Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Eh...make that an hour.
I just got a blister opening a bottle of champagne. It's official--I'm out of shape.

OK, no booze for a month.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Four hours sleep last night, most likely due to paranoia over missing my cab ride this morning. I brought my alter-ego Dillinger to teach my morning classes, where he spent the better part of three hours glowering at the kids writing in-class responses, softly stroking his pencil-thin mustache.

"What are we learning from this?" one of my scholars spoke up.

"How to stay on my good side," Dillinger responded, helping himself to the erstwhile student's water bottle. "And a guarantee to live until graduation."

"Are you going to grade these papers?"

"What do you think?" he snapped back.

Afternoon classes weren't much better, so I cadged a ride to the mechanics. Paul Towers, local math teacher extraordinaire, favored my ears with a litany against his ex-wife the entire twelve miles to the station. Dillinger didn't bother to feign polite interest, moodily staring out the window and affecting a distasted air.

"I tell you, being married for ten years, you forget what it's like to be single," he was telling me. "I only got two girlfriends, though. Guess I'm slowing down."

The arrogant little prick. If he only knew. My social calendar is bursting apart at the seams. If I can get the Spice Channel free again tonight, I might stay up past eight-thirty.

The good news: the car is running again. Like new, if you ignore the wear and tear on everything but the glove compartment.

The even-better-than-good-news: the whole deal only cost me $50. A walk in the park. Dillinger celebrated by drinking a bottle of wine he found where I usually keep the drain cleaner. Hopefully I have not mixed the two inadvertently; right now I'm sacked out on a sofa that for some reason won't stop spinning around, watching a West Wing rerun that, for some reason, doesn't have any picture. Either that or I'm losing oxygen to the brain.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

This one you won't believe.

Yes, the suburbs are fraught with peril.

Twenty-four hours, more or less, without my car. This time it's the exhaust. Simple, inexpensive problem to fix, but it's Sunday and nobody's around to order the necessary parts from, or so my mechanic, he of the insipid smile and guilty conscience after screwing up my car a month ago, tells me. I press the keys in his hands, mumble that I'll get it tomorrow when it's (better fucking be) fixed, and accept his offer for a ride home.

Geeking on the web didn't cheer me up. Watching the second-to-last episode of West Wing didn't cheer me up. The knowledge that my sophomore papers were finished helped a little, but not when I remembered the stack of senior papers I'd have to get through this week. Plus, without a car in the suburbs, you're more or less neutered.

So I took a walk.

My walks used to be infamous. Always alone. Always late at night. Always with no money in the pocket (in high school, this was so I wouldn't buy another acne-inducing candy bar; in college, it was so I wouldn't cave and buy cigarettes; nowadays, it's simply because I don't have any). And always talking aloud. I have a hunch I've saved myself thousands of dollars in analyst billing by arguing with myself about whatever was bugging me at a given moment.

I'm at my best when I'm proactive and honest, but it's a struggle getting there sometimes. You have to heel your mind, get it doing what you want it to do, like a well-trained dog. That takes some kind of zen activity. Buddhists can meditate. Spider-Man can web-swing; I have to settle for sidewalks along well-manicured lawns with white people playing frisbee with each other. At least when darkness falls, I can be assured nobody's lipreading some of my more disturbing embezzlement confessions.

So I took the boulevard east, turned north, made two more turns on streets named for presidents, and found myself hopelessly lost. Good, said my dangerous, rebellious, home-after-suppertime self, my John Dillinger type, if you will, a little lost is exactly what you need right now. Make you forget all the piddly shit wearing you down. "But I need to get to sleep on time so I don't oversleep and miss my cab for work tomorrow," I whined in response. Call in then, damn it, my dark self sneered, pointing at several windows nearby where, at the ripe hour of 8:35 p.m., people were gathered around dining room tables, playing cards, discussing mundane matters with an animation and vivacity President Bartlett's cabinet would envy. Worst case scenario, you'll actually feel tired tomorrow morning for a reason.

It's probably a mistake to go around in circles too late at night in my particular neighborhood. Cops do cruise around. They do notice you, especially when your voice rises and you start gesticulating. The fact that I am white, and that my pants had no (noticeable) holes in them helped, but only a little. Sooner or later, I got "pulled over."

"Where you going?" one of the town's finest asked, shining a light right in my face.

Dunno. Where's the nearest brothel?

"Back home," I said nonchalantly. "It's this way, right?"

Bad codicil. A guy who doesn't know the way back to his house is clearly suspicious. Cop #2 asked for my ID, and when I said I left it at home, he didn't seem surprised.

"How old are you?" #1 asked me.

What the hell does that have to do with anything? I muttered, pitching a cigarette in his general direction. "I'm thirty, officer," I piped up agreeably. "Why? Are you looking for someone? Did someone pull some heinous crime somewhere and I fit the description? Because I swear it wasn't me."

I've had experience, you know. I'm getting good at this sort of thing.

I couldn't tell if I or Dillinger should be doing the talking. We both seemed to be cocking it up quite admirably.

"No," #1 replied bemusedly. "But technically, you have to stay out of the park after dark." He pointed, and then I saw the black asphalt path leading past the volleyball courts and swing sets that make up our neighborhood park. Nix that notion. My hellraising has been cut short by the Pigs in Power.

I assured them that I would then go around, rather than cut through the lawn, where I could undoubtedly sell drugs to imaginary children. They both nodded, as if to say "Yeah, whatever" (I guess guys wearing Curious George t-shirts aren't seen as too much of a threat) and wandered off. I resumed walking, feeling harassed and oppressed by The Man, finally able to join legions of the Harassed and Oppressed.

Throw some dirt at them, Dillinger suggested.

I settled for petting a passing dog.