Boat shoes

I stayed home from work today, to ward off this cold and to catch up on a total lack of sleep. The douche crew was outside my window at midnight, talking and keeping me awake until about one, and then they were back after the bars closed. Can’t these people get their own living room to loiter in. Wait, they all live with their parents. Anyway, at about 8:00 AM, I heard a horrible buzzing sound, and in a half-awake nightmare, thought it was a hundred-year old fire alarm for my apartment and that my death was imminent. Instead, it was a concrete truck about ten feet from my head, making some horrible, 110 dB screeching sound as it shot concrete into some slum landlord project across the street. Probably burying a mafia hit. Anyway, I put in earplugs, closed all of the windows, called in sick, and went back to bed. I woke up at noon with a horrific sinus headache, ate baloney and crackers while watching the windshield murder case on crime TV, then went back to bed. Woke up again at about four and started a day of adjusting fans, being bored of TV, and laying down but not falling to sleep. And here I am. Apartment is 90 degrees, and I can barely see in my left eye from the inflamed sinus pressing into my brain. Let me start over with a story, and stay with me for a bit.


I’ve always worn boat shoes as a standard-issue summer shoe. I wear the Nike high-tops when I’m wearing a pair of jeans, but in the summers when I wear shorts (and I’m not a shorts guy by default, it takes a good hundred-degree wave of Hoosier heat to get me there) I like to wear a pair of old, beat-up boat shoes with no socks. No mess, no fuss, and no complex lacing or socks underneath – I can put them on when I wake up from a nap and need to walk to the corner store for a two-liter or a copy of the paper. They fit well, they matched anything, and they were easy to find on the floor. Those kind of simple qualities make anything a default in my life, from my trusty leather jacket to my trusty Timex watch to my trusty grey IU backpack that lasted me ten years and then some.

I think I got my first pair of the shoes when I started working at Taco Bell back in the summer of ’87. They had a dress code, and most of it was made up of their uniform: the maroon pants, the dumb little visor, the blazer shirt that got covered with beans and cheese during each shift, and the tie-behind apron that wore every ingredient in the place. But we had to wear dress shoes, and that meant no sneakers. And I couldn’t wear the typical black dress shoes that cut off the circulation in my toes after five minutes that I had to wear to weddings and funerals. I needed something as comfortable as tennis shoes, but that looked like a dress shoe. And I didn’t know anything about shoes, but I went to the Thom McAnn and told the dude there all of this, and he produced a pair of low brown shoes with a standard tongue, a laced rim with eyelets around the back heel, and rubber soles that actually gripped the floor, unlike most death-trap dress shoes that were damn near teflon on the sole.

I wore the shoes every day I worked at The Bell, and kept them after I quit and moved on to my short career as a dishwasher and my much longer-term career as a paint salesman at a department store. The first pair wore out, and I found that Payless had the same damn shoes for about $15. (Yes, as a writer, I am irked by the fact that Payless and Pay Less are two different things, and the first one means “without pay”. Anyway.) I think it was when I had a new set in front rotation for the job and an older, more worn set of the shoes as my backup, around-the-house shoe that I noticed how comfortable the things actually were. By the next summer when I wore the old ones without socks, I found that they practically molded to my feet. My soles ground an imprint in the inside of the shoe, and the little ridges and seams and whatnot that had once itched when the shoe was new had now worn away almost perfectly. I kept these old pairs of shoes until I drilled holes straight through the soles and needed to go back to Payless for another $15 recharge.

So I have a lot of good memories of these shoes. Most of my first book Summer Rain, or at least the truth behind the fiction, was walked in shoes just like these. Almost every picture of me from back then had those $15 pieces of leather and fake leather stuff on my toes. I really do miss waking up at 414 South Mitchell, Apartment 13, after a post-work nap, slipping on my boat shoes, and walking over to Lindley Hall for some air-conditioned VAXing. I don’t wear boat shoes that much anymore, and I’ve found they are hard to find these days. In all of my days of driving to and from everywhere, and never having to dress up anymore, I found that I never wore out my one pair of boat shoes; I wore Nikes everywhere. I still had one pair, but I never had the time to wear them.

