So Now Then

BBS | Contact

February, 2005:
Oct-Nov, 2004:
August, 2004:
July, 2004:
Winter, 2004:
November, 2003:
October, 2003:
September, 2003:
August, 2003:
10/6 11/5
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 24 25 26 27 29
7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
1/1 1/25 3/4 3/5 3/7 3/11 3/15
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
1 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
1 2 3 4 5 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
29 30 31

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Right then. Before I get on with the tiresome, intolerable business of backfilling like a mofo, a few comments:

1. I've received some complaints that the new color scheme looks horrendous. All I can tell you about this is that, on my laptop's smoking LCD screen, it looks quite smashing, and so until I see proof that it looks like sputum on a regular monitor, it's staying like this. But don't lose hope, because we'll be changing colors quite frequently around here.

2. I'm desperately tired right now, and only doing this now because this is the night before I head out of LA, and if I don't do this now, then it's basically pointless and I should just shut the site down immediately. Also, I need something to do while I stay up late ripping the rest of my CDs to MP3 so I can leave this big box of CDs behind.

3. I had something else I wanted to say here, but I can't remember, so hell with it. If I think of it while I'm doing these quick-- oh, right! That's what I wanted to say. Now that things are actually happening, and I'm not just sitting at a desk 10 (well, 8) (well, 6) hours a day looking to kill time, the tone and length of these little updates is, along with the horrendous color scheme, going to change. Just lay back and enjoy it, alright?

Now, let's get on with it.

I woke up crying and screaming hysterically. Actually, I didn't really (according to Saeid and Lisa, who would have heard me from the Big House), but I was having a very intense nightmare in which I had packed up all of my belongings into my car and headed out on my trip, stopping only at some shopping center to pick up some last minute items. The shopping center had one of those multi-level parking garages, and when I came back out of the mall (or whatever it was -- the details are a bit sketchy, as they tend to be in dreams you have after pigging out on lasagna and pie the previous evening), I couldn't find the car. Long, arduous searches of the entire parking garage proved fruitless, as well as carless. When faced with the reality that my car had been stolen, everything I owned and cared about was gone, and my big adventure was over before it started, leaving me with nothing, I simply lost it in a grandiose, embarassing display of emotion which I am not even remotely capable of in real life. Crying. Sobbing. Screaming. Hysterical. Psychotic. I woke myself up, and my first thought of the day was: "Shit, I hope I wasn't really doing that."

After than unsettling beginning, I got up and continued to tear through my big stack of CDs, converting them into the popular "MP3" format, which I'm sure I'll explain in the previous day's update, which I haven't done yet, because I'm doing this one out of order, which is probably not a good idea, but at this point I'm just happy I'm writing anything. As am you, I'm sure.

Then it was time to go pick up Adam and go to Chili John's for lunch. Chili John's is a chili joint in Burbank which we discovered a couple years ago, but never went to because it was always, always closed. In fact (no lie) their menu says, in small print at the bottom: "Famous for always being closed." Eventually, though, Adam managed to swing by there a few months ago when it just happened to actually be open, and tried their chili. Adam and I, being from back east, and being loyal patrons of the Hard Times Cafe chain of chili joints, are big into Texas chili, and had yet to find anything close to Hard Times in our time out here. So when Adam came to me after his first successful trip to John's, and said, simply, "Dude", I knew I'd have to make it out there.

But I never did. It either wasn't convenient, or I was busy feeding the cat, or I was wasting my time with the skankier elements of society, but I just never made it over there. But dammit, it was my last lunch with Adam before I took off, and I wasn't going to miss it this time. So off we went.

I took a seat at the quaint diner-style counter, and the gruff chili man behind the bar came over and asked me what I wanted. "Bowl of chili. Beef. Hot." "Whaddya want on that?" he queried. Negro, please. "Not a damn thing." I like my chili like I like my men. And within 10 seconds, bam, steaming bowl of hot, Texas chili con carne (the only true chili, in my opinion) right in front of me. I took a bite.

You know, I've always said (as of about 10 seconds from now, when I'm done writing this sentence) that the most memorable eating experiences are the ones where, just a second after you take the first bite, you involuntarily utter: "Damn." Well, I took one bite of this chili, and just a second later:

"Holy fucking shit."

This was, by a fairly wide margin, the greatest chili I'd ever tasted. In about 90 seconds, the bowl was empty and I was left sucking at the porcelain dish, trying to get every last chili molecule into my face. I instantly ordered a pound of frozen chili to go, so I could have more later on, and then share it with Saeid. I was pretty damn close to just cancelling this entire trip so I could eat more of this chili whenever I wanted. That's how good it was. Holy fucking shit.

After that orgasmic lunch, went back to Adam's place and talked with him for about a half hour about his continually deteriorating life. At one point he asked me, "Did I do something wrong? Was I stupid?" to which I immediately responded, "YES!" I've been telling him for years how he better switch tracks or he was going to end up jobless, with no money, debt up to his eyeballs, and a fiance who split on him to come be with me. And other than the fact that she hasn't yet shown up at my door, that's exactly what happened. That's understandable, though, since she no longer has my address. Nor do I, for that matter.

I assured him everything would be okay in the end, as long as he made sure to never, never, ever ask to borrow money from me, we said our teary goodbyes, and then I headed on my way, back to the grandparents.

Once there, I spent a few hours chatting with the grands, listening to Freda die in the back room, and waiting for it to be dinnertime so I could whip out the chili again. Which I eventually did, and scooped out a few chunks of the frozen beef into a pan. I was a bit concerned, as when it's frozen, it looks way different from the way I remember it looking at the restaurant. But as I warmed it back up, it morphed, all Clark Kent-to-Superman style, into the same rich, oily, dark meat mixture I remember from lunchtime. I put it in a dish, sat down, and took another bite.

Holy fucking shit.

So, that was good, but I needed to get back to Saeid's to continue ripping MP3s and writing these updates, so I did. When I arrived, Saeid and Lisa were about to sit down to dinner, so I joined them, just to keep them company while they ate. Of course, Saeid had made his famous Persian rice dish, tadeeg, which I felt I'd be rude if I didn't sample. Holy fucking shit. Lisa had also whipped up a lovely Indian dal, which I tried a bit of. Holy fucking shit. Then, we polished off the dinner (my second of the evening, if you're keeping track) with some cranberry apple pie and fresh espresso. Holy fucking shit.

I couldn't take any more at this point, so I came back to the outhouse, wrote this stuff, and spent the rest of the evening farting and belching.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Got up very late today, around 11 AM, which I wasn't expecting, because given the schedule of your average 83-year-old, it's unlikely you'd be allowed to sleep past around 6 AM before listening to two of them screaming at each other because they've both forgotten to put their hearing aids in. But everyone "took the day off" today, and so I was left undisturbed until that late hour.

The grands' place is not a particularly happy one lately, due to the fact that Freda (whose name I am now to understand is not spelled "Frieda", as I'd previously done so on this very website) is still alive, barely, and still living, barely, in the back bedroom of the house. She's not a woman, or even much of a human being at this point. She's just this... thing... which exists in the back room, loaded up on drugs that haven't been invented yet, and just mumbling to itself, moaning, crying, a sound effects reel of pain. A real-life Magnolia, right in front of my eyes.

As horrific a sight as this is, I couldn't help but take it as something of a cautionarily inspirational scene, given the journey I'm about to take. The message is:

Do it for all it's worth, because you'll get here soon enough.

There's nothing good waiting for you at the end of this rainbow, so enjoy all the colors while you're riding it. You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out, and that's what it's all about. So, self, keep that in mind. You listening?

After getting myself together, I went out to Target to pick up some "hiking supplies". These consisted primarily of: a backpack, and a flask. Then I went by Vons to pick up some more hiking supplies, in the form of bourbon to put into the flask. On my trip to Vons, I was listening to sports radio, where they were having a conversation with a football player who had recently suffered a concussion, and who was discussing all the ins and outs of the exciting world of concussions. I immediately began to feel sleepy and dopey.

Also while at Vons, I took a jar of coins I found while cleaning out my apartment, and went to the CoinStar machine ("Because 8.9% is a Small Price to Pay, You Lazy Fuck"), which resulted in $56 brand spanking new dollars in my pocket, which I then immediately spent on wine and cheese for Saeid and Lisa, who were both throwing a dinner party in my honor this evening, and who were also going to let me stay in their little "outhouse", a small shack separated from the main house, which they've put together quite spectacularly as a little miniature office/guest room, with a bed, a couple desks, and most importantly, a smoking internet connection!

Since the dinner was in my honor, I felt perfectly justified in inviting Adam over, an invitation he was more than happy to accept, what with having been recently jilted and left a miserable bachelor by his fiance. Adam showed up, and Tony, Saeid's upstairs neighbor showed up, and we all sat down to a delightful, if vegetarian, meal.

I have here in my "daynotes.txt" file a note that says I should talk about the three-ounce, $100 bottle of aceto tradizionale, the One True Balsamic Vinegar, which we finally opened at this occasion, but the chances are that anyone who would care about that was probably at the dinner when I popped the cork on that badboy and already had some. If you weren't there, though, but are still interested, let me just sum it up by saying: $100 is a lot for three ounces of vinegar. But get the checkbook out. Oh. My. Lord.

Then I started to worry more and more about whether or not I had a concussion, since I was really starting to feel fatigued and lightheaded. Then I noticed the three empty wine bottles on the table and noticed that there were only five people in the room, and decided that maybe it wasn't the concussion causing this particular problem. Again, though, "better safe than sorry" is my motto when it comes to concussions, so I excused myself from the festivities, went to the "outhouse", drank bourbon from my flask and started tearing through my CD collection which I'd brought over, converting them to MP3 on my laptop, and watching The Big Lebowski which is (still) a fantastic, hilarious movie.

Now, let's all let out a cheer: YAY! I am done backfilling! For now. THE END?

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Took one last load of stuff over to the grands, unloaded it, and came back. Packed up the rest of the stuff in preparation for skipping town, and then did a quick cleaning job of the apartment which was impressive in its slipshoddiness, while waiting for my landlord to come over.

While waiting, I went over to say goodbye to Sharon and my ex-cat next door, both of whom appeared to be happy with the other, which was nice to see. I have more to say about this, but this is now the fourth day I've written about in this session, and I am sick as fuck of writing this crap.

Landlord came over, I gave him the keys, he gave me a check for the deposit, and he split. I took one last walk around the block, just to say goodbye to 122 Strand, the Pacific ocean, the rows of homeless people out on the boardwalk, and this twisted little postcard of a view which I was privy to for the last year, a year which I'll never forget, no matter hard I may try. It was a dark, gray day, and for a moment, it felt like the whole scene had just given up on trying to impress me. It did its best, and it still couldn't hold me, so the sun stopped shining, the water stopped glistening, the palm trees stopped swaying in the warm bay breeze. Then I came back to my senses and stopped thinking in weak-ass poetry, went back and loaded up the bike onto the bike rack, and got on my way, heading to the grands, where I'd be put up for the night.

This was the first time I'd tried actually using the bike rack, and so the trip up the coast to Camarillo was a bit nervewracking, as I spent half the time trying to keep the car on the road, and the other half with my eyes on the rear-view mirror making sure the bike wasn't about to fly off and launch itself into the windshield of the car behind me. Impressively, there were no bike-related disasters during the trip. My confidence in the success of my upcoming adventure got a big boost.

Said confidence then took a major hit, shortly after arriving at Leisure Village at the grands' place, when I took the bike off, opened the trunk, unloaded a couple bags, and then closed the trunk back up. Because, you see, although I'd just taken the bike off the rack, and definitely saw the rack when I was opening the trunk, it failed to occur to me, as I slammed the trunk closed, that the rack was still there. I was reminded of this fact, though, when one of the hard plastic stabilizing bars of the rack came slamming down into the top of my head like a crab mallet, sending me reeling in exquisite pain, grabbing my head, stumbling around, and most importantly, looking around to make sure nobody saw me do that. My mood failed to improve when I took my hands off my head and noticed that they were covered in blood. My mood continued to fail to improve went I went inside, showed it to my grandparents, and they both yelped "Oh my god!!", at which point Grandma lunged for her handy bottle of hydrogen peroxide.

My mood also steadfastly refused to improve after they both started putting the idea into my head that I might have gotten a concussion. I wouldn't have even thought about it if they hadn't mentioned it, but at that point all I could think of was that episode of MASH where Hawkeye has to stay awake with his concussion or else he'd die. And of course, I'm getting helpful diagnostic questions like, "Do you feel sleepy and dopey?" After a few requisite Seven Dwarves jokes, I realized that, yes, I did feel sleepy and dopey, but I still wasn't terribly concerned, since I always feel like that.

Concussion or not, at that point I felt the smartest course of action was to take a Tylenol PM, have a few shots of tequila, and go to bed. Which I did. The good news about this was that I didn't die during the night. The other good news about this is I have only one more day to backfill on these updates before I can go to sleep.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Woke up, packed the car to the hilts (which are located above the new speakers), and took the load on over to the grandparents, who have been nice enough to offer their attic and back yard as a storage space for whatever random stuff I have left which I can't fit in the car when I leave.

Uncle Larry came over shortly after I got there, which was nice, because I hadn't seen Larry since there was that unpleasantness about him getting shock treatment, then getting drunk, going outside and firing a pistol randomly at apartment buildings and passing cars and then getting thrown in jail for three months. But I like Larry. You know, when he's not firing a gun at me. So, that was neat. Then we had lunch, then I left, after watching Larry try to teach my grandmother how to use a DVD player, which he was absolutely unable to do, even after winging her a few times with a .45. Some people just won't learn. (How to use a DVD player, I mean.)

Back home, then, to "clean the kitchen". Cleaning the kitchen consisted of me taking everything left in my pantry and my refrigerator, and throwing it directly into the trash, no matter how fresh anything was, or how much was left, or how many families of four it might have fed. I felt very guilty and immoral while doing this, which I figure is punishment enough for doing something so morally reprehensible.

It was looking like a pretty uneventful evening at that point, until April called. Her date had stood her up that evening, and so she was bored and wanted to come over. Well, you know, I'm kinda busy cleaning here, sweetheart, but you're more than welcome to come and help.

Well, she did. And, I think, the less said about this the better, except to say that:

She came over. We head over to Typhoon (which was very special for me, because since Typhoon is at the Santa Monica Airport, I knew it would be my last chance to see "my babies", all them beautiful little airplanes which at one time or another I'd guided through the blue southern California skies), grab a cocktail and some appetizers. Then we went back. Then she got on the computer and started surfing the net, while I lied next to her on the air mattress. Then, you know, things start getting a little familiar. Then, you know, everyone's getting worked up into a rich, bubbly lather. Then, you know, it's right about getting to the moment of truth.

Then, you know, she says, "Oh, you're leaving town! I can't have sex with you! It wouldn't be right!" And she gets up and leaves. You have got to be kidding me.

You have got to be kidding me.

I thought there was no way the evening could get worse, until I realized that while she was there lying on the air mattress, getting ready to destroy whatever little sense of hope for any success with the female gender I had left, she'd popped the mattress.

Sighing and cursing, I took the limp, deflated polyurethane sack, folded it over twice like an omelette in a futile attempt to get the busted bag to function as any sort of cushion against the hardwood floor, and slept restlessly, uncomfortably, and angrily the rest of the night.

That, right there, was my last night in 122 Strand.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Today I spent doing two of my very favorite things:

1. Eating free food.
2. Saying goodbye to the career I'd nurtured and tolerated for the past 15 years.

Went to work. Filled out a few timesheets, gathered my papers together, made everyone return my books to me. Then we went for one last visit to Isshin. There ain't much about LA I'm going to miss, but Nori, the main sushi chef over at Isshin, and his wares, well, I am going to miss those. And I'm going to miss getting it paid for by all my sushi buddies. The uni flowed freely, let me just say that. It was a glorious lunch.

Of course, after saying my goodbyes to the Isshin crew, I went home and surfed the net to find out about proper sushi etiquette, and discovered that nearly everything which my crew would do at that place everytime we went was deeply offensive to the Japanese and their sushi-eating culture. Nori probably hari-karied himself shortly after we left. Sorry, Normeister.

The rest of the workday was uneventful, and I blew out around 4:30 carrying my books and wishing everyone a great (or in some cases, endlessly painful) life, and left the software engineering business forever. (Or at least until I run out of money.)

Getting home was exciting, because I knew it was almost time for more free food, as Saeid and Lisa were going to take me to Santa Monica's finest Cali-Mex-Nouveau-Fusion restaurant, Border Grill. The food was excellent as usual, though it was exceedingly loud, what with the place being packed, and then the house band coming out to play what sure sounded to me like Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" played eighteen times in a row, in different styles. But, still, can't complain.

Then I went home and did nothing, because my apartment was empty, and there was nothing to do. But this time, there really was nothing to do! No work. No home. No nothing.


Guest Speaker

Just because I'm not posting updates, doesn't mean I'm not taking copious notes on my days' events, so I will later be able to backfill like a champ. A backfilling champ, to be precise. In the meantime, though, enjoy this Guest Speaker, which has become my own personal anthem as I get ever closer to leaving this town. This beautiful, amazing, horrible, terrible town. Mom's gonna fix it all soon.

Some say the end is near.
Some say we'll see armageddon soon.
I certainly hope we will.
I sure could use a vacation from this

Bullshit three ring circus sideshow of

Here in this hopeless fucking hole we call LA
The only way to fix it is to flush it all away.
Any fucking time. Any fucking day.
Learn to swim, I'll see you down in Arizona bay.

Fret for your figure and
Fret for your latte and
Fret for your hairpiece and
Fret for your lawsuit and
Fret for your prozac and
Fret for your pilot and
Fret for your contract and
Fret for your car.

It's a
Bullshit three ring circus sideshow of

Here in this hopeless fucking hole we call LA
The only way to fix it is to flush it all away.
Any fucking time. Any fucking day.
Learn to swim, I'll see you down in Arizona bay.

Some say a comet will fall from the sky.
Followed by meteor showers and tidal waves.
Followed by faultlines that cannot sit still.
Followed by millions of dumbfounded dipshits.

Some say the end is near.
Some say we'll see armageddon soon.
I certainly hope we will cuz
I sure could use a vacation from this

Silly shit, stupid shit...

One great big festering neon distraction,
I've a suggestion to keep you all occupied.

Learn to swim.

Mom's gonna fix it all soon.
Mom's comin' round to put it back the way it ought to be.

Learn to swim.

Fuck L Ron Hubbard and
Fuck all his clones.
Fuck all those gun-toting
Hip gangster wannabes.

Learn to swim.

Fuck retro anything.
Fuck your tattoos.
Fuck all you junkies and
Fuck your short memory.

Learn to swim.

Fuck smiley glad-hands
With hidden agendas.
Fuck these dysfunctional,
Insecure actresses.

Learn to swim.

Cuz I'm praying for rain
And I'm praying for tidal waves
I wanna see the ground give way.
I wanna watch it all go down.
Mom please flush it all away.
I wanna watch it go right in and down.
I wanna watch it go right in.
Watch you flush it all away.

Time to bring it down again.
Don't just call me pessimist.
Try and read between the lines.

I can't imagine why you wouldn't
Welcome any change, my friend.

I wanna see it all come down.
suck it down.
flush it down.

        -- Aenima (Tool)

Thursday, September 25

Hi, everyone! Did you know that today was Stupid Day? Because it was! Now come with me on our journey into the Land of Stupid, where various wonders await, except all the signposts leading us to most of those wonders were put in backwards or have long since been chewed away by the mythical, mystical Beavers of Inadequate Intelligence (not to be confused with the Beavers of Unquestionable Idiocy, who of course do not really exist)! That's just the way things are in the Land of Stupid!

First thing that happened was, I got up especially late today, even later than yesterday, and definitely later than the day before that. This was most definitely stupid, being as how I had a lot of tasks I needed to get to at work which I'd been procrastinating for the last, say, forever. Also, using the phrase "being as how" is itself very stupid, so that doesn't help matters! Once I finally did get to work, though, I settled right in and began dutifully not doing the work I needed to do, but instead updating this (stupid) website! I was definitely "getting my stupid on", as the kids say!

Then came lunch, where the plan was to meet my friend Adam out front and go grab a bite to eat and talk things over! This was stupid on his part because he has no money, and no job, and certainly should not be going out to restaurants in Westwood, paying these exhorbitant prices. This was also very stupid on my part, because I'd forgotten that it was his birthday the day before, and that when the check came, he would suggest that, since I was unable to attend the party the previous evening (and by extrapolation, unable to bring a gift), I pick up the check like the good buddy I am!

Once I met him, I got in his car, and directed us to an open parking space on the street, which just happened to land us basically on the entire other side of town from the restaurant we were going to go to (BJ's)! I can't figure out which is stupider, parking so far away, or going to goddamn BJ's two days in a row, in a city with, if not a glut of fabulous restaurants, at least a few things significantly more interesting than BJ's.

It looked like Stupid Day might get a bit of a breather, though, when Adam suggested that we instead go to Jerry's Famous Deli, which we passed on the way. I had never been there, and had heard some interesting, fairly positive reviews of the place, so I said, "Heck yes!" hoping to break the frightening string of absolute stupid which I had working just at that moment! Little did I know, though, that:

Jerry's Famous Deli is, without question, the very stupidest restaurant in all of creation! Oh my heavens! They could open a chain of fast-food restaurants called StupidBurger, or a fancy French place called La Rue Stupide, and neither could even hope to attain the ethereal level of stupidity which Jerry's Famous Deli does without even batting a finger! Or lifting an eyelash! Gracious, even this update has been infected by the Stupid Bug! Fart belch poo!

Check it! First, they hand you these menus, which are the most gigantic (and, hence, stupid) menus I have ever seen. Seriously, now, they were no less than three feet in length from top to bottom, preventing more than two people at a four-seat table from having theirs open at any one time, lest their menus interlock in a twisted wreckage of bent laminate plastic in the middle and necessitate the use of the Jaws of Life to extricate the frightened, trapped diners. Once the menus are successfully (and safely) opened, however, they reveal a selection of items which can probably most accurately be described as: "every possible thing there is to eat in the universe".

