Doctor Malamud
The Archive's of:
Dr. Malamud©

The mostly unedited ramblings
of a broken-hearted man

In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.

   Robert Anderson,
Solitaire & Double Solitaire

Archived Page Number 9:
January/April 2004

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The Book of Psalms
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Psalms 34:18

The Book of Proverbs
"The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him." Proverbs 18:17

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January 2004

SUNDAY . . . I rehung my "Chateau Frontenac Quebec" Canadian Pacific Hotel framed poster. "Why?" you might ask, and "Why the eff would I be interested?" I moved it so that, while my DISH-system fed television screen is behind a wall, behind my seventeen inch flat screen monitor that I type this on, with the poster moved to its new purposeful location, I can view a reflection of what is on the screen in the glass protecting said poster. Since most television is crap, a backwards image is just fine. Right now, as you might have guessed, I'm watching Iron Chef. In reverse. "Fifteen minutes have passed," echoes the faraway female voice through the 'cooking stadium'. I had several dreams this morning. I was lucky enough, once again, to snag a 10PM to 6AM high paying overtime shift in the desert thirty-five miles northwest of the compact Malamud apartment last Saturday and continuing on to this Sunday. By about 8:00AM the rising sun (appropriate, since I'm watching the Japan based "Iron Chef") transforms my south-facing bedroom into the newsroom bright of a broadcast studio. Which, most likely, accounts for my numerous wakings this Lord's Day morning. Wakings, in the midst of dreams, which in turn, allow me to easily recall these unconscious and uncontrollable wanderings. I suppose I should purchase one of those "Lone Ranger"-looking masks, like you see the female Hollywood star sometimes wearing in the old time movies? Poisonous snakes have been inhabiting many of my dreams lately. Morgan at my bedside Which is odd, because the last rattlesnake (genus Crotalus ) that I witnessed face-to-face, had been flattened, tire-to-asphalt, back in the sweltering September of 'ought three'. So perhaps my dreams are prophecy, like those of Daniel or Joseph of the Bible! I'll keep an eye out for the winning Powerball Lottery numbers. "Thirty minutes have passed." In one of my multi-dreams, a huge rattler flew out from behind a water heater (a common place for cold-blooded critters to congregate). This normally wouldn't be a cause for great concern, except, that I had taken off my glasses and was legally blind, with the huge and venomous pit viper between me and any prayer of seeing it. So the septic serpent might as well have been invisible. A very, very scary situation. Somehow I escaped the diamond-backed threat. "Three minutes to go." Then, out of nowhere, my twenty-four year old daughter appeared telling her unseen friend, within earshot of Dr. Malamud, "Yeah, my mom's here with my dad." "My dad", which I quickly deciphered to mean: Mrs. Malamud's new husband. "One minute left". Which meant my daughter had forgotten about me. Me, her biological father, who, laughing and crying and snapping photos with my Canon AE-1, marveled as this amazing girl slid out of my wife almost a quarter of a century ago. "30 seconds to go." In my dream, I began weeping and searching for somewhere to hide both my face, and the steaming, salty tears streaming down my contorted countenance. I'm certain if someone had been in my Scottsdale, sunlit bedroom, say Morgan Fairchild, she would have heard actual sobs emanating from my comforter covered moribund Malamud torso. It was a sad scene indeed. The cable company phone tore me from my sleep. "10 seconds to go." It double-rings, again and again, the distinctive trill of incoming long-distance call. I grab the handset and squint at the caller ID screen on my Motorola 2.4MHg Cordless and see displayed the cellphone number of the distant Missus Malamud. I recradle the handset. "Time is up," reverberates the Japanese-translated-to-English female voice from 'cooking stadium.' The phone stops sounding.
FRIDAY . . . I'm sneezing like a pepper tester . . . who is allergic to pepper. My eyes are watering like a wife at the funeral of her husband she shared sixty years of joy and grief and melancholy with. My nose is dripping like a kitchen faucet that badly needs a plumber-only installed washer. I think I'm coming down with my second COLD of year 2004. Squinting through bleary tear filled orbs I stumble to my kitchen. I just finished gulping down my favorite fizzy concoction of Alka-Seltzer Cold Plus. This is because the label specifically claimed to work on sneezing. That's funny, because I service a client by the name of Seltzer and her vanity license plate reads "SNEEZY". My own sneezes occur in threes, fours and fives. They reverberate through my sinuses like an F-18 supersonic fighter blowing through the sound barrier between the red-brown cliffs of Arizona's Grand Canyon. If this doesn't stop soon my nose will be clown-red by midnight. To calm down my nasal irritations, I finally wired up my incredibly expensive Bang & Ollufsen Beogram-3404 turntable to my Onkyo TX-SV909PRO 800 AMP audio video control tuner amplifier and warp drive. All so I might listen to my 1974 33 RPM album titled Kraftwork Autobahn who were, once again, made famous again, by the awesome Jeff Bridge's starred-in movie titled, The Big Lebowski. I blow my nose for the twentieth time and am rewarded by an empty Kleenex and then simultaneously hearing and feeling snot slam up against the inside of my eardrums like 20,000 Brazilian soccer fans attempting to leave a decided contest via a single exit. Then I listen, as the mucus slowly gurgles, gurgles away, like a clogged sink drain clearing after draining a plastic jug of globby Liquid Plumber down it. For some reason I felt that playing the thirty-year old twenty-nine minute Germanic tune of "Autobahn" would somehow relieve the congested thoroughfares in my noggin. The Alka-Seltzer Cold Plus is now taking affect. My snot now feels as solid as a brick of room-temperature Longhorn cheese, forcing me to breathe through my open mouth. My mouth, which since three o'clock has felt its pair of lips locked around three tall tumblers of (Christmas-gift) expensive white wines. I tire of the single hit of Kraftwerk and slap on the dinner plate sized black grooved album of Jefferson Airplane, titled, "Surrealistic Pillow". I see in the bottom right hand corner of the album cover, written in the young Hammurabi Malamud's clean and precise print: "Malamud 2-13-75". That would have made me twenty-four years old when I purchased this particular album. "Tears are running, round and round your breast . . . " That was twenty-eight years ago. Seems like . . . seems like ... twenty-eight years ago. Both my nostrils feel as if a $5.99 Wisconsin mini-summer sausage has been stuffed up each of them. I'm not sure this is better than quadruple sneezes with snot flinging four or five feet finally landing on the dog stained carpeting. My head feels like it has been placed in a grade school woodworking class vice with Mr. Swaboda spinning the gear. Tighter and tighter. At least my nose isn't streaming, cold, liquified buggers onto my computer keyboard. I suppose that is at least, an improvement. Among much other construction, they are erecting a huge thirteen story office building on the corner. The corner that the man who married my high school sweetheart, Connie Boone, over three decades ago, now owns in this century 21. My former best boyfriend married my former fiancé. And now, including this Scottsdale land the marriage inherited, they are Mr. and Mrs. Multi-Millionaire. Imagine that. While Dr. Malamud, with all his future and with all his potential, with all his drive and abnormally high IQ, is squatting alone. Alone and lonely. Typing to no one, while sequestered in his 900 plus square foot Scottsdale apartment. Sequestered and earnestly praying that he isn't fired for showing up an hour and fifteen minutes late this very morning at his assigned post. As a lowly security guard. Paid by the hour. "The winter looked the same as if it never had gone" explains the voice from the other room, "I saw you, I saw you, coming back to me . . . " the voice continues. Gosh. I'm out of words and off to watch my favorite I'm-down-in-the-dumps-perk-me-up-movie Into the Night.
