Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
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Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Whiskey Sour

I used to be friend with a guy named Chris. Chris is a gorilla of a guy, a real barrel. He works out a lot and he's abnormally strong. Very physically intidating. We used to play cards in my folks' garage and drink cases of beer. While he's drunk he's usually a cheerful, belly-laughing guy with a Chicago accent so thick it borders on parody.

I became friends with him sometime in 2000 when I went to the local pub, Papa's, with Ian. (the one who went to Florida to be punk rock hobo, if you remember that entry) Ian had used an ID he'd stolen from me a few weeks before to get in, being an 18 year old. He buddied up with the bartenders immediately and they stopped checking his ID. (he looks nothing like me, and has a patchwork of scars on his large forehead from a few different drunken carwrecks)

He was friends with Chris, who was also inside the bar, somehow. Another underager. I'd met Chris before but never befriended him. We'd met at a party or two. Chris came and sat next to me and Ian. Ian was terrified.

I don't remember the exact flow of the conversation, but it boiled down to this: A few local toughs had spent a little too much time watching the Sopranos on HBO, and they got aspirations to start a little something going. They put together a list of about 100 people, and they added a price to each name, between $200 and $1000. People they didn't like were listed for more, people they liked for less. They picked out somebody popular and well known from the list, and they had Chris beat the hell out of him and fracture his skull. Supposedly. I later learned that Adam got a sound thrashing but no fracture or permanent disfigurement.

At the time, I knew none of the above. All I knew from Ian was that Chris would "kill us both, so don't look at him, and don't talk to him."

Once the word about Adam got around, Chris would go up to people and tell them how much he was getting paid to fuck them up. He told them he'd be waiting for them to try and leave, and he'd be there. He would not say who was paying, nor would he divulge why he wanted to inflict a hurting. It was seemingly for no reason.

It took several pitchers of Budweiser and several games of pool to extract from Chris that he was extorting people. Hopefully the intended victim would be frightened enough to pony up the cash in exchange for his bodily well-being.

I appealed to his sense of guilt and honesty. He was suffering from low self-esteem and thought that he'd never amount to anything, that he would never accomplish anything, and that he was stupid. The only way he could feel important was by intimidating people. I convinced him that he could be a much better person and that he could accomplish somthing better. He let on that he'd been invited to a business meeting and was told to bring as many people as possible. Invited by his telemarketing boss, Judy. He didn't think he was smart enough to "do any business stuff."

So he invited me to a pyramid scheme meeting. Similar to Amway, but instead of supermarket type products, this company sells stocks, mutual funds, and insurance. Chris didn't agree right away to stop the extortion, but he decided to let Ian and myself off the hook.

I don't think he really wanted to do it anyways.

He got drunker.

Then, I cajoled the names of the masterminds of the little plan out of him.

More later.
5:04 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Bonfire Of The Felonies

Time for crime.

Do you remember Mikey from the beginning of this journal? He recently got out of jail, and he took up residence with my friend Steve in a Chicago apartment.

They didn't get along well. With each other, or the third roomate, Dustin. Dustin moved out a week ago, and he took his TV with him. It was a giant monstrous thing, the biggest television I've ever seen in my life. It would probably make the Olson twins bigger than real life. Frightening.

Mike moved out this past weekend, while Steve was out drinking and partying with Traci. He stole Steve's stereo, his CDs, his bank and medical papers, and some diaries. He painted the walls up with gang tags and set fire to the posters on the wall, apparently in an attempt to burn the place down. The back door is loose on it's hinges and glass is shattered and strewn on the floor.

Steve is staying with me and the roomie for a little while. More on this story as it develops.
11:30 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, October 28, 2002

Corps Spirit

I went to two parties this weekend.

I dressed up as a soldier. Camoulflage jacket, t-shirt, pants, green belt, green socks, personalized dog tags. Another guy showed up in the same thing. I mock saluted him, and he declined to respond with a rueful, bemused half-grin. I later learned that he used to be a marine.

His girlfriend was a short blond girl in a tight blue sweater. Not a costume, but she didn't need one wearing that. My friend Steve arrived around 2 am with Traci, and Traci had a red dress and a red feather boa draped around her neck. The marine's girlfriend badgered the two of them to switch costumes for about a half an hour, and the marine, Rogner, finally took the bait and off to the bathroom they went.

