[1 Nov 2021 | Bologna> flashing back 20 years in our journal archiving, picking up where post 936 left off, to 2001 when we 1st moved to NYC]
our 1st Noreaster (New Year's day 2001)
January 1, 2001 – NYC
7:30 a.m. and it’s quiet and snowy outside and it’s the year 2001. This is the future everybody was dreaming about and it is here and now. I’ll skip the resolution stuff, but will say that something needs to change in this new year. I need to step back and take it in. I need to find my voice. Everything is going at such a frantic pace that I don’t stop to smell the roses enough. Not that things are crazy and I work too much. But in terms of what it means to be a writer or an artist you have to live it. I have been so consumed with just writing that I have lost focus. I read so many literary reviews that the reading becomes cursory. It has been a while since I have read something that has absorbed me. And if I can’t be inspired by other’s writings, then how can I want to be a writer? It is really egotistical when you stop and think about it. That my voice will be any better then the average Joe. And sure writing for the average Joe is probably what I need to be doing, but I have made a stab at that, I guess, and where has it gotten me? Frustration and demoralization. I just need to write when inspired. And need to live life outside of writing. Not that there is time for that. I guess the reason I am frantic is that it would all come together if I could just get published. I would have more free time to write, I would meet friends, life would be good if you were just free to create. False illusion. [Bedder-½] and I need to meet more people here, as it is now we spend every waking hour together and it is amazing that we get along. I really do love her and am happy with everything in our lives right now, we are out of debt (except we spend money like fanatics and every month we have thousands on our credit cards), we are healthy, we eat good food and drink good wine, we live in New York City. It’s almost like there is too much to absorb and I am becoming detached from my senses and I’m not sure where that leaves me. Maybe I should get into some meditation or something. We’ve done some Tai Chi and Kapoeira, but I need to concentrate and pursue things til the end. I need to read more rather than write. I need to let myself be inspired. I need to make myself a blank canvas, a field of white snow. Here the beauty of the snow doesn’t last long. While it was falling on Saturday morning it was truly inspiring. Caking everything in a layer of white, halting traffic, giving possession back to nature. We walked around until we were covered with snow then stepped inside for a meal of chicken and mash potatoes even though it wasn’t even noon. Then walked around Carl Schurz park, everybody sledding and building snowmen. Dogs running around eating the snow. The dogs, Bedder-½ and I derive so much pleasure from watching the dogs. One day we will have to get one. Maybe that will be my resolution. To be in a position by 2002 to have a dog. Who knows where we’ll be or what we’ll be doing but that is a good thing.
Last night watched Night of the Iguana and watched it again this morning. Now the snow is turning to slush, and still a foot deep on most of the immobilized cars. Even deeper on the sides of the street. Here's the makings of a poem:
New Years in New York
The whiteness of the snow
is brief. Reviving only
during the dizzying descent between the narrow canyons,
crippling the dusky avenues
to a glacier-slow commute. Until
it instantly pales to mucky slush
clogging the gutters and smothering the garbage,
delaying its collection. (If
the snowflakes even bother to stick when they hit
collectively-conscious streets). Every
body wants to be a part of it
(the free-flinging of new paint on a canvas)
But nobody has the time to absorb the finished piece.
We get so overwhelmed just reading
all the reviews,
that we end up eating in. New Years Day 2001,
the canvas is clean
we have access to all the media
we could possibly want. The future
we dreamed of is now here
but cannot be grasped
until we are released from its grip.
2000: Who would a thunk we’d be here and now. And who knows where we’ll be at the next New Years.
January 8, 2001 – NYC
Been walking to work every day now. Today I almost got hit by an icicle falling from the roof the Dakota. Then I saw a red glove laying on the white marble steps of the Lincoln Center and then saw a white cane in the recess of a cloister. We found a black silk cardigan on Fifth avenue and Bedder-½ kept it. I walk with Bedder-½ to 86th and Central Park West, through the park. Then she catches the C train north and I keep meandering south by southwest. Each walk is like reading a different story. Each time the conditions are different. Sometimes it’s an orchestra of chaos, and then you go around a corner and find an island of peace.
Saturday we helped [S Y] move from her ex-boyfriends apartment down in the village to a new apartment in Washington Heights. [C M] was there helping but of course I was doing most of the work because I’m a masochist for exercise. [C P] (her new boyfriend) showed up late and was acting pathetic complaining that he was hungry. We loaded her U-haul, then they drove it up and we had slices of pizza and took the train all the way up to 200th street. That’s a long ride that almost feels like a real train instead of a subway. It’s a different world up there. You get more space up there, but the apartments feel like factories. She has a great view of the cloisters though. Even carrying futons and mattresses and box springs up four flights of stairs wasn’t enough for me so we went to the gym afterwards and then we met the moving party over on the west side for our compensatory dinner at some Korean restaurant. We didn’t intend it that way, we were supposed to meet at the Lemon Grass Grill, but it moved and the Korean place took it’s place. C P (who is Korean) was being a snob about it. He asked the waiter (who was Chinese) if the cook was Korean. The waiter said “yah, you want to go back and see for yourself?” The owner wasn’t Korean and this bothered C. What a snob. Medical student who is full of himself. S Y could do so much better, but oh well.
