August 4, 2001

“We all have an affinity, yes?  I think, maybe, that I have an affinity for being nobody.” – Rafal.

An affinity for mediocrity.

Looking up at that hole in the ceiling is like peering into the spine of my room.

I told Aoife about my assault yesterday.  She gasped and implored me not to hold it against Ireland.  She offered to pay me not to tell my friends at home, or at least put a disclaimer on the end of the email that said, “But I love Ireland.”

Sorry, Aoife, no such luck.

More later.  Tired and must open at too damn early tomorrow.  At least I can still say “tomorrow” instead of the daunting “in a few hours.”

20 days from now – I will be DONE with this hated job!  15 shifts to go!  Goodnight.

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August 3, 2001

I woke up to Eva in my bed.

I was sleeping on the floor.

Yesterday was a pretty amazing day.

The night before I had stayed up late with Rafal – until about 2 in the morning – trying to learn a little Polish.  And THAT was after phone calls from both Gregg and Natalie.  Natalie succeeded in stressing me out sufficiently about New York – the ASTRONOMICAL fees involved in setting up shop.  I also realize I’ll have to do the job search thing ALL OVER AGAIN.  Rejection, acceptance, 7-11.  A deadly cycle.

Anyway, had great fun with Rafal – went into town with him the next day as he brought his smooth £90.00 suit – in light because he is dark, yes? – and then into Trinity where I checked my email for free but couldn’t send anything out.  Then I went down to Henry St. to that camping store where I bought a £5.00 backpack as I’ve realized that as much as I love my leather satchel, it is not meant for my lifestyle at the moment and it’s giving me pain in my right hip.

My legs have actually hurt quite a lot lately – that feeling of tingles when you haven’t walked for a while.  BUT I walk every day for at least an hour, if not more.  Maybe I need better shoes – some sort of hideous, ergonomic, plastic, space-age trainers.  THERE’S an idea.  Or maybe I’ll just continue to suffer for fashion.  If only I’d brought my Bongwater blacks!

It’s a pretty generic rucksack, so I went and bought an Irish patch for it – and two others as they were on sale! – and due to the strength of the canvas have only managed to stitch it 1/3 way on.

I wanted to see Playboy of the Western World at the Abbey, but they had no tickets.  At all.  For the entire rest of the run.  So what was I reduced to?  I went and saw Jurassic Park III.  It was a toss-up between that and Swordfish, but Jurassic Park was on the fabled great screen in theatre #1, so I went for that one.

I chose wrong.

To be brief, it was an awful story devoid of anything interesting or even mildly believable.  God-awful it was.  A waste of the film it was printed on.  On which it was printed.  The dinosaurs get better and better – they were great – but they NOT a movie make.  And, to be honest, they were almost peripheral to the ridiculous human stories.

I came home and went through THE GREATEST GIFT EVER!  FTC sent me a package with photos of the banner and program, a little pin, and even some letters that some people wrote.  It meant more to me than I can ever express.

Holly wrote me an email asking if I was pissed at her.  I responded that she made no sense to me anymore and that I hope she has a nice life.  I don’t mean it to be nasty – I just don’t think I can constructively have her in my life.  I really wonder how she’ll respond.

Sitting in my room, surrounded by my FTC gifts, Kevin came in and asked me to go to Molloy’s by Christchurch for a pint and an open mic night.  As I’d eaten literally all day I wanted to do the walk, but Kevin met a Kevin he’d met at Kavanagh’s who just happened to be going to that self-same open mic night at Molly’s.

I have to break here.  I am shaking tremendously upset.  Walking home after a perfectly long and mind-numbing day at work, feeling slightly revived by the omni-present Counting Crows, I was blind-sided by a stupid midget knacker bitch.  Out of the middle of nowhere.  Passing the bus booth before the train bridge, two girls arm in arm – flanked by two redfaced useless bits of boy meat – ran past me at top speed and whacked me in the chest with a fully outstretched arm.

It hurt.  Nearly knocked the wind out of me.

Of course I stop and turn around, pulling earphones down from my ears.  They are almost past the bus stop at the rate they’re running.  The short assaulting bitch with nasty blond shoulder-skimming course hair looks back to presumably gauge her effect.

“What the fuck?!” I yell.