MONDAY . . . Overrun with fifteen teenagers tonight. Idealistic. Full of energy. And of course, self-centered. Another whole new never-seen-before crew member at Starbucks consolidates my triplet of cards (two were gifts) onto one. "Thanks!", I told him. They are always so nice. Today was the first day back-to-school after Christmas . . . oops, I mean "Kwanza" and/or "Winter-Solstice" break. The teen near me coughs up lung particles while not even considering the cigarette he is inhaling is most likely the cause of his distress. Two twentyish, slim and attractive girls grab a green table and a pair of chairs. The Avanti four-door. Click to enlarge. They sit directly across from me speaking the Mother-Language. German. If they are actually from der Fatherland they probably think of this brisk December evening as a Spring night. They both are smoking up a cloud, as many Europeans continue to do. That and telling American's how to live. I leer at the young blond seated inside, while my Jimmy-Carter-like lustful brain steams with the thought, "I've got a softball mitt at home the size of her little fanny." Feminine guttural sounds continue to pelt me from the direction of the German ladies. The one facing me (who probably doesn't know how lucky she is <grin>) with her hair pulled back, is frequently smiling - not what I would expect of a German relative. My eyes tour the parking lot, the spaces tonight filled with actual teenager-type cars, VWs, Neons, Altimas and a single 21st Century Mini-Cooper. How unexpected that the one-point-four-dollar billionaire I met last year was piloting a bright yellow Mini-Cooper with a black and white checkered-top. The temperature, having suddenly dropped into the high 30Fs, finds me alone with the girls from the Continent, an English "no way!" falling in the middle of their babble. A skate board rider grinds over the asphalt of the parking lot. His black felt cowboy hat, jaw length, thick, sideburns, shoe-length chocolate cowboy duster and black Nike's looking just a tad odd. I spy an unfamiliar car in the lot of Z'Tejas Grill, that upon closer inspection, reveals itself to be a recently manufactured Avanti four-door sedan, sporting Arizona Dealer plates. Remember "The Avanti" by Studebaker? the two-door coupe that looked almost futuristic in the 1970s? And looks just plain goofy in the twenty-oh-three's? I involuntarily smile as a seventys tune comes over the PA, sung by the long gone crooner, Dean Martin. I closely study a sweatshirt clad, denim-panted lady close to my own age enter the Starbucks, a purposeful look frozen on her face. She reminds me of the Missus. I immediately and involuntarily wonder how my distant partner would look to me today - that is, if I hadn't known her since the summer of 1970? Not "attractiveness-wise", for few of us over the age of 40, of either sex, are any longer physically attractive, but demeanor-wise? Would I even approach her? The lady who caused me to reminisce is leaving now, her fist on the stainless-steel door handle, her ring finger unencumbered by a gold ring.
