Resolutions for 2003:
Shift down to working at the office three days a week. Use the other days for drawing, writing and music.
Find an agent for the Amber book.
Get a publisher to commit to Red Eye, Black Eye and finish it by the end of the year.
Keep playing music with Leela and whatever gang we put together. Write a new song every month.
Learn to play guitar for real.
Keep the weight steady at 145. Tone the upper body.
Two new tattoos: right forearm, chest.
A year's worth of these little messages.
Make out with more cute girls. Alternately, make out with one cute girl for a really long time.
Meet Prince.
Back to work, a touch jetlagged and bedheaded but in general glad to be back. Making New Year's plans, trying not to spread myself too thin while I decide exactly where I'll be when the odometer turns over. Last year was spent on a bridge, drunkenly hollering at the moon as my breath froze in front of me. Hopefully this year I'll manage a little warmer, quieter and easier. A whole new batch of resolutions, though.
Weird dream: I have traveled forward in time to do some new sort of drug that is inhaled through a portable oxygen-mask type device. I am traveling with a "family" that is not mine - I know they are also drug users. We are in the future for a week. On Thursday I do the drug and am unimpressed - it's a little like LSD but since we're in the future everything is very plasticky and unreal. On Friday, the day before I am supposed to leave, I am riding some kind of elevated tramway with the "father" of the family, who is looking for prostitutes. Suddenly, masked policemen come in and arrest us, as well as many of the other people on the train, for being time-traveling drug addicts. They take us to a concentration camp, where I escape by hopping over a knee-high wall. Then I wake up. I rarely remember my dreams - maybe it's my new bed.
Last day in Seattle and I'm laid low, the end result of a week of holiday eating is a tremor in my belly so brutal that I feel like the Hindenburg, all it'll take is a lit cigarette to blow me up in a cloud of fart gas and Christmas tinsel. I guess it maybe wasn't a good idea to try to subsist only on food I found in my stocking for two days. But the holidays are pretty much over now, and if I can get through New Year's without too much sorrow I'll be on the slim track for the 2003.
Luck and coincidence, my guardian angels, thank you for this. I'm sitting in the bar Max bartends in now, Hoegaarden on tap for $3.50 a glass. I'd seen him riding down the hill on his bike, totally at random. We made eye contact and cue the recognition scene. He was the one person I'd wanted to make sure to see in Seattle, but normally so out of touch that traditional contact methods had failed. So I lift a glass of clear yellow beer to him, and we talk about old times.
My brother-in-law said that he saw me on a Jones Soda bottle a few weeks ago so I hit the streets to try to score a sixer with my visage. Unfortunately, after canvassing several dozen grocery and convenience stores, it looks like he was pulling my laig a bit, as my cursory examination of several million soda bottles didn't reveal one with my phiz adorning it. Ah well, guess I'll save myself for that lucrative line of toilet seat covers.
We went and saw Gangs of New York today, to celebrate the Jewish Christmas tradition. I'm a big fan of that era of New York history, so it was sort of cool to see stuff I'd read about in Low Life acted out, but the damn thing was three hours long and so muddleheadedly directed that it was hard to like it. Cutting to old newspaper illustrations to show a riot is never as effective as, say, actually showing the riot. But it was a good time anyways, my Mom covering her eyes at the myriad arterial sprays, and then out into the placid Seattle air, homesick and timesick.
My mother's side of the family has always celebrated Christmas for as long as I can remember on Christmas Eve, so I could be shuttled off to my Dad's side on Christmas Day. So tonight we ate sandwiches and opened presents and watched TV and fell into a brisk, contented slumber that no Santa or stand-in could rouse us from. I got some amazing stuff, most amazing probably a collection of prints of the slide projections from the '62 Seattle World's Fair science pavilion. Trust me, they're awesome. Scans soon.
Of course, I wait until two days before Christmas to do any shopping. It's not that I'm too snobby to buy gifts or hate my family or whatever, it's just that I legit have no idea what people like - my mom, for example, has decorative tastes that might as well come from the Moon. So to save time, she points at something (some copper plate with Indian fish on it or something that you hang on the wall) and I buy it, wrap it up and give it to her later. Everybody wins.
