3/13/2003

This morning there was a very ugly nun, probably around my age, maybe a little older, on the No.7 bus. I thought, well, she’s made the right choice, that’s for sure. I only mention it because there came a point when I was forced to stand over her—I mean some passengers were getting off, and I moved over to make way for them, and then I was standing above her. She would look at my crotch and then up at me. Honestly I couldn’t make out what she was thinking, but she kept doing it, back and forth and back and forth, and I thought maybe standing there with my formidable bulge about a foot and a half from her formidable snout was offending her chastity, or something. I don’t know what the hell her deal was, actually, but I moved away as soon as I could.

I have been packing up for the past couple of days. In earnest. I’ve sorted my wardrobe, for the most part. And the books. I went to IKEA to get some boxes to store them in. It’s the only place I know they’ve got them in various shapes and sizes, for a couple bucks each. They’ve totally remodeled the place. It looks like an airport now. I like it because they have little arrows on the floor pointing you in the direction of the exit, but the way it’s set up you have to go through everything pretty much to get there. I found my boxes and found the exit shortly thereafter.

I had forgotten where IKEA was, though, and rode the blue line to the end before realizing it was at the end of the red line. I didn’t punch my ticket in the metro either, and even saw some ticket inspectors, but didn’t have any trouble. When I was on my way back from IKEA I jumped into the last car. There was a class of grade school kids waiting on the platform, but aside from registering them somewhere in my unconscious mind, I didn’t pay much attention to them. It wasn’t clear whether they were coming or going, and, eternal optimist that I am, I think I must have assumed—or hoped—the latter. Then, on a sign from one of their detestable teachers, they came stampeding into the last car—I slipped out before you could say ‘infestation.’ The whole scene reminded me of that scene in 28 Days Later, where they’re in the tunnel and the herd of rats wash over them. Those children behaved like vermin.

I have to take this packing slow. I mean, I pack a little, and then I just look around, and I can’t even imagine going on. It’s strange, I was never highly motivated. But I feel my energy level dropping even more. It’s true what people say about losing your drive. I mean, with age. I just don’t have the energy to start over every five or so years. Plus going through my shit makes me think of death. It’s all in vain. I mean, all this crap I’ve accumulated, all in vain. It makes me think of Edna St Vincent Millay’s "Siege". These are my baubles, my circle of toys I gather about me.

Before I started James and the Giant Peach I flipped through The Portable Dorothy Parker, and read the introduction by a certain Brendan Gill.

"A protracted life-in-death is [particularly]striking in the case of writers who make a reputation in youth and then live on into age. It is most striking of all in the case of young writers whose theme is the pleasingness of death, and for whom it amounts in the world’s eyes to a betrayal of their theme when they are observed to cling far more tenaciously to life than their happier contemporaries have managed to do. Dorothy Parker’s career was of this nature. She enjoyed an early vogue, which passed, leaving her work to be judged on its merits, and because the subject of such a large portion of her verses was the seductiveness of a neat, brisk doing away with herself, many people were astonished to read of her death, in 1967, from natural causes, as an old lady of seventy-three. Under the circumstances, it seemed to them a tardy end, and by an irony that had been one of Mrs. Parker’s chief stocks in trade she would have been the first to agree with them. She had indeed taken an unconscionably long time to leave a world of which she had always claimed to hold a low opinion. Her husbands, her lovers, and most of her friends had preceded her; for a person who boasted of wooing death, she had proved the worst of teases—an elderly flirt of the sort that she herself at thirty would have savaged in a paragraph."

And so on. I thought, damn. That’s cold. But why not? But, no, this Brendan Gill is way too hard on ol’ Mrs. Parker. People still don’t understand that constantly obsessing about death and ruminating over suicide have little to do with actually dying or taking your own life. They need not be the same. In fact, most people who do end up offing themselves don’t write about it. Gill never calls Parker a hypocrite, and she wasn’t, but he comes awfully close. I don’t know.

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