Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Coming Home

I'm sitting in a Midwestern airport right now, quietly drinking and laughing softly. This is the end to the strangest trip of my life, and it's the only way it could end (with laughter).

The girlfriend and I broke up, and it feels like it's for the best right now. Ah, to be single again (reckless and contemplative), wondering what the autumn season will bring besides a few new colors. And to be in California again for a fall season that will probably never make sense, only to transition into a winter that makes even less sense.

I can't stop looking around and seeing all of the music artwork and thinking this entire place smells like BBQ. And it just seems like I've been living in a Salvador Dali painting for too long and now I've got my five senses back like a good poker hand.

This is me laughing alone in an airport restaurant, having a really, really good time. This is me chuckling as the end credits roll to the movie, with the audience wondering what happened to that character who was coming home.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Body Aches With Age (And Alcohol)

The best way to remember that you are no longer a teenager is to drink like one.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Taco Bell

1:30 p.m.
Jake sits in a coffee shop that he thinks smells like Taco Bell.

2:30 p.m.
Jake boards a bus to head back to his girlfriend's apartment.

2:40 p.m.
Jake decides that if he sees a Taco Bell in the distance, he's bailing on the bus.

2:55 p.m.
After a stop, Jake sees a Taco Bell, passes by it, and then exits the bus two stops later because he couldn't make up his mind.

3:00 p.m.
Jake finally reaches the Taco Bell and spends $7, restraining himself from spending $20.

3:15 p.m.
Jake exits the Taco Bell only to see the bus he needs drive by. Jake chases the bus, but totally fails, as he also has his laptop bag. Jake looks like loser fat kid chasing after bus with a big black bag and a bag almost the same size filled with Taco Bell.

3:25 p.m
Jake makes it to the closer bus stop, contemplating life and its temptations.

3:30 p.m.
Jake decides to eat some nachos at bus stop, but realizes that he didn't grab any hot sauce.

3:40 p.m.
Jake reaches the Taco Bell again and grabs hot sauce.

3:50 p.m.
Jake reaches the bus stop again, but two teenagers have taken over the bench. He stands and sweats like a vulture in the heat.

4:00 p.m.
Jake boards another bus.

4:05 p.m.
Bus is boarded by an pack of kids. Bus gets really loud and crowded.

4:15 p.m.
Jake sees that his stop is coming up, pulls the cord. Bus driver is too busy talking and laughing that she misses Jake's stop. Jake stands up. Bus driver notices him and lets him off at some random intersection.

4:30 p.m.
Jake finally reaches his girlfriend's apartment.

5:00 p.m.
Jake finishes the last of his Taco Bell.

6:00 p.m.
Jake's stomach hurts. Jake fucking hates Taco Bell. It's always like this, Jake thinks.

10:00 p.m.
Jake wishes Taco Bell delivered.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Think My Friend May Be Invovled In A Pyramid Scheme

I think my friend may be involved in a pyramid scheme and I'm having a moral crisis.

Do I warn or exploit them?

Life never has easy answers.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Life Goal Book List

Today, I spent my evening coming up with a gnarly-long list of novels I'd like to read in the next few years. I've read five novels in the last three weeks, so maybe I can actually do this.

Also, I'm adding a special section called the Life Goal Book List, which are long or dense (or both) books of older wit that I want to read in the next century or before I die (yes, I plan on living past the unreal age of 124, seeing as how my last plan of being dead by this age didn't exactly pan out).

Anyway, here is the Life Goal Book List so far:
Cervantes - Don Quixote (1615)
James Joyce - Ulysses (1922)
Herman Melville - Moby Dick (1851)
Margaret Mitchell - Gone With The Wind (1936)
Thomas Pynchon - V. (1963)
Thomas Pynchon - Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)
Thomas Pynchon - Against The Day (2006)
Ayn Rand - The Fountainhead (1943)
Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged (1957)
John Steinback - East Of Eden (1952)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Candy, Bubble Bath & Stan Getz's Saxophone: The Story Of A Short Trip To The Grocery Store

I walked to the grocery store tonight, where I believe I looked like a total crazy person, as I tried to find good bubble bath for, like, 20 fucking minutes. I'd pace the aisle and then wander around the store, looking for other things, pick up nothing and then return to the shampoos and conditioners. But all I could find was Mr. goddamn Bubble.

And I could tell people who were looking at milk and condoms near the shampoo and conditioner aisle were wondering just what the hell I was up to, as if I was discovering spiritual meaning in bath bottles.