January 14, 2001 – NYC
Writing at home because when I write in my journal at work it is biased. I don’t complain what it’s like to work behind the abrasive wall of ignorance. Forced to take his side and cower in his pathetic vanity of claiming ownership of documents, or make my work environment even more uncomfortable. And who can I go to for help? [S’s] probably sympathetic to my cause (he has repeatedly demonstrated his dislike of [L] – how professional is that) but look at S … it’s a no win situation. To make matters worse, I have nothing to do. Sure I could be writing fiction at work, but I just don’t feel comfortable doing that. And my writing would probably reflect that. So in about a weeks time I pieced together this 50 page style guide, which of course L was trying to lay claim to. I sent it to [D] and [M] as an offering of peace, saying that I wanted to see more unity and cooperation between the two coasts, and also threw in a line about being bored and having too much spare time on my hands (to worry about all this nit-picky grammar shit). She turned around and copied her boss and [S] on it. So hopefully they will take that as a warning sign that they better give me more work to do, and that I’m sick of working under L’s thumb and having my work take on the same repressed and anal flavor of miscommunication and apathy. Oh, the life of a tech writer.
I walk almost every day know, both ways. Sometimes I might take the subway part of the way. But when left with the choice, I usually am more inclined to just walk. It also leaves me in a better mood, although sometimes I will venture into the underworld for a glimpse at other’s realities. Or worse yet, the bus. Bedder-½ says she feels like a loser on the bus, probably because by virtue of being on the bus, it is an admission that you are one of them. When you walk, you are free. Free to turn right or go straight, free to cross the street, free to stop at the crosswalk. I never know when I leave the house which way I will take, it just happens. Kind of like skiing.
Speaking of skiing, we saw Copenhagen yesterday, and damn if he didn’t take my skiing metaphor and abuse it. He illuminated what I always thought was enticing about skiing— it’s all about unconscious split-decision making. At every instant you change your fate, left, right or straight. You collapse the uncertainty into the path you leave behind. It was a great play, that impressed me in not only the revealing of the revelation of a man’s life playing out in his work, but also the way in which it was written was self-similar. A spiraling dialogue of uncertainty, eventually spiraling in to reveal the true meaning of selfless sacrifice and not taking credit for your discoveries. The premise is to reveal what actually was exchanged in the infamous meeting between Bohr and Heisenberg in Copenhagen in 1941 … was Heisenberg fishing for the secret to the bomb that he would give to Germany, or did he reveal the secret to Bohr? … this was all played within the ambiguity and uncertainty of the quantum mechanics that went into the bomb … even the stage was circular like an atom, with people all around, three characters, Bohr, his wife, and Heisenberg … nothing else. No props. The scene is acted out over and over, past, future and present collide, the plot spirals and pulls in substance, slowly teaching the audience the principles of quantum mechanics without them knowing it, it really was a beautiful dance, and the final revelation, was that indeed Heisenberg did really reveal the secret, but he did it unknowingly, he was thinking out loud and caused Bohr to understand the truth of how to make it (which he then gave to the Americans). And the revelation doesn’t stop there. Bohr didn’t reveal to Heisenberg the implications of what he was saying, so he left Heisenberg in the dark. Heisenberg was suppressing the truth for fear of the implications. He was uncertain, like an uncollapsed wave function. Whether it’s true is a different story, but definitely interesting to imagine the implications of how much the world changed at this instant, this interaction between Heisenberg and Bohr. If true, then Heisenberg truly saved the world.
After the play we went to the Film Café and [G] met us there. Then we went down to Chelsea and had dinner.
A few promising leads to publication. I sent a handful of poems to Broken Boulder Press, the makes of an experimental poetry magazine called Gestalten, as well as an alternative fiction rag, and chapbooks. I got an immediate reply that he really liked them, and that he wanted to see more. He wanted me to send a “brick” of poetry, so I will send him Figures on a Landscape and just let him pick what he wants out of there. Also submitted something to Jaunt, a journal entry from Java, January 1, 1991. I got an e-mail from Ron, he intercepted Eric’s mailing list and sent out an invitation to his radio show on KnotRadio.org … and then I remembered about Jaunt, and found it on the Web.
