August 15, 2001

My absolute favorite time of day – weekday noontime alone in a house full of people.  I seem to have slept off what was getting to me.  I overslept my usual 9AM by two hours – which is very unusual for me.  Last night Rafal appeared at the movie theatre five minutes late.

– Where have you been, late boy?

– It has been crazy day.  I am almost in tears all day.

What appears to have happened is that when Rafal went to school, he just unloaded all his problems onto his friend Salla – the Libyan with whom Kate is planning to stay until she leaves.  He then goes downstairs and Kate appears to check her email and ends up talking to Salla who relays to her all that Rafal told him.  You know, all the stuff they should have been saying to each other the whole time.

Rafal had told Salla that he loved Kate and Kate was surprised and evidently it may have a chance of working out.  Of course, neither of them have said ANY of this to each other – it’s all from Salla’s mouth.  And to be fair, who knows if he’s not telling each side what they want to hear?

So Rafal’s hopes are up, and instead of walking home with me after the movie he went down to Kate’s work to wait for her to get off at ten so that he could walk her home and talk to her.

He did walk her home.  And he did NOT talk to her.  Evidently this was the full extent of the conversation:

– Would you mind if I walked you home?

– No.  I don’t mind.

Then 30 minutes of silence until they got home and she went to bed.  I’m not seeing a whole lot of hope in this one.

Anyway, I got home and there was a bit of a party going on.  Declan and Fiona and her sister Sinead and Sinead’s boyfriend the amusing dirty scam job Rory.  I had something in my head so I ended up writing for a good spell in my room.  I’ve been trying poetry lately, and have fantasies now of going to readings in New York coffee shops.  Be part of a scene.  Though I am intimidated by how good my sister’s poetry is – lightning never strikes twice, after all.

A character in a 50’s movie in the other room just said, “I only make a hundred dollars a week, and you know I can’t live on that.”  Amen, brother, AMEN.

My poetry is horrendously shallow.  It’s either unrequited love shit or depressed suicidal shit.  I don’t feel especially suicidal right now, but as the adage goes – “old adage” would be redundant, wouldn’t it? – “Write what you know.”  It becomes obvious to me that I need to experience a whole lot more until anything I have to say will be of any merit.

When I came up to the living room they were red-eyed through a few joints and strawsipping on a Brazilian concoction knows as a “Caprini” or something like that.  It was some Brazilian sugar cane rum mixed with Demerrara sugar and poured over ice into a glass FULL of hundreds of little segments of lime.  It tasted pretty good, as long as there was enough sugar in the mix.  The nicest part was that all the limes and their juice spilling over the counter to the floor in fragrant water fountains gave the kitchen the nicest, freshest smell.  A wonderful departure from the usual dank mould smell.

Demerrara sugar is wet sand crystals thick and heavy, bits of windshield crass glass brown like molasses.  The rum is in a tall basket woven bottle – Ypioca Ouro.  Aguar dente de Cana – distilled from sugar cane.  39% alcohol.  Productores desde 1846.  Mummified in wicker caning, like the bottom of an old chair.  There’s a picture of an old bearded man in a turtleneck and jacket looming in the room, sipping appreciatively on a tumbler half full.  An interesting advertising idea – their market must be grizzled sailors and those who want to live their lifestyles.

I ended up telling the whole Rafal/Kate story to the assembled masses as Maeve knew there was a fight but wanted to know the details.  She just thinks that Kate is manipulative and is using Rafal for his room.  She was there at the Kitchen Nightclub when she was dancing dirty with other boys.  Everything happens when I’m not around.

Then we watched the second half of the Matrix – which really is AMAZING on a digital screen – and then went to bed.  I went to bed – no one else, of course.  I am the only lame one.  My stomach hurt again, and all I can deduce is that alcohol is now a full-out poison to me.

So here I am – at the end of this notebook with just five shifts until my 3 day break – SEVEN until I am DONE.

So where am I?

Well, my skin blemishes disgust me, I am still lonely, shit job is almost over, our house is BURSTING with people, we have an apartment in New York, mom sent me a bit of money so Europe looks brighter on the horizon, and I’m off to notebook four!