FRIDAY . . . Buzzing pretty hard. Too much tequila. Or, could it be the peach flavored ice tea? But sometimes it's the only way to slow down a mind that is spinning at the 54X speed of a CD in a 45RPM world. Just so many things to think about. So many things to learn about. So many books to read. Just finished watching the 1985 movie titled, "Into the Night." Happy @ Club MedI never laughed so hard when so many people died in an airport shoot-out. Of course, earlier this afternoon, I had to run over to Best Buy to purchase a new DVD player, because we wore out our old one. Wore it out. Not easy to do. It was the first time since Best Buy came to Phoenix that I had gotten customer service when I needed it and in the exact amount I needed. From a gentleman about twice the age of the useless, ghost-like teenagers who usually flit around the sales floor eventually congregating somewhere out of the range of human vision. I have Woody Allen's latest movie, "Hollywood Ending" (purchased pre-viewed from Blockbuster for a mere $9.99) slid in and with its Big Band era menu-music playing, I paused the DVD player and tuned the Dishnetwork System to their Big Band era CD quality music, cranked the Onkyo amp up, walked into the bedroom and started typing this. Just picked up another sixteen hours of overtime for next week, so that will help on the financial front. The office now calls me first out of all the eighty or so guards. Without anything to do, or anywhere to go, or any friend's, or the company of our two dogs I put to sleep before the move to the apartment, or the wife (who states that I'm "too emotional") to come home to anymore, I might as well be awake, working and 'on the clock'. However, even at time and one-half I'm still something like $2.50 an hour below the "average wage for Arizona". Well, that's what I get for a job that has no homework and very little stress. I was thinking today about emotion. Of course, to some people, arguing in the middle of the desert with a 350 pound felon driving a churning cement mixer might be stressful, but not Dr. Malamud <grin>. Before I went through the horrible, horrible time beginning with an e-mail opened on February 14th, 2003, wherein the Missus Malamud told me to "float my own boat", I used to praise Almighty God for blessing us, of all His creatures, with emotions. From February of ought-3 until around September of 2003, I cursed him for blessing me with such a depth of emotions. And now, in recovery from the shock of my life, I'm praising Him again for equipping us homo sapiens with emotions. When I walked out into the 72F degree afternoon, talking out loud to myself, like usual and breaking into the Mr. Roger's theme song, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It's a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?" (The 'illegals' working the landscape nearby, whisper a little too loudly to each other, while pointing at me with their rakes, clippers and hedge-cutter's, "El Loco".) I was thinking our entire existence and many, many of our decisions are based on emotions. The goal of reaching a certain emotion. And that emotion is happiness. That's all we want. We want to be happy and we struggle through all our years just trying to be happy. We discover that happiness is a slippery emotion to keep a hold of. Happiness sounds like it would take little work to attain and retain. But, anyone out of their teens, has discovered that happiness is a fickle mistress. It seems contradictory that "happiness" should require constant effort, but it does. Especially in America today, where we have advertisers screaming at us, like the 1965 Rolling Stones song said, "When I'm watchin' my TV * And that man comes on to tell me * How white my shirts can be * But he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke * The same cigarettes as me." I remember in 1965, when my one buddy at Lutheran Confirmation classes, Larry Dean, used to belt that song out as our parent's were giving us rides to and fro Bethel Lutheran Church. Here thirty-nine years later, we are still being told we can't be happy unless we have all the latest products, including the latest prescription medicines, which for millions of dollars, are advertised on cable and television, often without stating the ailment they are supposed to cure! How odd is that? One thing I thank God for every time I pray, which is not nearly enough, is that I was dropped into these United States of America, where we can actually pursue happiness. Happy @ birth. Watch that right hand!I am acutely aware how something like 90% of the Earth's citizen's are facing the real possibility of not making it through the next twenty-four hours. U.S. citizens have the luxury of searching for happiness (does anyone, ANYONE, think the Hilton Girls are really happy?) and being depressed. We have it so good here. The other day, I was called in front of the private school inquisition to explain why seventeen year old Manio Malamud should not repeat his senior year due to numerous unexcused absences. Repeat it at a cost of a sorely needed $7,000 tuition. They told me he was (is) a genius and his grades were not the problem. Yes, genius runs in our family. My fifty-five year old brother, wearing mid-back-length hair and living in a $300,000 real, live log cabin, is a person of extremely high IQ. And sadness. So skilled is he at burying his monumental talents as a, ". . . part-time assistant janitor on disability leave . . ." (with twin Bachelor of Science degrees) that as close to him as I was growing up, I can't even tell you where his genius lies. Although, I do know that during the Vietnam War 1965-1975, he did, seeing as how all Malamud's are legally blind, memorize the optometrist's eye chart to gain entry into the United States Air Force. Back to the 'inquisition'. As I was reciting the horrible year that Missus Malamud and myself had put poor Manio through I began to cry. Crying in front of Manio's teachers and administration. I thought I had run through all the emotion I had. Guess I was wrong. The phone rings as I'm typing this. I squint at the Caller-ID display and see it is Missus Malamud calling. Probably for Manio, who is in a study group (yes a study group) until midnight tonight. I let the phone ring.
SUNDAY . . . This early, early morning, as a particular 60s acid-rock tune passed out of the radio, I was involuntarily shoved back to those times of personal turmoil and unsatisfying discovery. Shoved back, not in thought, but in emotion-filled melancholy. Then my spirits shot up like a redneck in a lawn chair strung to seventy helium-filled weather balloons as Carly Simon's song, "You Belong to Me" quickly left below the gloom of my high school years. What an absolute blessing music is to the human soul. Unlike Art Bell, who believes mankind was created by some intergalactic Solomon simply to slave in the primeval gold mines of this planet, Christian scholars take as gospel Man (and the more beautiful Woman) was molded from the clay of the Earth by a God yearning for praise and companionship.Poverennaya ten-piece nesting doll set And that praise to our Creator is sung not only during our corporeal existence, but for all eternity, as new-bodied beings dwelling with God. Which explains why music and song are universally delighted in by both the hollow-souled atheist and "St. Augustine & Seraphim Sarof Monks" alike. These next lines I hesitate to let flow from the tip of my mustard-colored-missing-the-sun ballpoint. Why? Probably because the ghost of my dear father continues to compress my soul like a French Press coffee maker whenever I threaten to expand to my true potential. As if it was fine for my father to puff himself up to the size of the largest member of a set of Russian nesting dolls while I should be forever confined to the littlest of the interior dolls. Again, harking back to early this morning, I finally completed a book began months ago. An easy work to read, it consisted of eleven essays by a long-time, quite successful commercial author. Essays about writing, penned over decades of time, and gathered under a single cover. The baby in the bassinet placed on the the table opposite is staring at me, his eyes just barely above the edge of his comfy compartment with a handle. Maybe he's a metaphor for my own infant writing ability staring at the adult-man seated at the Starbucks, right leg awkwardly folded under his butt. Because the essay-book, the eleven essay book tells me that I have been following the path of every successful author, from reading books and books to reciting poetry to writing until my wrist felt as if it had been slammed by a three pound hammer. Everything but submit my work to a publisher.
