvement book whose main message, the one I harvested anyway, was that the kingpin of happiness is not placed on top of shovelfuls of moldy and musty 'shoulds', but instead with clearly written and dated goals. And, that as adults, it is our sole prerogative to scrape all the lifetime of shoulds splattered across our windshield of life so that we may, maybe for the first time, clearly see and purposely choose the correct road. I discovered that I could chose or not chose to do ... stuff.
It was as if a heavy boot was removed from my chest, when I was reminded once again that the 'shoulds' of my parents were buried with them. I no longer must frantically claw the dirt around their graves to carefully pull out all their shoulds to toss into my psychic napsack weighing me down with the ghosts of the dead.
Friday . . . While I wait for work to commence in an hour or so, I'm relaxing at my far north Phoenix Starbucks tonight. I put a $20 Starbucks card on my Visa debit card and earned a free mug of awful coffee from the too-perky, green-aproned barista. How nice. Didn't know I was going to be here or I would've worn a shirt that had all its buttons. Well the missing button on it is below table and gut overhang level, so I ought not to be noticed. Understand, when you work midnights you don't see too many people, and when you do, the lighting is hardly optimal.
Two darling little five, or six year old ballerinas are scooting and standing and sitting across from me chattering to their white shirt and tied dads. So cute. Certainly just back from a recital. And I'm sure what these little ladies did was so very important to them; but in the scheme of things it really wasn't. Just like so many of us believe what we're doing is so damned momentous, but in the scheme of things, we're about as earth-shattering as that one grain of salt that spilled out of the postage stamp sized tear-open package at McDonald's that bounced off the hard hamburger of our Double Quarter Pounder® with Cheese and tumbled unnoticed to the floor.
I feel just horrible. I'm certain a lot of it is due to my physical condition, having not exercised in five years and not eaten healthy or dieted in the past twelve months. While I'm not spending money on anything but necessities, my finances are crap and the major media is promoting a recession almost as if they'd welcome it and the Muslims have just murdered ninety-one innocent people using radio-activated bombs attached to Downs Syndrome afflicted girls. Can you imagine anything more peaceful than a Downs Syndrome person and how unbelievably twisted and against heaven and earth it is to use these gentle beings for weapons of war?
I'm not at all excited by the U.S. presidential offerings on my side, and entirely terrified of the other side's candidates, as they most likely are of mine.
In short I'm near suicidal, but unlike Britney Spears, I'm not oozing mega-bucks, so I doubt I'll be whisked off to The Meadows treatment facility in Hanna-Maries's hometown of Wickenburg Arizona, a short sixty miles to the west. I'm on my own. No mother, no father, no wife, no dog, no life.
Looking through the glass walls into the beauty parlor next door, the man, who I thought it odd to be getting serviced there, is actually a woman wearing an ass two axe handles wide, so I guess things could be worse.
Went to a café in Troon North for lunch (with my benefactor picking up the check) and let two slices of meatloaf so lovely it could be likened to angelfood cake, melt in my undeserving mouth. Their cost was what I could purchase several containers of the oven-fresh, cocaine-infused Safeway meatloaf for. A former client of mine was waiting on us. Even though she is in her fifties, and a tad overweight, but in a way that nicely exaggerates her former hourglass figure, she is still quite pretty. And her breasts, the size of fresh cantaloupes, and I'm certain as soft as the aforementioned angelfood cake, are demanding my attention. So there is hope in my finding a lady my age who isn't disgusting looking like me. It's a good thing that my own appearance has nothing to do with my hooking up with a lover <grin>.
In any case, in times like this, when I am so depressed, Wellbutrin-XL's effects be damned, my heart aches as I recall how it is when someone unconditionally loves you and you love them. Together, you can make it through anything. The freedom of the single life is unbeatable, but, I continue to miss Hanna-Marie and married life a lot. Alot.
Friday . . . I'm again seated at my far north Phoenix Starbucks, as there was a conspiracy of noise to keep me awake this evening, an evening I normally sleep during since I labor on the midnight shift. The phone rang, the radio I left on just a tiny, little bit in the bathroom sounded as loud as a huge blasting boombox riding on the shoulder of some bee-bopping, wanna be rapper, and the upstairs neighbor insisted on dropping his collection of multi-colored bowling balls from an approximate height of three feet on his floor. My ceiling.
I snagged a free chocolate donut from the nice barista here--little did she know---burdened with many such 'gifts' working the hours I do, that all their pastries are thrown away on a daily basis anyway. I'll always remember the darling, lovely, perky and incredibly confused Linda Larch, my pre-marriage Platonic live-in, bringing home from Kentucky Fried Chicken, leftovers, during the time they were experimenting with barbecued chicken and pork ribs. Oh my gawd, that was heaven. Back when I weighed 185 pounds and could do 50 pushups in 50 seconds.
Now, I understand that having come back to town, Ms. Larch is a single mom and a barrister (not barista), while I'd be lucky to find employment at the re-named KFC corporation's Cave Creek Road outlet. Not only because I'm not fluent in Spanish, but for the fact I would consume much of the profits. Feathers and all.
