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Are there any promises more hollow than those made while kneeling in front of a toilet? There I was again this morning, desperately trying to rid myself of the evil I imbibed the night before. After Sept. 11, I erroneously assumed that it wouldn't be as easy to waste life away in bars. After all, isn't time fleeting? How foolish to think that the deaths of thousands of innocents would be enough for me to stop blowing through money and getting into cars with drunk drivers and lying in bed all afternoon with my head pounding. And on it goes.
Why does this happen every single day? Arriving at work with the best intentions, ready to settle down and get busy, I immediately become overwhelmed by the toxic environment: the buzzing florescent lights, the musty air, the nauseating odors. The exhaustion sets in immediately and I feel like I’m typing through quicksand. I’ve tried every remedy in the book: more coffee, less coffee, no coffee, opening the window, closing the window, radiation screens, crystals, energy treatments and yet nothing works. I just want to end the day feeling like I gave my best effort. Is that too much to ask?
The wedding is 10 months away and progress on the self-improvement front is slow. There are no specific details, but here is the likely scenario: we'll both be in the wedding party and it's likely that we'll be matched together. That means a rehearsal dinner, a pre-party, the ceremony, the reception and the after party. Plenty of chances to see her. Of all the improvement plans I've considered, the most important will be fixing the teeth. They've been a competitive disadvantage for too long. If I'm to make one last gallant try, can't I at least have an even playing field?
"I'll be damned, there goes your ghost again." Amazing what a difference a year makes, huh? Even though it sometimes seems like things never change, I can't help but feel the passage of time as I shuffle down these snowy streets alone. Last winter, snow was a rare commodity. Now it's as familiar as the suffocating summer heat was. Last season, the Patriots were a championship team. Now they're just another bunch of also-rans. Last year, I had you shuffling towards me from the other side of the street. This year, there's nothing waiting for me but an empty room.
I read somewhere that watching a movie can help when you're stressed, that films are like a reset button for the mind. You take all your problems into the theater, then the lights go down and the picture comes up and the movie takes over for two hours. By the time the credits roll, your perspective has been readjusted. For me, it's always war movies that bring back reality like a cold slap across the face. The horror of watching some poor guy get his legs blown off by a mortar shell makes all my problems seem minor in comparison.
I fought the good fight today, my friends, but still lost in the end. Determined not to have another wasted week, I spent the past weekend going to bed early, eating right and doggedly going to the gym, forgoing the usual late nights and next-day hangovers. With this healthy regimen, I was sure that the evil forces in the office couldn’t deter my good work. The power of clean living would beat away the gremlins that furrow my brow, cloud my thoughts and freeze my mind. It worked – for a while. It lasted until mid-afternoon, and then it fell apart.
I'm having a manic episode today. It's a strange feeling, being overwhelmed by possibilities. Which book to read? What movie to watch? Maybe I should listen to music or clean my room. I should do something to improve myself. My mind races a thousand miles a minute with scattered words and phrases and ideas. There's too many fucking choices. I guess it's better than the low days, when I don't want to do anything at all. It doesn't make things easier, though. I crave those in between times, when my brain settles down and I can actually enjoy the moment.
Is it absolutely necessary for the majority of the world's population to emit some foul odor that invades my personal space? Seriously people; let's get this thing together. We're fortunate to live in a country where running water is practically a given (sorry Western Massachusetts, maybe next year), yet few can grasp the simple concept of showering equals no b.o. And then there's bad breath. I was watching the LOR movie the other day and almost socked the guy in back of me because he insisted on exhaling these huge bursts of air stale enough to make my stomach turn.
Sometimes getting older means losing your innocent wonder, even if you don't realize it. You forget that once the most magical part of a girl was the soft, warm sides (the tiny lovehandles) you held onto while slowdancing to Stairway to Heaven in the middle school gym. And every so often you‘d get a whiff of shampoo and perfume, and few things in the world seemed so wonderful and mysterious. Now, 10-15 years later, after dozens of failed relationships and unwise hookups, I realize how long it's been since I felt a simple thrill like holding onto a girl's sides.
This is what happens when you spend the whole night drinking. What did you expect? What a fucking waste. Stupid fucking clumsy hands tripping over themselves on the keyboard, stupid fucking nervous energy bubbling in your stomach, stupid fucking idea fairies flitting around just out of reach. I hate these days when you sit around the house wrestling with your stupid fucking anxiety and end up doing nothing but shifting from one uncomfortable place to the next. Get up and go do something. Didn't we agree that we weren't going to waste any more days recovering from the night before?
