31 May 2016

I came home from work at four in the morning and intended to sit down and finish something I had started a few days ago—that dumb trash heap of a story involving my tooth, and getting old, and on and on, that I mentioned a few days ago. . . .

But Dante was acting insane, and so I hung out with him instead . . . Even now I can hear him screaming and running around in the living room. I have no clue what’s going on with this dude. He loses his mind as the sun is coming up, and I can tell by the color of the sky that it will be up any minute now. With the wooden blinds in my room I can make this place pitch-black, even on the sunniest summer day, which is how I keep it most of the time no matter what the weather looks like . . . and so I plan to watch an episode of ‘Cowboy Bebop’ before I close my eyes, since I am immune to anything the outside world has going on.

There is this job-thing going on invisibly somewhere. The machinery and dice-rolling involved in this process are known to other people—the people with all the power—and not to me, a person who has no power whatsoever. Which is to say my friend in Oakland recommended me for a job, and then I applied, and then I heard back from them with some brief questions, and I submitted those questions, and then they wrote back to me again saying “thank you!” and to expect an update in the next few days. What do they think of me? Do I seem OK? Who knows. All I can do is sit here and feel weird and wonder. And I wonder this: I wonder how many people received this email. It could be anywhere as many as ten, or maybe it’s just two of three. I really have no way of knowing, which is why I haven’t invested the slightest trace of hope into this thing. Though hell, let’s say there’s a fifty-fifty shot that I land this thing . . . Well, I’ll tell you what: with my very first paycheck I sure am going to take Dante to the vet to get his teeth cleaned and all his shots done. And I’m going to do what I said before, and buy him a year’s supply of food. And then I’m going to set up that sweet 100%-paid health and dental and vision insurance, and get a physical and a teeth cleaning and a vision check. You’d better believe it, baby. With the rest I will pay my rent, and maybe buy a kettle bell as well.

They wouldn’t keep emailing me if they didn’t like me, I don’t think. And whoa: If they did hire me, I’d get to walk across the Hawthorne Bridge every morning. It’s about a fifteen minute walk from my house to downtown Portland, and whoa—whoa baby—that would be an exciting thing to me, to walk across that bridge to earn some money, rather than to skulk around gloomily in a deserted city at midnight, wondering where it all went wrong. . . !

OK? Yeah. Anyway. I have some stuff written. I worked on this very website just today. It will be good and beautiful soon. I have a lot of ideas that I have been incubating the heck out of, and others I have already Made Into Real Things, and have hidden from the world until the time is right. The good part about living in a city as dry as fucking beef jerky as Portland is that you have very little incentive to go outside and be around identical-looking borderline-clone-like people with huge beards and plaid shirts, and so you just stay inside and work on stuff. Maybe none of this will pan out, but Lord knows I tried.

28 May 2016

I have been thinking lately about this tooth of mine, which is right up front, and how fragile it is . . . and there is a great big story about it, which I will get to in the next few days. Anyway something happened to it, and maybe that something is a little tiny baby bit interesting. Maybe not! I’ve wanted to write it for days, but Lord knows I’ve been working seven days a week, sometimes both jobs on the same day, as is the case tomorrow, and it has gotten so I can hardly think anymore. My brains are totally scrambled. Perhaps they’ve turned to sand!!!

On the other end of it, I have been in contact with a company who, despite my every fear and doubt, and typical resignation of total hopelessness, has kept on emailing me week after week about A Cool Job I Applied For. These things tend to take a long time, though hey, if they end up going with me instead of some other creep, then that’s something all right. Near as I can tell, these are fine people who run an honest company doing honest business. There’s nothing slimy about it at all, and that’s the sort of thing I’ve been searching for: to pay my rent and not experience any more dread than is absolutely necessary. Oh baby! That sounds swell. I ain’t exactly gonna wish upon a star or nothing, but I will, with great trepidation, revisit the idea every now and then that perhaps I’ll be all right soon, and maybe for a little while longer after that. . . .

