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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
Tuesday... I forced myself out early on the way to work or else I'd not get out and about at all. I recently finished a DVD about a guy who was agoraphobic (afraid of crowds), ate a whole lot of canned tuna fish, didn't have a television set, kept his cleaning supplies perfectly lined up and was divorced. As I searched my apartment for a hidden camera, I repeated to myself, "Of course that was only a character in a movie. Only a character in a movie. Only a movie."
Sometimes I feel like a character in a movie.
There is really nothing going on. I phoned my actress friend, Sofia, in Burbank, Labor Day night and again she wasn't home. She's probably found yet another man-friend to treat her like garbage. Men are pigs, and woman are too often their trough.
The young couple next to me are sporting colorful shoulder-down tattoos. They'll look really attractive after another forty years of wear and tear. The boy is deciphering what exactly the final colors on the girl's arm will be when her bruised and bloodied appendage finally heals.
That's one thing I never had even the thought of having done--tattoos. "When I was their age" (said in a wheezy, old-man voice) "the only females who had tattoos were prostitutes, and the only men who displayed them were either ex-Navy or ex-Cons."
Four of the Starbucks' employees just came back into the store after emptying the single can of garbage, one of them coughing as he held his fist to his mouth, gave away what they were actually doing. Someday, we'll have to go outside to have a cup of coffee too.
Now I'm being bombarded from all sides with caffeine-fueled jabber. I'm not used to this. I'm hearing three conversations at once.
A full-figured, attractive farm girl walked by and after I checked out her quite ample udders and then scanned down to her legs...you guessed it, another tattoo. I don't get it.
My gay barrista, since he was out of fresh coffee, had his helper fill my travel mug with multiple shots of expresso. The charge? Zero. In any case, I dropped my normal dollar bill into the already very verde tip cube.
Sporting my recently discovered cataracts, driving to work for the midnight shift has become much more visual. It's a lot like the newly re-mastered DVD of Blade Runner.
The 21st Century LCD billboards appear brilliant and color saturated while the oncoming vehicles sport headlight beams that look like bursting stars and lightning flashes--which now last twice as long as they bounce along the cracks in my eye's lenses--appear as sky borne acts of art.
Someone put half a grand in my checking account a couple of days ago. It was still there this morning, and after talking to the on-line division at my bank, I wasn't any the wiser where it came from.
The other day I had an e-mail that promised, no, guaranteed good things would happen to me if I forwarded it to twelve friends. Not having even half a dozen friends I deleted the e-mail. But maybe it worked anyhow, eh? Or, more likely, God is giving me a chance, (and the funds) to stay in this apartment so close to my dreams rather than move far away.
Friday...I slept another weekend away. It's pretty sad when a person's dream life is more exciting than his awake life. Although I am having some really cool dreams--only thing is, since I'm actually sleeping during them, I can't remember much when I awaken.
I am attempting to train my subconscious to be able to tell the difference between a dream sequence and a flesh and blood, real-world action scene. If I should ever perfect the technique (doubtful) I'll be able to engineer some pretty wild things in my dreams. Kind of like in the movie The Matrix. I kind of sound like a teenager, eh?
I remember telling a likeable coworker, barely more than one-third my age, of the whispery thoughts that fog my mind the instant before the body gives itself up to the dream world ruled by Morbius.
He had not the slightest glimmer of what I was talking about, because like most humans, he is either asleep, or awake, with no in-between. Or, it could be that he's not experienced this feather duster of thoughts often enough to recognize it.
Maybe that's why I enjoy my sleep so much, because it's actually more fulfilling than my physical life. So sad, eh? Ah, but how many philosophers have argued that dreams are real?
The other morning, at work no less, I was again experiencing the very odd thoughts that visit me prior to my chin hitting my chest and the drool dribbling out of the corner of my mouth. Not a pretty scene, especially when driving an automobile.
No wonder my young friend had not experienced it--for I realized I was struggling against the avalanche of weariness that only decades of unfulfilled, frustrated and futile living can be buried in.
I'm at my far north-Phoenix Starbucks and it seems the drive-thru has all the customers on this 95F degree and humid Friday evening. For I sit alone.
I hear the young barristas talking about appearing in stage plays with their as-young customers...something that will be long forgotten by the time they are my age, smothered under worries about work, mortgage payments, taxes, insurance and doctor and tuition and utility bills being the price of adulthood and parenthood.