The boy beasts sense a challenge and in the presence of what passes for the female of their sub-evolved species and they all come back to swarm me and make incomprehensible threats about my glasses and me being a faggot.  The girls are the worst, crowding in with their faces full of bad teeth and tar-stained acne flesh.  I know that I can’t take on four people, my glasses would be broken and my shit would get stolen by the harpies as they pulled my hair and bit my skin with their rows of sceptic snaggled teeth.  So I had to just stand there and take the shit.  I haven’t been made fun of since high school.  How do people go through life like that?

All I could do was yell, “Fuck you” as I left.  I had my money – £170 – in my pocket and a clear understanding of the odds.  Still I hate it.  It was all good fun for them, made them feel big and powerful and clever and invincible.  It just made me tremble like a leaf.

I hate eating other people’s shit.  I get so angry.  So I come down to my room, put my money away and stripped away all my things of value, washed my face several times, and then went out to see if they were waiting for the bus.  To finally stand up to someone.

But no.  I guess as luck would have it they had merrily frolicked on to destroy other’s people’s sense of esteem and – no.  FUCK THEM.  They don’t get me.  They don’t win.  I stood up and didn’t back down.  Didn’t just keep walking like nothing happened.  Stood my ground.  All I could be expected to do.

Maeve said, “Oh, knacker kids.  Yeah, they scare me.  I’m not afraid of men in dark alleys.  I’m afraid of those kids.”

Declan said, “Don’t let it bother you.  Hell, Kevin and I would have gone out and beaten the shit out of them for you.”

I actually really would have liked that.

The other reason I got hit – it was day 16 – halfway through work!  So I obviously couldn’t have TWO days of happiness without the bitter.  My horoscope said NOTHING about this!

That’s Ireland.  Had such a wonderful evening before, and so I had to get attacked on the street.  Good and bad back to back.  At least I wasn’t mugged – I still have my money and all my shit and my anal virginity.

All I wanted was to come home and sleep off the end of this hangover and be fresh for work tomorrow.  Now I’m all riled and hyper-sensitive about my chest and how it feels throbbing embarrassment and insult.  But I’m better now.  Fucking knacker children.

Where we left off, on my happy balance day of yesterday, when everything went so well, it was an evening of coincidence.  We finally got on the bus after waiting literally as long as it would have taken us to walk where the bus took us.  Kevin was schmoozing the band folks and trying to drum up some business and work some new connections.  As we walked up to the second floor of the bus I sat down right behind no less than Paddy!  Who was on his way into town to drink to the end of his thesis and all meet up in Zanzibar on the northside quays.  We promised to meet them later.

A hike from the bus terminus brought up past Christchurch and to Molloy’s, which was where Roisin used to live.  Or still does.  I don’t have a clue.  I miss her face.

Molloy’s was big red open and empty.  Two very bored barmistresses dispensed drinks that we carried upstairs to the plate glass windows looking out onto an uneventful street.  Rory sat across from me and threw his lanky body out in all directions as he told of living in New Jersey – the armpit of the United States – and teaching English in a small Basque town in Spain as he shared a room in a former seminary without a lounge of any sort.  For laughs they would go to a small pub in town where there were two racing car arcade games and you would tell the new guy to go up to the bar and order four big “maracones” – four big queers.  Much to the amusement of the rest of the bar.

We went downstairs where £3 let you into the world’s smallest basement-cum-stage.  Glow in the dark self-adhesive stars under a black light behind a candelabra – one full and aflame, one but stumps and unlit – were what passed for décor.  It was all pretty much your standard folky strumming terribly witty clever sad true all disguised in different voices.  ALL EXCEPT for the tall blond who was sitting next to me.  Eva.  Her allotment of 3 songs was amazing.  Her guitar gave off steel Indian sounds with actual notes chosen and not just a strum of chords to highlight the uninspired mediocrity of everyone else’s musical masturbation.  Her words were poetry, and well chosen, and complex.  I fell in love with her music.  I sat stone-faced transfixed, not touching my beer or wavering in my awe-stare for one minute of her far-too-short set.

I do hope Kevin got her on his minidisc – see if his technology is any good for all he talks it up.

August 1, 2001

Another day, another month in my joke of a life!

Before I get too far ahead of myself again, I need to recap certain events.  And continue the arrival of the Kevin story.

