[10 August 2021> In limbo unable to focus on nothing else so we'll dig back into our unpublic journals to the beginning of 2000 in Tucson 2 make them public, picking up from the final days of 1999 in post # 906...]
January, 2000 – Tucson
The sun is coming up now on the new millennium. I just got [our bedder-½] up to see it poke through the clouds and the trees. Now the shadows are moving fast across the landscape, the birds are stirring to action. It’s the year 2000. It’s really quite arbitrary, but at the same time it has come to symbolize so much to the human race. It’s no ordinary new year, it’s a new year plus a new decade, plus a new century PLUS A NEW MILLENIUM. Not everyone lives to see such a thing. Who knows if the human race will live to see 3000. Most likely a meteor will end it all. 2000, it’s here. It’s now. I feel it will be an exciting and innovative time. Like suddenly we were cleared of the weight of all those 9’s to a nice rounded number. Now instead of looking forward to and dreaming about the future, it’s here. We are responsible for making the present become the past which will become the future.
It went off with no glitches. And of course I’m on my computer, the power is on, no Y2K bug took down the grid and there wasn’t any major events besides Yeltsins resignation and the release of the hostages in India. We were up at 5:00 a.m. to watch it in New Zealand and Sydney, and then Hong Kong, China, India, Europe, Africa . . . one by one the arbitrary time zones went, millions of tons of fireworks were set off and burnt impressions in people’s minds and polluted the skies. Millions of dollars were spent, people went here and there, crowded into big cities, when all that really mattered is who you are with, not where you are. And I was with Bedder-½ at [M + G’s] house. Cole and [S] (M’s brother was also there) and a few other people came and went, but that was the crowd at midnight. No big deal. It's the information age after all. Why go to New York or Paris or Sydney when you can watch it all from the comfort of your living room. Sounds lame but it’s true. Humans are a weird lot.
Bedder-½ is now up and she’s up to something. Sounds like she is preparing offerings for the gods of the new millennium. My resolution as usual will be to NOT make resolutions. But I will heed this resolution with total conviction. I have been sick and unhealthy and am just starting to feel better, and maybe feel compelled to work out today and get back into shape, but this has always been a resolution. Maintain. Keep trying to get published, write. I could keep saying that, but it will happen. Okay, it will happen this year. It has to happen this year. Maybe a resolution will be that we will not be living in the U.S. at this time next year.
But really, what it’s all about is enjoying the moments as they pass because if you constantly speculate and wish for something else, when the time finally does come, it’s not as true. Yesterday, the final day of 1999, we went hiking up Pontatoc ridge. It was raining in the morning, a rare drizzle, that made everything smell alive. It smelled like animals, pheromones. And even though there were bulldozers on New Year's eve clearing plots of land further and further up the canyons (don’t Americans ever give it a rest?), there is still a lot of beautiful land. The landscape was exceptionally beautiful, the city was beautiful. We hiked up to the ridge where the trail dead-ends at a mineshaft. Looked at the veins of malachite and azurite, and all the geology and the plants.
I think today I would like to go to “Thunder in the Desert”, the gathering of nations pow-wow here in Tucson. I would’ve like to have gone last night, but we had already committed to spending it with M and G, and M “spent a lot of money on a bottle of champagne”. He even got commemorative glasses. That’s M for you. It was appropriate, they are our best friends here as the 20th century passes to the 21st. As the second millennium passes to the third. The first millennium was Christ’s and the development of thought. The second millennium was all about colonization and industrialization, capped by the information age. Now the world is populated, we are technologically advanced, what's left? Will people take a step back in values, going into a recession, or dark ages, or simply a re-evaluation? Population and technology is definitely growing unchecked, out of control. Maybe people will “regress” (or progress) into an artistic age, an age of enjoyment, technology has enabled us all to live comfortably, maybe people will step back and appreciate things. Maybe it will be a millennium of thinkers. Of art. Or maybe it will be the millennium where we colonize space, or are visited by people from outer regions. For me and Bedder-½, we have a lot left to see of the planet, and that will be our priority.