With only myself to look after, I am free to pursue my acting. Acting, drama, stage and movie work that is as much as part of me as Hanna-Marie was. So why don't I? Why don't do a damned thing except sitting around pondering the taste of machine oil?
Wednesday...I drove the dozen or so miles to my old hangout at the Barnes & Noble Café on Shea Boulevard and the 101. I was hoping to free myself of the presence of so many Illegals, but that's silly since they never visit bookstores.
From this morning at 6am until just a few minutes ago, I had scads of things to write about. And now I'm blank. A tabula rasa (Latin for 'blank slate'.)
Unless I'm mistaken, the once attractive middle-aged tutoress who I was accustomed to seeing here in the cafe has packed on so much lard that it has even managed to push her face into an unnatural shape, kind of like the denizens of Bizzaro World.
Doesn't she realize I am the only one allowed to become a tub of lard?
I know she probably grosses, tax-free, more in ten or so hours of tutoring the children of the wealthy North Scottsdale residents than I earn in a week. But look, she doesn't have health and dental benefits and a $250 bonus to be gotten on her sixth year of employment that celebrates her fifth year with the company. She doesn't have one boss who can ruin her financial life, or co-workers who can slander and backstab her, or a time-clock that only favors the employer, et cetera.
My moods are swinging from mediocre to suicidal. It is so stupid that I sit around and do nothing to increase my income while the majority of my challenges are simply financial. All of my challenges are financial. Hell, with adequate income, say $50,000 a month, life would be just peachy.
Hoping to entice me to re-sign, my former dating service is sending me e-mails with proposed matches. One did not include a photo, which automatically means that for this 'match', her entire body was too large to fit into a single 100 by 100 pixel thumbnail.
I'm not even really thinking that much about a woman anymore. I'm thinking more along the lines of a harem. A harem that would be quite feasible with an income of $50k a month, eh?
This is one of the Barnes & Noble Café's where I rendezvoused with my stage-actress friend Sanna-Leena as she was still working through the unexpected passing of her father (her heart, like an icebreaker attempting to push through the hard, deep and dingy bergs left in the wake of her daddy's death), while I myself, was in the midst of my own ten-year plan dislodge the divorce-dagger set by Hanna-Marie from my chest.
In any case Sanna-Leena's e-mail address 'went away' (as we say in the computer biz) and the last time I saw her husband's name in a play announcement, the female name paired with it was certainly not Sanna-Leena, and since they rarely appear separately ... Gawd I hope nothing's happened.
A new-found friend of mine, from the mining country of West Virginia, (well we really won't be friends until we murder and butcher a large mammal together), who works for the city park department, (many of those parks are actually huge, mountainous, desert preserves), told me that in a single month they found twelve suicides.
I used to exit this parking lot by driving south past the Fry's, the OfficeMax, the Home Depot and then turn right on Mountain View and drive to our tony Town of Paradise Valley apartment.
Now, instead, after cutting through the back of a Circle K, I go west on Shea Boulevard, past my former P.V. apartment, past our house of a quarter century, and drive many miles to the compartments where, Mainio in his, me in mine, live as English speaking citizens and minorities.
My it is a beautiful monsoon-season evening.
Monday...Someone lied to me. I'm at my Moon Valley Starbucks and someone lied to me last night.
I just loaded-up my travel mug with the Pikes Place coffee and it is its horrible-tasting best. Last night it tasted good. And like strawberries. I had approached the barrista and asked about the taste and was met with a 'well I never look' and told to sit back down or she'd spank my bare fanny. That's what I remember anyway.
(Being that "a" in barrista refers to the female gender, I've wondered if the males working at Starbucks should be called barristos, with the "o" making reference to the male gender. However, after visiting many Starbucks around town, I believe it is entirely suitable to call most of their male-appearing employees 'barristas'.)
Flooding unasked into my heart, creating a pang of regret and longing, a child's memory of absolute joy (evidenced by a smile far larger than my 10-year old face) as I, for the first time shouted "fire missiles!" into the the remote control connected by a cable to my Robot Commando Christmas present.
Which got me to pondering about an English documentary I saw that had followed twelve 7-year olds until they were seasoned and wise adults. With the seeming result being, that we are pretty much as an adult, what we said we would like to be at age seven. That must be why there are so many firemen, eh?