Thank you. –

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August 13, 2001

I need to write more often because I’m always playing catch up.  And even though Maeve washed the table in her cleaning spree for Fiona’s arrival, it is still really nasty and I’m still using a magazine as a forearm condom.  Though the magazine, having been on the table, is not all that much better.

Finally yesterday my gallbladder caught up with me and I essentially fasted down the angry little pain in my side.  I had got to the point where I thought that perhaps it was all psychosomatic and had created it all in my fitness/thinness mania.  BUT no.  I have both a fixation on being thin and a painful angry organ.  I went out and bought some fat free pasta sauce – which is actually the best I’ve ever had! – and some crackers so it’s back to bread and pasta!  For a while, at least.

I sat at the table in my most foul of moods – my meek, quiet, soft defeated mood.  I had planned to write all that evening and I wanted to, but I just ate plan pasta and stared at the coverless Economist, flipping pages more than reading and I listened to O Brother Where Art Thou? on repeat for hours.

Maeve and Kevin woke up and were a happy bonding couple over French toast as I flipped and moped.  She is so happy and giving and he just doesn’t seem to be paying attention.  But I’ve seen them hold each other and that’s where it matters.  Opposites attract, I am told.

Tried to call Nick – Katie broke up with him out of the blue and he is destroyed.  “I’m just angry” or something was his email subject.  Sort of a relief – never a huge fan of hers and he needs to break from her in order to live his life as opposed to her life.  I should take that advice myself, but we’re all putzes and always think this is the last chance we’ve got.  I wonder if Chris knows – Josh should be ecstatic but he’s fallen off the email planet – I wonder if he’s still unemployed and miserable in New York, waiting on his leather sofa that’s never gonna come.

Anyway, Nick wasn’t there and I left a message.  Dad wasn’t there.  The other Nick was there but he had to jet – still nice to hear his voice.  Definitely my best college male friend.

Been emailing Michael – as overblown and pretentious in his emails as ever.  I just wish he’d write like a normal person – like he talks – not like a laudanum inspired Gothic romance.  Then again – who am I to cast stones?

Funny how I’ve held onto my high school friends – never really expected that at all.  Josh, Chad, Nick, Chris, and even Michael.  Never really thought that would be the case.  They’re good men.  And all of us are confused.  Michael got into GW Law School – good for him.

Back to staring blankly at the kitchen wall over the heads of the loving couple.  I went to do something in my room for a second and I hear Maeve yelling while Kevin ineffectively attempts to soothe her ragged nerve.  It seems that she accidentally swapped her very expensive jean jacket at the busy club the previous night for a cheap piece of shit that was revealed in the light of day to bear only a tacky and passing resemblance for her own.  She ran down the hall and slammed her door where I heard her cursing the universe.

So I’m still where I was, staring over the heads of loving couples, all empty inside.  But that’s okay – that’s part of this place tearing me down and me building something new and hopefully calmer and more self-assured and worldy in its place.

Then there was a Polish gathering in the sitting room – Oliver and Machek and Kate and Rafal and a swiss roll with “bill” berries and crisps and Zubrovka cut with apple juice.  Zubrovka comes with a long green straw of buffalo grass in the bottle stuck to the side.  With apple juice it tastes just like apple pie.  “If you put [the grass] in your mouth 20, 30 minutes, you are drunk, yes?  Put it in your mouth and suck on it and you are drunk.  No, really.”

Oliver was a tousled bleary eyed slouch who told me it would be a waste of time to visit Poland.  Machek was a jet black slicked ponytail olive gangle folded shut like a fan on the chair curled over Derek’s guitar and he played good blues licks as he barked out in Polish improvised lyrics about Kate that made them all laugh.  I haltingly repeated by tongue-twister and numbers and they all laughed.  “We are not laughing at you, it is just so funny to hear someone who is not from Poland speak Polish language.  Really.”  But that’s nonsense – I know when I’m being laughed at.  And it was fine with me.  I’m sure I was butchering their language.  And hey – if I want to be an actor I have to be comfortable with being the fool.