The first day of the millennium we went to “Thunder of Desert”, what was advertised as a gathering of tribes, the mega pow-wow—a great idea in theory, but in reality . . . we arrived at the Rillito raceway and got on this horse-drawn wagon to be taken over to the actual area. It was $15 bucks. We were reluctant to pay but figured it was for a good cause. There were a lot of booths selling Native American stuff, a band playing with about three people watching. There was a main arena where most of the action was taking place—mostly long drawn out gourd dances where you weren’t sure who was doing the dancing. A bunch of Native Americans kind of moving their feet up and down to one monotonous drum. I’m sorry, just have to admit, of any culture of the world I have heard, Native Americans are at the bottom of the list in terms of song and dance. The costumes are okay, but the music is so primitive and simple and boring. It’s like what you do when you’re bored in the shower moaning or when you’re first given a drum and you don’t know how to play it. The Aztecs were a little more interesting, and the Bolivians were even cooler. But the “Native Americans” had an almost condescending air towards them. They said the Bolivians saved a whole year's salary to come there. . . what was our $15 cover going towards? It was probably a complete scam. And every opportunity they had they were asking for money. They would tell everyone to come give money to be blessed and all the bleeding-heart white hippie liberals would queue up to throw down money in a pile. And you’d think for $15 bucks they might supply food, but no. There were two booths, roasted corn on the cob and fry bread. We waited about an hour in the roasted corn line and another two hours in the fry bread line. No exaggerating. I don’t know, I guess we should feel blessed, but I feel cheated.
January 9, 2000 – Tucson
First week of the millennium. I officially finished Piñata’s Crossing and sent it off to be registered. [screenplay we wrote that didn't amount to anything]. I wrote up query letters for both Piñata Crossing and the Origin of Virga [another screenplay we wrote that amounted to nothing] and am staring to send those out rather than rely on nepotism. Bedder-½ is sending out cover letters for post doc positions in Italy, and Spain. She has gotten a response already from Tennessee. These are exciting times. I had a second interview with Roper Scientific. Maybe I didn’t mention my first interview? It’s more of a marketing writing position, which might be a nice change from writing software user manuals. And the subject matter is really interesting, they make high-tech CCD cameras that are used in Physics and biological sciences. I had to make up stories to get off work early, said I was going to the doctor about my rib. Used up the dentist appointment excuse. Said I was taking Bedder-½ to the hospital. Running out of excuses. I had another interview with a company called IFS which also make financial software. After thinking about it for a few minutes I decided to not even go to the interview. It’s not worth it considering our days are numbered here. If I got the job with Roper it will make the next 6 months more rewarding, not just financially, but if not . . . then I will just hang tight and ride it out with the Automation Centre. I have already completed a user manual for them, and most of another. What else, exciting game yesterday, U of A beat Stanford. Saw Green Mile, probably the saddest fucking movie I have ever seen. Definitely have more respect for Stephen King, he really is a brilliant storyteller. There really has been a lot of good movies this past year, Being John Malkovich, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Green Mile.
January 16, 2000 – Tucson
I worked the whole weekend sending out query letters. I wrote up good cover letters for not only Origin of Virga and Piñata’s Crossing, but also Our Mother the Fish [which became Marsupial] and Figures on a Landscape [unpublished]. I’ve got at least 2 or three queries out for each manuscript. I feel pretty good about it. I look back on some of the cover letters and query letters I wrote years ago and it’s no wonder I’ve never been published. I knew that I needed to be able to write a query or a synopsis and be able to sell myself, but I just couldn’t do it. I was more apt to send out complete manuscripts and cross my fingers. Now, I’m reluctant to even send out a manuscript without querying first. Besides wasting paper and money, I would rather prime somebody for it. Give them a little background on it before they read it. Make them want to read it. And I think these query letters will do just that. I also re-read a lot of Strip Mine as I was going to write a query letter for that, and I realized how truly bad it is. I didn’t even bother to write up a query letter. It’s so bad I wouldn’t want it published. I’m embarking on a new project, a coming of age story about growing up in Mexico. I want to write something more marketable, more mainstream, more accessible. I have something like Catcher in the Rye in the back of my head. I’ll put more grandiose projects like “Navigating the Senses” further on the back burner. This story will be a piece of cake to write. It will be mostly autobiographical. I was going to twist some things around, like have it be my dad I lived with in Mexico, but then I changed my mind. But it will be far from the
truth so I don’t offend anybody.
Bedder-½ was freaking out today because she says her whole cell line is contaminated. Says she won’t graduate in June. It’s a roller coaster. Still sticking it out at Automation Centre. It’s getting boring as hell, and now that I am on a roll with my writing, I just wish I could stay home and write. If I didn’t have to work, I could probably write a novel or a screenplay at least once a month. I’m really praying that all these queries I send out will amount to something.
January 22, 2000 – Tucson
Jeff [M] came into town yesterday. Haven’t seen him since we left Savannah. Tim [P] came to town too, with his girlfriend Jennifer. Made for an awkward scene when they ran into [G] at La Paloma. But I wasn’t there for that. I was working.
Working for the Centre. And I’ll probably just stick it out with them. I had my third interview with Roper Scientific and there was just a bad vibe in the air. I was sick of making excuses so I just told Nick and Keli (everyone else is out of town) that I had to go meet somebody. It think Nick knows what's up. I think he’s known. He approached me right afterward and asked me if I wanted to start doing more programming and even installs. To give my job variety and maybe throw in a little extra cash. At least their trying. I guess.