(Although I didn't realize it) I was so very much troubled at age seven: pretty much blind before seeing my first eye-doctor, suffering from severe asthma, pigeon-toed and speaking with a lisp. No wonder, as an adult, I continue to struggle over such everyday challenges in life such as finding a decent job, writing a million-selling book or marrying Morgan Fairchild.
Almost every table tonight is full and there are plenty of Hollywood-beautiful customers strolling around. The noise level is much greater than I'm a accustomed to, but, being I don't get out much, I'm bathing in the rarely witnessed verbal avalanche.
My 40-year high school reunion, here in the same city I was born in, in the same city I've lived in all my life, is coming in 2009. I missed the 20-year and 30-year extravaganzas, although for the 20th, I did cruise the parking lot and spotted some familiar, although wizened, faces tottering about outside.
Tonight, the same female barrista seems to have gotten another customer's order wrong and is waging her 4th, 5th or 12th argument over the armpit-high delivery counter.
At work, I put in a request to be moved to an office closer to my hovel. My manager, who used to be my underling, a man who has worked with and beside me for seven years, simply advised me he had gotten 'the notice' from corporate and told me what my last day would be at his office.
No begging, no "Thank you's", no "We're going to miss you", no "You'll be hard to replace", no nothing.
So much for feeling I've been anything but a four digit employee code for that toothless, cowboy boot wearing, half-lunged, kitchen-witch-faced bastard, to shakely scribble on his handwritten employee schedule every week.
I'm gazing at a mature lady at the counter, thinking she's quite attractive. While the melancholy voice in my head is reminding me, "She's probably ten years younger than you." And in case that wasn't enough to depress me, "What woman would be interested in a man whose net worth is held inside his Starbucks card?"
Women my own age are so old and whithered looking. And so money hungry.
Thursday... I'm at my Moon Valley Starbucks again. Odd how, from where I live basically in poverty, here is this place two miles away mostly populated by the semi-or-soon-to-be affluent.
For being such a good old geezer while being in line, and not complaining while the barrista yapped with a regular ahead of me, my coffee was "On us" aka: free. I really didn't mind, because any more a retail clerk who actually has a friendship with a consumer is something I delight in. An added delight was that the coffee didn't cause the normal 'bitter-beer' face.
The café is packed with students of all generations bent over reading or clicking away on their laptops, usually with the white wires of a hidden iPod crawling up to their ears. The young man opposite me book binding reads "Matthew". Hard to guess what he's studying. (He's probably reading the annotated history of my body-double Matthew McConaughy.)
The young girls, judging from their t-shirts, are on the high school swim team, and, further sculpted by their exercise, are looking like God meant His girls to look like.
Old people like me, we need to get around the youngers, the kids, the pre-teens, the teens, if only to see on display the optimism, joy, energy and supple joints that the Buck knife of time has whittled away during our own life experience.
I catch the long black-haired, exotic student staring and I imagine its at me and I give her my best grandfatherly I-wish-I-was-back-in-high-school smile, as I realize she's trying to read and make sense of the "2600 Hacker" t-shirt I've stretched over my ballooning body. Thank God it's black and slimming.
I came here to read a conspiracy book about the JFK assassination and the 20th Century epidemic (never thought they could tie those two together, eh?) and instead, I'm immediately seated and writing on the backside of a "MEMO" from work like Willard Fluke spoke of in
Spoon River Anthology:
"And I began to write, write, write, reams on reams..."
Some younger teenagers come pouring in, the girls giggling as if they're being tickled by the multi-armed Buhdist goddess, Shiva, with about one-half of the boys with that 'serious look'.
I know it's that 'serious look', because I wore it too damned long during the years of my own grim high school matriculation.
Wednesday... Sure am writing a lot lately. I wonder if that presages me making a change in my life?
I'm at the Moon Valley Starbucks and while only 17 guests are seated, there are almost as many in line. I don't think I've ever seen it busier.
The same customer got three leaky cups in a row. Pretty funny. Probably made in China.
There are a ton of good looking women in here and unlike the norm, many of them also do not weigh a ton. Of course most of these ladies are younger than my youngest daughter--but what the hell, us 'creative' types do go for the younger chicks.
Maybe like Woody Allen, I could adopt a young 'un, and then when she reached the age of consent I could marry her?
It's so funny, the five women near me are planning some sort of meeting with food and such and they are so excited. Men organizing the same thing would be done in about ten seconds, then would get back to their beer drinking, burping, farting and smoking their $30 cigars. Well, in this neighborhood anyway.