Trainspotting. Al Pacino. Pulp Fiction. Peter Lorre. Previews. John Cazale. Casablanca. West Side Story. Beetlejuice. Diane Keaton. From Here to Eternity. Popcorn. Charlie Kaufman. Humphrey Bogart. Run Lola Run. Frank Sinatra. Barbara Stanwyck. Gladiator. Tim Burton. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Chinatown. Brotherhood of the Wolf. The Purple Rose of Cairo. Fletch. Some Like it Hot. Johnny Depp. The Corleone Family. La Dolce Vita. Jack Nicholson. Easy Rider. Peter Jackson. Saturday Night Fever.Bonnie and Clyde. Ordinary People. Good Will Hunting. Fargo. Donnie Darko. Preston Sturges. Surround Sound. Se7en. Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Down by Law. Life is Beautiful. I love movies.
I’d like to apologize to the motorist who took the extraordinarily courageous measure of passing me at a dangerous blind corner this morning to get one car length ahead by the next traffic light. How foolish of me to think that going 10 miles above the speed limit would be a comfortable rate of travel. How reckless to go so slow when you were obviously a doctor or an undercover policeman on the way to some emergency. At least, an emergency is the only way to explain why you risked both our lives to get those precious 15 feet ahead.
Watching a TV special on warfare last night, I get depressed thinking about the billions of animals that have been killed as a result of human wars. It’s not only those that were used on the battlefield: horses, dogs, elephants (thanks Hannibal) but what about the acres of jungle we immolated with napalm in Vietnam -- how many birds, lizards and monkeys had to die? I know what you’ll say: what about all the people who were killed as well? I feel bad about that too, but to be fair I’ve never seen horses start a war with each other.
I'm upset with myself. There's been too many times that I've set myself up to be hurt by her unresponsiveness. The sting is all too familiar. I wonder why the hell it is that I can't just walk away. I'm sure there are plenty of other girls out there. It's embarrassing because I pride myself on not letting desperation show through. For fuck's sake man, don't you realize you're banging your head against a wall? Let it go, move on, keep hoping for the day when it doesn't feel like you're dying just because she doesn't want to see you.
I'm reading an autobiography by the old school actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. I like him because he sees movies the same way I do: as magical places where an indefatigable spirit can triumph over any evil. The problem: it's an old library book that falls apart a little more with every page I read. There's a good chance that I'll be the last one to check it out. While I still have a long way to go, I now feel a moral obligation to finish it before it goes back. Shouldn't he get to tell his story one more time?
I am the dark warrior in the long black coat, my eyes black coals in slits of burning white. I crouch quietly in the dark, watching everything with rigid indifference, waiting for my chance to strike before fading away again into the darkness. I cut wide swaths with my blade, each of them a perfect kill shot. I am calculated and meticulous. I don't get embarrassed or make mistakes, I don't put my foot in my mouth. I don't make faux pas. I do not fear death, loneliness or missed opportunities. There are only two options here: success or death.
The climbing cage at the Boston Children's Museum and the sharks in the big tank at the aquarium and the Nutcracker at the Wang Center and strawberry sundaes from McDonalds and Happy Meals in holiday bags. Playing with Legos, Transformers and GI Joes behind the town pool. Hanna Barbera's World of Super Adventure. Afternoons spent in front of the TV watching Thundercats and Silverhawks. Going to the movies to see Ghostbusters and Batman and Indiana Jones. The Journey of Natty Gann. PG-13 movies have swears in them! Hardy Boys books and the Three Investigators. Star Wars. The universe seemed so limitless.
No matter how hard you try, there'll always be those who come up short. Not everyone is going to be happy or successful. There'll always be those who are lonely: living, eating and watching TV by themselves. Waking up alone in the same messy apartment. Sure you could make some changes, move around furniture or buy a new lamp, but what's the point? You could paint the whole apartment bright fucking pink and no one would notice because all they do when they visit is nervously check their watches and wonder how soon they can leave your temple of failure.
I have this dream where I’m at a party and I meet this really beautiful, wholesome-looking girl and for some reason she likes me too and all of a sudden she wants go somewhere. She takes my hand and leads me upstairs to a long hallway full of wooden doors. We go from door to door, trying to find a little privacy, but none of them open. I can feel that wonderful yet terribly elusive feeling of magic that only seems to appear in dreams these days, yet I still can’t get through one fucking door. Then I wake up.
Ah the sadness and emptiness that comes from another futile day at work. From sniffling through dry skin to the stinging in my arms, chest and legs. Greasy eyelids, mouths full of food, ill-advised mid-morning snacks. Having to get up at the asscrack of dawn just to do some work before the lights go on. Wanting to get up and smash the monitor to the ground and beat its fucking head in until it finally stops swimming in front of my eyes. Why the fuck are you yelling? I did the best I could. It’s not my fault you misunderstood.
