I did not go to Los Angeles on Wednesday. I woke up three hours before I was to be at the airport and saw that they had cancelled my flight out of Oakland. I was supposed to fly from Portland to Oakland, and then from Oakland to LA, but that wasn’t going to happen. And anyway Dante seemed a little out of it and of course there was no way I was going to leave him alone like that.

Next day I took Dante to the vet. He had been acting depressed and throwing up. The doctor was very nice. She took his temperature and checked his ears for jaundicing and checked his gums to make sure were pink. He didn’t have a fever and his ears were normal and his gums were as pink as they could be. She took him to the back and they shaved his butt and his hind legs and cleaned him up and gave him a shot that would make him less nauseous.

And then they sent in some other guy—a guy who talked to me like he was an insurance agent—and with his little reptilian claws he handed me a form that showed me how much my total was. I scanned it until my eyes arrived on the total, which said “$398.99.” Before I screamed I rescanned the list of procedures and saw that only three of them were pertinent to my visit: the examination, the shot they gave Dante, and the medication they were sending me home with.

I said: “I don’t want all this other stuff, man.”

And he said, “Oh—sure, sure. No problem.” And he used a pen to cross off all the bullshit that only an insane rich person would be into. He did some math on his phone and came up with my new total, which was $120 even. How bout that!

I took poor Dante home and let him loose and he ran into the little apartment connected to his cat tower. He curled up inside and went to sleep. I thought, hell, that’s exactly what I would do too.

It was my godforsaken birthday and so I went with my friends to Holman’s off Burnside. All the good booths were taken and we did not want to sit in one of the bad ones because of how bad they are. We told our server we’d hang back and return in a while when some of the people there had cleared out. Walked a few blocks to Beulahland even though that place kinda sucks. The lighting was awful and there were too many dates going on but we went inside anyway. Matt bought me a shot of tequila and a Rainer and we sat in the only good seat in the place, which is all the way in the back near the door, and which is a rounded dimly-lit booth like the one that Han Solo and Chewbacca are sitting at when they meet Luke and Obi-Wan.

The tequila was awful. I had told the bartender that I wanted the awful one, the worst kind they have, and she really did give me some tequila that was truly awful. Matt drank half my beer because I was getting too dreamy too fast and it was still too early to get so dreamy.

Eventually we left, mostly because we didn’t know what else to do, and returned to Holman’s and had us a good ol time. Even Li’l Monty showed up, which was real cool.

We returned home to find Li’l Natalie and Li’l Mikaylah sitting on our stoop. Natalie gave me a big ol hug and Mikaylah gave me a mug that said “AGED TO PERFECTION” . . . and inside I found a pack of Reese’s! I thought, gosh, what nice people I have for friends.

Inside we started a fire in the fireplace and began the holy ritual which is called DUDES DONE WRONG. Li’l Stevie came over and we watched “POINT BLANK” starring Lee Marvin—and screamed like psychopaths because of how good it is!

I drove Mikaylah home round about 4 a.m. and then sped the hell across the Hawthorne Bridge to get back to my strange little grey fortress where Dante was curled up and sleeping and healing inside his little apartment.

I stayed up till 7:30 a.m. doing god-knows-what. I felt sad as hell to be awake and to be alive, and so on. God help me, I missed my parents, who I have not seen in over a year—and my little sister, who I probably won’t see again for some time.

In the dark I tried to remember every birthday I had had in the last ten years and came up with this abbreviated list:

  • 28: Watched movies alone in my grandmother’s apartment in my hometown while it snowed like hell outside
  • 27: Drank awful wine my friends in Oakland while eating a (lavender-colored) shooting star cake that Laura had made me (Later: a girl told me she loved me!)
  • 26: Sat by a fire in my backyard in Oakland with a bunch of my Cool Buddies and laughed like hell
  • 25: My girlfriend got mad at me so I hopped on my bicycle and rode around my neighborhood in Austin in the dark until I didn’t feel like dying anymore
  • 24: I had just moved to Austin and was with my friends . . . though hell if I can remember anything else
  • 23: Sat on the floor of my house in Baltimore with my (other) girlfriend eating a cake she had made me while surrounded by dozens of candles because a huge snowstorm had knocked the power out!
  • 22: I have no idea
  • 21: Ate at a li’l Japanese restaurant in Baltimore with my friends . . . and my friend’s sister bought me some sake!!
  • 20: I got real sad and took a bath in my house in Baltimore
  • 19: Hung out with a bunch of jerks I’d known for a long time at my mother’s house in my hometown and uh later I kissed a girl!!!
  • 18: My friends and I rented a huge (and somehow dirt cheap) room at the Tremont Hotel in downtown Baltimore and played Scrabble with my heavily-intoxicated brother

. . . yeah!

Before I passed out from exhaustion and despair and so on (lol), I rebooked my flight to LA. I am going on February 8th, which is less than two weeks from now. And with my airline points I booked Laura’s flight too, because Lord knows I can’t go there without her.

Sometime later I woke up and (reluctantly (lol)) kept on living. Against all odds I have not stopped yet~~

Good-night everyone!