I went to my interview, went home and put on a damn tie. Joan Hoarwitz called me and said that it was between me and one other candidate and she wanted to meet with me once more and have me meet with HR. I was only there for fifteen minutes. She had nothing to ask me. I had nothing to ask her. It was awkward. She said she was concerned about Bedder-½’s graduating and all that, and I didn’t do much to convince otherwise besides saying that it wasn’t for certain and exaggerating the time frame. The truth is Bedder-½ is probably gonna finish early and we’ll be outta here before the summer. So what’s the point? It’s mid-January, Joan won’t tell me for a week, then I’ll give two-week notice, by then it will be mid-February, that will probably give me about three months at Roper. And after asking me again if I had questions I said of course I was curious about salary. . . . she asked me if the rate I specified ($45K) was negotiable, and I basically said no, and then she was like, “so if we offered you $40K you wouldn’t take it?” I said it wasn’t worth my while. That maybe I would talk it over with my wife. And that’s pretty much where we left things. It was just uncomfortable and I’m pretty sure I don’t like her. She seems like she could be a real bitch. And if I went there for three months and left that wouldn’t be much of a reference, and I’d be ruining my Acentre reference on top of it. But according to Joan (when I asked if she had contacted my references) she said that they don’t do that because they’re afraid of lawsuits. What’s this world coming to? People suing if you say something bad about them. So what’s the whole point of a reference. I couldn’t believe it. She’s just very anal like that. And I guess I should go with my gut instinct. Even if she comes back with an offer of 45K.
But thinking about working for Acentre for another four or five months is unbearable. At least I can get away with writing fiction. I worked on the Axixic story a good part of Monday and Tuesday. I would just alt tab when I’d hear somebody coming. Nick caught me once. He was helping fix a Notes application and went to close Notes, and I had composed an e-mail to myself with pages of text about scorpions and chickens, it brought up the e-mail and asked if I wanted to save it or send it. I quickly typed in “home” and clicked the send button but I’m sure Nick caught wind of it. I’ve got about 50 pages down of sketched first draft. Not bad for one week’s worth of work while keeping down a full-time job.
So yesterday I took lunch off to meet J and Bedder-½ for lunch. G met us too. Bedder-½ took J around for the whole day to look at all the resort hotels. He was handing out his resume . . . I guess he wants to work in hospitality but no more coffee shop. He’s selling Joe Beans. Doesn’t want to do that anymore.
He had dinner at T’s and then we met them all at The Shelter. It was crowded and smokey as usual. I’m not sure there’s much of a spark between me and T or me and J. I have to make an effort. T’s friend Derek was there. He introduced me and I was like “yah, you look familiar, I think we met before.” He said no way, that he’d never seen me before. Okay. I thought about it and remembered meeting him at Congress and talking to him for a good period of time. It’s funny how these bar-hoppers don’t remember people. They go out so much, and drink so much, that nothing leaves an impression. You end up having the same conversation with the person a year later. We split to go to IBTs, or It’s About Time, a gay bar on fourth ave. Figured we’d give J a dose of the Tucson gay culture (since he's considering moving here). I’d never been to IBTs before, at least not at night. It’s a weird scene. It’s definitely a gay bar, they have videos of guys dressed in leather chaps with their butts sticking out being whipped, etc. displaying on a few monitors. Guys with their shirts off, guys making out, full-on flaming queens, and conservative looking businessmen sitting quietly in the shadows waiting for some action. Lots of latinos, lots of gang-banger types. But then again lots of heterosexual folks like us so we weren’t too out of place. It was packed, almost claustrophobic packed when you start thinking about fire codes and such. Unlike most bars in Tucson, they had a dance floor, so we danced a while. Of course there was guys with their shirts off sticking their tongues down each other's throats dancing next to us, but hey, it was IBTs, "It's Butt Time" as it's also known. Jeff was supposed to meet some internet buddies of his, guys he “chats” with online in gay chat rooms and they finally arrived. They weren’t the usual married military guys that Jeff likes, but they were prison guards, so I guess that was good enough for him. One of them (John?) looked exactly like Miles Simon. It was uncanny. He was pretty amusing. It was a really weird scene once it closed up and everyone poured on to the sidewalk. We had the parking space right in front, all these gangbangers were sitting on our Jetta. Latina chicks were fighting in the middle of the street, John pointed out a group of gang members lurking in the distance that were looking to cause trouble, he wasn’t concerned, he was trained to break up fights. Everyone standing in the middle of the road going nowhere, cars couldn’t get through.