While they were changing, the girlfriend started screaming. "My boyfriend is a fucking faggot! My boyfriend sucks dicks when I'm not looking! etc., etc." What a bitch. It was her idea all along. He came out of the bathroom in the red dress, blushing cheeks to match, and made sure to point out to his girl that he still had his boxers on and that he didn't do anything bad in the bathroom. (they were in there for about five minutes, so he's probably honest) Traci came and sat on my knee, so we were quite a Kodak couple in our fatigues. About an hour later they returned each other's costumes.

That was the highlight of the second party. The first holds no great stories to share.
12:00 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Papyrus and Blood

I feel a little bit better now. I rediscovered my best medicine - reading.

When the warmth of summer departs, I no longer take long walks. I think that's been affecting me. I've had so much happen in the past year that somehow I managed to forget that I read through the winter like a bear hibernates. This is how I maintain my state of grace during the icy season.

I've now spent $100 I can't afford on new books, mainly because the library in my town sucks, but also because I like to own books. I fetishize them somewhat. Not in a sexual way, but in a sensual one. I like the smooth, clean feel of a dust jacket. I like to run my fingers over raised letters on the fancier jackets. I like to open a book a stick my nose towards the binding, smell the paper, zip flip the pages from back to front, and squeeze the whole package. Something about the sound made by knocking on a book is intensely satisfying to me.

Reading follows, my favorite part. Since last Wednesday I've already downed three books: one each by Stephen King, Michael Connelly,and Tom Wolfe. I have another Wolfe, another Connelly, and a John Irving novel on deck.

I like to wear things down. I like books that have been dropped in dirt, posters that have been ripped by tape and pins, art that has been stained by tobacco smoke, and shoes that look too shoddy for the Salvation Army to accept them. It gives me a sense of time and history. Cracked compact disc covers, shirts with holes and bleach stains, and faces with smile lines engraved at the corners of the eyes.These are a few of my favorite things.
1:22 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, October 18, 2002

Fun With Flares

I chickened out. I didn't shave my head. After two days' growth, I look like Kurt Russell from Soldier. I can live with that for a couple weeks. I'm going to visit an army surplus store for a costume on Saturday morning if my car is well by then.

I'm wearing a gaudy Chicago Cubs sweater today. I could just tattoo "loser" on my forehead, but this is more effective. I really should do my laundy so I'll have more "staying warm" options.

I ordered a wreath from the boy scouts and some cashews from the girl scouts this month. We have scout parents here in the office that bring order forms to help their kids with their sales. I remember when I was a scout, and I always felt that the kids whose parents helped them were cheaters. My dad was always involved in the pack or troop or whatever, but he'd never help me with fundraising projects. I still usually finished in the top five, because I had nothing better to do than go door-to-door all day long. I also sold Christmas cards and such where I got a dollar per item sold, or points to redeem for prizes. They always had ads on the back of Boys' Life magazine. One family neglected to answer their door for delivery two times, and I never went back. Eventually they started calling my parents and sending angry mail, but I always intercepted them.

I got cancelled on two weekday delivery shifts, so I don't have to go through hell weekend again like last week. That's a big relief. I was about to reach the point where I intentionally crash my car into the highway median and run down the breakdown lane naked waving lit flares, loudly inviting people to jumpstart my nuts while I defecate in liquidy clumps down my legs.
1:40 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Teddy Savalas

I got a bad haircut. My head looks funny, like I'm wearing a hat much too small for me.

I'm going to shave it bald tonight. I've never been bald before. So much for Elvis. My sideburns will have to go, too. I really liked those. Everyone here is telling me to wait and let it grow back out a little, but I am going shave it anyways.

I'm nervous. I hope I don't have a lumpy head. I know I will be rubbing it a lot. Maybe I'll be a penis for Halloween.

Either that or Daddy Warbucks from Annie.
4:54 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Therapy

After work yesterday I spent a couple frustrating hours getting my car diagnosed. It looks like I'm facing about $200 in repairs.

After that, I went to a bar called chasers and got a bowl of baked french onion soup and a couple of beers. The soup was very garlicy, and very good. I started From A Buick 8, Stephen King's latest book. I also bought a recent hardcover by Michael Connely, City Of Bones.

My waitress was a young woman with beautiful black skin and a dazzling smile. I gave her a big tip, because her smile really made my day. It was a ray of sunshine when I needed one badly.

Besides that, I think these books are just the thing to cheer me up.

I've been telling everybody that I'm going to dress up as Elvis for a Halloween party this Saturday, but I may not have the time or money to pull it off. My fingers are crossed. I'd hate to disappoint somebody again this week.