Just wrote a short piece called “Blood Clout Live in Central Park”. Reading the “Elementary Particles” by the French writer Michel Houellebecq. It’s a quiet Sunday.
It snowed a little bit on Friday and now it is warm. Tonight Bedder-½ and I are staring Salsa lessons. Now I am at work with not much to do. The dust is about to clear from our spending extravaganza last month, we’ll see if we break out ahead. Hopefully I’ll finally get my $2500 bonus from Acentre this week or next. Whoo hoo. Getting closer to more publications. The rejection letters are personal and encouraging asking for more work. Been writing a lot of poems lately. Feeling inspired by city living. Bedder-½ is more or less healthy now. Gravity will probably make an offer today. We’re more in love then other. Life is good.
January 30, 2001 – LA
Has it really been two week since my last confession? I am now in LA. Kind of a short notice thing. On Friday, Donna decided I should come out here for the week, so I made all the arrangements and here I am. Staying at the Universal Hilton Room 2053 overlooking the 101 and the hills of Burbank, lots of traffic and police helicopters. Let me back up and think if there was anything to recap from before… last weekend … can’t remember … it snowed … went to Santa Fe, saw Traffic, went to Candela, been going to our Salsa class, bought Bedder-½ a laptop (a Sony Vaiao), bought a scanner/printer/copier, rearranged the office completely, worked out, worked on two different pieces for Jaunt (which are going to be published) … and, I just found last night, I’m going to be published in Gestalten! Bedder-½ read me the letter from Paul Silvia on the phone and it sounded encouraging. Wants to publish Allele. So I have to get him a softcopy from here. I have my computer but no Internet access. He had some good advice to give, I sent him all of Figures on a Landscape, thought I should concentrate on getting some publications and then maybe a chapbook, and then somebody might consider such an ambitious collection (otherwise, he said many editors may get intimidated when I say I have a collection), best not to mention it.
So LA, early Monday got on a TWA flight from JFK to LAX, over the snowy country, saw Red Rocks and the Sierra Nevadas. Had three seats to myself so I could sprawl, worked on “Deadwood Undelivered”, would have finished it in one sitting if it wasn’t for my batteries going out on my laptop. Going to LA got me thinking a lot about Kevin, and it was really weird landing and immerging out into the air in front of LAX and not be looking for Kevin’s white truck. Just feeling the air was weird. Got a shuttle to myself, went past downtown LA, past Hollywood, 10 to the 110 to the 101, and here by noon on Monday, met D for lunch. She’s not as bad as L makes her out to be. She’s been around, you don’t want to get on her bad side. So I was schmoozing for PR points. I think she likes me. I’m staying at the Hilton, I can see our office from here. A big black trapezoidal building. Not that far as the crow flies, but walking there I have to go down elevators and escalators, through the lobby of the Sheraton, down more elevators and stairs, through parking garages, etc. They definitely make it difficult to walk around here. Basically I’m in sponge mode, just gathering material and establishing a repertoire with the developers. Can’t complain, I’m treated like royalty. A $200/night room. Thursday hopefully I’ll get to go do the Universal Studios tour. Going up to the City Walk after work, many restaurants to choose from. Sucks being away from Bedder-½. Especially since when I get back on Saturday, she’ll be gone in Tampa. Speaking of which, the Giants got their asses whooped in the Super bowl. It was a pathetic site. Boring game. It also sucks because after this week, Bedder-½ is staring to work on Gravity so the poor girl won’t have any time off. At least we’ll have plenty of money. Oh yah, also opened up a Datek account in the last two weeks, investing some money just for fun. Lost a lot $1000 turned into $900 the first week, but got most of it back. It’s more complicated than I ever imagined. I always thought it was just a matter of buying and selling, but there’s a lot more to it.
It’s only 9:30 but I’m tired. Jet lag. More later.
20th floor through mirrored windows. The distant hum of traffic from the valley to LA. A winding snake. Woke up at 5:30 and worked out in the hotel gym. The ocean is blue because the sky is blue. Why the sky is blue requires a longer explanation and knowledge of physics. So I will stick to the first question.
February 3, 2001 – LA
Finished out my week of sponging, gathering up information to take back to NY to chew on. Interviewing some of the introverted developers in LA, [W] who smells like soap and runs every time she gets out of her desk. [S], who is a very quiet big Indian guy. [D], the gadgety brit whose stuck in the 80’s Men at Work style. Lunches soaking up the So. Cal sun for a few minutes. Wednesday or Thursday, [S] took me for the golf-cart tour of the Studios. S’s a character, she’s kind of dumpy and fat and wears overalls, strange for an administrative assistant. But she is rock solid with people skills. She understands every interaction and is in constant attention to your needs. Funny thing is that she is more suited than anyone to be running the whole operation, but I don’t think she realizes her own potential. Isn’t that always the way it is? She secured the cart and made me wear dark sunglasses and we drove onto the set, past the grill and all the “bungalows” familiar from “The Player”. A lot of stuff was familiar, like in Anytown USA, but then again a lot of it wasn’t because most of Universal’s films are cheesy blockbusters that I haven’t seen, the Back to the Future church, Leave it to Beaver’s house, etc. but did see Bates Motel and even got out to go into the office and back into the room that had the bathtub with blood on it (a joke I’m sure). It was fun.
