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Thursday, Sept. 11, 2003 - 11:44 p.m.

Whatís felt like an enormously positive and creative new phase tripped and fell flat on its nose today.

First, Iím sick, or I might just have allergies. Iím sniffling and sneezing, with that familiar spacey feeling and a bit of a sore throat. My cat is bored with me. I am bored with myself, too, and I do not like it.

A few nights ago, tired but unable to sleep, I started reading the most mindless book I could find: Stone Alone, Bill Wymanís autobiography of the Rolling Stones. L half-jokingly pressed it on me when he was getting rid of things prior to moving. It offers some painful writing, especially during the childhood sections. A sample:

ďWhen Albert began dating a girl, I made up a foursome with them and her girlfriend, Anne. She was fifteen, still at school, but had the biggest boobs in town. We began dating regularly.Ē

But, having begun this book, I cannot stop. I must read all 645 pages. Perhaps it is the boredom culprit.

Or perhaps the sickness is the boredom culprit. Itís so perfect here, finally cool enough to walk to my office without sweating, perfect for sleeping with all the windows open, and I am grumpy that I canít smell it.

I just took some medicine. About a year ago I bought some Goodyís Headache Powder for the cheapness and campy little package, and I had one packet left. Itís horrible stuff; dumping a pile of sour powdered aspirin on my tongue does not make me feel very good. So this time I dissolved it in water, but that only prolonged the unpleasantness.

Second, I am having a crummy week of teaching. I feel like I just stand up there and babble, I assigned crappy readings that donít make for good discussion, and I donít know the names of everyone in my later class yet (and itís getting embarrassing to ask, this being the fourth week). And the more I feel lame, the lamer the students get, which makes me feel lame. I hope we can break out of this mess next week. I do not know how I will get through tomorrow. I will have to wake up early to make my lesson plan, because I have put it off all day. I have also not finished grading the pile of journals I want to hand back tomorrow, either, because they are boring. In previous classes Iíd have one or two boring journal writers; this semester itís nearly everyone. They are timid and identical and impossibly dull. But how do you tell someone their inner thoughts are boring? You donít. You wait for them to get homesick and drunk and heartbroken and jaded, or to discover a passion for Foucault (ha!), and you hope the change will be reflected in their writing.

Third, and most importantly, I am broke in a way I have never been broke before. It will end Monday; itís not like thereís no way out. But two days ago I counted out the quarters and dimes from my change jar and found I do not have enough money to buy cigarettes through the weekend. As of right now I have three left. Three days ago I wrote a check for some vegetables, some cans of tomatoes and garbanzo beans, and one discounted bottle of wine, and that check might bounce.

Iíve been back to teaching for almost a month, but my first paycheck was devoted entirely to debts accrued over the semi-unemployment of the post-masterís degree months. This next check will be devoted to the same, but will at least free up enough room on my tiny credit card ($500 limit!) for me to begin using it again.

This is not fun to hear about, Iím sure.

Now I have two cigarettes left.

I have lived on miniscule budgets often; in fact, my new adjunct instructor salary is making me feel quite wealthy in theory, but these past two weeks have been really stressful. Itís not like poverty, obviously: itís going to end, I have plenty of food here, thereís enough cat food to last until Monday, Iím only responsible for myself and one felineÖit feels silly to complain about, in most ways. Iím not poor. Iím just broke and nervous.

But Iíve had to ask L to pay for my beer at band practice (practice without High Life being unthinkable), and Iíve been to his house many times in the last month without paying for any of the food heís cooked me, and heís taken me to dinner a few times, and it feels weird and unbalanced. Iíve been not-so-sneakily using another friendís internet service Ė heís given me permission (or he did, long ago), but I have certainly been abusing it, and I daydream often about Monday Monday MONDAY when Iíll be able to hand him a snappy wad of cash and apologize. I daydream about Monday a lot. I have my bills written out and ready to send as soon as I can buy stamps. I will search the town for the perfect tuna steaks and take them to Lís house, along with a brand new bottle of gin. I will take my poor car to the doctor and get the power steering hose itís needed since January, get a full tank of gas for the first time in several months, and be able to get out of this town at long last. Perhaps I will go to the beach. I will buy a plane ticket to visit Chicago and Madison in November. This materialism is unsettling; I do not like that I daydream about the Things I Will Buy. But oh, to drink good coffee next week, and to buy some cheese.

This would have been a good night to call Carla and have a beer, buy some ibuprofen for my throat, forget about the journals and the lesson plans until the early morningÖbut those are luxuries I have to put off until next week. I find myself eyeing the vermouth in the fridge. This means it is time for bed.

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