The Zubrovka was drunk, the Poles smoked Marlboro Lights, and I went with them to the off-license for some Stolichnaya.  My moratorium on drinking was suspended due to my girl troubles.  A worthy and time-honored exception from temperance.  Maeve and I split the bottle of vodka, I think the man at the off-license gave me too much change though I was in a haze and am still not sure, and as Maeve 7-Up’ed hers down I drank it straight hoping to avoid a horrible hangover as I had to open the next day.  I got real tired real quick, the Poles separated themselves down to Rafal’s room, and I went to my room.  My stomach felt awful and distended and I actually thought I would retch.  Hoped I would.  Knelt in front of my sink – my vomiting would be private this time – and spat a few times to try to get thing going.  Nothing came, I pulled off my clothes and fell backwards into bed.

The next morning was the conversation over the table with Kate about being expelled by Rafal.  My bowels were in raging upset all day and my gallbladder throbbed and a £450 take testified that there is no rest for the wicked.

I really didn’t know if I’d see Kate again, and that was an odd feeling.  Do you say “Goodbye” or “Later” or anything like that?  It was weird to leave yesterday morning with her eyes mascara flooded at the kitchen table.

Finally got home and found Rafal.  He seemed very calm and normal, which confused me even more.

– So what’s up?

– Nothing.

– What about Kate?

– Why do you ask?

– Well, she seemed pretty upset this morning.”

– What did she say?

– Well, that the two of you had a fight or something.

As it all reveals itself, Rafal had actually thrown her out of the house for the crime of not loving him.  Not that he would admit that, of course.  The evening after I went to bed proceeded thusly:

Oliver finds Rafal to tell him that Kate and Machek are kissing in the garden.  (Garden?  Broken concrete slug farm I’d call it.)  He goes to confront them, she laughs and goes inside to Rafal’s room.  He follows and the two of them are draped all over each other.  He gets the hint that they want to be alone and watches Pay it Forward with Michelle and Kevin.  He goes to his room afterwards and finds them – Machek and Kate – sleeping next to each other in his bed.  He stomps over to Declan’s bed to sleep, but is angry and goes back to his room and throws Machek out.  Rafal and Kate stay up all night talking and he tells her to leave.

– Don’t you think you’re over-reacting?

– No, but seriously, what am I supposed to do?  I open the door and they are there sleeping together on my bed.  You know, not naked, but next to each other on my bed.  The bed that I pay for.  And I am always sleeping on fucking air mattress and have pain in my back but that’s okay because she is guest.  And she can go out and have a date with whoever she want, but not on my bed.  What am I to do, sleep on fucking air mattress where I can see them together on my bed?  And she says it is my fault.  Why is this?  She says she was drunk and nothing happen but I am supposed to protect her.  She said I disappeared but I was in sitting room the whole time, yes?  She said I disappeared, that it was my fault.  I do not understand.

He recanted his eviction later that evening and told her she could stay until she could get a flight back to Poland because he told her family, he promised her family that he would watch out for her.  He went to work.  I fell asleep on Ulysses.  3 hours later I stumbled out of my room to Declan’s arrival.  Fiona, his long lost girlfriend, was arriving in a few hours from Munich and we went – mostly Maeve, actually – on a cleaning spree.  I had napped in front of the open window and was clamped up in my chest and wasted from the short sleep as I always am.  I stumbled around and pulled on my sweater and watched The Love Bug on Cine Disney and marveled at how stupid the films of my youth were.  I loved Herbie the Bug and even had a little toy car of him.  Matchbox-type.  Silly damn movie and the villain was the guy from Mary Poppins.

Exhausted, I waited for Fiona to come.  She did, I shuffled into the kitchen eventually to say hello, abandoning the stupid British cop show I was using to sustain my consciousness.  Fiona is beautiful, tall and tan and the two of them look very adult and handsome together.  Then I collapsed into bed after my exercises.

3:30 woke me with the loud moans of their reunion, but I managed to be still so exhausted as to fall back to sleep.

And here I am.  Eights shifts to go and tomorrow is my day off.  Maybe I’ll finally get a bank account.  I’ve almost used up this book and this pen.  Both good feelings.