After undertaking the daunting task of picking an item from the seemingly endless list of food choices (all of which are, we are assured by the menu, "NY Style"), I began the very stupid activity of waiting an interminably long time for our waiter to show up, and thinking of extremely lame-ass jokes like: "Hey, with this kind of service, they should call me the 'waiter'! Heh heh! Hey, where are you going? Hold up!"

My man did eventually show back up, though, at which time I ordered the liverwurst sandwich. Hey! Would you, the average So now then... reader say that $11.95 is an awfully... stupid amount to pay for a liverwurst sandwich? Because I sure would! But that was the cheapest thing on the menu, so I was trapped.

The next interminable wait was for the food to show up, and was spent in the always-enjoyable fashion of listening to Adam complain that he still has no job and no money, and how difficult it is to just find time to go out and look for a job, what with being stuck home all night and day making sweet love to Filipina, the angel of my life, who continues to be too stupid to dump that fool and come to Papa! And then... And then the sandwich arrived.

If you're reading this now, chances are you've been reading my stuff for quite awhile, and so I know I don't have to tell you that in my time on this big crazy marble we call Earth, I have seen some stupid-ass sandwiches. You know this about me. But friends, I can state this without the slightest hint of hesitation: This was the absolute stupidest sandwich I have ever seen. Allow me to describe it for you, won't you?

This liverwurst sandwich consisted of two tiny slices of cold rye bread, in betwixt which were layered -- and this is going to sound stupid, but I promise you that this is the absolute, unfettered truth -- ten thousand slices of liverwurst. The sandwich was taller than the menu. You could go to the deli counter at your local grocery store, and they would run out of liverwurst before they were able to slice you off enough to be able to fill one half of this sandwich.

There was, as should be obvious by the above description, no way in hell to possibly eat it. So I sat there with a stupid little look on my face, just staring at this monstrosity, nibbling on the potato salad and cole slaw on the side, every once in a while making a lame, tenuous little move towards one half of the sandwich, poking at it, prodding it, hoping it would speak to me, give me some clue as to how to get any of it in my mouth.

It wasn't talking. So I just amused myself with the rest of the potato salad and cole slaw, and once our stupid waiter showed up, like, nine hours later, I asked for a box to put the sandwich in, so I could take it back to the kitchen at my office, throw it in the refrigerator, and never have to look at it, ever, ever again.

On the way back to the office, we were accosted by one of Westwood's famed troupe of homeless people, who, in an attempt to make herself seem even more pathetic and worthy of our charity, sidestepped the standard "asking for change", and went directly for the ol' heartstring pull of "asking for leftover food".

"But Ben, that's not stupid, that's just someone in desperate straits looking for a little help!" Well, normally, I'd be all over that. Except, on this particular day, the farmer's market was in town, approximately 20 feet behind this person, giving away free food all goddamn morning and afternoon! Desperate straits? Sounds a little more like stupid straits to me!

I stupidly forgot to record the more interesting parts of the rest of my workday, but fortunately, this didn't turn out to be a problem, because there weren't any. So I went home and prepared for my evening with Beau!

Now, since Beau has let it be known very clearly to me that he does not want his name on this website, and does not wish to have any elements of his personal life exposed to the three or four people who are stupid enough to waste their time reading this stuff, I have decided to change his name heretofore on this website to his new secret moniker: "Beaux". This way, we can go on talking about him without him having to be any the wiser! I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid!

Wait! Let's check the So now then... mailbag!

Dear Ben,

That last bit was really stupid!

Yes! Thank you! We're really rolling in it now, aren't we! "It" being "stupid", I mean!

Anyway, tonight was to be Beaux's "make-up" barbecue to me, after the disappointment of the previous weekend, when he'd ostensibly invited me over to his place for a barbecue, but the stupid sonofabitch did all the grilling and eating three full hours before he arranged for me to show up. This time, though, I was gonna get my freshly grilled, seasoned beef, goddammit. All I had to do (according to Beaux) was bring some beer.

I was going to stop by the ol' L&K Market just up the street from me which offers a fine selection of brews at a reasonable price, but fearing that the goods would get warm before I arrived at the party, I decided instead to head directly for Beaux's place, and just stop off at the liquor store across from his apartment to get the stuff. This, as you might have guessed, given today's theme, turned out to be a blatantly stupid tactical error, as this store charged an average of a million times more for everything than my friends at the L&K (none of whose names begin with either an L or a K, I should add. Stupid name, huh?)

But, the damage had been done, so now I just had to pick out the beverages that I'd show up with. Having been there only a few days before, I remembered that they seemed to enjoy their "MGD", so I was just going to pick up a twelver of the Genuine and call it a day. But hey, Beaux's a good friend, and tonight was kinda special, so I thought I'd go a little nuts and bring over something a little unique, a little personalized, something that just said, "Hi. I'm Ben. I'm your buddy. And MGD sucks." So I grabbed six bottles of Mike's Hard Cranberry Lemonade. Not very hardcore of me, I understand, but it is a delightful beverage. This, I was sure, was not a stupid decision.

That was until I showed up at Beaux's place and handed the sixer to him, which he then instantly dropped onto the kitchen floor, sending shattered glass and pink, sticky, sugary liquid everywhere. Unfortunately, his cats were not stupid enough to come over and start licking it all up, which would have been funny as all hell.

While I tended bar for a moment, Beaux and his friend Mark, who was also there for the home-cookin', went out back to fire up the grill. When I showed up a couple minutes later, they were talking in very hushed, concerned tones about something that I really want to tell you about, but which is even so sensitive that even I can't morally justify including it in this update. Which is pretty stupid of me, because it would be the best (as in, "most compelling", not as in "cheeriest") part of this whole stupid update. Of course, it was stupid of me to even bring this up, because now if Beaux sees this (which he will) he's going to be all pissed, and the rest of you are going to start emailing me, at, to find out what I'm leaving out.

After that sobering (not literally, thankfully) discussion, the beautiful slab of carne asada was done, and we chowed down. It was absolutely stupid. And that's the first and only time I meant that in the good way in this entire update. It was possibly the finest asada -- the finest spiced steak dish, in fact -- I may ever have eaten. Beaux, wherever you are, which I hope is not sitting at home reading this column and getting angrier and angrier, you are the man. With regards to carne asada, I mean. Not, you know, holding onto six-packs of malt beverages and having food ready for your guests at the original time you invite them over.

A few more hours were spent at Beaux's, drinking heavily and playing MP3's at a fairly stupid volume level for that time of night, but then it was time to pack up and head home, which I did.

I got back to 122 Strand at about 1:00 AM, at which point the correct move would have been to go to sleep, but of course I popped the Cheers DVD into the laptop and had a couple "nightcap" shots of tequila, which I ended up paying for the whole rest of the next day.

What am I, stupid?

Wednesday, September 24

Everything up until about 3 PM today was so inconsequential, so uninteresting, and so ultimately pedestrian that to even think about writing a humorous description of it is so outlandishly inappropriate that I will not even try. Go ahead, I dare you to find any of the next paragraph even remotely compelling:

I got up. Late. Then went to work. Late. Then had some coffee. Hot. Then worked on a website. Mine. Then went to my "goodbye lunch" with seven of my coworkers. BJ's. They all ordered their drinks. Waters. I then ordered mine. Beer. We talked and ate our various beef/chicken-oriented sandwiches. Tasty. Then it was time for someone to pay the check. Them. Then back to my desk. Exhausted. Then I looked at the clock. 2:30. Then I went to find Frank. Busy. Then I looked at my "to-do list" for the rest of the day. Nothing. Then I said, "Know what, the hell with this." Gone.

So, it was a relatively short work day, as it turned out, but this was just as well, because I needed to get home and get right to work on packing up my entire kitchen so that it would be ready when Michael, Darlene's ex-husband came with his truck later to pick it all up! After surfing for porn for about 20 minutes, I mean!

The process of removing dishes and glasses from cupboards, half-assedly wrapping them in newspaper, and sticking them haphazardly into moving bins is about as intolerably boring to read about as it is to do, so let me just hit the "high note" of the episode, which was when I noticed that all of the newspaper I was using to wrap stuff was coming out of the "adult entertainment" section of LA Weekly. Now, since LA Weekly generally consists of one article about a horrible local metal band of tortured, angsty drug addicts, and three hundred pages of porn ads, this is not as coincidental as it might seem. But anyone who ends up unpacking that stuff later is going to get the idea that I'm some sick, degenerate pervert who gets his jollies flipping through pages of escort service girls with stars covering their gooey, intimate areas, and clipping "one free lap dance" coupons out of strip club ads. Which is pretty much dead-on, so I guess it's all for the best.

Then Michael showed up, took the last of my furniture, and all the rest of the boxes and bins, and left me alone with the scant few items I have left, most of which can be seen in this picture.

I then celebrated the completion of my task to rid myself of all encumbering material possessions by breaking out the tequila and sitting there Instant Messaging people and watching the Star Wars Kid videos until I fell over into a heap on the floor.

Tonight, I will embark on the same routine, in celebration of keeping an update to less than fifteen pages, for once.

Tuesday, September 23

Up in Ferndale, where I'll be heading in about a week's time, there's a local watering hole that features Open Mic Night once a week. In the shower this morning, I starting trying to put together a little act. I think it would be good for me to get back onstage, get back into performing musically and creatively, and this would be an excellent opportunity. Anyway, here's what I've come up with so far:

[Walk out onstage, sit down at the keyboard, and address the audience.]

Good evening, folks. Before I get started I just wanted to say a few words to you, to let you know a little about me, and a little about why I'm up here, so I hope you'll indulge me just for a few seconds. See, music has been a large part of my life, since I was a young boy. And while I've always been very expressive *musically*, the craft of *songwriting* has always eluded me. I guess I've just never felt inspired enough to sit down, find the words in my heart, and put them to paper, and to music. Earlier this summer, though, I was living in Los Angeles, and I met a girl. A very special girl. And though we only had a few months together, those times were so emotional, so meaningful and special to me, that in them, I finally found my inspiration... found my *voice*. And suddenly, the words flowed, and I sat down and wrote this song to this very special girl. You're the first people I've ever played it for, and when you listen, I hope you're able to feel, through the words and the music, the way I feel. I hope that it's not just the piano and my voice that you hear, but my heart.


The song is called: "Die, You Fucking Skank From Hell."

[Begin to play and sing...]

"It's not the way that you looked into my eyes,
It's not the cellulite packed into your thighs,
It's more the way you were getting boned by seventeen other guys...
Die, you fucking skank from hell."


That's all I've got so far. I like the way it's coming along, though!

Now, with that out of the way, I can get to the important business of once again reiterating how much I am beginning to loathe this website, particularly since I was staring at my clock radio this morning at about 3:00 AM. Was this because of the intense pain I was experiencing sleeping on the hardwood floor? No. (The 2:00 AM wake-up was because of that.) Was it because there was a cat farting on my face? No. (1:35 and 4:10.) It was because I was sitting there trying to think of what I was going to write for today's goddamn update. I walk around all day in a daze, half-unconscious, and people ask me, "What's the problem? Is it a sleep disorder? Are you on drugs? Do you have a glandular abnormality?" No, no, it's not any of that. The fault lies squarely with you people, who have come to demand this crap from me day, after day, after day, after godforsaken day, to the point where I can't even sleep. You're going to kill me before I even get one mile down the road. Stop it. Just stop it.

Today was the last day I was to spend with my cat. My cat showed up last January, shortly (almost eerily shortly) after my dad croaked, while I was in the middle of whipping up a lovely chocolate mousse. He was thin as a rail, desperately meowing at my back door, so I took a little pity on him and threw him some leftover carnitas. Those he enjoyed, so I set up another bowl with some tuna in it, which he also devoured voraciously. I left the room for fifteen minutes, and when I came back, the tuna was all gone, as was the cat. Oh well, I thought, a nice little break in the routine, and it felt good to be able to help out a [cute] animal in need like that. I closed the back door.

On the way back to the bedroom, I just happened to peek in the living room, and from the dark, sitting on the back of the couch, I saw eyes. He hadn't left, you see, he'd simply repaired to the living room and availed himself of my plush, comfy furniture.

And he never left.

But this was the day I was to give him over to my next-door neighbor, as I made final preparations to depart ol' 122 Strand and get on my way. Lying there on the floor, now at about 3:30 AM, I decided it was time to write up his report card. Some people get all weepy and emotional when they are going to be separated from their pets. Me, I hand down judgements. So, without further ado, let's see how the ol' boy did! (Grades are "pass/fail" only.)

Generally Being an Enjoyable Pet: PASSED! From the first day, he comported himself with the cuteness and friendliness which one would expect, nay, demand from a stray cat whose life you saved. Though he was not particularly playful in the "ball of yarn" sense, he was always quick to seek you out, come on over, and sit on you, nuzzling his head all about your person.

Not Leaving Evidence of Bodily Functions Anywhere But Where Appropriate: PASSED! Never missed the pan once, and did the least amount of barfing of any cat I've ever known. They say it's not healthy if a cat doesn't barf enough, but that is probably because they aren't the ones who have to clean that stuff up. So, way to hold it in, boy!

Doing Anything Useful In The Field Of Hunting And Killing Insects: FAILED! I say this because, while I was lying there awake at 3:30 AM, I noticed that I was feeling a fairly significantly unpleasant burning, itching sensation down the length of my right arm. That's about the same time I started hearing this noise in the deep quiet of the night: "zzzzrzrzrzrrrznrnnnnnznnznzzzzzzzrnnnnnnznrnrnnnzzzzzz" Fucking mosquito. And here's this damn cat, just staring at it, buzzing around six inches away, watching it like it's a TV show, while huge, painful welts began to grow all over me.

The above bit was admittedly pretty lame, but that's the kind of material you tend to come up with when you're lying awake in the middle of the night fretting about your stupid idiotic website.

After this long night of various physical pains, creative vexation, and cat farts, it would seem to go without saying that things were moving a little slowly the rest of the day. Some of the details of the workday are a little vague at this point, but fortunately, none of them are important. Most of the day was spent sitting next to Frank, watching him try to do all the work I used to do, but no longer have the time to, because I've got these website updates to write.

EditPlus says that I'm on line 94 of this HTML file, and I absolutely refuse to let this get to 100, so I'll move things along here for the rest of this entry.

I got home, and began packing boxes and bins full of books, CD's, random computer equipment, and other assorted doohickeys which are going to be picked up Wednesday evening for storage, and which I know I'll never see, or want to see again, but which would look bad if people saw me chucking all this stuff into the dumpster. That done, I had a couple beers, and got the cat's stuff all ready to go; refreshed the pan, found the vet paperwork, packed up the remaining food, etc.

Then Sharon got home, came over, picked up the stuff, and then had me carry the cat over a few minutes later, after she'd set some food out in her own kitchen and, more importantly, closed all the windows so he wouldn't instantly skip out of the house and come back and sit on my couch. Sharon had the previous owners over to watch this go down, and so once I arrived, we all sat around on her couch, anxiously watching the cat's every movement, and fretting about his emotional motivation for every single move he made. "Oh, see," said Kathleen, "he's avoiding me because he thinks I'm going to take him back!" "Look!" shouted Guido, "he's trying to express his bitterness towards us for that time five years ago when we had that dog come into the house!" And again, I patiently attempted to explain that they were really giving him far too much credit, because he is just a moron, and the motivation for every move he was making was "WHERE IS FANCY FEAST!?!" And, as if only to prove my point, he finally found it, had a few bites, then hopped on Sharon's La-Z-Boy and fell asleep. Cats ain't that complicated, people.

Kathleen and Guido then went back home, leaving Sharon and I to discuss any last-minute cat-related things she might want to know, and also chat about my upcoming departure, and as the conversation winded its way around, an interesting thing happened: I ended up staying there for like two hours! During that time, we played backgammon, had a couple Gordon Biersch's, and just sorta hung out and had a good time. I said to her at one point, "Why the hell didn't we do this sooner?" Well, because I'm an anti-social, disorderly anxious shut-in who's afraid of his own shadow. Right there, I vowed to not make the same mistake again wherever I end up. This, I vow.

Dammit. Line 102. Man, I hate this website.

Monday, September 22

The alarm went off this morning at the absolutely laughable hour of 6:00 AM, which is just about two hours earlier than I generally prefer. Particularly when I knew I was going to wish I'd had those two extra hours of sleep later, given the fact that, as I might have mentioned, the floor is not the most restful place in the world to sleep, and I vaguely remember waking up approximately twenty-five times during the night to shift pillows around, bang my knee against the coffee table, and punch the cat in the face. However, even given this rather shaky start to the day, I was more than happy to get things started at this unusually early hour, because I'd scheduled to have breakfast with Darlene at 7:00, and I was very much looking forward to that.

For one thing, I rarely eat breakfast, even though I generally enjoy traditionally "breakfasty" foods like eggs, bacon, grease, and butter, so this presented a rare opportunity to get to enjoy such delicacies in their native environment. Also, I welcome any chance to spend time with Darlene.

I love Darlene! She is one of my favorite people in the whole world. Being the head of the recruiting office at eToys, she was the first friend I made when I got to California, and has always been willing to help me out with anything I needed, whether it was finding me a new apartment, teaching me how/where to buy plants for the new apartment (a process which landed her with the nickname "Plant Lady" amongst an inner circle of friends), or whatever. Also, she's just a very nice, very smart, funny individual who I always enjoy laughing and conversing with. Plus, she and I once polished off three bottles of champagne and a full bottle of Stolichnaya between the two of us one night, and then both later puked. That sort of experience forms a bond which transcends mere friendship, people.

In fact, it was during a conversation with Darlene, not even a month ago, where the first seed was planted in my mind to shake shit up, quit my job, and go on this crazy whirlwind adventure which I continue to babble about here and am actually, really, almost ready to begin, believe it or not. So, if this turns out well, I will end up owing Darlene a debt of gratitude which not even three more bottles of champagne, another bottle of Stoli, and more vomit could come even close to repaying. Of course, if it backfires and I end up suicidal and penniless, I will blame her, singularly and mercilessly.

If I had only one complaint about Darlene, other than she's not single, ten years younger, and sexually attracted to me, it's that scheduling meetings/appointments with her can be something of a dicey proposition. Getting her to agree to do anything in the first place is tricky, and even then, you're not guaranteed that it's going to happen until you actually see her, at the agreed-upon place, at the agreed-upon time, and even then, suspect trickery. So when I got out of the shower and saw the little message light blinking on my cellphone, I sighed the deep sigh of a man who knows that he just wasted two hours of sweet unconsciousness for no reason. Of course, the message was Darlene letting me know that rather than being at the omelette shop two blocks down the street, she was actually in San Bernardino, and thus, would be unable to make it.

Having already taken a shower, I knew I couldn't go back to bed (or rather, to floor) and get all covered with sleep germs again, so I went over to the couch and lied back in a state of half-sleep, half-wanting-to-eat-bacon-and-eggs for another hour or so until it was time to go to work. Which I then did.

Work was unpleasant, because I was extremely exhausted, and thus was unable to concentrate on any tasks other than "waiting for lunch", and also "waiting for the next meeting to start", which thankfully, one did. The meetings these days are with just me and Frank, wherein it is my job to mentor him and convey as much information about the application to him as possible. The way I do this is, I encourage him to work his way through a problem, and then I go to sleep, stirring only to nod encouragingly whenever he asks me if he did something right, which I have no idea if he did, because as I mentioned, I was asleep at the time. But he's a smart kid, I'm sure he'll figure it all out.

A few encouraging nods later, and it was time for lunch! Can't stay cooped up in that office at that desk all day, can I? Need to get out, get some fresh air and exercise! Now, I have an interesting, built-in little neurotic routine for getting way more fresh air and exercise than I normally would. First thing I do is, pick a place to go grab some food. Then I begin walking there. Then, without fail, once I'm about 3/4 of the way there, I decide, "Ehh, I don't really want [whatever it is]." So I pick another place. 3/4 of the way there? "Ehh, I don't want that either." Sometimes I actually get to the place before deciding on something else. Occasionally, I will end up at the same place twice in one of these weird little retarded scavenger hunts, and still end up not going in. I've gone on three-mile walks to get a sandwich from the deli directly across the street from this building, no lie. God, am I a sick freak.

After a few false-starts, I did eventually wind up at City Chop. City Chop is a place where you can get chopped salads of endless varieties, by picking from a huge array of ingredients and having them mix 'em all up for you on the spot. Everyone here at [my employer] hates City Chop but me, primarily because in order to put in an order there, you have to fill out this giant form which is frighteningly reminiscent of one of those "fill-in-the-bubble" aptitude tests, except with harder math questions. Your average appointment at the DMV is easier to get through than ordering a salad from City Chop. But I've got my routine down pretty well, plus I keep a stash of the forms in my desk, pre-filled-out, so I can saunter on in there like a bigshot and just slap my form down right on the counter while other people are stuck doing word problems ("a black olive leaves New York heading west at 60 miles an hour, while chopped romaine lettuce leaves from San Francisco at...")

I also like City Chop because the salads, with every ingredient chopped into tiny pieces, are reminiscent of the salads that good ol' Grandma makes. Grandma had a bad salad experience many years ago, in which she choked on a piece of iceberg lettuce or something and had to run out of the restaurant crying and screaming, and so ever since then, when she makes a salad, she makes sure to carefully mix the only the freshest ingredients, season, dress, and delicately garnish them, and then grind the entire mess into a fine powder which you can suck through a straw. So for me, City Chop is like a little taste of Leisure Village in the middle of the day. Which, when you put it like that, is fairly revolting. Anyone want some extra City Chop forms? Already filled out?

Then I spent the rest of the afternoon asleep in more meetings. Then I went home, and wrote yesterday's goddamn update, which, didn't I just say that I didn't want to have to write about writing updates? MAN is this irritating. Does anyone want to take over the reins here for me? Brand new website, in excellent condition, used less than one month. Will accept any offer.

Anyway, right when I got to the part about Sharon and the neighbors and the cat, who shows up at the door, but Sharon and Kathleen themselves! I quickly snapped shut the screen on my laptop, just in case I had inadvertently written anything embarassing on there (about, for instance, giving people a "masturbation discount" on my furniture) that they might accidentally see if they walked past, and welcomed them in. Turns out, they just stopped by to have a little visit with "Fengy" (bleah!) Seems Kathleen had been quite upset about the reception that the cat had given her when she came over the first time, finding it odd that a cat would want to hide from a hysterical woman climbing over and under furniture in an attempt to lunge an arm out at the animal and cop a good healthy feel after nine months of separation. Sharon and Kathleen both began postulating theories about why the cat didn't seem to react in a more enthusiastic manner. "Maybe he's still upset by something that happened back in his old house! Maybe he feels he was abandoned, and is still harboring some resentment!"