My journal has changed recently, both in tone and content. I wonder if I've changed, too.
1:40 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Retrospect

Marathon number one is finished. 71 work hours from Monday through Sunday, 46 of which were Thursday through Sunday.

It was ugly.

Upon leaving work Sunday night, I went home with some beer and a bad attitude. I was exhausted and cranky.

Fast forward twelve beers and four shots of wild turkey to 2:30 am. I ate dinner, some gyros, and crashed onto my mattress with a corpse-like bounce.

I didn't go to work on Monday morning. For the first time during my tenure here, I didn't call in my absense. My boss called my parents to find out if I was dead, hospitalized, or jailed.

I called shortly after noon when I woke, and I went to work.

My boss is between a rock and a hard place. I should be fired, but if she does that she'll have to train somebody new for the job. That's signifigant because we're all going to be laid off in January. She's also let other things slide with me because she's sympathetic to my struggle to generate income. I have around $900 a month in bills. After that, it's nice to have food, gasoline, and cigarettes. I hate money, and cars, so much.

I would never do something as sad and pathetic as killing myself, but when being dead becomes a pleasant daydream I know something has to give.

I have to quit. I can't do this to myself anymore. For the longest time I always told myself that my problems were insignifigant compared to many others'. I stoicly slogged through everything I had to. Well, fuck that. My problems are important to me. I cannot do everything with a smile on my face. I will fail sometimes, I and I have to forgive myself.

If I continually expect so much from myself, I will always fail. I need to lower the bar. I am not capable of being what I considered a sucess.

Not like this.

I'm so disappointed with me.
1:25 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, October 11, 2002

Bridge

Jan is a woman near retirement. She got flowers today. It's her wedding anniversary, as well as the anniversary of her husband's death. They were married 25 years. She couldn't think of anybody who knew, and the flowers bewildered her. She took them to her desk, so I don't know if there was a card in them.

I got a five year award today. It's a certificate of appreciation and a gold tie-tack. Nice paper. I should be fired soon anyhow.

Readers, have a nice weekend for me. I need it.
6:25 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Groundhog Minutes

I'm tired. My eyelids are lined with lead. I have a raccoon's gaze. My shoulders sag. I stumble as I walk. My head is bowed. Help.

14 hours of work down yesterday. 15 today. I'm running on empty. I might take some speed for a jumpstart, but the price would be poor sleep once the marathon is over. Recovery will be nil. That shit makes me sweat like a boiled camel. Not sure about this one.

Thankfully I have an imagination like a turbocharged weasel rocket. I can always drift off and let the toys on my desk tell me what to do. Darth Vader just points at me. "What? Why are you pointing at me like that? You're not my dad." Then there's Spider Jerusalem. He just empathizes. He's got a scowl. He says "Life sucks, get a helmet kid. Grrr."

I also have a big glass block on my desk with a 2400 baud modem inside it. I'd rather have a tarantula globe, but beggars can't be taxidermists.

Did I tell you that I'm a contractor here at giant computer company? My parent company was part of the Enron umbrella. Kenneth Lay sent me stock options. I never invested them. Lucky me. I have Enron mugs. Keychains, too.

Yeah.

Um.

I have four clocks on my desk, plus another on the computer. They are all different. Right now, Central time, it's 10:55, 10:57, 10:53, 10:56, and 12:02. It's been 12:02 for over a month. I think that clock is groundhogged.

Help.
1:01 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, October 10, 2002

It's A Dirty Job

I just went dumpster diving!

We have a new cleaning crew here at the office. Last night they threw away the conference room reservation calendar. We have reservations going through January on that thing, and it's not replacable. I had to find it. Thankfully the dumpsters are emptied on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Not Thursday. I went to the supply closet and grabbed a monstrous silver garbage bag. I cut three holes in it for my arms and neck.

People walking into the office gave me curious looks.

"I'm trying on my new dress." Got a few chuckles.

I retrieved some utility gloves and and a razor, and I moved all the garbage bags from one dumpster into another, and I used the forklift to upend it. I slashed the bags open one at a time and spilled them into the empty dumpster.

It was in the last bag. There was coffee and mayonase on it.

Our front desk guy is transcribing the bookings onto a new calendar. I have the pleasure of kindly requesting that the cleaning crew leave the new one the hell alone. I wonder if anyone here knows Polish.

