August 6, 2001

Well, I’ve been fighting it as well as I could.  To no avail.  Sitting around in just a t-shirt all morning – nevermind the fact that ALL my clothes are outside on the clothesline in the rain.  Fucking barbaric island.  It just seems rather ridiculous to go through the bother of actually CLEANING your clothes, only to throw them on a rope outside where the birds can crap on them, insects can fuck and lay broods of eggs, and rain can leave water marks.  Why wash at all?

But anyway – I can’t fight it.  I’m back in the kitchen with my sweater on wrapped around a mug of tea with my hands getting stiff again.  Yes.  It’s cold.  I must assume that the last two weeks – weeks in which NOT ONCE did I wear a sweater.  Weeks in which I EVEN ventured outside the house on TWO SEPARATE occasions without a jacket.  Weeks in which I ACTUALLY took my shirt OFF in Phoenix Park to take advantage of what I recall to be the SUN.

No.  Those days are over.  Summer has hiccupped and back we are to where we started.

It’s raining right now as we speak.  Cold.  Gray.  It makes me feel cold just to have the gray light hit me through the crusty windows.  It makes me feel cold just to hear the dagger drops of rain on the corrugated iron roof of the other bathroom.

Well, there it was!  Summer come and gone.  In TWO WEEKS.  The SAME TWO WEEKS I worked extra days and had my hours fucked with.  The SAME TWO WEEKS that left the two or three solitary rainy days to the two or three solitary days off I had.  But, on my frequent boredom trips to tidy the 40p postcards I saw the sun out the window and though I never FELT it per se, as it would cloud over the moment that I stepped outside as if the sun was taking a shower and drew a towel around herself out of embarrassment when she saw me – still I sold enough bottles of not cold enough still mineral water to fat old sweating tourists to convince me that there was SOME pleasant weather out there.  Though I suppose it is all technically hearsay.

I never got to explain Eva.  I always do that – get lost in the details and forget to mention the big picture.  The reason I started writing in the first place.

So Eva finished her set – her music metallic and elegant, with notes picked out as opposed to the strumming musical masturbation of the 20-something Jack Kerouac wannabes. It sounded almost Indian, her music did, but rippling like a current propelling her words.  She sat next to me.  What’s the point?  I thought – but I had to tell her how much I enjoyed her music.  I told her Kevin was looking to record people.  I told her I wanted to hear her play again.  Did she have a recording?  Anything?

We talked between maudlin 3 song sets of young adult angst delivered in eyes-closed solemnity.  I raved about her music.  She was coolly appreciative in her Swedish accent.  The bands played on, but I just waited for the breaks to whisper in her ear.  Kevin got up to leave.  I asked her to come along.  And she did.

Off to Zanzibar – architecturally a VERY exciting space for me with its Casablanca-like interior of pierced lanterns and rows of cushions by palms and tiled floors.  I almost expected a bowl of dates on the table.  I hadn’t expected to go for but a pint, and the two £5 notes stuffed in my breast pocket as we left had been reduced to an unimpressive jingle of coins in my pocket from Molloy’s and the open-mic entrance fee.

She sat down at the table – ma’am, you can check your guitar at the coat check – she said thank you with you intention ever of doing so.  She winced at the club music and the gyrating youth.  I ran to O’Connel St. for an ATM.  An ENVELOPE full of money at home and I ran to the ATM.  I need to be better prepared.  I essentially ran there and back, terrified that she would leave.  But why?

I couldn’t get enough of her.  She was a thinker – someone who wanted to talk about life and ideas and who had a poet’s mouth that couldn’t hold in her pain.

I came back and she was still there, talking to Kevin.  Declan and Paddy, who we’d gone there to meet, were not even on my agenda.  Just Eva.  She was in her 40’s, divorced, separated from her last partner.  Always “partner” – never “boyfriend” or, for that matter, “girlfriend.”  “Partner” always.  She had two children.  She’s sang for five years.  Her children were in Cork for the weekend with their father.  She came from a long line of actors and we both agreed on Bergman’s Fanny + Alexander.  Her father had been in a Bergman film.  She ran away at 16 to Morocco – well, she ran away twice.  First she and her friends were caught in Gothenburg as they were mistaken for a gang of wanted youths.  After two days in a holding cell she was sent back to Stockholm.

The next time was to Paris for a while and then Morocco to her boyfriend’s home.  She lived in a traditional Moroccan home and so was bound by Moroccan expectations.  She could not leave the house and the only song she ever heard was Hotel California.  She escaped to the Swedish embassy and the only thing she took with her on the plan was an abject hatred for all things Moroccan.  The food, the music, the Eagles.  The family could never understand why – why should she not want to marry their son?  He was a good catch.  What more could she want?

Why, I do not know.  But it was Cork and there were hippies there and she started to play.  It all gets much less specific.

She’s been emotionally, sexually and physically abused.  Love makes you arrogant.  She was so happy with her partner she was so arrogant in her happiness.

She has a family history of suicide.  She’s easily addicted and had far too much alcohol.

They shepherd us all out like sheep, waving their arms and prodding the herd.  Perhaps I’ve missed the last bus to Dun Loaghaire.  You can come crash on our couch – people always do.  How far is it?  A bit of a walk.

Kevin stumbles out of Super Macs with a face like he’s jus stuffed the last of ninety fries into his mouth with a drunken stagger to complement I ate way too much ketchup he burps.

