August 8, 2001

8/8!  I must call mother!

And the lotto draw is tonight!  I must play.  Figure out if I’m eligible only if it becomes an issue.  Hopefully it will.

I find oftentimes that the happiest memories are the ones we wished we had.  Like that split second joy in Bray on the promenade with my 99 ice cream cone pulling my mouth up to smile around its nostalgia.  Never have I had that day at the seaside with the ice cream cone, but I felt imaginary father’s fingers hand it to me in limegreen shorts under tousled hair as mom and sis sit under an umbrella by the transistor radio all black glasses glamorous beach chic.  I was 8 and the seagulls flew low over a deep technicolor green and the beach was hot mustard under my flip flop feet.

But I was alone.  Cold.  Tired.  On a gray and rocky beach.  With a cone that cost the very last bit of my money.  And though I am terrified of frozen fat, I could not resist myself.  And that taste of 50’s stock imagery illusion triggered by twirled frozen made me as happy as if I’d lived it.  I was genuinely happy for a moment.  It, like gas and love, passed.  To be replaced by the big empty.  But I’ve tasted happy, and I like it.  I’ve developed a taste for happiness.  Must it always be alone in the gray with manufactured memories?

Twelve shifts to go!

I want to talk to mom, but there’s always someone in the sitting room.  Right now it’s Keira, brooding in her lonely self-imposed funk.  She does really seem so unhappy and put out by having to live with people.  I think she yearns to be alone.  Kevin must drive her nuts.  I scratched out Declan because he is too charismatic – even Keira forgives him.

I haven’t written a lot because I’ve gotten very bored.  The work/sleep/eat cycle has begun to stamp its robotic imprint onto my angry little resentful life and I’m just falling down into that hole I’ve dug for myself with my aspirations and desire.  Hope is a grave.  Desire is a grave.  The harder you work at it the further you’ll fall.  And the more that will suffocate you as you life cold on the bottom.  I’m not really that fatalistic right now, but a neat image I think.

Couldn’t resist – had to play the Lotto today.  £6.6 MILLION!!! AND it’s 8/8!  If EVER there was a better time ME to play the Lotto, it was today.  I chose one set of numbers, mixing favorite numbers with random picks – your 9’s, 33’s, etc.  I also did a computer-chosen quick-pick.  Neither choice was a damn bit of good.  But it was only £1.50.  And I would have kicked myself if I hadn’t at least TRIED.  Everyone says this, but it WOULD have been nice to win.  I would have flown all my friends over to tour Europe!  For a weekend, at least.

Rafal and I had a joke – being foreign we didn’t know if we were eligible to win.  And if we did – as I was convinced I would – we would have to give the ticket to an Irish person to split with us.  It would have to be Maeve – Declan would smoke it and Keira would horde it and scowl at you as you tried to collect your half.

I need to sleep – I open again tomorrow.  So damn early.  I need to go back to school!

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July 10, 2001

I resumed the menial labor job hunt and am reminded how seldom a help-wanted sign actually reflects reality. I want to say, “Oh, you’re not hiring?  Well, that’s not what your prominent, clearly-lettered sign is telling me.  Now one of you is lying to me.  I hate to be lied to.  Don’t cross me – I’m a man on the edge.”  There’s never any, “Oh, sorry, no, we’re full up actually” or any move to take down the sign.  They just stay crouched in the corner like fat, contented children who have just pulled a great prank and are dying to ring up their mates on their mobiles and gloat.  Like that game where you attach a string to a dollar and you pull it away just when they bend over to get it.  That’s my job hunt here in dear, dirty Dublin.  Hope and promise all jerked away when I bend over to try to pick it up.

I do always hold my breath that the email will hold a job each time I sit down and pay my £3.00 to be reintroduced to the part of my life that matters.  Alas, the dollar bill is always jerked away.  I applied yesterday to work on the ferries – I think that might be fun and give me a chance to travel.  However, I am interested in it so it will, invariably, be a fruitless effort.  At least I can say that I’m trying.  Checking email is like a little victory and a disappointment all at once.  There’s always at least ONE friendly email from home, but there’s never a positive job one.  I always hope for one from a friend or my sister or my dad.  But they are few and far between.  So much promise as I pull up the chair to the screen.