Yeah, or maybe the cat has a brain the size of an aspirin, and doesn't give one good goddamn where he is, or who you are, just as long as there's a helpful track of ants somewhere to lead him to a bowl of Fancy Feast. I know he's a sweetie-pie, and he's cute, and he's just darling, but he, like every other cat in the universe, is as dumb as a pile of brain-damaged dirt. Get over it. It's just a goddamn cat.

After giving the cat some fresh catnip, sending him into psychotic convulsions, Sharon and Kathleen left, and I spent the rest of the evening doing laundry, getting drunk, and Instant Messaging other drunk people. When all you've got is one chair, one table, and one laptop computer, there's really not that much else to do, you know.

Sunday, September 21

Today I awoke and right away, as usual, began praying for death. But today it was not for the standard crushing weight of emotional pain. No, today we had physical pain to augment that! Turns out, sleeping on the floor? Not really that great an idea for the ol' skeleto-muscular system. I understood instantly why Klingons are always in such a bad mood. That entire race of brutal warriors would be playful as kittens if they'd just buy a fucking air mattress. Do they have air mattresses in the 23rd century? You can teleport people from one planet to another, but you can't blow up a little flat balloon to lie down on? But I digress. I warned you, didn't I, not to get me started on Klingons?

Anyway, after spending an hour or so moving various body parts and wincing in pain, I decided to flip on the ol' tube and watch some football. Of course, just as last weekend, there was no tube to be flipped on, and I silently (and then vocally) cursed the fates who conspired to make me think it was a good idea to sell my televisions two weeks ago. But there's a solution to every problem, and the solution to this problem seemed fairly obvious. Hey, I like bars! Hey, I like football! Bars show football! I shall go to a bar and watch football!

Of course, once I arrived at said bar (O'Briens) and began watching football (Browns vs. somebody), I remembered that while I do like bars, and I do like football, I actually hate watching football at bars, because the bar is predictably and perennially filled with LOUD MEN WHO LIKE TO YELL ACROSS THE ROOM TO EACH OTHER EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE ONLY FOUR PEOPLE IN THE BAR, and also make sage and salient analytical comments about what has just transpired on the field. "WHAT KIND OF BULLSHIT CALL WAS THAT?" is what they say. They say this in response to every single play. A running back goes for three yards. "WHAT KIND OF BULLSHIT CALL WAS THAT?" A touchdown pass is called back for holding. "WHAT KIND OF BULLSHIT CALL WAS THAT?" A spokesperson professes his loyalty to a particular brand of deodorant during the commercials. "WHAT KIND OF..." You get the idea. Morons. These are the people whose lives are saved by those ants I spoke of earlier.

Also annoying was that my original intent was to have a bite to eat there, so I asked for the menu, which is usually quite varied and extensive at this place, but which has been replaced during football hours with their special "Football Lunch Menu", which essentially consists of the ten most boring items on their regular menu, renamed with "football-themed" appellations. Instead of "fries", we now have "Washington Redskins Fries". Instead of "chicken tenders", we have "Taunting Penalty Chicken Tenders". Nachos have been replaced by "Alleged Assault-and-Battery Nachos". You get the idea. The idea I got, of course, was to get the hell outta there and go back home. Very disappointing.

As I arrived back at 122 Strand, my neighbor Sharon, who was getting home at the same time, called over to me to say "Hi." I said "hi" back, and then remembered that there was something... something I wanted to ask her about next time I saw her. Oh, the cat! Right! I've been trying like the dickens to get rid of this cat to a loving home, even though technically that shouldn't even be my responsibility, because the damn thing just showed up like nine months ago and helped himself to my apartment, without even chipping in for any of the rent. I shoulda just put him back on the street, but while I hate and detest every single human out there on the planet, I do like cats, so I just couldn't bring myself to do it. "Hey, Sharon! You wouldn't want a cat, would you?"

"A cat?" she asked hesitantly. "Well... I dunno. Lemme take a look at him." So, over she came to check out ol' Eldrick (or "Frodo", to most of you reading this). "Aww, isn't he cute! Where did you get him?" Well, I didn't really "get" him, Sharon, he just showed up a long time ago and I let him stay here, being the kind soul I am. "Isn't that nice! He kind of looks like Feng! Don't you think he looks like Feng?" I dunno, Sharon. Who the fuck is "Feng"? "Feng's the cat that Kathleen and Guido across the street used to have! Disappeared like nine months ago!"

Uhh. Really. Say, that's funny, because...

"Oh, wow! Wait here, let me get 'em, maybe they recognize him!" So, she goes across the street to get Guido ("the shirtless one", I call him), and brings him back. Now, I should say, this was a little embarassing, just because I'd spent the last two days having furniture taken out of the apartment, with my primary means of readying said furniture being, "take everything on or in it and throw it on the floor", and plus my place doesn't often look too clean even on a good day, so while they were walking back across the street, I was in Emergency Mode, picking up random underwear and other major indelicates, thinking of how to properly couch an excuse for how the place looked. Anyhoo, Guido came over, saw the cat, and said, "I dunno, it kinda looks like him, but Feng wasn't that big, I don't think." Then Sharon said, "Wait, let's go get Kathleen!"

Kathleen walked one step into the apartment, saw the cat, yelled "FENG!!" and burst into tears. I have two comments about this situation:

1. Isn't it wonderful, how after so many long months, a cat and his owners, who'd long since written him off as dead, are able to be reunited in such a touching moment?

2. What the fuck kind of name is Feng for a fucking cat? No wonder he left. "Feng". Jesus.

Now, the old owners already had new cats, so they couldn't take him back, but Sharon agreed to take him, and provide unlimited visiting rights for both the original owners and myself. Sharon, good kid. We agreed that I'd get to keep him for a few more nights, and then boot his scrawny little ass outta here for good. Good riddance. See if I care. I'm sorry, I need to be alone for a moment.

Although I was happy to have the cat problem solved, I was still in somewhat of a foul humour, after my disappointment with the bar, and the sinking realization that I was already falling almost two days behind again on this hellish nightmare of a website. That foulness was tempered, however, with the knowledge that I'd been invited over to Beau's place at 5 PM for a little barbecue! Beau's a good guy. I see Beau once every six months or so, even though we live about a half mile apart, and every time, we have a wonderful time and decry in unison how we won't wait six months before getting together again. Naturally, it had been six months since the last time we did this, so it was time to get it going again. I was able to further spur things along by letting him know that I was leaving town in less than a week. So, right away, I was invited over for barbecue. At 5 PM. Did I mention that? Good, keep those details in mind.

Upon arrival at Beau's (at 5 PM), I learned that while they had barbecued, it had been several hours before, and none of the food was left. That did nothing to help my mood. Also doing nothing to help my mood was the fact that not only was Beau there, but Beau's girlfriend's younger sister was there, and Beau's girlfriend's younger sister is possibly the hottest, sexiest female I've ever been in close proximity to, outside of a strip club, and maybe not even there. Hoooooly shit. Beau, I know you're probably reading this right now, and I certainly don't mean any disrespect to you or your girlfriend, but oh my fucking God, dude. So, like I said, that was not helpful to my mood. What was then extremely unhelpful to my mood was when it was announced that the sister was only there because -- tee-hee! -- it was her eighteenth birthday tomorrow! Isn't that just the cutest thing?! That's when I excused myself to "go to the bathroom", during which time I secretly rummaged around Beau's bedroom looking for a loaded gun or at least a large mallet with which to end it all. All I found, unfortunately, was a giant cat, which after repeated attempts at self-bludgeoning, was determined to be too cute and fuzzy to do any serious damage. So I went back to the party.

Having held out eating all day, looking forward to the nonexistent "barbecue", I was left a bit famished, so Beau and his friend Mark and I went over to the San Francisco Saloon to have beers, watch me eat a cheeseburger, and then listen to me bitch and moan about my life and why I'm leaving town, since these two were, by my count, the last two people in southern California to have not yet heard this story. That's when Toni from work, who had agreed to purchase my bed, called and said she had a truck and some moving help, and could she come on by?

"Absolutely," I said, and beat feet out of the Saloon, thanked Beau for, while not saving me any of the barbecue, at least paying for my burger, and went home. Shortly thereafter, Toni showed up with a truck, and we loaded the bed, and then I asked her if I could interest her in my white dresser, the very last piece of furniture that had not either been taken or spoken for in my apartment. To both of our delights, she did, and out went the dresser.

I walked back in, with a self-satisfied little smile, knowing that only a week ago, I had panicked about how I was to get rid of all of this stuff, and now, it was all gone. I could have probably gotten more money for some of it, but I'm a giving person, and plus, most of this furniture I've at one time or another masturbated on or near, so I figure that's gotta knock a few hundred bucks off the price of anything.

And so there I was, again, in an empty apartment, counting down the days before I could leave and start the next adventure. I've always enjoyed these times before, the calms before the storms, like sitting in roller coaster train right before it leaves the station.

Right then, though, a nasty little thing happened in my mind, and for the first time I can remember, the phrase "starting a new adventure" somehow morphed itself into "failed another one". I quickly put that thought to bed, but just knowing I was capable of distorting reality in such a way as to cast a negative light upon myself no matter what the situation, gave me a solemn, regretful little pause.

Fortunately, the refrigerator is still here.


Okay! Here it is, the story that I promised in the previous update! Enjoy!

Saturday, September 20

Alright, I'm just gonna blow through this like a prairie fire on a dry summer day, because it's not even 9 AM yet on Monday, which means that 1) I am once again two days behind on this website, and 2) I've been up way longer than I would generally have preferred, because somebody made a 7-o'clock AM appointment with me this morning to have breakfast and drop off boxes for me to pack the rest of my stuff in, and then at 6:45, after I'd already gotten up and taken a shower and worked myself up to the point where I could pretend I was awake, cancelled. This naturally breaks both of the primary rules of engagement when you're dealing with me, which are: Never cancel a 7 AM appointment with me, and never make a 7 AM appointment with me.

First thing I did Saturday was check my email, in which was contained a story from an old friend of mine, recounting his previous day's events, as he attempted to find gainful employment out there in the big old nasty rat race. The story was titled "The Worst Interview Ever", and with that sort of hyperbole staring me in the face, I was prepared to be disappointed. I wasn't. I am willing to say that his was, in fact, the Worst Interview Ever, and I will be shortly linking to that story so you all may also enjoy it. I'd say it's a fair bet that it's a pretty bad interview when the best thing you can say about it is: "Fortunately, nobody called the police." Wait till you hear this. Remind me to post it, by the way, if the days go on and I don't do anything about it.

Then I began waiting for people to come over to my apartment and take my furniture. First was coworker Amy, who picked up the entertainment center. Then was conquest April, who was there to pick up the big white dresser/hutch thing, or whatever it's called. Also, to just bid her farewell to me. Suprisingly, she seemed genuinely sad to see me go. I say "surprisingly", because that's not generally the sort of reaction you expect from someone who has spent most of the time she's known you telling you both that you're lousy in bed, and also that you would never, under any circumstances, have another opportunity to redeem yourself for your failures. But now she's so sad to see me go. Yeah, well. Deal with it, sister.

Coworker Amy then returned to pick up the bookcase, my computer table, and another small table next to the computer table which was originally intended to be a printer table, but which ended up being used primarily as a storage place for empty wine glasses and beer bottles. At this point, the apartment was actually starting to look more empty than full, which pleased me, because I am fairly anxious to be up on outta here and get on with my adventure.

That concluded the first round of furniture pickup, so I went about the task of rearranging my remaining stuff so that I could have a place to sit and use the computer. Those of you familiar with my Interactive Fiction game "Apartment F209" will be amused to know that without any prompting or conscious effort, I ended up arranging the apartment in nearly the exact configuration in which I'd set up that apartment, back in West Palm Beach, Florida. Table, chair, computer, cat. Yes, it was all there. You can take the boy out of the squalor, but something something something...

Once I had my new "office" set up, I began the task of writing the previous update, which pissed me off, because one thing that I did not want with this website, was for the writing of these updates to be significant enough daily tasks to warrant actually being included in the following day's update. But if I don't start shortening these down and shutting the hell up pretty soon, I can see already that that's how it's going to end up, just a long string of:

January 16, 2004 -- Wrote yesterday's update.
January 15, 2004 -- Wrote yesterday's update. Showered.
January 14, 2004 -- Wrote yesterday's update.
January 13, 2004 -- Wrote yesterday's update.
January 12, 2004 -- Wrote yesterday's update.

I imagine that once my adventure begins in earnest, this won't be a problem, since I'll have actual interesting things to talk about, and won't be so inclined to just ramble endlessly about cleaning beer cans off the floor and Instant Messenging with people who are now too busy having sex all day to bother finishing their goddamn video game which they've been promising people for years (literally years) now. I'm speaking hypothetically here, you understand.

But back to our story, Saturday evening was to be the big Social Team Dinner for the group I work with here at [my employer, for five more days thank you Jesus], and by looking at the clock I saw I only had about 30 minutes left to properly numb myself for this endeavor. Popping a little Fargo into the DVD, I kicked back with a Bud and began doing just that. Good movie, that Fargo, by the way.

Then it was time to leave, and drive down to "Havanamania" in Redondo Beach to meet the crew for some Cuban food. Being an expatriate of Miami, I am all about Cuban food, and lobbied extensively for Havanamania as our dining choice, not because I'd ever been there (which I hadn't) but because the alternative was the Cheesecake Factory. For those of you unfamiliar with this chain, it belongs in the same group with Olive Garden, under the heading "restaurants that people think are good, but which actually suck the big fat one". Cheesecake Factory bites it, people. If you enjoy it, that's fine, but realize that you have absolutely no taste, and your life is, for all intents and purposes, hopeless and pointless. But have a nice day.

I was the late arrival at this shindig, having missed the first round of drink orders. I knew it was going to be a long evening, then, when I spotted their table and saw the array of beverages that they had chosen: Water, water, Diet Coke, iced tea. On a Saturday night. Huhhhh, boy. Looks like I was going to have to pick up the slack for these people yet again. So before I was halfway into my seat, I'd already signaled someone (whether or not they worked there is still open to debate) for a "Havana Martini". And then another one for after the first one.

The evening was (after the first couple H. M.'s) actually not too bad, as we engaged in the popular team-building activity: "busting on coworkers who weren't there." As everyone loosened up, this then evolved into "busting on coworkers who were there", which was my favorite part of the evening. ("Hey, did I ever tell you what a moron you are? Well, you are one. A moron, I mean.")

Coworker Amy was nice enough to pick up my tab (which, as you might expect, was the largest of everyone at the table) in appreciation for the furniture I gave her, which was a very nice surprise. If you're reading this Amy (which, please, don't be), thanks again!

After getting things paid and packing up, I headed back home to watch some more Fargo and then prepare for selling my bed the next day. This "preparation" took the form of trying to simulate a sleeping bag, by gathering together all of the various bedspreads and linens I had available in the house, and attempting to situate them in such a way that sleeping on the floor for the following week was going to be remotely livable. Anxious to put my resourcefulness to the test, I went ahead and curled up right into my new "floor bed" and, satisfied with the level of comfort I'd attained, began a peaceful, sound slumber which would last until nearly an hour later, at which point my tortured, gnarled muscles all screamed out at once: "Hey, did I ever tell you what a moron you are? Well, you are one. A moron, I mean."

Thursday, September 18 - Friday, September 19, 2003

(Editor's Note: This is the first time in the history of my writing career that I began writing a column while actually in a meeting at work! This may, in fact, be the proudest moment of my life.)

Today was a day when my bestest internet buddy couldn't be bothered to chat with me, because the brand new love of his life just showed up to begin a long (hopefully), fruitful (and meatful) relationship. Today was a day when even good old Frank cancelled our traditional sushi lunch at Isshin because he had a lunch date with the same girl which just a month before he said he was going to set up with me. Today was a day when I spent most of my email back and forths with Tara, watching her tiptoe around mentioning exactly how many guys were out late gang-banging Shortcake the previous evening. Today was a day when, to escape the spectre of loss and emptiness which had been following me around like an annoying younger brother, I headed down to O'Briens ("Like That Other Irish Pub, Except Less Faggy Irish-Themed Crap") for a bite and a "couple" Heinekens, and found it nearly empty, except for the couple who was blocking my view of the TV as they stuck their tongues down each others' throats.

Today was a day when I killed 10,000 living things.

So, in the end, today was a day not particularly unlike any other. It began with my traditional commute to work during which I cranked my traditional Imperial March to steel me for the traditional rebel attacks and lightsaber battles I knew I'd be facing during the day. The workday itself was fairly unique as far as workdays go lately, only because I actually worked a significant portion of the day. Why, with the grossly exaggerated estimates I set for the remaining tasks I had on my agenda, I got nearly a week's worth of work done, and still found time to lose at ping pong, and blow on out over an hour early! Banner day, I'd say.

The reason I had to leave early was because I'd scheduled to take a trip up to Camarillo to visit the grandparents on this particular evening. This was, I could tell, not going to be one of the more pleasant visits I've had with them. I surmised as such, because Frieda (you remember Frieda, right?), rather than moving into the 24-hour assisted living place she was going to go to, had decided that, fuck this, I'm gonna be dead in a couple days anyway, might as well save some cash and just lie around my sister's (Ben's grandmother's) place, producing foul, morbid odors, while people try to eat. So, she did, and if she is not already dead as I write these words, it won't be long now. I feel bad for my grandparents in this situation. I mean, imagine it, having to go through your daily life and try to maintain some sense of order and hope in your life when there's someone in your very house, dying, and in no uncertain terms either. Now I know how my cat feels! (Badump.)

Anyway, call me socially anxiety disordered if you will, but I still thought the idea of spending the evening alone was going to beat out spending the evening with a wanna-be corpse. Also: I was extremely tired all day, no matter how much coffee or "Sweet Dreams" chamomile hibiscus tea I drank, and was determined to turn in early to catch up on my rest. Also: I've got people coming over the weekend to pick up most of my remaining furniture, and needed to get started on emptying out shelves and packing stuff up and wiping the larger clumps of cat fur and vomit from most of the major visible surfaces. So, sorry Gramps, but I'll see you next week.

Oops, now I just aced myself out of my main excuse to leave work early! Hey, no problem:

The reason I had to leave early was because, the hell with this, I'm outta here! (That's just the kind of decisive self-starter I am. A lot of people would have sat around hemming about whether or not to leave early, to the point where once they finally made up their minds, it'd be the end of the day anyway. Not me, baby. I am all action.)

I got home and spent about an hour in a half-unconscious state, attempting dearly to come into my second wind so I could head on down the street to Rick's for BURGER MADNESS (which is also on Thursdays, lest I led you to believe that BURGER MADNESS was only on Tuesdays, which is simply not the case). Said second wind was, however, unforthcoming, so I was forced to summon every last moist, delicious morsel of determination I could find deep within my ample person to get me out on the street and headed down to Rick's. This is the kind of inspirational story (involving bars) for which So now then... is rapidly gaining admiration among websurfers who accidentally come here thinking this is a porn site, since I think somewhere on this site, there's still a naughty, dirtly, filthy sex picture of a sex whore.

Dragging myself out of my office chair, I slowly, lethargically trudged through the hall, ambling toward the front door. What a pathetic sight this was. Feet dragging along the hardwood floor, head drooped down, chin on my chest, eyes more closed than open, staring mindlessly at the floor in front of me, seeing nothing, seeing nothing, seeing n-- wait.

See, I knew this was coming. For weeks, I knew it was coming. I could feel it.

Every once in a while, here at 122, good ol' Apartment #2, being the one most directly in the path of all of the various types of wildlife which inhabit this particular part of southern California, is subject to a bit of an ant attack. One of 'em tells another one, "Hey, he dropped a slice of pepperoni on the floor, let's go", and that one tells the next, and pretty soon there's a tidy little track of the buggers coming from some indetectible hole in the floor paneling, slithering directly over to the slice of pepperoni, where they all attempt to grab hold of it at the sides, and carefully attempt to walk it back to their place, each of them shouting ant-encoded messages at each other ("Left! No, your left! Watch your fingers, watch your--OW!! FUCK!") Eventually, though, I'd use one of my various methods of "convincing" the critters to vacate the premesis, and that would be that. And after a few of these incidents, they finally seemed to get the point. Stay out of #2. Anten Verboten. So it had been awhile. But somehow, I could just tell, something was up.

For the last several weeks, there's been more ants in here than I'd like (meaning, a number greater than zero). But they didn't seem too organized. There'd be one there, and another over there, just spinning around in circles as if they'd just come from a late night at the local Irish Ant Pub. I couldn't figure out what they were doing, but I could still tell that something was up. These were scouts. Scouts, on reconnaissance missions, preparing what was to be the greatest ant attack in the history of Santa Monica. Their own personal 9/11, in retaliation for all of the injustices, both real and imagined, that I had perpetrated upon their kingdom.

These ants want me out of here.

Half-unconscious, halfway out the door, I saw them. This was no mere "two-lane highway" of ants with which you're probably familiar. This was a massive, winding interstate highway. And as my eyes followed the trail to each side, a sense of disbelief (and thirst) began to grow in me. An absolutely huge track of ants, a quivering, pulsing swath of black, snaking its way in inconceivable patterns across the hall, across the living room, around, under, between furniture and stacks of books. Various tributaries and rivulets split off in unpredictable patterns from the main river, drawing nightmarish figures of twisted tree roots and bent limbs across the hardwood. I followed the track the other way, to find their ultimate destination.

Fancy Feast.

The white dish I use for the cat's meal had turned almost solid black with a thick cover of the invaders. I quickly stifled my gag reflex, as I stood back to survey the horrific state my apartment had fallen victim to.

A lot of people would be upset by this. A lot of people would feel violated, feel victimized, or at least really really icky. I, however (as if I need to point this out to you), am not a lot of people. I am just one, in fact. And being the one I am, I was in fact somewhat pleased by this turn of events. Why is that, you ask? That is because I, unlike a lot of people, and certainly unlike most of you, am a very nice person.