Thursday night [S] and her new lifeboat [S] paid me a visit. She was flying into Burbank which is nearby and they are living in Simi Valley. Went to the City Walk (where I have gone most of the nights for dinner). A Disneyesque mall like tacky atmosphere with Hard Rock Café type eateries. S is a definite improvement from [S], and about as different as could be. A little “light in the loafers” as [K] says, and even S asked me if I thought so (as he was impatiently strolling around the restaurant because his butt hurt), so obviously she is self-conscious about it. He looks like an Italian Dennis Miller with manicured stubble and stares off into the distance a lot. But whatever floats her boat, she seems happy enough though they still seem like they are testing the waters and riding each other a bit.
Friday got away around 2:30 with D and M, they were having problems getting me into Universal Studios (I don’t have a badge). D and I sat down for a beer and more bonding, and then S ran me up a badge (as I said, S can take care of anything). Tried to go on the Terminator 2 ride but they were having technical difficulties. Even though we get the VIP treatment and get to go the front of all the lines. I talked her into going to the ET ride. I wanted to see Kevin’s handiwork even though everyone said the ride was kind of lame. It was a little weird, riding on this kiddie bike thing next to my anal boss, thinking about Kevin working on all the redwood trees. That’s all we had time for really. Went up for a sort of wrap-up with [T] in his office. Kind of guy that’s got the TV going in the background of his office like he’s keeping his pulse on America. But definitely more engaged than [S], matter of fact the whole LA office seems a lot more productive and functional.
I said my goodbyes and went downstairs and hopped on the Subway. I originally had intended to rent a car to go see [R] and [E] … when I called them they gave me the impression that I was very far away and didn’t offer to give me a ride, so I offered to get a car and pick up E. But then I was looking out the window of our office and noticed an escalator going underground … a weird site to see in LA and I remembered seeing that show on the LA Subway. So I cancelled my car reservation and went underground. The contrast was shocking. Ultra clean and empty. Only $1.35 and as far as I could tell it was on the honor system. I went to the front and watched the train speed (70 MPH) through the smooth manicured and futuristic tunnels. Definitely no rats here. I couldn’t get a hold of E so when I got downtown I figured I would just keep heading towards R's house. I switched from the Red line to the Green line and was another world. The green line was this tiny toy streetcar thing packed with people, I was the only white person on the car. In NY you get that but you don’t feel out of place. In LA only the poor people ride the subway. I guess I’m just not familiar with the scene, or maybe because I was carrying my computer case, but it felt dicey. It goes above ground after that, and I was trying to figure out where I was, I recognized Washington blvd. as somewhere E lived nearby, but it didn’t seem like the kind of place where you would just get off and wait for a ride. I rode it all the way to the blue line. The intersection was on a platform in the middle of some freeway. I finally got a hold of E and he told me that R was flaking out, said they all had the flu. And here I was in Compton waiting to catch the train down there. So went back down and waited for the train going back the other direction, back to downtown, trying to coordinate where to meet E, I was going to meet him at the Staples center, but he thought it was hectic so I continued to Union Station. Talked to R who was trying to act like he was getting sick. Lame. At least you can’t say I didn’t try. Talked to Bedder-½ in NY as she was getting ready to go to bed. I miss her. Got to Union Station, I remember I was there once and thought it was grand. Compared to Grand Station it is a toy. But it is cool and funky with the art deco wood ceilings, and familiar from the many movies filmed there. Spotted E from a mile away. Walked out to the parking lot and saw this souped out convertible sports car and was joking with E that this was his ride and he laughed and popped the alarm on it. A Toyota Spider or something, that hasn’t even hit the market yet. Not bad for someone who is perpetually “looking for a job” and getting by as a personal assistant. [M] works for Toyota so I guess that has its perks. Driving through downtown LA, literally communities of homeless people setting up their cardboard refrigerator boxes to sleep in. Depressing and sketchy. I guess the difference between LA and NY is that you see homeless people, but you don’t look at them through the windshield of a sports car with the doors locked. In LA you wouldn’t be caught dead walking on these streets. In NY you have to live with it, not just witness it like it is a movie.