I hesitate to write the following, for I've gotten my hopes so high, but an employer called me and asked me to come down and interview for a job. Apparently his vaunted first choice didn't work out. If I had any pride left, I'd tell him to shove it. That's a joke dear readers ... and in any case, I have no pride remaining. Except maybe the pride of apartment "rentership".
At a 30% increase in income, in my mind, I've already paid off my credit cards and gotten my Peugeot some needed repairs (although that cracked windshield is 100% covered by insurance and I haven't even done that yet). Here at Starbucks, I was going to splurge and purchase an insulated, and more expensive, travel mug, if I could find one on sale, but none are.
I think I've written about this before, but I almost feel as if I'm in love. I feel high. I don't have the pressure as if a size thirteen lumberjack boot is on my chest. I don't harbor the resentment about having to work at this s**thole of a job. I feel like my eyelids are going all the way to the top, instead of hanging their usual one-third way down. Although I know the resulting 'bedroom eyes' make the women hot.
Yesterday I slept for about eleven hours straight and that's a sure sign of depression ... or maybe I have brain cancer.
Tuesday . . . I used to chuckle about how people felt bad or depressed during certain times of the year. No more.
This morning I was e-mailing to Hanna-Marie an article out of the WSJ that mentioned 'chocolate martinis', and, being it is near Valentine's Day, the romance associated with the partaking of them. Why this article? Because she mentioned a 'client' inviting her out to drinks and introducing her to chocolate martinis (and later, maybe the helmeted 'Mr.Happy'?) She was quite open about it in e-mails to me, and added that other employees (underling employees) accompanied them to the exclusive hotel's bar.
And then it struck me that today would have been our 31st Wedding Anniversary if she hadn't e-mailed me on Valentine's Day, five years ago--four days and five years ago, after several bouts of being plied with chocolate martinis, that she had decided to divorce me.
Half a decade and four days later, I don't know exactly what happened with the Chocolate Martini Man, nothing, I expect, as he was likely married, and a quite public figure in the corporation privately held by his billionaire family.
And besides, once Hanna-Marie emphasized that she did not love me anymore, it was none of my business. As it has been none of my business since the court declared the divorce final on Pearl Harbor Day of 2003.
I was such an integral part of the no-fault divorce process, the court did not deign to send me the consummated documents, I had to tearfully request copies from Hanna-Marie.
In any case, today, I did not consciously dwell on these so very sad and shocking happenings of five years ago, but yet I am quite depressed this evening. I cannot believe that I used to 'enjoy' feeling this way. Almost as if I was paying penance for her not entirely unreasonable choice.
Friday . . . Valentine's Day is over with and now simply a memory--not even a memory, just another x'ed out day on the calendar.
More and more I've been missing the connections with other people, the connections I've never been successful at making. The connections I don't want to make. The connections I must make if I don't want to be so damned lonely. The connections Hanna-Marie used to make for 'us'. That ability to make connections is probably a part, surely is a part of the female psyche.
Not that she instantly engineers deep and meaningful relationships, but at least she has acquaintances. And now, with the international nature of her employment, she has developed acquaintances all over the world.
While Dr.Malamud sits alone and facing a thin white drywall barrier between my apartment and the next, decorated with a calendar, a wall clock, and a caricature from happier times, all held firm by hourglass-shaped pushpins. There he pounds on his POS Dell laptop that's been rewarded more frequent flier miles (for warranty work) than he's scored in the past ten years.
Not to be mean, but instead to be truthful, the majority of my fellow workers are more victims of my secret, and usually disdainful scrutiny, than being under consideration as possible acquaintances. With their I.Q.s in the double digits and their vacant ambitions they would simply either fuel my depressions or make me feel like a god.
Again I'm at my far north Phoenix Starbucks, my travel mug sporting a white 'sticky-note' sticker that clearly states: "remove before serving" that was placed on it by an embarrassingly new barista.
My eardrums are taunt as they strain to listen to two separate conversations from two different locations around me. Vocal confetti that formerly blinded my thoughts and irritated me, but now serves as a balm on my loneliness.
For now my private life consists of reading, writing, watching dvds, sleeping, showering, shopping and gassing up. And those functions performed outside of my airliner-restroom-sized apartment are always done with strangers.
Saturday . . . I turn my notepad, labeled 'Journal' face down so no one will think I'm writing, well, my journal.
I was just reading a WSJ article dated February 19th, titled "When Work's Invisible, So are its Satisfactions."
I see the reflection of the young couple waiting at the Starbucks pickup counter, her arm snaked so tightly around his waist as if it were an anaconda crushing its prey.
Back to 'invisible work.' The article speaks about the so many jobs we endure for a paycheck yet, at the end of the day, week, year, life, we can point at nothing concrete that we've contributed to creating. I think being able to do that, to physically point at something we've made (like The Mason in Stud Terkel's play "Working") contributes mightily to an inner need that humans must feed. It might even explain seemingly contradictory happiness anthropologists witness as they explore dirt-poor, living-in-dung-huts, primitive societies. These 'primitives' can point to the physical evidence of what they have done, what they have accomplished. They may have one half of the life-span we have, in the civilized world, but they live 100% of their lives.
