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01/01 Direct Link

The funny thing is I don't think anyone understands anymore what they're celebrating. Attempting to manufacture a "meaningful" moment for the cameras.

Some impressions:

Dick Clark is the biggest (and most shameless) huckster in the world. Why would anyone go on and on ad nausem about confetti (85 tons I believe)?

My neighbors need a better outlet for their weaponry.

ABC really could give a damn about broadcast production values on New Years (or who they get to perform apparently).

Christopher Reeve?

I am cynical and woefully out of touch.

New Year's Rockin' Eve indeed.

01/02 Direct Link

Nobody goes into the living room now. "It's" in there, waiting, bereft, longing for attention, awaiting its inevitable demise. We loved it once, not so long ago. We adored it, fussed over it, attended to its every need, bragged about its beauty. It was confirmation of our happiness.

Now we shun it, wishing it gone. The once favored Christmas tree, the centerpiece of our gala celebration is now a pariah. Our holiday gluttony now sated, we want no more. Better if gypsies would steal away with it in the night. Needles fall in despair. Thank God trash day is Saturday.

01/03 Direct Link

The Christmas tree has had a stay. My wife doesn't want it down yet. I don't see the point but I am not totally heartless. The Christmas season seems so long ago. It's as if it never happened. Apparently there was not enough cheer to carry over, as people are as cranky and unsatisfied as ever.

My coworkers grouse as if the break never occurred. I'm as ungrateful and dissatisfied as the next person, and would love for another two weeks, but I really can't find myself complaining about going to work.

Must be going soft in my old age.

01/04 Direct Link

She could tell from his sample that his sperm count was low, that the motility of his sperm was sub par. Fortunately, he was practically infertile. She knew these things having worked in a fertility clinic prior to forensics.

She could also tell that he had not committed the rape. His DNA did not match.

She knew that he had beaten her sister, and gotten away with it, that he'd beaten another woman so bad she was blinded.

She had no compunction about falsifying his report as a "Positive Match" at risk to her job.

It was worth the risk.

01/05 Direct Link

Uncle Jack is back in the ICU as a precaution. He's developed a mild infection. He's also on oxygen to supplement his breathing. I'm glad they didn't intubate, & he's just wearing a mask. I hate seeing those damn tubes running out of the corner of the mouth. Ma says that if he'd just talk a little less he'd get all the oxygen he needs. But that's Uncle Jack.

You have to wear a mask when you visit now. The chemo's weakened his immune system.

I haven't seen him since he started chemo. I'm not squeamish, just overscheduled, as usual.

01/06 Direct Link

He knew that his luck was running out. But he still hoped that it would hold for just this last time. He hadn't laid hands on a woman in months. He'd taken his medicine and made regular visits to his therapist just like he promised.

He felt bad about the last one and would find some way to make it up to her, if only he could get out. If only he could get another chance. But not the one before her, she deserved it. She cut him bad, nearly castrated him.

Only luck saved him from jail that time.

01/07 Direct Link

Scrumptious personified every woman that was beyond my grasp in college. The woman that wore that little black dress (a perfect size 4) like it was painted on. The Fraternity Row Camp Follower. She represented the pinnacle of my desire in life.

In this new "half life" this un-death, she was a distinct disappointment. Beginning with my "transformation." The promise of erotic pleasure gave way to the reality of virtual cannibalism. She drained me until I was near death and then opened her own vein. I had little choice and less time.

She tasted like something old, like warm seawater.

01/08 Direct Link

She was glad to hear that he was in jail – relieved. Perhaps now she could relax a bit. Open the blinds, go out a bit more. She knew he was out there looking for her, waiting for her. She'd given up on her old haunts, changed her pattern.

The only thing she'd continued was work. Naturally she always had an escort but that was running thin. She was running out of male friends and relatives to prevail upon.

She didn't believe it was him that did the rape though. He's no rapist. She'd call her sister and get the 411.

01/09 Direct Link

So Uncle Jack's cancer is in full remission or gone or something like that. I haven't talked to him directly and my family is not big on details like that. Smart enough people, accomplished, educated, and aware. But just not bothered about details like that.

It's not that we're uncaring or insensitive. It has more to do – or something to do – with faith and (I guess) a little fatalism, and the overriding belief that things will work out for the best.

Or they won't but there isn't a damn thing we can do about it either way so why worry?

01/10 Direct Link

Marshall was unsure of the details but he knew that Scrumptious was up to something. Knew at least that she was making unsanctioned "conversions." I know this because he enlisted me to spy on her. Shanghaied me actually.

Scared the living hell out of me. One of the more surreal moments of my new "half life", as if becoming a vampire weren't enough.

Loathe to kill, I'd devised a method of "tapping" several victims as they slept, just enough to cause a mild anemia.

Marshall appeared at my side one night as I made "rounds", grinning like the devil himself.