I don't mean "pleasant", or "decent", or even "pretty nice". I am very nice. I am, most likely, the nicest person you will ever have the great fortune to know. I am selfless. I give. I allow you in front of me in line. I offer to carry things for you. I let you know if there is a bug crawling on you. I go through an entire day surrounded by thousands and millions of most certainly not nice people, and glide through it smoother than silk. You cut me off in traffic, I don't flip you off. You slam the door in my face, I don't call you an asshole. You overcook my steak, I don't throw it at your head. I exude peace at every turn. I deal with you every day, turning the other cheek and accepting you with all your many faults, and letting you live your life, staying out of your way, and treating you with the respect and kindness that I would have you offer me, if only you were capable.

Oh, and one more thing.

I hate you more than you will ever know, and I would wipe you out of existence without a second thought if I had the power.

That, friends, is a lot to keep bottled up inside, every moment of every day of every year of an entire lifetime. You ask me why I drink? Well, I'd give you many excellent reasons, but that would definitely be one of them. It's a lot to keep inside.

So I need a release, every now and then.

Hi, ants? Get ready to be released upon.

With an anxious grin, I grabbed my industrial-sized Raid Can of Death, weilding it like a precious ancient weapon of war. I sought out the widest part of the track, almost arbitrarily picking the eventual spot from which I would unleash my fury. Finding a suitable starting point, I leveled the spray nozzle directly at the center (as per the manufacturer's recommended instructions for use), and with eyes shining white, teeth clenched in the anticipation of imminent victory, every nerve a-tingle, I fired.

By the hundreds, they collapsed. I followed the track, left, right, left, a nonstop spray of instant oblivion flowing from my hand. By the thousands, they fell. By the millions, their pitiful little brains exploded in a flash of synaptic seizure. By the billions, they were sacrificed, so that I may continue to go out in public, hold doors open for little ladies, and let you fuckers piss on the goddamn floor by the urinals to your stupid fucking hearts' content.

By the trillions, they saved your life.

In the middle of this orgiastic celebration of killing, I hear, from the other room: "GuhCHK.. GuhCHHCK.. GuhKCKCH.." Any cat owner in the world knows exactly what this sound is. I reluctantly put my Raid can down and went into the bedroom to see, yes, that's right, the cat, who never, ever does this, puking all over my bedspread.

This cat wants me out of here.

So now, along with wiping up legions of dead ants, I'm wiping up cat gack. Quite a way to work yourself up to a nice dinner, huh?

Anyway, finally all that drama subsided, and I was able to make my way down the street to Rick's. Except with all the time I'd wasted with ants and vomit, Rick's was now already pretty full. I decided on a whim, then, to try dinner at O'Briens, just a bit further down the street. I got there and took a seat at the nearly empty bar, situating myself so I'd have a good view of the TV, which was playing I have no idea what, but I'm a guy, and I like to watch the tube when I'm gettin' my drink and my eat on.

I ordered a burger (for comparison purposes) and a Heineken, and watched with great disappointment as a couple came in off the street, sat at the table right in front of the television, and began making out with such a fervor that even the sportscaster on the football game behind them started to blush.

This town wants me out of here.

Struggling to keep them out of my peripheral vision, I ate the burger (which was also not the Best Damn Burger in L.A., so I feel I at least got some of that "Rick's experience") and walked back to my apartment, opening the door to that unmistakeable smell of bug murdering aerosol.

I had been tired all day, and had promised myself an early evening so that I'd be relaxed and refreshed for Friday. It was about 7:30 at this point. That was still a little to early to be able to, in good conscience, call it a day.

Don't do it, man.

I set up my fancy new laptop, and began playing around on it, but wasn't really in the mood to do any new software installations, or even do any writing. It was at that point that I really began to miss my televisions. I just wanted to kick back and watch something, at that point.

Serious, dude. Don't even think about it.

Hey, wait! This laptop has a DVD player! And I've got a ton of movies. Maybe a short film, just to spend the next hour and a half or so until I can turn in for the evening.

Do. Not. Do. This.

But, you know... If this is going to be the first movie I watch on this laptop, this cool little machine which signifies in so many ways the beginning of a new chapter in my life, it should be something special, don't you think? Something truly meaningful to me, to sort of emotionally "break in" the computer. Something I'll remember.

Please. Please, God. Don't...

Fuck it, I'm watching Magnolia again.

Alright, that's it. I'm outta here.

Three hours and eight minutes later, the movie was over, and now, finally, the second wind came. So I watched some Cheers. Then I loaded up Neil Rogers' latest show and listened to that for awhile, then finally fell asleep around 1:30 AM. You dumb son of a bitch.

Woke up on Friday, and to say that things were moving a little slow would be akin to saying that a 90-year-old man taking a wet dump into a dead baby's mouth is a little gross. Left without the energy to even get out of bed, the only genuine thought I could muster was: "I am really starting to hate that goddamn movie." Well, that, and: "What is that noise?"

Sounded like... huh, I couldn't even tell. An intermittent little snap, like someone was doing some sort of housework next door, or the screen to the front door was banging against its frame or something. Weird.

One thing I did not guess that the sound was, was water dripping from my bathroom ceiling and slapping against the plastic of a pack of toilet paper below. But, funny thing, that's exactly what it was.

This apartment wants me out of here.

After sponging up the layer of standing water covering my bathroom floor, I called the landlord and let him know that there was, ahh, a bit of a problem he might want to take a look at. After leaving that message, I realized, "Uh oh, landlord's gonna come over!" so I cleaned the cat box. That's what you want to hear, right? You, the faithful SNT reader, want to hear about me cleaning my cat box, right? Just want to make sure. I want to give the fans what they want, you understand.

That done, I went to work, where I sat in a meeting all day, during which I began typing this update, until Douchey McAsswipe from the network group came in and said, "Hey, is that an LRN computer?" "No, it's mine. Ain't it cool!?" "Uh, yeah, that actually... you can't have that connected to the network. Actually, you can't even have it in the building. LRN policy. M'kay? Thanks."

This company wants me out of here.

So, if you're complaining to me that this update was late, there's a certain network admin stooge with nothing better to do in his life than tell me to disconnect my computer because I might bring down their entire business by running EditPlus fer chrissakes, who might be a better target for your ire. If you want to complain about long, grammatically offensive sentences, though, that's all me, baby.

Lost at ping pong, came home, waited for Tara to come over and take my computer chair, then spent the rest of the evening sitting on my barstool (the only thing I had left to sit on and still use the computer desk), drinking beer, and thinking, "Goddamn, now I'm behind two days on my stupid website. I hate that place. I hate this place too, while I'm at it." That's about it.

I want me out of here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Hoooo, boy. Before you get started with today's update, you might wanna take a trip to the bathroom, go grab a beverage and a snack (after washing your hands and walking from the bathroom to the kitchen, naturally), come back and get settled in, because we got ourselves a doozy today. I know it seems I have a penchant for fairly long diary updates, but believe me when I tell you, you haven't seen anything until you've seen today's entry.

I got up, went to work, interspersed a smattering of work with other activities such as eating pretzels, losing at ping pong, and making "Sweet Dreams" chamomile hibiscus herbal tea. Then I drove to Woodland Hills to have dinner at Ruth's Chris with Saeid Zoonematkermani. Great, obviously. I paid this time. The bill came to about $50 less than last week when he paid. We agreed that this would be his going-away gift to me. I happily accepted. Then we drove back to his place for an after dinner aperatif. Then I came home, broke out the new laptop, and installed a new wireless optical mouse. Then I spent the next couple hours gleefully moving the mouse pointer around, in awed amazement that I was able to do it... even without a cord!! When you only upgrade your computer every five years or so, there's a bit of technology-shock you have to deal with when you do. Then I went to sleep.

Ha! Got ya! That's all I got today. Consider this measely little entry your opportunity to go back and catch up on any of the giant, gooey bag of content contained within this page that you might have missed originally. But don't worry, we'll be back tomorrow with page after page of that same aimless self-indulgent caterwauling that you've come to expect from So now then...

Or maybe not.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Well, the first thing I'd like to tell you all about is my exciting, whirlwind day at work! Unfortunately, that will not be possible, due to the fact that I was there for less than (or, if you are a member of the payroll office of [employer's name] and you are double-checking my timesheet, exactly) two hours! Would you like an explanation for this unexpectedly short day? I'd be happy to give you one, though understand that I am going to need to keep this short, because I'm back in the office now, and have those six hours I missed to catch up on! That's a lot of ping pong, surfing the net, and Instant Messaging with friends I have to pack into the day!

It all started when I was tasked with driving Saeid Zoonematkermani's girlfriend Lisa to the airport. Lisa works in the astronomy department of UCLA, and as such, ends up having/getting to spend an inordinate amount of time in Hawaii, where they have the most Humungoid, Bigtastic TeleSuperScope in the world, which allows humanity's top scientists and astronomers to look deep into the heavens, deeper than any man's eye has ever gazed before, and exclaim, "I need a life."

Normally, being the Christlike figure I am, I would be more than happy to give someone a ride just for the asking. However, in this particular case, I had two other vested interests in making this ride happen. One was, hey, gets me off work for a couple hours! And the other was, Lisa is a vegetarian.

I'll pause right now while you work that little puzzle over in your head. Wanted to take her... to the airport... because she's a... vegetarian?

Give up? The answer is, of course, that I simply have a deep, intense passion for driving vegetarians around in my car. "Autoveggies" is what that's called in the fetish world.

No, no, just kidding. The real answer is that while Lisa is a vegetarian, Saeid Zoonematkermani is not, and so while the cat is away, the mice will go out to Ruth's Chris, spend way too much money, and voraciously dig into large, buttery, juicy, bloody slabs of dead beef until the cows come h-- well, you know what I mean. So, the quicker I got her on that plane and up on out this continent, the quicker I'd be gleefully giving myself second-degree burns by touching the sides of a 500-degree plate, butter still bubbling and popping away, sending large gobs of searing-hot grease into my eyes! (Grease gobs: $7 extra.)

My passenger safely dropped off, I drove directly back to [my employer] and spent the remainder of the afternoon dutifully attending to my tasks and purporting myself in the professional manner they have come to expect from me.

LOL! J/K! What I really did was drive home and get ready to receive my package! Oh, lovely, glorious package, object of all my longing and affection. Wherefore art thou?

The delivery service had attempted to drop of my package the day before. Twice. But, since I was stupidly at work, I was not available to receive it. I called later that night to ask when the next delivery would be attempted, and I was assured that the next attempt would be made on the afternoon of the following day. Could this have worked out more perfectly? Drive to the airport at noon, drive home and sit there with a giddy little bounce in my knee waiting for the package! That's a plan!

Except, when I got home, I saw that the delivery attempt had been made in the morning, not the afternoon as I had been earlier led to believe (by, as I said, them assuring me that that was going to be the case. Remember what I said about customer service? I bet if they were a storage facility, they would have delivered my package on time. Or at least stored it.) I immediately called 'em up and asked the pertinent question, "WTF?" I was then told that they would page the deliveryperson and have them make one more trip over to old 122 Strand, because there's a very exciteable, irritable man over there waiting ever so anxiously to receive his package!

I ever so anxiously waited until 1:00. Then until 1:30. Then until 2:00. Then until 2:30. Then until 3:00. Then until 3:30.

Then I called the delivery service back and once again reiterated my early query, "WTF?" Where's my package? (I don't want to use this website as a weapon against businesses that I feel have mistreated me, so I won't mention the name of this particular delivery service, which promises Airborne delivery in a most Express fashion.)

"Oh, sure! That's right here! You can pick it up any time!"

I stand corrected. They were, in fact, a storage facility! "But you-- But I--..." Ah, the hell with it. "I'm on my way."

Made my way on over there, picked up my package, came home, ripped it open like Christmas morning, and there she was: A brand new Dell Inspiron 5150, 3 gHz P4, 512 megs of RAM, DVD/CD-RW drive, wireless networking, big ol', bad ol' 15" UXGA screen, and the rest of it. Ohhh, boy is she sweet, folks. Although I've made my living at computers since I left home, I've never really been one to get all googly-eyed over a new machine. But my eyes googled like nobody's business, I'm here to tell you.

Now, a new computer is one thing, but 5:00 PM and Happy Hour over at Rick's is another, so I said "fuck this" and headed on down the street. Tuesdays are BURGER MADNESS at Rick's, where you can enjoy one of their "Best Damn Burgers In L.A." and fries for a mere $3.99! Couple that with Happy Hour beer prices, and you've got yourself one fine, reasonably priced meal, during which you, rather than your wallet, can get plenty hammered! (Private message to Rick's management, though: Ditch the goddamn Kaiser rolls. You'll never have the best damn burger in L.A., much less on mainstreet, until you get rid of those Hummer-sized lame-ass excuses for hamburger buns. You suck. And fire that obnoxious Stacy, while you're at it. In fact, fire everyone but Debbie, because they're all pretty obnoxious except for her. And then fire her too, because she's the ugliest damn thing I've ever seen behind a bar, including Charles Manson.)

A cheeseburger and, well, let's just say a "couple" Miller Lites later, I headed back and proceeded with the arduous task of setting up the new laptop just the way I wanted. I got as far as taking care of the main three things I wanted to get done before I called it an evening, which were:

  • Transfer all my porn from the old computer.
  • Make sure I knew how to rip MP3s and burn CDs.
  • Install a couple games that I knew I'd never play.

Right about the time I got all that figured out, Darlene and her ex-husband Michael showed up with a pickup truck to begin taking furniture away from me. My large, lovely leather sectional sofa has now been reduced to a rather small, pitiable one, and by this time next week will have been reduced further to a nonexistent one. End of an era, people. End of an era. The couch is dead. Long live the couch.

After that, I grabbed my Cheers Complete First Season DVD and a bottle of wine, went back into the bedroom, popped the disc into my fancy new computer, and, in the dark, in a half-empty apartment, sat there sipping away and watching 20-year old TV shows on cutting edge, space-age technology.

It was definitely the most surreal, and happiest, moment of my week. Month. Whatever you got.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Okay, I need to keep this one short, for two reasons. One is, apparently in Bizarro-World So now then..., I promised to "reduce the quality" of this website. At least, that's what one of my more vocal and alcoholic readers has told me, and gee, I would sure hate to upset him by keeping the Quality Train rolling steadily down the tracks. By the way, can anyone figure out either where exactly I said I was going to intentionally lower the quality of this website, or at least what in the goddamn hell is wrong with that guy? Yes, I said I was going to shorten the entries, but that doesn't necessarily imply that the quality will suffer. And I said that I'd do the entries in a "half-assed" manner, but in what assed manner did you suspect I was doing them before? Fully-assed? Three-quarters-assed? It is to laugh!

Anyway, the other reason I need to keep this short is that I'm waiting for my new laptop computer to show up at my door! Oh, this is so very exciting. You should be just as excited, SNT-reader, right along with me, because once this shows up, you are virtually guaranteed many many more months of these short, half-assed updates! Could life possibly get any better?! (Yes.)

So, now, with that out of the way, here I am keeping this short:

Woke up. Went to work. Blah. Feh. Then the phone rang, at about 2 in the afternoon. Have you noticed a theme in these updates, where nothing ever happens, and then the phone rings, which then signals a change in the day from having nothing happen to having something bad happen? Remember the "old Ben", who never ever picked up the phone no matter what? I think "old Ben" might have been onto something.

Anyway, on the phone is my old friend Chris, who I've known for over ten years now, and who is the older brother of the aforementioned Adam. Chris sounds slightly shaken and definitely consternated, as the first words out of his mouth are, "You need to go see Adam." Huh boy, now what. Well, apparently Adam had a breakdown over the phone with Chris earlier in the day, and was sobbing and weeping like a woman. And for what? Because he has no money, no job, no marketable skills, and just lost his girl? Hey, I've got problems of my own, here, sweetness. For instance, I have to sit down and write up a whole spreadsheet at some point just to see how often I can play golf while I'm taking a year off to relax, without having to worry about getting a job, okay? Things are tough all over, pal.

But, good buddy and generally fabulous person that I am, I felt like I should at least go see what was up with my man. Of course, I knew from the very start that this whole ordeal was gonna cost me the price of a dinner for two at Outback, but what's money to a man -- a friend -- like me? (FUCK, then I also have to figure out whether I can afford the furnished place in Myrtle Beach that offers maid service... where's my free Outback dinner, huh?)

Went to Outback we did, sit there and moan about his life he did, try to break things down into more easily manageable chunks I did (both with Adam's problems, and the giant plate of cheese fries we ordered). At the end, he was still pretty bummed, primarily about his breakup with Filipina. However, being the relationship expert I am, I assured him that if he stuck around in town for a couple more months, kept in touch with her, kept the dialogue going, trust me, eventually she was going to come around and come back to him, even if I staged bloody, ritualistic sacrifices on a nightly basis in order to convince the Spirits not to let this happen. (Naturally, by the next morning, this had already happened. But what is this, the September 16 update? No, it's the September 15 update, so let's not get ahead of ourselves.)

After dinner, we popped on over to the Best Buy across the street so Adam could apply for a job, and I could shop for more toonz to take with me across the fruity plains. The CD I decided on this evening was Peter Gabriel's "Security". If you're scoring at home, this counts now the fourth time in my life that I've purchased this same album. Once on vinyl, once on cassette, and now twice on CD (because I keep losing CDs as the years go by). Let me just say this about that:

I've been kind of a fair-weather fan of Peter Gabriel's over the years. Don't really have a collection of his stuff, but, you know, the early Genesis stuff I hear is okay, and some of his other solo stuff I've heard on the radio was fairly decent (though not particularly astonishing). But after 20 years (and four purchases), this album is still, I think, even including every Rush, Led Zeppelin, or Rage Against the Machine album, the greatest album I have ever heard. Every song on that thing is a monumental sonic achievement -- an experience. It still has the best drum sound I've ever heard, and might as well throw in the best bass while we're at it. Mix in all that cacaphonic, pounding "world beat" thing, and his wailing voice, and... man, if I could only have one album to listen to for the rest of my life, and be buried with, this is it. Unbelievable. Unbelievable. My new 220-watt speakers were crying for mercy, and receiving none. It is the very best. And if anyone disagrees with me, they are wrong, and most likely a child molester. Have them arrested immediately if not sooner.

Cranking that shit all the way back home, I then set up for another night sitting at this computer. The first thing I see is a message from Tara saying, "You don't want to know the latest with Shortcake, do you?" Do I? Of fucking course not, you crazy person! ...Why, what is it?

The proceeding conversation of course sent me into a tailspin of anger and tequila which resulted in me writing the following email to Shortcake, and then, being a veteran of getting drunk and sending emails you later regret sending, had the presence of mind to refrain from sending it. But it's so great, I just want to share it all with you right now, so you can feel the pain, feel the heat, feel the acid, feel the burn:

"Moment of truth?" - JRC, 8/28/03

The problem, Jessica, is that you are an emotional black hole. A bottomless pit, from which no true, decent human feeling escapes. A garbage disposal. And I no longer feel the desire to waste any of myself in you.

You've been of great value to me, because my (admittedly and horrendously flawed) vision of you often approached my own personal version of paradise, and now I'll not be happy until I find it for real.

But this *thing* you've become now, I no longer want in my life.

It's been... interesting knowing you, Jessica.


Oh boy did I really want to send that. Oh boy do I really want to send that. But it'd all be for naught, of course, so the smartest course of action is (as it has always been) to just forget it and move on. But boy do I want to send that.

After cooling down from that episode, I spent the rest of my evening in a cooperative effort with a fellow internet artisan, attempting to Photoshop a thong bikini off of a non-nude internet model/whore. Was this the proudest moment of my life? Well. Well, no. But you can't argue with results.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

And on the seventh day, I rested.

What are Sundays for, if not for waking up late (11 AM), doing laundry, tidying up about the place, and essentially doing nothing? Sunday for me was about two little words: Re. Laxation. Which, as you could probably glean from the rest of these updates, I sorely needed!

And on the seventh day, I relaxed.

Until about 1 PM. When I just happened to look around me, at my beautiful cat, and my beautiful couch, and my beautiful apartment, and then suddenly remembered: Holy fuck, I have to get RID of all this stuff in less that TWO WEEKS?! What the hell am I doing sitting around Re Laxing?? AuuguguGHguGHGHGHH!!

And on the seventh day, I panicked.

What followed then was a flurry of activity formerly unbeknownst to mankind, as I riffled through the yellow pages looking for moving trucks and storage facitilies, calling them up, asking breathlessly into the phone what their rates are, when can I have it, what's going on, where am I, etc.

A lot of people complain about "customer service" these days, and in my experience, a lot of those complaints are justified. From phone companies to airlines to internet service providers to pizza delivery, businesses seem less and less interested in providing courteous, friendly, prompt attention to their customers, the very people who allow their business to stay in business. It's upsetting, it's disappointing, but hey, it's a sign of modern times that it seems there's nowhere to be found anymore where someone will, without any prompting or threats to speak to their managers, give you friendly service with a smile.

That's why it may come as a shock to you that my experiences with storage facilities represented the absolute best customer service I think I've ever received over the phone. Every place I called, a cheery-sounding young lady answered the phone, helpfully answered all of my questions, carefully guiding me through all of the information I needed to know, and urged me to come in for a visit, in which case they'd be happy to set me up with some free packing material just for looking around, and here, how about a nice hot cup of fresh coffee! By the end of the conversation, I just wanted to run right over there, not to look at storage units, but just to hang out with these people! I love storage facilities! Except for the fact that I'd be paying rent! For months! To store stuff that I don't even want anymore!

Feeling a bit guilty about forgoing the services offered by these wonderful people, I changed to a new strategy, that being: "Get the fucking Christ rid of all of this garbage." So I got out my camera, got crazy all Ansel Adams style, and put together this webpage! And let me tell you, ever since I did, this stuff has been going like HOTCAKES. Well, the free stuff, anyway. Come on, you unrefined oafs! Let's put you in a nice leather sectional and style your ass up a bit! Hand over the money, or the cat gets it.

Panic moderately assuaged, I felt it appropriate to get back to the task of chillin' on out. Yep, time to just grab a cold one, kick back on the ol' leather sectional ($1000!), flip on the ol' tube and watch some footb--

And on the seventh day, I cried.