Anyway, I just bought the damn Mr. Bubble along with some candy, all while I was wearing big headphones around my neck.

But at least, on the way home, I had Stan Getz's live saxophone to tell me, "Yo, fuck those people, Jake. Eat that candy, take a bubble bath if you want, and fuck some shit up, bro."

And I thought, "You know what? You're right, Stan Getz's saxophone. Your lulling summer brass tones speak to me when I doubt even civilization. Shit, I'm gonna build a time machine just to fuck you while Stan ain't looking."


Ok, ok, ok, I admit that last part did sound kind of crazy.

"New Ribbons"

"New Ribbons"
written in the dark while up late far away by jake kilroy.

New ribbons, new skylines,
new seasons, new tanlines,
knew everything before I had mind.

And even if the weather is crisp
and you're sleepy from an afternoon fix,
there waits a wild pulse
between a girl and her ghosts,
as her boy lets dreams drift
and drinks his sly kiss,
never whispering new words,
only moving to hear purrs,
naked and humming his lessons learned,
while showering after a midnight burn.

There remains an exhaustion that never lets you go to sleep.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Goodbye, Patrick Swayze

Patrick Swayze passed away yesterday from pancreatic cancer at the age of 57, after battling it strongly for some time. He had told Barbara Walters in an interview sometime ago that he jokingly admitted that he wanted the media to report that he was just “kicking it.”

And that’s the sort of nice-guy-shrug-off-bad-shit-just-digging-it guy that Patrick Swayze always seemed to be.

Now, it’s always a peculiar situation to incessantly root for someone you”ve never met, had contact with or even remotely know personally. With politicians, it’s different, as they come to be represent you and can affect your existence in society.

But, somehow, for some reason, there came to be a great appreciation for Patrick Swayze and his films’ characters (which were all assumed to be Swayze himself) in my old house. It would make more sense to explain that I lived with three other men in their early twenties and our house served as something along the lines of a city’s meeting all for lowlifes and laughers.

Roughly a year ago (weird), my brother (one of my former roommates) and his friend began talking about Swayze’s small town epic Road House. My brother had never seen it and the friend couldn’t figure it out, as if my brother was unqualified to be a man (imagine someone getting into a respectable university without taking the SATs). So he demanded that they watch it at our house.

Severeal other friends of my brother joined in, including another roommate. That night, I came home late and saw a handful of young men staring at the wall (we had a projector against the wall instead of an actual television) as if it were 1927 and they were watching a bootleg copy of The Jazz Singer. Their eyes were glazed in wonderment.

My brother was the only one who took his eyes off the screen. He looked over at me and said, “Have you seen this fucking movie, man? It’s unbelievable!” I shook my head. I had never seen Road House and I could notice my brother’s friend shaking his head in disbelief, as if our parents had raised us all on candy and racism and not vegetables and manners. It seemed like my brother and I were both spectacularly unqualified to be men. Later, I realized that it had also impaired my sister’s ability to be a woman who could appreciate good men. Our parents failed the three of us in some diluted form.

I retired to my bedroom and read, listening to them cheer and clap for whatever was happening on screen. It could’ve been the world series from the sound of it. But the next day, my brother and kept talking about Road House and the other roommate decided to start hosting something called Swayze Night every Thursday.

They decided to start off with a movie that everyone knew: Point Break.

“Ok, Point Break is rad. I’m in,” I said. Patrick Swayze always seemed like a cool guy and he had a filmography exciting enough to appreciate weekly. The two of them invited everyone from their work and there ended up being 15 or so people in our living room, sitting in every piece of furniture we had, dragged everywhere from the garage and the patio.

Watching Point Break, I realized that I had always appreciated Johnny Utah’s poorly written, decently delivered lines. But I never valued Bodhi’s shaggy but serious approach to surf and bank robberies. In the process of the movie, Bodhi became less Bodhi and more Patrick Swayze, and, by the end of the film (storm of the century), it was like we were cheering on Swayze to slay the turbulent ocean.

After Point Break, we began dressing up for the movies every Thursday.

We dressed in flannel for Black Dog (and were nervous for Swayze to help the FBI while trying to save his own life, wife, kid, friend and house).

We dressed in camouflage or as Communists for Red Dawn (and witnessed Swayze’s bravery and strength as a leader in the most impossible of fights).