And listen: I am finishing up this store of mine. It’s going to be so stupid and insane. You’ll love it, maybe. I’ve gotten some people involved, and they are some of the best people I know, and we’re working on this thing. We’re gonna do stuff, because hell, why not? You gotta do something. I don’t know what else to do.

This is what I’m going to do right the heck now: pass out until Earth needs me again. Though, if I’m being honest, I’m pretty sure I need Earth a whole lot more than it needs me. Yup. See you creeps on the sunny side.

24 May 2016
『 Lights Out for Little Starsailor; or, “The Big Bummer Strikes Again” 』

Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way: I need you to make sure they get my epitaph right. I have plans to have a tombstone that is twelve-feet high . . . though at this point I don’t reckon I’ll ever have enough money to afford that much primo stone. I have a backup plan. Any hard, semi-permanent surface will do. Hell, just go ahead and carve this into a rock:

RYAN STARSAILOR
1988–20??
☆ミ
FOR GOOD OR ILL,
HE WAS AWARE
OF HIMSELF.

. . . anyway: I am back from Oakland. I wasn’t there very long—just thirty-six wild and terrible hours. Here’s the thing about driving from Portland to Oakland and then back to Portland again in thirty-six hours: it’s rough as hell. Do they tell you that? No one told me! I’ve done the drive a dozen times at this point, though before I was never budgeted for time. Back then it was a free and endless resource. I was alone, and had a few bucks in my pocket . . . No one was expecting me anywhere, and no one knew where I was. It was good and beautiful.

But that’s not what happened this time. See, I had two other humans in my care, and both of them could only swing a weekend in the Bay Area. And if I’m being honest, I couldn’t be away too long either, on account of having to get back to Portland to do something or another, some of it involving a tradeoff of my time for a little bit of someone else’s money.

And that is how our story begins: With me earning a laughable hourly wage in a part of town that I absolutely despise. It was a Friday night, and I was alone on Division Street peddling food to unremarkable people. The place was crawling with these creeps, which always confuses me. Do these people have nothing better to do than walk around eating novelty food? I sit there and I think bitterly: “Really, is there anything more boring than food?”

I got off work real late, which meant my crew, my partners and me—we didn’t end up leaving till eleven p.m. I’m certain that right from the start we all felt awful for our own special reasons. I myself was fairing a particularly dark and stormy period of utter self-loathing, which I did so as quietly as possible inside my own mind. As for everyone else: Who’s to say. If they didn’t tell me, I didn’t ask. I figured it would have been rude. We talked about a whole lot of things, and if our demons came up, we dissected them vaguely. Sometimes that’s all you can do amongst good and honest people who mean you no harm.

I drove and drove, on and on, twisting every which way through Oregon till we got to its final outpost, which is Ashland, and God knows I like that place. I guess it’s a nice place to stop and walk around for a little while, and sometimes that’s just what the god darn doctor ordered. Plus I know of a gas station right off the interstate where you can get some super-charged black coffee, and though no one has ever explained to me why, it is also free. . . .

This is precisely what I did on our long journey: I drank me a whole bunch of this delicious potion. Ten minutes later I was wild on the stuff, and feeling half-insane. I told Ella, who was my co-pilot, and who was undoubtedly feeling the fear as well, that I was certain we would get to Oakland much quicker if I pulled the car over, picked it up, and hurled it toward the Bay Area. And afterwards, I said, I would get a running start, and launch myself in the same direction. Lord almighty, I sure was a cuckoo for Coca Puffs right then and there. I was a freewheeling maniac on wheels—a real Looney Toon!

It doesn’t hurt to mention here that we were totally alone on the highway—save for a Hummer, which we had been following for hours, ever since passing through Salem, and this Hummer had attached to its rear bumper a big swinging pair of truck nutz. Imagine watching those awful things sway hither and tither on all those menacing turns through rural Oregon!

We got to the food checkpoint on the California border, the attendant there asking if I had any Oregon-bought fruit in the car, and me replying right away: “Sir, the only fruit in this car is me.”

The road smoothed out from there, became straight and flat, and the truck nutz stabilized, and we all felt a little better, now freed from their hypnotic undulations. . . .