January 29, 2000 – Tucson
Still no word from Roper. I called Joan Horwitz end of the day on Friday and she said things were looking good for me, but that she had a few things to take care of and they would get back to me on Monday. I thought about it a lot yesterday and now I’m starting to lean more towards Roper (assuming they offer the position). For a while I was thinking I would just stick with Acentre, but sticking it out for another five months sounds unsufferable. I haven’t even been working for Automation Centre for two months and it’s seemed like an eternity. It is so fucking incredibly boring. I’m not even writing, I’m cross-referencing, and indexing, and taking screenshots and organizing information, and when I am writing, it’s like finding creative ways to say “Click this button. A screen displays. Fill out the fields you mother fucking moron, figure it out for yourself and use a little common sense”. So in that respect, going to Roper might be a good choice. I think the only motivation for staying with Acentre is that I’m comfortable and it’s easy and that is a weak excuse, it’s a steady income but it’s still not enough. I don’t know where all the fucking money goes too. I made $45K last year and Bedder-½ added another $20K, where did it go to? And I still have to pay a thousand dollars in tax and we’re still in debt. It never fucking lets up. If there is any void, or any savings, it will inevitably get filled with debt. If we moved to NY or Italy it would definitely be nice to have some money put away, but that doesn’t look like that will happen. Not at this rate.
But who fucking cares. I can still write. I wake up at 5 a.m. before work and write for a few hours. I sneak in little sessions at work and alt-tab back and work fast and furious on the boring shit too just to catch up and make it look like I did a full day's work. Come home and write. It’s seven a.m. on Saturday morning and I’m writing and I’ve been up since 5 a.m. We were up late watching Magnolia. God, there sure has been a good string of movies lately. There’s no denying that. I think the last 4 or 5 movies I’ve seen I’ve been shocked at how good they are. It is just me? Or were the characters in Magnolia just unfucking believable. I enviously watch those characters knowing I could never develop characters like that, but at the same time knowing I could, and knowing I can match plot, I can write bullfrogs raining from the sky, I can write quiz show kid pisses his pants, three hours long and while there was a few dull moments and it took a while to get going, it was interesting the whole time. And it was more than Mark Leyner interesting, there was a hell of a lot of subtext. Especially from a guy whose previous endeavor was Boogie Nights (I can’t remember his name). If I ever did a film, I would have Phillip Seymour Hoffman in it. His range is fucking incredible. His part as a male nurse was so much different than his role in Talented Mr. Ripley. And Tom Cruise, is Tom Cruise, but he just gets better and better. His character was priceless. And Julianna Moore. What can you say?
I’ve got about 99 pages of “The Weight of Tire Matters”, the latest tag for the coming of age story in Ajijic [no idea what this is/was]. 99 pages in two weeks while holding down a full-time job. God grant me the economic stability to be a writer and I’ll fucking write. I’ll write a screenplay in a week. I’ll write a novel in a month. Instead of fucking useless user manuals. People don’t need user manuals. They need fiction. They need story.
February 4, 00 – Memphis, Tennessee
Sitting here overlooking the pyramid in Memphis. Bedder-½ has been at her interview all day at St. Jude and is due to return.
We flew out Thursday morning and after a layover in Dallas got into Memphis around three or four. Got a rental car that ended up being a smelly Toyota truck that reeked of tobacco smoke. The irony is that there is not trunk so we don't have to worry about getting locked into it (after M’s story about his friend who got accosted and thrown into his truck when they were in Memphis a few months back). So we didn't have to worry about that. St. Judes got us a room at the Marriot, they pretty much paid for everything except for my plane ticket which I got for something like $100 bucks. We didn't have much time before Janet [H] picked us up for dinner. It was really her interview time with Bedder-½, but Janet insisted that I go. Janet is a skinny British woman with frizzy hair and high heels that looks like she could've been a rocker in her time. We went to a place called the Society Cafe. And indeed it was. All the well-to-do people of Memphis, i.e. the older White people. It was a nice dinner. I tried to not act too bored as most of what they were talking about was going over my head. But we got onto secular matters such as Memphis and whether it's a livable city. She's kind of strange in that she's lived here since '77 and has never been to Graceland, has never been to the Peabody, and has never been to the Lorraine hotel (Civil Rights museum). Sounds like she is a workaholic. But she was nice enough and motivated enough and it sounds like a great opportunity for Bedder-½. It's a special fellowship and Janet probably used the word prestigious (pronounced pre-sti-gi-us) at least 6 times.
I was up at four this morning, writing in the dark (in my notebook so I didn't wake Bedder-½) . . a story, or perhaps creative non-fiction piece called "Milking St. Jude" [this piece was eventually published in Exquisite Corpse + cd be considered an addenndum to this journal entry]. Bedder-½ had to get up early for a full day of interviews and a seminar —she had pretty much her whole day scheduled. I don't know how she does it, I would never be able to go through that. My job was to check out the town. No problema. I went straight for the Mississippi, walking. It was cold and windy. Right away I saw this otter swimming in an inlet of the Mississippi. I watched him swim across and get out. He was huge and had a broad oar-shaped tail. I continued walking almost to the other bridge, to Mud Island, thereabouts where Jeff Buckley had drowned. I stared down from the bridge trying to imagine how it could have happened. From the description I remember reading it seemed this was the spot.
