Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
Monday, November 04, 2002

Keep On Passing The Open Windows

I hate the opening lines of my journal. "If I can let go of doubt, my gears will be greased for goodness." That is fucking god-awful. (Author's note: Removed from this edition) Yet somehow, it's right. Things are looking up. I may still be broke under the weight of bills, about to lose my job, and unable to keep my car working properly, but I have been very happy during the past week. I am learning in my heart what I've known in my head for a long time: Don't worry.

My dad kicked me out of the house shortly after I learned to drive. It was a couple of days after New Years, 2002. I went to stay with the roomie at his Chicago apartment last January and paid him $200 a month until we moved together to my current dump in Des Plaines. We moved in at the beginning of April, and we threw a party to celebrate the occasion.

We packed the little 2-bedroom full of people. Several cases of beer were consumed, numerous joints were rolled and pipes packed, and about half of the crowd took some weak ecstasy pills near midnight. I invited the neighbors next door to come and that was how I befriended Brenda and Rob.

I'm still good friends with one of the roomie's ex-girlfriends from many years back, Isabel. I invited her and her art school fiance, Ryan, and I left detailed directions with her brother since the two of them were busy upstairs when I visited her father's palatial suburban home. At one point in the evening I hushed the crowd in the living room and played Ryan's cartoon for the audience. He'd brought it to me at work a few days earlier. It was about five minutes long, and I guess you could describe it as an intellectual's offbeat South Park. It went over well, and I led the applause. Seeing him blush, and finally stand and bow before the crowd, and to see Isabel beam up to him, well, it gave me a nice fuzzy glow. Since then they've cancelled the engagement. Isabel got stuck in Sweden when she went to her mother to recover emotionally. Something about an expired visa and her father's refusal to pony up some cash. He's nearly rich and owns a custom oil filter company. I hope she comes back soon.

Before the party started I called Chris and invited him. He had no way to get there due to a recent DUI, so I picked him up. Fast forward to midnight. Chris is whsipering with Daria. The roomie and I exchange eyebrow raisings. Approving ones, of course. They went out into the stairwell and kissed. I was very happy about this because Chris had been obsessing over her ever since they dated briefly a few years past. Chris came back inside with her, striding like a King, his shoulders back, his chin raised. Triumph. He must've set up a date, or reconciled any past differences. She was smiling shyly, clutching her giant teddy bear by the arm.

Daria got very drunk, very fast, and she passed out limbs askew on the couch. Dan and Natalie carried her out and took her home with them. Chris became very quiet.

I'd polished off well over twelve Budweisers. I wasn't slurry or stumbly, but I was giggly and loud. A happy drunk. I remembed the whiskey. Over a year past Chris and I had made plans to have a drinking competition once I got my own place. We'd each get a fifth of Jim Beam and a case of Budweiser and see who could drink the most, puking allowed. Not a race, but an endurance type of challenge. No passing out, no stopping for longer than 10 minutes, stuff like that. Slow and steady longterm drinking. I decided to get the whisky and have a toast to the idea since it was too late to measure such a thing that night, and besides, I didn't want be an embarrassing host.

I was not thinking about Chris' mood change after Daria left. I was not thinking. I did not see that he was brooding and that his jaw was clenched, or that he was staring at the wall scowling. Well, I did see these things, but they didn't stop me from trying to cheer him up with whiskey shots.

That was a very bad idea.
2:33 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm


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