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I suddenly realize that there's a crumpled up credit card receipt on my desk. I uncrumple it.

7-Eleven

September 20, 2002, 1:17 am

5.346 galons of gas, at 1.49/gal, on pump 8.
1 Camel Lights Box at 3.99
2 KitKat Dark Chocolate Limited Edition at 0.69 each

I remember. Late night cigarette run.

Realizing that the gas station within walking distance was closed already, but walking up to the door and pulling it, just to be sure.

Getting on the car and realizing the tank was almost empty, hoping we'd make it to an open gas station before the car starved to death.

Laughing on the way there, commenting on past late-night cigarette runs that we had gone on before we met.

Putting some gas in the tank, getting the cigarettes, seeing the chocolate bar and picking it up without thinking. Commenting that the guy behind the counter looked like he could actually be a woman. A really ugly woman, but a woman nonetheless. You said I was nuts.

The KitKat bars looked like they had molten and re-hardened, maybe more than once, but they were tasty.

Going back to my apartment, falling asleep in each others arms, smiling. At least I was smiling, because I love you.

How the hell did this receipt wind up on my office desk?

Anyway, isn't it funny how the smallest things can trigger memories? And how things that seemed so insignificant at the moment can suddenly gather so much importance?

Instead of throwing it away, I put it in my pocket. I store way too much crap.

Zwicki

You were my best friend in the whole world.
You were comically large, yet so full of spunk.
Everything amazed you, like you were seeing it for the first time.
Your bright, gleaming, raccoon-like eyes revealed your personality to us all.
You cleaned your brother Beeman's face; he cleaned yours back.
Your sort of squeaked when you meowed.
You always let Beeman eat first.
You would sit beside me and purr as I went to bed.
You would still be there when I woke up.
You never tried to run outside.
You came running whenever you heard milk being taken out of the fridge.
You always kept one of my shoes warm, and left the other one cold.
You were the greatest.
I love you, Zwicki.

Your friend,
Dan.

<rant>

The sanitary habits (or lack thereof) of public men's room patrons has always been a pet peeve of mine. Why so many men have simply no aim whatsoever is completely beyond me. By the time you've reached adulthood, you theoretically understand that urine is supposed to go in the toilet bowl, not on the seat, the floor, the walls, or the toilet paper rolls. Yet time and again, I find public men's rooms to be the vilest places on earth, with puddles and sprinkles of unidentifiable bodily fluids pooling on every horizontal surface and dripping from most vertical ones. Are these guys like this at home? Are they just marking territory? Did bladder pressure just reach the point where their members flail about uncontrollably like an unmanned firehose?

While these conditions have held true in nearly every public restroom I've been in, I thought the men's room in a private office area would be better. Until today. No, today someone decided to make use of the urinal clearly marked "Out of Order." Granted, guys like something to aim at, but is the "Out of Order" sign in the bowl of a dry toilet really the best target? For the love of God, man, were the other three toilets in use and you just couldn't wait for one person to finish?

</rant>

Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest; I'm feeling much better now. Please return to your regularly scheduled nodes.

It's so fun to be excited after months of being depressed. I officially 'launched' my own small business yesterday, mass mailing, business cards, all that crap. I've got an appointment with the tax man, the insurance man...I'm really doing it. I'm going to be a personal chef.

Of course, I still have to have my day job, my dreary office hell, and I'm not fooling myself that this endeavor will make me a millionaire, but if there's one thing I'm good at in this whole crazy mixed up world, it's cooking, and cooking for other people, and cooking for a crowd. Further, there aren't many things I toot my own horn about, but I'm proud of my cooking, as it was something I grew up learning from the day my mom gave me a little pie pan and pastry scraps.

I have a theatre benefit to cater on Saturday, and people have expressed a great interest in having me make dinners and breakfasts for them, particularly the actor types I hang out with, who eat at McDonald's every night and for just a few bucks more could have some nice fresh lasagna, a green salad and garlic bread.