And thank God I was forced out of a formerly highly successful family business where my work and myself were the same thing causing unbelievable stress. And also thanks be, that I was fairly affluent for a decade or so and learned that money isn't everything, that it's almost nothing when measured against life. Against friends. Against family. Against love.
I saw the divorce-themed movie, The Squid and the Whale the other day. And while tears streamed down my face, I didn't feel like weeping or sobbing over the accurate portrayal, (almost too accurate if that can be said) of what divorce does to a family. And to the children.
Imagining Hanna-Marie, released from her bounds of marriage, past child-bearing age, mother of adult children, I was deeply saddened by the promiscuity of the divorced mom in the movie. One quite secular book on divorce stated that uncontrollable humping was a common aftermath of divorce. But unlike today anything goes sexuality, I am bound my 20th Century mores, where sexual intercourse means vastly more than the exchanging of bodily fluids; and in a lifetime, is limited to very few partners, whom you are seriously and entirely in love with and plan to marry for life.
The Bible says that God will never give us more than we can handle, and once again I am so thankful Hanna-Marie and I have always lived at least 1,000 miles apart during our separation, and now, in our divorced lives. We were 1,000 miles apart during our last ten years together and I was simply too blind to see it, to hear it, while Hanna-Marie was shouting to me from across the chasm.
It would have killed me (or I killed myself) to see her with another man during our shared divorce experience.
Friday . . . Almost five years, well, it is five years from February 14th, 2003 when, from faraway Texas her divorce intentions arrived in my inbox. In any case I'm still enjoying the not so pleasurable swings into depression. I was almost in tears over how damned lonely I was during my two days off. Of course I've also done damned little to end my isolation.
However, Mainio decided to begin a diet and exercise program, and I decided to join him on the diet part anyway, and I'm sure I'd feel much better than I do, but for a forty-eight hour throbbing headache above my right eye. But then again, like I've advised him on his migraines (I don't have migraines) that my own headaches go from long ago memories to reality, when I reach an obscene level of overweightness.
Losing weight will help my headaches (I pray) and may help me to feel good enough about how I look in my double-wide, full length mirror, to actually believe I could entice a female companion near my own age into a tête a tê over a $1.85 coffee.
I simply cannot get over Laura San Giacomo and her magnificent pectorals. I know she is the caller behind the "C-I-D" display of "Blocked Number", that I refuse to pickup when it rings.
But I think my whole problem--a great deal of my depression--aloneness is because I've replaced Hanna-Marie with, other than no-charge internet porn, with, uh ... nothing.
And as I imagine the never-going-to-happen reunion with the ex-Dr.Mrs. Malamud, Hanna Marie, I realize that other than learning how to sleep in the fetal position for up to fourteen hours out of any twenty-four, I have not improved me. While I'm certainly more aware of my duties, my position in a 'future' marriage, I'm afraid I've become too aware and have turned myself into some kind of simpering wimp, that no woman, worthy of the real me, would find in the least attractive.
Speaking of sleeping, sleeping, sleeping, two of my three prescriptions warn of both dizziness and drowsiness. Although having been dependent on asthma medicine since the 1950s, I've learned to savor the feeling of taking a step and 'traveling through the floor' to land many inches below what is visible. Or driving down the road, and rather than seeing the roadway disappearing below my hurtling Peugeot, instead, feeling and watching my French-built machine sliding backwards with the asphalt in the windshield flying away from me.
Sunday. . . I hear the clicking behind me as if someone, after reading the question, is answering 'yes' or 'no' on a laptop. Later, at the bar I glance a little too long at the Asian child seated with his obviously non-Asian adoptive parent and I wonder how many times in his life he is going to harvest that look from strangers.
I watch the East Indian long black-haired lady stumble in her high heels as she carefully pinches the clip-on mic to hold it close to her mouth, talks, and searches through the clearance aisles at Borders. As she careens past me I hear that she is speaking a language of her continent. I wonder if she came to this bookstore to talk on the phone or to read.
Monday. . . I'm at Borders and even though I've got my laptop, I'm handwriting this column.
I've forced myself to get out and about, and go public. Feels good to be among other mostly affluent and educated readers. Not that I'm either.
I'm eyeing the thirtyish, oh-so-cute redhead with her thick hair haphazardly thrown into a bushy, and somehow quite sexy, pony tail. She's wearing a beige cotton top, I think it's called a peasant blouse.
I'm imagining how sweet it would be (if she were mine) to slip my hands up beneath the untucked hem of her blouse to run my fingertips lightly across her so soft belly as I whispered in her ear how much I loved her.
From the huge library of photos I have stored on it, my laptop's screensaver function is flashing a different photo every eleven seconds, and some of them are pulling at my heartstrings.
