I dreamed last night that someone came in and asked for half a litre of winegums. I had to try to explain to her that they were not a liquid and the litre is a liquid measure. She smiled, nodded, and asked again. I don’t like dreaming about work. I just sort of realized last night how similar this job is to the government job. I haven’t any friends to come home to, I am bored to tears at work, and I work seven hours at what seems a dream job for someone like me. Difference is that I got an hour for lunch at the government job so my day was cut into halves. I could also REALLY read as I was interrupted much less. I also got paid OVER TWICE what I do for the newsagents and I did have Dad and I did do it for a MUCH longer time. And I managed just fine. Why can’t I learn from the past?
Ah, but what happened after the government job? Sure, I managed to get through. But I also went insane. But, as I’m so hell-bent on seeing patterns in life, that can also mean that life changed profoundly, and it certainly will when I return and move up to New York for whatever that may hold. Natalie wrote me an enthusiastic and no doubt drug-induced email about going up to visit the apartment and just raving about its location and how excited she is about living up there.
Anyway – yesterday. Yesterday was one of those beautiful days of hope and promise that are doomed from the beginning. I planning on doing my tax things and then just going somewhere into the hills and soaking up the sun and unbelievable weather. Get a bunch of exercise to work out the daily chocolate bars that mitigate my boredom and work out the five or six pints I’d had the night before with Maeve and her hot physio-friends. Leisurely exercise, leisurely shower, leisurely dressing. I went to look in my bag and – it was not there. My notebook – THIS notebook – was not tucked safely away in its usual spot. I felt sick and panicked – where was it? Had I lost it? Had I left it out – no, nothing’s on the dresser. Oh god – I left it at work.
I needed to have it. I felt naked and more alone than usual. This book is all I have – the one I share my life with, my only companion. I must have it! I couldn’t wait until the next day – I needed to write! And what if someone read it? What if it got lost?
I pretty near ran through my tax errands – getting the letter from USIT then going to the PAYE office on Lower Mount Street. I figured that then I could run by to get my notebook, pick up my check, and go check email where all my friends would have emailed me and run off to the sunshine green countryside. It would be nothing more than a little hiccup in my day, and I’d have my journal back.
“It’s very lucky you came by today. You might be the answer to her prayers.”
Fuck. I hate it when people say shit like that. It can only mean trouble.
Madge, the voicebox-less incredibly part-time other employee, was on a waiting list for a hospital bed so she couldn’t come in. Could I please do her shift for her?
Like a putz I said yes. Why do I care? Why do I want to be responsible? Why? So on my ONLY day off, the ONE, SINGULAR, SOLE BEAUTIFUL DAY THAT DUBLIN WILL HAVE EVER EVER EVER EVER – I was sucked into work without even a windowpane full of enjoyment in the weather. I ran and checked my email at a very expensive place – I couldn’t make it to my place and back in time for 2PM – and there was a cursory response from Shannon and not as many emails as I would have hoped from the two days of not checking them.
Sad, dejected, disappointed, I trudged back through the mirthful mocking sunshine and stewed in my own hideous juice of disappointment for seven hours. Oh, and payday is Friday, not Thursday, so I didn’t even have a check full of consolation.
6 shifts down. 1/5 through. By Tuesday – the next day off that I will NOT relinquish – I will have 10 down and be 1/3 through!
I have to run now. Back to the salt mines.
* * *
“Do you sell Johnnies, then?”
“Con – doms.”
* * *
I am quite shaken. The strangest thing EVER has just happened to me. I was swapping my boring pound coins for a bonanza of millennium coins – which I plan to give away as gifts on my return – when a woman popped around the corner and said, “Boo!” Then, all of a sudden, she began to weep and sob inconsolably and mutter about what I gather to be her very young husband with whom she has had four children who is suffering from cancer. He still has his hair but his size 32 jeans he has to roll the waist over. It’s lung cancer.
I didn’t know what to do. She’d screw up her eyes and big heavy tears would erupt from nowhere. I offered her some tissues. She kept holding out her hand to me and I really couldn’t understand what she was saying. It felt callous, but I finally asked, “Is there anything you want?”
“20 Silk Cut Blue, please.”
She paid with a rumpled £5 note, screwed up like the tissues in her hand by grief. I didn’t want to look at her eyes and make a spectacle of her grief, so I just stared at the inch-long thick straight black hair on her chin, just right to the center of her under lip. She held out her hand again and what could I do but hold it and say, “It will be all right, I promise,” as her other hand was thrown backwards to cover her face.
She released me. I gave her the rest of the tissues. She grasped my hand again, turned, left.
What was I to do?
Grief is very hard to deal with. And scary. If you open yourself up to enough to understand then you’ll break down as well. Also, when you’re not inconsolable it is hard to understand how anyone else could be at that point where they weep their life story out to a foreigner in a newsagents. But they are not actually telling you anything. They’re venting the pressure of the grief and the words and tears are the overflows of emotion.
* * *
“Do you have any still water?”
“Yep, in the fridge.”
“How much is it?”
“Is that a pound?”
Man takes pills punched out of silver card.
“It’s called being sick on the plane.”
“I never have a problem with that. I just can’t sleep. Ever.”
“That’s no problem. Not with these. And I fly at LEAST two times a week.”
“But it’s NOT psychological. It’s an inner ear problem. Have you got a bin back there? Cheers.”
* * *
The weeper returns.
“How are you doin’?”
“Oh, y’know. Cryin’ all the time.”
“Ah. Do you work here?”