We dressed as greasers for The Outsiders (and listened to Swayze’s tense but careful wisdom).

We dressed as dancers and camp counselors for Dirty Dancing (and couldn’t help but laugh alongside Swayze for not putting up with anyone’s shit).

We dressed as our own interpretation of ghosts for Ghost (and tried to help Swayze solve his own murder, even though Swayze never needs help).

We even dressed in drag, with men as women and women as men, for To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything… (and couldn’t wait for the more feminine Swayze to still wreck hell on those who abuse their loved ones).

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. We even rewatched Road House, just so we could dress up like bouncers and anticipate the glory that is every goddamn minute of that movie.

However, during these movies, we grew to adore the man who was poetry and justified violence in one awesome package. It’s not like he was ever looking to hurt anyone. But we came to agree that, sometimes, “any means necessary” certainly applied, and we cheered him on when we rocked the shit out of life.

And, furthermore, we all just collectively came to…just adore Swayze like he was our favorite uncle. And there grew to be a good number of us (sometimes 30 or so people all squished in our living room) all joking and yelling (at acceptable parts: explosions, sex, good one-liners, you know that stuff that dreams are, like, made of).

I remember when we rewatched Road House, we had to pause the movie so that we could high-five each other for a solid five minutes or so. I mean, the part is/was glorious. Swayze ripped out that goon’s throat (any fucking means necessary, ok?) and dragged him across the river, screaming the villain’s name (Wesley) in such anger, anguish and reasonable uncertainity. He didn’t feel good about it, and you could tell that it hurt him inside, but sometimes, as a hero or legend, there’s no time for a breather. And, even in those considerably outrageous moments, you were sure that Patrick Swayze had so immersed himself in his films that you and Swayze could probably have a conversation about the scene like it had really happened to poor ol’ Swayz (that’s not a typo, that’s his beautiful nickname).

Some film roles were laughable, sure, but they were played with such a good guy smile and shrug that it was hard to even notice the silliness of the film. Instead, you just wanted Swayze’s character (who, again, you mostly just assumed to actually be Patrick Swayze himself) to win. You just wanted him to beat the bad guys, get the girl and help the helpless.

And, everyone, I hope/think, deep down, feels this way, even if they were never at a Swayze Night (as others exist around in these United States). Somehow, and you don’t know when it started exactly, but you just found yourself there for Swayze, no matter the situation’s inanity or oddball “serious” threat.

You start taking the awful circumstances of Swayze’s characters’ life and begin interjecting with realistic problems and handing the movie symbolism it probably never intended. Swayze’s movies begin to represent more than action and comedy, but politics, religion, sexuality, et cetera. And Swayze all brings it about by a tender sincerity.

I mean, in Black Dog, his house was going to be repossessed and he had just gotten out of jail for vehicular manslaughter (because he fell asleep at the wheel, after working too hard and growing tired). But then he agrees to drive a truck again after losing his commercial driver’s license, though he’s wrekced with guilt for the accidental death he was responsible for, and it’s just a load of bathroom fixtures anyway, and he’s just trying to be a solid guy and get through life, you know? Fuck. But then it turns out that the truck is filled with illegal guns. And it was just like, “Fuck, man, why can’t everyone just leave Swayze the fuck alone? He just wants to do this drive to keep a roof over the heads of his wife and kid! Jesus. Just let him live.”

And this sort of whole-hearted cheering for Swayze is what led to Swayze Nights in the first place. Well, actually, it was Road House. And even while watching that movie, it’s just like, “Jesus, the guy just wants everything to be resolved with peace! Why is everyone being such a dick to Swayze? Fuck, I mean, he has a philosophy degree from NYU! He’s just trying to set an example and everyone’s being such a fucking asshole to him.”

Or in The Outsiders, it was “Ok, yeah, he shouldn’t have hit Ponyboy, sure, but Ponyboy’s doesn’t understand what Swayze is in charge of. He has to look out for his younger brothers and gang members. He’s probably old enough to get out of it, but he just wants to help everyone and keep anyone from getting killed. And, damn, he fucking cried when he realized that Ponyboy was alive. Jesus, he has so much on his plate. Fuck, just cut him some slack.”

And so on, and so on, and so on. Yeah, sure, this could be considered goofy or silly, but it seems to feel the most comfortable way to talk about Patrick Swayze, like an underappreciated hero that has endured the most inane and wild situations this world or another world has to offer.

