BY Mark P.

10/01 Direct Link
why am i doing this? i'm not a writer. she was a writer. i'm a lover, not a writer. right? it's because writing, however clunky i am at it, leaves me feeling spent. what are the rules? do i have to use complete sentences? will someone go over it with a red marker and circle the comma mistakes and suggest i use bigger, better, smarter words?


it should be is, of course, because she's not dead -- just not in my life anymore.

stick to the question. it scares me to do this. isn't that the only good reason?
10/02 Direct Link
I don't remember if it was before or after i threw the game down. thinking back, i think it was after. i couldn't believe it. i mean who couldn't' guess that manure is the french-sounding version of poop?

Later, as they were arguing about something or other, she taps me on the shoulder and beckons me to lean in to listen. motioning that she wants to whisper something in my ear.

"Do you want to make out later?" she asked quietly, warmly and without hesitation.

"yeah" i replied. Like i was agreeing with her making fun of one of them.
10/03 Direct Link
Memory works in fucked up ways. Listening to "Nothing Makes Sense Without It" speeding down I-81 I was struck with an odd sense of nostalgia. It took me back to the lake house. My corner room bathed in the Sunday afternoon sun, my single blanket contorted on the lonely mattress. The huge empty bookshelves, content to hold the single leaning stack of CDs.

I hadn't been that miserable since my dad died. Days and weeks spent alone writing, listening to music and thinking. So it was bizarre to experience such an immediate, wistful, romantic recollection of those shitty four months.
10/04 Direct Link
"…what does that make you, a Trotskyite?" my uncle cynically replied before she joined in abruptly.

As much as I tried to mask it, she must have heard the derision in my voice. The next 10 seconds seemed to last 30 minutes as I stood there not believing her sick honesty.

"I think he's doing a great job. He's made it so I can finally go back into the city and not have to worry. And I really don't care that NYPD are beating people up in the streets. They're never going to hurt me so what do i care?"
10/05 Direct Link
This is my America.

They are the ones who built the labor movement. They died making unions. They were murdered standing in solidarity with their brothers and sisters. They were killed not by suicidal terrorists but by the rich determined to make one dollar, one penny more. The miners, the secretaries, the bus drivers, the electricians, the custodians and the dock workers. The ironworkers union local running into the disaster.

They are the ones who stayed tonight. After a 3 hour meeting stayed one more to talk solemnly, honestly, passionately about how this all affects our America: the working class.
10/06 Direct Link
We would exchange glances at each other throughout the party. almost like we were in love. I dressed up in a "nicely pressed shirt", remembering her saying a few days earlier how sexy she thought they were. When we got back to her house she contributed to my delinquency with another beer.

She fell asleep next to me on the couch that night, nestled close together. Rustled by the sound of a squirrel, she got up around 5 and got into bed. I still regret not kissing her to this day. She left for New York a few days later.
10/07 Direct Link
I knew something was wrong when Bush was on Channel 4 instead of the football game. For the next 3 hours, hell for the rest of the day, my mind has been swirling with fears, confusions, anger. Is any of what we're doing going to change things? Is bombing "military targets" in some distant country going to "rid the world of evil"?

What of the "evil" here? Are the two 19-year-olds with the "Kill ‘em All…let god sort them out in heaven" flag evil? What about the retired general on the radio saying "we can't rule out using a nuke"?
10/08 Direct Link

What the fuck. It seems like i'm having a harder and harder time. Its such a stupid fucking cycle. I get overwhelmed, then all i do is eat. Eat things that make me feel good, feel completed. But it's a fleeting, empty comfort. Because then i lumber around, feeling fat, disgusted at myself. The Usual Fix? something else shitty to eat. And on and on. So two hundred and twelve fucking pounds. The exercise was good tonight though. made me feel energized even though i could feel it wearing off as soon as i left, craving something to eat.
10/09 Direct Link
Her shirt kissed her back. It was one of those old concert tees that had been washed and worn so many times that it felt like silk. But the band's name -- some obscure midwest band -- silkscreened just below her brests was still readable after all these years. When she would sit on the stool and lean forward to read, the shirt would lift up a bit, showing off the tattered belt loops on her faded jeans and the hint of a tatoo on her hip, just a little out of sight. I'd never seen her that beautiful before.
10/10 Direct Link
mise en scence. what the hell does that mean i thought? "how miserable i am" or something?

An attempt:

boxes of computer parts teetering on right side of desk (liable to fall everytime i answer the phone)

Posters: Viper Press, "Join AFSCME" (my union), Jon Resh's poster for the Fugazi/Shellac/The Ex show at Congress Theater, "Bread & Roses" and NYC postcards, Rainer Maria photo taken at February show here.

2 packs of gum, opened.

Guilt-producing, uncalled phone number of middle school friend taped to monitor.

Coffee-stained plastic Solo cup.