He breezes in big, loud, and American.  Accent on loud.  We all sit down in the sitting room and Declan and Paddy prepare for a deep lungful of homemade water-cooled wastebin bong smoke.  So Paddy does one, then so does Declan.  Kevin has been eyeing the proceedings with lustful wolf eyes.  Kevin says he must christen the bong.  It will help take the edge off.  Declan taps the poor empty bag with nought but green dust left inside and drops all those hints that anyone who was listening would pick up on.  But big loud Americans never listen and Kevin gets his bong made of the last scarce remnants of Declan’s weed.  He makes a big thumbs-up sign as he expands like a pufferfish.  This coupled with his shaved head and huge mutton-chop sideburns really does make me laugh.  Inside.  Where it’s funniest.

Kevin decides to take a shower to wash the airplane from his frame.  Maeve soon follows and they disappear to parts unknown. Or should I say, to her parts rediscovered.

I am like a dog following around Declan and Paddy, so obviously an outsider but so needy for conversation and companionship.  They share a few rashers and pudding.  I munch my toast and explain headcheese.  If you can’t be indispensible at least be interesting, I figure.

They are trying to decide where to go, but as Declan has paintball the next day he doesn’t want to go down to Club Voodoo where Paddy is set on going.  Anyway, Declan seems to recall that Club Voodoo is a gay bar, and Paddy is sufficiently put off.

I am ravenous, and against all my better judgments go across the street to Spar.  I can’t eat those triangle sandwiches anymore with their solid skin of butter and wilted brown salads, so I totally destroy myself and buy some McVities digestive biscuits and a Kinder Egg – just because I want to be happy.

I return home to find everyone had gone.  All out to Kavanaugh’s, I learn, to share a pint and the craic.  I, alone at the kitchen table, eat half a very unhealthy packet of delicious digestive biscuits, which are the round and greasy version of graham crackers.  It’s Bacardi 151 to the graham cracker’s Natty Light.  Then I unwrap my sad little Kinder egg with one side punched in only to remember that I don’t really like the flavor of that white layered milk + chocolate that surrounded my cheesy and disappointing grinning gold plastic airplane.

I blew on its propeller a few times, and when the novelty of the whirring buzz quickly wore off I went to bed and wept along to Counting Crows track 10 which I played over and over again, hoping to sustain a flow to purge my tears of loneliness and sadness and longing but to no avail.  I am a cornucopia of self-pity and my reservoir is fed by a great unlimited ocean refreshed by a constant rain.  So I am never left refreshed with newly emptied tanks ready to accept the joy of discovery and novelty, but instead with an increased sense of inadequacy at not being able to feel correctly.  And I fall asleep dry-eyed with a runny nose.  More trouble than it’s worth.

The next day was work and as they stumbled in at 4AM I learned by walls were not soundproof and I pray that they are not noisy lovers.

To make a long story short, that afternoon Kevin decides to “test” – read “show off” – his big American equipment with which he will continue his big American recording studio’s big American work even while he’s over here in Ireland.  Wow, we think, he must be very important and in-demand!  He plugs it all into a powerstrip, into the wall, there is a pop like champagne, a blue spark, the radio cuts out and the living room is dead.  As is the fridge.  And several outlets in the kitchen.

Figure this one out, big American jack-off!

We locate fuses and switches and flip to our heart’s content and Kevin is concerned he’s blown his specially built in California by hand to order built in a day sent that afternoon arrived on the tarmac as he stepped on the plane borne by a liveried Indian prince on a cushion of magenta velvet code-named black box sound device.  He goes in to a rant, Maeve curls up afraid in her chair, I go into my magazine.

Maeve tries every twelve seconds to alternatively call Michael – the landlord without a mobile or an answering machine – and to calm her big American lover with his big American temper.

Finally, drunk on his rage, he passes out and Maeve collapses in the sitting room looking frazzled and stressed.  She is genuinely embarrassed.

I suggest that bottle of wine we missed the other night, and in Quinn’s she chooses the white with the highest alcohol content – 13.5%!  She admits she was a bit upset by the afternoon’s activities.  I said, “Really?”  You could hardly tell by the way sshe gulped her wine like a fish with the sea.  Swallowing for dear life.

Declan and Johnny return from their paintball battle, reeking of sweat and pockmarked with bruises.  Never are they overly rushed by hygiene considerations to roll up a spliff, so they sit down and dip into the wine with us.  Declan goes and gets two more – reds this time.  A dark cinnamon Merlot and clean pale Pinot Noir.