With that giddy but mock-overserious-tone constantly pushing you to believe more, Patrick Swayze’s films became more about Patrick Swayze than the actual films. We would refer to the movies almost like documentaries or remembering when an old friend of ours did something awesome. He was just…something to anticipate and look forward to, and something to find truth in. I mean, even when he was acting, he was still…Swayze. And I don’t account that for his acting, or inability to escape himself into a role. I just think that, any role written for Swayze, ultimately becomes Swayze, as that’s what everyone wants. It’s not that Swayze can’t escape himself. It’s just…well, why the fuck would he? Every fictional character becomes Swayze because Swayze is better than any fictional character. It’s not like he tries and doesn’t succeed. No, Swayze always succeeds at being Swayze.

God, this is hard to explain. Look, the thing is…Swayze is the ultimate character and he always has his inescapable qualities, and that’s what a good character is. Swayze in real life is the best fictional character, drawn up by a collection of gods to tell story after story, blurring the lines of reality and non-reality. And, somewhere in between these magnificent lines, Patrick Swayze became the single greatest Patrick Swayze that Patrick Swayze could be as Patrick Swayze.

In his quiet humility, or his generous heroism, Patrick Swayze saved us regularly from the non-Swayzes of this world, bravely anticipating the coming doom that is known and made available to the real world and the fictional worlds created in order for Patrick Swayze to explain the positive messages he had always held dear by way of hypothetical situations. He came here a boy, became the manliest of men, turned into an actor, and, somehow, evolved into a beloved legend of dreamlike proportions and has now left as something that can’t be put into words.

R.I.P. Patrick Swayze

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yeah right, voodoo!

Ok, I finished the book. Fuck voodoo. That shit kills everything.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Ok, I'm a total sucker for mystery thrillers from Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. I'm reading their newest book Cemetary Dance, which features one of my all-time favorite characters, Aloysius X. L. Pendergast. Their books are usually based around some weird history or mythology, and this one's about southern voodoo.

And, seriously, I think I might start looking into voodoo, just out of general curiosity. But that's how it always starts, isn't it?

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Random Night In Austin

Last night, Sam had soccer practice, so she dropped me off in "SOCO" (I feel like every big city has a SOCO somewhere). On the first Thursday of every month, there's a carnival...thing on South Congress. I can't quite describe it. But she dropped me off and there were plenty of people, so whatever it was, it was happening.

- I thought that I would start the evening off with a drink. But, very soon, I realized that I had left my wallet in my shorts. I had decided to wear rolled up long sleeves and jeans for the first time in a week, and it seemed that I am quite forgetful when I am slightly more formal. And I only had a couple bucks in the pockets of my jeans. I sighed aloud and mumbled rather slowly, “Goddamnit.” This evening was off to a very off-start.

- Slightly defeated but still quite curious, I walked (with my laptop bag) by some food stands that were run out of airstreams. And one of them, I think, was selling goats as pets (or food for Tyrannosaurus Rexes). It was like a little gypsy camp. There were tiny lights and paper lanterns. Some had Christmas lights around the tent in front of the airstreams. And there are just people everywhere as the sun is setting soon.

- Giving up on the gypsy camp, I watched a band of older men playing classics from the Sixties in an open dirt bar. No roof. Just tables and a cement patio for a stage. It looked like a small ranch. The older men playing music were surrounded and cheered on my drunk college students. It was an interesting mix, almost something that makes you stoked on age-gap interaction. There were colorful paper lanterns and lots of southwestern plants. I was going to sit in there, but then I thought, “And do what? Talk to who? And buy beer with what money?” So, after having this intense argument with myself, I just stood there on the sidewalk and listened.

- Then I meandered through a boutique. Lots of gimmicky things. Lots of wonderful art. You know the mixture, where you can’t tell which category is for which booth. Necklaces with real bugs. Art made from aluminum cans. Stamped t-shirts. Earrings made from guitar picks. Et cetera.

- Upon leaving the small boutique, I heard a kid say, “Mom, the zombies are coming. They’re getting closer.” I smile, and then think, “Good Lord, this kid’s fucked up.” I think that until actual zombies (or locals dressed up as zombies and yelling at other locals) and the army of the undead walk by the boutique. Wanting to avoid any of the harassment I’ve witnessed at Knott’s Scary Farm, I turn back to the boutique and ask a series of inane questions regarding the guitar pick earrings. “Really? No kidding. Picks have never been used. Huh,” I say as if I’m going to buy the Mick Jagger guitar pick earrings. The zombies past and I move on.