SATURDAY . . . I explained to the barista that the fluorescent orange KEEP sticker was on my Starbucks card not so "the others" he mentioned would avoid throwing it away, but so that I myself would not accidentally toss it. Displaying my best grandfather smile, I matter-of-factly told him, "When you get 'old' you forget everything." I walked my $1.62 travel mug full of lava-hot, Sulowesi java over to the Sweet and Low location while simultaneously examining the pair of ladies on the other side of the window. I easily spotted the bluish-green propane lighter resting against the army green of the metal disc-table. I grimaced to myself, "Gawd! Does every single female within fifteen years of my own age smoke?". Pushing the door open with my shoulder, I stepped outside and journeyed to my own table that previously claimed by laying down my clear package that formerly was the home of my bedsheets, but since then has been crammed with my dictionary, thesaurus, analogy books and other writer's tools. Setting down my now Halle Berry-brown steaming brew, I necessarily glanced down and audibly gasped as I noticed my thirty-six inch waisted demins were as unzipped as Bill Clinton's would be during any intern interview. Finally. The aforementioned ladies are providing the interesting chatter that this place has been lacking for many moons. It's been so damn long since I heard anything remotely interesting from this listening post into the lives of the glitterati at Tatum and Shea Boulevards. Alicia announces, "Kiefer Sutherland, he's a client of mine." Next they're off to the East Coast talking about how tough life is in New York City, which she then refutes with, ". . . something, something . . . happens and three guys step out of nowhere to defend you." New York appears to be a city of people spiritually connected to each other, while my Valley of the Sun, the town I was born in over five decades ago, has become a city grown apart. A city divided by emotional and territorial boroughs, even though the borough concept is as foreign to old-time Phoenician's as living in the Sonoran Desert would be to a tuxedo-suited penguin. The three teen girls have unknotted the neck of one of their ten huge pink helium-filled balloons and are discovering the high pitched squelches and squeeks of the language of non-O2 powered speech. Tomorrow, they will also discover the roaring headache that accompanies helium huffing humans. As usual, the caffeine cafe has quickly become crowded, additional customer's drawn in, no doubt, by the sight of Dr. Malamud writing beneath the dim porch light. Alicia makes a few cell phone calls after her English acquaintance excuses herself and departs. She's pacing around, chattering, away from me, wisely out of my hearing range. She's dressed in colored Converse tennis shoes, a pleated beige cotton skirt ending below her knees and a slightly turquoise-blue top. Kind of a 21st Century 'Annie Hall' motif. She soon runs out of confidant's to phone on this early Saturday night. And, I imagine, tires of waiting for the Doctor to walk over and introduce himself, so I wistfully watch as she crosses the asphalt driveway and drives off in a pre-2003 cobalt black Mercedes SL convertible. While other's might judge this lightly loquacious, dirty blonde, name-dropping sprite, 'annoying' or, gasp, 'common' - I find her to be exotic, exciting and enticing. Even though she smokes. Maybe she'll come here Sunday night too?
February 2004

SATURDAY . . . I sit outside of my Starbucks whiffing the cheery smell of fireplace embers from the nearby residences floating in the mild 60F degree breeze. I finally finished off my second 1.75 liter jug of Jose Cuervo tequila. I've been drinking way too much lately.Mezcal 1 Litre. Note: segmented worm in left corner ! Not to excess, simply just a little too regular. I carefully drove the mighty Peugeot over to Drinkwater's Liquor (God rest his soul) and purchased a one liter designer bottle of "tequila Reserva 1800 Reposado", for what I discovered later, was the same price Safeway was asking. Wow! A deal at Drinkwater's. I also picked up an airline-sized bottle of Mexican brewed mescal, complete with a cadaver-white, thoroughly enebriated, segmented worm curled up and passed out on the bottom. In preparation for a slide presentation during Mainio Malamud's up coming high school graduation ceremony this week, I've been busy scanning and e-mailing decades of photos. I capture hundreds of photos each year and I was on a visually paneled trip down memory lane. Since I invested so much time during my 1991 to 2001 retirement with both my then, school-aged girl, and Mainio, I have few regrets. The regret is that time flies by so damned fast. How fast? Princess Di passed away 7 years ago. The Challenger disaster was 18 years ago. Elvis passed away (while passing a peanut butter and banana sandwich) 26 years ago and Abraham Lincoln died a mere 139 years ago. It all seems like only yesterday. I totally understand why men older than fifty, marry much younger women. Because they are still pretty. There are damned few women past their late forties who remain attractive. I just thank God that I'm so handsome <grin>. I met a distinguished Arizona barrister last night, whose reputation took a big hit during the Clinton administration, when the U.S. Secretary of the Interior (a former governor of the state of Arizona) in a vain attempt at ass-covering, labeled this gentleman a liar. My previous connection to the aforementioned lawyer? We share the same barber. You realize for certain you are getting ancient when you've known your hair stylist longer than your now adult children. The February evening temperature is dropping faster than the dollar against the Euro, but no one is leaving the outside seating area. That's because I've been alone during the entire gloaming. It is odd looking up at the silent misters outlined by their white mineral spider webs spritzed to the underside of the overhang. These rainbow creating nozzles, that only four months ago sprayed a fine cooling mist that usually evaporated before hitting the concrete and empowered dedicated Starbuckian's, the ability to remain outside in temperatures over 100F without frying like a sunny side up chicken egg tossed on the broiling sidewalk of an searing August afternoon, are now quiet. You've just got to know that the majority of the individuals at Starbucks tonight, currently confined behind the closed doors, do their Eight-to-Five indoors and then after work they go "out" only to sit again, inside.