So today, I had to go to the store for some juice. I was in shorts, and I didn’t want to find some socks and get all laced into the Air Jordans. So I dug out my old boat shoes, a pair that I think I bought when I was interviewing for jobs maybe four years ago. And I put them on, and I found out… they weren’t really that great. My toes didn’t feel right, the finish was too slick, the laces seemed too wimpy or something. The thing that was so great in my head was really not that incredible.

Why the huge story about some fucking shoes? It wasn’t about the shoes. Truth is, I’m sort of pissed off at someone, someone who doesn’t even know I’m pissed off at them. And pissed off isn’t the right word; maybe frustrated, or even jealous. I guess it’s one of those things where you think that something is great and comfortable, and maybe it is. And maybe you think it was right all of those years ago, and suddenly you realize that it’s just a pair of fucking shoes that don’t fit anymore, and it’s time to go find some that do.

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I’m officially sick. I really don’t feel great, and due to the fact that I drank about a gallon of grapefruit juice today, my digestive system isn’t doing well, either. I think I’m going to sleep about 10 hours tonight, or at least try. Being sick is not fun in the summer. And yes, it’s about summer now – I think we had hot temps for the first time all year.

I did hack away at the new journal program, although it isn’t done yet. I fixed most of it, but I am trying to streamline the stuff that handles what year is what. When I’m done, it should work so that each year is in a directory, and it will generate the archives links to the left automatically. I’m having trouble with getting the right order of years, though. I need to mess with it more when I can think straight.

I keep forgetting that I have a Furby in my closet somewhere, that I got at a K-Mart for about $5 after the end of that fad. I want to take it apart and do something evil or interesting with it, but I’ve heard that they are fairly useless despite the amount of stuff that it does. All of the firmware is in one chip that melted shut and virtually useless for reverse-engineering purposes. And all of the mechanical stuff, like the eyes and sensors and soforth, are all made of plastic gears interconnected in such a way that you can’t do anything useful with them. It’s like that old Radio Shack Robotron arm; the whole thing was driven off of one motor with a shitload of gears, and it was all mechanical, so you couldn’t just wire in a DB-9 connector and a cable and then hook it up to your computer and drive it with a BASIC program or something. I did see someone wire one of those up digitally, but they basically gutted it and totally regeared the thing with 4 or 5 RC airplane servos. It would have been easier to start from scratch.

Man I don’t feel good. I really feel like sitting down and watching TV for an hour or two, but absolutely nothing is on. I think I’ll sit in bed and read the PC Connection catalog until I pass out.

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C65, Matt Pinfield

I’ve spent the last few hours hacking away at a new replacement to the underlying structure of this journal. Nothing major will change to you the readers; I’m just trying to redo the back part of it using PHP to make it run a bit smoother and make changes easier. The two visible changes are that the date that you are currently viewing will not be a link to the left, it will be a black, bold date so you can kindof see where you are in the list. And the better change is that I will be able to put an earlier and later button down at the bottom of the page. The only other noticeable change will be that if you go to the index, it will bring up the newest one, and if you click into older ones, the URL will end in ?date=20030101 or whatever. I don’t think that will be that big of a deal, although if you bookmarked an exact date in the past, that bookmark won’t work anymore. I don’t think that will really be an issue for many people, though.

Working in PHP is pretty cool, although I never sat down and studied it or anything – I just jumped in and tried to dig up stuff on google as I got along. It wasn’t really that frustrating, probably because even with a ten-years-rusty knowledge of C, I can figure out a lot of the syntax. It’s fun to have a small project like this to hack away at. It reminds me of when I first started this journal five – no wait, six – years ago, and I hacked together the indexing program that this new overhaul will probably replace. Although I don’t think I could ever become systematic enough to become a software developer on a professional basis, there is something satisfying about slapping together a piece of code that you actually use to get something done.