- Looking for a coffee shop where I can work on fiction, I realized that every place will be jam-packed. And I haven’t enough money to eat at any of the restaurants. So I keep walking, seeming like the only person walking the way I am, as everyone walks towards me. The sun is setting and the shops and booths are lighting up. It suddenly looks like small town Texas. I instantly have the urge to be Jeff Bridges in The Last Picture Show. This awkward notion of time travel and fiction as reality lasts the rest of the night, and I feel myself revisiting the mysticism I felt the day before. It’s so strange, I can’t explain it. It actually makes me slightly suspicious of everything and everyone. I become delightfully paranoid.

- There’s an old soda fountain shop that I duck into. I wander through several times, deciding what I can afford. There’s candy I’ve never seen before and gourmet chocolate in the window. I am now upset myself for forgetting my wallet. Sometimes, even though I have the capability to be the loudest person in a room, I can appear to be the shiest guy to strangers. I (very) quietly ask if I can have some popcorn, as if I’m some small-town preacher’s son who has left home and is sinning for the first time. I buy some sour candy too and ask for a water (all in the lowest audible tone I have in me). This girl (who is younger than I am), with her country twang hidden in her voice, talks to me like she thinks I’m afraid of the city. I take my candy and just stand there waiting for my popcorn, watching the girl who waited on me talk to another female employee about local boys. Finally, she points to me and says, “And then…he wanted something. I forget. I’m sorry, honey, what’d you want?” Very quietly, I responded, “That’s ok. Popcorn.” Then the girl calls herself a bunch of funny names while laughing, as the guy there gives me a water and tells me to enjoy my “time.”

- Now, walking around, it is night. The weather is still warm, but the stars are out. This all seems like something out of a movie from the ‘50s. There’s no yelling, just plenty of people with plenty of reasonable conversations. A man plays violin on the street. I cross the street to the other side where there are some old brick buildings and a larger gypsy-looking camp, as I start walking back towards the city. The gypsy-looking camp, of course, is not a real camp of gypsies. It’s just a few airstreams and booths again, serving everything from burritos to snow cones. I sit on the curb of the gypsy camp and eat my popcorn and drink my water (keeping my candy for later), as everyone passes me within inches. I people-watch and hear fragments of conversation.

- Quietly sitting, eating and thinking, I am finally addressed by a well-dressed man who hands me a small, thin pamphlet.

“You looking for salvation?” he asks. I’ve been approached by plenty of religious advocates but this seems the strangest. I was already in a weird mood and observing everything in some emaciated cinematic quality.

“Nope,” I tell him, which is true (I’m not).

“You know where you’re going when you die?”

“I have a general idea.”

“Is that something that interests you?”

To which, I shrug, still eating my popcorn. I probably look like a simpleton. I’m only eating a small bag of popcorn and drinking water, while everyone around me (smart enough to come with wallets and purses) is stuffing their faces with beer and burritos. The well-dressed man hands me a pamphlet.

“You going to read that?” he asks, pointing to what he just gave me. I want to be honest, so I skim the thing and ultimately space out, forgetting he’s there. Finally, I make a decision.

“You’re better off giving this to somebody else,” I say, still looking up at him.

“But I want to give it to you. I want you to read it,” he tells me.

“You sure?” I say, with this weird suspicion, as if he’s giving me something personal, like it’s the only copy he’s ever had to pass out and he chose me. Of course he has a whole handful in his pocket (probably next to his wallet.

“Yeah,” he says definitely. “I’m sure.”

And then he walks away. The whole thing seems weird. He’s the first person to acknowledge me after sitting there for fifteen minutes (of course, he’s the only one who has motivation, but it was still odd).

- Then, the next person who walks by me, actually says something to me. It’s as if having this pamphlet for salvation lets everyone know that I’m a decent person, not a preacher’s son looking to stray. It’s an older woman with a dog who asks, “Is that kettle corn?” I shake my head, “No. It’s just regular corn.” She laughs and walks away. I suddenly feel uncomfortable with my spot, so I leave, listening to the religious singers clash with the percussion gang (both are on the move, winding through the crowds on either side of the street).

- Walking along the street, I hear the zombies once again (one of them now has a chainsaw). They're now all on the roof of a bar hyping up Halloween hijinks in October or something. People from the sidewalk are yelling at the zombies on the roof and the zombies are screaming back. It's all playful, but it's still bizarre. I just keep walking between the two factions.