I’ve decided I just don’t like Keira.  She doesn’t acknowledge me, makes no effort to talk to me, and walks around me like I don’t exist.  I have tried to talk to her but she couldn’t put forth less effort to reciprocate.  If anything, she just grunts and growls in that indecipherable Co. Mayo accent and then merrily goes back to ignoring me.  I just don’t know of anyone who puts forth so little effort into other people.  (My pen just ran out of ink.  Must be all that that leaked out due to the airline’s cabin pressurization.)  Other people or common areas.

Sunday, after all that goddawful mess they made in the sitting room with greasy take-away brown bags and soda bottles and uncapped gin and various pot detritus, she just walked into the room and sat down on the couch to watch TV.  I came home and there she was, just sitting there watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire wallowing in the alcohol induced filth.  I picked up the room all by myself with no effort from her to help.  And then no thanks.  She won’t put forth any effort then neither will I.

Sitting here in the second level of my esteemed Café Kylemore I see it’s a rather light traffic day – a light flow day – down Grafton Street.  I can actually see the red brick road for the milling mass of meandering men and weaving wandering women carefully catching with cameras haughty historic homes and historical highlights.  It must be this morning’s cold, driving needles of rain that has convinced people to stay in and tourists to five up trying to enjoy themselves here after the Guinness has worn off and flee to somewhere under the sun.  Dublin is kind of like a closet or an attic – they are fascinating in their promise of the unknown, and you’re always hopeful you’ll find a forgotten treasure like forgotten Van Gogh, but once you’ve looked around for a while you realize there’s really nothing under the gloom and shadows.  It’s just a dirty, disappointing hole.  And no one spends any real time in an attic – you wouldn’t want to stay there.

Well, I’m off to find an internet shack and while away an hour with my favorite habit as I wait for lunch hour to pass so I can swing by the Italian place to see if they need someone.  After all, they do have a sign up so they’re probably not actually hiring right now.

It’s interesting to watch someone pick up a lost wallet.  They look first at the ID to see if they know the person and to put a face on the person they hope to rip off.  Then they look in the bills section, which is always empty because any wallet you find has been found before and gleaned of its vital organs to make the paté of petty thievery.  Yet they still turn it almost inside out, hoping something will be secreted in some fold or hidden pocket or cranny.  I’m afraid the person before them has already thought of that.  Then there is the moment where they realize they have this useless wallet in their hands and they have to decide what to do with it.  They look again at the ID to see if the address is right around the corner – maybe they’ll get a reward or at least a drink for returning the wallet.  But it’s empty – will they think they stole the money and returned the wallet to avoid being a suspect?  Anyway, they don’t know the street and it’s too much hassle.  They look to make sure no one’s looking and drop the wallet back on the ground and hustle off quickly.  And that wallet stays on that little square of concrete, being picked up and disemboweled and dropped, until some mother sees it and in an effort to teach their child a lesson, returns it to the police.  Who promptly look at the ID, turn it inside out…

Well, I have swallowed my pride and today has been the day of treating jobs like a dog in heat looking to quench his hunger – ANYTHING will do.  I applied at that Italian restaurant by Neary’s – stupid short crème colored tight lipped frog faced bitch couldn’t even be civil as she asked me her questions.  Her magical three.

– What do you do?

– Anything, I guess.

– No, what do you do?  Are you a waiter, are you a chef, what are you?

– Well, I could be a waiter, work as a cashier.

– Have you ever been a waiter before?

– Uh, I worked in a café so I’ve served food.

– And how long are you in Ireland?

– Until October 11.

– No.

And that was it.  No sorry, no thank you.  No nothing.  And she was finished with me and stared ahead with her ugly gargoyle toad of a voodoo shrunken head and waited for me to leave.  I turned, with my middle finger trailing behind me, and fire in my brain.  I can’t even get a job as a waiter, and I can’t even get the courtesy – well, I’m even denied human, fucking courtesy.

Tomorrow I plan to go to the country, try to find where it is that Ireland gets this wonderful reputation that I feel pray to.  Somewhere there has to be something more than this empty sham of a Western city, half-heartedly aping the US and getting muddled in its own bizarre and skewed self-perception.  A country of poets and minstrels and BULLSHIT.  Every artist worth his salt from Ireland has left and lived and died in a foreign country.  Why is that?  The £10 note has Joyce on it – a man who never could be persuaded to return once he left.