I lifted some Nivea moisturizer from the shop – payment for staying late every time someone is supposed to come and relieve me – and it has pulled the redness out of my fingertips.  My thumbs are still all hangnails,  but they’ve been tamed.  I have to pee and run.  The countdown continues!  Suffer seven hours until I’m OFF!

I had just met a happy American woman who asked me which would be the liberal paper in Ireland.  I explained that it didn’t work that way – you have tabloids and other.  But they all hold the same “news”.  Then she wanted to know how to get to the Abbey.  She had just been up at the Friel family reunion where Brien Friel had been treated “like an angel boy.”

– Do sell stamps?

– Yes.  To where?

– To Germany.  I would like to write a postcard to Germany.

– All right.  That’s 32 pence.  Just one?

– Yes.  I am not such a big writer.

July 12, 2001

I got up at 8:30, thinking it might take an hour to get here.  And also, frankly, I never underestimate my power and ability to get lost.  It took only 30 minutes, though admittedly I was walking purposefully and a bit cavalierly through traffic.  It’s a quarter till 10 now – the moment of truth approaches.  In my mad dash to get out of the house by 9 this morning I forgot to get my passport and PPS #.  No time now to go back and get them.  I should never put ANYTHING off.  I should have done it last night while I was thinking about it.  It’s not as if I was too busy – I took the time to write myself a not for heaven’s sake.  Besides, I was just waiting up for Rafal and Kate (the Pole) to arrive.  She is tall, thin as a rail, encased in denim, almost as if she’d been shrink-wrapped in sturdy blue cotton.  She has the straightest long blond hair I have ever seen.  It must have an incredibly high atomic weight to just hang there like that as if anvils were tied to each strand.  I don’t think she understands English very well, but she has a remarkably clean, confident, comprehensible accent.  QUITE in contrast to Raphael’s stuttering, babbling, tripped up accented English.

Water laughs louder in the sun, as the playful rays shimmer and tickle the silky surface.

I have the job!  Today I trained with Angela for two hours until the new weekend girl Aoife came in to be trained at noon.

Got into a bit of a panic – I was, of course, there a full half hour early due to my use of Gardiner St instead of my usual O’Connel St. route.  Then I sat by the old holding pen of the docks – a clean square of a stone enclosure holding dark still water.  The stone was, of course, gray.  Weathered and gray.  Then, at five to 10 I got up and decided to walk around the pool and over to arrive neatly a few minutes early.  Besides, I didn’t want to be milling around the lobby if she wasn’t in yet, worrying the staff and prompting an unfortunate confrontation.  I do, after all, have the look of a foreigner about me so I must be suspect.  I started circumnavigating the pool, then my watch told me my underestimation of its size would lead me to be quite tardy if I continued on my course.  Instead I bore right to walk behind the building and around – I do so hate to retrace my steps.  It makes me look either lost or like I’m stalking, neither impressions I’m keen to foster.  I walk behind the massive long brick hall of the old dockhouse storehouse and am confronted by an entirely new building!  Unfazed I walk past it to see a gate.  PANIC!  I did not get here 30 MINUTES EARLY only to be caught late by a gate!  There was a walkway beside it though, and there I was behind Jury’s Custom House Inn.  I was about to nip around to the front door when – WHAM!  There was another gate!  Quite locked without another little route beside it!  And there was no outlet on the left-hand side of the building.  Panic!  I would be late and show I had no sense of responsibility before I’d even started and I’d show up, huffing and puffing with a torn set of trousers after getting caught on the gate as I clamored over it and she cluck her tongue and say, “No.  I just DON’T think this will work out.”  In true Irish fashion there would be no “sorry” or “I understand – we all make mistakes.”  No.  There would be no empathy.  No sympathy.  Just a blank stare waiting for me to remove myself from the premises.  And I would most probably break down weeping.  And I can’t buy a gun in this country so I’d end up on a church tower assassinating innocent passers-by with black puddings.

But, behind the tourbus, there was hidden the back entrance!  My salvation, as usual, comes from behind!