- I watch some capoeira dance-fighters. It’s beautiful and threatening. There are numerous musicians and other dance-fighters cheering them on along with the random bystanders of the street carnival. It’s such a majestic display, but it’s in front of a sewing machine repair store, so it’s tainted with the mundane. I stand there like an idiot with my laptop bag, popcorn, water and salvation pamphlet.

- Finally, I decide that it’s time to get some work done. I walk towards the bridge for the other side (where there are much less crowded coffee shops). But the capitol is at the end of the street in the distance. It’s warm and I just want to get there to sit down. It’s total night now and the percussion gang is behind me. There is no one between me and the moving drummers. It felt like I was marching to burn the capitol and this was an army behind me.

- They stay with the carnival and I keep going. It’s quite a walk. I am handed two or three more pamphlets of salvation. Far away from the carnival, and now the only person walking in this direction, people periodically approach and pass me. A man stops me and I automatically assume he wants to save me as well. “Excuse me,” the mans asks in a Eastern European accent, “do you know of any shops that are open late?” I’m relieved. “Actually, I’m just visiting,” I tell him. At this point, I feel like he could give me a cryptic response, like, “Aren’t we all?” and that would’ve made just as much as sense to me as anything else. Instead, he just nods, smiles and moves on.

- I make it across the bridge where the bats come out at night and watch the peaceful lake move like a quiet river. I cannot see the moon behind the clouds and a man on a bicycle wearing a peculiar lit-up jacket passes by me. Once across the bridge, the carnival far behind me, there is a massive gust of wind. It’s so powerful that signs are knocked over. It’s intensely random. I look up and see that the moon is bright yellow and the clouds have parted. This city is a place of dark magic, I swear. I finally make it to the coffee shop (called The Hideout) and just sit down to read and write.

I don’t know what's happening in this city, but I'm having chaotic episodes of mysticism. I can’t describe it and it sounds either marvelous or stupid, but there’s something here, something weird and wild.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Random Day In Austin

Years ago, I once wrote...

If I could sustain a single uninterrupted precious thought, my mind would be one kid in a straw hat and jean shorts, swinging ina backyard hammock on a beautiful day, playing a ukulele, drinking lemonade and singing old folk songs, without plans for the afternoon.

And, today, I feel like I reached the closest I ever have to something like that, after Sam dropped me off in Downtown Austin.

- I went to an art museum featuring a Chuck Close exhibit (called "A Couple Ways Of Doing Something") and slowly wandered through there. I studied a book collection of Gregory Crewdson photographs called "Beneath The Roses" and read Bob Holman's witty but sometimes stupid poetry on the walls.

- Afer the museum, I moseyed through the downtown, with its southwestern architecture rivaling its random southern architecture. I wound up sitting in a coffee shop theater called The Hideout and worked on fiction.

- Filled with hot chocolate in the heat, I walked over to the busiest city bridge and, bored of the hot sidewalks, meandered down the stairs and steps to a short trail along the lake that the bridge passes over, listening to the noise of traffic disappear. I found a small dock among the lush green foilage on the lake (which looks like a river) and untied my shoes to put my feet in the water. After reading a few pages of James Joyce's A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man, I realized it was Sam's copy that she had purchased in Ireland and I had better not ruin it. So I got directions from the hotel behind me and walked a good number of blocks in the heat to buy a copy of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man And The Sea.

- The book store I ended up at was called Book People and it was amazing. It's the largest independent bookstore in Texas and it's decorated so radically. I asked for an application without even thinking. I was just so stoked. They didn't have The Old Man And The Sea, but I wanted something short and suitable for lounging around in the outdoors, thinking. So I purchased Milan Kundera's Identity. I finished his most famous novel, The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, earlier this week and absolutely adored it. Also, Identity seems to fit some themes of this trip anyway. I also bought the seventh volume of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, because, well, it's just unbelievable, really.

- On my way back to the dock, I stopped at a southern-looking eatery called Opal Divine. I made my way up to the outdoor podium where a waiter in his late 50s was hanging out, just spacing out to his left. Imagine Sam Elliott as a hippie. All of his hair was gray and he had a bushy handlebar mustache and goatee as well as a lengthy ponytail.

“Hi, how are you?” I asked very politely and possibly too cheerfully.

“I don’t know,” he said, not even looking at me.