[ Continued ]

16 May 2016

It was Tuesday night, and some drunk asshole was midway through a karaoke rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” when I began to fully comprehend Portland’s supposed “whiteness problem.”

There was a weakness to the man’s voice. I knew that he was soft and unchallenged, as are most people in this city. He was a man who wore square-toed shoes that matched his belt because a men’s style magazine had told him to. He was full of sour notes, and belting out one of the most unkaraoke-friendly songs I could think of. He was so loud and so bad, and so lacking in self-awareness, that I began to ask questions of myself and the decisions I had made that lead me to that very moment. In short: I was creeped out, and I was afraid.

I wasn’t at the bar itself. I can’t hardly afford to feed myself, much less occupy some godawful bar designed to feel sterile and frictionless. No, I was next door toiling under hot fluorescent lights with the rest of the working poor, making overpriced sandwiches for the tasteless hacks who would soon get on stage and sing virtually every song Alanis Morissette has ever written.

What’s the plan then, Ryan? Move to a new city every two or three years and work in a God damned kitchen until your hands fall off, and your mind rots from within??

•   •   •

I wake up every day, usually quite late. I submit five resumes for jobs that would actually pay me a living wage, and cover my medical and dental visits, and not make me hate myself quite so much, and on and on. I write emails to friends of friends who could potentially lift me out of this dark and terrible place, and they’ll reply once or twice, and it’ll look like maybe they can help me out, and then I never hear from them again. This has happened to me dozens of times in the last year. And as far as the resumes go: I may as well be feeding them into a black hole while the Grim Reaper bellows in the deep.

As I told someone today: I am just educated enough to feel ripped off, and not educated enough to actually do anything about it. I have a worthless degree and I live in a spiritually-bankrupt country full of used-car salesmen. I live in a time and place in history where a couple of Belgians visiting from Brussels offered to buy me medicated eyedrops because I can’t rightfully obtain them at the drugstore down the street.

The future’s uncertain and the end is always near, all right!

•   •   •

On my desk I have made a list of things I would buy if I had money. I don’t know why. I daydream about it sometimes—about doing meaningful work, and making just a little bit of money off of it. I know that most people on this planet have a bad beat, though I can’t help but fantasize about some semblance of stability.

Anyhow:

A YEAR SUPPLY OF CAT FOOD.
I did the math and this would cost me something like $700. That’s just fine with me. I worry about having enough money to feed Dante all the time. Of course the dude will never go without, though hell, that doesn’t stop me from worrying! In the past, and right now even, I have forfeited my own need for sustenance to make sure he gets to eat. Lord! I would stack up all those cans in my basement, and cross at least one fear off my list. . . .

A BIG-ASS SUPPLY OF TEA AND COFFEE.
Wait—doesn’t that stuff go bad? Or not taste as good the longer you own it, or something? I don’t know, man. I’ll set aside some money for them anyway.

A SHELF TO PUT MY CLOTHES ON.
Right now my clothes are folded in neat little stacks at the foot of my bed. I could probably get one of these babies for $10. Maybe I’ll just build my own. As I have mentioned before, right here on this very website, I have a bunch of wooden palettes in my basement, and Lord knows they’re just sitting there waiting to become something else.

A NEW PAIR OF SHOES.
I figure I have maybe two or three months left with my current pair. I wear the same kind of shoe I’ve worn since I was 13 or 14, which is the Adidas Samba. It is a good and sensible shoe! I guess I will just keep on wearing them forever.

A HUNDRED AND SIXTY STAMPS.
Forever stamps come in packs of sixteen, so hey, all I gotta do is buy ten of them. I think that comes out to a little more than $70 or so. . . .

FIFTY PAIRS OF SOCKS, AND ABOUT AS MANY PAIRS OF UNDERWEAR.
I’m all good on underwear—I stocked up back in Oakland, when I had some scratch—but I reckon if I got fifty of them I would be good for the next three or four years. My socks, of which I used to own many in great colors and textures and so on, are full of holes. I guess I really am a hobo now!!! When do I get my union card???

