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November and December 2004

     My Dull Life

Friday, December 31, 2004

I watched Debra Harry sing on TV one New Year's

She was there. And here I was.

I might skip TV tonight.

This morning I picked up the black dog.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

I turned off my cell phone and put it on the couch.
Then I put a bunch of pillows and blankets on top of
it, all that I have.

And then I left the room.

I swear, sometimes I still hear it vibrate. But I'm wrong.

No calls.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I'm hearing all these vibrations, everywhere. Where do
they all come from?

Maybe my bedsprings pick up the radio waves of
somebody's garage door opener.

Maybe there's a lot of little stuff that goes on all the
time that we never think about. Like dust mites and
bacteria and single cells dividing in two.

I sit still and then all of a sudden there's another one.
Another little vibration coming from somewhere.

But still no calls.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I felt guilty about not visiting Blaine over Christmas so
I found the care facility where he is staying and went
over there.

He was in a room by himself on his back in a bed.

He had a bandage around his head and a tube taped
to his nose.

I didn't know what to say to him. I never know what
to say. Everything I say to him always sounds stupid.
I mean, the first thing I was going to say to him today
was, "How you doing?" He looked like he was in
pretty bad shape. So all I said was, "Hi. Remember

He looked at me, his eyes widened a bit, and he
started to gurgle.

Just then a nurse came in and said that was the first
time in a long time that he has responded to anybody.

"Are you friends?" she asked.

She started changing his bed and I saw that Blaine no
longer had any legs.

"Um, yeah," I said. And the way I paused was stupid

Monday, December 27, 2004

I passed by The Old Spaghetti Factory before the
dinner rush and though I wasn't a patron, I had to use
the Men's Room.

There wasn't a sign that said not to. Then it's OK,
right? I was just going to be a minute.

But inside, I heard some unusual noises coming from
one of the stalls. Mumbling, rocking back and forth,
and what sounded like the voices of cartoon animals.

I tried to finish up in a hurry and get out of there. I
didn't want the guy to leave the stall and see I had
been there listening. Even though it wasn't my fault.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

I went to IHOP tonight and there was almost nobody

My waiter was an old black man who looked like he was
too old to still be working. And his name was Moses.

He said friendly words like all waiters and waitresses do,
but he said them slowly and clearly like it was all a
memorized script and that the joke was on me if I
thought he meant any of it.  He didn't smile.

I had the Dollar Saver Breakfast Special and the only
thing I drank was water.

Once, when he was refilling my glass, I tried to make
conversation. I said, "I sure don't know why this water
tastes so good!"

He said, "It's because you're being served."

He was also my cashier and when he asked me if I
wanted a receipt I said yes.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

It's Christmas.

A lot of stores are closed but just about everything
I need is at 7-11.

I got an email from Jane and she asked me what I was
going to be doing. Like most days,  it depends on
what's on.

The lobby was pretty quiet last night. Not a creature
was stirring. Except for one of the guests who came
downstairs and lit a cigar and I had to tell him it wasn't

Friday, December 24, 2004

I picked up the bags from the vet clinics this morning.

At one place there was a man who carried in a big
black dog in his arms and it must have weighed about
100 lbs.

You could tell the man loved his dog very much,
though he didn't say a word. You could also tell the
dog was dead.
He brought him in anyway.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I got an email from a woman named Vox Tango.
She talks in this smart kind of way. She uses words
that I'm sure I'd misuse if I ever tried one of them. I'll
never be that smart.

But she reads my journal and she likes Bonanza too.

So this month she put me on her website.

It's quite an honor even though she sometimes kicks
and hisses.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A long time ago, if you stayed up really late, the
TV station you were watching would sign off the
air. They'd play the Star Spangled Banner and show
a film of some Air Force Tom Cats streaking across
the blue sky.

After that was all over, the screen would go blank.

And then, in a couple of seconds, it wouldn't even
be blank. There'd be white noise. On that channel
and all the channels.