As I think of the Super Kmart baked chicken (2 for $10) sitting on the floor of my Peugeot, I know I'm getting really tired of being poor. Of eating dollar a can soup and chili and being able to afford only the one dollar each used paperbacks at Half-Price Books.
My laptop winks and I see a scene of last year's summer sunset from my tony Town of Paradise Valley apartments and almost begin to tear up. I can recall the smells of spring and early summer and nostalgia for my teen years and my teen loves.
I look outside the Borders and see it's getting darker. Another lonely night at work is on that dark horizon. Another dreary morning as I keep artificially busy in order to keep awake. What a waste of a life.
Friday 3:00am. . . My day off, 2am and I can't sleep, so I leisurely drove the fifteen miles southwest to central Phoenix to see if my friend Amadeus was inhabiting his mostly darkened, multi-storied office (where his wife allows him to smoke his Cuban cigars) painting. Not painting walls, but very fine portraits.
He's the only person who sober, is weirder than Dr. Malamud. His sense of humor causes him to paint his countenance into scenes from Noah to the first moon landing. For although he sells insurance to make his millions, he is really an artist. He is really doing something with his life. Too bad he wasn't there. I left my business card jammed in his doorway and rushed away before the always observant police cornered me.
My city, my Phoenix, Arizona, has grown into a second LA. But with the darkness the night brings, everything seems smaller, cleaner, newer, and safer.
Very incredibly depressed during my hours of sleep today. At midnight, after six hours of bed rest, I was awakened by my cellphone vibrating to the call of the Mainio.
I figure my anxiousness and my heart beating like I was a Black man just pulled over by a posse of white-hooded, rope-weilding, red-necks, was due to my body's withdrawal from my SSRI prescription. An Rx, which at this point is consuming $40 a month, that I feel would be better spent on tequila or its worm-drowning cousin, mezcal. For rather than tamping down my emotions, as the psycho-pharmaceuticals are rumored to do, the fermented squeezings of the Mexican cactus let loose my emotions. Whether those are my true feelings, that's another question.
I'm still talking to myself a lot about suicide, even though I know I won't do it because it makes absolutely no sense. I'm going to pass away naturally within the next thirty years anyway, why rush it?
It was funny last night when I was watching the 1968 version of James Bond's Thunderball, and it showed a close-up of an atomic bomb, a British air force atomic bomb, and on its side was stencilled, in white, "Handle like Eggs." I thought that particular phrase, painted on such a supremely destructive weapon, to be a bit odd.
That's pretty much the way Hanna-Marie handled my emotions, like eggs. Speaking of her, thinking of her, Mainio slipped the other day during conversation, and mentioned that, "She doesn't have much to be happy about." It's like that Nora Jones song that says something about breaking up so "we both can be unhappy."
Hanna-Marie is relocating again, the third time in five years. That has got to be tough. In this instance she is boating from her secluded and frozen island to a more contemporary and temperate continental 48-state employ.
Speaking of eggs, I splurged and dropped into a Denny's to have a Grand Slam breakfast. At 3:00am, it was actually the only place open, with a counter, where I could sit and write. Where I could sit and write this.
As I piloted the Peugeot amid the empty Phoenix roadways this morning, every intersection, every building, every street sign, every skyline, had a story I could tell. But just like any geezer seen sitting alone on a park bench, rumpled, plaid shirt, beneath the funny looking hat only old men can wear, who would want to hear my stories of the Phoenix of old?
From Cave Creek Road, I headed west on Thunderbird and was hit by the not uncommon urge just to drive and drive and drive to somewhere better. Somewhere away from here. Sadly, whether I packed or not, I'd be bringing my almost six decades of emotional baggage with me.
Heard this lovely song the other night What's New, sung by Tucson Arizona's own, Linda Ronstadt. Not too many nights ago, it would have had me in tears. Now I simply feel sad for things lost.
written by Johnny Burke and Bob Haggart
© 1939 Marke Music Pub Co Inc
Warner Brothers Inc. Limerick Music Corp.
Reganesque Music Co. Tim-Co Music (ASCAP)
How is the world treating you
You haven't changed a bit
Handsome as ever I must admit
How did that romance come through
We haven't met since then
Gee but it's nice to see you again
Probably I'm boring you
But seeing you is grand
And you were sweet to offer your hand
Pardon my asking what's new
Of course you couldn't know
I haven't changed
I still love you so
Friday 8:00pm. . . At my far north Phoenix Starbucks, I'm looking at the mixed-race couple across from me, thinking to myself, "Don't they know it won't work?" Not because one is black and one is white, but because one is white and one is Asian. Asians very, very rarely marry outside their race. Oh to be thirty years younger and have problems like that. Problems 'like that' along with the three decades to solve them in.
I'm still struggling mightily with depression, the rare bright spot of my life being the joie de vivre my grandson Kimmo flings around like the food fight scene from 'Animal House'. What the hell happens to us? Life I guess. Virtually all of us, when we aren't working or asleep are spending most of our time and a lot of our income paying for someone else to 'make us happy', make us smile, when the happiness is inside of us all the time.