TEN PLAIN BLACK T-SHIRTS.
You can never have enough of these hot little babies. Or uhhh, I can’t, anyway.

THREE WEIRDLY-SIZED LIGHTBULBS FOR THE BIG-ASS LAMP IN MY BEDROOM.
I bought this thing when I first moved here, before I could envision how broke I would soon be, but don’t you know, I got the wrong size lightbulbs for it . . . and now I’m too broke to do anything about it. Damn! It’s a nice lamp, too. Right now it is a coatrack.

A WEIGHT BENCH FROM SOME DUDE ON CRAIGSLIST WHO ABANDONED HIS NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION TO GET IN SHAPE.
I’ve been talking about this for years. I could probably get a bench and full set of weighs for like $150. Whoa!

A MOTORCYCLE.
I’m starting to think this is never going to happen! I want to ride it at night when everyone is asleep so I can Disassociate and Be Alone and Feel All Right.

A BUNCH OF SOAP AND TOOTHPASTE AND TOILET PAPER.
I love this stuff! I’m also tired of running out of it.

A LIFETIME SUPPLY OF INCENSE.
Though I guess a year or two of it would suffice!! I love this stuff too. I have a good time hanging out with this stuff.

•   •   •

OK that’s it for now. With a half decent full-time gig I could probably afford to get these things with one or two paychecks. I’m living a lean sort of lifestyle these days, sometimes out of necessity, though I have quote unquote philosophical reasons behind it too. I don’t need much, though hell, these things are good and useful, as all inanimate objects should be, and they would serve me for a long time. I was telling someone recently that all you have to do is knock these things out quick and you’re in a good place for many months and sometimes years. And then you get on with it, and do the other thing, whatever that may be—which for me is a whole lot of walking around in the dark, and occupying dark rooms with dim lighting and soft music, and absolutely no human voices.

In fifteen minutes I have to go to a place and do a job I was qualified to do in high school. It pays all right, but it’s not going to save me from anything, if anyone can ever be said to truly be saved. I can at least feed my cat and buy toothpaste. You see I remember the era of my life when I truly became an adult, or something close to it anyway, and that was when someone stopped being concerned with the state of my teeth. It’s all on me now, baby. I gotta take care of these teeth. It’s the least I can do to keep this flesh and bone in the three dimensions I reluctantly move around it . . . until I can’t any longer! It seems like maybe I’ll never get a break, despite all my efforts, but I reckon it’s too late to do anything else.

I’m not sure how long I’ll be in this city. Maybe not long at all. I’m so bored. I feel like I’m submerged in a bath of lukewarm water. There are worse fates. I can imagine quite a few. Hell, I’ve lived some of them.

10 May 2016

Something is wrong with my left eye. I haven’t been able to see out of it the way I used to since February. And because I’ve had a lot of rotten luck, and lost my California health insurance, which was rotten too, I can’t ask anyone with a medical degree what the hell is wrong with it.

Occasionally it will get blurry, and then correct itself. I asked a barista at Southeast Grind if she had ever experienced this. It was four in the morning and I was delirious and friendless in a city that didn’t altogether hate me. She blinked a few times, said she hadn’t. There was a pause, and then she informed me that people with vision problems usually only get screwed out of good vision in one eye. “Is that true?” I said. She bit her lip. There was a line forming behind me. “That’s what I heard, anyway,” she said.

Twice now I have gotten what looks like pink eye. A few weeks back I had a stye. What is this? I’ve been keeping a warm washcloth on it whenever I can, which is a very nice feeling that I hadn’t experienced since I was a kid, and someone was holding the washcloth against my face for me. (Tangentially related: I wouldn’t mind if someone did that to me as an adult. These days I am willing to let people do a lot of things to me.)

Presently my eye is in a partially crusted-over state, and so am I. I don’t know if either will ever be the same again. I reckon you’ve got to take these things as they come. In some ways it’s all downhill from here. It’s a good thing I already own an eyepatch.