Their new house is this beautiful southwestern style house that they just bought. A little dog name Chupa and a cat. Yuppies to a “Y”. Drinking gin and tonics and having hour-deurves. They were smoking up a storm and it was making me nauseous. But I was trying to keep a good attitude. M uses words like “smashingly beautiful” and “fag hag” and complains about how she has to play golf with all the other executive at Toyota. I started talking about Toyota’s Net car plan to integrate a loaded jukebox with each car and she was acting shocked that I even knew about it like it was some sort of top-secret project. Yah, right, read it on the Internet. According to her they are brokering a deal with Universal. That would be [M] and [B]. Hmm. Just so happened that [uncle D] was came down. Had an Internet date with some Russian woman the next day to go to an S&M Goth club in LA. “what does one take at these things?" – hmm, I think ecstasy is acceptable. This is a 60-year old father. Some things don’t change. He’s collecting disability from Delta because he was prescribed Prozac from his shrink. And M asks, “Don, how did you find such a smashingly wonderful therapist?” At this point we were at the Sonoran Café, I said I wanted Mexican food and they take me to some place with Valet parking and nothing on the menu under $30. “Derek, you must try the mango chutney aynchronized quesadillas. Smashingly delicious. Eric, we must do some Hatha Yoga tomorrow to work this off.” I tried M’s quesadilla and told her it tasted like eating a mouthful of melted plastic (it did) and she was amused in a patronizing sort of way, “ha-ha-ha. How about one of these Habanero oyster shots, they are simply crazy.” Bantering about $250 dollar bottles of wine. Enough to make you vomit. Not that people aren’t like that in NY, but there’s something so sophomoric about these LA types, they are trying (“trying” is the key word) to fill these shoes. It is so unreal. “I’m a member of the beach walker club,” M said, then started in on this monologue that sounded just like Rickie Lee Jones in that Orb song, “and the sky was smashingly beautiful, gorgeous shades of vibrant pink…” At this point I just wanted to go home. The last subway was at 11:30 and we were going to miss it. They ended up giving me a ride (smoking the whole way). I smelled like shit and had a cough. Woke up at 5:00 a.m. and went to work out to try to purge it out of my system. Had breakfast in the Hilton in front of the player piano reading Sylvia Plath and now I’m waiting for the super shuttle to take me home.
February 28, 2001 – NY
New view. I moved my desk over to the window so I can see the smokestack rising from the public sanitation department. It’s not that bad. I can see the river and a lot of sky also. There’s just more natural light over here which I think is better for one’s disposition and combats the effects of seasonal depression disorder or whatever, not that I’m feeling that now, but just in case. Light is good. Like water. It’s also not as stuffy and if it gets hot I can open a window, an option I didn’t have before. My back is the rest of the room so somebody could read over my shoulder and read what I’m writing right now, but if they do, fuck them. Last day in February. Almost done with taxes. That’s no easy chore, moving states, working different jobs, sometimes as a contractor, deducting my computer and desk and percentage of our living quarters as business expense, etc. Have to pay something like $2677 for federal.
[K] came into town last weekend. I went to get her at her mid-town hotel on Thursday evening, in the middle of a snowstorm. Couldn’t get a cab and I was towing her baggage around through the snow and she was totally unprepared. Crammed on to the subway with her bags and then trudged through the deepening snow to our place. Ate at Lucas. Friday night we went and saw “Proof” which was awesome, story about the daughter of a psychotic mathematician. Characters were realistic. Mary Louise Parker did a great job. Went to Italian at some place on 9th avenue and 57th that was awesome. Saturday Bedder-½ had to work so I took [K] through the park to see the snow and all that stuff, met Bedder-½ for lunch and then K and I went to the MOMA. I wasn’t very impressed with most of the stuff. A whole floor of furniture and design stuff. Not much conceptual stuff. The best floor was a floor of crates with pieces ready to be unpacked. That was provocative. All the labels and packaging was cool. We did some French movie that was so random and weird that it was cool to just nap to. Then we met Bedder-½ and went to eat at some Irish Pub (McGees) and hung out drinking Murphy’s and then went to Dillon’s to see Mesherill and Harlan perform. Mesherill is our office manager here that is blessed with an incredible voice. Harlan also has a good voice and can play guitar really well and writes songs. Jazzy. The place was weird, full of old crooners, we were late and didn’t get a table so we had to stand in back. A lot of people from work showed, weird to see all these people there, and Mesherill and Harlan onstage singing. They were awesome until some old guy came on stage who was terrible. We snuck through the kitchen and into the bar next door and hung out there with L and others. Then [K] and Bedder-½ decided they wanted to go sing karaoke so we cabbed down to 32nd street where all the Korean restaurants are, found some weird place that rented private rooms by the hour. It was trippy. The rooms had these vinyl booths with disco-lights and a big screen TV with the karaoke machinery. All the other rooms had Koreans belting out tunes. Bedder-½ and K sang cheesy songs and I sat there banging the tambourine. The only song I did was Rage Against the Machine (“Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me”) and even that they weren’t giving me the right lyrics. Got home at 2 or 3 in the morning and K left early the next day. Spent most of Sunday recovering from all the cigarette smoke and lack of sleep.