I finished one book, actually it was tripe, and for my next non-fiction tome, I chose the 1955 classic by Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island. I selected that title not because my 'ex', the lovely Hanna-Marie, lives on an island, but because I imagine it to be an up lifting read for a person who believes in the Christian God.
Especially for a person who believes in a God who loves the unloveable. Which is pretty much what I feel like. What observers might define as 'love' being expressed towards me by those close to me, is probably more correctly defined as pity.
I'm driving--I was driving to work this evening--(whose day saw 92F degrees) that this sadness has just got to stop. I've got to begin to focus on what I want, rather than how sad and hopeless I have painted my future.
The thought that many times in the past, a purposely cultivated Dale Carnegie-like positive attitude had obliterated my then pessimistic attitude, keeps poking its bright yellow smiley-face into my gloom, and threatens to whisk away the dark clouds stacked around my carefully constructed mountain of mirthlessness. Because my heart knows a positive attitude not only dissipates gloom, but easily topples soul-crushing mountains of sadness.
So, why do I stand in the doorway of my mind keeping good things and thoughts out while allowing, almost welcoming, the black mood of despair to gnaw at my soul?
Thursday. . . Another two days away from work. Even though I absolutely cannot afford not to earn additional income during these four dozen hours, for I am quickly running out of credit to live on, I do so look forward to these two days off.
I stepped outside to get my latest Anne Murray "Duets" CD, for even the broadband religious stations have commercials now. Today, on March 20th, the temperature at 12:21pm was 90F degrees. It was 49F degrees at 4:59am, when I parked the Peugeot, threw his reins around the sturdy oak tree, gave him a loving pat above the driver's side headlight, inhaled the clean and cold non-exhaust infused morning, and quietly stepped to my apartment door.
When I woke up a few minutes ago, I felt like I had the worst cold you could have, only without the aches, pains and fever. Six hours earlier, after skipping a solitary, floating-in-grease, counter-seated, custom-made breakfast at Denny's, instead, to prep myself for bed this morning, I had a final shot of my ('client appreciation') 18 year old whiskey (not because I'm abstaining, but because I've run out) after I discovered at the SuperK-Mart this morning that liquor sales didn't begin until many hours later.
After precisely heating them in my Krups Sensotoast Deluxe toaster, and spread with real butter, with each little square filled with Mrs. Butterworth's Syrup, I wolfed down a tower of waffles. The stuff just knocks me out. Trying to wake up four hours later, I couldn't remember if I had went on my usual pre-bedtime drinking binge, or simply ingested too many sugars and carbs. My body just can't handle that stuff, that's why I do it, so I can sleep. Sleep.
And I had some pretty wild dreams too: love and sex with my former secretary, cotton white, B17-sized aircraft flying with first one wing and then none, and a new job at a huge skyscraper ensconced corporation where my paycheck was docked because the CEO saw my extension cords.
This afternoon, I drive Mainio over to get Kimmo on the other side of town from his mom Aili so that she can go to work, and I can bathe in the positive energies of my youngest son and my only grandson. Actually, like all of us borne in this age of motorcars did, Kimmo, after sucking down two-liters of baby formula, sleeps most the eighteen mile and thirty-five minute ride.
At 3am in north Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, is the only time one can actually drive at a speed slow enough to enjoy the scenery without fear of getting run down by an Escalade bearing down on you with blue-white-laser-beam intense headlights or getting crushed by the man-tall, car hood-wide rubber of a loaded cement mixer, with its slowly spinning drum stuffed with the gray, rocky, liquid goo which has built The Valley of the Sun.
So nice to be able to look around. So nice to be able to see. My town is simply huge. It is no doubt we are on the way to becoming the fourth largest city in the United States. Not that that is something to brag about. Or be happy about. My father (God rest his soul 5/15/91) would be happy because, since 1949, with religious fervor he had virtually commanded anyone and everyone to move Phoenix. And that was before refrigerated air-conditioning was regularly enjoyed anywhere but public libraries or 'cutting-edge' eating establishments! And when civilization basically ended anywhere north of Thomas Road.
Had an e-mail exchange with Hanna-Marie, mostly about Kimmo and his avante-garde mother, Aili. Even with her college-degrees generated, high-flying income, (well, compared to my own, a strip-mall barber qualifies as 'high-flying') because of some honest mistakes Hanna-Marie suffered, she is having a tough time.
If I still didn't love her, I'd rejoice in this news. Instead, like the hopeless romantic I am, I do not.
Easter Eve Eve. . . How stupid can a guy get? Well, not as stupid as some governors, who pay for twenty-two year old prostitute-provided orgasms, while thinking he would never get caught. All the while married to an accomplished, credentialed and beautiful wife.
Last night and into early this am, during another lonely DVD-athon (first Body Double, then Passenger 57 chased by Lethal Weapon) at the Malamud seven hundred square foot compartment, I apparently got into a tequila drinking contest with myself. I state 'apparently', because there are no surviving witnesses.
