Monday, January 28, 2008

ghost of christmas past

I took Amtrak because I had always romanticized trains having grown up beside a railroad tressel. I thought sometimes I might want to take a train across the country to California and so I decided to try it out with a run from Chicago, IL to Columbia, SC around christmas 1997.

I remember having to stop and change trains in Washington, D.C.

I remember being so excited to get back to Columbia. It had been only six months. I was leading a lonely lonely life in Chicago. A life without a group of friends to cling to, to watch tv with, to eat dinners with, have a beer. Nope it was just my great uncle Benji and me living together in his apartment building on the far north side of Chicago.

When I got back everything was all the same and different.

One night there was a little party going on. It was at this house that had belonged to this couple - he about 21, she about 41 - and her kids when I had left. It was a nice house, it was a grown up house, but there were kids living there now. All around my age. Some I had known from working at the same restaurant. A few I did not know.

Those close friends who brought me to this house on this night (I don't remember when but I remember it was on this trip), well, this was their new group of friends to watch tv and eat dinner and drink beer with. But I didn't fit in with this group and I felt uncomfortable and so I went to go and hide out in the kitchen and sulk about no one noticing that I was not there.

That's what I was doing when I noticed a painting being painted in the breakfast area of the kitchen. The painting was of some rabbits ice skating in a park. I looked over the painter's shoulder and made an approving noise. When I realized that I had rudely intruded, I apologized, then introduced myself.

I am haunted by this memory and a dozen others.

I am waiting to be able to begin to hope to be free of this haunting.

I found the experience of being on a train for eighteen hours without a sleeping berth was too uncomfortable and claustrophobic to attempt again. I haven't been on a long train ride since then.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Subtle Disntinctions

is the name of a band in that novel i was reading.

I just realized that 1987 1997 and 2007 were all wild and crazy out of control weird years of my life. I moved to South Carolina in 1987, moved to Chicago in 1997, and had a crazy year in San Francisco in 2007.

I want to change my life.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Significant snow

They're expecting snow - like it looks like a foot or so - in New York City. I used to get so excited when it would snow there. It's strange how snowfall was transformed into something less than magical during my time in Buffalo. At all other times and places in my life I have loved the snow. Snow days. Snow forts. Snow plows and snow angels and snowballs and snowbanks and snowflakes. All of it, and as much of it as possible, please. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow - I invoked it.

I guess I was just so down in the dumps in Buffalo that even the snow lost its loveliness for me. It was only the time or the place tho because I am longing for a snowstorm now.

Here in San Francisco, it's the first warm and sunny day after a solid week or ten days - it's difficult to keep track - of rain and storms. I took a little walk.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Thank you for letting me share your table

Since I am illegally, according to the landlady, staying in my friends' guest room and she came over today to fix a window that was broken by the storm, and the Mission branch library reading room was full, I sat drinking a hot chocolate in Cafe La Boheme for an hour or so's while this afternoon. In the middle of it, a lady sat down after asking me if one of the seats at my table was taken. She sat with a fat little notebook. She never ordered anything. She seemed to sense that her movements were distracting me from my book and so slowly inched away from me so that her chair was pulled up to the corner of the table. I just kept my face down and to the page for the entire duration of our table cohabitation. Then, abruptly, she asked, "Want to feel something?" I looked up to see her hand outstretched toward me. "Give me your hand," she said. "No," I said. She repeated, "Don't you want to feel something?" "No," I repeated. I went back to reading my book, carefully avoiding any semblance of looking up at her. Finally, after what seemed to me like hours, like time unfolding in another dimension, she got up and left. But not before mumbling, "thank you for letting me share your table."

Monster storm brings widespread impacts

Up all night last night waiting for the second of three storms scheduled to hit the San Francisco Bay Area in over around 72 or 84 or 96 hours I guess. Read a cool interview with Dennis Cooper about his old zine, Little Caesar, that he made in LA in the late 70s.

I figured out that I really like Mary Gaitskill's short stories. I'm wanting to read more of them. I saw her novel, Veronica at the library. I guess I've started reading Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem though. It's so weird how my old buddy Alison Bauknight from the Basil Pot (vegetarian restaurant where I worked in college) lent me all of those Jonathan Lethem books way back then and I read them, thought they were strange but good. But I never yet have read his two big new hit novels, Motherless Brooklyn and now that Fortress one.

I'm losing by 20 points on my current game of online scrabble, or Scrabulous. It sucks. I won by 20 points on the last game though.