I crossed the bridge and came through some cheesy housing project that looked like the set for the Truman show. Fancy, but fake looking plantation style homes, with rundown warehouse buildings towering overhead. I walked all the way back even though I was freezing. I was supposed to be scoping the town out and so far I wasn't impressed. I mean, I had fun today and it's an interesting town, but when I was trying to imagine us living there, it just wasn't happening. I couldn't find a coffee shop or just some place to step out of the cold.
Bedder-½ came home so I stopped writing.
... I finally went into the Peabody and sat in the lobby and went on to the roof to check out the infamous ducks and the view. Then I went to check out the Lorraine hotel. I couldn't find it at first, and then I walked around the corner and there it was and I just started crying it was so overwhelming. I just couldn't believe that's where he was shot, that somebody would shoot him. I didn't go into the museum or anything. Figured I would save that for when Bedder-½ could go with me.
Went back to the room and got the car and I drove to Arkansas. I was thinking I would drive through Arkansas and loop down to Mississippi, but driving through Arkansas was so depressing that I turned back. It was very desolate and barren and flat with interspersed Podunk shacks and trailers and an occasional small swamp with dead trees in it. I came back and checked out the suburbs around Memphis. I started off on the north side. Total pits. Projects. Reminded me of the ghettos of Panama. And then it would be total mansions. Huge Gatsby Southern houses. And nothing in-between. Rich or poor, black or white, and no shades of gray in between. I just could not picture us living there.
I went to the Peabody and watched the duck march. That was quite a phenomenon. They lay out the red carpet for these ducks that swim around in the marble fountain and the ducks walk back through the lobby and into the elevator. There was a lot of tourists gaping to get a view in the lobby, but I watched from the balcony and then took the elevator up in time to see them come out on the twelfth floor. I was the only one on the roof besides the bellboy that with the cane who was rounding up the ducks.
Bedder-½ came home around 6 after her full day of interviews. I was really hoping it didn't go to well because it would make it easier to tell Bedder-½ that there was no way I could picture us living in Memphis. We went out to BBQ pig at the Rendezvous. When in Rome do as the Romans. Had pork ribs, pork shoulder and pork loin, all BBQ-ed. Then we went to Beale Street. It was still kind of early and the only place somewhat happening was BB Kings Blues Bar. We got a balcony table overlooking the stage. There was a group of high school kids dancing on the stage even though the band wasn’t playing yet. They were from San Fran and were on some Civil Rights field trip. They were being pretty obnoxious. Finally, Little Jimmy King came on stage. He’s the grandson of Albert King. He was pretty good, but there were two guitarists and a keyboard, which was overkill. Would have been nice to have a harmonica. But it was still good, especially once they kicked the high school kids out.
Took the trolley home. The trolley system is pretty cool, we took it everywhere. Well up and down Main street anyway. Next morning we went and had breakfast at the Peabody. Walked around downtown because Bedder-½ hadn’t seen it yet. Saw the Lorraine hotel again. The civil rights museum wasn’t open yet. And the damn bus full of high school kids showed up anyway.
Got in the car and drove around town so Bedder-½ could see for herself how crappy it was. Went to Sun studios and took that tour. Now that was cool. It gave me the chills over and over again just to think of all the legends who had graced that room, all the sound that had been absorbed by those walls, from Elvis and Jerry Lewis to Howling Wolf and U2. It’s nothing much really— just a front office and a small room with gross brown linoleum and white baffles. Some of the instruments like the mike stand were original and were still in use. I touched a microphone that Elvis had sang through. It was definitely worth it just to step foot in that room.
Then to Graceland. It’s almost like going to Disneyland, buy the tickets, get on a bus, put on a tape with the tour and walk through the mansion. It’s nothing too fancy really, and Elvis probably had the worst taste of any human being, even if it was the 70’s. I thought it was kind of depressing. I just pictured Elvis jacked up on prescription meds lounging around and watching three televisions at once. The trophy room was pretty cool and had a lot of interesting things, his rhinestone studded jump suits, his guns, etc.