SUNDAY . . . This very morning and Saturday night I once again labored in the Arizona desert thirty seven miles northwest from the sumptuous Malamud apartment. Labored in weather so chill that the ball of my ballpoint pen grinds as it scratches out nearly frozen ink across my notepad. I'm in a city plopped down in the foothills between Phoenix and Flagstaff. Artificial. Not an organic growth of town and people and churches and apartments and homes and schools and businesses so disdained by those anti-human's who inhabit multi-million dollar condos and chateau's dotted like pustular acne over the face of the civilized world. No, this city was dreamed of and created simply to provide massively more income for the huge developer. And judging by the number of people moving out here, many citizens of Arizona, and elsewhere, have agreed with his dream. When I get off work this early Sunday morning (work consisting of keeping busy enough reading, writing and waving so as not to drop off to an overtime driven sleep) it will feel so pleasing as the tires of the Pegeout begin to tread the rubberized asphalt of the 101 quietly signaling mere moments until I arrive home. Valentine Gorilla Card It's become a grim ritual to listen to the fraudulent health claims made by the snake oil salesmen on the early AM radio infomercials. To hear paid shills somehow magically phoning into the tape-recorded programs to sing the praises of the latest cure for prostate cancer in females. The answer to a good night's sleep (Work your ass off during the day). The cure to whatever ails you. I feel exhausted anticipation as I maneuver through the opening security gate and silently creep into the huge parking area of my 440 unit complex hoping to discover an open space within one hundred feet of my front door. I stumble over the carpet-roll-sized plastic bagged Sunday newspaper on the threshold of my apartment. I hear the swish of the rubber weatherproofing of the door sweep across the .13 cent per square mile entry-way tile as it swings open. I rush to neatly hang up my uniform shirt and pants and to carefully remove my Redwing brand "Chef's Shoes." I then religiously stuff my oaken shoe trees into them, feeling the click as they snap to their fully extended position to stretch the shiny black leather and absorb the sweat of their host's ten hour beating. I peel off my static-clinging Land's End long underwear and my wife-beater undershirt and slip into the softest cotton tee shirt I can snap off a wire hanger. I do this because I know it will be brisk in bed, since I slid open the window, that serves as the headboard to the massive and half-empty Malamud mattress, at 9PM the evening prior. I received an e-mail from the distant Missus on the day of our 27th anniversary bemoaning the fact that she'd been married that long, but did not feel, "Married". For Valentine's day, 72 hours later, my mailbox held a non-romantic card sent from Texas. Remember the Star Trek movie where, during a technical test, the computer voice suddenly asks Spock, "How do you feel?" To me that is just as classic a line as Arnold's, guttural "I'll be back." Or Clint Eastwood's, Dirty Harry, "Make my day" grunting. "How do you feel?" I paused a long time here. Into my palms, I squirted my prescription cream, since the dry Arizona winters that suck the moisture out of popcorn kernels, has turned the skin on my hands white, red and wrinkled. I thought about how in my Finnish-German ethos I was genetically pledged to not ever allow out my true emotions. How I was raised by example to keep them buried and to just "tough it out". To just "Grin and Bare It." Decades of therapy have allowed me to delve deep into my feelings, to explore them, to examine them, to expose them. To rejoice and to weep in them. To actually enjoy the bitter and the sweet of life by savoring them. But right now? "How do you feel?" And I know this answer would never have been accepted during my 20th Century group sessions at the Arizona State Mental Hospital (my first guard-gated community) but, "How do you feel?" Recalling from those same year and one half spanning pee-in-my-pants scary sessions, that feelings must be uttered in a single word; I feel 'blank'. Not empty. Not hollow. Blank. My emotional slate is one of those shiny and slippery whiteboards that erasable felt pens are rubbed against to leave their particular mark. My emotional whiteboard has, finally, after months of weeping, self-doubt and deep, dark, depression, been wiped summer-cloud clean. Will I ever allow 'love' to be written on it again? I don't know. I don't know.
Thursday Afternoon . . . On my DISH satellite system I'm watching "Crocodile Dundee" for about the fifth time. Reminds me of when my best friend, Paul Logan, had come unannounced to my 51st Street home in Scottsdale. My then teen boy, now 33 years old, peering through the peephole asked who it was, and he heard only, "Paul Hogan." He thought that Crocodile Dundee was at the front door. Paul Logan was a lot like Crocodile Dundee. Inside a sun rotted and abandoned miner's shack, he discovered a half-empty case of dynamite so old that the nitroglycerine was bleeding out through the paper. In the early 1970s, Paul roamed the deserts of California destroying the odd boulder and such. Paul Logan, Castle Hot Springs Hotel, Arizona, circa 1976 Then, during the same period, he scaled the fence of the San Diego Zoo and purloined a cute little baby alligator. When the authorities finally tracked him down for his twin crimes, to his bedroom, at his parent's house, before opening a bureau drawer, the A.T.F. agent turned to a handcuffed Paul and asked, "Is this wired to explode?" The air conditioning unit in my apartment comes on in February. Well, it was getting a little hot. Hot in February. Only in wonderful Scottsdale, Arizona. Anyway, Paul had married his best friend. Paul and Renee were born the same day in the same hospital, in Ramona, Cee Aaa. One afternoon, in what was then north Phoenix, a married Paul drove his fourwheel-drive Bronco up the small mountain behind his dwelling. While he was out, Renee packed up and by the time he got back, he was a bachelor. Now twenty-five years later, I'm preparing to become a bachelor too. The following comment isn't just the three mescals and the half-shot of 1800 Tequila talking either . . . But I do suddenly notice women taking interest in me. Of course they'd have to because . . . because I'm so