(Thankfully) no cats running around, annoying the shit out of me.
10/11 Direct Link
I've written 2,784 words so far. but I've been working so long on this fucking grant i almost forgot about the other 100. I learned 12 hours ago the person who said they'd write it hadn't. Its due in 12 hours. Somehow, I remembered at 4:58 a.m. by looking out the window. expecting to see daylight, i only caught a sliver of the moon. It's thin like a bar of soap that you can get maybe one more shower out of before it crumbles in your hands and falls toward the drain. Dinner tonight consisted of sushi and french fries.
10/12 Direct Link
I knew something was wrong. The beeps were self explanatory. I could hear them from across the house.


Wait a few seconds for the prerecorded operator.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

no messages. Beep, click. He didn't call -- again.

I heard them trying to cheer her up. The anquish in her voice was at the same time horrifying and lighthearted. "What a dope" I would catch myself thinking. But am i really any better?

P.S. the new Cursive cellist is breathtakingly beautiful in a geeky sort of way. Her glasses and curly hair remind me of some mid-90s artsy feminist.
10/13 Direct Link
One hundred under the gun. she's on her way over and we'll probably watch some late-night TV, then make out for a while before falling asleep.

Today was a nice bookend to the all nighter i did Thursday night. Slept till noon, then went to Bagels Unlimited where we discussed Ben Affleck, sexism, the correct way to sugar your coffee and whether rappers say "West Coast" or "westside" more often. Inane conversations that if I overheard someone else having them would think they were idiots but were fun to be a part of.

Just saw the her lights turn in.
10/14 Direct Link
It was just after i got down here and was living with my grandpa. We'd talk on the phone every couple of days. Both of us trying to convince the other -- or maybe ourselves -- that our lives weren't shitty alone.

"I'm slowly making friends," she said quietly. "I met this skater guy down at the supermarket last week."

It was only months later, when i went to get the rest of my shit, that i realized she had told me the story of meeting her new boyfriend (some few weeks after i had left) without me knowing it.
10/15 Direct Link
These are the nights that fill my heart. Joe and me. Drinking free beer, talking about life, love and politics. The older brother i never had. We talked about his living out at the Lake House, the need to deal head on with where you're at, not use it as a crutch. I had been in the same place last February. "Shit or get off the pot", i decided. So i stopped feeling sorry for myself: that she had dumped me, that i was back here, that i was alone again. Leave or stay...but choose.

I did.

I'm home.
10/16 Direct Link
When i first got down here i envied them so much. Their lives were chapters is some beautiful, hand-copied zine. Filled with adventures and a great soundtrack. No cares in the middle of the day but a cup of coffee and a cigarette. I sat on the other side of the window at Leo's, like a vistor to some cool-kid zoo, scarfing down lunch wanting to be like them.

But today hearing some of them discuss the relative accessibility of the new Fugazi album compared to Red Medicine, i realized maybe i was on the right side of the glass.
10/17 Direct Link
The pictures laid on my table like so many expired CTA passes. Memories of days, loves, lives that happened some other time. Maybe even to some other person.

A party. 3 women drinking Milwaukee's Best motioning toward him -- half taunting, half joking.

Her and him on the docks. The sun hidden by an overcast sky, the color in the building implied, not exact.

My last faded picture of him. Nothing like I remember him.

10,000 people marching. Scared of the wall of police that would lash out at them moments after the shutter reopened from it's 1/125 second nap.
10/18 Direct Link
Even though we haven't had a civil conversation -- outside of the workday back-and-forth -- for more than 5 months, i was sad to hear they had broken up. I think their being together was the only evidence i saw that she could be genuine about her feelings for someone else, that they could go deeper. I sensed them toward him.

But these feelings were tempered with an evil, spitefull pleasure. Not having a friendship at all now, after an amazing winter, makes me feel like i was really little more than a cold weather stand-in while he was away.
10/19 Direct Link
Despite being a measly four hours before i have to be back up and on the road, this trip came at the absolute right time. Of course I would much rather be having some great hotel sex*, than writing quietly and listening to the families and trucks go by my window, but just getting the fuck out of town will do for tonight. As always, the miles sped by, and unlocked little parts of my mind that never seem to be accessible during the strum and whine of daily living.

*term stolen/borrowed from an earlier contributor, but i forget who.
10/20 Direct Link
I feel like a complete shit. tomorrow's my mom's birthday and i'm going to still be here in Atlanta. How can i be such an ungrateful wretch? Friday before i left we talked for 2 hours. It was another one of those roundabouts where i try and convince her men aren't from Mars and women aren't from Venus. we've had this conversation before.

my bedroom tonight is a beautiful library. a zoo of hardbacks and pamphlets. speckled with stunning African art.

my pillow: a barney blanket.

I have a little over a dollar in nickels and dimes in my pocket.
10/21 Direct Link
The whole way home i thought about what to write: the people's tour of Atlanta we got today, the soundtrack for the return trip (along with this hilarious christian radio drama). But all of that is impossible now. i'm so mad that i can see the color of cold metal. steel on steel producing sparks and noises of rage. the sights and sounds of anger are all i can see and hear. coming home felt restful, then "sad notes from 1212" showed up in my mailbox and here i am: 2:02 a.m. and too pissed off to go to sleep.
10/22 Direct Link
fights, standing up for myself, arguments, appologies, being an asshole, tech support, , making to do lists. Yes, that is the excitement my Monday night holds tonight. And yeah while i'd rather have gone to the movies or fooled around or a million other things, i feel good about having been honest and not immediately backing down, hiding my feelings or making someone else do all the work.