No goddamn TV, idiot! People are scoring touchdowns and field goals and receiving holding penalties, and I'm missing it! Well, I know how to solve that problem. I headed out up the street to the ol' Third Street Promenade to find myself a nice Sports-Themed Barre & Grille. Which reminds me, the "Rough Guide to California" mentions the Third Street Promenade as one of the "34 Things to Not Miss" in California. Sandwiched in between pages about Death Valley and Yosemite, this seems somewhat laughable. Here, just so you can cross that item off your own personal Things to Not Miss list, is a complete summation of everything that the Third Street Promenade has to offer: Chain stores ranging from slightly overpriced to extremely overpriced. Street performers ranging from bad to "I wish I had a flash-bang grenade on me so I could make myself go blind and deaf for a few minutes". Restaurants ranging from mediocre to food court. Homeless people ranging from mumbling to themselves to screaming at nobody. Plastic people saying "like" a lot. Third Street Promenade. There ya go. No extra charge.

I chose Yankee Doodle's as the spot in which I would make my scene. Yankee Doodle's is one of those places with lots of big TVs playing sports, lots of pool tables, and lots of bars. That's just what the doctor ordered. I found one of the last empty seats at the bar, got myself a little elbow room going, and settled in. I knew I'd made the right choice when my bartender, "Gina", cute young gal, came over and introduced herself, and made sure I knew that whatever my needs were to be that particular evening, she was there to make sure they were serviced, and serviced with a smile. Well, Gina, now that you mention it, I could go for about four beers and a cheeseburger. Thanks, babe.

And on the seventh day, I drank.

What a lovely time I was having, too. Gulping Bud Lights and enjoying the quintessential all-American meal of a cheeseburger and fries, watching some mother effing football, in a sports bar. With Gina. Could life get much better?

That's when I started to really watch Gina, and see how she was operating, because something just seemed... I dunno, I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something just seemed... different about Gina. After watching carefully for quite awhile, though, I finally figured it out:

Gina was a robot.

Gina said the exact same thing at the exact same time to everyone who sat down at the bar. Even the little "casual" remarks she made were as scripted as the Pledge of Allegiance ("Hey, did you save any room for dessert? Yeah, if I could just get you to sign this..."). And the real giveaway was that (I swear this is true) whenever I asked for another beer, she would, without fail, point at the empty pint glass in front of me, a pint glass so empty that there was not a beer molecule to be found anywhere within it even if you used an electromagnetic microscope, and ask if I was done with it. I've never seen anything like it.

I started testing my theory, by every once in a while throwing in a little wacky comment intending to get her off her little "script", and she would just look at me with a blank stare while her diodes attempted to process and parse this new information. You could actually see it happening, behind those cold, dead, cybernetic eyesockets. And she must have been an earlier model, too, because if you listened really carefully, you could hear "ERROR, ERROR" coming from under her hair apparatus, before she re-entered the main subroutine and went back on her little robotic way.

Well sir, I ain't much for robot-types servin' me my sasparilla, so I (after waiting until halftime, of course) got myself up on outta there, walked back home (stopping by Ben & Jerry's to grab a pint of Strawberry ice cream -- mmm!) spent a couple hours on the computer (during which I had an absolutely idiotic email back and forth with Shortcake, which I don't even want to go into, it was so idiotic, and fuck Shortcake, man) and turned in for the night.

And on the seventh day, I slept.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

I am seriously, seriously going to start paring these entries down, now. This webpage is becoming a nightmare for me. In the beginning, I thought maybe it'd be fun to just keep a little journal of the highlights of my daily life, so that later, I could come back and say, "Whoa, look what a loser I was." I figured most of the entries would take about five, ten minutes to write, and mainly look like:

October 12, 2003 -- Clash went off to work early today, so I just sat around the house drinking his beer and playing his piano (much better than he can, btw). Then he came home and we went to the bar and didn't hit on chicks. And so, here we are!

That, I could deal with. Short, to the point, and leaving me free to go out and pursue the vast array of hobbies which I enjoy, such as drinking Clash's beer and playing his piano. But now it's grown into something far worse. It's starting to resemble the PWC, with the sheer volume of material, and quality of the comedy therein. And while I'm still getting the complaints I mentioned in yesterday's update, I'm now starting to get compliments, which are far, far worse in my opinion, because then I start to feel like I'm doing this for you people, which is absolutely not the case. You could pile every So now then... reader into a schoolbus, get a blind man drunk and put him behind the wheel, and have the entire thing fly off a cliff, exploding into a fiery mess of mangled steel, rubber, and taped up vinyl bench seats at the bottom, and I wouldn't miss a minute's sleep (except maybe for the blind guy, because he probably really didn't deserve that kind of treatment.)

But now even the scarce enjoyable parts of my life are ruined, because I know that at some point later in the day, I'm going to have to write this thing, and going to want to try to make it good, because people are coming to expect that kind of quality on a daily basis. I'm actually starting to avoid doing things during the day, purely because I know I'll just have to write about the stupid thing later.

So this has to stop. We had a good run there for a couple weeks, but it ain't gonna be like that anymore. Starting with this update (or maybe tomorrow's, seeing as how this one is already over a page long, goddammit), we're going to go back to the original vision I had for this website, which was to half-assedly post a sentence or two about my day, whenever the hell I feel like it, and the spelling and grammar are probably going to be highly suspect, because I'll most likely be too drunk on Clash's beer to give a shit. Got it? Good. Now, let's get onto my day.

I got up. I checked email. I surfed the net. Then the phone rang. It was my landlord, telling me that he was going to be bringing a prospective tenant around an about an hour, to look at the place. I said, "Hey, sure, no problem!", hung up the phone, and began frantically running all around the apartment trying to clean the floor of some of the larger piles of underwear and beer cans, hoping to avoid the ignominy of actually getting evicted from a place two weeks before I was scheduled to move out anyway. That done, I realized I had a choice. I could either stick around, meet the landlord and the new tenant, or get the hell out of Dodge.

If you've been any sort of regular reader of my stuff over the years, you have some familiarity with the fact that I have a touch of "social anxiety disorder" (scientific term: lameritis). I've struggled with it for many years now, and through that struggle, I've made significant progress in dealing with it. Not that I'm stricken with SAD attacks any less frequently, you understand, but now I've learned how to use those attacks to my advantage! This was one such time. I went over to my notebook in which I keep my "Big List of Things to Do Before I Leave", and anxiously skimmed down the remaining items, looking for something which would get me out of the apartment for an hour or two. Bingo! "Get a bike rack for the car", it said. Hey, my bike has been sitting around collecting dust in the living room for a month. Now is my big chance to pop that bike on the back of my car and bring it with me all my upcoming worldly adventures, so that I can take it around to some of the most beautiful, scenic, rolling landscapes that this country has to offer, and let it collect dust there.

Off I went to Sports Chalet, where I proceeded to purchase my bike rack using my time-testing technique for purchasing items with which I have a dearth of experience: Find the cheapest one and take it directly to the checkout counter. This decision ended up being fairly simple for me, as there were about three racks, all of which were, to my non-bike-rack-knowledgable eye, identical, and one of them was $30 cheaper than the others. That's the bike rack for me.

In retrospect, I am guessing that the $30 extra you're spending on the other racks pays for documentation that was written by actual humans, rather than the three pages of randomly jumbled words (many of which I suspect were made up) that I ended up with. So I spent about an hour outside at my car, staring nonplussed at these directions, most of which said: "After adjusting the position of the Control and Mini Control Blocks, wrap the hook and loop fasteners around the frame, pass the end through the composite loop (so that the hooks and loops may engage), snug down the strap and set into place. See diagram on left." Of course, the diagram on left is a tiny, blurry illustration which looks like the artist just squashed a bug with his fist right on the paper.

Amazingly, I was eventually able to get the thing to stay affixed to my trunk, and even withstand the weight of my bicycle. However, given the uncertainty with which it was put together, I'm still a little suspect that the whole thing is going to stay attached once I start putting it through its paces. Like, for instance, starting the car.

Bike rack affixed, and social interaction deftly avoided, it was time to get on with the rest of my day, the theme of which was, "find a nice bar to settle in at, and read my travel books, to start planning my route." Originally I was going to do long, hilarious descriptions of each attempt at accomplishing this goal, but in an attempt to begin weaning you off expecting too much out of this website too soon, I'll just hit the high/low points for you:

Attempt 1: Rick's Tavern on Main: I used to enjoy going to Rick's and hanging out for hours on end. Eventually I stopped, though, because it seemed like every time I would show up, Stacy the Loud, Obnoxious Waitress would be there. But it'd been a few months, and I did like the place, so I gave Rick's the first shot. Almost nobody was there, which was fine with me, so I set up at the bar, ordered a greyhound, and got my book out, ready to read. That's when I hear, from the back, in unmistakeably piercing tones, "AND THEN MY MOM CAME OVER AND IF YOU KNOW ME, IT'S LIKE GOD, WHEN SHE'S AROUND IT'S A WHOLE DIFFERENT THING OVER AT MY PLACE, SO I WAS LIKE, OH MY GOD..." Stacy. I quickly downed the rest of my greyhound, paid up and got the hell out of there.

Attempt 2: Finn McCool's: Ah, Finn's. My home away from Rick's. Never lets me down, Finn's. My plan now became: set up at the bar, maybe have a light lunch, and just enjoy several hours there on a lovely Saturday afternoon, reading my books, planning my adventures... good stuff. And it was going real well, too, for about a half an hour. I'd put paid to another greyhound, was tearing through the first couple chapters of "The Rough Guide to California", and was about to start on a happy-hour-priced Budweiser, when I noticed that I was situated in just a way where if I looked up, all I could see was my big old face staring back at me from the big mirror behind the bar. And the way I looked... unshaven, sad, tired eyes drooping back at me, alone with a book in an empty bar. God, it just bummed me out so much I couldn't even bear to order lunch. So I finished up the Bud and got outta there.

Attempt 3: Typhoon: I whiled away most of the rest of the afternoon doing stuff which I was originally going to describe to you, but now am absolutely not, because, screw you. By the time I was done whiling, most of the restaurants were open for dinner, and since I had yet to eat all day, I was just about ready for that. Typhoon is the lovely "pan-Asian" restaurant at the Santa Monica Airport, famous for its exotic delicacies and it's enormous "wall of windows" looking out over the runway. I went in, grabbed a seat at the bar, ordered a glass of wine and some kim-chi, and perused the menu leisurely, expecting to spend the bulk of the remainder of the evening in this wonderful spot. After deciding on the evening's entree, I flagged down my barkeep and put in an order of the coconut curry. It was less than three minutes before they brought out this giant bowl of chicken and potatoes in their silky, creamy curry bath. This (the quickness of the delivery, not the meal) was very, very disappointing. I was done within another six or seven minutes, and, frustrated with how things were going, ended up leaving the restaurant less than 45 minutes after I first walked in.

That's about when I gave up on my plan, and instead, came home, wrote yesterday's update, checked email, surfed the net, and made a commitment to reduce both the quantity and quality of these updates. How am I doing so far?

Friday, September 12, 2003

Who put this thing together, huh? ME.
        - Flava Flav

Alright, first of all, I'd like to let it be known that after a mere two weeks of doing this website, I'm already getting complaints rolling in from friends and family members that they're pissed off about the stuff I'm writing. Either I'm mischaracterizing them, or libeling them, or saying horribly offensive, heartless things, or secretly linking naked pictures of them on the web. At this point, I swear, I don't know whether to laugh or cry or surf for porn on the internet, because even the inspiration for this website got several strong months in before people started screaming obscenities at that guy. I guess I'm just special, though, and not in that way that all my teachers and "developmental assistants" said.

Well, let me just take this opportunity to nip this particular problem in the booty right now, by giving you the

So Now Then Disclaimer
If you read anything on here you don't like, including but not limited to less-than-complimentary mentions of you personally, depraved material which you feel I should be thrown in jail for, or just really, really long sentences with way too many commas (and parentheses) in them, then rest assured that I was either JOKING or LYING. Unless you happen to be Shortcake, in which case I really do think you're a MegaSkank from the planet Pootiehump, and you should only croak.

All clear? All better? Super. Now we can get onto the business of updating you on my life, even though I really don't want to, but I'm almost a whole day behind, and I know I need to supply you vultures with a constant feed of things to complain to me about. By the way, is it coming across that I'm in kinda of a, whaddya call it, kind of an "off disposition"? Hope that doesn't spoil the fun. Let's see how it goes, though, by starting with the morning of September 12 (or as I'll refer to it for the rest of my natural life, "9/12").

Actually, before I do that, let me jump back two years and one day, to the real 9/11, as opposed to the last two fake ones we had. As I so comically made reference to in the last update, everyone really does remember where they were when all that nastiness went down. I certainly remember where I was, which was: asleep. Note to terrorists: If you're going to try to introduce a little shock and awe into my system, you are definitely going to want to wait until a reasonable hour of the morning before getting that underway. WTC 1 got hit at 5:46 AM, Pacific time. Do you know what time of the day I am never, ever, even under penalty of having to stay at my job another three months, awake? 5:46 AM, Pacific time (give or take four hours).

My alarm clock went off, though, at a much more reasonable hour, at which time I thanked it for its dutiful restraint by pounding the bejeezus out of the snooze bar, as I am so often wont to do (and as I so often want to do). I am very... "enthusiastic" about hitting my snooze bar, because I have my radio set to the local news station. I do this because I am not a big fan of news to begin with, and I especially hate news on the radio, and so I make sure to set my radio to the local news station, because nothing irks me out of a peaceful rest quicker than KFI 640 AM, Los Angeles' "Information Source".

In the five seconds between when the alarm went off and my drool-encrusted hand slapped it back down, I heard a field reporter say the following words: "...about 50 feet from where the World Trade Center towers stood..."

And as I curled back up in my warm beddie-bye, consciousness already slipping away for another 9-minute siesta, my subconscious went to work on what it'd just heard. 50 feet. Got it. World Trade Center towers. Right.



He said stood, you lazy, oversleeping load of pork.

And so, 9/11 was the last time I can remember that I ever got out of bed before even the first "snooze period" expired.

Until 9/12.

Because this time, in those horrible five seconds, I heard (probably from that same rat bastard field reporter): "-ainment world has lost actor/comedian John Rit-"

Say what now?

He said John Rit, which I'm assuming means "John Ritter", though we'd know for sure, if you weren't such a lazy, oversleeping load of pork, now wouldn't we? (I have a very sarcastic subconscious.)

John Ritter? JACK TRIPPER is DEAD?

Johnny Cash, too.

Oh, who gives a fuck!! What sitcom was he on?! What cornerstone of daytime (and later Nick @ Nite-time) television which guided me through nearly all of my childhood and then adult years, and helped formulate my perceptions and attitudes towards women and Santa Monica was he the star of, huh?!

So, damn, that was a tough pill to swallow, first thing in the morning (not like any of the other ones I take are all that easy either.) My day already ruined, I dolefully went through the motions of a professional programmer. You know, go to work, wait for lunch, go to a pointless meeting, continue to wait for lunch...

Then, thankfully, lunch arrived! Now, on this particular day, due probably to the fact that I was eating homemade guacamole by the ice cream-scoop-full until 2 the previous evening, I wasn't all that hungry. So instead of going out to strap on the feedbag, I kicked it down to our local Barnes & Noble, or Borders, which I can never tell them apart.

I got there, browsed the periodical section for awhile, and then made my purchase. Would anyone like to guess what my purchase was? Well, that really doesn't make any difference to me, because I can't hear you. However, I can rest assured that you were absolutely, 100% incorrect with your guess, because what I ended up buying was the latest issue of... Architectural Digest! ("AD", for those cool people such as myself who have now purchased at least one (1) issue of "AD" in our lifetimes.)

"But Ben," you're asking, in between writing complaint emails to me, "you're not an architect! Hell, your idea of elegant living is finding a place with the shortest possible triangular distance between your computer, your refrigerator, and the bathroom!" Well, that may be (and in fact, is) true, but I had other reasons for picking up this particular tome.

Reason 1 was that I thought it would be fun and/or interesting to just pick a new subject at random and just immerse myself in it, if only for as long as it takes to hunt out the two or three actual articles in that magazine, betwixt the hundreds of glossy, smarmy ten-page advertisements. Christ, it's worse than Modern Bride. I mean-- that's what I hear, anyway. From modern brides. That's what they tell me. Yeah, since I'm going to be taking a wild adventure across the country soon, I thought I might further embrace that same spirit by taking another adventure... through the mind! (And through hundreds of ten-page advertisements, as I mentioned.)

Reason 2 was a little more respectable. As some of you may know, at one point in my life I was an Interactive Fiction author of some repute (that repute being, "the guy who wrote that one stupid game with the cat in it"). For those of you unfamiliar with Interactive Fiction (IF), it is an old-timey form of computer game, played primarily by overgrown, undersexed geekwads who grew up in the early Eighties, and this guy. The games normally consist solely of text, as the game describes (often in highly artistic prose frequently including the word "assjack") a situation into which you, the player, have been dropped, and it's your job to solve puzzles and find treasure and bang chicks or whatever by typing to the computer what it is you want to do ("FIND TREASURE AND BANG CHICKS").

One of my goals in my upcoming sabbatical is to get back on the "IF train" and produce a new game for the slobbering, rabid, scooting masses. Many things have prevented me from doing so in the past, though. For instance, I generally hate writing IF. Also, I can never come up with any good ideas for a game. But my real problem is, though I do know words like "douchebag" and "Pootiehump", I'm a little shaky when it comes to actually describing real-life objects in detail. For instance, here is a situation you might find in a Ben Parrish Interactive Fiction game:


You enter the house. There is a chair here. It's... you know, like a regular chair that you can sit on. Also, it's yellow. But not totally yellow, kinda like that sort of "off-yellow" that you get if you leave mayonnaise out in the sun, or... something. I dunno.

Sitting on the chair is a tuna sandwich.

Not really a "picture worth a thousand words" I'm painting for you there, is it? So it is my hope that, by reading Architectural Digest, preferably at some gay-ass looking restaurant sipping on a light Pinot Grigio at the bar, I will eventually learn how to describe things like chairs with flowery, descriptive language which just makes you want to go grab a dictionary, it's so evocative!


You enter the house. There is a linear wood chair sheathed in cream faux alligator leather and adorned with brass accents bearing the designer's signature here.

Sitting on the chair is a tuna sandwich. On rye.

Now, back to my day, which I really do need to get back to, because this update is already almost as long as any of the others on this stupid idiotic website, and I haven't even had lunch yet. Anyway, I took my new magazine and all the promise that it holds back to my desk, where I feasted on a lovely, nutritious, elegant lunch of miniature pretzels and Gummy Bears. And then, like LRN's very own Yossarian, I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to find ways to be bored, to be unenthralled, to slow time down as far as I possibly could, because I knew that, as bad as my morning was, my evening was going to be a thousand times worse.

"I think drugs have done some good things for people, I really do. And if you don't believe drugs have done good for people, do me a favor: Go home, take all your albums, all your tapes, and all your CDs and burn 'em. Because you know, the musicians who made all that music that's enhanced your lives throughout the years? RrrrrrrrrrrREALLY fuckin' high on drugs." -- Bill Hicks

I came home and gingerly stepped through the door to see it looking at me.

Nothing is more special in this life than a relationship so deep, so loving, so meaningful, that no matter what the rest of the day brings, no matter what horrors you've had to endure, no matter what injustices you've had to face, you know that your whole spirit is just going to brighten right up as soon as you get home and get that first glimpse of your loved one.

And I came home, and stepped through the door, and there was my loved one, looking at me like it always had. And if it knew what was about to happen, it wasn't letting on, trooper that it is.

My 32" television.

This was a dark night, ladies and gentlemen, because this was the night that I was to take my first big step towards actually vacating this apartment. Tonight was the night that I was to sell my televisions.

I dunno what the rest of you have been doing your whole lives. Probably creating things, and travelling, and seeing things and doing things and being with other people and eating and drinking and breathing. Well, I never had time for any of that (except maybe the drinking part) because I was inside watching my beloved television. The only thing I've ever had or known that never let me down. Excepting the last couple seasons of the Simpsons, naturally. But for peanuts, for peanuts, I'd agreed to sell them to Chatbuddy and fellow Shortcake-hayta Tara. And Tara was on her way. In Nick's van. (You don't know Nick, but I'm just mentioning him so when I say "I ordered them a pizza" later, you'll know who the "them" is.)

I looked back at my big ol' beautiful TV. I hugged it. I went to lick it. Then I realized I hadn't dusted the thing for about six months, and thought better of it. But I did turn it on. And I just watched, and watched, and watched. I giggled at every bad sitcom joke. I went wistful with every subtle shifting of the anchor man's awful hairpiece. I cried at every infomercial. I wanted to savor every last moment. Because they were coming to take her away (ho ho, hee hee, ha ha).

The cellphone rang. They were close.

It rang again. They were closer still. I felt the sorrow of loss creeping into my heart even then.

It rang again. They'd just had a blowout five minutes from my place and were stuck on the side of the freeway, waiting for AAA to rescue them.

Sweet reprieve, thank you oh merciless, vengeful God, for this one small blessing! It will take them at least an hour or two to get their tire fixed now! Ha ha ha!! One more show, two more shows, three, then four! I like to think that it was my love of my wonderful big black box with the little people in it which shot out like a lazy, oversleeping lightning bolt through the foggy coastal sky that night to absolutely shred their left rear tire to bits.

Eventually, though, they arrived. "Yes, that's the TV. Yes, that's the other one. Yes, gimme the goddamn check. Yes, don't forget the remote controls. Yes, let me unhook it for you... Let me... unhook... I'M NOT READY TO SAY GOODBYE YET!!! Hey, are any of you guys hungry?! I'll order you a pizza!"

So, I ordered them a pizza. And they stayed, and had a beer or two, and we ate pizza, and we flipped on Nick @ Nite, and just watched, and laughed, and laughed, and watched, and laughed some more.

As 1:00 AM rolled around, I had finally gotten myself drunk enough on beer and bloated enough on pizza to be able to withstand the emotional trauma of turning everything off and packing it up for the new owners.

And I swear to you, I was having such fun watching that last show, maybe the last TV show I'll watch for a long, long time, smiling and giggling at all the crazy hijinks, that it didn't even register until they'd packed up the van and left, what that last show had been.

Come and knock on our door
We've been waiting for you
Where the kisses are hers and hers and his
Three's company too.