•   •   •

I have been busy recently with the business of staying alive. What’s difficult for me is that I can never get past the “Why do I need to stay alive?” part. I suppose I can’t lie down and die. Trust me, I’ve tried. It really doesn’t work. I’ve tried disassociating, and hiding in the dark. I’ve tried inventing personas, and crawling inside them, and living there for long periods of time, hoping I can stay there forever. . . .

These days I wander Hawthorne Boulevard in search of friendly faces. There’s bound to be one sooner or later who will make eyes with me, see all the terrible things swirling around in there, and take my hand and lead me to the promised land. Maybe they’ll have come from a wealthy and altruistic family—and, taking pity upon my poor soul, will let me live in their attic until I’m an old, old man.

I was telling someone recently that the only way I’m ever going to find a little bit of peace on this earth is to wait around until one of my talented friends makes it big. Laura Rokas, bless her Canadian heart, has told me that if her art career ever pans out—and it really is looking like it will—then Dante and I can live with her rent-free forever. At least that’s what I think she said. Hell, I’d chip in $200 a month if that made us square. She, like my ex-wife, who I think about every single day of my godawful life, don’t you know, still laughs at my jokes. I don’t dare for one second take this for granted. It means that I pay my dues with bad jokes and cheap laughs. In spite of everything else about me, most of it bad, they still squint their eyes and smile and utter a sound. And maybe that’s good enough for her. What more can you ask of anyone, really?

In the evening I walk past little families outside their great big houses, all covered in flowers, as are most houses in this neighborhood, and I know that I’ll never get my hands on any of that. Hell, I never even had it to begin with. I consider that I will likely never see a great deal of my family again. I wonder if they wonder about me. I am alone, and have been alone for ten years next month. I have been free, horribly free, and it’s looking like there’s no end in sight, all horrible, all alone.

I buy a Slurpee from the 7-11 near my house, and I tell the kid behind the counter: “Brother, sometimes one of these damn things is the only thing that does it for me. It’s my little buddy, when I have no others.” He blinks, tells me I owe the cash register a buck and some change, and I go off, strutting down the street, checking out a few babes, and eyeing the wooden palettes leaning against a dumpster behind the pizza place. I make a mental note to return later with Matt’s car.

•   •   •

Our basement is filled with palettes. There must be fifteen or twenty of them down there. I have memorized when trash day is, and I’m not going to tell you when that is, because I need at least twenty more palettes so I don’t feel so empty anymore. And on trash day I go a-wanderin’, and I find multitudes of these things all over the place. I have come to know what separates a good palette from a bad one. I get the good ones while the good ones are still out there. These beautiful little orphans—I want them all.

You see I have this idea in the back of mind that if I build furniture I’ll be all right. There is a tool library right around the corner, and I am scheming to walk over there to borrow a rotary saw and the biggest hammer they’ve got. And then I’m going to build me a hideous Frankenstein’d bookshelf—a great big fat one, long as hell, and toss it beneath the only window in my bedroom, which is closed and darkened about eighty-percent of the time. And I’m going to put my books on that shelf, and a lamp on top, a dim one because I can’t exist around bright ones, and maybe a few dumb little things that I’ve got laying around this loner cave of mine. And I’m going to stand back and cross my arms, and see that it is very good, and say aloud to absolutely no one: “You did it, old man. Now you can finally die.”

•   •   •

I’ve lost my balls. I told this to my friend Ella yesterday. I said it without any context: “I’ve lost my balls, and I’ve got to get them back.”

To which Ella said: “What?”

We were lying in my bed looking at old pictures. Here I had a Mad Max-looking decommissioned police car, and there I had a red glowstick in my mouth at the highest point of Grizzly Peak. I’m standing near the San Francisco Bay at night wrapped in a blanket with my arms outstretched, speaking to unseen midnight entities. I’m kissing Laura on the cheek. I’m eating popcorn in a bar. I’m splitting firewood with a cigarette in my mouth. I’m wearing an Oakland A’s hat, and holding a kitten who lived in my backyard. I’m dancing like Pee-wee Herman on the long table in an empty Donut Farm on a Tuesday morning.