Speaking of computers, I got back all of my Commodore stuff yesterday. I have a C-64 that I got from eBay maybe five or six years ago. I haven’t touched it in ages; it was actually still in storage at Marie’s place. But I got it all back, and cabled together the unit and the 1541 drive on my living room floor, running the video into my VCR so it would display on the TV. The keyboard was dirty and a few of the keys wouldn’t work without slamming them a few times, and then they would work too much and print repeated letters. Also, all of my cartridges would not work. But I did get the disk drive running, and got the Ghostbusters game going, which is the only thing I have on floppy. It takes forever to load, and then has the most rudimentary voice samples ever, plus some very cheesy theme music in it. But it was still fun to mess with. Today I got some cleaner at Radio Shack and took apart the keyboard and got it running slightly better, and also got the game cartridges working after I cleaned the contacts. I spent part of the afternoon playing Omega Race and Jupiter Lander, and thinking of almost 20 years ago when I played the same carts on my original C-64.

Very tired, and not much else is up. I saw Matt Pinfield yesterday, in the elevator on the way out of work. I guess there’s a recording studio at the top of our building, run by Phillip Glass. I got into the elevator at work and saw the dude, although he was much shorter than I thought. He was listening on a cell phone and I wasn’t sure if it was him or not, so I waited until he talked, and then I definitely knew it was him. He was talking to someone about a recording session, but I don’t know what band or if he produces or what. I have no idea if he is still a VJ at MTV or not. I just did a search on him, and mostly found sites of people that hate him. Anyway, it was a weird sighting.

It’s been raining all weekend, pouring out. It’s been an incredible non-day and I think it’s time for bed…

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Rent stabilization, horse face

The city board voted on rent stabilization rents today, which means that next year, my rent will go up 5.5%. That’s up from 2% last year. On one hand, a lot of people may think this is a huge number, but the landlord association originally wanted it to go up to like 18% or something. So at least at *only* 5.5%, I won’t have to go start sucking dick to pay my rent. This little scheme is one of about 863 different ways New Yorkers are currently getting raped in the colon at the current time. Sales tax is up; income tax will be up; grocery costs – up; subway fares – you know it; parking tickets – spread your cheeks and brace yourself against something. Pretty much everything is going through the roof, except of course the quality of life in the city. But I still have a job, so I won’t be moving any time soon.

Speaking of moving and jobs, I had to move cubes for the third time since August 2001. And what makes it slightly more Office Space-esque is that spot #4 is the same as spot #2. Okay, the first move was from our startup home, which was a floor and a penthouse of a building near Penn Station. That was a pleasant commute for the month I was there, because every day I had to step over at least a dozen bums splayed out on the sidewalk of 34th Street. There was a porn store nextdoor, which was convenient. The whole tech staff simultaneously got food poisoning from the Blimpie’s across the street. And someone serial-pissed in the salad bar of the deli right by Penn Station. So it was good to get out of that area, even if it added five subway stops to my ride in. And I’m glad to be tucked away in the back corner of the office again, with a slightly larger cube and a good deal of distance from the marketing/sales types who feel a need to talk on speakerphone constantly. Why the fuck do people do that? Does it make their penis feel bigger or something? Fuck.

Nothing is on TV now, not even stupid reality TV shows. I don’t have cable, except for my bootleg connection. But even so, there’s nothing but summer reruns, or shows too shitty to put on during the regular year. There’s an ER rerun I already saw; a curio clock for $1729.99 on ShopNBC; that horrible science show with Alan Alda (I almost accidentally typed Anal Alda) on 21; ancient ladies wearing chiffron mumus on HSN; a woman’s basketball game (WNBA?) on ESPN2, and the women are not hot; that stupid extreme Jap game show on TNN; old people on CSPAN2; Steven Seagall on TBS; a shitty Yankees book for $75 on QVC (“Captures the TRUE history. The OFFICIAL retrospective. The assplug is talking as if photographs were invented just for this fucking book.);catfish fishing on Food Network; I think that’s it.