I start at my new location tomorrow and am missing my normal two days off and since I've already been requested to fill-in at my old office on those two same days, I should again get accustomed to no days off.
I wonder just how bad it must get before I earnestly begin searching for a job that pays decently and is also suited to my talents?
Twice this month I've gotten a couple of doses of uninterrupted sleep longer than 4 or 5 hours and all of a sudden these optimistic thoughts about my future are flooding into my mind.
I've also figured out other reasons my sleep is interrupted all the time. It's because I'm trying to sleep during the day when most people are awake. My cell phone rings with a call from Mainio, or as it did the other day, played the theme song of the long ago television series 'Dallas' when the far distant Hanna-Marie, from her Puget Sound island, deigned to ring me for the first time in four years.
This very afternoon, fortunately, while I was already awake, it sounded like my upstairs neighbors, dropped an 80 pound cannon ball only after purposely struggling to the top of an 8 foot step ladder with it. Another time a mortar-like-concussion coming from above my head blasted me out a deep sleep and onto the floor, leaving my heart beating like a hummingbird's and my body trembling as if I were a 250 pound chihuahua.
I've come to the conclusion my neighbors are making these incredibly loud and unnecessary noises simply because those are a few of the things White Trash are good at.
Saturday... The job is shit. What'll it take for me to move on? And now it's an economic recession, when the perception is that no one is hiring, but we all know that is not true.
I'm under-employed. That's where a person is employed in a job below his experience level and far below his deserved payscale. The latter part is what employers love.
I kept asking my psychologist, more like pleading with her to tell me, "When will I move on?" "When will I change jobs?" "How bad does it have to get?" And she told me she couldn't give me that information.
My heart is beating like a hummingbird's as I sit behind my desk. I hate my job. My co-workers (which is an exaggeration) are dolts and slugs and, while on the time clock anyway, care more about having the most recent cable-guide listing than anything else. Well, except for their cigarettes and ultra-high-fat food to fuel their raging diabetes.
I can understand why people just step out. As you get older, you get more and more aches and pains that never stop, and indeed only seem to intensify with each season's passing. Bruises show up if you walk through a stiff breeze, while cuts and abrasions take forever to heal.
You understand there are more things everyday that you should be doing or not doing to your own body.
You see your country (mine is the U.S.A.) flying more and more out of control, edging closer and closer to the abyss--its citizens becoming less mannered, less civil, while its government schools continue to groom average intellects of that verging on the level of a moron.
What's the use? Although one man has in the past turned the tide--even that is under contention: some say it was Gorbachev who brought the wall down, some say Reagan did it--I'm certain the only Tides I'll be turning involve boxes of laundry detergent.
My moods percolate up, but never as high as previously, and then they rocket down to new depths, where any more my medium mood is between the 'bitter-beer-face' and a scarred hockey mask.
I see the couple going off to the Ocean Club for a little $150 appetizer & drinks while I stay behind to spoon my $1.00 can of microwaved Chef Boyardee Spaghetti into my maw. And you know what? After we eat, we'll both be just as full.
I am full of it, aren't I?
Thursday... Like a dead corpse weighted down, my emotions have slipped the stones of sadness and once again bobbed up above the dark waves of depression.
However, just to be certain I didn't get feeling too good, I managed from 7am until 9:30pm Wednesday, to swill down six beers. Two at one AM sitting, and four Chinese beers with Mainio as we watched a movie about how life will be after Obama becomes our President. (By not naming the movie, I'm demonstrating my political savvy, eh? For the movie could depict a good future, like Dave or a not-so-good future like, say, Idiocracy.)
Since I'm drinking again, (a bad idea when one is on an SSRI, such as my generic Wellbutrin-XL--bupropion HCI), so I likewise again pondered about halting my twenty dollar a month prescription. Again. Because after all, that'd buy almost two six packs of imported beer.
But, oddly enough, since SSRI's block certain receptors in the brain, and bupropion HCI shuts off the histamine channel, (which causes the sneezing, wheezing and red eyes), I've discovered this anti-depressant to be the finest 24 hour allergy pill I've ever gulped. It just struck me that since I'm also allergic to the hops in beer, maybe Wellbutrin-XL allows me to drink even more beer. How odd is that?
Life is posed to be much tougher for most of us. And I'm not going to be much more help than California Physics.com to my legions of readers. I was writing a pseudo-friend that about the final thing I could cut back on was my car-that-runs-all-the-time and start then to ride the bus? Although I do have another car with expired plates that flashes an engine-trouble dash warning light as I add another mile to its already over 140,000 of them.