What happened to me? I wonder. Have I been fucked out and left for dead? I was a freak, wild at heart and weird on top. Now I get my kicks rolling around on the living room rug with a handful of fine and interesting people who seem to like me, though I don’t know why. Is that enough for me?

For God’s sake, I’ve just got to make a little money. It’s the only way I can turn it around. I think about it all time. I try not to. I have to make money because I have to take care of a fifteen-pound cat who can’t live without my love and affection, and vice versa. Otherwise I would go off and find some place to die. And then, near as I can tell, I’ll end up in The Other World.

I think about that all the time too—The Other World. If I never get my balls back—well, at least there’s that place. The cold comfort of death is sometimes the only thing that gets me through the day, and helps me cope with the fact that baby, I’m getting old.

If there’s no more pain, and no more suffering, and no more tears over there . . . then that’s fine with me. All I want is to live on a forested asteroid with my friend Dante. I want to have a house and I want to sleep inside it. I want it to be nighttime all the time, until I decide I want to see the other thing.

I told Dante tonight, when we were both in the basement eyeing those delicious palettes I’ve been collecting: “We’re all we’ve got, buddy. I won’t ever let anything hurt you. I’m glad you’re my friend.”

•   •   •

I’m editing my novellas. I’m writing two more. I’m going to put them up on the homepage of my little publishing company, which is called King Meteor. I have decided the site will just be a list of titles in black and white. You click on the title and it takes you to a synopsis and maybe some artwork. Beneath all this is a place where you can type in a price. You can type in whatever price you want. You click a huge button and it emails you a single-serve link that lets you download a PDF and an EPUB file. Then you maybe read this thing, and wonder what sort of deranged moron would write something so egregiously bad.

I really ought to publish my novel, which I think is halfway decent. What am I afraid of? It’s not like anyone is going to give a damn about it. For the longest time I didn’t either. I hated the god darn idea of it. I would read it and feel sick. But now I’ve come around, and I think it would be OK if someone else read it too.

Picture this: It is nighttime. Some creep named Rayon Starpuncher is sitting on the rainbow bridge in a derelict nowhere in Baltimore. He is a hundred and fifty feet above some railroad tracks. The wind is blowing. He hangs onto a steel beam so it doesn’t blow him off. He hates himself a whole lot. The city is perfectly silent in a way that makes him hate himself even more. He gets bored and wanders home, where he lives alone. The monolithic brick fortress where he lives is surrounded on every side by abandoned warehouses filled with punk squatters who call themselves artists. He lies down in bed and watches the pale moonlight flicker on his ceiling. He hears someone cough. He looks down at his feet. A ghost covered in shackles and chains is sitting at the foot of his bed. The ghost looks similar to him, but also just different enough to be frightening and unnerving.

The ghost is friendly. He offers Starpuncher a gift. With nothing better going on, Starpuncher accepts the gift. The ghost gives Starpuncher a new left eye. With it he can see the future.

The ghost tells him the world won’t last much longer. Starpuncher says he’s not surprised. The ghost also says that Starpuncher’s world is not what it seems. Starpuncher says he figured that was the case too.

The ghost mentions some sort of vague journey that Starpuncher is to go on. He says good-bye and returns to his own dimension—to The Other World.

Starpuncher doesn’t sleep. He never sleeps. He gets up and walks into the bathroom. He stares at himself in the mirror. He closes his right eye. With his left eye he watches his body mutate into a skeleton.

In the morning he buys a train ticket. The world is scheduled to end sometime the following week.

Would you read that? Man, I don’t know. It’s OK if the answer is “no way.”

•   •   •

My nightly ritual for the last month has been to write a few paragraphs and then watch an episode of ‘Cowboy Bebop.’ I have so much fun doing this that I almost don’t want to tell anyone. I guess I just blew that idea. And then I read one chapter from ‘Moby-Dick.’ I am reading just one chapter a day. Isn’t that great? And then I read ‘A Scanner Darkly,’ which I read once before many years ago when I was somehow an even bigger idiot than I am today.