And about these Sex in the City ads they show about every other second on every channel – am I the only heterosexual male that does NOT like Sarah Jessica Parker? Especially since she had the kid, she looks like the fucking cryptkeeper or something. I mean, maybe about 40 years ago I would have done her, but now all of the women on that show are hideous caricatures of what a women shouldn’t be. And what’s sad is that every woman in this city will be breaking their fucking necks to emulate every last detail of their life.

I took a career test online today and it said I should be a techwriter. Not a rodeo cowboy, or a Navy SEAL, but a fucking techwriter. I don’t know whether I should be happy or sad. Actually I should feel cheated, because this was a plotline in Friends about four years ago.

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Getting out of jury duty

Jury duty – done. I went in for another early morning, but actually got to McDonald’s on time, and had a shouting match at the counter with the idiot they put there over the sizes of orange juice. Remember when it was just small-medium-large? Anyway, I spent most of the morning sitting around, then right before lunch, got marched over and put on a case. I got the new steak and cheese at subway, and sat under a tree on a stone wall to eat lunch. After lunch, I got back on the case, and I was one of the 19 people (19? 18?) in the jury box, but the judge called me back in chambers when they were going over the jury questionnaires. (The judge’s chambers is, in fact, not a chamber in this court. It was more like a back hallway of cinderblocks. Very disappointing.) Anyway, turns out a good friend of mine from high school went to prison for the same thing the defendant was charged with. So without further delay, I was released back to the general pool. When I got there, all of the jurors were gone (it was like 3:30), and the court officer looked at my ticket and gave me my discharge papers. After a quick subway ride, I was back to work to check email and turn in my paperwork.

Not much is up here, except I just woke up from a nap and I’m waiting for a club sandwich…

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Jury Duty

So, jury duty. I found out Friday due to the stupid dial-up phone system (does anyone ever NOT get picked?) that I had to report bright and early at 9 AM to the Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, Queens, which is far enough away that it doesn’t appear on regular maps of New York City and you’ve got to get a fucking atlas to look it up. On Sunday, I woke up past noon, so I knew waking up five hours early would be a near-impossibility. I went to a bodega and got some Tylenol-PM two-packs on my way to get some tacos for dinner last night, and took one gelcap before I settled into bed at eleven. I drifted off to a drug-induced sleep after browsing a book on educational vacations that I found in a stack of books by the curb on my post-lunch walk. (The book mostly discussed writer’s workshops and archaeology digs and other things I largely found too snooty to take seriously.)

I woke up almost every hour to get some water or take a pee or both, but slept remarkably well considering. At seven, the alarm clock armada went off, and I got into the shower by seven, and dressed in a pair of khakis and a neutral shirt by eight. I really wanted some breakfast, but instead sprinted to the not-my-usual subway stop down on Steinway to catch a ride in. The middle of June (almost), and I had to wear my army jacket. I knew I’d end up carrying it for the rest of the day, but it was 57 when I left the house, and it looked like a storm would hit at any minute. I didn’t bring a walkman, because I figured it would get confiscated or the guards would give me some shit. I did bring the Sidekick, and a Peter Farrelly book I’d read a few years back, along with a draft of something I’m doing for work. I knew that most of jury duty is the endless waiting game, and unfortunately, I can’t bring in a portable DVD player and a cooler of beer to kill that.

The train ride wasn’t bad at all. Kew Gardens is deceptively close and far from everything else, mostly because of the E express train. I can probably get from Kew Gardens to my job in NoHo faster than I can from Astoria, and it’s twice as far away. And this is a real, honest-to-god *suburb*, with trees and lots of low buildings and roads with speed limits and highways and lots of space between all of the above. People out there actually have CARS, and not just ones that they move from the left to the right side of the street three times a week. I honestly think I should go out there on a weekend and research this, find out if there are apartments with parking spaces and giant grocery stores and everything else that I miss about living anywhere but here.

