Tuesday, October 15, 2002

So we gonna get Giants v. Angels in the Wild Card World Series. I'm probably going to miss the first two games, but next week will be back at Mom and Dad's. Last year's classic I watched all seven games with Dad. I think it was the first time we've ever done that as father/son. I don't connect with my father in a lot of ways. We're just two very different people. But we can talk sports.

Wasted another fall morning hanging out in the apartment, slowly going stir crazy. Gotta send out query letters to magazines, work on poetry, short stories, come up with a novel, something to get out of this funk. Since my alienation from John Panek and silence from old drum corps buddy Andy, the only guy friend I got locally is Shawn Robinson. Which is good, because I don't want to have a real social life right now. Am I turning into a hermit like my Dad? Maybe, but that's what I need to do to get on with the solitary tasks of the writing life.

So the sniper struck again. What must it feel like to be a target? How does the body and mind cope with the constant stress, when everyday activities like pumping gas or loading groceries in the car can have lethal consequences? I don't think the age we live in is any crazier. People have always been prey, whether to multiplying cancer cells, a jungle cat, falling meteors or a sniper's shot. All this post 9-11 hysteria is directed at a danger that's always existed. Everybody seeks safety. That need is the basis of civilization. A bunch of families get together to fight a common enemy and the city-state is born. But no matter what precautions we take, true safety cannot be found. Lurking under all this human-imposed order is chaos, like weeds growing through the cracks of an urban strip mall parking lot. And there's nothing to do to protect us from it. Not even Homeland Security or a war against Iraq.

Last night Esther, Shawn and I went over to Susan Hofer's place for dinner. I cooked up a Der Rathskeller-inspired creamy potato casserole with chopped up baby reds, a can of cream of celery soup, equal amounts cream cheese and sour cream, basil and oregano, water, chopped onions and peas. The onions were pulverized to nothing because I cooked them in the pressure cooker with the potatoes. I topped the casserole with Italian bread crumbs and shredded pepper jack cheese. I also made a loaf of cornbread, sweetened with molasses and a honey glaze on top. Shawn brought Moroccan chicken, which was also very tasty.

Susan was not feeling well, but was kind enough to have us over at her Dad's place, where she's living right now. I haven't been there since the early 90s. I always loved that house, on a quiet, heavily wooded side street off Harlem Road, right near Rock Cut State Park. It was at Susan's place I learned, way back when, that turkeys actually fly, and roost in trees. She had a bunch in her backyard. And the home has not changed much. Although they've got a nice digital television, it is in the same spot in the living room as it was. Two guns, a horse harness and various photos hang above the fireplace. Same piano. Same stereo speakers and shelves in corners. Same smell. It was the smell I always remembered. A sweet, woodsy almost cologne-y smell. I've smelled scents like it, and it always reminded me of that place. I'm glad I got a few good whiffs right when I arrived because Susan's very long-haired angora cat had me sneezing and stuffy-headed the rest of the evening. Susan was going to come over to our place, but she is not feeling well (bronchitis), and instead of canceling plans she invited us over. That was really sweet and genuine of her.

After dinner, we watched American Movie, about this Wisconsin guy trying to finish filming a horror movie, Coven, he's been working on for years. Very funny documentary. His sidekick friend reminds me of some of my burned out college buddies. What do you do when the party's over?

Well, the last three days have been all about cool visits with old friends. It is nice to know there are people out there who know you from way back and are still willing to talk to you. Somehow that legitimizes me. And none of them drive white work vans.

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