February 20, 2001 – NY
No reality to speak of. Outside of Manhattan that is. Had a 3-day weekend for President’s day. Bedder-½ worked Saturday and I think I wrote or wasted time reading literary reviews to find ones compatible to send out writings to. I’m being more selective in who I send stuff to, but it’s time consuming. Wrote out a few new pieces, “Hemoglobin” and “Oxygen” – sort of Word Art pieces inspired by John Cage, got two of his books the other day. Silence I remember from Santa Cruz. The other was I-IV. Sunday we met S Y and C P to see Chocolat. Boring just as I expected. Bedder-½ and I went down to the meatpacking district after that, even though it was freezing. Just walked around and looked at stuff. Cool part of town. Walked down to the West Village and went in a few bookstores and coffeeshops, that sort of thing. Would be cool to live in that part of town. We’ll see. Sunday we wanted to go to some museums but they were closed, so we ended up walking across the park and having brunch at the hi-life grill. In other words, we’re not doing much of anything. Bedder-½ is working like a fanatic, moonlighting at Gravity in the evenings. I’m getting more writing done, I guess. I’ve abandoned any longer projects and am just trying to write some short stuff that I can get published. Wrote a piece yesterday “The gathering of Wood”. Did I mention I finished a hybrid experimental story last week called “Deadwood Undelivered” which I really liked. Nothing much going on at work, except I’m actually busy so that’s okay. Hardly ever take the subway, except maybe home. It’s actually light when we get up now. Still cold, but there are warmer days. That’s about it, really.
March 5, 2001 – (DC)
Went to DC this past weekend. Bedder-½ had to wrap up unfinished business with Dr. [L]. Friday night I met her and S Y down in the West village and we ate at Holy Basil. I got an answer from a query letter from Graywolf Press on Thursday or Friday requesting the entire manuscript of “Figures on a Landscape” so I was running around like crazy trying to get all 300 pages of it printed out and write a cover letter, and sent that Saturday morning, then picked up our rental car. Double-parked and got our stuff and headed down to pick up Bedder-½ who had to work in the morning. Driving through mid-town traffic, met her out front of the Parker Meridian, headed out through the Lincoln Tunnel. Down through NJ, tripping out on the roadside rest areas. Half an hour out of the city and a completely different world. Weird to drive. Like fish out of water. But like a fish riding a bicycle, you don’t forget how. Checked into the Sheraton, then went to meet Dr. L. They live in this huge decadent house, waste of space and heat. Crazy to think most Americans live in such decadence, using far more then they need of everything. Our apartment is as big as one of their closets. Some woman from Mississippi was there, a student of Dr. L’s he hadn’t seen in 21 years, and they were ignoring her basically. Just started talking about how stressful and important his job was. [P] being the pompous bitch acting like the queen. We went to eat Chinese food, ate Jellyfish for the first time, also had crab and lobster and all this other weird shit, Dr. L was sucking and slurping making all these disgusting noises, I’m sure C was grossing out. Jellyfish is weird, like tasteless gummy worms.
Next day dropped Bedder-½ off at work and I took the metro into DC. Got off at L’enfant and walked along the mall. Miserable rain, forecasters predicted this big storm to hit. I saw the immense and massive Washington monument. Then all the way to the other end of the mall, past the reflection pool. Rows of seagull shit along the edge. Seagull shit everywhere. Walked along the Vietnam memorial backwards, starting with the last person to die. Then up to the Lincoln Memorial. Bigger then I imagined. Liked the part about mopping your bread in the sweat from another man’s cheek, “do not judge others, and be not judged”, and the Korean Memorial, “Freedom is not free”. I started to walk back and noticed the Jefferson Memorial was all the way across the tidal pond, walked all the way around, dead fish everywhere. Seagulls picking them up out of the water and pecking at them. Then saw the Jefferson memorial, freezing by that time. Then to the FDR memorial which was my favorite. Liked the waterfalls, and the touchy-feely murals. He said some pretty righteous things. Looped all the way back. Most of walked ten miles in the rain. Everybody else in cars. Everything in cars. Get the impression that everything in DC takes place behind closed doors. In the back of black cars with tinted windows. Stopped off at the Smithsonian castle, went into the Natural History museum … coolest thing is that everything is free. Saw fossils. Oh yah, before that I went to the Holocaust memorial museum. There was little kids everywhere, like in field trips or something so I didn’t go through the whole thing. Plus I was overloaded with enough stuff to digest. Seeing all these things made me appreciate America, the principles on which it was founded have definitely been lost. Back then the presidents were so cool, like Jefferson, he was a true renaissance man, a man of science and art, of natural sciences. And it was all about freedom and exploration. I ended up the Hirshorn and that was great. All sorts of great stuff on the first floor, but the best exhibit was William Kentridge, this artist from South Africa who did these charcoal drawings and made them into animated films of sorts. Amazing. Soho Eckstein and Felix Teitlebaum duking it out. Loudspeakers, black cats, telephones, number crunching, a collage of subliminally political surreal stream of consciousness drawings that changed form, you could still see the erased images disappear like ghosts.
