Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Saturday 31 October 1998 – Renner's Grill

It's like, I don't know, a while since I wrote last. That's the thing about time—you can just leave it alone and it'll do its work without you. Very much unlike people—we can't leave anything alone. I mean, you can, but it'll go to hell. That's essentially one definition of hell—that which is neglected. To be a good Christian it takes constant, never-flagging, unrelenting, narrow-minded, psychopathic maintenance. The scriptures must be repeated endlessly; but that goes for anything—any conviction, like “art is good,” or “I'm a fine person.” Neglect of any convictions, any information, even—your own history, your past, even—and you'll lose it. Hell, if you don't keep repeating the most basic things to yourself—your phone number, your address, even your name and birthdate—you'll forget it. That's the definition of hell, maybe—not the creeping sexual and intoxication and forgetting urges, but the mold growing on even your basic convictions, the cobwebs around what you've always taken for granted, but what no longer functions, due to neglect.

I'm at a place I've never visited before—never saw it until today. Tucked into the west suburbs on a tiny commercial strip, it's an old bar that serves food, including Saturday morning breakfast—and a good breakfast, too. I don't even remember the name—I'll look when I leave and write it on the top of this entry. A good looking diner is across the street, but it was cock full of yuppies, so I came over here with the real people—like this excellent traveling salesman sitting next to me at the bar drinking a red colored cocktail and eating a bloody steak.

It's a dark place—very dark, with red lampshades on the lights over the bar, and the corners probably obscured. It's not that old, but it's as good as a place as you'll ever find in the suburbs. Too bad about the TV and the lottery machines.

It's a good time to start a completely new start completely new start completely new, without any reference to the past, 100% uninfluenced by anything that has come before—a completely severed, sterile, cauterized, lopped off—sorry! I'm just trying to get some momentum. The reason to have a fresh start is so you don't have to refer to anything in the past—because that takes work—so it's easier for me to write than it is to read and make sense of what I've written. I know that makes you think—“Well, what about the reader?!” Yeah, well, it's a good thing this is my super secret private journal, and not for publication—as if anyone would want to!

Not me—that's for sure—unless, of course, I found it somewhere—not knowing who it belonged to—then I might be intrigued. Especially if it contained “good stuff.” And just what is “good stuff?” Well, I guess it'd be anything that the person writing the journal would be mortified to have anyone read—even someone not acquainted. I wonder why that is? I guess because we're talking about sex—what else? There's plenty of private stuff—but the fascination of reading someone's bowel movement diary would wear off pretty rapidly. Oh my, now that I think of it, isn't that exactly what this is? I've been calling it The Lobster Bible, but maybe I should change the name to “The Bowel Movement Diary”—or else start writing some interesting shit. If I am going to call it anything “bible” I should at least read over my own scriptures and learn something.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Sunday 18 October 1998

It's Sunday morning and I'm at breakfast at The Hurst. The World Series is underway. Fall is underway, and this morning I am facing an extreme crisis, though one so low key that most people wouldn't identify it as a crisis, but just “the way things are,” or Reality, or that's life—the phrase “general malaise” sits itself in front of me, but I'm not sure what that is, exactly—it's not one of the 100 or so words in my vocabulary. Malaise, not general. General, I know, is one of those words that means anything you want it to. Malaise, for the longest time, I thought was something you put on sandwiches. Not really. But I don't really know what mayonnaise is, either—I mean, I know it's white and creamy, and what it tastes like, but I don't know where it comes from or what it's made from. I mean, I know it doesn't come out of a milkweed plant or anything, and I know it has eggs in it, but then there's eggless mayonnaise, so how important can the eggs be? I guess I never really cared, but now I'm interested. It can't be anything too weird—it's like oil and vinegar, maybe, and eggs sometimes—but then there must be some kind of alchemy to get it to be mayonnaise! Hellmann's Malaise. You can't get Hellmann's on the West Coast—well you can, but it's called Best Foods. It's a hell of a difference between those names. I really don't know why they just don't call it Hellmann's—Best Foods sounds like a generic brand. Our friend Despina from Conde Nast, who's an East Coast person who moved to LA, insists the Hellmann's and Best Foods aren't the same. Who am I to argue, not being a connoisseur? If mayonnaise symbolizes anything, what it it? Maybe blandness, maybe middle-class, white America—though I don't know. Mayonnaise is kind of exotic in its own way. For that matter, the middle-class is kind of exotic, too, seeing how it seems so elusive, so unreachable to me. I was driving through the suburbs yesterday morning, and I got this fleeting feeling I sometimes get—a yearning, or fantasy desire to move to the suburbs—to be married to someone I have little in common with, to have a normal-looking, personality-less apartment in a complex, a TV, etc., to eat normal meals, go out to Friday's and Tony Roma's (a Place for Ribs) and have no aspirations, or goals bigger than that next little one—buy new sheets, wash the car, go to the movie that just opened. Of course this fantasy ends with the thought of children, a reality that hangs over us the same way death does. You know, certain romantic artists, usually young people—my younger self included—used to excite themselves with their obsession with “sex and death.” The way the two where intertwined was interesting, and certain poets, etc., got a lot of milage out of this. But that was before AIDS. Now “sex and death” has an entirely new meaning.