Come and dance on on our floor
Take a step that is new
We've a loveable space that needs your face
Three's company too.

You'll see that life is a frolic and laughter is calling for you
Down at our rendez-vous
Three's company, too.

This update is dedicated to the memory of John Ritter, who once levelled a pistol to a stuffed animal's head on an episode of the show "TV Funhouse". Goddamn was that funny.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

I don't think any right-thinking American will ever forget where they were at that fateful moment on September 11, 2002.

Me, I was sitting in a hotel bar in Fresno, CA, watching all the one-year anniversary "American Remembers" stuff on the TV with all the other bar patrons. Everyone was very somber, very frowny-faced, and so I did my best to put on my own little somber frowny-face, while surreptitiously trying to flag down the bartender for another beer. As the bartender was involved in his own personal 9/11-related (or possibly nagging-bitch-wife-related) emotional struggle, this turned out to be a tougher task than I'd anticipated. After what I considered to be a more than fair waiting period, I decided to kill a couple birds with one mighty heave, by both aggressively signaling the bartender that I was in need, as well as throwing in a little "levity" to lighten the suffocatingly dour mood in the joint. I slapped my hand down on the mahogany bar and yelped, "Hey! Who do I have to hijack around here to get a beer, huh!?"

After being escorted out of the building, I got back in my rental car and headed up the road, looking for a replacement bar, and maybe a bite to eat. Now, you have to remember, this was September freaking eleventh, and everyone was just a little bit on edge. The National Security Council of Home Security Administration had raised the alert level from "chartreuse" to "marigold", and nobody quite knew what to expect. Like, for one thing, I wasn't expecting Fresno to have such a proliferation of really, horribly ugly neighborhoods, bad restaurants, and disgusting dive bars that I wouldn't step one foot in if I double-wrapped my feet with bloated ferrets.

What I also wasn't expecting was the sudden flash of light and giant BOOM that hit me as I sat waiting at the stoplight for a homeless parade to trundle by. I flinched instinctively, then I commented instinctively: "The FUCK!?!?" Assuming this was the end, I went down my mental list of everyone I'd ever said I would see in hell, making sure I remembered their names so there wouldn't be any uncomfortable moments upon my arrival. And then another one... BOOM!!

Panic-stricken, my head swivelling around like a Lazy Susan looking for the source of this apocalyptic clamor, I finally figured out what was going on: Fireworks.

Now, was that really the best idea for marking the one-year anniversary of a day when we all, particularly those of us living in major metropolitan areas, assumed that we were all goners? With hyperventilating newspeople yelling at us all day that there was probably going to be a repeat performance some time that day? Setting off fucking explosions all over the goddamn place?

This story really isn't going anywhere, but I just wanted to make what I consider to be a very important point, which I hope you will take to heart and just try to keep in mind as you go on with your lives and try to make your way through this crazy world of ours. And that point is: Fresno sucks. Thank you.

But that was 9/11/02, and this is 9/11/03, and the story of this day begins before I was even awake, as some time during the night, my peaceful slumber had a Boeing 737 flown into it in the form of Shortcake, who as I mentioned I'd been stewing about the evening previous. I forget what the dream was about, but one thing I knew was that I woke up pissed.

I flipped on the TV, hoping to see video replays of shit getting blown up, but all I got was a bunch of whiny kids complaining that their mommy and daddy were still dead. Hey! Get over it, ya spoiled little turdburgers! I gave up on the TV, got things in gear, and headed off to "work".

Worked a little. Wrote for the website. Waited for lunch. Lunch was sushi at Isshin, and while it was excellent as ever, my heart just wasn't in it. That's when you know I'm in a bad mood, when you put a spicy tuna roll, a little masago, a little uni in front of me, and I still can't get it going.

Somewhat concerned about my lack of enthusiasm for one of my favorite meals, and $18 poorer, I went back to my desk to continue the day's regular activities: Screwing around on the website (check out the fancy new Index up top!), waiting for the ping pong table to open up, playing ping pong, losing, you know, all the regular stuff. Oh, and hanging with my buds on the Instant Messagers. More on that later.

Five o'clock, I'm out, drop by Vons for some cat litter and guacamole fixins (careful not to confuse the two), head home, whip up some guac (excellent, as usual), grab a little brewski, and make my turkey sandwich, today with bacon and guacamole! I am the frigging Ludwig Van Beethoven of turkey sandwiches, man. I make those badboys sing! (In German!)

Then it was time to drive to Long Beach Intl. Airport and pick up my buddy Adam (you remember him, the one whose girlfriend, who is my dream girl of all time, keeps threatening to dump him but never does) who was just getting back from the east coast, where he was helping his friend shoot porno videos. Here's what's going on with Adam: The girlfriend, while still not officially dumping him, is going to move out into her own place. Adam has no job, and no money, and of course cannot afford to keep his apartment past the end of this month (since she was paying all the rent). As far as I can tell, this means Adam is royally fucked. Therefore, I've decided that in an effort to help my old friend out, for every $100 donated to this website (by clicking the little PayPal thing on the right side, you selfish pricks), $1 will be allocated to the Adam Fund, to help get him back on his feet. Sometimes, I give so much, it hurts. But I wouldn't want it any other way. That's just who I am.

We drove back, talking about how much he's screwed, then talking about the various aggravations of shooting pornography (" she calls from the airport and says, 'I'm here, and by the way, I just got a new tattoo, and my period just started,' and we're like 'Bitch, just get your ass back on that airplane.'") The rest of the time was spent letting him vent about how fucking impossible it is to get acting work, and that he's dedicated most of his life to his craft, and he's been in LA for four, five years now, and works all day at just getting something, anything going at all, but it just isn't happening, and never become an actor, because it's nothing but heartache and disappointment. Then I dropped him off.

Then my mother called me to tell me that she'd just gotten offstage after being in the new play at her community theater. LOLOLOL. She got the gig the way she fills up most of her social schedule: hanging at a bar until one of her friends goes, "Hey, you wanna be in a play!?!" "Sure!" Sorry, Adam. Hey, maybe you should hang around bars more! And be 60 years old! And be my mother!

I got home and spent the rest of the night continuing the Instant Messager conversations that had been proceeding basically non-stop since about noon of the previous day. Here now, a recap of how these fascinating dialogues have evolved:

Chatbuddy: IceCreamJonsey
Update: After finally coming to her senses, whether by considering and reconsidering all of my sage, fabulous advice from the previous day, or hitting her head on a major appliance, VitriolaX had decided to indeed move out to Colorado to live with him. So this was IceCreamJonsey just falling all over himself, drooling profusely all over his keyboard, and thanking me, thanking me within an inch of my life for being the "little man behind the curtain", orchestrating this grand soap opera to perfection, and basically setting his entire life straight. At least, that's what he should have been doing. Instead, he spent several hours calling me a faggot and quoting lines from Star Trek II.

Chatbuddy: VitriolaX
Update: Hemmed and hawwed about her exciting new decision, fretting continually about how when she gets there and IceCreamJonsey is forced to actually live with her for an extended period of time, she will drive him insane and he'll end up throwing her out the window. At first, I didn't buy it, but by the end of our discussion, she had me convinced. But, oh well, too late now, the die has been cast. Sorry there, Jonsey!

Chatbuddy: angeltara20
Update: IMPORTANT NOTE TO SELF: When you ask Tara how Shortcake is doing, and she says, "Do you really want to know?" Say "HELL no", log off the computer, shut it down, unhook it from the wall, take it outside, and throw it into the dumpster. Of course, I didn't have the benefit of that Important Note to Self yesterday, and so I ended up spending a significant portion of the remainder of my evening hearing about all the latest sluttish, skankish activities from everyone's favorite disgusting whore, and then listening to Tara complain about the fact she's afraid she's "losing Shortcake as a friend". Hey, cry me a river, sweetheart. Try spending a couple straight days pounding your head on the bathroom floor tile trying to get every memory of every second you ever knew or spent with her out of your skull, then come talk to me.

So, it was yet again another long, frustrating day in the life of your hero. But no matter what kind of day I have, I like to reflect on it and see if there's anything I can learn from it. My belief is that the unexamined day is not worth living, and so in examining this day, there is one single theme, one defining thought that I think I can really take from it and use to help guide me through the rest of my trials, tribulations, and travels:

Fresno sucks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003 -- Extended Dance Mix

Why don't you tell me what really happened.
        - Nice Guy Eddie

Ah! Well, now that I'm settled here at my desk the next morning with a piping hot cup of Earl Grey tea at the ready, we can take a closer look at the day that was September 10, 2003. As you might have inferred from the original, somewhat concise entry, not a whole heck of a lot happened today. In fact, the highlight of the entire day was the turkey sandwich I had for dinner. Here's a helpful "Lifenote" for you: If the highlight of your day is a turkey sandwich? You did not have a very interesting day. However, to add a little spice to this update which would otherwise be even more intolerably boring than all the other ones, I will provide status updates on that very turkey sandwich as we move through the day, using terms you might find at a major film studio such as New Line Cinema, or Vivid.

Turkey sandwich status: Rumored

A morning not unlike any other random morning of my working life, it featured me getting out of bed, "taking care of some things", showering up and heading off to work. Then I got to work. Then I sat at my desk for awhile, waiting for 10 AM to roll along, because I knew that at 10 AM, a very exciting thing would be happening! Specifically, a meeting where I knew I'd be able to just sit there for an entire hour, not listening or paying attention at all, doodling on my little notepad, and silently revelling in the knowledge that once this meeting let out, it would almost be lunchtime! Those are my favorite kind of meetings.

This one went off without a hitch, and I was let out a little after 11 AM, having said and done exactly zero in the meeting, as I promised myself I would. Hey, I make a plan, and I stick to it. That's just the kind of professional I am.

Turkey sandwich status: Development Hell

Back at my desk, I had intended to while away the hour before lunch doing yesterday's update, but I accidentally slipped and (contrary to the initial version of this story) did some actual work. As the big hand swept the top of the hour, though, I came back to my senses and started focusing on lunch. After a brief stroll around town and finding nothing particularly to my liking, I went to by usual backup plan, that being the Caesar salad at Angelino's. I brought it back to the office and, while happily munching away on it, got on the net to do a little research on our friend, the Caesar! Specifically, the question I wanted answered was: Does a "proper" Caesar include anchovies or not? Personally, I would never eat one without them, unless there was a gun to my head and someone was threatening to blow my brains out if I didn't eat an anchovy-less Caesar salad (which, this happens more often than you'd think around here.) Here are the answers I came up with: 1. Yes, a modern Caesar must have anchovies, but 2. the original recipe (back in the 1920's) did not have them. See? So now then... is not only entertaining and inspirational, but is also educational! Don't you just want to click that "Donate" button and give me $20? $50, preferably?

Spent most of the rest of the afternoon writing yesterday's update, playing ping-pong, and scouting around the rest of the office looking to see what all the hot chicks were wearing. This led to the other highlight of my day, when I noticed Angel was talking to someone at their cube, sitting on their desk (facing away from me), and her pants had ridden down a little low, exposing the tantalizing top of her thong panties.

Thong panties status: Exposed

That was about all the fun I could take here at good old [my employer], so I wrapped things up, pushed a "major new revision" of my application (changed three lines of a Java file) into production, beat feet up on outta there, and drove home.

At that point, I sat around at my computer, having a couple "warm-up beers", and idly surfing the net for 9/11 videos. I figured, with the two-year anniversary just a few hours away, I should go back and remember to never forget to remember what befell our increasingly disappointing nation on that fateful day. And, just as I remember it, what befell us looked really cool on video. With the explosions 'n' shit? Buildings falling over? Wow! If you see only one terrorist attack video this year, make it: 9/11!

But you can't keep living in the past, and it was at the point that I realized this, I also realized I was getting a bit peckish.

Not yet sure what I was going to have, but knowing that I was definitely out of beers, I went over to see my good friends Habib and That Other Guy over at the L&K Market. I browsed the refrigerator for a minute or two, when my eyes fell on a little hidden gem, hiding in the back: A Carl Budding-brand pack of sliced turkey!

Back at the ranch, I opened one of my new beers (Moosehead) and began sipping it thoughtfully as I looked at that pack of turkey and let my mind just sort of wander around the vast garden of possibilities I might pursue with it. That's when it all came together. I have bread! I have condiments! I am going to make a turkey sandwich!

Turkey sandwich status: Greenlighted

I got out two fresh slices of bread, lightly spread some garlic mayo and mustard onto each slice, and then carefully separated and layered the turkey slices on them, just so. That's when I got a little creative, and looked at the vine-ripened tomato over there on the counter that I had left over from Sunday's guacamole adventure. I would put tomato on the turkey sandwich!

Turkey sandwich status: In Production

I smiled at my creation, and was about to finish it up by placing the second slice of bread on top and calling it a sandwich, when I had one of those surprise flashes of brilliance you normally only read about when you read books about people who were known for having surprise flashes of brilliance while making sandwiches. I remember, on Sunday, after the guacamole was made, frying up an entire mess of bacon. I don't remember much else about Sunday, but I remember making... bacon. I opened up the fridge, and there it was, all wrapped up snugly in its paper towels and plastic wrap. I then put the bacon on the sandwich. If there was an audience in that kitchen, they would have applauded wildly, stopping only to dab their softly weeping eyes with a soggy handkerchief.

That's when I closed up the sandwich and cut it in half, and ate it. It was excellent!

Turkey sandwich status: Post Production

The entire rest of the evening was spent at the computer, chatting with various people in various Instant Messenger applications. Here now, is a quick rundown of who I was talking to, and what we were talking about:

Chatbuddy: "VitriolaX", real name "Dayna", nascent long-distance bedbuddy of IceCreamJonsey.
Topics: Why the fuck she won't just move out to Colorado and move in with IceCreamJonsey, which is obviously the smart move, but she refuses to cave in to my demands, because some therapist fucked with her head.

Chatbuddy: "IceCreamJonsey", real name "Robb", Sysop of Jolt Country and general attention-whore.
Topics: Explaining that I was unable to make any serious headway with VitriolaX, and also complaining about the fact that why the fuck am I sitting around putting all this goddamn energy into getting him laid, a guy that for most of his young life he's been too busy dropping the meat hammer on wayward maidens to properly moderate his own BBS, while meanwhile I'm sitting around moping about some goddamn skank who most guys wouldn't give the time of day to, unless she sucked 'em off in the bathroom (which she most likely would). We also had lots of fun messing with the fonts on the IM window. We are not well.

Chatbuddy: "angeltara20", real name "Tara", friend of Shortcake.
Topics: Arranging for her to purchase and pick up my televisions on Friday, as well as where to go to dinner while she's over. Also, what a goddamn skanky little slut Shortcake is.

Chatbuddy: "aprilk_2001", real name "April", my little lady up in Ventura.
Topics: Who the hell knows.

All of these fascinating conversations went on for hours, at which time I bid them all a good night, and sat around being pissed off about Shortcake for awhile (it had been a few days, I thought I needed to "fire up the ol' engines" again).

Then, finally, before tucking myself in for the night, I went to the bathroom.

Turkey sandwich status: In the Can

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Got up, went to work, didn't work, came home, beer, Nick @ Nite, fin.

Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Whew, finally, these slavedrivers here at [my employer] have given me a moment to myself, to recoup, refresh, and most importantly, catch up on this endlessly fascinating website, which I think we can all agree is much better than "", an altogether embarrassing excuse for a page. Run, by the way, by a very unresponsive person who has yet to return my offer to make him a deal for the rights to that domain name. So until I hear from him, I will continue to consider him and his pathetic website my mortal enemies! Which is nice, because I never had any mortal enemies before. It's kinda fun! You should try it some time.

Oh, what a terribly depressing day! Nothing particularly bad happened, per se, but understand that I'm a bit fragile emotionally lately, and as such am subject to wild, unpredictable mood swings, often at the rate of up to five per minute. Today, however, consisted of nothing but downswings, resulting in a parabolic mood chart resembling the first large drop of a rollercoaster (or if you squint real hard, God giving me the finger).

After lurching reluctantly out of bed, I got my stuff together and headed out, saying goodbye to my cousin Michelle, who had stayed over the previous night, and who was leaving later that morning. The next time I see Michelle, I'll be on the road, at the very beginning of my long, wonderful journey, skimming up the west coast towards Ferndale! Aren't you excited?

The first fifteen minutes of work were... not good. First of all, I was already feeling a bit sheepish, what with my unplanned (and generally inexcusable) absence the previous day. Then my psyche took another major hit as I sat down to check up on my email, and there were a large pile of emails waiting for me, the subject of half of which was "YOUR APP ISN'T WORKING!!!" and the subject of the other half of which was "WHERE R U????" At that point, your boy Ben was actually a little bit down on your boy Ben. I mean, I'd hate to think I'm leaving these people here with an application which they paid good money for and which isn't doing the job for them. Of course, the proper emotional response would be, "Hey, this project was managed so poorly, and with so little planning or attention paid to things like, I dunno, testing and requirements definition that they should basically be kissing my smelly, hairy feet every goddamn day I'm here, for what they got from me." However, being the gloomy gus I am, I naturally thought, "I suck. =(" (I think in emoticons, not a lot of people know that about me.)

Then came the one actual positive part of the day, which is where I spent some genuinely significant, high-quality working time on the problems at hand, and in fact managed to (I think) take care of some of the biggest known problems with the application. Lest I began to feel too well, though, I mistakenly loaded up the brand new issue of the Onion.

The Onion's tricky. 99% of the time, their satirical, warped-but-incisive view of the world brings the comedy like nobody's business. It's just that one time that they hit a little too close to home, just at the wrong time in your life, that it can put you even deeper into an already burgeoning funk. So there I was, firing up the website, looking for a laugh or two in the middle of the afternoon, when I see this (reproduced without permission):

45-Year-Old Fails To Make Someone Very Happy One Day

NEW MEADOWS, ID - In spite of predictions to the contrary, Larry Naering, a 45-year-old research scientist, has failed to make someone very happy one day, his mother Nancy reported Monday. "He's always been such a handsome, responsible boy," said Nancy, who used to look forward to having grandchildren. "I always told him that some girl was going to discover a real hidden treasure if she took the time to look at him. I guess I was wrong." Nancy said her son's chances of finding that one-in-a-million love have dwindled to one in 50 billion.

Ouch. Sure, "it's funny cuz I don't know him" (- Homer Simpson), but I feel like I'm getting to know him better every day.

And now, at 2:30 PM in the afternoon, on Tuesday, September 9, 2003, Ben Parrish engaged in an extended (2-hour) period of feeling the one emotion that a 32-year-old man at the very start of a wondrous, life-affirming expedition should absolutely not be feeling, no matter what: regret. I ain't 45 yet, but I'm a lot closer than I used to be, and then I start looking back at the way I've spent my time so far on this planet. Chasing that one-in-a-million love? Seeing the world, exploring places, things, people? Learning to love, learning to frolic joyfully amidst the glory and beautiful splendor of this world? Actually, no. However, I do remember watching a lot of Nick @ Nite and drinking beer, though! I'm sure I did other things too, but right about now, that's about all I can remember. 32 years of that. And now I feel like it's later than I thought, and now I feel like I just looked up and all the other racers got off the starting line a long time ago, and here I am still stuck at the gate. Regret.

You may try to convince me that all of that is/was in my mind, and that I'm so money I don't even know it. And if you catch me on the right day, at the right time, you may not even have to convince me. But September 9, 2:30 - 4:30 PM, I was having none of it.

Then I headed out, hit the road, and made my way up to Camarillo, to visit my grandpa. Normally it'd be both grandparents, my grandma was out at the local Indian casino blowing all my rightfully deserved goddamn inheritance money. Get back here and make me dinner, ya old coot!! Quit playin' those dumb goddamn nickel slot machines! Waste of time and money! (Hey, didn't she win $800 on a nickel machine last time she w--) SHUT UP, goddammit. Get your own website.

Nice to see Pops, of course. Although the first thing he had to tell me is that he'd had a change of heart about his on-again off-again occasionally-estranged son (the non-dead one), and that he'd like to put him (the live son) back in the will. I, of course, agreed politely, meanwhile trying to put out of my mind the fact that this little conversation was probably going to end up costing me about $150,000 by the end of this story. But money means nothing to a man like myself. Or at least, as I think I've proven with my actions over the past month, income means nothing to a man like myself. Sigh.

That nasty business taken care of, it was time to sit down for a delightful supper of re-heated "mush-mush", grandma's indelicate name for her famous "beans and meat and noodles all overcooked and smashed into a tupperwear container for weeks on end until Ben shows up and puts it out of its misery". I actually quite like mush-mush, though, so it was all good. And during this part of the evening is when he tells me that he and Larry (the aforementioned son) were going to go help Frieda move the next day, from her assisted living community to her new 24-hour assisted living community. Though, at this point, "living" seems a bit of a strong term.

Frieda is 91, I believe. I asked, "Boy, that must be depressing, having to move to this new place". Pops rolled his eyes and described Frieda's state of mind, as he had witnessed earlier in the week. "She's just hobbling around going, 'I want to die!! No, I don't want to die! I want to die!"

That, friends, was the cherry on Tuesday's "depression cake". All this self-doubt going on, all this regret, all these feelings of trepidation, fear, emptiness, sorrow... and what is waiting for you at the end of it? Wanting to die. (But not even being able to make a firm committment to that.)

I do this to myself, I understand that. I've been in good moods before. Recently, even! But once I get rolling down the "futility and agony of existence (particularly my own)" track, not even Casey Jones stands a chance at slowin' me down. And that was just the kind of day I was having.

I wrapped up things at Leisure Village, headed back to 122 Strand, and then tried to cure my depression the only way I know that always, always works.

Ah well, 32 years of Nick @ Nite and beer, one more night ain't gonna hurt.

Sunday, September 7 - Monday, September 8, 2003

Let me keep this brief, because this is truly the first time in the long, storied history of this website that I truly, genuinely don't feel like doing this.

I awoke Sunday (the 7th) firm in my committment to go find some bass for my happening new car stereo. Don't get me wrong, I love what I've got now, as will shortly be evidenced by the rest of this update, but with just the two (220 watt) 6-inch speakers in the front, it is still somewhat wanting in the area of ground-shaking, ear-splattering bass. And if I am going to cruise around town pimping and thugging like a thug pimp such as myself, I'm gonna need some bass to announce my presence to the community as someone who deep, deep in his soul, wishes he wasn't the whitest mufucka ever to wash down the pipe.

