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.

August 10, 2001

Two weeks from today and I will be done!  Only 11 shifts including this one looming over my afternoon!

I am so tired of this job.  I am so bored!  I haven’t touched by crosswords book or really anything.  Mostly I stare out in a self-pitying stupor.  When I planned to do this I really thought that 4 months would just swim past.  How wrong I was.

I’m also in a mood this afternoon because I drank last night, and I have truly realized its depressant nature.  Loosens you up as it flows through your system and tickles all your nerves on the way down.  However when it soaks into my muscles and bones and nerves and soul it deadens them.  I feel wooden.  And I’m always in a weepy mood the next morning.  Metaphorically weepy, that is.

Not that I drank all that much last night.  I have truly lost all semblance of a tolerance.  I had two pints of Heineken and a funny little test-tube of Jaegermeister – which is like drinking a Fisherman’s Friend cough drop – and I was pretty buzzed.  I’m such a lightweight!  That’s NOTHING!  Well, I guess at least in this period when I have no money – I literally have a handful of change to my name this morning – that I am a cheap date for myself.  Also good, I suppose, that I find Irish women as inherently unattractive as I could not POSSIBLY afford to have a girlfriend right now.  But I get paid today so it should all work out.  I really AM living hand-to-mouth.  And I don’t like it one bit.

Watched O Brother Where Art Thou? last afternoon with Kevin and Maeve.  I really enjoyed the movie, but it was absolutely the music that did it for me.  All those southern hymnal bluegrass scratchy record Grand Ole Opry sorts of songs.  Made me think of Grandpa Dunford and Mom.  George Clooney in the film combed his hair religiously with a black hard rubber comb and even looked sort of like Grandpa.  Made me think of him propped back in his burgundy recliner, white socks in black opera slippers, bluegrass on the radio and four crosswords ahead of him.  I think he only ever moved to eat meals and to flush them from his weathered body.  His hair gleamed charcoal and he smelled strongly of aftershave off his glistening face.  Sometimes the blue box would open and the rusty harmonica would wheeze from his fresh licked lips.  He’d tell me of the farm of his youth and a basket full of biscuits and ham his only companions on the miles and miles to school.  Thick plastic glasses he’d worn ever since they were the thing to wear, hair combed in the manner in which it was combed, attitudes held in the way they were held.  He feared and hated blacks and at dinner he would pray for the salvation of his next door neighbor, a Polish Jew who had survived the Holocaust at the cost of his family.

A slow moving, deliberate man.  A southern elephant.  A wonderful grandfather and a racist southern relic.  Exactly the sort of person the south needed to lose or change.

Since I’ve learned and had the chance to think about racism and the south and all that I get a bit confused in my emotions.  How could I love a racist?  Someone who perpetuated all the things that sadden me about the south and its ability to foster and perpetuate ignorance and intolerance?

I’d like to think it’s because I didn’t know.  That I had no choice, being related by blood.  And that, after all, is not the way that I feel or think.

I don’t know.  There’s a lot of shame, real and manufactured, in the South.  And the face of racism can be loving and related, but it is ignorance and fear that allows good people to feel that way.  There’s a fear that the past is never far behind, and then normal middleclass white folks march for the Klan and you think that maybe it never left or past.  Should I care when Grandma talks about the coloreds?  Should we try to change those so late in life?  Just wait for the generation to die off and with it their attitudes?  No, they stick like gum to a shoe and anyone who walked through it carries it with them, and there’s always a residue left when you try to scrape it off.

But anyway, the music was great and in what I’d like to think was an uncharacteristic act but which I know to be quite the norm, I ran down to Virgin Megastore and bought the soundtrack.  Mom would love it – I’ll see if maybe Kevin can burn me a copy.  Probably not.  He’s big talk and I’ve yet to see even medium action.

Yes, I’ve got the day after drinking blues, and I seem to be steering myself in a substance free direction.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I just realize I don’t care for the effects.  The cigarette tar tongue, the alcohol morning melancholy, the pot simple stupor.  Even chocolate I don’t much care for.  In fact, I don’t care for much, but bread and digestive biscuits.  And jam.  And a fear of being fat.  I think I’ve developed a complex about eating.  But the formula is so simple – eat less, weigh less.  A win/win situation!

I try to be sensible and do things with exercise and fresh fruit and never starving, and though I do eat quite a bit I always leave that edge of hunger.  And that can’t be good.  But I hate to feel full.  But I’m not really eating sensibly – bread and biscuits and chips at work!  My gall bladder is starting to throb a bit right now, actually.  But the stove is useless so I don’t cook my rice, they don’t have my beans and they don’t have my meatless meats that I adore.  Damnation!  So I eat CRAP.  The stove is awful and there is no fridge space so I only eat cold and boring component foods.  And I hate it.

And this house is a goddamned disaster.  The floors are a disgrace, people leave open magazines and CDs and dirty dishes and clothes and shoes and bottles and plastic bags and receipts and opened mail and CRAP ALL OVER THE PLACE!  Plus everything is so generic and the walls are do dingy that even when I tidy up the living room it still is drab, terribly uninviting, a MESS.

My batteries have died so I can’t listen to my music to work.  Aah!  BUT I get paid so I’ll buy some batteries and have them for the walk home.  Ah, Friday night – drunk nackers on the move!  Something to which I can look forward!

My muscles hurt – another symptom of the morning melancholia.  My legs will be stiff today, no doubt.  And not just on account of walking downtown and back on 3 separate occasions yesterday.

But I want my body to be hard, to be perfect.  Because then maybe I could be hard and perfect.  I just want to be good and to feel good and to not assume that happiness is a chemical precursor to madness, or indeed the first part of it, as I do.  And I know I’ll never be PERFECT.  There’s always something.  But aren’t I supposed to try to get there?  Shoot for the moon and at least you’ll fall amongst the stars?  How much is enough?  I want to happy and be loved.  And I’m trying to get there.  And what’s so frustrating is not knowing which way to go.  I’m in the middle of a featureless acre and somewhere there’s a tiny sewing needle made of gold.  But they’ve spun me round in this blindfold and I could be looking forever.  I could just use a little encouragement.  A voice to bark “hot” or “cold” as I fumble in the dark.

Off to work.  Denied my brand new CD by weary power cells.  Full of ham sandwich and digestive biscuits and tea.  Off to chew a bunch of gum and eat something, or several something, that I’ll regret all topped off by another ham sandwich.

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 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 –