And if you were really having serious problems and
still didn't go to sleep, there was an odd religious
program that came on at 5:00 AM.

It was in black and white and they sat at a desk and
behind them was a chalkboard.

And then you could go to sleep.

They were homelier than you'd ever be.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

My cell phone is on vibrate/ring. It vibrates first
and then it rings. It's on my bed some where. I've
been waiting for a call even though it's

I've been waiting so much I think I can hear my
neighbor's phone ring three doors down.

It's not any particular call I'm waiting for. Any call
will do. And it's made my hearing acute.

I thought I had a call a few minutes ago but it turned
out to be just my dog.

Food scraps from the table.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The strangest thing. I woke up this morning and I
discovered one of the hairs in my ears had grown
about two feet.

I plucked in and then measured it with a ruler. Yes,
almost two feet.

I set it aside to show people if they didn't believe me
but I lost it.

I didn't think I could lose something that long but I
can't find it anywhere.

Believe me.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Here's a picture of me with one of my biggest fans.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Ben's email got me to thinking.

There's a poetry slam at the Rusty Scupper every
Wednesday night so I thought I'd check it out.

It's an open mic thing and then the judges hold up
cards like they do in the Olympics.

The poets all talked pretty fast but there was this
one guy I remember. He was tall and had a somewhat
bulbous head.

I probably shouldn't say that about his head. Anyways,
it was just a little bulbous. Maybe if you were a really
nice person you wouldn't have noticed it at all.

His poem was how he was trying to forget a woman
who didn't have any problems forgetting him. He was
angry and in pain and sometimes his words were
distorted because he shouted into the mic. You could
tell the poem wasn't just made up. When he finished,
he looked terrible.

Sometimes it's good to take a bad situation and see
what you can make of it. What doesn't kill you makes
you stronger. And stuff like that.

But then he saw his scores.

And it was like lemonade on an open wound.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


dear robert,

i love the poetry that you r doing
it says so much, i can hear the stray dogs
running through the streets
searching for red meat
howling for another chance

Ben Addit at aol.com

Dear Ben,

Wow. Thanks!

But in all fairness, the dogs aren't strays. They're my
neighbors dogs. And they're pretty good about
keeping them in the backyard.

But they do bark.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

I’d say that Sarah is a friend of mine but I think she’s
everybody’s friend. She owns a bookstore. I never get
a discount or anything but nobody does.

I was there last night but I didn’t stay long because it’s
so cold. And she started talking to me about a movie
she saw that proves that everything she’s been saying
all these years is now proven by quantum mechanics.

I don't remember the title but I think there's a bad
word in it.

Anyway, she said if we all get together with our
collective thought processes, we can influence events.
I nodded.

And then she talked about hidden variables and that’s
where she lost me.

So then she said it was proven that under certain
circumstances it’s been proven that a subatomic
particle can go from Point A to Point B without
traveling through the distance between the two

Alex, who was listening, said, “That doesn’t make any

Sarah smiled. Like that was her point.

Friday, December 3, 2004

Gus called and invited me over to his studio apartment.

He’s no longer upset about his new girlfriend suddenly
losing interest. What bothers him now is the war in Iraq.

He says he’s sick and tired of seeing those decals of
yellow ribbons that say “Support Our Troops.” That’s
why he’s started a group called “Adopt A Deserter.”
He’s really into it.

He tells me he wants the group to have their own
ribbon. But most of the colors are already taken.

Then we stopped talking and listened to the sound of
a washing machine right above us. It sounded like an
unbalanced load. But Gus frowned at me and said it
wasn’t a washing machine.

And then he didn't want to talk anymore.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

I was in Fan Bonanza today. That's a chat room.

There's a guy that came in there and urged us all
to leave, to get a life, to stop spending so much
time in chat.

He spoke from experience. He said he wasted a lot
of time and he finally realized that his life was just
slipping away.

He said it was a terrible addiction. He went on and
on. It must have been hours.

I wondered about that.

Outside I could hear the sound of somebody using
a circular saw. Some dogs barked and I heard the
drone of a plane flying overhead.