Dante is asleep on a pile of my clean laundry, all black and maroon. The lighting in my room is perfect. It is dim and indirect. Though hell, I reckon I am too. It’s not so bad. A few people don’t mind it, and I’m not about to convince them otherwise.

ellasteviedante

08 May 2016

Long ago—before I was certain that all this was a great big bummer, and was only vaguely aware of the true nature of things—I made money selling my body to science. It was never anything particularly dangerous. Most of the clinical trials I participated in were Phase III or IV, or an already FDA-approved medication seeking reevaluation. I ingested or was intravenously dosed with about a dozen medications. I made pretty good money. It helped me get through college.

The last big one I ever did was a revolutionary malaria vaccination administered to me by the U.S. government. It paid the most out of all the trials I’d done. I was living alone back then, and was horribly depressed. The money I earned allowed me to stay home and write a novel that I eventually scrapped and rewrote. It also allowed me to never leave my apartment.

Years later, in Oakland, I met a woman from New Zealand. She told me about some trials she’d been doing at a hospital in San Francisco. They were all out-patient. I needed new underwear so I decided to do one. It was a depression study. The study doctor I met with had me sit in a chair across from her while she asked me questions. The entire thing was filmed on a small digital camera. Most of the questions dealt having a lack of energy, or a loss in interest in activities previously enjoyed, and so on. She asked me if I was overly self-critical, if I indulged in an unhealthy amount of self-loathing, and if I rarely ate or slept. I reckon I was too blunt with her, because she seemed to become nervous when I said something like, “Are you kidding me? All of the above!” I think it made her even more nervous that I was laughing and smiling the whole time when discussing my dark and lonely life! To which I would have said (if she had asked): “Listen sister, the only way to get through this thing is to have a sense of humor about it.” But she didn’t ask. She turned off the camera and made a phone call in the hallway. She returned a few minutes later and said I was “too depressed” for the study. She paid me anyway. I asked to have a copy of the tape. She said no. I left. I went to the Uniqlo near Powell Street station and bought a bunch of underwear.

And now I’m at it again, or else I’m going to starve to death . . . Last night I took a brief survey to test my eligibility. Here were the questions and my answers:

“Feeling sad, unhappy, self-critical?”
Yes.

“Feeling tired and having little energy or motivation?”
Yes.

“Having trouble sleeping or eating (either too much or too little)?”
Yes

“Not enjoying activities that you used to?”
Yes.

“Feeling uneasy, restless, irritable or guilty?”
Yes.

“Having trouble concentrating, remembering things or making decisions?”
Yes.

“Having nagging aches and pains (headaches, joint pain, stomach pains/indigestion) that won’t go away?”
No.

“Friends and family think there is something wrong with you and that your mood has changed?”
Yes.

“Feel like your low mood is impacting your family, friends, work?”
Yes.

I hit “submit” and a little prompt told me that because I had answered “yes” to four or more questions, I was “likely suffering from depression.” Yeah, tell me about it! (Though hey, at least I don’t have nagging aches and pains. . . .)

At the bottom of the page was a picture of a grey-haired man in a tie. I guess I’m supposed to believe this guy is a doctor. Who knows. Maybe he is. There’s a quote next to his head, and I guess I’m supposed to believe this guy said it: “Depression is very treatable and is an illness, not a permanent condition.”

Had I been drinking coffee, I would have spit it out onto my computer monitor. Who does this cheese-easter think he is? Where does he get off telling me and all the rest of my doomed brothers and sisters that the permanent condition we have is an illness, as if it’s the god darned common cold? I agree that this godawful malady is treatable in the sense that you can suppress or dampen the symptoms, but let’s face it: depression / bipolar disorder / whatever is hardwired into our broken brains, and the only thing you can really do is shrink that all-consuming black hole that lives inside you and endure those dark storms that pop up every now and then, sometimes four or five times a year. . . .