The ironic thing is the area around Graceland is complete crap. Why would Elvis not want to move to L.A. or Hawaii? We drove around more, even drove all the way out to German town. Sure that was nice, huge mansions, manicured yards (dead because it was winter) and malls and white people in nice cars. Talk about white flight. Funny how people think they will be safe if they put 30 minutes between themselves and downtown or their jobs. No way in hell we would live out there. Drove all the way through town and it was the same story. Then we went out to Mud Island. That place is so prefab it’s kind of cool. It feels like living on a movie set. I sware it’s where they filmed the Truman show. But we figured we would give it a chance, after all Jeff Buckley must have thought it an inticing enough place to go for a swim. We found the only restaurant—a small pizza joint/video rental shop. And that’s all their was. The riverfront view was nice, and it’s convenient close to downtown, but still. Depressing to imagine us living there.
Took Bedder-½ to see the ducks. This time there was a lot more people and the ducks weren’t as cooperative. One of the ducks wouldn’t get out of the fountain. Then met Itvan and Reka for dinner—a Hungarian couple that Bedder-½ interviewed with at St. Jude. They were pretty hip and cool. From Budapest. God knows what they were doing in Memphis. The things people will do for their jobs. We went all the way out to German Town (30-minute drive) to go this place called Bahama Breeze—a huge establishment that seemed like it belonged in Vegas. There was a two hour wait but we managed to get a table in the bar. Itvan and Reka were the first positive reason I saw to moving to Memphis (besides of course the fact that the job was a good opportunity for Bedder-½). They were fun people to hang out with and only added to the contrast of how much more interesting and with it Europeans are than middle Americans.
We had to get up at same ungodly hour (4:30 a.m.) to catch our flight. Returning the smelly rental car was a pain in the ass. I slept on the plane a little bit but am still tired. When we got back to Tucson it was refreshing and warm and clear. One thing I think we decided this weekend is that we wouldn’t live in Memphis.
Mississippi (Mud Island @ right)
Feb 15, 2000 – (NY, NY)
I didn’t write in New York because I didn’t have any free time. Or what free time I did have I spent wandering around rather than writing. We flew out on Friday afternoon. Got into Newark at something like 2:30 a.m. then caught an expensive taxi to the city. We stayed at the Comfort Inn the first night, which was somewhere in midtown, in the 30s I think. Didn’t sleep much as Bedder-½ had an interview the next morning and we lost two hours from jet lag. On top of it I had what I thought was allergies but may have been some sort of virus making my sinuses throb. I walked Bedder-½ to her interview. The first of the three. This one was with Dr. Wong at NYU. While she was in the interview, I wandered around that area. Wandered along the East River, by the United Nations building, checking out some of the apartments along the way. Rent is definitely expensive in NY, especially mid-town or the hip areas like Greenwich or Soho. I walked all the way to Bloomingdales and went in just to get out of the cold. What a trip. Walked back along 3rd or 5th ave, walked through Central Station and just tried to imagine us living there. If would definitely be a completely different life then here in Tucson. An invited change I would say. I met Bedder-½ back at Borders after her interview. Dr. Wong came along and she took us out to Chinese food. She’s a really cool lady. She ordered a pitcher of beer and told us her goal in life was to live in a penthouse above NY and sip wine on her patio. But also down to earth. So that interview went well and we were starting to feel even more positive about living in NY. We went to get our bags and switched hotels to the Hilton Millennium 2000. It was down across from the World Trade Center [7 months before 9/11]. Our room overlooked the World Trade Center and out into the harbor where we could see the Statue of Liberty. And it was only $139, not that we were paying for it.
We went to Soho and picked a random hole-in-the-wall restaurant that ended up being really good and really cheap. Much better than anything you’d ever find in Tucson and you know, much as people say NY is expensive, it was very reasonable, if not cheaper than Tucson. Bedder-½ had a pizza, I had clam linguine, and we had a bottle of Italian wine, all for under $30. I’m sure there’s expensive places, especially in the touristy areas, but there are affordable places if you look. We walked around even though it was freezing. Through Tribeca, up Canal st. and ended up in Little Italy where we got some desert and espresso.
The next morning we woke up and walked around the financial district, saw Wall St. and the NYSE and all that. It was Sunday and the streets were empty. Walked through the park on the tip, Bedder-½ stroked the balls of the bull and I bought a NY Yankee hat. We went back to the Millennium 2000 and checked out and went to yet another hotel, the Milburn up on the upper west side. The first thing that happened was I went to take a crap and the damn toilet overflowed, with the turd floating around. Had to get some guy to plunge it. We had Vietnamese food for lunch which was incredible, and once again, affordable. Walked around the upper west side. I’m not sure what my opinion of the upper west side is. Bedder-½ seemed to like it, and it was more livable, at least, it seemed more like people lived there. And it is near Central Park, which is nice. I thought there was too many yuppies with Children, old school money. We walked along Central Park even though it was freezing cold and walked all the way to Times Square. Saw this guy playing drums on plastic paint buckets—absolutely incredible drummer. And there was guys dancing, doing flips. Better than most stuff you’d pay to see in a theatre and this was in the subway. Had dinner back on the upper west side at some Indian place and it wasn’t so hot and it was expensive. Oh well, if we lived there, we’d know where to go and where not to go.