A couple of drinks. Downstairs crammed up against the golfing game. Lots to see, little to do. The girl with the black hair and the low-rise jeans and the belly at the foot of the stairs. The girl with the blonde hair in the gray asspants and the striped sweater. The girl with the nice front cabinet. A couple of borderline psychos in stocking hats. Then she came, he tried to talk, but what was there to say? Hi. Hello. How are you? What’s going on? What the fuck am I doing here? You know, simple questions with simple answers.
Arriving at the restaurant lips dry, hands a little nervous, hands across America, sitting down at the booth, everyone looking around suspiciously. Who’s this hot girl with the serial killer boyfriend? Who’s the girl who looks like she’s 15? How is this situation not going to turn out awkward? And then there was her, a study in black and denim, the long hair and slightly bulbous nose. The black and white handbag. What is there to do? Drink? Yeah that’s a good idea. Makes some conversation across the table. It doesn’t matter that she’s here, right? Play it cool, fuckface.
Now she’s here and I have nothing to say. Everything’s going to come out wrong. Everything always comes out wrong. Don’t say anything, it’s going to sound stupid. Come on, you can talk your way out of almost anything but not this? Yet another example of your skills abandoning you at a crucial moment. The big choke. Dammit, she’s in my eyeline now. What am I supposed to do? Sneak a few glances and risk getting caught? Do nothing? Give her the eye? Get up, unzip my skin and run screaming through the restaurant with my entrails dragging behind me?
11 things I like: 1. Watching people dance 2. The newspaper on the steps each morning 3. Dance numbers from Saturday Night Fever, Moulin Rouge and Viva Las Vegas 4. The f-word used creatively 5. Howard Stern 6. The Beastie Boys 7. The lingering smell of cooked bacon 8. Seeing a beautiful but attainable girl on the street 9. Getting a smile from a beautiful but attainable girl on the street (even rarer). 10. The satisfying feeling of actually watching the videos I rent. 11. Remembering the days of acid jazz, the chemical brothers, plastikman and the pulp fiction soundtrack
That cocksucker at the gym today with his tan and his haircut and his sleeveless yellow shirt and his smug arrogant comments. Too good to wait your turn? I’ll finish my sets when I’m good and ready, motherfucker. Don’t rush me or I will end you. Yeah, right. I wish. Here I am with my pencil thin arms trying to push 40-pound dumbbells into the air like it was the finals of the Mr. Olympia contest. I sit there are try to think of some way in which I can take satisfaction in being better than him, but I can’t.
Things I suspect but am not yet able to prove: A. the florescent lights at work are sucking my soul out through the top of my head B. I did put my sneakers in the car before I went to the gym the other day, but gremlins came and took them back into the house C. As much as I love Boston, I will someday end up living in NYC D. there's some truth behind all these UFO sightings E. the cancer is gone and it's not coming back F. the world is basically a good place G. god exists.
I don't understand why we can't just hook up every once in a while. From the reports I've heard it's a mutually fulfilling experience, so what's the big deal? I like your apartment, it's soft and warm, and sometimes I don't feel like confronting the ugliness of the bar scene. What? You're going to tell me that you have "feelings" and you just can't shut them off? That you're looking for something more than just an occasional phone call? That you want to feel that comfort all the time, not just when it's convenient for me? How selfish of you.
I'm happy with the way the world is unfurling this morning. The sky is gray and there's a cold, icy rain, but that suits me just fine. For the first time in a while I have absolutely nothing to do, and I ‘m giddy with the possibilities of freedom. Getting coffee and listening to Joni Mitchell sounds good. Maybe I'll find some 80s songs on the Internet and burn a CD. Or I could go to the video store and rent a couple of movies with heroes and villains and castles and swords. Or maybe, I'll do nothing at all.
Man, I can't believe I blew it with that girl from California on New Year's Eve. That one's going to stick in my craw for a while. When you look like I do (like Skelator fucked a rat), you have to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. For crying out loud, she had her hand on my knee in the back seat! How the hell could I have missed that sign? She might as well have lit some road flares, waved those signal flags they use for boats and staged a one-woman show called I Am Interested.
Fuck man fuck I want to date girls and go places and do something but I don't want to go out maybe I should see a movie and maybe I should eat something but I get to the kitchen and I'm tired and grab one thing make a mess and don't wash anything out sit down on the couch and fuck it's hot again I don't know what to do should I watch TV I really need to find a girl go into the bathroom and flex in front of the mirror did I do enough at the gym today?
If this were his fantasy world and not cold, brutal reality, then she would be sleeping next to him, in flannel pajama bottoms and a white t-shirt with no bra underneath so that the her breasts splayed slightly out on each side, and her hair would smell as nice as it did when she first got out of the shower. She would stir slightly, turn over and put her hand across his chest, and she would feel comforted knowing that he could protect her from any harm, even if the danger was as simple as a cold, rainy morning. Alas.
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