Kevin is woken by the “smell of something herbal” and pulls right into a joint.  The sole candle drips wax on the table in a huge, jellied dribble and flickers on faces with muted orange.  Declan knocks over first one bottle of wine and then two, convincing himself that the carpet is thirsty.  Kevin brings in his laptop to play music – “It’s this great  8 disc box set of Atlantic Records rhythm and blues from, like, 1940 to 1970.  It’s got it all, man.  It’s cool.” – and Maeve starts to dance.

Keira comes home from her weekend in Mayo and at that exact moment Maeve knocks Keira’s stereo to the floor with a crash.  Keira, sour-faced, turns and silently stomps to her room.   Maeve says, “Oh, she was not impressed.”

I wrap up the cord and return Keira’s radio to her in her room, where she accepts it without a word.  No, indeed Maeve, she is NOT impressed.

I go to bed soon after to avoid further “unimpressive spectacles” – and awake on another glorious work-filled day.  With a twist.  The twist being NOT having work.  But I’ve explained that already.

And here we are today.  In the kitchen with my arm on the cleanliness magazine looking out on another beautiful day that I will miss as I perch on my unupholstered mountain peak and deal with the customer, who is always right.

It’s day 15 on the new calendar of 32, which makes 28 old days so taking the average I’m right at 30, with my final day figured to be August 24.  Something new to which I can look forward, as I have lost my desire for the flavor of Kit Kats and thereby the possibility of the radio.  And I am horrified by the amount of fat in peanuts and now I really don’t know what to eat!

Yesterday there was an armed robbery of a building society right up the road by the Tolka River.  Gardaí caught the bandits and recovered the money and were trawling the river for the discarded weapon.  Ah, Drumcondra, the Compton of Ireland!  Maeve said she saw the chase on the way home from work.  A body in a suitcase and an armed robbery equidistant from my gaff!  What a crazy little place!  Is it me?  Am I like Jessica Fletcher, bringing destruction where I go?  I like to think I’m a benevolent influence that protects from harm with my presence, which is why the crimes always occur while I’m away.  I should carry all my valuables on my person, I suppose.

Showed Ali G to Kevin last night.  God, it just gets funnier.  I have to get a tape of him to bring home.  Maybe Katherine would have one.

Time to pee then go to work.  Not hard, just boring.  Like a drunken frat guy.

Oh!  Sirens!  What am I missing?  I’m sure I’ll hear on the radio this evening.

Dancing – “You get all the exercise of walking with something to hold on to.”

“The country was dancing mad.  You’re always dancing mad when there’s nothing else to do.”

The appetite until 6 is solely cigarettes and water.  I feel like I’m a prison warden.

His high cheekbones pulled his nose up into the air and made him unbearable.

Life is not magical, comrades.  Nothing magical ever happens.  Religion may be the opiate of the masses, but hope in that magic is the heroin we inject with endless books and magazines that lead us to find hope in our shitty little jokes that are our lives.  You stay in that hair salon because tomorrow that rich man will come in with his frigid fiancée and instantly fall in love with you as you win his heart and conquer high society.

Well, it’s never gonna happen.  Here’s a hint to spare you a lot of heartache – he’s a pedophile and you’ll end up in a cast if not a dumpster.

July 31, 2001

I have finally caved and added in those days I worked before that Friday I decided I would start the clock.  I am just tired of working all the time for no money.  So this will be day 14.  I’ll figure out when 16 days of shift is from now and tell Angela tomorrow that that is when I’ll leave.  I won’t have as much money as I planned, but I’ll have a life.  Just getting fed up with work.  Again, not because it’s hard, just because I am so dehumanized.  I am a cash register with a soul.  I am that place that things go to when they’re lost forever.

Yesterday I spent all morning expecting to work, to tick off that 10th day, only to walk all the way down there to find the Madge wanted me to switch days with her so that I would be off on Monday.  I said “sure” as I hadn’t had a break in six days, but then I realized that it pissed me off.  It wasn’t a proper day off at all, as my mind was set on working.  Then I had to wait 45 minutes behind the counter for Madge to show, so I wasn’t actually out until 3PM!!!  THAT is NOT a day off!