Bedder-½ had two interviews the next day. I woke up with her and took the subway through Harlem to the north part of town near the George Washington bridge. We ate hospital food at Columbia and then I left Bedder-½ there. When I got back on the subway it was rush hour and it was packed. It was very different then riding the subway through touristy parts of town on the weekend. At times I would look around and realize I was the only white guy in sight. There was crack addicts passed out on the benches, one guy had a needle laying next to him. But even still, I didn’t feel too out of place or uncomfortable. Matter of fact, three or four times throughout the day people asked me for directions! I went back to mid-town and just walked around, saw the NY public library, Rockefeller center and walked down Avenida of the Americas looking at all the publishing houses and literary agencies. Always within earshot of some sociopathic homeless guy spouting his dogma. One block was sectioned off by NYPD because some guy was gonna jump out of the building. Walked in Central Park. Back to the hotel eventually, got the bags and then got on the subway. That was fun. Having three suitcases traveling through Harlem. I met Bedder-½ back at Columbia. Luckily the second interview she had they arranged for a car to pick us up otherwise that would’ve been an expensive cab ride.
So her other two interviews went well to. Her first interview with Dr. Parnus, she was basically offered the job. Bedder-½ liked the lab, and the prestige of Columbia, but not necessarily the people. Same was true of her second interview with Dr. Bayer. She had to give a seminar at that one. What a stud she is. She sends out five C.V.’s, gets five job interviews and basically is offered four so far, with one to go (in North Carolina). So far, after much discussion, it appears that Dr. Wang is the number one choice. Memphis is definitely out of the question. We’ll see. Definitely a big change to the big apple.
Feb 28, 2000 – Tucson
As usual, too busy to write in my journal at home so I’m doing it at work. We moved offices so now it is much more bearable. It’s a big open space and I have a desk looking out on the Catalinas. I can see Finger Rock from here and the palm trees over the church across the street. Look what getting locked up in dungeon will do to you, you get a desk overlooking the intersection of First and Ft. Lowell, the center of strip mall crap in Tucson, and you get excited about it. And I have a decent desk too. And, I’m getting a bonus. Steve V sat me down and said they would give me a $5000 bonus in May when I complete the next round, and I made a stink about it because Steve B told me I would get a bonus after the 4.9a release (this week). Steve V told me (in an email w/ Steve B CC'd) that: "I believe the plan was that we would grant you paid leave days to accompany your wife on her interview trips, and this paid leave would constitute your bonus."
Thing is they know I'm a short timer and might bolt prematurely if they give me the bonus now (which is very well true). I wrote back that "The carrot on the string theory is effective for increased productivity, but it is even more effective when the carrot is close enough to be able to take a bite to keep you moving along." This stirred up the pot a little and necessitated a impromptu meeting with both the Steves and it was finally agreed I would get half the $5000 now and the rest later in May when I finished it next May, and I would get it in writing.
So things are going better here, which is good because Roper has blown me off. I called her the week before last and she said they were still interested in me but the paperwork hadn’t pushed through and she would definitely get back to me by the end of that week. And it was the same story the week before and the week before. I interviewed with them, what, back in January, if not early January. Ridiculous. If she ends up ever calling me I will probably just ask her for time to think about it and ignore her calls and six months later tell her I’m not interested.
I had a pseudo interview with TvZona magazine last week. They need freelance articles on the media, movies, radio, internet, books, publications, etc. It’s basically a glorified local TV Guide with a Tucson/Latino emphasis. And they only pay $25 for a 250-400 word article. But still, I figured it would be good experience. So I wrote up something on Saturday on Quepasa.com. Hopefully he will like it and ask me to do more, and I can get a few publications to get on my resume.
Getting a few leads on my own writing. Don’t know if I mentioned in my last entry, but the woman hooked me up with, Laura Harkcom, looks like a promising contact. She’s worked as a creative executive for Disney, Warner, Sony, etc. maybe out of my league, but when I sent her queries, she said they sounded interesting and requested copies of both my screenplays. She apologized for not being able to get to them right away and said it might take a few weeks. That’s a lot better than my damn cousins who have had Origin of Virga since last November without a comment. I also had an agent from Menlo Park/Puerto Vallarta that was interested in seeing the first 10 pages of Piñatas Crossing. So I schmoozed her and used my Menlo Park and Puerto Vallarta knowledge. I also had an agent in Tempe that requested to see ten pages of Piñatas Crossing. I’ve been going nuts sending stuff out. Last weekend I sent out something like 15-20 manuscripts, and this morning I sent out another 7. Pretty much every short story and poem I have ever written is in the out box right now. I figure, I have three months left in Tucson so I can’t be sending out stuff any later than now given the reply lag.