01/11 Direct Link
Helen Keller invaded my dreams last night and handed me 5 chapters of a new book she was writing. Show off. I brushed the stray cheese nips off my chest and tried to get up from the couch but my legs had gone dead from days of disuse. My teeth ached, throbbing painfully. Could have been that last box of pop tarts. I would have printed out the 500 words I'd put together so far (after 3 years effort) on my novel, but I'd let the batteries die on my laptop. She smiled faintly and left me to my fate.
01/12 Direct Link

I haven't been this tired in I don't know when. I ache and my senses are dull and everything seems like a chore. I think this week will be somewhat slower. One can only hope.

Seems like everyone is tired, overworked, and overwrought. It's not all mass neurosis is it?

By my parents' standards I have it easy. I never had to put in the backbreaking labor on a farm as my mother did. I never had the oppressive poverty that my father experienced. Perhaps it's all relative but I could use a break. I'll settle for a night's sleep.

01/13 Direct Link
The god of the octopus lowered his great head and despaired. Hadn?t he been good? Hadn?t he been charitable? Hadn?t he provided? And how had they responded? Open rebellion! Anarchy! He?d made short shrift of their coo. He tortured the anarchist leader long after his public confession and renunciation which was satisfying for a time, but it didn?t last. He considered his options. Withdraw and let them go the way of dinosaur? Smite them in his fury (though to be honest, his fury had by now subsided)? The god of the octopus decided to consult the god of the clams.
01/14 Direct Link
Super Bowl season is nearly upon us again. I could do without. Not that I've been that hot after football lately anyway. It's rare that I stay awake the full four quarters. I can normally make it through the first and then sleep through the second and third. I usually awaken by the fourth quarter and watch the gripping climax at the end. Timeout. Penalty. Death defying fingertip fully outstretched oh my god I can't believe he caught it catch. More timeouts, a few fights, and the commentary, mustn't forget the scintillating commentary. Soon all this and Celine Dion too!
01/15 Direct Link
As the story goes Jacob wrestled with an angel all night – suffered a hip injury – to get a blessing. Jacob had ambition. I've never trusted people with ambition. Anyone willing to do anything to get what they want puzzle me. It's not that I won't go the extra mile, stick until the end… choose your metaphor…. insert homily. I've found that the trick is "wanting what you get when you get what you want." And it's not that I fear failure or disappointment (any more than the next person). Nor do I believe all effort futile. Could I be content?
01/16 Direct Link
My father-in-law and I came close to anything approaching a serious disagreement on only one occasion. We'd taken him south for my grandmother's 90th birthday. True we wanted him in on the celebration but we had a secondary motive. We hoped that him seeing someone comfortable in elder care might prepare him for his pending (and dreaded) transition. "Treat me like a man,' he said after I'd chided him (once too often) about going to bed one evening.

"Well act like one," I replied. We faced off a moment before he aquiesced. I wonder, had he peeped my hold card?

01/17 Direct Link
I had a heart to heart about the whole affirmative action brouhaha today. Sincerity abounded and, I believe, honesty. I told them about the time I was offered the "nigger prize." My SAT scores hadn't quite made the cut for National Merit Finalist but they offered me a scholarship set aside for Black students. "I don't want the ‘nigger prize'," I told my mother. "If I were white I wouldn't get offered anything." "I admire your integrity but if you're going to college, you'll take that money," was her reply. "We're not well healed enough to be quite so proud."
01/18 Direct Link

Ralph Ellison invaded my dreams last night to talk literature, smoking a pipe and drinking something dark and aromatic from a heavy tumbler. I was sufficiently awed and tongue-tied.

He started on themes. Man against man, against nature, against society. I mumbled something embarrassing and thankfully, unintelligible. He asked what I thought of Lenin. I replied that I preferred it to polyester.

Trying a different approach he asked to see some of my pages. I handed them over with unsteady hands.

He considered them a bit and then abruptly took his leave to "get some more tobacco."

He never returned.

01/19 Direct Link

Marshall plunged his eyeteeth into Mr. Barnes' thick neck. Drained her quickly. She never woke. Sated, he pulled a silk handkerchief from the breast pocket of his jacket, dabbed the corners of his mouth, and replaced it.

Having no time for shock or horror I tried indignation. "You've not right to my victims!" I shouted. "Isn't this against protocol, the rules, or something? I haven't been at this long but isn't it dangerous for us to be together – let alone compete for prey – away from home?"

"My dear boy," he replied, "you have no idea what you're doing do you?"

01/20 Direct Link

The god of the clams considered his friend before him, lost in a deep funk. He thought the god of the octopus a friend even if locomotion was highly overrated. Being able to move under power provided an overblown sense of worth. It tempted one to think that one was directing the currents rather than the opposite.

The clam god considered it bad form to bring this to light. A fool is not overly enamored of the truth. The god of the clams sat in calm contemplation awaiting the pity party to subside, awaiting inspiration to arrive on the currents.

01/21 Direct Link
So Valerie's having a baby. Just additional confirmation that I'm that much closer to death. I remember when Valerie was born. Ran the 2 miles to her house to see her, only to find her asleep.

I changed her diapers. I was around for her first steps. I baby-sat her. And now she's having a child? Ludicrous as it sounds I feel betrayed. Senility does that I guess. Honestly, I wish her well. She tells me that the baby's a boy, due on my father's birthday. I suppose I'll fly all the way to San Diego to find him asleep.