It strikes me as vaugely pathetic that i can feel good about such things, but I remind myself: one step at a time. (Man i sound like a half-priced, dumbass self-help book).
10/23 Direct Link
I hate to rain on someone else's parade, but what the fuck are some people thinking?

The sign said Shell-acious or Shell-tastic or Shell-fragalisticexpealadocious. Something stupid like that. It's this narrow little storefront that sells nothing but... you guessed it shells and shell-art.

Our town needs this? Any town needs this? Why? How does a place like this come to be? I mean is it someone's life dream to open a Shell-emporium? Do they really think it'll still be around in 3 weeks? I feel such pity for whoever thought this is, in any way, a good idea.

Fucking SHELLS!
10/24 Direct Link
Scenes from a bagel shop window:

Woman, just hired here, bounding to her car. This shitty job serving bagels to dowtown yuppies. i'd be shocked if it pays $6/hour. But the joy in her step betrayed her. It broadcast just how desperate she had become. looking all over for some job, any job. This is some job, any job.

Four idiots in their SUVs trying to cram their cars-cum-mobile-homes into the narrow lot. Half of them driving the wrong fucking way. Intelligence not required for purchase.

Random 20-foot rusted post on the sidewalk corner. What did it used to announce?
10/25 Direct Link
We still steal glances across the bar table. As the empty pitchers are replaced with new ones, we battle each other to hold the feelings back. We mask our attraction with arguments over movies or actors, but it's there. You can't blame it on me any more than I say its your fault. Your fault. Why would attraction, magnetism be anyone's fault?

So we leave the bar. And you walk to your car, i ride my drunk bikedly alongside you. "it's still there" you announce about your car parked in a tow-away zone. I ride off, weaving along 3rd Avenue.
10/26 Direct Link
Thanks to J for help with today's 100.

"i got my schedule today. its very weird. i have everyone of my classes once a week. they think its good to be stupid. isn't that weird. two of my classes from five to eight."

"but i do have to volunteer 10 and one-half hours a week. i wonder what class i'm gonna get."

"guess who's not going to school next semester? Bryan. his mom wants him to move to Boca or Houston. Sucky huh?"

"Kramer can tell you how many letters are any word you say to him. he's like Rainman."
10/27 Direct Link
past the end of too-fucking-long day. i wish she was up here on the 5th floor, overlooking this hell-hole known as Orlando. the air is cold, but there's cable and another hour for sleeping tonight. we could go skinny dipping in the pool, play pinball, and make crank calls to other rooms. it would have been nice to walk down the road to the market, buy some wine, fruit and raisins, candles, and bagels for the morning. we'd sit on the too narrow balcony, dangling our legs 300 feet above the ground, freezing and kissing and squinting to see home.
10/28 Direct Link
I'll go thorugh feeling completely overwhelmed once a month or so. So i just back up, throw a night or two away and refocus. It generally works out. But this past month i've felt submerged. Its not because of the actual things going on (anthrax, the US's bombing of another country, the looming budget cuts), but because of what feels like a nonstop barrage of Orwellian doublespeak and flat-out stupidity. The insistence among our "leaders" to hand over every public good and responsibility--airport safety, health care, education, environmental protection and the like--to private corporations scares me much more.
10/29 Direct Link
The box of her things sit on the shelf in my closet, a constant reminder of my slothfulness, of the drive that keeps my ambition from becoming accomplishment. I've had the fucking thing for the better part of a year now and keep coming up with excuses about why i haven't sent it back. the excuses are in the same family -- cousins perhaps -- of the ones that keep the broken printer on the floor next to my table, the boxes of sweaters and newspapers along the back wall and almost every wall bare, two months after moving in.
10/30 Direct Link
We had just come out of a timeout. Despite coming off the bench, I was having a pretty good first game: 7 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists. I had driven around Danny Ferry twice earlier. This third time, I pump-faked him in the air, nothing between me and the rim. It was after the second dribble, as i hop-stepped to take off, that i heard the muted sound of my ankle exploding. It was the sound of that plastic bubble wrap we loved as kids.

pip. pop.

My season over with 1:30 to go in the third quarter, game one.
10/31 Direct Link
Two years ago today I remember exactly what I was doing. It was chilly and early. I was walking up one of the neighborhood streets getting us coffee and bagels and orange juice. Everyone had celebrated Halloween the night before since it was a Saturday. Not us. We spent it drinking a little, lightly avoiding the fact it was all over. 3 years. Done. Despite the hung-over pain of knowing that, the morning was bright and cold and beautiful. And here i am today, drinking another cup of coffee, listening to the new Jay Farrar, still missing her. Done. Gone.