Anyway: I gave them my phone number and email address. Maybe they’ll kill me. I have no control over that now—it’s too late to turn this bitch around. Or maybe they’ll just do what they said they were going to do, which is to call me and bring me in for treatment. The paycheck, they say, is $1,300 big ones. Lord! It’s about time I made a buck or two off this damn thing.

IN OTHER NEWS: I think I have been hallucinating a horse fly in my room all night. I swear, sometimes it’s real (Dante seems to hear it), and other times it’s definitely some sort of mirage . . . it vanishes right there before my eyes. It is five in the morning and I am terrified of turning off the light because I know as soon as I do it’s going to zero in on my face and suck me dry. And the thing is, it has to be injured at this point . . . I have been whacking it with a rolled up T-shirt for an hour. I have seen it drop dead a few times now, only to remerge in some other part of the room when I least expect it. Maybe there are a bunch of them. Maybe, God help me, there are none of them, and never were to begin with. We won’t consider this possibly just yet. And anyway, perhaps there is money to made from this. If they can cut me a check for hating myself and alienating my friends and family, then surely they can peel off a few greenbacks for having visions of blood-sucking insects.

Have you ever seen a horse fly? They’re scary as hell, man. Big mean mothers. As someone who has a long history of capturing and releasing insects (including spiders) rather than killing them, I will go on record right now and say that I annihilate horse flies on sight. I’m sorry. I really dislike those things. I think it’s fine if they want to fuck around in some other squalid corner of the world, but stay the heck out of the only sanctuary I have.

“Are you having frequent hallucinations of insects taunting you while you write these worthless words from your warm little bed?”
Yes.

Have I bummed you out enough? OK, I’ll stop now. I really am stopping now. And I will say this: I’m working on several essays. Isn’t that lovely?! Maybe I’ll even post them soon.

. . . and thanks to all the fine people who have written to the P.O. box! Keep em coming! You’re gorgeous, I swear. I think you’re great.

Birds chirping outside again. It’s time to put on a sleep mask and hope to God the flies haven’t figured out a way to infiltrate my dreams. They’re bad enough as it is!

04 May 2016

The sun will be up in something like ten god-hating minutes and I definitely don’t want to see it when it gets here. I gotta stop doing this—staying up this late. I’m hearing birds and looking at my open tabs: the Wikipedia entry for “Queequeg,” the Wikipedia entry for “Ayahuasca,” the Wikipedia entry for “Ghost” . . . and about a billion job listings that I want nothing to do with outside of the pittance they’re offering in exchange for doing something, I’m not sure what exactly. I would rather eat a football than ever leave this house again, but I guess I gotta. When I wake in the afternoon I will make a few phone calls and worm my way into another money-making thing, even if it makes me sick just thinking about it.

About an hour ago friend Stevie told me she was going to sleep because she felt “heavy,” which rules, because I like saying that too. Man I always feel heavy. And before she slipped off I told her about this line from ‘A Scanner Darkly’ that I think about all the time, and which I actually came upon again just yesterday:

“Life,” Barris said, as if to himself, “is only heavy and none else; there is only the one trip, all heavy. Heavy that leads to the grave. For everyone and everything.”

Oh heck yeah, baby.

P.S. Pipefest II is next Saturday. Had you forgotten? I made another little commercial for it. It is hot and tasty and maybe delicious too. I trust you to find it, cuz I sure as hell ain’t gonna tell you outright! My friend Leyla, who has partial ownership of the halfpipe, drew me on a bar napkin at Wolfhound Pub in Oakland, which is where I used to work. Isn’t that nice? She sent it to me. Here it is:

pipefestbaby

Did you know that two fine and wonderful human beings are flying to the United States from Belgium to see me flop around on stage like a cartoon cockroach? Uh, yeah! It’s true!

Belgians! Are you listening? You’re going to be in some scuzzy backyard with a whole host of scuzzy dopes. And I’m going to be the scuzziest one of all, don’t you know. I hope that sounds appetizing to you. I mean, hell, it’ll be something, all right. Probably it will be fun, and here’s hoping. . . .

Anyway, wherever you are on God’s green earth: Good-night you sons of bitches!!!!