Saturday, Nov. 27, 2004

I woke up this morning to news on my radio. There's a
massive frog in the Ukraine.

Thousands of people in the streets.

It must be huge.

Friday, Nov. 26

I'm really happy though I don't know why. I wish everybody
was happy. Even though I don't always want to hear about it.

I had chili last tonight with Mexican rolls and soy milk egg
nog. It was a good day.

But last Thanksgiving was a different story. 

There was this young woman named Gerri and I house sat
for her and she had, well, a really oversized nose. It was
very large but she'd smile at you like she didn't know. But
she knew. And we were friends.

Months earlier she had got her nose fixed, she said, to
unblock a breathing passage. She was still the same Gerri,
but now she had a lot of boyfriends she'd meet at dances
and I didn't see her around so much any more.

But she called me and asked me to house sit to take care
of Mr. Whiskers, her pet rat, while she spent Thanksgiving
with her parents in L. A. She was right. I wasn't going any
where for Thanksgiving, so why not spend it with a rat?

Mr. Whiskers had been with her for a long time and she
loved him very much. They had been through a lot together,
she said.

Well, her house was actually a cheap apartment and it was
cold so I turned up the wall heater full blast and went to
sleep. But I closed the door of the bedroom so I didn't know
how hot it got.

Thanksgiving morning I found out.

I opened the door and everything looked blurry at first.
Waves of hot air hit me like I just had stepped into the
tropics. The wall paper had bubbled in places and the
corners were curling. I checked on Mr. Whiskers' and his
water bottle was hot to the touch. And he didn't look very
good at all.

His mouth was open. I was hoping he just wasn't feeling
well. I slid a pencil through the cage and gently poked
him with the eraser. Nothing. He was dead.

I put his stiff little body in a paper bag and walked down
to the creek and threw him off the bridge. This was terrible.
But it happened.

I wrote a note and said that Mr. Whiskers died and I had no
idea why. And that I was very sorry. I put the note inside
the cage and I went home and took the phone off the hook.

Days later, the very minute I put the phone back on the hook,
it rang.

And I lied some more.

Thursday, Nov. 25

The Pilgrims came all the way over here just so they
could worship God like how they wanted to. I would
just have changed my religion, but not them. They had
pretty strong beliefs. And I think they might have been
a little odd.

It was probably good that the Puritans and the Indians
sat down and had dinner together. Could two groups
have been so different? I bet the Indians made them less
puritanical. Jim Jones and David Koresh had no such luck.
But whatever happened to the Puritans?

Wednesday, Nov. 24

I went by Blaine's place and saw he still wasn't there so
I drove over to the hospital.

They said they didn't have a patient by that name. I
asked when he checked out and they said they had no
record he ever stayed there.

He wasn't on the wall chart, or in the file cards, or in the
computer, but I wouldn't go away. So they kept looking.

Finally, a nurse came by and said she remembered him.
He was transferred to a care facility annex about a week
ago. She wrote down the address for me on a slip of
scratch paper about the size of an index card.

Tuesday, Nov. 23

Well, I did my laundry today. And I put away things.
And I threw away the wallet.

I was the last person he talked to but I don't want
to be reminded of that when I least expect it, when
I'm looking for socks.

The whole thing bothers me. And I don't want to be
reminded of that either.

Monday, Nov. 22

No calls from Annie.

I put the receiver off the hook.

Now she's really not going to call.

Sunday, Nov. 21

There’s a short, young man at the hotel who wears a
black shirt and a wooden cross around his neck. He’s
really agitated about his girlfriend leaving him.

Last night he paced the lobby then went into one of
the phone booths and screamed, “Tell her to take me
back!  What do you mean she doesn’t love me
anymore? She’s not even trying!” I think he was talking
to somebody, but maybe not.

Her name is Maureen.

He left the phone booth, started pacing around again,
and then he looked up and said, “Jesus Christ! You make
it seem so simple! You died on the cross. So what?!”