Bedder-½ called and was gonna meet me there and I waited but it closed and she still wasn’t there so I finally found her at L’enfant and we got back on the Metro and went to Georgetown and ate at some place called Clyde … crab cakes and salmon and Bordeaux and chocolate brownies with ice cream. It was actually quite good. By this time they were predicting this massive storm, they said it was the worst noreaster in 50 years, NY was going to get 2 feet of snow. So in the morning we went to just get the films and get the hell out of there, but Dr. L was making it difficult. The guy is a neurotic freak. Obsessive compulsive, and he is very selfish. But we finally got the films and the software Bedder-½ needed and saw [L]. By this time it was snowing hard and starting to stick and it was supposed to be worse up in NY. They were saying it was the same conditions as the “Perfect Storm” and just like the movie we were headed straight into it. It was dicey at times, driving on a slushy interstate at 65 just to keep up with everyone else, crawling to a slower speed, only the tire tracks in one lane visible. Cars in the ditches, cars wrecked, cars on tow trucks, salt trucks spitting salt, sparks flying from the blades of snowplows … but really it wasn’t so bad. It turned to frozen rain or rain, or sleet or whatever they call it in these parts. Chunks of ice flying from the semi’s. Just trying to get as far as we could. Didn’t start snowing again until we were headed back through the Lincoln tunnel. Nothing serious, a few inches, but supposed to continue tomorrow, but who knows, they don’t know what they are talking about. I’m sure it will be clear. Just had a conference call with Sony and InterTrust because the Sony guys are in Japan. Still feeling frazzled and not having time for anything, and Bedder-½ is worse. She’s freaking. Has to do this paper, has all these clients scheduled at Gravity and then her job at Columbia. Something’s gotta give.
March 17, 2001 – NY
This morning there were green bagels and congressmen in our office. The green bagels were for St. Paddy’s and the congress people were learning about digital music. A fire erupted somewhere around Columbus circle and I could see the black clouds billowing from my window. Window wide open, a beautiful day. Wearing my lime green Cuban shirt. Listening to Arizona beat Eastern Illinois via Internet radio. Completed a few documents. Now it’s 5:30 and I’m stalling as I am meeting Bedder-½ and S Y and C P at 6:30 at Hell’s Kitchen. The restaurant in Hell’s kitchen. Going to McGuire’s afterwards because Dan Maguire says it’s a good Irish dive and it’s the day before St. Paddy’s and all.
What else? I’m making a Web site. I got Sleepingfish.net. Got more room to play with, 50 MB and expandable. So I’ve been working on some Hypertext fiction to put out there. Time consuming. Seems like you can just spend a lot of time farting around on the computer with little actual creative work, except for serendipitous findings on the Web. Kind of like visual sampling. Find graphics on the Web and steal them and mutilate them beyond recognition, or scan stuff in from Bedder-½’s biochem texts or something. Still working for UMG, no mention of hiring, but no mention of firing. Fine with me, except no health insurance. Banking some cash, opened up a savings account, and paying off Bedder-½’s loans four times faster then we have to. The money I invested in stocks was pretty much wasted. Economy is terrible right now. I hate working. I just wait for the day to be over. It drags more and more. I find excuses to get up, get water, take a piss, get coffee, get a snack. Do things out of boredom. The evenings or Saturdays I’m home I don’t even eat as I’m addicted to writing. We’re definitely on a roll of sorts. Bedder-½ is happy and it shows. And I’m happy that she is happy. She is working very hard though, and she is changing a lot. She has a lot more confidence. And she is trying not to get so worked up about things. We’ve been going to bed late and waking up early, working out a lot, feeling strong and lean and healthy.