Sometime around 4:30am I won.
I repeat, "How stupid can a guy get?" Unlike many people in the throes of alcohol poisoning, Dr. Hammurabi Malamud doesn't suffer headaches or uncontrollably earp up last night's Hungry Man Fried Chicken Dinner into the tinted blue water of the toilet. He simply feels horrible over all. A feeling only slightly relieved by crunching aspirins like cocktail peanuts, and gulping more of the raw and over-chlorinated Phoenix tap-water than a recently rescued Illegal Alien drug in from the deserts of Yuma. Sleep is the final ingredient in the cure.
A total day wasted. For what? The remembered alcoholic rush is nowhere near as high or long lasting as the aftermath is low and lengthy. The worst part is I missed seeing Aili and Kimmo and Mainio. Missed my tattooed-daughter, my gargantuan-infant-grandson and Manimal, my youngest son. What a stupe I sometimes am.
During my twelve hours of bedrest, neither fully asleep or fully awake, I decided I've had enough. I must altogether stop drinking, start praying and find a decent job--or another part-time job--on my days off until I get caught up on the bills, which looks like it will take the rest of my life.
It's time I started behaving my age, or rather, my wisdom. I'll never behave my age. I need to set an example for my millions of internet minions, my children and my grandchildren.
It has always been a simple choice--a choice I discovered decades ago after an 18-month visit at the funny farm, which was less funny than you might imagine from the name. We choose, each one of choose how we want to feel.
We determine our attitude. But so many of us, like the discarded Albertson's plastic bag, blasted into the thermals of an Arizona sky, simply let the emotions of life jerk us back and forth, up and down, and shoot us on a thousand feed upward trajectory only to slam us into the pavement moments later.
So simple, but so hard.
Wednesday. . . Fine, my mouse is acting up, seeming to have a life of its own. Either that or I'm on my fifth one and one-half once of Jose Cuervo. And being my throat is burning with the aftermath of a lava-like-flow of tequila down my gullet, I'm going to have to believe I have been simply drinking again.
Gawdammit. I guess I am officially a friggin drunk. I cannot stop getting blasted every 6:30am morning after I get home from my horrible job. The guy I was training just this morning, older than me by decades asked, "Why don't you get a decent job?" And I had no answer. Gawdamn my father, God Rest His Soul.
I was never good enough. And now, even though he has been gone for seventeen years, my ears still echo with his shouts of "You will never be successful!" And this is something Hanna-Marie could never be made to understand. And I feel even more sorry for my four years older brother, 'Crazy Brother Pat' who bore even a worse brunt of our father's 'esteem building' rhetoric.
All our father, who would be centenarian this year, knew was, that, growing up, such talk motivated him. So he thought it would motivate us. It did, but surely not in the direction intended. My (Eliot Spitzer-like) oldest brother, is in the ministry in a foreign land, C.P.B, is proud to be a janitor's assistant, while I am most likely doing less well than either of them. www.doctormalamud.com
Saturday. . . My readership continues to climb, I hope it doesn't exceed the free bandwidth my provider allows. Speaking of that, did you see the ridiculous visitor numbers that my buddies Matt Drudge and Arianna Huffington post versus their actual audited traffic that is lower by 92%? I am so glad that a few search engines are sorting their ranking by most actual hits rather than the advertisers any one site hosts. The world is full of liars, thieves and drunks. I am glad I only qualify for one of those monikers. And boy do I qualify.
Using my new found sleeping pill of tequila, sort of a liquid gel in a shot glass--for almost the entire last week I have been attaining no less than a straight six and one-half hours of shuteye and a couple of times for almost eight hours I slept without awakening.
However, I must adjust my dosages so that my sleep might actually be body-cleansing, recharging rest, rather than recovery from alcohol poisoning, with my over-worked liver glowing like a nuclear submarine's atomic reactor beneath the thin cotton sheets of my bed.
My first March sojourn into long term sleep was powered by what I remember as almost eight ounces of the golden liquid, which was certainly too much, as I felt like I was walking barefoot over ping pong balls for the next many hours at work. My latest dosage was four and one-half ounces, still too much. I am imagining that forcing down three ounces of my tequila-med prior to retiring to my tent-camper-sized bedroom should be just about right. To not be one of those 'liars' I mentioned in my first paragraph, I might modify my "forcing down" statement to read "if I am able to stop at three ounces."
Dennis Miller has a radio show broadcast on 960am here in Phoenix, and, around 9pm, I occasionally listen. He is blessed with that City of Pittsburgh capacity for saying what needs to be said, when it needs to be said, and handling challenges head-on.
There is also little doubt, he possesses a fine intellect, and has done quite a bit of book-learning. Maybe not as much as your Dr. Hammurabi Malamud but still ...
Comedians, such as I consider myself to be, generate laughter by speaking the truth, by stating the obvious, by uttering what everyone in the room would like to shout out, only we do it in such a non-confrontational, ego-less way, that our exposure of fact causes instant relief in most of the listeners, followed usually by uninhibited and unscheduled laughter.