01/22 Direct Link

Bigger Thomas invaded my dreams last night and slapped me upside the head. I never liked Bigger. Told him so. I mean, to be ignorant and poor is one thing, but when did they become an excuse for criminality? Something about Bigger didn't sit right with me. Killing the heiress was one thing, an accident I'm sure, but killing his girlfriend was premeditated and cruel. I had no sympathy for Bigger. I always preferred Ellison's Invisible Man.

"When's the last time you did anything worth writing about boy?" he asked. He grinned at me stupidly.

I pretended not to hear.

01/23 Direct Link
My father left me in the car once while he ran an errand. Within 10 minutes I was outside of the car screaming at the top of my lungs. I wasn't frightened at least not overly so. I don't remember the age but I was old enough to be left alone for short periods. And these were the days when you could do such things without fear or guilt. So I wasn't afraid. I was angry. Angry at being left behind and I was going to make him pay. I have know idea where this particular piece of bile originated.
01/24 Direct Link

I think Uncle Jack may die soon. And by admitting it I don't want to create a self fulfilling prophecy. Childish really, like stepping on a crack or splitting a pole. But he may die and I've got to get ready.

It happened all too quickly. One minute we were celebrating successful treatment, the next we're sitting by the bed, the tubes hanging out the side of his mouth, his hands curled at his sides, eyelids partially open.

So I have to get ready– hope for the best and prepare for the worst – and hate myself for writing about it.

01/25 Direct Link
Aunt Sally took sick before she died with some unnamed malady. The doctors couldn't come up with a reliable diagnosis because they had no idea what she had. She spent several weeks in the hospital before tiring of the whole thing and demanding the doctors send her home. "But we don't have a diagnosis yet," they said. "Well since you don't know I'll call it a flower." She replied. They weren't sure what she had or how to treat it, but they were sure she would die from it within 3 months. Aunt Sally died at home 2 years later.
01/26 Direct Link
Nat Turner invaded my dreams last night and scared the hell out of me. His hair was some type of shifting moving nest of snakes like a hydra's and his eyes flashed lightening. He didn't so much look at me as through me. I don't even think I registered enough in his awareness to warrant disapproval. Nat has always frightened me, unlike many I've known who thrilled to his story. We stood together on a barren landscape, fires burning all around us. Nat noticed me at the same instant I noticed the bullwhip in his hand. I shook myself awake.
01/27 Direct Link
Prior to their association Dupree believed in God, believed in the promise of salvation, believed that it was good to serve Him, but he saw little evidence of God's goodness in this life. He remained yet faithful. He just figured that, for his ilk, the benefits of salvation awaited them in the hereafter. The hard evidence was all around him. His neighbors scuffled and scraped on the same tiny sharecropper's plots year after year to make a crop, and, if the bad weather didn't take it, any profits gained were taken up to pay up some debt. More's the pity.
01/28 Direct Link
I have it on good authority that the meek shall inherit the earth; a hard sell by modern standards. In this world, the meek are scorned, ridiculed, abused, railroaded, pillaged, and slaughtered. But they are nowhere near to inheriting anything. To be meek is in nowise desirable. There was a time – not too long ago - that meekness bespoke strength. A time, quite frankly, when meekness was all that black people had. To behave otherwise could mean death. Meekness invoked other qualities. To be meek required a measure of patience and dignity, of inner calm and fortitude. Qualities that today are largely forgotten.
01/29 Direct Link

My mother, out of the blue it seemed, inflicted (to my thinking) a particularly arbitrary type of cruelty on her mother.

"Mama, I know you love me, but you love Barry best," she would say. She spoke the phrase often and without apparent provocation. I thought it cruel and unnecessary and untrue. Grandma loved everyone equally, dispensing candy and cookies and cakes to the deserving; mercy on the undeserving.

Sort of like God.

I've come to understand my mother's position clearly, now that she is a grandmother. I have been replaced, completely and with little ceremony.

I have embraced cruelty.

01/30 Direct Link
Everybody is sick. I mean everybody. Half the cast of TO KILL A MOCKIKNGBIRD are sniffling, snuffling and coughing which is really ironic considering that the play takes place in the middle of a summer heat wave. Nkrumah has been coughing since before Thanksgiving. Gets better for a bit and then relapses. Cynthia caught a touch and I stayed home with her for a week. No fever, just a cough and runny nose which meant I was chasing a moving target, Kleenex in hand. We're in the middle passage of winter. Gray days and pestilence. Nothing to do but wait.
01/31 Direct Link
Pestilence, bad attitudes, and chapped skin. Winter in Michigan is miserable. It's so cold I think the skunk has moved on better accommodations. I guess there was too much wind getting to him under the deck. We've barely been above freezing the last two weeks after all. We haven't noticed his spoor in at least three weeks. So the cold has accomplished something good. I'm amazed at the people who actually find things to do in this weather; skiing, ice fishing and the like. Winter Fun is an contradiction. The only activity I enjoy in winter is waiting for spring.