My half-sister's family Christmas get-together, I'm the lost black sheep as usual. Most of the family lives in the same town, the same county, the same time zone - except for another cousin doing missionary work in India, I'm the farthest-flung. So it's weird to come back to such a small town, such a small world, kids I grew up with now having kinds of their own, and even though I'm nearly the oldest I'm also the least settled. There's something oddly appropriate about that.
Four hours and change on a plane from Newark to Seattle, spending a holiday week in the city of my birth. I always sort of dread returning to Seattle, seeing what childhood haunts have been razed to make way for half-ass California disco hippie mini-malls or whatever they're into out there now. A few years back, I noticed that Seattle was becoming the place Californians moved when they thought they were too good for California. Now they're just making it into California Lite with more Native American crap. I hate Seattle.
Slept the first night on my new bed, a $200 "Serda" fauxturepedic mattress bought from some less than reputable Greeks in my new neighborhood, and slept amazingly well, the radiator hissing warm steam into my flannel sheets, my robot pajamas keeping me warm and smiling. The gentle creak of a box spring as I shift my weight, the fold of a pillow around my head, the little nubbins on the mattress. After a year on a couch, having a bed is nothing to sneeze at.
Tonight's the office Christmas party, and to be honest I'm more than a little trepidatious. I've been on pretty good behavior lately but one night of booze and soft-shoes could erase all that goodwill I've been building up. Does that mean I'm going to watch myself? Oh, probably not - I've got another party afterwards so I'm going to be buoyed up on a pillow of whiskey for the next eight hours or so. It'll do me well.
Being sick, moving, preparing for the holidays and getting ready to leave town all at once can kind of run a brother down a little. I need to sleep a solid 8 at least once before Saturday but I don't see that happening, still a handful of holiday parties to take care of before the plane jets off, not to mention a bunch of comics and drawings to get done, not to not to mention the stuff I need to do for work as well. It's going to be a long week, little ones. Wish me luck.
Slow, lazy, hazy day, not feeling top-notch so I took the day off from work to rest my sickly stomach and unpack some boxes in my new home. I can't wait to leave town for the holidays just to be able to come back to my own room, all of my books and records and tchotchkes waiting for me right where I left them. So that's what I did - thought about that stuff, and moaned in occasional gut pain.
Ugh, I've had kind of a stomach illness all week and it's hitting me pretty hard today, churning and chundering my usual iron gut into a mishmash of ripping farts, echoing burps and terrifying nausea. I am deep breathing, stretching, trying not to think about mayonnaise, but not much seems to be working at the moment. I'll let you know if and/or when I puke.
The year of the couch has drawn to a close, as I signed the check for my new lodgings today - a spacious room in lovely Astoria, Queens. I'm as excited as all hell to move in - I need to buy a bed and launder the storage stink out of my sheets before I can sleep there, but that's gonna happen pretty damn soon. My new roommates are miracles of charm and distinction, my commute is a breeze - what else could a young man ask for?
Overheard at last night's LEGO Christmas party:
"Thor works for some multimedia development company down in Soho."
"No he doesn't, Thor works at a gas station."
I am a man of mystery.
Good God damn, what the hell was I thinking yesterday? As it turns out, I have plenty to do - my list for today taking up almost an entire page in my notebook. Yesterday I got a little piece of mail from the Internal Revenue Service saying that I owe them $2,600 in back taxes - that's the kind of thing that will put you into pretty stark reality pretty damned fast. So I'm cramming away at a new return to hopefully settle their hash, and Plan B is robbing a bank. Let's all cross our fingers for Plan A, shall we?
Slow, boring trudge of a day, trying and failing to get through it without falling asleep at my desk or locking myself in the bathroom for a desultory office jerk. There is absolutely nothing going down as we head into the heart of the holiday season, the rush of capitalism slowed to a slow crawl. I wish the phones were ringing off the hook but they stay silent as the tomb.
This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen, and an amazing (if out-of-date) block by block chronicle of the living history of New York. This morning, plagued by fears of a shoddily-made Iraqi nuke erasing everything I love here, I turned to the songlines to remind myself of why I stay, and why I'll always stay, come hell or high water.