Hey. Where the hell was I? I wanted to get back to my condition, how I felt, or feel—though now, I'd have to say felt, 'cause how I feel is all coffeed up. Anyway—anyway—you know, I used to be a good writer. I didn't get off on tangents; I was concise, to the point; I had standards. I can trace the beginning of my bad writing back to whenever it was that I started starting every sentence with the word “well,” and every transition began by “anyway.” I remember in some Kurt Vonnegut book how he says he feels like “Philboyd Studge.” (I don't remember where it is, or know if that spelling's correct, and God knows I'm not going to look it up.) I'm not sure if this is even in relation to writing, but it probably is. Anyway, that's what I feel like, about my writing these days—like “Philboyd Studge.”

To get back to mayonnaise—what a great word—I guess it's French—mayonnaise sounds French, but “Mayo” sounds totally New York. Back to mayonnaise, you know the cure for mayonnaise is simply a few drops or dashes of Tabasco sauce. I wish it was so easy for general malaise. I guess I say general malaise as opposed to a particular malaise. But if it is particular, it has to do with the feeling of blandness, not getting anywhere. I wouldn't say boredom, but ennui might be appropriate. It's probably, when it comes right down to it, just the feeling of not being in love, of having so many crushes that it becomes clear that they're all just a smokescreen, to try to keep yourself from seeing yourself actually alone. Anyway, the way to get out of this condition—which maybe I should call Hellmann's Malaise—is by drinking. Drinking was always the cure, the antidote, the smokescreen, I guess, that worked very well in conjunction with the uncontrollable crush smokescreen. Drinking was the Tabasco to the mayonnaise/malaise. Hellmann's Malaise + Tequila = equilibrium. But now, without drinking, I have nowhere to go but church. And I can't get myself to go to church. So I check in here, my own convention, my name-tag reading: “Hello, My Name is Philboyd Studge."

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Saturday 17 October 1998

I'm at the Polar King in Gresham, just outside of Portland. You don't have to get too far out of Portland to be “out of town.” There are little buildups of civilization by the side of the highway, but I don't know if you'd call it a town, unless you consider a strip mall a downtown. It's amazing how driving for a few minutes takes you to a cultural another world. It's all Middle-America—everywhere that's not the very urbanist urban. And in Portland it's just a few block area—you can walk it—and outside that little oasis where they're challenged to make good coffee, and the waitstaff can get away with unusual body piercings, you get to Middle-America—bad coffee, bad grammar, non-dairy creamer, TV culture. This is a great place—an old, probably post-war diner or hamburger joint, fixed up probably in the 80s—ruined, really, but time has done its job and put some personality back into it, with its forces of decay and the mellowness that comes from day in and out use. To everyone here it's just a restaurant, but to me it's an interesting artwork, one that changes with time, and even though it was once almost a (DQ or something?) (after the remodel)—now it's interesting again.

Like I was saying, back when I was trying to recover, and backpedal (does the word “backpedal” come from the bicycle world?—certainly it must not—as you can't backpedal a bicycle—with ten speeds, or whatever they are now—28 speeds—you can pedal backwards, but the gears are not engaged unless it's forward—you can't ride backwards anyway—maybe it's just “ped” as in walk—pedaling meaning walking, then, and backpedaling meaning retreating—look this up).

Places like this, as much as I like them, freak me out because they have all women working at them (unless there is a man owner present). Only women working, and all men customers. I mean, totally only 100% men in here. This is total, without exception. All women working. All men customers. I must admit, that kind of freaks me out.

As I'm leaving I see a big family with a couple of young women and one older one—so it's not absolutely true. And then I see the oddest thing of all (this place is quite busy). There's a woman leaving, paying at the register (she was here, somewhere, the same time I was)—a woman by herself! A middle-aged woman who looks neither to be a mess or all completely together. Someone who may be an alcoholic, or maybe a recovering alcoholic. Definitely not one of those scary perfect businesswomen from Mars. But someone who looks really self-sufficient, independent, I don't know, pretty together, but not too much, you know. I mean, her just being here, at a place where like no women come in, for breakfast, anyway, especially by themselves—that makes her essentially—I mean she was just a human being on Planet Pod, and for that reason I would have really liked to talk to her, but until I get to the interview portion of this project (which I just made up just now) I won't be able to do anything like that—and I need some kind of journalistic credibility to do that—more than just a fake press card—I need a good reputation.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Wednesday 14 October 1998

I'm at The Hurst for breakfast on a Wednesday, trying to backpedal and recover form the travesty this journal has become. Instead of an _____ for mental illness, it has become mental illness itself. [_____] [connected][by backpedal theme]

Friday, January 4, 2019

Monday 12 October 1998

I'm sitting on the front porch to continue this story, evening coffee time—a soft rain falling. It's nice not to be in it, and it slows down the world a little. What happened to me after I was smashed like a tick and scratched like a flea, and forgotten like a _____. Well, nothing. Nothing Nothing Nothing. That's the worst thing that can happen. And then... nothing happened. If I was a song, I'd be silent. If I was a book, I'd be blank pages. If I was a TV show, I'd be cancelled. If I was a movie, I'd be the trailer. If I was a marriage, I'd be divorced. If I was a painting, I'd be gesso. If I was a poem, I'd be blank verse. If I was a...