unusual. (Of course it takes a higher I.Q. to decipher my humor.) I'm so 'obviously' enjoying life. I'm a great actor, aren't I? I take a gulp of my coffee-black ice tea seasoned with Crystal-Ice cubes and two pink packets of Sweet and Low. The last time I saw Paul was after I raced him in the desert dark on my BMW R80GS on/off road motorcycle. Paul was behind the wheel of his maroon and white Bronco rocking and rolling his way to the open pit gold mine he was employed at. Of course, even though I had never been there before, I won the contest. Having begun the thirty mile jaunt from the closing of rough cowboy bar on Cave Creek Road north of Bell Road, I didn't realize, until much later that I could have been killed. (Even wearing a full coverage helmet, one doesn't crash a three hundred and fifty pound motorcycle on a rock studded dirt road at forty-five miles per hour and simply dust off and walk away.) Oddly enough, this afternoon, I feel like calling my best female friend, a different Renee, oddly enough, also in California. She e-mailed me the other night saying her marriage was a disaster. 1986 was when Crocodile Dundee was filmed. Eighteen years ago. The cars that were so 'flash' then are just old today. California-Renee consoled me during my really, really dark periods when I thought I was going to die because the Missus had become bored with me. Bored with me, courted by a billionaire and asking for a divorce. Now is it my turn to counsel her? What can I tell her? That was the whole reason I started writing these pages in that I might help some other poor male fool avoid the incredible heart-ache I was experiencing. However, the only thing I've come up with is to trust in God, prayer and time. I'm in a rush to see how totally blasted I can get on mescal and tequila. Why? is anyone's guess. Although I did take a test that came with my budgeting software this morning, a personality test. A test that said I was horribly afraid of attempting any task that I was not sure I could perfectly complete. Maybe that is what is keeping me in my humble position of employment. I have been gifted with rare talents and I'm keeping them under a bushel basket. I've been stepping into my television room while I type this . . . on the television screen, I see New York City's Twin Towers lit up for a night time scene. That was a long time ago. I'm working on a shot of Golden Agave tequila, truly terrible stuff, unless you are already plastered. So odd that Paul Hogan divorced his first wife, a homely and frumpy thing, and married his co-star the quite attractive, Linda Kozlowski. A few years ago, I was rehearsing A.R. Gurney's "The Dining Room" with (my) Renee and we were the only two 'old folks'. And being under extreme stress by an incredibly demanding guest director, I became terribly infatuated with her. She was and still is, quite lovely. But after the performance was over, I recovered from my community college crush and Renee and I became best friends. She's so much like my mother, any more than that would be incest. She also got off the Prozac prescription she was dosing on and became a human being. I'm typing a lot from physical memory now, my brain being turned to warm, gray putty by the massaging effects of the various brands of cactus-derived Mexican alcohol I've been irrigating it with. The movie is over and during the credits I cleaned Mainio's bathroom. That is so weird. That in my last half-century that I get blasted and start working around the house . . . which these days is the apartment. The 1997 movie "Volcano", a favorite of the Missus, is playing now. A 1998 Range Rover SUV, meant to impress in the film, simply looks angular and ancient. The 2003 Range Rover makes the older model look like a World War Two olive green Jeep. Well, I'm fading fast . . . Over and out.

Sunday Afternoon . . . The Missus called today. Due to exaggerated concerns, she thinks she might die soon. Not that she doesn't have good reasons to believe the way she does, but she has no empirical proof of her impending demise. How odd it is that I wouldn't be at all reticent of dying the day after tomorrow, I'm so not fulfilling my destiny. I'm stuck in my life and I would almost as surely feel okay to be stuck six feet into the ground. Ubangi-Shari tribe member Even if there isn't an afterlife (although I strongly believe there is one, based on what Jesus Christ preached) I've seen, I've done enough. From what I've lived through already, there is likely to be just about as much sorrow as there is joy in the remaining four decades or so of my existence and I'd rather just pass on the whole thing. Of course, I've felt the same way since I hit my teens and have discovered that my happiness (spied in circumstances most American's ignore or step over or brush aside) has far outweighed the sadness. And, I must admit, even while suffering through moments of extreme sadness, God has brought clarity and knowledge I previously lacked into my life. But, it isn't up to me when I pass, so here I remain, struggling with my inner demons, only occasionally being able to round them up and cage them before they pick the lock and escape to again pummel my spirit. But, I've accepted that their continued presence is a fact of my life that I will be forced to struggle with until the day I do die. Similar to the radio host who found himself hooked on the $6 a pill OxyContin, realized that he must deal with that particular addiction for the rest of his life. Thank God that, at least, my particular addictions can be satiated with an inexpensive trek to Drinkwater's on (the misspelled) Sahuaro Drive, or a free, single-handed, electronic trip down the dark Matrix-like corridors of the Internet.I took a break from my keyboarding to watch some satellite-fed TV. I had a choice between watching a 1981 rerun of Magnum P.I. or the 2004 SAG Awards, live from California. Seeing the bubbling walkway hostess and a female representative of the organization that put together the multi-thousand dollar gift baskets each presenter receives discuss said baskets, I decided watching the old television series would be more lifelike. It's so refreshing watching the old shows, where, although unlike in real life, virtually all the characters possess perfectly straight and blazing white teeth, few of the actresses sport the Hollywood of Today clearly too-large and too hard artificial breasts or the distorted lips puffed up to the size of Ubangi.