We just merged recently. Each side of the company has a color code, so each employee is blue or red. Once a team is integrated into one, they were calling them purple.

Some genius got paid to think up something flashier. Now merged groups are called merlot. Can you fuckin believe that? Fucking golfers.

Now I have to sit in on a conference call. I would rather wade through raw sewage again.
11:30 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Happily Ever After

I arrived home to find that the roomie had already done the bathroom. Why? "'Cause I'm nice" he said. I thanked him, and my hippie neighbors came over and offered us weed.

I guess that qualfies as a happy ending.

Now I begin my work marathon, 14 hours today, 15 tomorrow, 7 on Saturday, and 10 on Sunday. Back to the normal 9 daily on Monday. I need a hobby. Badly.
10:19 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Baklava and Migas

I got into a little argument over the phone with my roomate.

First, a little background. I've been friends with the roomie for six or seven years, and roomates since January. About two weeks ago, while drunk, I told my roomate a lot of things I'd been holding back. I told him that he's doing as little as possible for as long as possible, living the lazy bastard lifestyle. I told him that having no car is no excuse for having no job, and that life is full of little catch-22s that are difficult to overcome. (needing a car to go work, needing work to get a car, in this case) Walk or steal a bike. I told him that I quit doing chores, since I now work between 55-70 hours a week and have no days off, at all. I also told him that I quit doing them to piss him off. "You need a fire lit under your ass, and if you can't do that I might as well try." He's been doing all the housewife stuff since and has given not one word of argument until today. No fire. I'd been told by a friend that I could have him a lot more bitched, and apparently I now do.

At the time, I made sure that he understood that my judgement was qualified by my own period of uselessness and lazy bastardism. I told him he'd get out of it eventually. I think I've made an introspective person out of a carefree one. This is good but sad.

So today, he called on the phone to complain about the bathroom. I'd puked in there about two weeks ago, and I had cleaned it up. Now he's claiming it smells like urine, and he's latched onto one time last week that a drop missed, and he saw the wet spot next to the toilet, which I also cleaned up. Now he thinks I just go in there a pee all over the place, I guess. Not so. However, the last person to puke has to clean the bathroom. Mutually agreed upon rules. So I said sure, I'll get some Pine-Sol and do it tonight.

(It's not like I sit around all day doing nothing while the my chore is waiting....ahem)

Anyhow, he wouldn't let go of it. He was mad, I guess. "It's been two weeks, blah blah blah, that's how people get sick, and have to go to the doctor, blah blah blah. I know you quit chores, but you gotta do this."

All this lecture after I agreed to do it. Tonight. I told him not to blame all of the world's ills on a late chore.

Do you want to know why he's really mad?

Weed is gone. Dried up. He confessed yesterday that he'd been calling years-old hookups in Wisconsin in a vain effort to have a dealer meet him halfway beteen Chicago and Milwaukee so he could get high.

I think that when the slow trickle of weed is finally and totally gone, he will get bored. He will have to DO something. He already is feeling the stress. He's becoming frustrated, as opposed to stoned whatever man. Lying on the couch under blankets day after day watching The Simpsons and South Park reruns isn't fun anymore when your brain is functioning.

I heard a rumor about Texas. I heard that a great big banner is hanging over a highway near the border that says, "If you think this is a drought, wait until November." Referring to marijuana. Have they figured something out? Are they busting that many shipments suddenly, after all this time? Could it be true? No more imported weed, strictly domestic?

That seems to be the case. People who take the risk to grow it in the US don't grow crappy weed. In the past month, all that's been around is the expensive $60 an eigth stuff, which is fresh enough that it must be domestic. Now even that is gone.

Nobody can get anything. Even here in the NW suburbs of Chicago, the police are busting people left and right, as if they suddenly got a magic 8-ball that outperforms any sniffer dogs.

Personally, I have mixed feelings. I've been buying and smoking too much in the past month and a half. I've fallen back into an old lazy pattern, and it makes me feel dumb. I feel insecure and anxious and antisocial when I smoke it, but I sleep like a baby and wake up fresh as Wrigley's. Without it I toss and turn and wake late, sore eyed and drowsy. Overall, I think the lack of weed will be good for me. Circumstance has finally intervened for both me and the roomie. He just has no idea how positive it will be once he gets past the hard part.
6:36 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, October 07, 2002

Black Socks

As I sit here drinking Earl Grey and chewing Big Red, I wonder why I chose black socks to wear today. They make my feet sweat, itch, and stink. I wonder how I came to own these socks. I certainly didn't buy them.