And when Madge arrived she was very appreciative – as appreciative as one can be without a voice box – but I still had pissed away a day.  Madge is rather disconcerting as she wheezes out of her throat like Darth Vader with every movement, like a flapping steam valve, and she has to hold onto her throat to croak her words out.

So I ran out of that place and decided to make the most of my joke of a day off from my joke of a job in this joke of a life of mine.

The two Dublin landmarks I had yet to visit were the Collins Barracks and Phoenix Park.  I walked all the way down the quays to them, only to discover that the museum was closed.  Duh.  Monday is culture’s day off – which meant that I couldn’t see the play I was planning on seeing the next day either.  Which I suppose was just as well as I had only brought £7.00 with me – which seemed a bit of overkill in the morning.  But you never can know what to expect when you leave the house.  It’s a game of Russian roulette, and that door is the trigger.

I walked down into Phoenix Park, your general uninspiring big city park with sunbathers glowing white like snowmen all over the grass.  I am so desperate for some skin color that I stripped off my shirt and joined the collective reflection/eyesore.  I heard the lawnmower coming and as I’m not keen on ending my days here I decided to dress and have a bit of a look around the place.  I walked up past the huge and imposing Garda headquarters – funny there’s such a reputation of crime in the same bit of land where the police have their headquarters – and stumbled upon the zoo.  I followed the line of children with plastic tarantulas and parents lugging water-bottles an infants and as I got to the gate I became terrifically enthused about going.  Must be some zoo-inspired sense memory of youth that made me very keen to go.  It’s the sound that zoos have that is indescribable – a mix of human and animal hoots and hollers that creates a buzz in the air.  Can’t describe it at all, but even now I’m getting a bit excited.  In fact, as I approached the zoo all I could think about was working in one.  Some form of hypnotism beam emanates from those places.

The price for entry was £7.50!!!  That was certainly more than I had and certainly more than a zoo small enough to fit in a park should be worth.  I was genuinely disappointed, however, and if I’d had the extra 50p I would have spent it.  Disappointed, I wandered around a bit more and went to investigate the Wellington Monument.  It is really pretty awe-inspiring.  It is a great granite obelisk with friezes of Wellington’s life in bronze on the sides of the base and the names of his great campaigns up the shaft.  It has that immensity where if you look up at it from the base you feel you’ll fall right over backwards.

I stripped off my teeshirt again and laid in the sun for the better part of a Madonna album.  But I am Teflon, and color just slides off me.

And that’s why I added on days to the work countdown.  Because I need to get out because I’m getting very lonely and upset and I need a change of scenery and a life in which I don’t just sit and brood for seven hours a day.

They say that smoking takes hours, days, weeks, months, years off of your life.  And that is why you shouldn’t smoke them.  However no one ever cautions you to abstain from jobs that rob you of those same hours, weeks, months and years of your life.

I want to be thin and beautiful.  I want to be one of the beautiful people.  But I’m glad I’m a bit too flabby outside and a bit too smudged inside to be there.  A lobotomy and a liposuction would fix me right up – ascend me to the heights of empty-headed fitness bliss.  I need to figure out my eating.  Since I don’t cook here due to the world’s worst oven, I eat crap.  It used to just be sandwiches and cereal and jam on toast, but due to the shop I now supplement that with sweets.  And I hate feeling fed.  I hate feeling full.  Because then I feel fat.  I figure if I can just keep that edge of hunger throw my stomach then I can be thin.  If I feel satisfied that means I’ve stuffed myself and my belly feels heavy and full like it’s pulling itself down and out to grow.  I hate it because food makes me unhappy.  I’m hungry but hate to eat and when I do eat I eat crap because I don’t buy a lot of food because if it’s here I will eat it.

And I will eat a Kit Kat today because I want the radio and it’s part of my routine in how I pass the shitty day.

And my pants are big so they hang awkwardly and I look like crap but at least big clothes make me feel thin.  But then if I get new clothes that fit and I gain the weight back I could NOT face going back up in size.

I want to be beautiful.  Because maybe then I’d be happy and feel in place in the world.  Ah, but when are you thin ENOUGH?  And WHEN and WHAT is beautiful?  It’s a never-ending cycle and I’m sort of pissed I’ve started it.  I was going all right at home, but the fact that no one will give me a second glance here makes me think I’m not good enough and need to look better.