Friday Evening . . . I'm watching our Matrix DVD. The first Matrix movie. The Matrix is the world I believe most people are living in. Similar to the pre-destined Neo in the movie, Dr.Malamud and millions of others on this planet of several billions, a mere less than .1% of the population, chose to live outside of The Matrix. Ever since I experienced the movie almost five years ago, I have thought, "Yes! I live outside of The Matrix." And not that I imagine myself to be a great person, but I believe many great personages throughout time, people who have changed the course of human existence, were living outside of the Matrix. I believe that the person made famous again by the movie, The Passion of the Christ, Jesus Christ himself the God-Man, lived outside The Matrix. San Francisco cable car, note slot where cable resides middle front Of course, as a man, He was not cognizant of stepping outside the boundaries of The Matrix, but his soul, his God-being, was eternally beyond the grasp of The Matrix. Beyond the constraints of time and physicality. After all, God created time for His finest immortal creation, Man. (Actually the finest, even though I'm in the second year of a threatened divorce, is, Woman.) I was listening to Jay Leno on "Inside the Actor's Studio" the other night, and again I was struck with the everlasting influence mother's have on their boys. The everlasting love mother's cradle their baby boys with. In the 20th and even into the 21st Century, typically, the mother spends more time with her offspring than the Father. And this is vitally important to young males. I am grateful for the many good things I genetically and culturally inherited from my father. But, how many noble truths did I learn from my mother? An author once speculated that women were so very different from men because their brains were never split into two separate-functioning hemispheres like males are. He believed that the distinctly different modus operandi that most women wield, is due to the fact that the logical side of their brain is in parallel processing mode along with their emotional side, allowing them a more comprehensive and balanced view of their situation. (Except when voting for Presidential candidates. Then I would prefer the picks of Punxsutawney Phil over that of many females.) Men find their lives driven by the focused, fact-finding, black and white, logical side of their brain, which was virtually cleaved from the feeling half while they were still fetal-sized in the womb. That's why ladies, when you tell a man your problems, we are immmediately off to fix them. Problem solving which appears so gallant when you're a struggling single-mom, but is quite unnecessary when you're married and cruising the fur-lined aisles of a Nordstrom's. Back in The Matrix, Trinity pleads with Neo, as he holds open the rear suicide door of the 1964 Lincoln while threatening to exit the vehicle, "Because you have been down there, Neo. You have been down that road. You know exactly where it ends."  I too have studied that dreary road Trinity speaks of. And it is cloying and colorless and common place and drab and dull and flat and insipid and monotonous and mundane and plebeian and routine and spiritless and stodgy and stuffy and tedious and tiresome, trite and uninteresting. But that road is so easy to travel. A path that is easily compared to a San Francisco cable car clamped to the baseball bat-sized sturdy steel rope, invisible beneath the asphalt, which is dragged by the engines in the faraway powerhouse, as it travels up and down and along the same narrow route every day for weeks that soon stretch into decades and then a lifetime. The gripman pulls the lever which grabs the underground moving cable And so sadly, a lifetime, if we chose to ride the cable car, that can never go faster than the powerhouse's pull allows. And that's good, because under those artificial conditions, we cannot possibly injure the ego of any of our fellow passengers <grin>. Tonight, I sigh and see my own soul seated on the butt-worn-shiny wooden bench of that cable car of life. We die, from the so often cited "natural causes." Natural causes which are the oxidation and the clogging and the stultifying effects of a life of boredom. A life of sameness. We die of a life lead the way we imagine will least upset everyone else on our street, or at our school, or our church, or at our place of employment. When I begin to tell the events of my life, my listeners often gasp and stare. And, in the beginning, I was astonished. I thought everyone had lived similar lives. I imagined that everyone had had guns pulled on them while inside restaraunts, had been chased through the early morning streets by Phoenix's finest while riding two-up on an under powered motorcycle, had gone over double any speed limit in a sunflower yellow Lamborghini Countach, had shotgun-blasting dove hunters almost kill them while laying flat in the bushes, an incredibly powerful, three foot long black and white King snake wriggling in their grip or ended a volcanic cinder pathed motorcycle race in the back of ambulance racing not towards the finish line, but instead to the nearest emergency room. I am so blessed by my God to have such a varied life. Such a, dare I say it? An exciting life? My biggest discovery came thirteen years ago, when I realized that, unlike at this very moment, I did not have to be stinking drunk to do what I wanted to do, to say what I wanted to say or to act the way I felt like acting.
FRIDAY . . . I could barely find an empty parking space tonight. And then I remembered it's Friday evening and everyone is out looking for love. Looking for action. Looking for distraction. Looking for happiness. And whom do I see who are happy? Happy right where they are? Happy without, as we say in computer lingo, any plug-ins? Any add-ons? Children. I couldn't help smiling as I dragged myself from the mighty Peugeot to my apartment door this afternoon. I marveled as I watched a little girl, totally occupied and focused on her writing and her original art. On the sidewalk. beautiful lady puffing on a Cuban Accomplished simply, cheaply, and mere feet away from where she lives. Accomplished using margarine-stick-sized blocks of colored chalk. White, yellow and blue. A sidewalk, some chalk and she's having a blast. The cigar shop has five or six mega-fat-asses dwarfing the tiny poker table they are bent over and crowded around. Eschewing diets and exercise, while avoiding mirrors, these smoldering behemoths pride themselves in their grossly swollen torsos. Mired in the ancient and deadly illusion that huge size equals great strength. Inside the Starbucks, the lady with the fashionably-ripped pocket on her Levi's, closes up her briefcase of jewelry she was showing. I didn't think people did that anymore. What a way to earn a living. As I see scads of men and women heading for the pickup-bar-disguised-as-a-restaurant, I suppose I should feel sad. Or lonely. But when I think about it, many of those people are more lonely than I am and are willing to risk the degradation of a pick-up bar and wear the calories of purchased at a Mexican food restaurant. The beautiful turquoise and silver pen I covet is inside the cigar shop. Usually it's closed at this hour, but now it is open and crammed full with the aforementioned two-legged hippos. I'm afraid during their grazing, should I enter the store, I could lose a limb when it might be mistaken for a Wisconsin summer sausage. Shadowed by a Cuban-scented tobacco cloud, a single poker player triumphantly tramps out the open front door, a winner, while displaying a pair of breasts through his clinging pullover sweater, that any teenage girl would be proud of. This night is so refreshing. With the sun setting in the west, you could turn and witness the heavy, low black clouds of a storm ending in a straight line on the eastern horizon. Breathtaking. Now I remember why I originally left the apartment! It was to get away, to an uncluttered spot in my life, in order to memorize the thirty or so lines a producer had e-mailed me from Canada. Better get to work.