I got to the Hall with a few minutes to spare, and dodged in to face the security guards. This is the full-on, airport, homeland-patriot-act bullshit drill, with the metal detectors and x-ray conveyor. However, at an airport, at least half of the fliers know the drill, and the fact that a metal detector detects METAL, and not cigarettes, plastic pens, paper money, hard rubber combs, and who knows what else. In front of me, I saw a million-year-old guy dump an entire Farm and Fleet store into the plastic bins and fail the stupid fucking detector. Meanwhile, I throw in my keys, jump through, no buzz, two seconds flat. That would be the theme of the day.

After the metal detectors, we got herded into a giant room with chairs that resembled the basement of a church. It smelled like the basement of a church, that weird smell that’s probably some kind of mold and a hundred coats of lead paint in battleship colors. I sat down and started reading. At about 9:15, this bitchy black woman came out and started to rattle off all of the various exceptions. People would try to ask their own personal questions in the breaths between her explanations and she told them to shut the fuck up and sit down. The whole thing reminded me of the beginning of Cool Hand Luke, when the boss rattles off the rules. I expected her to say “If you are not a US Citizen and you have alien registration papers, a work permit, or a passport, one day in the box. If you are over 75, one day in the box.” and so on.

None of those rules applied to me, as I triple-checked for any sort of exception to get me out, and there were none. I sat, kept reading, and waited for the lineup. After some initial confusion, they had everyone get into four lines at a little ticket counter-like structure, and we all queued up with our little blue and white papers. True to the theme of the day, every fucking person in front of me arrived at the window and told their entire life story, starting back with when they were a soldier in the war of northern aggression. It wasn’t “I’m an alien and I want to leave now” or “I have kids at home and I’d like an excemption.” It was the kind of stuff that required 17 minutes of deliberation and a call to the governor. Finally, I got to the head of the line, with no questions, got my shit stamped, and went back to chairs.

Maybe 20% of our pack had now left. I scanned the room, and I couldn’t find any real demographic or funny trend in anyone there. A lot of older folks were there, and as a caucasian, I was probably a minority – but that’s Queens. I got busy on the book, The Comedy Writer, which isn’t Dumb and Dumber-type stuff, like you’d expect from Farrelly, but it’s more of a story of a writer coming to LA and trying to struggle to make it. I like that angle, but the guy is sort of a prick, and the events were just a little bit off. But it went down easy, and reading other people’s trials in this area always makes me think about my own writing, which was the goal of reading the book.

Shortly after we got settled in, a cop (or court worker or whatever – he had a badge, no gun) came in with a stack of tickets. He then rattled off names of people in his choppy Brooklyn accent, and told them to line up. After the group – maybe 30 or 40 people – assembled, he gave them a jury number (K7) and another cop (or whatever, this one had a gun) marched them outside and to the courthouse building across the street. For a split-second, the whole thing reminded me of the herding of people in concentration camps, and I entertained an alternate reality where these people were led away to a room where medical experiments were performed on them. (Okay, maybe I should keep those mental flashes to myself.)

Speaking of genocide, some TV sets turned on with an old rerun of Dawson’s Creek, which we were forced to watch. I know it was just UPN9 or whatever, but I also wondered if it was some kind of psychological experiment to fuck with us. Probably not, as someone else was bitching about how last week, they were forced to watch the US Open for hours on end. The room echoed with two or three groups of old people talking about tumors and bursitis or whatever, and a male and female of about college age who talked and talked and talked and talked and FUCKING TALKED NONSTOP. Ok, I tried to tune them out, and kept reading.

At about 10:30, we got a 15-minute break, which most of the people used as a smoking break. I ran across Queens Boulevard to the little strip of stores and restaurants where I found a Dunkin Donuts. My stomach was still rattling, and I really wanted a hash browns from McDonald’s on the way in. I got a donut and a Pepsi (no Coke!) and headed back to the room. I saw a girl sitting on the bench in front of the Hall who really reminded me of a character in Summer Rain, and her general body language made her look like she was bored and looking for someone to talk to. But because I’m a genius, I just stuffed the donut into my face and went back inside.

