My Daily Day

Friday, July 30, 2004

On Friday, July 30, 2004
he left the party for a short walk. He found himself on the deserted rooftop garden of the Monona Terrace. The moon trailed a bright, shimmering streak across Lake Monona. He leaned against the rail, staring into the water, unmoved, and thought about his five years in Madison. He remembered his 18th, 19th, and 20th, summers, shaped by the distinctive joys of friendship, independence, and romance, respectively. Oh the stories. Oh the goddamn stories that he's already forgetting and you will never know. Memory chased memory, the time this happened, and that, so many people he never reached, , acquaintances that never became friends, things he should have said but didn't, attraction kept silent, and the impotence of it all, the tragedy of our incomplete knowledge, and the details don't matter because the point is this is your life too, and because you forget, because memory is imperfect, all that shapes you will fail, and you will never know your past completely. But as consolation . . . the details, there on the roof. The lake, filled with moonlight. The faint breeze, like some secret. The calm hiss of the fountain. The state capitol, in the background, its bright dome. Sometimes, the immediacy of observation, of touch, is as close as you can get to a sacred experience.
On Thursday, July 29, 2004
he came home drunk. She, half-amused and seeking to acquaint herself with her new partner, asked, "So what kind of drunk are you? Are you the angry drunk? The happy drunk? The sad, brooding drunk?" "I don't know," he replied, confused but composed. "I suppose I'm the most dangerous drunk of all, the honest drunk. Have you put on weight?"
On Wednesday, July 28, 2004
he re-read a short story he'd written years earlier, about his freshmen year of college. He was mutedly proud of a few lines, like "My problem was that I was a middle class white boy coming of age in an unprecedented word, torn between a suspicion that there was some nobility inherent in suffering and my predicament of really having no reason to suffer," and "Discrepancies in individual preferences festered into arguments; once I ended up fighting with a business major I had a crush on, practically strangling her with my views on the relationship of money to happiness, even though I knew nothing of either. For obvious reasons, I spent my freshman year single." However, he felt ashamed of several lines. "Jude spoke like a poet. Rich, I suppose, most aptly describes it." And . . . well, overall, the story was just too heavy. Pete didn't think he had any right be that heavy at the age of 19. But then, had anything really changed? Teenagers like to court destruction. Leader of the Pack, anyone? We like to envision ourselves as tragic characters in our own novels. I'm envisioning a doughnut right about now. Maybe some sprinkles.
On Tuesday, July 27, 2004
he sat with Ken and Kevin at the Weary Traveler. He drank a beer and they talked about dating, engine maintenance, earthquakes, and birthday parties. Then he went home, sat up with Mitch trading Merrill stories for a half hour. The theme for the night: friendship. The happy side of our favorite species that spends most its time devising new and interesting ways to kill, maim, or deprive its members.
On Monday, July 26, 2004
he played with the Whiskey Lash All-Stars at the Crystal Corner.
On Sunday, July 25, 2004
the Kissers rolled into Madison in the morning sunlight. Goddamn, to be this young and still alive, he thought. After hugs and goodbyes, he unpacked while listening to "Sunday Morning" by the Velvet Underground. He evaded, perhaps temporarily, those negative feelings, the I can't wait to get home I need some decent sleep I need some exercise feelings, the suspicions of uselessness and various self-doubts, insecurities, a sense of patronization, the things bounced around in his head and amplified during long hours of car travel, the elusiveness of social honesty and the ease of solitude, but now, unpacking, awake before noon and content, he realized he'd left his cell phone in the van. I am not particularly brilliant, he reminded himself.
On Saturday, July 24, 2004
he apparently shouted at Ken in his sleep. This, after shaking Ken the previous night, during a dream that confused Ken with a cat.
On Friday, July 23, 2004
he walked up into the hills beyond Don's house, outside of Denver, vaguely wary of rattlesnakes. A lightning storm unfolded atop distant mountains. He lay in the dry, rough, grass, listening to the muffled roll of thunder.
On Thursday, July 22, 2004
he and Ken watched the Terminal in a Denver theater.
On Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Pete was miserable and pink in the sweltering desert heat of Phoenix. 112 degrees in sunlight like naked hell.
On Tuesday, July 20, 2004
he stood on a pier in San Diego, watching black, slumped waves crawl up and collapse, broken hearted and exhausted, on shore (poetic or pretentious: you be the judge!). Fireworks popped and fizzled above the city. Later, as the Kissers loaded out, a woman on crutches hopped up to Pete and bit his tie. "My you're forward, aren't you ma'am," said Pete. "Don't worry," she said, "I'm not sexually attracted to you." Pete, inwardly bruised, claimed he was gay.