'Usually uninhibited and unscheduled laughter', hence the warning from my ex-wife, Hanna-Marie, to very carefully ponder my words, before I spoke at any of her business dinners, with her immensely wealthy and ego-centric male employers.
However, an example of my successful humor was the time I learned that a supervisor of mine, who could determine whether I remained employed with the awful corporation I currently labor for, had spoken well about me to an important client and I turned to him and said, 100% truthfully, "Well, I take back one-half of the bad things I've ever said about you."
Yes, even though it was involuntary, a laugh arose from my dumber-than-a-box-of-rocks supervisor as he headed towards the door to smoke his one hundredth and first cigarette of the day.
Thursday. . . After carefully parking the battered Peugeot out of eye-shot, as I walk up to my new-found Moon Valley Starbucks I wonder if my Polygamy Porter T-shirt might offend any Mormons. But then I realized that the LDS faith doesn't allow the consumption of caffiene such as is contained in abundance in the Starbucks' beverages.
Insulated Starbucks travel mug in hand, I step over to the creamer bar and glance at the old guys sitting in the few upholstered chairs ... and then, like a slap to my tequila-addled brain I realize that "I am an old guy."
The barrista, there's always one, is talking faster than a Dizzy Gillespie horn solo. Jeeze. What a jabberhead.
The 'old guys' talk about the State Teacher's Pension annual increases. Will I someday be reduced to sitting in a Starbucks for hours, nursing one horrible coffee just for a seat inside out of the weather? Wait, I am already doing that. Dammit.
I see an old guy meeting another old guy and realize that they both probably left the 'old' ladies at home. I left no one at home.
Now they're talking about new car recalls, tires and late newspaper deliveries. It's like being in a 21st Century performance of Thorton Wilder's play, Our Town. Sad.
Amazingly, the same female barrista has not stopped talking for any longer than a humming bird stops flying during his rushed early morning, multi-flower, nectar breakfast. It's almost as if her non-stop yapping is keeping reality at bay, and should she stop, the world would come crushing in and suffocate her. I know I'd like to suffocate her.
I pull out my Starbucks receipt and glance at my credit balance, which also, truthfully, represents my entire net worth.
The roar of morning traffic, as the southbound 7th Street artery is sixty feet away, is pretty astounding. How do we put up with this inhuman level of hustle and bustle and noise? The low crashing rumbles from some of the huge waste trucks, dump trucks and buses could actually stun, and throw to the ground any pedestrian not accustomed to their deafening decibels.
Aligned to my right, or should I state, 'in line to my right', are the working people of this upper class neighborhood. For the most part they are slim and dressed business casual, a few even wearing neckties. It's refreshing being around people who actually care what they look like.
I look out the window at the mountains to the west and, letting my eyes go unfocused, and imagine the faraway Hanna-Marie on her Puget Sound island. In damp weather, 25 degrees cooler than our 55F degrees, parking her business casual SUV outside a Starbucks and rushing inside...
Tuesday. . . I lay on top of my sheets in my Starbucks-restroom-sized bedroom with my oscillating fan shoving the normally static air over me in seven second bursts. To avoid getting too cold, normally I would have to be covered with a thin sheet--but another day in Phoenix, Arizona, over 95F degrees (in mid-April)--and with my cash-eating, air conditioning turned off, I delight in the cheap breezes caressing my bare skin.
I lay thinking of what I'm going to do with my life. What the hell do I want to be when I grow up?
Another morning breakfast consisting of microwave-hot Hormel Chili, snowflaked with finely grated cheese and then carefully balanced on golden Ritz crackers happily floating on the fart-brewing gruel, and tequila shots. As a matter of fact, I ran out of my Jose Cuervo Gold and had to break into an unopened and gifted forty-nine dollar bottle of Grand Marnier to insure my morning drunk that fuels my six hour bed-bound hours of stupor.
Last night I read about the 'Missing Tile Syndrome'. When I remind you that human nature invariably finds the one wrong thing in any otherwise acceptable scene, you know what the 'Missing Tile Syndrome' exposes.
Of course, my missing tile is the lovely Hanna-Marie. The author told me that there are three solutions, although I can only remember two, one being replace the missing tile and the other being to forget it.
It is about time to move on, isn't it?
Of course I had to run down to my Moon Valley Starbucks to write about my epiphiny. As I was driving down, considering myself fortunate to be in a gap in the three lanes of rush hour traffic, that normally rushes along at fifty to sixty-five miles per hour, while my speeding mind asked, "What do you want to be?" And the answer snapped out (I stare at the white oragami on the café floor--but no, it's simply a crumpled-up straw wrapper) the answer to what I want to do with my life came without thought, as when you jerk back your fingers from a red-hot kitchen range burner: "I want to be a writer!"
It is not that I want to be a writer. It is not a choice. I am a writer. Am I a writer who someone, or many thousands of someones will pay to be read? I think so. And if not, I will continue to write in any case. But why not make a living doing what to me, isn't work?