We had a lunch at one, but just before that, the cop (or whatever) came back in with another stack of tickets. He read them off, and actually got my name right (he horribly mangled every other name). I got in line, and we were given the name of K25 before we went outside and to the other building. We all walked together in a sort of sloppy military group or something, following behind this cop and crossing the street to the much more modern-looking concrete and steel courthouse. Inside, we all went past the metal detectors through a special door, and into a faux art deco hallway.

While everyone else moped around the benches outside the courtrooms, I looked at the pieces of paper hanging up to see if I could deduce what was going on. One roster or schedule or whatever listed a Murder-2 and a breaking and entering, but didn’t say anything about what jury numbers went to what cases, unless it was in some lawyer code. While nosing around, I saw this chick come into a courtroom who looked like she was a defense attorney. She looked like she went to Rutgers and got in a sorority and thought it made her hot shit, and slept with a lot of fratboys to try to suck her way to the top. Then her parents paid for her to go to some shit law school like Pace, where she went through the night program, and went to a lot of happy hours at really dumb bars in Manhattan that cater to the Ally McBeal crowd. And then there she was. Maybe Falli can tell me otherwise on how to tell what lawyers are what, but that was my guess. Maybe I should have written “Fast-neat-average” on a napkin and gave it to her. (Look it up on google.)

Anyway, we eventually got herded into a smaller room, about as big as a classroom, where they said they’d get to us in 10 or 15 minutes. The room seemed way too much like a classroom, except there was no stage or dais at the front of the room. I kept looking up to see if a teacher was coming in or something, and the whole thing was disorienting. But it didn’t smell in there, and it even had some sort of air conditioning. So I read and read and read. Finally at about 12:30, someone came in and told us to go to lunch and return at two.

An hour and a half – too bad there was almost no place to eat around there. I went to a Pizza Hut, sat in a booth, and spent too much money on one of those personal pan things that I didn’t even finish because I felt sick from the early morning and lack of real food. It was no place to kill an hour and a half, and I got out of there and went for a short walk before coming back in, scoping out the restroom facility, and then making a quick call on the cell to kill more time.

So I read. And read. And an hour and a half later, when I thought we would get a case, they came in and told us that the guy took a plea, and we had to cross the street (and go through fucking security for the third time) and go back to the pool. I fucking sprinted back while everyone else moaned and smoked and got there fast enough to get through the metal detector before the “is my pencil metal?” crowd got there. I sat around for another 15 minutes, and got well into act 3 of the book, and then they told me to go home and come back at 9:30 the next day. So I came home and took a long cold shower to get the court funk off of me, and here I am.

Now, I need to find another book to re-read, and it’s 8:00 and I want to go to bed.

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Hobby shop nostalgia

It rained all weekend. Poured. It’s always good to have the two days off, but I get a bit restless when I can’t go to a store or a movie or whatever without dressing in a scuba suit. While I was dodging to get some lunch on Saturday, I decided to duck into this hobby store that’s about a block away from me. Like a lot of other businesses in Astoria, it’s run more like a hobby than a regular place with regular hours, and pretty much every time I walk past it, the gate is down and lights are off. But I saw the doors open for business, so I decided to duck in there.

I’m no stranger to hobby shops. As a kid, my interests ran from trains to planes to cars to pretty much anything else you put together with plastic cement and little glass jars of paint. I built military airplanes, 1/48 scale plastic kits with way too much detail, at an age much later than I’d probably like to admit. When most kids were off trying to chase after girls for the first time or sneak into their parents liquor cabinet, I was in my parents’ basement, sitting at an old card table, listening to a Rush cassette and painting each individual dial on the instrument panel of a 1/32 scale F-15. My room had two walls of shelves filled with planes, and I had a workbench in the basement filled with half-built kits, tools, and supplies. I don’t entirely remember when I stopped or why, although I’m sure a lot of it had to do with a driver’s license and the desire to fit in. I don’t regret the time I spent doing this, although there is a certain shame factor, thinking about the geekiness of it. I mean, working on a computer – at least that could eventually lead to a job and money. But model airplanes don’t have any analog.