“Yeah, it’s hot out today, could fry your brain.”

“I hadn’t noticed. But it’s not that I’m not sure how I feel, it’s just that I’ve lost the ability to tell.”

“That’s a drag.”

“Yeah. So, what can I do you for?”

“I was wondering if there’s seating inside.”

“I don’t know.”


“Ok, tell you what, I’ll give you a seat inside for five dollars.”

“I only have a card,” I tell him in mock regret.

“Two dollars.”

“I only have a card.”

“Eighty cents.”

“I only have a card.”

“Well, you seem like a nice enough guy. I’ll just give it to you for free. Sit anywhere you want and I’ll find you.”

I sit in a corner booth. There’s a happy hour, so I order two dishes (Irish nachos and fried dill pickles), and I tell him that I’ll take whatever local drafts he suggests. Periodically, through the meal, he makes jokes and just weird observations, almost with a sage-like humor, at one point explaining how restaurant technology is screwing up his people skills. He asks how I’m doing from across the restaurant, over people’s conversations, yelling, “How’s that beer, buddy boy?” He was relentlessly entertaining, and I mean that with all seriousness. He may sound hokey, but he was just the most solid dude. If I hadn’t accidentally bumped into him, I’d think he was fictional. I read Identity throughout the meal and he said, “Oh, good, at least someone can read and drink simultaneously.” Fuck, I wanted this guy to build my house or marry my wife and I in the future. But then, all I could do was save my receipt (just to remember that Carl was real), give him a 40% tip and write on the comment card, “Carl has mastered the art of being a waiter, a trait and characteristic few waiters have. Somebody please promote the man to president.” And then I left.

- On my way back to the lake, I stopped into a pharmacy to buy some chocolate and licorice, along with some lemonade.

- I strolled back to the dock, untied my shoes and put my feet in the water, letting them dangle and float. I continued reading Kundera but was distracted by a nearby squirrel. The squirrel ran up to me and his eyes asked me if I had any food. So I fed him some licorice, which he grabbed and ran to the other side of the dock to eat alone. Then he came back and I gave him some more, and then he ran off. We did this two more times before I made a pile of licorice for him next to my shoes. When I tapped the dock to show him the pile, it seemed to scare him and he ran off for good. I tried feeding some to the birds, but birds are a bunch of assholes.

- I watched some turtles swim in front of me like a lazy show on a Sunday afternoon. Two of them seem like they’re playing hide-and-go-seek. I give the closest one some of my lemonade (sort of).

- There was a spider web under the dock. Two dragonflies got tangled up in it, so I used my bookmark to cut the sticky webs. I set the orange dragonfly on the dock and he flew away. The green one I almost lost to the water. It was very much like an action movie. I almost knocked my laptop bag into the lake as I cut all but one string of the web, so he dangled lower and lower, almost hitting the water, but then I got him to safety.

- There was a fire ant crawling on my leg. I tried to brush it off onto the dock, but it landed in the water. I tried to scoop it up, but I failed. I tried again, but I failed. And then I realized all of my failed attempts just made him float farther away. He was quickly out of reach. He withered in panic, and I sent him to that watery grave. I took my feet out of the water and just stared at the sky for a while, dealing with my guilt and grief.

- Finally, my candy and my lemonade gone, and the much of local wildlife disappearing, I continued to read. I was now just in my shorts, reading, letting the hours pass. My feet floated in the water and I watched the local rowing teams pass by me. I waved to a few.

- Sunset was approaching and I finally put my shirt on, as it wasn’t unbearable any longer. Others started to sit on the dock with me, waiting the bats to fly out from the bridge. I continued to read and lay with my head on my bag and feet in the water, with the turtles and now fish swimming around the rising tide. Soon, Sam joined me and we watched the bats fly out over the lake of Austin with everyone watching. It was like a plume of smoke twisting in the sky, perfectly moving and enticingly magical. It was something to watch, as simple and quiet as it was, like fireworks in silence. The sun was down and the sky was a color that you think can only exist at Disneyland. It was a very piercing and just...strange moment.

In fact, the entire day had this surreal daydream sort of prose to it, and I felt like I was spending a day the way I had wanted to long ago when I first wrote that note to myself. There were, of course, characteristics missing and replaced or changed, but the themes of solidarity and traquility were there in a sort of...enigmatic way.

Shrug. I don't know. In more basic terms, it was just fuckin' weird, man.