Friday night we went to a going away party for Dr. Lei. It was quite entertaining, Dr. Lei’s wife Pulin, a.k.a. the Queen, was wasted and in her glory. Double-fisting bottles of Champagne and red wine. It was an interesting mix of people, professors from U of A, eccentric gay Jewish librarians (and ex-nurses) that were harassing S about his muscles, some killer bee creep who called himself the King of Sting, and even Amy Tai or whatever her name is that works as a newscaster for KVOA. And of course the whole drama of S’s unplanned sabbatical to Sydney (he’s still getting paid by the department) thrown in for good measure. Oh yah, S’s back and he’s been surfing our couch for the past week and probably for the next two weeks. Dr. Lei made him come back to finish two papers.
Saturday evening I went to fix Sateesh’s bike and he made me Chai and Samosas. Then we met up with S and Bedder-½ and Margo and went out for pizza. Then we went to Red Garter just in time for the Guinness Toast at 9:30. Then we went cyber-disco-bowling. I actually bowled a 192 and might have gotten a 200 if I hadn’t goofed around and bowled left-handed and had to bowl my last frame with someone else’s ball that didn’t fit because mine was stuck in the machine. I hope Sateesh had a good time. He wasn’t acting like he was, and he wasn’t asking any of us questions. And I don’t think it’s because he’s shy, he’s just kind of a deadbeat. I think I’ve done my deed and tried to show him around, fix his bike, etc. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. I’ve got too many other things going on. Haven’t even seen M and G in forever. And now with S in town.
Sunday we went to Arivaca to have a BBQ at Pete’s place. Pete is a lab tech that’s been floating around the nutrition labs. He’s got this incredible house down in Arivaca that he built completely from scratch all by himself. There’s actually two houses, and one of them him and his dad built with no power tools. It’s quite a spread. But it’s at least an hour commute into Tucson. It’s 12 miles from the border so he’s got all sorts of interesting tales about the illegals coming through. He’s got a Rhodesian ridgeback. We ate grilled steaks and burnt potatoes. But it was a nice day and it was a good time. You get sort of jealous seeing people living like that. But at the same time, you get to thinking "what if you wanted to rent a video, what if you needed . . . " and you realize how inconvenient it is, besides the commute. Maybe at some point in my life I could’ve gone that path, but at this point I have been corrupted.
March 8, 00 – Tucson
It’s been raining for the last couple of days and it has now cleared up and I can see the snow-covered Catalinas while I’m working. It was the driest year on record so we really needed the rain and snow. I finished the hard copies of all 6 user guides and took them to the printers on Monday Morning. Now I’m cutting and pasting all the material into the “Form Help” are learning a little Lotus Notes to hook it up.
Nothing positive from all the stuff I sent out. Donald finally got back to me and told me he didn’t like Origin of Virga. He had some PhD student from Duke write up a page-long critique on why it sucked. Nothing really constructive that I could value from as I don’t think she got it. She thought the characters and plot were too complex, in particular the motivation of the characters. But this was the whole gist of it really. See what can I do. He opted to go with a “boy loses dog, boy looks for dog” story. They don’t even have a script, but they are going to hire actors to improvise and shoot material and write that script based on this. Would be nice to have millions to blow on projects like this. Oh well, sounds like whatever they do will be a failure so it’s all for the better. Haven’t heard back from anyone else.
Bedder-½ is stressing out more than ever. She’s freaking out that she won’t graduate in time, etc. I don’t know why she puts the demands on herself. S is still surfing our couch. I’ve been waking up as early as 4 a.m. to work on “Valparaiso 241” the latest working name for my Ajijic story. Possibly the actual title. [... yet another unfinished manuscript, not even sure what we ended up calling this, maybe Pozole Alimony]
March 20, 2000 – Tucson
Vernal equinox. We finally have the house to ourselves, after about a month of houseguests. S left on Friday morning. He got to meet R and M as they came in Thursday night. We went to La Parilla Suiza. And then suddenly we had to say goodbye to S again.
Friday I went in to work but then I pretended I was sick and took off at noon. It was a beautiful day and we had baseball tickets. Went to see the Colorado Rockies play the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hanging with the in-laws and eating hot dogs and drinking beer. I’m completely burned out on eating meat and drinking. I feel yucky. Ate chicken quite a bit since S was staying with us, and then this weekend eating meat. Going cold turkey now and am gonna start running again. Screwed up my shoulder bench-pressing with S a week or two back and I keep injuring it every time I try to lift again, so forget that. Been playing basketball more with the guys here at Acentre and with S once and then with R on Saturday morning.