Walking into the old shop was like a flashback to me. It was a narrow, run-down little spot, but the walls were filled with shrink-wrapped cardboard boxes of many different areas and scales. Even the toy stores have the typical stuff, the half-dozen Testor’s kits that are made for kids with little patience. But when you get to a REAL hobby shop, they have the Pacta paints and the Tamiya kits and the sheets of custom metal foil detail pieces that cost more than some models. And this place had all of this – some older, almost vintage kits, and all of the heavy duty planes: the 1:48 B-1 and B-52 models, the 1/32 MRC planes, the Hellers from France, the DML armor kits from Hong Kong, the Paula and Antares resin kits from the Czech republic. It was all there, and I spent an endless amount of time looking at all of the kits, looking at the revised versions that had been re-released in the almost 20 years I’d been away from the hobby, and the new kits with generations of improvements in details, and technology. It made me really think about a lot of things, about life.

I’ll admit – I don’t really know where I’m going with my life these days. I’m punching the clock, eating the meals, sleeping when I can, but that’s about it. I haven’t been writing, and I haven’t been thinking about other projects. But I’m always hit with the whole “what am I doing?” volley of simultaneous and confusing emotions. I look at the people around me, the people my age, and they’re married, with kids, working, saving, buying houses, and in the conventional sense, they are DOING something. And then I look at what I’ve accomplished (which isn’t NOTHING, but…) and I look at my apartment full of toys and computers and DVDs, and I think I am not a grownup. And I think that if I was grown up, I would buy a new suit instead of buying a Slayer box set, or something. That I’d get my priorities straight. And maybe that would start the domino effect, of respect in my career, and meeting new people, and settling down, and everything else.

But then I also think that all of this is bullshit. I can’t – I don’t know, I can’t get up on a building and shout THIS IS BULLSHIT! and really fly my freak flag and… whatever. It’s more like a soft decision. But the decision is that I don’t really care. I don’t want to be a “grown up”, whatever that means. I can’t write the sequel to Rumored while I’m changing diapers, or busily shopping at The Gap, or whatever else. I care about eventually meeting someone, but I don’t care enough to ignore the opportunities around me that I’d rather pursue. I’d rather travel alone, and buy lots of DVDs, and stay up late at night playing video games. I don’t need to defend that against any other standard.

So I bought a model airplane. It’s a B-25, in 1/32 scale, and it’s a balsa kit, which I’ve never tried before. You actually cut out all of these balsa pieces, strigners and keel pieces and formers and stuff, and pin them to this big blueprint and glue it all together, so you get a skeleton of balsa. Then it is covered with a tissue paper and glue, and plastic pieces like windows and engine nacelles are included. It’s designed to fly with engines or be a static model. I’d like to build an RC plane, but I decided this would be my “learn from my mistakes” model, before I sink any money into a bigger plane.

I bought glue and knives and sandpaper and some other small tools, and also got a big piece of foamboard to use as my “table”. While it poured outside, I sat on the couch with the board in my lap and pinned down my pieces, cut out rib holes for stringers, and had the TV on in the background. It reminded me of what I really missed about building models, which is the almost hypnotic effect of working with your hands, going through the steps, trimming and eyeballing and test-fitting and inspecting, and actually building something that passes the time in such a different and more fulfilling way than just sitting on the couch and watching SuperStation reruns.

So that was my weekend. I mean, I went to dinner at Kiev on Saturday night in a short break of the rain, but I came back and kept gluing and cutting. I mostly finished the fuselage frame, then took a long walk to Home Depot and bought a Dremel MotoTool so I could cut things up a bit faster. But it was a good weekend overall, despite the shitty weather.