March 17, 2001 – NY
Went to the St. Patrick's day parade on Saturday. Walked down there with Bedder-½ but she had to go to work, poor thing. She's sick and everything. Hung out reading Paul Auster at some coffeeshop then went into St. Patrick's cathedral. Figured it was appropriate. It was like this haven of peace in the middle of the city. I wanted to watch the parade from the steps but you needed a special pass so I navigated my way through all the police barriers to around 52nd and 5th ave, right across from another church and a bunch of Irish Gay protesters. Figured that was a good place to be, being that that was my one reservation about seeing the parade is that it's pretty messed up that they're not allowed to march. Interesting to see the marchers reactions towards the protestors. That aside, it was cool to see all the bagpipes and Irish wolfhounds. It got crowded and I was starting to feel funny, like losing myself in the masses, getting detached from my body. Kind of religious, I felt funny, but probably just cuz I was fighting off a virus or something. Didn't do much else this weekend, saw some videos ("High Noon" and some interesting Scottish movie called "Orphans" that was worth it just for the Scottish slang. It was so thick that it was subtitled. Went running yesterday along the river, we signed up for the NY marathon, just in case we make it, want to make sure I'm not totally out of shape, running-wise. Walked to mid-town and saw Pollock. Great acting and anything about Pollock has got to be interesting, and they didn't try to explain too much, just re-enacted skits from his life and let you make your own decision. He was a great artist, but definitely a miserable asshole. Afterwards we ate at Manana, which was some of the best and most authentic Mexican food we've had in NY. Published my www.sleepingfish.net Web site but haven't advertised it yet, not even sure what I'm going to do with it. Sick of work, gonna leave early to go meet Bedder-½ at a coffeeshop.
March 31, 2001 – NY
Dribble. Saturday morning after Tapas in Tribeca. Candles and red velvet, dark, in the company of S Y and C P, heated debates over academia. Bedder-½ and I are no frills, knowledge-based, fighting a system where reputation and who you know is valued. Obviously Bedder-½ fighting the battle more than me, but she is at Columbia so it doesn’t get much better, except according to C P, her boss [A] won’t get tenure. C is an interesting character, but he is definitely disagreeable and stuck on his high horse of Harvard or whatever Ivy league school he went to. Even disagreeing with me on physics issues as if he knows it all. Meanwhile S Y asks me how I come up with ideas for stories, and need I say anything? To escape this dribble of rigorous debate. There is no truth. It’s all fiction that some take way too seriously. The world is made of stories, not atoms. Okay. So I ripped off Muriel Rukeyser when I tagged SleepingFishNet with the motto “the lies that fabricate the world are fictions not atoms.” She probably didn’t know what she was saying anyway. Not that I do, but it has a good affect. And I say everything for affect, rather than whether it’s based in truth.
What else… we thought maybe we would move but now think otherwise. Looking at the ads brought back memories about what a pain it was, and how risky. We could end up in a shitty situation, why risk a decent apartment that is just in a neighborhood that could be a little more interesting. Not that I care. I probably should. Don’t all writers want to live in the village to be seeped in that inspiration? Yah, right. As long as we are a try ride away from anywhere that is fine. I don’t mind the walk through central park every morning. I rather like it. Sure it would be nice to have a dog, but think of all the hassles too. I have spare time and still don’t have time to catch up with all the projects that I would like to be doing. I have many unfinished short stories, obviously unfinished novels that I have pretty much put on the back burner as there is really not time for that, I need big blocks of time for novels. And then I spent last weekend mining all of Kevin’s stuff off his Mac so I could send it to [D]. He’s gonna get it internet-accessible and give it to mom. And I want to make a website of Kevin’s stuff. I want to read his stuff over. I want to read my stuff. I want to read books I want to travel. I want to do a lot of things. How do people get bored? There is so much to do. So much to do that I don’t even want to write in my journal.
Not a lot to do at work, at least now. There was earlier in the week and last week, working on the Duet Data Flow document which is the main document guiding development. Plumb Design is doing the GUI, hmmm, a few weeks after I recommended them to [M] and he ignored me and brushed it off with some snide comment. That’s how it is around there. Rather than just acknowledge that it was a good lead, and at least thank me, he brushes me off, and then turns around and uses them. What a twerp. A baby boy. There’s definitely a lot of politicking going on, people freaking out over the dismantling of Global e and the creation of “Duet” [a short-lived venture between Universal + Sony]. Shit I don’t care, if Universal can’t hire me full-time, maybe the legit company of Duet can. Everyone else is worried about losing their job security and all that bullshit even though they would get the same benefits and stay in the same building and everything would be pretty much exactly the same. For now I’ll just ride it out and reap that fat contractors pay, and hope I don’t break my leg or something (as I have no health insurance right now).
Que mas? Still reading Auster, bit by bit on the train every day. Reading literary journals, my favorite of which is American Letters and Commentary. Hasta.
[... onward to April–June 2001]