I have a lot of magnets. Here at work, I have these things called car magnets. They're over a foot long, and people usually slap them on their car doors when tailgating on Sundays. I have two Chicago teams, the Bears and the Cubs. I also have some fridge magnets, including an upside down Packers magnet which signifies the Packers losing. Voodoo magnet rituals. It worked with my Enron magnet, so why not Green Bay?

My car battery died last week. I knew it was coming. I left my headlights on for two minutes while running inside to grab my bankcard, and when I dashed back out to go get beer and cigarettes, my staples, the fucking car wouldn't start. After receiving jumpstart help and eventually a ride to the local NTB, I had a running car again. To thank my neighbors for their help, I'm buying beer and dinner tonight. We're going to watch Monday Night Football tonight, da Bears vs. the Pack.

This entry isn't all that funny or interesting, mainly since I've been sleepwalking through life this October, and I have nothing of import to impart. It shouldn't be long before the world becomes bizarre again.

I love the feeling of my blankets right after the first chill of the season. I sleep with my windows open throughout the winter.
4:28 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, October 03, 2002

Pink Cream Rosemary Coffee

Last night we held down a 3 year old kid as we forced chalky pink sludge through her clenched teeth. We plugged her nose and forced her to swallow it while she tried to spit and headbutt us. She was really mad. She hawked some up my nose.

She just had her tonsils out and if she doesn't take her medicine she'll get an infection or worse. Poor kid. She fell right asleep after the struggle. We adults watched Hardball, a surprisingly good Keanu movie.

My boss' husband went to China for a few weeks. He works for the famous criminals Andersen Consulting. Somebody painted some eyes and a smile on a crooked cucumber and left it on her desk. For some odd reason she put it in the flowerpot atop the filecabinet outside her cube.

Last weekend I ran an errand for the pizza joint. I picked up two buckets of Italian beef gravy and two slimy plastic-vaccuumed 10 pound packs of sliced beef. The gravy is kind of watery until the fat melts. It's a tan-cream colored solid wet fat, also the color of a weakly-brewed coffeestain on a tablecloth. I sealed the buckets, but some of the watery portion leaked out into my trunk. It smelled like rosemary. That stuff is really good soaked into bread. I like gravy bread.

I've been asked an important question: How do sumo wrestlers fuck?
6:08 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, October 01, 2002

At The Blind Duck

Last Friday I called and left a message for my boss. I'd been vomiting, and I decided not to report for work on Friday. On Monday morning, I found a message on my voicemail. She wasn't coming in on Friday. Whoops. Apparently everything ran smoothly without us. That's not good. I am expendable. Apparently.

On Saturday night I went to the Blind Duck. (or the Blind Fuck, according to the vandal who altered the daily specials letterboard) It's a dingy little bar full of poker machines, well practiced karaoke singers, and saggy shouldered barflies. My friends and I tooted some coke and went to occupy the only pool table. Here's an observation. Tapper MGD goes down like water. You barely notice it until the 5th or 6th, when you start to feel a bit warm and noises collide and sound loudly in your ears.

I like bathrooms with saloon doors.

I delivered food all weekend long, spending 21 hours doing it from Friday night through Sunday. This brings to mind something I did a few weeks ago but neglected to mention here.

I was delivering some burgers and chicken sandwiches to a home on a Monday night, and I pulled up to the home after finally finding the numbers. (I hate it when people have no porch lights on and the house looks deserted) I have a habit of leaving the car door open while I run up to the door. It saves a second or two, especially if I have heatkeeper bags or cash in my hands when I return.

In this particular instance I had the food in my lap so I could read the address and total. I jumped out of the car and ran up to the door, and the lady was very nice and friendly, although she must have short sight. Behind me, my car had begun to roll. I made change for her, thanked her for the tip, and turned around and she closed the door behind me.

My car was gone. I saw it down the street halfway up a curb. I hadn't changed gears to park, and my Intrepid had casually strolled about six houses down the block and across the street, and it killed a very nice wooden mailbox painted up in a lovely mallard green hue. The home's front door was open, lights were on, but there was nobody to be seen and no voices to be heard.

I left. I'd intended to go pay for it later on, after work or the next day. With two other orders in my car, I couldn't sit around and wait for police or deal with angry homeowners. I never did go back. It's a good thing I have lots of good karma saved up.
10:57 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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