Some tall skinny has stolen a pack of Times Saturday magazines – a sight that reminds me unpleasantly of the newspaper stuffing weekend ahead.  In a broken, open-eyed Chinese caricature he offers to sell us the magazines, pausing every five minutes to bow under the weight of the stack and complain about how heavy they were like clockwork.  We will not buy them.  He gives us all one oh they’re heavy and we walk off.  Kevin rolls his and puts it on a window ledge of the Bank of Ireland.  Eva asks what his problem is.  Kevin is far too ketchup poisoned to notice.

Back home sitting room talk and Kevin quickly goes to bed.  She plows into her Marlboro Lights and I doze in the chair.  She has a silver bracelet on the ankle of her boot and her naked feet are stretched out on the couch.  You’re welcome to sleep on the couch, but just keep in mind that my roommates go to work at eight.  Well, it’s 4:00 now, so I either get woken up in four hours or sleep in your room.  Hey, it’s your call.  People sleep here all the time that I don’t know.  It’s no problem.  Well, I’d rather sleep in your room – with respect.

I gather the pink sleeping bag from under the phone.  She strips off her black jeans but leaves on her ¾ sleeve brown shirt and slides into my bed.  I kick off my shoes and lay on the floor.  She drops the grey pillows down to me.  We talk and I hear Kevin grunt into Maeve as I drift off in the cold.  I forgot to close my window.

The most awkward part of the morning is that I like to be alone in the morning and there she was.  Still asleep.  I wanted to write about it all, shower, prepare for work.  She was asleep.  I tried unobtrusively to make as much natural noise as possible.  What do you do the morning after?  Open drawers, arrange loose change on the dresser, sit and breathe loudly.  Maybe she thinks I’m asleep and doesn’t want to disturb me?  Make deep, awake sighs and quick awake breaths.  Stretch and groan.  Knock up against dresser.

Here she rolls over.  Runs to bathroom without pants.  I prepare to shower as she slips back under the duvet.

Would you like some tea?  Soup bowl or cup?  The sink is full of thick black water and it scares me.  Milk?

She laughs at my skim milk and doesn’t trust the health craze.  She eats butter.  Americans, no offense, are obsessed with weight and being beautiful.  Yes, we are.  So am I.  She likes Irish girls because they walk around with bellies hanging out of crop tops spilling over straining jean bands and say fuck you, I’m beautiful.

Rafal comes up and clears the sink and wonders who she is.  She leaves along with her number on my wishful thinking list.  I gave this to your friend but maybe you would be more apt to use it.

She’s playing at the International Bar on Sunday.  Around 6.  I tell her I’ll try to go and wave her off down the street to the bus stop with a sincere thank you – I had a great time last night.  She smiles and is off around the corner.

I close the door and greedily get back to my routine.  Not too far disrupted as I woke up early with foreign breath in my room.  I’m back on schedule.

I did not go to see her yesterday.  I regret it.  I’d like to call her.  I’d like to have a friend.  That TALKS about IDEAS.

And nothing happened between us, snickering Maeve.  I did not try, nor did she.  Did she maybe want to?  I was attracted to her, but I didn’t want to lose the word-exchanging time.  I needed someone to think with, not swap fluids with.  I need her mouth to make words, not orgasms.

Part of me doesn’t know whether to try to see her again.  I don’t want to spoil my memory.  She is the first person I’ve ever MET in a bar.  Complete stranger.  Right into my bed.  I can’t be too repellant or uninteresting.  It’s very odd to wake up, though, to what really is still a stranger in your bed – no matter how well you may have clicked the night before.  I don’t think I’d like to fuck someone in that situation.  I felt weird enough in a guiltless free chaste morning.  And you never know what people may be carrying.  Very scary.

I wrote everyone about my assault, much to Aoife’s chagrin, so I’m interested to see what people say.

Today is the bank holiday, so supposedly we are to get paid DOUBLE wages for working today.  Everyone else is, of course.  However, I’m not holding my breath.  There’s probably an exception for all foreigners in wholly unskilled and boring-ass jobs.  I was about to write “profession” but calling the newsagents a “profession” is like clipping off your toe just to pare down your nails.  A bit of an overkill.  Not a great analogy, but I wanted to avoid “dressing up a pig.”  Oh, well.  I failed.  Again.

I have to admit I’m proud that I’ve stuck to this job and didn’t just buckle like I wanted/want to do.  All the time.  Not proud of the job, but proud that I can eat crow and do anything, even work a shit dehumanizing job, just by putting my mind to it.  Or out of it.  Perhaps I should write “through sheer perseverance.”

There’s meeting Eva.  There making my rent entirely through my money from the job for this month.  There’s working almost every day and never calling in sick – as sick and bored as I am.  Out of my skull.  There’s my friendship with Maeve and Rafal.  Good times and shitty times.  My assault.  My fruitless aggravating mouth of work hunting.  Being lonely.  BUT I’M STILL HERE.  I am winning and ticking off the shifts on my wall and writing and STILL IN ONE PIECE.  I am winning, and will continue to win.  Life is, in the words of Queen, “a challenge before the whole human race, and I never lose.”  And we need to go on and on and on and ON!  Ha ha ha!  Sometimes I make myself smile.  Someone has to, I suppose.

I got Michael’s cell-phone number last night and tried to call him.  Left a big message.  Being here has taught me that I miss him and my father terribly.  I would love to talk to him and I can’t wait to see Dad and give him whiskey and “20 Majors” please – just like the black-fingered cab drivers with their golden badges and spilling bellies.

I have to pee now before work.  I don’t want to leave this book – it’s the only place I feel I belong.

We go through Kit Kats like they were the cure for cancer.

Trumpet Concerto in E flat major – Haydn.  That peppy “hooked on classics” sound.  Great!

Steve Foster – Hard Times Come Again No More.

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.