“Yeah. Well, I was. Not here. I work next door at the Citibank.”
“How old would you guess I was?”
“Oh, I don’t know.”
“Go on, guess. Be honest.”
“No, really. I have no idea.”
“No, be honest. What’s the first thing that comes into your head?”
“I don’t know. Forty?”
“Do I look forty?”
“I don’t know.”
“Come on. Be honest.”
“Honestly, I learned long ago that quick judgments are always off – wrong. So I don’t make them.”
“Fair enough. I’m 42. Good man.”
She clasps my hand again and goes. She poked the relic blueberry muffin atop the register as she left.
* * *
The weeper has returned again.
“Do you have any chocolate covered peanuts?”
“Yes, we do.”
“Up there. Behind you.”
“Behind you. Up there. In the green.”
“How much are they?”
“Lemmee see. £1.09.”
“Do me a favor and say a mass.”
She pulls change out of her pocket and a magician’s endless crumple of toilet paper follows. She hands me a £1 coin.
“Do me a favor and just take that, would you?”
And she’s gone again.
* * *
What the hell am I supposed to do? The weeper was just ejected from the hotel. The tall dark hair who did it waved her out then turned to tall blond hair and went, “Ah. I’m so upset,” in memorial of her husky tone. And laughed. I think she must have been in the pub drinking, building up those garbage bags under her eyes – so severe as to be folded over on her face like envelope flaps – with alcohol as well as her tears.
* * *
Good God I wish that I’d stayed in German. Then perhaps I could communicate with the guests.
* * *
It was odd – I was brick hit by terrible empty an hour before the offing. I twitch shake shivered through the take, hands quivered and I was all at the bottom of my hole. Then, I crouched down and I up sprang to ecstasy. Full fast and hard. Wide-eyed innocent joy highwire walk back home, not seeing as I nosed through Dublin with Led Zepplin pounding my burning ears. Stop lights red lights, green walk men sauntering made no never-mind as I glid out in intersections, not pausing to take in colors except as window dressing. My head quick flicked like a bird as I oh I’ve lost it.
I’m afraid to be happy because each mountain has its climbers dead on its slopes and the feet are much bigger than the head. And for every head there’s two feet, one on each side. And one is always sinister. How fast will I fall this time? And to where? And why now to me at end of fine day with cash in hand ending to £150 tune? Mayhaps a gift. A thank you. A chance to feel like others and not be pin-pricked by life until I am a sea of bleeding unseeable dot holes straight to my heart. It’s all in me – it’s about time I felt what happiness was like more than a ten second 99 ice cream flake straw. With one of four chocolate please not lime how disgusting on ice cream?
But I never just surf, but stop take core samples to see if the Romans smoked lead. Rarity causes this. Unhappy is my life and like duck water off-back flowing it fills my life. But happiness? So rare. We kick dirt rocks of quartz which everywhere are found, but gold deserves a second look a bite between the teeth and I can’t believe I could be lucky enough to find it?! There must be something wrong with it. And by the time you’re done biting your suspicions away you’re left down with the feet.
Now my brain is brown sludging mud into itself, smothering the center joy before I’ve bathed in it.
I’ve been having a great time with Maeve lately, especially after that evening of Wednesday at McGavin’s in Phipsboro when drunken stumbling home we trekked. But, just like Roisin, as I get closer to someone – purely chaste friend feelings – they get lost to me. To Egypt or the boyfriend.
Joy makes me invincible. I think no fried delight desire can kick me, stab my side with over-doubling slices of gall. I smell and I desire. I think and I do. There are no consequences!
I suppose it’s good I’m never happy for long. Who knows what I’d do? But now I’m slipping out of it. I read it in my words and feel it in my ink. The backdoor is rattle-hinged as the fire steps out and only common thoughts are left like the weepers crumbled tissues on the dead empty dance floor. They’ve all gone to pulse somewhere else. My muscles knit back together and my head wood blocks again. Too short, too sweet, too dearly missed.
Why now happen did this to me to my brain muddle cup? So good I’ve been and calm and wracking sad lonely disappointment in bitter disillusionment tea I’ve drank but before no hang-over. That was pride one of mine strength though endless sadness a sanity pervades. But no longer. A crack for real my egg is out and shell will not glue up.
Please don’t let me go so far away from home. Aah! Terror as I shake.
Stop. Relax. Please.
Why am I alone?
Please hold me.
My eyes are wide again, but in headlight deer fear.
I had that skin sweat in the shop in the final hour though the fan blew stamps in maelstrom of all-day coolness but only then I suffered as body tears flew from my pores as I got on the rollercoaster. Maybe it’s a rollercoaster and down you start up fast quick screams hair blown back then again the long climb.
I had hoped to be on the hill longer.
But down up down up finish the sequence and let the answer be up and yes I’ll pull out of the dive and soar again.
Someone’s poured cement behind my eyes and it’s dripping down my spine and fills my forearms with gravity as my head lolls ragdoll to the right and I stare solid but for the live ink feed that barely pulls it out of the quicksand. The opposite of depression is desire and I have to keep wanting and moving and caring to keep my head straight and that bedtime comes with 3 exercises and a sleep to prepare for the early tomorrow time of newspaper stuffing at Thanksgiving and hung over British needing the cigarette spark to get the engines lubed and they’re off for another day of abuse and wrong-currency using.
I just want to be beautiful and loved and held but my body aches and my clothes don’t fit and alone I go to bed in ugly town to go alone work for hours of my tiny life.