22 March 2000
One of the dachshunds got sick this morning and was whisked away to the vet to be given some injection that he's evidently received several times before. It causes him to sit and stare off into space, sometimes mouth hanging open, sometimes one eye closed, too doped up to even lay his head down. In fact, he just came in here, sat down, and is now staring at a filing cabinet. I feel like the dog and I understand each other on a fundamental level.
There has been a great deal of discussion about the path that the second half of my trip will take. No less than ten books have been examined, and there are actual post-it flags adhered to certain pages in my road atlas, and these flags have been labeled. The consensus is that there are some very beautiful places between here and Pennsylvania and I will try to enjoy them as I race past at top speed.
As we chart backroads through the South, I find crippling prejudices emerging from my black heart. What if some KKK sheriff sees my California plates and thinks I'm a gay hippie? What if I get lost and have to ask for directions in some biker bar and it's Beat the Retard Nite? You know what's a funny comedy bit? It's when you talk about how men never ask for directions.
I thought my grandmother was going to clock me when she caught me peeking at the answers to a crossword puzzle today. In this family, that is just not done. Crossword puzzles are the best, and they seem impossibly difficult to construct. I think it was Scout who once tried to create his own crossword and it ended up super-hard and maybe incomplete. I think that might be another Life Goal of mine, to construct a solid, clever, do-able crossword puzzle. I'll file that right here next to "learn how to remove women's clothing with a whip like in the 'Whip It' video." Today's factoid is that a single white square in a crossword, surrounded on three side by black squares so it's just sitting out by itself and therefore not crossing any other words and therefore pretty unhelpful is called an "unch."
A not small number of people have accused this diary of being a big hoax. That makes me think of the person ... I think it was fucking Scout again, why does he come up twice? Anyhow, I think it was him that floated the idea that Dave Eggers' parents actually aren't dead and I thought that would be pure genius, a masterful hoax of the highest order, and would make me like his book about infinity times more.
I bought the book Wonder Boys today because the movie, while not particularly astonishing, was good enough that it made me think the source material was probably interesting. I think I'm horribly drawn to the main character, a stoner professor at a college in Pittsburgh who wrote one big famous book and is now on page 2400 or whatever on his rambling mess of a follow-up. I'd almost be scared about this being a peek into my seedy future but that would mean I had to write one big famous book first, so I'm not too worried.
I'm ready to get going again. I find I'm missing the little world-within-the-world that is driving down strange highways all alone. Sarah, whom I thought I might see on this trip but amn't, wrote me tonight to say that my entry from last night made her "blue on [my] behalf," but really I'm anything but blue, and traveling alone is not a difficulty for me in the slightest and is, in fact, far less stressful than traveling with someone. I think I was talking about this with my mother recently, about how when I have to interact with people, it's always draining to me on some level. Even if I'm having a good time and enjoying myself and even if I love that person, it uses up some part of me and I need to be alone for a little while to recharge my batteries or whatever pop-psych metaphor you want to use. I think part of it is because I have trouble letting down all defenses and being myself completely when I'm around other people, so there's always some degree of work going on it's not effortless. So now and then I need to go run and hide, even in my car, and unbuckle the belt and let the gut hang out, and just sit and stare at the filing cabinet.
Look how I brought the conclusion around to meet the introduction! What a razor-sharp essay this was! Tight, perfumed, alluring. I think I've written about my Secret To Great Writing before, but I'll lay it down again: The repeated image. Just pick any image and repeat it here and there throughout your story, wherever you want but be sure to have it at the beginning and the ending. The more unrelated the image is to your story, the better, because it gets the reader thinking and making up their own wild interpretations that you never would've thought of, and it makes your story seem like there's some deep subtexts pulling it all together if only the reader could crack the code.
Still at Mary and Tom's. I ate Egg Beaters for the first time and they were A-OK except there were so many potatoes and onions and scallions in there that you couldn't really taste them anyway. They were just there to provide a visual uniformity.
Today's Facial Hair Report:
Great. Now even my facial hair is turning gray.
A reader writes: "I read your text about Fruitopia . Wouldn't know, myself, since I never had it, but you should try 3 parts tonic water (s-f o.k.) to one part orange juice. Squirt or Fresca could be substituted for the o.j. This makes a pretty good drink . Its one of the things I used to get off the sauce nineteen years ago." Thanks for the tip! What does "s-f o.k." mean?