Last day – August 24th?  18 shifts from here!  That would make 32 shifts!  (On the new system.)  [28 on the old system.  I like the new system much better.]

There’s nothing more dangerous than someone who thinks they’re funny.

The sunburned thick fingered taxi drivers are my salvation in this job.

“Would you like a bag?”

“No.  I’d like a bath.  And a drink.”

July 30, 2001

Haven’t written for a long while, and quite a lot of nothing has gone on since last.

Saturday afternoon I was WRECKED and all I wanted to do was go to sleep so that I could be beautiful for opening the next morning, but I wanted to greet Kevin when he arrived.  I was alone in the house so it was the perfect opportunity to curl up with Ulysses and hammer out a good hundred pages or so.  So I went into the living room, lugging its encyclopedic bulk behind me, and sat down in my favorite chair by the window to read.

Ten pages in I was deep in nap-land for a good two hours.  I really needed it and so starved was I for rest that I awoke feeling exactly the same, with only the shifted hands of my watch for proof, or even a hint, that I had been asleep at all.  It’s like the hangover thirst that is not in the least diminished by downing a gallon of water.

Maeve wanted to pick him up at 5:30, and it was now 7:30.  I figured they must have gone for dinner or to a hotel to reaffirm their relationship immediately, so filled with the omnipresent spirit of homesickness I started the rounds of calling.  Gregg wasn’t there.  Natalie was!

I could tell that Natalie had no idea to whom she was talking, and as she kept her phrases bland and noncommittal – “Hi, how are YOU?  So.  What’s up with… you?” I kept my responses just as generic.  “I’m fine.  How are YOU?”  You imagine that someone who’s called your cell phone must know who you are so you sort of dance around until they make that fatal mistake that blows their cover.  It made me laugh – she had no idea who was on the phone!  Then she realized and we got down to good, old-fashioned chatting.  She quit her job at the English camp one week early because she’s been cast in a 7 week tour of Chicago!  As the big momma character, whatever her name is.  It came sort of out of the blue and today she should be in fabulous LAS VEGAS rehearsing!  How cool is that?!  I am so proud and envious of her.  She has established a hard reputation to follow – I feel pedestrian next to her.  She is really so gifted and amazing that the world is HERS if she wants it.  She sets a high example and I don’t feel like I’ll do as well and just be old forgettable Paul next to her glorious star-power NATALIE!  Oh, well.  I love her anyway.  No matter how jealous I may be.  But it really is a happy jealousy as I do hope she makes it.  If anyone that I know can, it would be she.

So she’ll only get off tour right when I get back to the states, so we may move up to New York together!  Though hopefully I can get her to road trip with me to Vegas like we always said we would – now she’ll know all the cool places to go!

It was nice to talk to her but she had to go up to New York to clear her stuff out of Tiffany’s place before she went off on tour.  I don’t know when our lease starts, but it looks like it will just be Lisbeth breaking in the place for us.  I wonder if Richie is going to sublet my place?

Then I called Dad and we had our generally empty but fond chit chat that we share.  Dog was sick, now is recovered and shitting all over the carpet.  Tony is not yet divorced or annulled or whatever and evidently they are still living together.  I asked what sort of gifts I should get for his brood – as I have begun my great list which will require an extra suitcase on my return – and he promised to send me a list.  Hasn’t emailed for two or three weeks as his computer was dead.  Again.  This time it was the power supply.  For a house with a computer engineer in residence – purported computer engineer – they do certainly have more problems than anyone I’ve ever heard of.

I miss Dad a lot and can’t wait to see him.  Reminds me that all the extra stuff doesn’t really matter because he’s my father and I love him and I miss him.  However, this revelation has been brought home due to the fact that I am so lonely and have lots of time to think about people who are gone.  That he can miss me as much as he says in a house crammed full of animals and humans and the links in between that he purports to love so wholly and completely makes me wonder how happy he really is.  But I’ll always wonder that.

I also miss Michael Patrick and I drudged up his number from the archives in the hopes that he might be there or that I could get the number from his parents.  I had tried to call what I remembered to be his pager, but nothing was there.  He must have surpassed his technology yet again.  No one answered, so I left a message saying I was trying to get in touch with him.  He doesn’t even know that I’m in Ireland, unless he’s called home – though I doubt he has.  I just want to hear his voice and though our friendship has definitely changed I would like to know how he is and see what he’s doing.  Friends are so rare that they’re worth working for.  I hope that he feels that way.  I hope that he feels something.  I hope that he is happy.  I hope he’s doing theatre.

