July 14, 2001

My diary has suffered from constant interruption.  I try not to totally seclude myself, so when I get the chance to be out with the roommates or whatever.  Even if it’s just watching TV.  And I really don’t like watching TV.  You feel your stomach sort of expand and your muscles atrophy and I believe you actually de-evolve.  Slid backwards down the DNA ladder to one-celled organism.

Here I am – my first solo day of work!  Listening to Lyric FM and the mournful wail of opera.  I just get so sick at work – so afraid and apprehensive and stressed – I feel my skin almost leaping off my bones, like someone has hooked my skin in hundreds of places and someone is trying to pull me out of the ocean.  Into the boat.  Out of the frying pan into the fire.  But why am I afraid?  And of what am I afraid?  Of not serving fast enough and getting yelled at and proving to myself that I am useless.  I have a crippling fear of failure in A CONVENIENCE STORE.

Breifene just called to check up on me – he reassured me and just said, “Take your time.  You’ll make some mistakes.  Just take your time.  Charge £1 for small things and £5 for large things if you don’t know.”

I’m just so afraid of failure.  And making mistakes.  I take them so to heart.  I just can’t convince myself that I’m worth being here.  Taking up space and people’s thought and mom’s money and the time of the people around me.  I feel like I walk on a razor blade’s invisible edge.  Walking bites the blade into my feet, so I wonder if I should go – there must be an end, after all.  But instead I stay in the same spot, where my own weight and the mass of my inactivity pulls me down and will eventually cleave me in two.  But so what?  I work in a NEWSAGENT’S.  Even the boss is telling me to chill out.  That it will be fine and I should just take my time.  I’m making £4.95 and I think the most important thing here is that I show up and stay to the end.  Everything else is icing on the cake.  I just always feel like such a failure.  I just don’t need any proof.

Getting in this morning was a bit of a scare – the key has two separate and wholly different sides, of which I was not aware, so for a full five minutes I fruitlessly went from lock to lock pushing and tugging with all my might – maybe the key’s in too far?  Maybe it’s not in enough!  Maybe I need to turn it harder.  Maybe softer.  Of course my blood pressure rose into the air in a geyser of stress and I just knew that somehow it was fucked up and I’d never get in and I had no contact number or anything for Angela or Breifene and I would just sit outside the locked gates all day, weeping until Aoife came at 2 to relieve my tear swollen red wrinkled shuddering body.  And of course now I have mournful music on the radio.  Clarinets weeping out of the speaker.

God, I just want to go back to the States and be with my friends.  New York is a whole new set of problems, but at least I would be with my friends and I’d know that someone cared and thought I was funny and interesting.  And I knew there’d be a home to which I could look forward to returning.  And now all they’re playing is mournful oratorio and requiem.  I also think I’ve just rubbed newsprint ink all over my face.

Enough.  I’m getting myself into a mood.  No need to waste paper and ink and time on crap I know I feel.  And exploring it would be one thing, but I’m wallowing.

Work is fine.  Trained 10-2 the past two days with Angela.  She’s quite fun – I’m rather sad to be without her today.  I wish I could remember exactly what she said and how she delivered it yesterday, but the following will have to do.

“Ireland will never mix.  You know.  Now, I’m not a racist.  I think that everyone should be allowed to do whatever they want to.  But the coloreds.  The coloreds.  They intimidate you.  You know?  They know they have a power over you.  If you don’t give them a job or whatever they report you to the commission or whatever.  Yeah.  They do.  They intimidate you.  That’s why you never make eye contact.  That’s what I do.  I never make eye contact with them because then they know they have you.  And all they have to do is sue you and it’s your fault.  It happened to a bus driver.  He provoked him and he got a bit flustered and you know he said something and he sued him for £10,000 and he won.  Now this was a fellah in a suit, you know what I mean, he knew what he was doing.  So he provoked him and the driver lost his temper and said, you know, ‘you black bastard’ or something.  They have a power over you.  They intimidate you, they do.  Now they say that there’s 10,000 of ‘em comin’ in each month.  Legally or illegally.  Whatever you like.  And that’s just the ones that come in and get checked.  Who knows how many are slipping across the border without anyone knowing?  And they all come here pregnant on top of that.