This as my goal, I drove around town to no less than four different car stereo shops, none of which were able to assist me, primarily because they were all closed. Apparently, Sunday is not a big day on the car audio scene. Dejected with this failure, I went back to Best Buy just to see what my options were. My options appear to be either 1) do nothing, and pretend that I'm more of a "treble-oriented music lover", 2) remove the back seats of my car and replace them with giant "Too Fast Too Furious"-brand subwoofers the size of large, extremely loud pizzas, or 3) get a new car. As I'll need the back seats as a storage facility (as well as a place to entertain my ladies) during my upcoming trip, and getting a new car would cut down my vacation time from a year to about a week, I've decided to forego sprucing up my stereo any more than it already is. Instead, I just screwed with the equalizer, turned the "high" and "mid" range bands down to minus-a-million, and turned the volume way up.

Normally I'd make these stories a lot funnier and more entertaining, but the Tylenol PM is already starting to kick in, and I wasn't 100% even before then, so forgive me.

After my failed shopping trip, I stood (really) in the middle of my living room for about 5-10 minutes doing absolutely nothing and trying to think of something to do. That's when I landed once again on the primary theme of the past three days, which is: "Make up an excuse to go drive around and damage your hearing by listening to music way way way way too loud." My decision was then clear: I should drive up to Westlake (1 hour drive) for a round of golf! Which I did.

The golf game was pretty solid, and though I was having some trouble off the tee (once hitting a ball onto the road parallel to the course, causing a car to have to swerve to avoid being hit by my Nike "Super Feel" pellet), my putting was insane. I was nearly automatic inside of 10 feet, and that's an experience I'm just not familiar with, so I was enjoying myself. Due to my wildness off the tee, I had a couple of 9s on the scoreboard, but I also picked up two birdies (two more than my average), so I was happy with myself.

Then it was time to meet Saeid Zoonematkermani in Woodland Hills for some beef. Saeid Zoonematkermani's girlfriend is a hardcore vegetarian, so the only time he gets to do this is when she leaves town. Which, thankfully, she does a lot. (That sounds bad... she's a very nice person, and I like her a lot, but one must have priorities in this life, knowhumsayin'?)

Our restaurant choice for this particular evening was an old-time favorite, Houstons, which (while not up to the insane quality (and price) of a Ruth's Chris) is a very solid contender, and also features the finest prime rib I've ever shoved into my face. I was a bit early rolling into Woodland Hills, so I decided to head over to the restaurant and start getting my cocktail on before my man showed up.

WARNING: For anyone familiar with this restaurant, the following paragraphs may be very traumatic to read.

Taking the right turn on Owensmouth, with great anticipation, I slowly guided the car up to the entrance of the parking lot. This is when I experience one of the most shocking, horrible moments of my life, as I looked up to see the glowing Houstons sign I'd developed such a Pavlovian response to over the years:


...was gone.

Gone. Just like that. The sign was down, replaced by the sign for the restaurant which will soon take the very same space of which I'd forged such special culinary memories. Houstons was gone.

Shaken to the core, I frantically called Saeid Zoonematkermani and, gingerly, broke the news to him. He was noticeably distraught, and who could blame him? One of our favorite places in the universe was no more, and we didn't even get a chance to say goodbye. What were we to do? What the fuck were we supposed to do now?

"I guess we're going to Ruth's, then," offered Saeid Zoonematkermani without prompting.

Aw. Aw hell yeah. Fuck Houstons.

So we made our way instead over to the local Ruth's (just a block away, as luck would have it), and had an absolutely ridiculous meal, as one would expect. I don't have a lot of regrets, leaving this town, but way up near the top of that short list is that nowhere I've currently penciled in on my itinerary has a Ruth's. Goddamn. Just fabulous. And the waitress was properly flirting with me the whole time too, which, what makes dinner taste better than with a waitress giving you the eye while you're eating it? I tell you, the $178.30 bill would have been a steal at twice the price. Particularly since Saeid Zoonematkermani was nice enough to pay the whole goddamn thing. Always liked that guy.

The Tylenol PM is now deeply ensconced in my mind, so we will now enter the lightning round.

One of the purposes (other than feeding on the finest corn-fed cows known to man) of us getting together was for him to finally, finally return my Magnolia DVD to me, which he had just finished watching (SZ's review: "I don't get it.") But with the giddy euphoria of the meal, we forgot to make this particular exchange. I was nearly all the way home to Santa Monica before I realized this. Oh well, I guess I could pick it up next time the girlfriend was out of town or something... Or you could just drive back to his place (30 minute drive) right now and crank your stereo some more!! Well, that decision took about .001 seconds to make, and back on the highway I went, CDs spinning, eardrums crying out for help, local police blissfully unaware of my BAC level.

Intending only to stay at Saeid Zoonematkermani's place for a minute or two to grab my disc, it ended up turning into a whole thing, where we had one last nightcap, and sat around talking about stuff which I certainly hope you don't expect me to remember. Long story short, I didn't bust out of there until about 11, and then didn't get home till 11:30.

At that point, I made one of the more unfortunate choices of my life, which was "Hey, now that I finally got my Magnolia disc (3 hour and 8 minute movie), lemme fire that puppy up for old times' sake!" Which, Jesus forgive me, I did. After the first hour, I was nearly comatose, and knew that this was not a good idea, particularly because I felt that I was really missing out on all of the brilliance contained within the film, what with only about 10% of myself being conscious, and that 10% being pretty goddamn hammered at the same time. But, trooper that I am, I soldiered on.

Movie finished up around 3 in the morning. At that point, I had two very distinct and clear thoughts: 1) Ughhghghhhghhhh... and 2) There is no way in hell I am going to make it to work tomorrow -- er, today.

And wouldn't you know it, even in my weakened, pitiful, shameful state, I absolutely nailed that last one. Crawling ever so slowly out of bed at about 8:30 AM, I went directly to MSN Messenger where I let my coworker know that I would probably not be in today, because I was feeling "under the weather". Must be something in the air, y'know? El Nino or some shit. Now before you all start getting all high and mighty on me and giving me harsh gazes of consternation, know that I was not proud of any part of this embarrassing episode. 'Course, that contrition was tempered by the fact that, hey! A day off! Woohoo!

With all this newly found free time, I decided to drive on up to Ventura (1.5 hours) to meet with my friend April, who I may have referred to as a "conquest" in one of my previous updates, but since then we (well, she) decided that it would be better for us to get to know each other a little better as friends before delving back into the nasty, gritty world of getting naked and not being fucking aggressive enough in bed. So, as friends, we headed on out to the local driving range, hit a bucket of balls, did a little putting, then went and grabbed lunch at the local Chuy's.

Little aside for ya: If you're ever at Chuy's and are considering ordering their "famous" tri-tip chili? Might want to give that a second thought.

Mediocre chili out of the way, we headed to Smart & Final to pick up some new flavor syrup for her brand new Sno-Cone machine! This was very exciting for me, because I love Sno-Cones. New, giant tub of watermelon-flavored syrup packed in the trunk, we headed back to her place for some delightful Sno-Cones. I will tell you this right here and now: As soon as I get wherever I'm going on this crazy journey I'm about to take, the very first purchase I will make to outfit my new home? Sno-Cone machine. (And a tub of watermelon syrup.) Mmmm-MM! Even though I was still nursing a fairly significant hangover at that point (which I swear, never happens to me) I could still embrace the childlike glee that can only come from enjoying a nice Sno-Cone.

Then I drove home. Then I went shopping at the local market for guacamole fixins. Then I made guacamole. Then I watched some football. Then my cousin Michelle showed up to stay her final day in town. Then we ordered a pizza. Then we ate the pizza. Then I took a Tylenol PM. Then I came in here and wrote this.

Then I flopped over dead.

Guest Speaker

It's not
What you thought
When you first began it
You got
What you want
Now you can hardly stand it though,
By now you know
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
'Til you wise up

You're sure
There's a cure
And you have finally found it
You think
One drink
Will shrink you 'til you're underground
And living down
But it's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
'Til you wise up

Prepare a list of what you need
Before you sign away the deed
'Cause it's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
'Til you wise up
No, it's not going to stop
'Til you wise up
No, it's not going to stop
So just...give up

        -- Wise Up (Aimee Mann)


It is now 12:50 AM, September 7, literally just minutes after I uploaded the previous update.

She just called me. She just called me. As far as I can tell, this phone call came at precisely the exact moment when I actually, truly felt I'd be just as happy if I never heard from her again.

Do you see? Do you see how they know to never come back until you've really forgotten?

I spent all week waiting for this fucking bitch to call me, and she didn't, and now I'm finally, finally, totally okay with that, and BRRRRRRRRIIIIING!!!!

I gotta get out of this town.

Saturday, September 6, 2003

Before I start, I should tell you that I did a little research on that "red ocean" phenomenon I described in my August 31 update (at work yesterday, naturally) and have come up with an explanation for you! In fact, this phenomenon even has a name, "Red Tide", ostensibly named after the mediocre Rush song of the same name. Seems what happens is, when the weather is just right, and the nutrient levels in the water are just so, a certain strain of algae just start boinking like bunnies (or, as it turns out, like algae). They multiply zillions and zillions of times in a very short timespan, and this "algae bloom" ends up imparting a reddish color to the entirety of the body of water in which all this X-rated nastiness is happening. Eventually, though, the color dissipates, as the girl algaes all let the boy algaes know that they were only using them for sex, and that they never actually meant anything to them, and that they would probably never call them again, even after they were requested to do so by several of their friends, and purportedly agreed to do so. What end, natures wonders, huh?! It's like Wild Kingdom out there, I tell ya.

With that educational business out of the way, let's get to today's exciting updates! The very first thing that happened today was that the phone rang. Now, the old Ben had a very specific, hard and fast rule about picking up the phone when it rang, which was: never, never, never ever do it. But that was then, and I'm a new man, so I lunged out of bed, over to the desk, and picked up the phone. It was my friend and ex-boss Marc, calling from New York, to catch up on how I was doing, what was new, what was going on, all that stuff. I meant to launch into a speech that went, "Marc, I know we've been through a lot, and whatever business proposition I know you're going to ask me about, believe me, I appreciate the thought, but I've decided that at this point in my life, I'm really not interested in pursuing any more technology-related opportunities. But do take care of yourself, will you?"

Somehow, though, this actually came out: "Hey. Whaddya got for me?" Note to self: Never, never, never ever pick up the phone. I thought we covered this already.

Upshot is, it sounds like I won't be able to completely claim to an absolute lack of income for at least a couple months. I do not, however, expect this to interfere with the rest of my journey to the bottom of myself which we're all still very excited about getting underway as soon as possible. Even though I was just informed last night that my first stop, where I'd planned to spend close to month, has no shower or televisions. I'm hoping that they meant "in the same room" (though that's still a terrible disappointment.)

There was no way that this Saturday was possibly going to measure up to the previous Saturday, but determined to give it my all, I "got my things together" (let's just call it that for the purposes of this website, so that no horribly graphic language is required) and headed on out in the Chevy Prizm to get some more stuff done on that very same Chevy Prizm in preparation for taking that (still very same) Chevy Prizm all around this adequate country of ours.

The first stop was the car wash. The best way to convey to you what shape my car was in, filth-wise, is to inform you that upon rolling up to the car wash, half of the establishment's employees quit and immediately ran across the street to the gas station to start calling Unemployment on the payphones. The second best way to convey to you what shape my car was in, filth-wise, is to inform you that the remaining employees spent ten minutes trying to clean the car to a sparkling, uniform dirty gray, before they realized that it was actually a black car, and they had been scrubbing the wrong spots. The third best, and most efficient way, is to just say, motherfucker was dirty, man.

But there's no dirt that I have found that a cool $12.95 won't put paid to, and that's exactly what went down, with the scrubbin' and the soapin' and the detailin' and the hippin' and the hoppin'. My claim check dutifully returned to the detailer (I never know whether to tip those guys or not, so to avoid any possible embarrassment, I don't), I confidently rolled on outta there into the street, at which point ten tons of "LA-brand" smog and filth descended squarely onto my Chevy Prizm, as if to say, "Nice try, Website Boy." Having already paid the $12.95, though, I felt I'd done enough to warrant crossing this particular item off my "to do before I get the fuck out of here" list.

You know, to do these updates, I scribble out on a piece of paper everything that happens during the day, and then as I fire up the EditPlus window (shareware evaluation day 1428 of 90), I just run through them, making sure I hit all the high points and provide you the wit and humor that I know you come to this website desperately begging for but rarely if ever actually receiving. Therefore, if you're looking for a short update today, it's a fairly bad sign that I'm already at about a page and a half, and I've only covered the first three (of approximately 20) items on my list. Hope you didn't have any pressing appointments you needed to get to.

My Prizm now (relatively) sparkling clean, I headed on over to Best Buy to accomplish not only what is a major item on my aforementioned "get the fuck out of here" list, but was also featured on the really major list I put together at the beginning of the year: Get a new car stereo. Not that I didn't enjoy having a car stereo with a tape deck that would only play one side of the tape, and only if the tape itself didn't have any of those pesky little "music nuggets" (technical term) on it, and speakers so weak that if an AM station came in too clear, they would simply just give up and jump out of the car. But I really did think it was time for a change, time to burst forth into the mysterious, magical world of the Future, featuring such science-fiction technology as a CD player, an "LCD" (where do they get this stuff?) display, and a "volume" control (the "loudy-softy" button, I call it.)

I strolled confidently into Best Buy and made my way back to the Car Audio section, where, as if in a strange, wonderful dream, there was actually a Best Buy representative there to help me. Those of you who frequent Best Buy understand that this is an occurrence nearly as rare and eagerly anticipated as Mars' recent swing by Earth. But there he was. Damon. Who, by the way, was nearly as large as Mars, and certainly a lot sweatier. (Not having been to Mars, this last bit is a supposition.)

I liked Damon. Damon is my kind of salesman, because Damon makes you feel like you know exactly what you're talking about, like you're the most brilliant car stereo analyst of your time, even though you frequently may refer to a volume control as a "loudy-softy button". The way Damon does this is by paraphrasing (or often repeating verbatim) everything you say while commenting on the perplexing array of choices before you.

I don't know a lot about car stereos, I'm willing to admit that. But as Damon showed me some of the available speakers which I was likely to want to choose from, I slowly learned that I am actually a genius at speakers. Here now, a sample of Damon and I's conversation re: car stereo speakers:

"So, this one... this one is (staring confused at the little "fact plaque" next to one of the speakers)... 180 watts?"
"Yeah, 180 watts, 180."
"Okay, and this one's... 150?"
"150, that's right, yeah."
"The 180 seems to sound a little..."
"Sounds a little better, right?"
"I was gonna say, sounds richer, like, on the high end--"
"Oh yeah, it's richer on the high end, yeah."
"Now, this also says it's a 'four-way'--"
"Four-way speaker, that's right..."
"Which is... what, better than a thr--"
"Oh yeah, better than a three-way speaker. Cuz it's got four ways. Yeah, richer on the high end."

This completely pointless and nonsensical discussion continued ad nauseum until I made a snap decision to go with the 220-watt Sony's, my decision track being: Hey. 220. That's a higher number than 180, right? ("Oh yeah, 220 definitely higher number than 180 man.")

Then it was time to pick out a CD deck. This was much easier, because I did know the general features that I wanted. Now, there were about four of these badboys that had all the features I wanted, and were about the same price, which is a situation I like being in, because then the decision basically boils down to: Which one looks the coolest? Well, I didn't need Damon's help with that, so I strode up to him and announced confidently, I would like the SONY CD/MP3 deck because it LOOKED the coolest and had the most BUTTONS on it ("Oh yeah, got a lot of buttons, this one.")

Shelled out the cash and then brought my new toys to the back of the Best Buy, dropped everything off with the installation team who were happy to do all the dirty work in appreciation for me being such a loyal Best Buy customer (plus $104 and change.)

Waiting anxiously to enter my newly purchased sonic wonderland, I kicked it on over to the San Francisco saloon (don't worry, it's not what you think -- it's just, everyone who works there or goes there frequently is a homosexual) for a pint or two, and then went back to Best Buy to purchase some new CDs to try out on the new system. I know this is a self-indulgent column to begin with, but I do think I'll stop short of actually listing for you the CDs that I bought. (Because really, who wants to hear about somebody purchasing the soundtrack to Catch Me If You Can, Tool's Aenima, the Supertramp "Best Of" album, and two compilations of "DnB"/"Trance" dance music?)

If you're scoring at home, I'm still not halfway through my daily list of events. This is truly ridiculous, I realize, and so to encourage you to click the "donate" button on the right, I think I'll start picking up the pace a little.

I arrived home and proudly, for the first time in my life, joined the ranks of paranoid, confused individuals who remove their faceplate after parking their car! This took me a while to figure out, but after delicately futzing with the thing, I was able to remove my (stereo's, BTW) faceplate and place it in its safely padded carrying case. Joy, joy! I then locked up my clean, shiny, sparkly Prizm and went inside, proud of all of my auto-related accomplishments.

After awhile of settling in, my phone rang, and once again (when will I learn?) I answered it. It was my landlord, asking me to go out and bring the garbage cans in from the street. I was about to retort with righteous indignation that this is a service that really should be provided by the landlord as part of the leaser/leasee agreement, but right then he said, "I'll buy you a sixpack if you do it for me." The man knows his tenants, what can I say.

I had a couple other things to do in the meantime, but eventually I got off my ass and went outside to begin bringing in the cans. Because my neighbor was having guests who had parked directly in the path I would normally take to roll the cans into the final resting places, I was forced (ugh!) to take the scenic route around the building, rolling these giant, noisy, ugly plastic containers all over the place. This "long way home" (second Supertramp reference in this article) just happened to take me past my car, and I stopped just for a moment to gaze lovingly upon it. When I noticed something. When I noticed that, lying on top of the roof of the car, baking in the hot sun, begging every passerby in Santa Monica to just help themselves, was...

...the faceplate carrying case, which I'd so carefully packed up, put on top of the car while I locked everything up, and then left there. I told you, I'm new at this.

Okay, I'm getting close to the end of my list now, so I'm just going to blow through these last few items so I can upload this crap and get to sleep.

Garbage cans safely tucked in for the night, I got back in my car and drove up the coast, with no destination in mind, but just wanting to revel in the rich, 220-watt sound of my new stereo. This route took me past Saeid Zoonematkermani's house, so I called him up with my fancy new cellphone (I am Mr. Technology, aren't I?) and suggested we take a drive to the local cantina for a drink. Which we did. At this point I described my fancy new stereo to him, hoping to impress.

Little hint for ya. Never try to impress a scientist with your goddamn stereo. "220 watt speakers are way too much for the output of your amplifier, assuming it's a 4-ohm. Is it a 4-ohm?"

"Aw yeah, man, 4-ohm," I said, channeling Damon. I have no idea how many ohms my stupid stereo is. I barely know what an ohm is. Is it next to the loudy-softy button?

In my eyes, though, my new system was beyond besmirchment, so I happily drove him back, cranking Supertramp (third reference) the whole way, dropped him off, and drove back to 122 Strand.

Then I walked to Finn's, had a couple pops, walked back, and awaited the arrival of my cousin Michelle, who is staying here tonight and Monday night, as she is in town to go to some fancy hairstylist training course at Vidal Sassoon. Once she arrived, she expressed a bit of concern that she would not be able to find the place the next morning, or find parking there once she got there. As the new owner of a sharp new car stereo, there seemed to be only one intelligent course of action at that point: let's drive there now!

And so we did, cranking tunes the whole way.

Once we got back, there was time for little more than a couple beers, a couple Camels, and a couple episodes of Cheers on Nick @ Nite, at which point I turned in, and got to work completing this obnoxiously long diary entry.

It was a long, exciting day, and looking back on it now, there's just one thought that keeps rolling through my mind:

I'm gonna need subwoofers in the back.

Friday, September 5, 2003

Yeah, nothing happened today.
        - The Clash Files, Thursday, May 2, 2002.

So. Hey. How ya doin'. Today was, as far as days go, one of the slower ones you're likely to get out of me in the coming year or so. Let us, instead of calling it "having no life abso-goddamn-lutely", call it "the calm before the storm". You don't just barrel on headfirst into a crazy, life-changing experience like this without taking some serious time beforehand to just settle down, regroup, focus, and most of all prepare yourself for the coming maelstrom of activity.

And it went like this, then: Got up, went to work, didn't work, had a meeting, continued to not work, went to lunch at Isshin again for some naturally spectacular sushi, except this time with my good buddy Saeid Zoonematkermani, who was in the area after visiting the immigration office to get his fingers printed and his alert level raised to Orange (if you catch my drift). After that, brought Saeid Zoonematkermani back to my office to show him around, and give him the Grand Tour of the LRN offices ("Here are the free drinks, here is the game room, here is my cube, bye.") Then spent the remainder of the afternoon not working.

I suppose if I had to pick a highlight of this extended period of not working, it would have to be that I made a very important addition to this website, that being the lovely PayPal button over there on the right, by clicking which you may now give me money! That's right, now instead of just taking and taking and taking and taking from me, the way you've been doing for the last seven or eight years by my count, you can finally do the one thing which you'd always known would bring you true happiness, but which was always just outside your grasp: Give me cash.

Your cash donation, in addition to feeding a starving third-world child, will ensure that I have enough resources to keep me in the style to which I've grown accustomed (vodka and pretzels), as well as encouraging me to really starting putting some effort into keeping these daily updates pared down into a more easily digestible size, instead of these long, meandering, seemingly endless rivulets of consciousness which I've been cranking out like diarrhea after a big lunch at Isshin lately. And possibly using fewer commas, but I'm not making any promises.

After heading home, I began cleaning up about the place and doing laundry. Are you following this? Cleaning and laundry, people. Try to tell me I don't have it all going on.

Interestingly, though my message-by-proxy to Shortcake was quite clear on what she would be doing this evening, and where she would be doing it, she failed to arrive. This came as a terribly distressing shock to exactly nobody in the universe. Forunately, this was one of my "good" Shortcake days, where most of my thoughts aimed in her general direction were ones of a composed disappointment, as well as controlled anger. These are both healthy, appropriate emotions for me, because it keeps me in the driver's seat. These emotions say "Ben > Shortcake", rather than the other way around, which is what really gets me into trouble (and which is totally absurd, given the circumstances.)