Anyway, I was livid.  Bright red zit about to burst angry.  I walked and had to go to 3 stores before I could find a Fruit+Nut bar which was all I wanted to feel better.  Damn the gallbladder or the fact that I don’t much care for chocolate anymore.  I needed comfort food and any possible endorphins it could coax from my fevered, parched, electric storm of my mind.  I finally found one, a small one, so it wasn’t nearly a complete gluttonous indulgence, but then again nothing in Dublin ever works out right.  I end up in the little round courtyard by the incredible ugly and architecturally inconsiderate concrete monstrosity of the Dublin Corporation building.  As I sat, the sun magically came out and the wind stopped and the water disappeared off the steps leading me, as I walked under the shadow of the arch, into a bright green amphitheater dripping with warm honey sunshine ass the leaves twinkled like stars in the easy breeze.

Not so easy to win me back, Dublin.  Oh no, it won’t be so easy.  I am right properly pissed at you this time.  It’ll take more than a box of bonbons to fix THIS marriage, buster.  Your clothes are on the sidewalk and I’m having the locks changed.

I finished my chocolate which was not as soothing as satisfying as I’d hoped.  I needed preparation H for the irritation I was feeling.  Instead I had smeared yogurt on my hemorrhoids.  Cooling and smooth but highly ineffective.

I decided I couldn’t sink much lower, and as much as I think that talking to people I don’t know ranks up there with having my pubic hairs individually plucked by a leper with a running cold and crippling Tourette’s Syndrome, I decided to go to Jack Ryan’s pub on Queen’s St and beg for employment.  I got there and ordered a pint, and the guy behind the bar was a dude about my age, so I thought – just great.  I’ve used up my last silver coins on a pint, and the old man’s not even here.  He’s probably dead.  I don’t really WANT to drink here at 4PM – I just wanted a pretext to be here.  So I began writing and sort of looking around to see if any of the other 3 or 4 gents might actually be Jack senior as I assumed it was junior behind the bar.  I noticed the heavy-set man behind me at a table was telling the barman things to do, which were accomplished unquestioned.  He eventually got up and went to the bar.  So I took a chance.

I got the standard Dublin speech about there being work everywhere.  Funny, but you only get that from people with jobs.  Am I mistaken?  Have I actually NOT been going out and handing out CVs like indulgences?  Printed on paper and utterly useless?  Throwing them out like poisoned breadcrumbs to the crows?  I tried, as I always do, to try to add my particular viewpoint to the conversation, but no one cares.  They’ve been fed on the myth of the fucking “Celtic Tiger” and their faith is unshakeable.

I realized that my degree is useless.  I am educated in something theoretical, something based in literature and movement.  I have been educated in such a way as to have gained no practicable, marketable tools.  I wish, oh how I wish, that I liked grease and had done a mechanics course.  Or studied to take blood like mom had suggested.  BUT I HAVE NO SKILL!

All of this market, the burgeoning Irish economy, is great for people with trades.  Network administrators.  Plumbers.  Chefs (£100 a week says Frank).  Mr. Ryan said, “There are more taxis now than ever and you still can’t ever get one.”  He told me of his 9-5 £150 a day gardener with his hour lunch and heavy over-time fee.  And the lad who does the windows for £15 a go.  10 buildings a day at £15.  My Ryan suggests I should get a squeegee and go around to pubs offering £10 to do their windows.  I’d probably erupt some window cleaner turf wars.

Then we spoke of travelling.  He told me to see Clare and the Ring of Kerry and Galway.  Then I said I’d like to go to Cork as that is supposedly where my family is from.  That elicited a croak from one of the two foulmouthed older gents at the bar beyond and behind me.  The one with the dried apple of a face and bloodshot eye asked me what my surname was.

– Dunford.

– Oh, that’s no bloody Irish name.  That’s a Viking name!  You came here to rape and pillage.  You lot must have just missed the boat back.

More tomorrow.  I am too tired and my handwriting ghosts in and out of legibility as I make far too many simple letter mistakes.  I apologize.

Goodnight, moon.
Goodnight, book.
Goodnight, vile city.