When I start writing a song it usually starts as a rhyming couplet - two lines that go over and over in my head until I build a song to house them in. Usually these come when I'm walking absurdly long distances - the more my feet hurt, the more inspired I get. There's one rattling away in there now, but I can't find anything to accompany it with - it just keeps on repeating inside my head. It's like this: "What part of I don't understand - don't you understand again." And that's all there is.
I'm a bustling little e-commerce mastermind today, filling orders from the store, batches of Evil Videos shipping briskly across the globe, my marginal profits (as low as eleven cents on some items!) accruing gradually in my numbered Swiss accounts, trickling down into my first month's rent and security deposit. My tongue's swollen from licking stamps, fingers bloody from paper cuts, and I'm happy that it's all working out.
There's something deeply satisfying about a cheap banjo case. The shape of it's just different enough to distinguish it from a lame-ass acoustic guitar or mandolin or similar hippie instrument - it's bulbous, round end holding the snare drum resonator close like a handshake. I didn't have my satchel today so I had to put stuff I was buying in with the banjo - shampoo, CDs, cough drops. Putting it on the counter of a store, opening it up to put my stuff inside, I feel like Clyde Barrow going to rob the joint.
Fire in wood stove;
whiskey in plastic cup;
God in his heaven.
Another weekend, this one's regulation length so hopefully won't result in a pukefest derangeathon like last week, although I had a hell of a good time last week. But I can't wake up with my head chalky and throbbing every day anymore - I have too much to do to stagger off the couch at noon a virtual cripple, unable to move my skull any faster than a few feet a minute. If only there was some way I could pay a leprechaun to live in my digestive tract and transform all the harmful alcohol byproducts into gold. I'd have so much gold, let me tell you.
I walked out the front door this morning to a perfect flurry of snow, finally sticking on the sidewalks and covering the whole city in white. And now it's mid-afternoon and I'm looking out the window and it hasn't stopped, it's just getting deeper and deeper, the whole city brushed with winter, and it's stupid and wonderful and magical and great and I can't stop smiling, no matter how cold my face gets.
Another end of the day exhaustion, the only seat on the train is next to a sort of dirty guy, but I'm burnt so I take it. "You can't sit there," he mumbles, but today's one of those days when I don't feel like being intimidated so I just keep reading. He starts poking me in the side, talking shit about me, but if I give it up now it'll all be for nothing, so I read, ignore, as we make our way uptown and the train fills up. "Damn, man, pregnant woman needs a seat, fuck you, man," and I look up to see a chubby but obviously not pregnant woman standing in front of me. "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't notice you there. Would you like to sit?" She shakes her head, staring aghast at my neighbor who I'm starting to suspect is a little cracked out. Eventually he starts talking about how he's going to punch me in the face when he gets off the train, making feints toward my skull which I ignore, ignore. His stop comes and he shuffles up from his seat, walks around for a bit and clocks me in the left temple. My glasses fall onto my magazine; I pick them up and put them back on. The not-pregnant woman sits down in the seat he vacated and asks me if I'm OK. "Yeah, I've been hit in the head a lot harder than that." I've got a little bruise.

Squirrel monkeys born in Germany, awesome.
Well, on creeps the cold, as my poor excuse for a winter coat is doing a slipshod job of keeping my brittle bones from frosty freezing. I'm going to have to bust into storage and get out my Made in Wisconsin tweedstrosity, so thick that a family of six could live in the lining and so heavy it's like going six rounds with Yokozuna putting it on. I hate winter coats, hate being burdened down by anything. I feel smothered, trapped. I'm just going to set myself on fire and burn through the next three months time.
A day inside is what I needed, considering that I didn't get in before 4AM for three nights out of the past four, and this perfect Sunday delivered in spades. Slept deeply in, took the week away from the shelter just because I couldn't drag myself out the door at anything resembling a reasonable hour, and slowly cleaned the house. No grease, no booze, nothing but fruit and juice and grains to eat as I fill a bucket with hot water and Pine-Sol. Sweeping, mopping, and then cooking up a mess of pork chops and black eyed peas for dinner. Hello, December.

all content (c) 2002 k. thor jensen