Besides, my gynecologist said that the minute I throw myself into other things, and focus my mind on other things, will no doubt be the moment I find out I'm pregnant, so off I go...to seek my happiness at the ripe old age of thirty. Good golly, wish me luck.

I was in the cab for about three minutes, heading up First Ave and trying to suck in enough New York with my eyes to last all weekend, when I remembered that cabs make me nauseous. When you're driving, you don't think about your body; the vehicle is an extent of your brain. But thrown in a back corner I can barely see out the front, and sudden lurches and zooms fret me unwittingly. At stoplights I power down the window and just breathe, in, out. It barely helps. It was a bad ride.

We emerge from the long tunnel into North Brooklyn. The sky has been covered with gray all day. I'm looking at Orthbanc from the south for a change (it looks the same) and hey, there's the red crane right by my house! I twist around and say goodbye to the Empire and the Chrysler. They'll never know how much I love them, now that they're all we've got. The driver asks me to fork over $3.50 for the toll. It was a long ride.

All of the airport formalities I'm dreading turn out to be a breeze. In no time, I'm sitting at my gate with two hours to murder. Outside, gray is now blue, and the rain is finally falling, heavier every minute. Through the window spatter, the landing lamps spray scattershot stars, little pinprick lights on the glass. My own miniature sky, the way it ought to appear. I wonder if the weather will impede the takeoff. It does not.

When I ordered the tickets online, I selected a starboard window, so I'd be looking north, simulating right to left as I journeyed east to west. I'm very anal and things like that comfort me. As we're speeding up the runway (this acceleration is relaxing; I've never been airsick), I silently say a few words to the planet, which I guess you could call a prayer if you wanted to. Goodbye earth. I love you very much and I don't want to be leaving you. Please don't hurt me when I come back.

Two feet from the face of every jetBlue passenger is a television screen, with a never-explained card swipe slot beside it. (I thought you could watch movies, that must have been another airline.) I used to work in television commercials and now I only watch a handful of specific programs. I never just flip because it makes me too angry. But I can't resist this toy. I settle on a rehash of the unpleasant news I'd been avoiding about the Senate bowing to Bush's war demands. "Hardball" on MSN, but this is more like getting beaned. The raspy host repeatedly interrupts his guests with bellowing, bullying them into technically agreeing with shortsighted sound bites.

He argues that since the Democrats side with the Republicans on "war" and "the economy", and since they can't vote uniformly on an issue, what is it that they stand for, and what right do they have to exist at all? Despite the galling call for unquestioning conformity, the most infuriating bit is he's right; the Democrats have been to the right of an educated centrist platform for years. You're not going to find mainstream leftists who say things like "Well, we stand for social justice, and environmental protection, and collaring corporate criminals" on a network run by Microsoft.

The book my grandmother gave me for Christmas (yes, nine months ago) isn't much better. Every character is a selfish stupid ass. It's set in the army in 50's peacetime: racist, homophobic and misogynistic as all fuck. Which I have no doubt that time and place was, but the author could try to convey some distance. I'm glad I brought some Harry Potter too -- I have to refresh myself for the upcoming movie, don't I? My water bottle leaked a little in my messenger bag, and the cover damage smells enchantingly sweet. The previous time I read this book I was also on a plane, headed down to Big Cypress.

That was one of the best weekends of my life, easily. But I really haven't got the slightest idea what to expect from this trip, expect smiles. This chunk of future's a blank slate before me, but not like white paper, like a blackboard. A little scary, and heavy.

I haven't been out west since I was 5, and that was moving away from Southern California in my Dad's long green Oldsmobile. Six years of living in New York City have made claustrophobia calming. These cities at the other end seem like bad ideas to me, if they exist at all; out where the land likes to rise up and kill people arbitrarily yet they can't even muster up a good blizzard. I'm not going to recognize their air, or their mountains. I hope I love it. I want to.

Sometimes, you just have to throw yourself at the people you love. Are yours kind enough to catch you? Mine are. Outside above and below are one big purple murk, dotted with vague yellow. This shitty funk I'm in is being erased like an imaginary state line.

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