Kevin finally arrived as I sat talking to Rafal in the kitchen.  It was nice to get a chance to talk to him as he has relatively disappeared since the arrival of Kate.  I like Kate, but you can’t help feeling, and perhaps this is entirely due to Maeve’s influence, that there’s something up her sleeve.  That she’s using Rafal just to stay here for free.  If so that is a sad case because you can tell he really likes her and was hoping that her visit would be the first great happy memory of their lifelong romance.  But he is 25 and she is 18 and when you look at it that way it seems far from probable.

Time to go to work.  I’ll put this on hold and probably pick up tomorrow morning.  My favorite time in the whole day is morning kitchen table writing time.  This is absolutely my favorite and most unburdened time, watching ink curl words onto the paper, eating through this little notebook with pages of nothing that, as I have been proven, would be devastated to ever lose.

Later –

July [undated], 2001

I went into the GPO yesterday to consult the one set of phonebooks in all of Ireland.  It’s sort of like the library of Alexandria – if the GPO ever burns all the numbers of Ireland will be lost forever.  Plunging Ireland into another dark age.  As if it could get darker.

As I opened the first one, brand new issued by the dates on the cover and already dog-eared, on the front page was written in great, black felt tip pen, “Fuck you immigrant bastards.”  Should I add that to my list of omens?

July 28, 2001

Water – they get sold faster than they get cold!

The woman from Gallway used “now” instead of a period to end every sentence.

She put down the papers – “Now.”

She handed me her bill – “Now.”

I handed her the change – “Thanks, now.”

Would you like a bag? – “Ehm, I would, now.”

Thank you. – “Bye, now.”

Galway just came back.  Put the Locozade on the counter and interrupted her mumbled singing only long enough to grunt, “Now.”  At first it was a bit of a put-off – what a brusque and unpleasant woman!  But as she said it without fail after each sentence it just made me laugh.

Why do people need 3 newspapers?  One hardly ever gets through one, much less 2.  3 seems inconceivable and fool-hardy.

The toilet paper walrus whose face was covered with spit wads of razor adhered white foliage.  He waddled off, throwing his feet in front of him with powerful twists of hips.

Please someone touch me.  I tried to catch her fingers with mine as she handed me the 50p.  Anything.

July 27, 2001

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?”

“Eh, what?”

“Con – doms.”

“No, sorry.”

“Right.  Cheers.”

* * *

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?”

“A pound.”

“Is that a pound?”

“Yep.”

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.”

“Oh, really?”

“But it’s NOT psychological.  It’s an inner ear problem.  Have you got a bin back there?  Cheers.”

* * *

“Boo!”

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.”

“Ah.”

“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.”

“Where?”

“Behind you.”

“Where?”

“Up there.  Behind you.”

“Where?”

“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.

Anyone.

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.

 

July 26, 2001

The lobby lion-tamer is at it again.

A woman bought the Herald – 70 pence – and asked for a receipt.  What on earth for?  It’s not like she paid with a £50 note, but with a £1 coin.  I’ve never given a receipt that made sense.

Only stupid people have stories.  They let dumb shit happen to them.  They don’t plan ahead.  A story is, after all, just something stupid that happened that could have been avoided if you’d thought ahead.  Or not been so dumb as to think that things would just take care of themselves.  Good, smart people don’t have stories.  They have comments.  “That was a nice day,” or, “I’m in love.”  Stupid people have, “So, anyway, you would not BELIEVE what just happened to me!  I was seeing this girl, right, but I wasn’t really in it as much as she was but I just thought it would go away and THEN I met this OTHER girl…”

The right decisions never prompt a nine minute explanation.  Smart people look ahead and have the courage to make the right decisions.  Only stupid people have stories.  Dublin has made me into a stupid person.  And a lot of it comes from my ignorance of what I was getting into and my ignorance of Ireland and her people.  But ignorance is a form of stupidity and ignorance of the law is no defense.

A receipt on £1.60, paid in exact change with small coins, for a pack of cigarette papers and winegums and a newspaper.  Why?