On Monday, July 19, 2004
the Kissers slept in what would become a coroner's office, 1-800-AUTOPSY. They played with rib spreaders and skull saws. Maybe he'll, like, post some picture n' shit.
On Sunday, July 18, 2004
he visited Union Square in San Francisco and wondered if he should instead try and find David Egger's pirate store.
On Saturday, July 17, 2004
he wandered near the (beep beep beep . . . we interrupt this daily installment to bring you a public service announcement . . . a tornado warning is in effect for the following counties: Adams, Marquette, and Dane, with a severe storm alert for counties Lincoln, Marathon, and Portage. We now return to your regularly scheduled program . . .) spastic transience," she said. "As if you're two shits better off for it." "Please," said Pete, "Can I put my clothes on?"
On Friday, July 16, 2004
he walked down Castro Street, the heart of San Francisco's gay community, and wondered if passing male couples could tell he was straight.
On Thursday, July 15, 2004
he spent the drive to California reading "Being Good," a slim textbook on the philosophy of ethics. He found no answers. Frankly, he was pretty disconcerted that in several millennia of advanced civilization, no one's really nailed down a definition of "Right" or "Wrong." This is something that a child understands but a philosopher cannot explain. For 130 pages, the author showed that for a solid code of ethics, we cannot rely on religion, on science, or logic. We have for authority only the bizarre certainties of our intuition . . . "Happiness is preferable to misery, and dignity is better than humiliation. It is bad that people suffer, and worse if a culture turns a blind eye to their suffering." The author dismissed the myth of progress. But after all, our increased sensitivity to the environment, race, and gender, represent "small, hard-won, fragile, but undeniable causes of pride." We are not saints. Perhaps we are not monsters, either.
On Wednesday, July 14, 2004
he met a man who claimed he learned French by smoking pot and reading French childrens books while high.
On Tuesday, July 13, 2004
he gradually realized that she resents her 'commodity' as an Irish woman, weary of quips about car bombs and religion, those Americans who would impress with their Irish ancestry, in short, people interested more in her country than her individual person. She couldn't quite pull off the 'doing' in her fake midwest accent, and Pete dazzled the crowd with a horrid Irish accent like a gargling frog.
On Monday, July 12, 2004
he ran up to the rose gardens on a steep hill, and sat looking out across an ampitheater, across the buildings of downtown Portland, at a mountain in the distance.
On Sunday, July 11, 2004
he dumped a bunch of money at Everyday Music, then Powell's bookstore, and thought capitalism is a narcotic.
On Saturday, July 10, 2004
he played it cool at Kell's, concealing his attraction to the girl from both Belfast and Minnesota, where an elimidate mentality prevailed on a sizable but joyless crowd.
On Friday, July 09, 2004
he finished reading Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke.
On Thursday, July 08, 2004
he sat reading a magazine during a set break. A heavy, bearded man sitting next to him grabbed the magazine from him, saying "What are you doing man? You shouldn't be reading! You're in a rock band, on tour! You should be having your own experiences, not having experiences through the eyes of others!" The man was drunk and Pete resented the paternalism. He said, "Well, you know, being on tour is pretty boring most of the time." The drunk asshole man then tapped Pete's shoulder, "Say, what's the deal with your fiddle player man?"
On Wednesday, July 07, 2004
he stood on a hill in Montana, surrounded by brittle scrub grass, by a barbed wire fence. Mountains towered across immense, empty distances on all sides, treed covered at their base, bare and gray at their peaks. He watched the sun sink behind the mountains to the west. A robin perched on a nearby post and chirped several times. Pet whistled in a poor imitation. The robin cocked its head, puffed its breast, and darted off.
On Tuesday, July 06, 2004
he climbed several hundred feet to the top of a waterfall with Ken, Joe, and Caitlin.
On Monday, July 05, 2004
he saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time in his life as the Kissers drove west through Montana.
On Sunday, July 04, 2004
he watched fireworks from a parking lot in downtown Minneapolis, wondering about Canada.
On Saturday, July 03, 2004
the intended afterbar dance party at Emma's disintegrated when the majority of guests passed out after gorging themselves on McDonald's.
On Friday, July 02, 2004
he finished reading War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning.
On Thursday, July 01, 2004
he stood on the banks of the Mississippi in Waubasha, Minnesota, watching old riverboats crawl up and down the water.