Then he looked at me and said, “What if I screamed in
this empty hotel lobby? What if I just let it all out and
screamed? She didn’t have to leave me! It was her
choice! What if I just scream?”

I suggested he wait until tomorrow and try screaming
around noon in front of the public library.

He stopped. And in a calm voice he asked me why. All
of a sudden, a reason mattered.

So I said, well, that’s what I would do.

Saturday, Nov. 20

I changed my phone number.

Annie hasn’t called.

If I don’t hear from her, that could be why.

Friday, November 19


Thursday, November 18

Dr. Brown was our fourth grade teacher. They said
she was really smart but all I know is we took a lot
of field trips.

I'll never forget the time we went to the water
treatment plant.

When we arrived, Dr. Brown had to leave for a couple
minutes. So she put the bus driver in charge.

He didn't know what to do, so he asked us some
questions. Like, is your teacher a real doctor? No,
she's not. He looked at me for a second and said,
"Is that a pajama top?"

Tuesday, November 16

I went back to Target to get some 0.7 lead for my
mechanical pencil.

The checker asked if I found everything I was
looking for.

All of a sudden, time stopped. It was weird.  I felt
happy and sad at the same time.

0.7 lead was everything I was looking for.

Monday, November 15

I see that my profile is still up on Match.com.

If you search for robertofsanjose, you'll find it.

But still no luck.

Sunday, November 14

I was at Target this afternoon and there was a
sign that said if the cashier didn't ask if I found
everything I was looking for, I'd get a free soft

My cashier had pimples and he looked sleepy.
He took my money and gave me change and just as
I hoped, he didn't ask. I waited until he started helping
the next customer before I felt like I had won for sure.

I'd have a coke and he'd have yet one more black
mark on his record.

I was holding things up as I was thinking what to say.

So I just left.

But I won.

Saturday, November 13

I used to like Saturdays when I was a kid but now
it's different. Everything is different.

But some things are the same.

Like, when I talk, I sound dumb. I know.

Friday, November 12

Mr. Franklin died during the day shift.

Gary called the police and the police called somebody
else. And the maids changed the sheets.

The only thing he left behind was his wallet which I
found at the bottom of a wastepaper basket in the

It just had his V.A. hospital I.D. and a laminated card
about caring for a weak heart.

I took it home and put it in my sock drawer.

Thursday, November 11

Blaine's in the hospital because of something that
has to do with his legs.

I don't know how long he's going to be there. I
might visit. Or maybe I'll just wait until he gets out.
We'll see.

Wednesday, November 10

Mr. Franklin isn't supposed to drink because he's
very sick but he comes in after the bars close and
he sings about there being a lot of coffee in Brazil.

He coughs and laughs and stumbles on up to his
room. I guess he's about 70 but he drinks so much
it's hard to tell. Gary says if he keeps this up he's
going to die soon. He's not supposed to drink. But
he doesn't have any family or friends or anybody to
tell him not to.

He wears a suit and a hat like men do in old movies.
He's sort of dirty but doesn't seem to care.

Tonight was the first time he spoke to me. He laughed
and told me there's an awful lot of coffee in Brazil.

Tuesday, November 9

Shoot. I went to see Blaine yesterday and found out
he's in the hospital.

That's all I know.

Monday, November 8

So I told the story to Blaine. I started laughing toward
the end and I don't know why because it really, really
hurt to have both soap in my eyes and chili pepper.

When I was done, he turned to look at me.

I'm not sure what his look meant, but I guess I know
now that he can hear.

Sunday, November 7

When I was a kid I ate some chili peppers from the
garden and after a couple minutes it felt like my mouth
caught on fire. My dad said he told me so. But when I
touched my eyes and they started to burn really bad,
my dad turned on the garden hose.

I splashed water into my face but I did that with my
hands which had chili on them and it made my eyes sting
even more.

So my dad brought over a bowl of soapy water.

I was supposed to wash my hands with it but instead I
tossed it into my eyes.

Maybe I'll tell this to Blaine.