And the travelers.  They’re the scum of the earth.  The law is that if they’re on your land then you are responsible for making them leave.  It is your responsibility.  You can take them to court but that takes months and months.  So what they do, the travelers, they come to you and say, ‘For £10,000 I’ll get off your land.  I’ll leave.’  So you have to pay them to get off your land.  The scum of the earth.  And then they’ll ring you up.  If you have a pub or a restaurant or a hotel.  And they’ll ring and say they’d like to book for 50 people and you think, well, maybe business is a little bit slow, so you say okay.  Then they arrive and it’s a traveller’s wedding.  And they want to have the reception there.  And there’s the bride and the groom and the traveler families.  And pretty soon they’ve been drinking and get to fighting and your place is trashed.  And what can you do?  If you throw them out they’ll sue.  They’re from England and Ireland.  From Romania – Bulgaria –  them’s the gypsies.  I saw on television they interview them and they say, ‘2 pounds!  2 pounds I earn all month!  2 pounds!  And it cost me £10,000 to get here!’  But no one ever asks where they got that £10,000 from.  Where’s that from?  And if you ask – eh?  What?  I don’t understand.  But where’s that £10,000 from?  They must have done something illegal to get that money.  Big crime those are into.  Drugs and what have you.  But also big time crime.  And what are we going to do about them?  What are we going to do with all them.  All of them coming here pregnant and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

I have failed to capture her manner of expression.  Words are punctuated by clenching her face into a vinegar kiss or growling out words from the corner of her mouth.  She spoke facing profile to me, slipping her face slyly around to ooze out a derisive phrase.  Really very enjoyable to watch.

Cutest Italian couple – man with brown mustache and combover with a burgundy camera strapped across his shoulder next to his gray-streaked wife with silver teeth.

This rules!  Irish music on the classical station!  THAT perks me up!

I can’t cross my legs back here!  Smaller than a hallway!

I would love for Declan to go home tonight as Rafal and Kate hide in his room whenever they’re not eating so I’d be alone to write and telephone!

Only an hour and a half to go!

I really hope I have reams of fun, personal email.  That would make my day.  I also feel like I will want to buy another phone card and just chat them away.  If I can get in touch with anyone, that is.

The Northern Ireland peace process seems a doomed venture.  On the July 12th demonstrations to mark the Battle of the Boyne.  112 officers injured, two in hospital.

I CANNOT BELIEVE IT!  THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT ARIA IS ON THE RADIO!  WHAT have I been whistling for days?  And for hours already today?!  And all I wanted was to hear this song and her birdlike staccato!  Aah!  And here I am a great believer in signs!  This station is so funny – the radio commentators are quite critical, saying of one recording, “Rather nice, but with some rather dark and boring bits.”  And NOW the beautiful Blue Danube!

I had my first bizarre customers – a woman short fat English looking for a “property paper” that she knows comes out accompanied by her ethnically distinct daughter who looks Italian olive complexioned or Spanish sun baked.  She was a grown woman in her own right but called the pale fat one “Ma” and had her buy her a chocolate to “drown her sorrows.”

I want to go to the movies and smell all that popcorn butter grease deep in the seats and rugs and walls and huddle with my friends and watch some horrible B movie which was the only thing we could agree upon between Chris’ teenage fantasies, Nick’s arthouse crap and Chad’s mindless murder films.  The movie would suck but we would all like it except for Nick but that’s part of the experience, and then we’d all cram into Nick’s tan leather-interior Taurus – because the Ford WORKS! – or Josh’s Van of God with new age, pink stone crucifix handing from the rearview and striking loudly and valiantly to Tastee or Denny’s or Amphora to eat a bacon philly cheese steak and blare STP at the top of our lungs.

All right, I’m starting to get tired.  It’s probably mostly from fatigue that comes when the end is near and your body begins to relax out its adrenaline.  Just 8 weeks of this grind – then off to travel!  See Europe – actual Europe.  Not its farthest flung outpost.

“20 Silk Cut Ultra” when barked by a Japanese in a black and white check blazer is absolutely incomprehensible.  He was very patient with my misunderstanding however, and I’ve learned there’s no problem that pointing and laughing can’t overcome.

I wondered why we sold tights here – it’s for the staff.  They must be very strict about runs, the management.  I’ve sold 2 pairs already.  The number was very blurred, so from the general shape of the ink smudge and my growing understanding of what things cost, I guessed the big black smear was £1.99.  Luckily, I guessed correctly.  It is, after all, the little things.

Handel’s rousing Zadok the Priest.  Please, radio, spare me the dirges and keep feeding me bits of bright music to get me through this last and most difficult hour… now a half hour.  Ah, the relativity of time.  Walking here makes thirty minutes pretty much fly by.  Sitting here with my ass paralyzing will extend it, I’m sure.


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