Whoops, gotta switch the laundry! BRB!

Ah, anything more satisfying than a nice, orderly pile of fresh, clean laundry? ("Well, ye--") Of course not! Now, where was I. Oh yeah, more Shortcake bullcrap.

Well, I have more to say about that, but frankly, even I'm tired of reading about it at this point, and plus I've already (really) started getting complaints from SNT readers that these entries are just too damn long. Plus, I'm not feeling particularly entertaining tonight. Plus, that fifth Budweiser is starting to kick in. Plus...

Yeah, nothing happened today.

Thursday, September 4, 2003

Okay, I really am gonna keep this one short today. Goes like this: Got up, took a shower, shaved the back of my neck (the only spot I can't realistically take care of with the clippers mentioned in yesterday's update), headed to work, dicked around most of the morning, then went to lunch. Lunch is worth mentioning only because it was at the aforementioned Isshin, the very best sushi shop I've found 'round these parts, and it was great as ever. Spicy tuna hand roll, yellowtail sushi, live scallop sushi, two orders of uni (sea urchin), and $40 later, I left there happy as an orange clam, stuffed to the gills, and went back to my desk, at which point I knocked out my signature "full day of work" (which today took about an hour and a half), and then spent the rest of the day killing time in my normal fashions. The good part was that today was noticeably less Shortcake-related-angst intensive, primarily because I have a shiny new toy to play with!

That's right, just a mere two and a half months after killing my previous cellphone by spilling a bottle of vodka on it, I am back in the cellular saddle again with my trusty new Sprint "Oh God, you didn't get Sprint PCS did you?" PCS cellular phone! Man, is it sweet. It's got buttons and lights, and if that's not good enough, I can actually call people, and on those rare occasions anyone wants to talk to me ( =( ), even receive calls! Also, I can select to browse the world wide web, at which point I can be warned that pressing "ok" at that moment will secure several unreasonable charges on my next month's bill, at which point I can press "Cancel" and go back to changing ring sounds. Ahh, it's nice to be back in the mobile world.

Now, a couple stories for you. Here's the first one:

In 1909, Harry Warehime founded Snyder's of Hanover on the belief that everyone would love his fresh bakery pretzels. Pretzels born from Old World recipes. Perfected with wholesome ingredients. Then kneaded, individually twisted and slow-baked to seal in all the flavor. Nearly a hundred years later, the Snyder's family of bakery pretzels has grown to include over 20 unique varieties. Every batch a tribute to the fine art of pretzel baking. Take our distinct selection of Sourdough Pretzels. Individually rolled and twisted, then slow-baked to seal in the flavor of real aged sourdough... like the genuine taste and hearty crunch of our original Sourdough Hard Pretzels.

I think we can all agree that that was both a heart-wrenchingly emotional story, as well as possibly the worst grammar to ever disgrace the back of a box of snack-related foodstuffs. Now if you'll excuse me while I grab a beer and the genuine taste and hearty crunch of Snyder's original Sourdough Hard Pretzels, I'll be right back to tell you another story...


Okay, back. Now that other story. Take a trip with me, won't you? A trip back to 1996. (Or maybe 1997. Look, I'm a storyteller, not a historian, alright?)

I'd recently come back from my amazing, wonderful, frightening, and ultimately disastrous stint in South Florida, and was settling back into the routine of suburban Maryland life, along with all the joys that entailed, including driving cars, shopping at grocery stores, and explaining to out of towners that you live "kinda near DC, but like, not in DC?" But my main joy, of course, was frequenting Gary's Olde Towne Tavern, in Gaitherburg, MD. Gary's had some of the finest homebrew I've still ever tasted, as well as sporting the name of the infamous "enemy bar" on Cheers, so how could I help but fall in love with the place?

Also part of re-ingratiating myself into the local scene was to meet up with my good buddy Adam and see how he'd been doing over the past year while I was away swatting mosquitos and changing diapers and poorly writing humor columns while at work in the lower southeast. Well now, seems my man had found a new girlfriend! That was nice to hear. Adam's a generally good guy, and it was nice to hear he was doing well and finding happiness on his own. So what better way to meet this new lass than to have us all meet at my favorite stomping ground, Gary's!

I walk in, anxiously looking forward to seeing my old buddy and meeting his new ball-and-chain. Hmm. They don't seem to be at the bar. Well, maybe they went into the dining room and grabbed a table there in preparation for my arrival. Yeah, I don't see Adam in there either. I see this one chick by herself over at the table in the corner, but Adam's not with her. It's at this point I momentarily abandon my search for Adam and just stand there with a dumbstruck goofy look on my face, flushed with the giddy joy of that girl. My goodness, I'd thought I'd just seen an angel there, sent straight from heaven to lighten up my life. For just a moment, everything made sense, and my search for true, lasting beauty in the universe had finally reach its sweet destination.

What if that's her, and Adam's just in the bathroom or something?

Oh, no, that absolutely couldn't be. Even at that point, I thought (and believe me, I was correct) I'd been tortured quite enough for one lifetime. There's no reason for this to happen now, no reason for the Great Creator to shove every last dagger into my heart, my soul, my fucking rectum, and tell me that this girl, this creature, was just sitting there waiting for her dopey boyfriend, and my best buddy, to come out of the can. This can't be her. Please, this isn't her.

"Heeeey, buddy! Have you met Filipina?!" And here he comes, back from the back hallway, already extending an arm in her direction, leading me to the only table I ever wanted to sit at, and now the only one I'd pay every last cent to be far away from.

So that's how I met P. (That's her "nickname" for all those closest to her. P. Darling, ain't it?)

By my count, I've spent six years, six years creating false Gods to pray to, just so I had someone to beg to split these two up so she could become rightfully mine. And you gotta know, that's how it was meant to be. She cooks, I cook. She's musical, I'm musical. Every time I'm together with these two, me and P, without fail, end up ridiculing Adam and his lack of understanding of the ethereal plane which us, the two beautiful people, reside within. Then of course she goes home and fucks him within an inch of his life. But that's neither here nor there.

Six years.

Let's flash forward to Tuesday, then, when this MSN Messenger window pops up on my screen:

Adam: Hey man, can you give me a ride to the airport Thursday?
Ben: Sure bro, whassup?
Adam: I'm going home for a little while.
Ben: Oh yeah, what for?
Adam: Got some work to do.
Ben: What kinda work?
Adam: Just some... some computer stuff.
Ben: Uh huh. It feels like there's something you're not telling me.
Adam: Well, yeah.
Ben: What is it?
Adam: I'll tell you Thursday.
Ben: Well, at least give me a HINT here, pal.
Adam: Okay. P is leaving me.

Lord? Can you hear me? I know we've had our differences over the years, and we could sit here all day arguing over who fucked over whom, and who forsook whom, but I've just gotta tell you this: Thank you. Thank you Lord, for this one blessing, which I've begged, and prayed, and tortured innocent animals and small children over for years and years. Thank you.

Sure, Adam, I'll drive you to the airport. Then you can tell me your story, and I can sit there acting concerned and sad and distraught, while secretly planning just exactly how many days to wait before "accidentally" stopping by your apartment, finding Filipina there, and consoling her brains out.

Epilogue. Here's his story in a nutshell: Tuesday, she told him to get the fuck out. Wednesday, he finally felt the fear of God, and begged her to please, please, please give him one more chance.

Which, of course, she did.

Get back to me in six years. Lord? You're back on the shit list. You fucker. You absolute fucker.

Shortcake didn't call today either, by the way, but who gives a shit.

Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Today's entry might actually end up being a genuinely short one, if all goes as planned. This is because, as of this writing (8:09 PM), it sure looks an awful lot like yesterday's.

For one thing, my morning was eerily similar, as I sat there and emailed Shortcake's friends, telling them to please have her call me if they get in touch with her. Please. After a half hour of that crap, though, I looked at myself in the seventh-floor bathroom mirror and said to myself, "What are you, a man, or a simpering little mutant offspring of a pansy and a fucking douchebag? Despite the inevitable answer, I decided nonetheless to change my tack on this matter, and instead got the message out to all of Shortcake's friends to, rather than begging her to call me, simply deliver this message:

Friday night. 122 Strand St. Be there.

Short, simple, and to the point. Not unlike the girl herself. So, tune in Friday, when you get to hear me talk about sitting here all goddamn night waiting for a car to drive up to my door, either to drop off Shortcake, or to please just plow on into my living room and squash me flat like a Domino's Thin Crust (R) pizza.

So that was my morning, basically, which as you can see does bear a striking resemblance to yesterday, except for the one major difference which is that I got an entire day's worth of work done! In just two and a half short hours! How did I do that? Why, by resorting to the Lazy Programmer's Guide to 101 Tricks to Get Out of Doing Any Work, which states very clearly under Trick 52: Schedule four items on your daily task list, and estimate them conservatively as taking about 1/4 of a day to complete. Then, since they all actually take a maximum of about 20 minutes to knock out, blow through 'em like melted Cheez Whiz in the glove compartment of a Buick on a hot summer day. Bam. Full day of work. And then you get to take lunch! I'm sure going to miss being a programmer. (Not really.)

Lunch was the caesar salad over at Angelino's, which is one of your finer caesars in town, based solely on the fact that they load that badboy up with anchovies. A lot of people don't like anchovies on their caesars, but that's like not liking cheese on their cheeseburgers. Or not liking exquisitely painful, soul-crushing sorrow and misery with their interpersonal relationships with the opposite sex. I mean, if you don't want it, you shouldn't have ordered it in the first place.

Nothing much happened the rest of the day. A little more work, a lot of scrounging around my Instant Messenger "buddy lists" looking for someone to kill some time with. A little ping pong in the game room. Quick note here: My ping pong has gone to absolute hell in the last month or so. I think my heart's just not in it anymore. Before, I'd sit at my desk, just wishing I was in the game room. Now, I'm standing in the game room, just wishing I was drunk. Wait, I mean, wishing I was out of this town, and on my way to my glorious destinations as I embark on this life-changing, life-affirming journey! (Also, the drunk thing.)

Stopped by Vons on the way home to pick up cat litter, pretzels, beer, and a sandwich. No more fruit and cheese and wine for this guy, not knowing I've got a total annual income of $0.00 on the slate for the coming year. Nope, it's all about pretzels and beer and sandwiches (and cat litter) for me from here on in.

Proud of myself for saving so much money at Vons, I drove directly home, popped onto Dell's website and ordered me a $1750 laptop. That may seem excessive to you for someone with no job, but I'm doing it for you, the avid So now then... reader. So that no matter where I go, or where I end up in this crazy world of ours, I'll always be able to keep you informed about just exactly which hotel I'm sitting around depressed in, and exactly what brand of cheap vodka I am drinking at that very moment. I'll be accepting PayPal donations shortly, BTW.

At that point, since I was already on such a "self improvement" jag, I went into the bathroom and cut my hair. The way I do this is to take the clippers that were purchased for me by my dead dad's wife, and buzz the crap out of my head. I was halfway through before I realized I'd used the "short" attachment instead of the regular one, and was seeing way more scalp than I'd originally intended. But by that point, there was no going back, and so now I look similar to one of Tyler Durden's "space monkeys" from the film Fight Club. I'll try to pass that off as looking "mysterious" tomorrow at work, when people mistakenly ask me how my chemo treatments are going.

That done, I set about drinking Budweisers and waiting for my phone to ring. Which it did once, but that was just my landlord calling to tell me he'll be showing the apartment on Sunday. Which means I better get started cleaning now if I want it to be presentable by then. But then again, what the hell do I care?

Once again, I have failed to come through with a shorter entry. But at least I think you'll admit that the quality is declining steadily. At least give me that.

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Alright, I really am going to try to keep today's entry short, primarily because it was not a good day for me, and if I end up spending an hour on here describing it to you people (or "person", if the statistical charts over at iPowerWeb are to be believed), it's just going to bring me down even further.

Let me just sum it up thusly: Today was, from beginning to end, the exact kind of day I am hoping to get rid of by way of the adventure I am about to undertake. Let's begin at the beginning, shall we? I'm sure you've heard most of this story before, but it'll be good to get it all out in one place, for convenience purposes later, when schoolchildren of the year 2340 travel back in time for secrets of the ancient civilization of the early 21st century, but accidentally wind up on this website. I get most of my users that way, by the way. Which reminds me, hey Xorr!! UR MOM IS HOT!! LOL

I awoke at 6:45 to the in-between-station hiss and crackle of my trusty clock radio, which I then of course immediately reset to go off again at 7:45. Which it did, and after which I traditionally hit the snooze button three times, but since I'm not long for my job anyway, I said "the hell with it", and slapped that puppy a fourth time.

The minutiae of an average morning around here is not particularly entertaining. Long story short, by about 9:30, I was seated at my desk in cube 345, ready to begin a full workday. And a full workday is what it was going to take to get caught back up on all the tasks I've been postponing while checking email and chatting with friends and writing resignation letters lately. Unfortunately, a full workday was not what was in the cards on this particular day, as it was about 11:30 before I opened my first Java file to edit. I typed about three lines into it, smiled smugly at my brilliance, and then got back to the pressing matter of waiting for lunch hour to roll around.

How did I fill up all that time, instead of working? Well, I wrote email. Most of the email was sent to a friend of Shortcake's, asking her to please relay the message that I would really like her (Shortcake) to call me at her earliest inconvenience. She just moved back with her mother (no longer having any money or job of her own), and I don't have that number, and I'd really like to talk to her for a second, at least. I mean, Jesus Christ, she just told me last week I was NOT just a meaningless (yet sizeable) chunk of meat, and now I'd like to at least say "hello" and catch up on how she's doing. But still I receive no phone calls. Endless torture, this one. Why the hell do I bother? So then I get bummed about that (for approximately the seventeen thousandth time in the last two and a half months, but who's counting.)

Also, I chatted on Instant Messenger with my other "conquest" of last week. Lest you think I could have a positive, enjoyable conversation with anyone on this particular date, let me just take a moment to laugh in your face. I start the festivities by suggesting that we "resume our recreation" from last Tuesday, when we met at the Days Inn in Camarillo for a little fun under the glow of the free cable television. Expecting "sure, how about tonight!?!", I instead receive a lukewarm reply, citing the fact that (and I'm going to get graphic here, just because there's no other way) I wasn't "aggressive enough in bed". This from a woman who got me up there last week under the pretenses that she wanted to "rape me". Now I'm not aggressive enough? And how the hell could she tell anyway, she was done after about five fucking seconds, so it must not have been too bad, huh, sweetcheeks?

That (anger and hostility) would have been the proper way of dealing with this revelation. Instead, I naturally turned it into a self-feeding closed system of self-loathing and hatred of the universe, as is my wont.

And then it was lunchtime. Already besieged by unpleasant feelings about both of "my" (it is to laugh) women, I set out to the streets of Westwood, looking for anything, anything to take my mind off my sorry lot in life, preferably of a food-related nature. Ten blocks and half a sunburn later, nothing could tantalize me enough to make me choke back the bile long enough to buy and eat it, so instead I sulked back to 1100 Glendon, went up to the kitchen, grabbed a bagel and a bag of Gummy Bears (R), and walked dejected back to my desk.

It was at this point that I did the 45 minutes of actual work that I can truthfully claim to on this particular day.

The rest of the afternoon was a festival of depression, chatting in Instant Messenger with people, emailing people, playing ping-pong, and generally wishing that either it would become September 26 very soon, so I could get out of there and begin my Big Adventure, or that at least a nuclear bomb would fall directly onto 1100 Glendon and get this shit over with.

A few minutes after 5:00, I snuck out, drove home, grabbed a 12-pack of Budweiser, and set about the task of trying to forget about this day, and all those bearing a strong resemblance to it that have come before. And believe me, there have been plenty.

Tomorrow will be a better day. Do you know how I know? Because I just finished this one off by going into the bathroom and accidentally peeing all over my shoes. Do you know how I know?

Because tomorrow has to be a better day.


The trick here is, just make writing fun again. Gaze at the empty Editplus window like a beckoning from a lover just dressed in her new lingerie. Empty spaces to fill up, art to be created, passion to be expressed. This is the trick. And it's more than an apt comparison, for I can sit there at work, or on my couch watching Nick @ Nite, and think, "boy, I'd love to be writing now", but then get me in front of a keyboard, and now I have to perform. Performance anxiety comes in many forms, you see. And just like a nervous young boy struggling to maintain an erection in the face of overwhelming odds (and breasts), here we have a lover of the written word, unable to grasp even the simplest phrase to describe what he's feeling. Probably because he's not quite sure himself. Or even worse, he's sure, but doesn't care.

This page was ostensibly (and still might be) named I Wish I Were Alive, and that's what it's about. Replace the glassy, dead-eyed stare in cube 345 on the seventh floor of 1100 Glendon Ave., Westwood, CA, with something that glows, something with fire, something worth existing. Something which adds to the energy of this swirling complex of conservation rather than sucking it into nothingness. That is not life. If you want to see someone who was alive, go over there to the right side of this screen and click on "PWC". Content, was this man? Of course not. Fulfilled, was this man? You must be high. No, but he was alive, that was for damn sure.

This is about getting back to that, and at once going forward, and finding happiness, before it's too late. And that's a long, winding road to be sure, so y'all come back now, y'hear.

Monday, September 1, 2003

"Rabbit rabbit!" That's what Erica Weinstein said we were supposed to say the first thing of every month, before anything else. That would bring us good luck. You might remember Erica Weinstein, she, the first major tormentress of my heart, who basically destroyed my formative years (14-18) and left deep, oozing, pus-filled wounds which are just now beginning to heal. Anyway, I think she might have been right, because I always forget to say it, and look where I'm at now.

Along that same theme, today began in one of my least favorite ways, which was that right after I became conscious enough to form a coherent though, that thought became Shortcake, and then I started getting sad and pissed off. Which, believe me, I normally don't do anymore, long having steeled myself against the painful vagaries of my involvement with her, but when it's the first thing in the morning, sometimes I don't have my defenses up yet. So I spent about 20 minutes staring at the ceiling and sighing deeply. Fucking bitch.

Eventually coming to my senses, it was time to rise and prepare for the days events. Since I hadn't actually planned any events for the day, this process was a bit more leisurely-paced than it might have been. I spent awhile proudly gazing upon my new website and ruminating about what exciting things to do with it next. Sadly, nothing came to me, so instead I just started checking email every three seconds -- hey, I don't have to be at work to do that, you know.

Michelle and I now both gussied up and ready to head out, I suggested a stop at Best Buy, where I might have occasion to shop for laptop computers and car stereos, both of which I'll be needing to purchase within the coming weeks. Glancing thoughtfully at the dizzying arrays of products available for my consumption, I came to one important realization: I know nothing about laptops or car stereos, and have no idea what the hell I was looking at. I masked my shameful confusion by nodding knowingly at the Sony XVC-1029/a (which was either a laptop or a stereo, or perhaps both) and saying, "Ah, well, this gives me some good information to go on." Then, to regain my footing, I went over to the DVD section and stared at the large display of the new Simpsons Complete Third Year DVD. Now there's a topic I can speak authoritatively about! "This is when it really started to get good," I said. "Uhh. Okay," Michelle retorted. King of Best Buy, just for a moment!

My research project complete, I then suggested we grab a bite for lunch. Michelle was into this idea, and became especially into it when I suggested that we go to my favorite sushi place in Westwood, where me and my work buddies always end up after a long week of playing ping-pong, checking email, and chatting with internet sluts. So we drove there (while smoking a Camel, I might add).

I don't know if any of you were aware of this, but today, September 1, also happened to be a holiday in this country. A holiday which is celebrated, as far as I can tell, primarily by computer programmers and Japanese restaurant owners. I say this because Isshin, my favorite place in Westwood as I said, was closed. The two Chinese places which bookend it (and the Denny's across from it) were wide open, of course, but there was no sushi to be had in Westwood on this particular day.

I also say this because En Sushi, the other favorite place in that area which I enjoy, was also closed (though the three burrito shops on that same block were packed and full of paying customers.)

I also say this because Creative Sushi, just one block from 122 Strand, which we drove to in disgust after our previous failures, was also closed (though La Vecchia and Finn's, its neighbors, were doing smashing business.)

Our last chance was "Oyako", the brand new sushi joint a little further down south on Main Street, next to Rick's Tavern on Main ("Best Damn Burger in LA" - neon sign at Rick's) (don't believe it), which I'd never been to. So, it was with just a pinch of trepidation that we walked into this small, street-side joint.

The first disappointment was that there was no sushi bar. It's a terribly small establishment, just a smattering of tables in the main room, and a few cafe-style seats out front. After grabbing a table, I happened upon the second (and larger) disappointment, after ordering a bottle of hot sake. "We cannot serve alcohol," our friendly (really) waitress sadly informed us. But, she enthusiastically followed up, we could get our own stuff at the liquor store across the street (which she pointed directly to while explaining this) and bring our own stuff in! I thanked her for her assistance, but secretly doubted that a place called (and I base this solely on the large sign which adorned its storefront) "LIQUOR", was going to have any hot sake at the ready. We settled instead for Diet Cokes.

The only thing, then, that could save this particular meal, would be if the sushi was just exceptional, and we were able to dig hedonistically into a large plate of fresh, delicious, Japanese-sounding delicacies.


It was excellent. I think I shall visit Oyako again, in fact (after stopping off at the L&K Market for a couple 24oz bottles of Sapporo, naturally).

Sated and stuffed, we made our way back to 122 Strand, when sadly, it was time for Michelle to depart. Which she did. That was around 1:30.

It's now 7:30. I'm sure I did stuff in between now and then, but all I can remember is working on the website, drinking Mike's Cranberry Lemonades and Stoli (not together), and only occasionally thinking about Shortcake and getting sad. Also, I think I've been thinking about one or more of the following:

  • I better cool down with the booze and the food, lest all the fine progress I've made in the last two months on my "physique" (if you can keep a straight face while you say it) be lost in a fit of personal irresponsibility.
  • I better figure out what the hell I'm doing. I better start reading those books I bought Saturday and start formulating a plan.
  • I better do something with this cat.
  • I sure could go for a Camel.
PWC3 | PWC2 | Jetstream | MOPO | PWC | Perimeter