March 2004

TUESDAY . . . Damn. I've been putting in so many hours (140 hour of them over the last fourteen days) that all I seem to have time for is, 'the job', the drive to the job, and finally, the well-earned collapse onto the sumptuous and half-empty Malamud mattress. I've been busier than Bill Clinton at a convention for corpulent call-girls in downtown Corpus Christi. At one point, I had even agreed to put in twenty-one hours straight at three different gates. Fortunately, my power-hungry, moron-manager had one of the shifts wrong. To be both power-hungry and a moron is an incredibly pathetic persona to populate. I sorely miss the leisure time with my teen boy, Mainio. I even miss sitting through the insane Japanese cartoons he watches on the I feel great after my sixteen hour days, because when I get home I'm totally bushed, and feel as if I actually accomplished something during the day. Of course, that is the rub. When you are employed as a 'gate host' (doesn't that sound so much better than, 'security guard'?) it is, by design, impossible to get caught up. Or to get ahead. Every day, you get another line of vehicles streaming past your gate. But, then again, this is a job that you absolutely leave 'at the office.' Like Donald Rumsfeld, in a room full of anti-war pacifists, a successful gate guard quickly learns to shrug off slights, put downs and condescending glances. It's so odd that I naturally am not a people-person, but yet success (if you can call it that) as a gate guard, depends on how you well you can handle people. I've probably mentioned this before, but around fifteen years ago, I realized that I thought I was getting just a little too-big for my britches. So, I prayed to God to be humbled. And, I was. Within a span of eighteen months, I had lost my gold-mine of a business and both of my parents. Just when I was getting good at funeral eulogies, I ran out of parents. And now, I am forced into a position where to be humble, forgiving and understanding of others shortcomings, makes the job a whole lot easier. Weekdays, the ancient Mr.G relaxes in my guardhouse, recovering from his daily walk, sitting out of site of the individuals I interrogate. Often, as vehicles pull away, my comments, inaudible to the occupants of the vehicles, will find Mr.G, laughing so hard that his $35,000 Medicare paid-for Medtronic manufactured and Mayo Hospital implanted defibrilator stops his heart and I am left performing CPR until the para-medics once again appear.
April 2004

TUESDAY . . . Damn. I've been putting in so many hours (36 of them over the prior two days) that I literally have only time for the Job and the drive to and fro the Job. Mere days ago, I was able to swing by the Safeway on the way home and snag some necessities. But this week, facing four sixteen hours days in a row (ended with the now normal sprint of seventeen hours sprinkled from 5AM Saturday until 10AM Sunday) I am left with time only to get home, shower, spray starch and iron uniforms, unwind with a massive injection of room temperature, xanthous, Mexican Mezcal and then watch re-runs of the television series starring the actor who could be my twin, Tom Selleck. All this in preparation for, like a massively blubbered bull walrus, scooting my battered torso from the foot of the half-vacant Malamud mattress to its headboard, placing my weary head on my pillows and passing out. As I age, I'm gathering more wisdom. Wisdom which doesn't just fall from the sky the way my dyed-brown hair tumbles from my scalp. Wisdom comes from the humbling and weathering effects of life as it rushes by like a swift stream first smoothing and then cutting into porous rock. In contrast, life's passing cuts existing grooves deeper on the surface of my brain. The deeper grooves being able to cradle more wisdom. My wisdom is also increased by the non-stop reading of numerous non-fiction books or, while traversing the vast distances of the American Southwest, by listening to cds rented from "Books on Tape". Meanwhile, my fellow American's seek sageness from TV shows such as "Sex and the City", "Friend's", and "Seinfeld", ladled with massive doses of professional sports to avoid brain-strain. (However, the Ted Danson-starring series titled Becker does indeed very often provide pithy and correct elucidations concerning life in the USA.) Sometimes wisdom comes to me only by first shoving to a remote corner of my cranium, the problems of the world, then relaxing and letting fall my shoulders, followed by intently seeking out and savoring all the little things that typically go unnoticed, even though they happen right in front of me. Right in front of us. Of course wisdom by itself provides scant solace, especially within the dark swirls of a pending divorce. The wife's divorce-wish that continues to slice my emotions like the razor-sharp pendulum swinging to and fro, while edging closer and closer, in the Edgar Allen Poe novel, "The Pit and the Pendulum". However, wisdom does provide a stable emotional platform to begin to experience the enjoyment of being alive in spite of my current hardships of being alone, lonely and broke both emotionally and economically. I am facing the choice of a line of ink-black clouds on one horizon and multi-hued rainbows salted with golden mists warmed by the sun on the other. Certainly most sane people would surely chose the latter rather than the former . . . of course, I am not entirely sane, as a long ago eighteen month residency behind the high galvanized barbed wire frosted fences of the Arizona State facility at the corner of 24th Street and Van Buren would seem to attest to. What is happiness? As I get older I see with more and more certainty that, as free, prosperous, and coddled American's, the pursuit of happiness drives everything we do. Other than seeking connection to our Creator or to answer the question, "Why am I here?" I believe that happiness is the end desire of most all of our actions while on Earth. Which brings me back to the happiest people on all the planet. The children. Children can be happy with a bent and torn cardboard box, a piece of chalk, or a pile of rocks. As young boys, 'Crazy Brother Pat' and I spent endless summertime hours captivated by the magic of a magnifying glass in focusing the sun's rays onto the backs of red ants, cooking them as surely as if they were citizen's of Hiroshima in the early August of 1945. Or the force of a father-supplied magnet to pluck black whiskers of ferrous filings from the dun-colored desert dirt. Last Tuesday, while on patrol, I came across four, first or second grade boys, throwing rocks at a poor snake attempting to hide under a scraggly bush. After I dissuaded the lads from their bombardment of the innocent seven foot pit-viper, they immediately turned and ran off down the steeply slanted sidewalk to complete their next task. I should say that two rode off on bicycles and two ran just as fast as their little Nike's would carry them. Ran without thinking, without fear of failure or judgment. Ran without winner's and loser's in mind. And, not being equipped with eighteen years of the prescribed education, six-digit incomes, no-limit credit cards, or center court season tickets, these cherubs, in the few seconds of dashing from delightful discovery to discovery, were having more fun than most grown-ups would be able to make room for in decades.
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