Since my clients are the 'evil' 5% of the wealthiest citizens, I pray my job is not in jeopardy during this recession. And to make ends meet, I still need to find a second job for my two days off. And that's just to keep on an even keel. Running up my credit card balances so high, even though 80% of the purchases were for absolute necessities, is entirely my fault. I should have had found an extra job or a better, higher-paying job years ago, and now I have thousands of more recently-laid-off competitors for even the crap job I'm looking for.
Hanna-Marie said she'd be in town for a week or so in November, and, after almost five years of legal divorce, I'm still in no condition to be around her. Sometimes I wish I could field the anger that so many divorced couples evidence ... but I'm still mainly agree at me. At life. At my dog ... wait, I don't have a dog.
Sunday... Since the earliest weeks of my pending divorce, during February of 2003, I had not felt so utterly hopeless and depressed. I had accepted that my life would end last Thursday after work.
It was a feeling of total and sad assent. All the tension left my shoulders, which then felt like they now drooped down around my knees. Nothing really mattered. My awareness became a pinpoint focus on me and only me. And being a 'Baby-Boomer' not skipping a single task even though it would be my last day at work. And 'at life.'
I had e-mailed Sofia in Burbank the evening prior and I carried a printout of her encouraging letter in my shirt pocket. She had wrote that she was the worst person to write to because she herself was a sufferer of deep and dark depression. I had replied that only a fellow depressive could be simpatico to the emotional darkness that cannot be understood, or detailed, or quantified or erased.
Now, a day later, I was using the white space of the same hardcopy of her e-mail as a notepad to carefully delineate all the reasons my life should end.
When one dies of natural causes, as the body or the soul simply has no more to give and shuffles off this mortal coil, there is I'm told, often a release, a lightness, that even for the most unaccomplished of mankind, gives the illusion that God cut that life short and that given more time, the dying one, no matter how big of a loser, can still claim that "I Coulda been a contender."
But when you are deciding the end of your own existence, you are drawing the line, you are drawing the curtain, you, who know nothing of the future, are last seen shouting to the universe, to God, "No more! There can be no more! No further good can come from my existence!"
I don't know why I am still here today. There was no startling epiphany, no answer from God, no phone call-text-message-e-mail out of the ether. There was no fear of death either. My mood simply changed.
So I say to you, hang in there one more day and for certain talk with the people at HOPELINE , 1.800.SUICIDE before you decide.
Wednesday... Well, I paid the price two yesterdays ago for guzzling the four bottles of Kirin on an empty stomach a couple of midnights ago after work.
I paid, not with a headache, but with being so on edge, that I made a Billy O'Reilly tantrum sound like Clint Eastwood ordering a pizza. With anchovies.
Being an experienced drunk, as all my usual readers know, I can determine where my artificially induced moods are coming from. But my organic mood swings defy the certain discovery of their source.
I listen as the multi-millionaires in the media tell me that everything will work out no matter who is elected President. Right. But it does not drive me to drink. It drives me to deep despair.
Then the next night, and early early that same morning, I again easily swilled down another four bottles of ice cold Mossy Pond, or Slimy Pond, or Something Pond beer, and then immediately sat down with my bought-on-sale $2.00 Marie Callendar's TV dinner, and watched fifty-four minutes of the 1999 DVD "Eyes Wide Shut".
Then I retired to my tiny, tiny bedroom and slept and tossed and turned and slept for the next eleven hours.
It was still too warm (95F degrees Sunday) to sleep without my oscillating fan pushing the air around while making noises like a wooden popsicle stick rubbing against bicycle spokes--but yet it was not hot enough to turn on my refrigeration unit, which wakes me up every time it switches on, by remarkably mimicking the sound of a dozen bowling balls bounding down a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
After my latest quartet of beers, (due to a sleepwalking administered dose of aspirin), I awoke headache free, but still felt very much on edge. Hope it's not the beer. I know for certain it's not the beer. It is the alcohol in the beer.
I had stopped at four bottles because that's normally where I stop--for unfortunately, if my drinking prowess were to be fully unleashed, I could imbibe indefinitely. To the point of blacking out, which is not to be confused with passing out.
Sort of like Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, prior to the day he had his last Manhattan, followed by a single .357 magnum chaser.