I remember how I used to hate the cacophony of a noisy café. Currently, I have three separate conversations consisting of five individuals at three separate tables, one being by cell phone to an unseen communicant.
I like this Starbucks. It's eclectic. All the patrons seem to be making decent incomes, and one of my barrista's (barristo?) actually sported a blonde mohawk.
Reminds me of the time, probably two decades ago, at Paradise Valley Mall, aka: PV Mall, when I was openly studying a mall-cruising teen sweeping the refrigerated air with a purple push-broom mohawk. He turned to me, surveyed the body of a thirty-year old man, who could kick his ass from the Macy's fragrance counter to the freshly striped Sears' parking lot, and asked, "What are you looking at?" And knowing the angst of every teenage life, replied as gently as I could, "You. Isn't that what you want?"
What do I want?
Saturday. . . What a beautiful day. It's 6:00 PM and I'm sitting outside of my Moon Valley Starbucks. I know the weatherman may say that my tobacco smoke infused air is in the high 80F degrees, but it feels, with the gentle breeze, a perfectly dry and delicious 72 degrees.
I'm out by the street, but the weekday cacophony of traffic is deflected by Saturday's call away from labor, away from work, and instead towards relaxation.
I read a few excellent articles in the May/June 2008 Poets & Writers magazine and learned again that creative individuals, like I paint myself to be, think differently, view life from a different angle and see, really see things 'normal' people do not.
I was asking Mainio where I might meet my current 'hottie', Laura SG and he responded, "Probably at the Goodwill, she hasn't done anything in years."
I am watching the hundreds of vehicles fly by. Vehicles which are so much a part of our lives, our finances, (a chihuahua perched on a passenger side arm rest passes by, his frog-eyed birdhead hanging out the window) vehicles which are us, become us. Sad.
As a teenager in the 1960s, I never could understand my dad's treatment of his brand new Bill Luke Mopars', because he'd regularly park them with the windows down, in a Phoenix which at the time was more desert than asphalt, to let them fill up with dust and dirt and the occasional Cactus Wren droppings.
He could do this because, after the 'status' earned by paying the forty-five hundred dollars for a Chrysler, he was done with it.
His sky-blue New Yorker, which was so large it resembled the battleship passing by in the first Star Wars movie, simply became another implement--like the green John Deere tractors he forsake back at Wisconsin family homestead--for a life in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.
I wonder what my dad would say about this 21st Century he never visited, because Alzheimer's first robbed his mind and then his life. I'm not certain, but I imagine he wouldn't be entirely happy about how my life is turning out--especially with all the great genetic and worldly gifts he showered upon me, leaving out only one thing. Love.
Thursday. . . After putting it off for 7,000 miles past my windshield sticker notice, I just got an oil change on the Peugeot. Viewed on a monitor all the maintenance items it needs done that I cannot afford: transmission fluid change, radiator flush, barrel roll--not certain about the barrel roll. Right, like I'd trust the Jiffy Lube felons to change my transmission fluid, when they take about seven minutes to change my oil and perform a thirty-two point quality check. Right.
On what I could afford at Jiffy Lube and Fox Photo, I spent nearly $100. (And the government collected eight dollars and ten cents of it. How'd you like to run a scam like that?)
I'm so old that I remember when one hundred dollars could put a decent steak dinner for two on the table at Ruth's Chris Steak House, or purchase a little less than one hundred gallons of gasoline.
I'm back at the book store being unable to afford the book, so I'm reading the good parts while I crouch in the aisles like a rat finding a dropped morsel of food. That's something you cannot do with a novel, but with a fiction book it's quite easy to skip parts and not miss a thing.
At the Fox Photo I was serviced by a young mid-twenties sprite of an athletic-looking young lady--who, for her size, was equipped with more than ample breasts, aka:stacked--who also admitted to having three associate degrees involved with acting and dancing. Like me, another incredibly talented soul laboring in a dead end job ... Did I tell you my 200 IQ+ older brother is proud to be a "part-time, assistant school janitor on disability leave?"
After she admitted to having lived in Paris, London and New York City (not in a snooty or snotty way) I confessed my love for her and dropped down on one knee and proposed marriage.
After I woke up in the emergency room about three hours later, I assumed she cold-cocked me with a lightweight aluminum camera tripod, for the bruises across the back of my neck resemble the markings of such a device.
After bragging Wednesday morning that I did not suffer from hangovers, I proceeded to spend Wednesday afternoon and night recovering from a morning bout with tequila and Merlot. The old "Gold and Maroon", aren't those Arizona State University colors?
Phoned a female psychologist on my insurance plan's approved list (20 visits with a co-pay of $30 each--not bad), and was surprised when the receptionist asked me what I was setting the session for and I blurted out that it had been five years since my divorce was final, and then almost sobbing, I added that it was time for me to get over it.
Odd, because, I meant to respond that I needed to get my mind right so I could find a decent job and pull out of my downward financial spiral.
This is ridiculous, will I ever get over Hanna-Marie?