Ghost World: Diary, 5/15 to 5/28/21

Copyright 2021 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch of Ghost World

{5/15/21}  Weight 214.0 at 4:15 am.  Ouch.  213.2 at 6:50.

So I went ahead and posted yesterday’s diary entry, unedited.  Will I get a comment?  I doubt it.

Keeping chocolate chip cookies in the freezer, which I started doing on 3/15, has indeed kept me from bingeing on them as I hoped; in addition, heating them up in the toaster oven, which takes about four minutes, makes them so much more delicious!  Heating them in the microwave is far less effective because the heating is uneven and the toasted cookies have a thin, exceedingly delicate crust over a melt-in-the-mouth inside.  One drawback:  the cookies tend to break when I pick them up.  If any dessert can wean me from ice cream, this is it.

Today was pretty much a bust.  Went early to the Hemlock Club, felt sluggish and out of it most of the time, and most of us had little to say.  Pablo, Nog, and I came here.  We watched Baraka, a DVD reminiscent of Koyaanisqatsi but less structured, and so less sensible, though most of the images were interesting enough.  Overall I thought it slow, and I dozed a bit.  Then we watched an episode of Andromeda, nothing special.  And that was it.  No work done except this small bit of diary entry, and now it’s 10:00 pm.

Received Thomas Uzzell:  Narrative Technique in the mail.

Now I find that my laptop has stopped communicating with my sound bar, though it thinks it is.  I suppose a reboot will fix it.  This would be a tragic loss, as I have over 500 music tracks on the laptop.

{5/16/21}  Weight 213.8 at 5:45 am.

It is important to post something every day on the blog, even if only to reblog a previous post.  When I do this consistently, my hit count goes up, from four or five to six, roughly.  I think there are people who check their reader every day; seeing your name repeatedly…well, I don’t really know.

{5/17/21}  Weight 214.2 at 4:50 am.  213.8 at 5:45, 213.4 at 6:50 (lost some water).

Sleep continues to be elusive and frustrating.

When I check my blog reader, all I see is foolishness and lame shit.

{5/18/21}  Weight 213.0 at 6:15 am.

Best night’s sleep in a while.

I read last night my Man and Mother Nature, which amounts to the first half of a novel, and was thoroughly delighted with it.  What to do?

Also read Jung’s “Synchronicity,” a worthless and very obscure mumbling about a non-existent phenomenon.  He bases his claims primarily on the Rhine studies of psychic phenomena, long since discredited and thus easily dismissed, and on his own study of astrology which can’t be readily assessed because the details are lacking.  The astrology claims can be dismissed because if there were any truth to them, astrology would be accepted today as a science—which, of course, never happened.

Oops.  Called Amador Steel and Supply, Oliver’s place of business. [Oliver is my son, estranged from his age 11 to 25] To my astonishment, he answered the phone.  A gut punch.  I said, “This is embarrassing.  I didn’t expect you to answer the phone,” which was gauche.  He said, “I’m the phone answerer.”  I said, “I’m your biological father.  I sent you a letter.”  He received the letter, which I wrote a couple of months ago, and didn’t answer it, thus following in my footsteps.  I said, “Then I guess you have no particular desire to talk to me.”  He said, “No, not really.”  So I rang off, and now I want to hang myself.  Once I knew it was him, I could have saved us both by just hanging up; but, as usual, I hadn’t thought about the unpleasant possibilities, and so was unprepared.

Our mutual (or my) embarrassment can better be imagined than described.  So he hates me, or perhaps I am an unperson to him.  I can’t really expect him to leave it at this, but neither can I expect him to change his mind; there’s no reason for hope.  So that door to happiness is firmly closed, and I can “get on with my life.”  At least I didn’t have to spend money unnecessarily on a private detective.  I am disappointed, that he has no curiosity about me. That’s very sad.

This has happened twice already:  when I think of Oliver, my shoulder shrugs without my conscious intent.  So my body is telling me, “shrug it off.”  Good advice.  There’s nothing to obsess about, nothing to do.  Shrug it off.

Do I send him a birthday present?  It’s three months away, lots of time to decide.  First thought:  send him a copy of Kick Me [my dirty-laundry memoir].  I think it’s inevitable that I’ll maintain a minimal level of contact with him, i.e., send him a birthday card yearly.  Hope springs eternal.

Talked with Dr. Hill [my probation-required counselor] for fifty-five minutes, mostly about Oliver.  Meh.  She talked about “self-care,” which, to me, means “go on as you have been.”  I don’t generally change my activities in response to, say, traumatic events.

I suppose it’s unreasonable for me to resent Oliver’s and my brother’s total lack of interest in me, but I do.

When I get my driver’s license, which I applied for online a couple of days ago, I’m going to start shopping for a car.  I need to get this done before my medical bills come crashing down on me.

{5/19/21}  Weight 214.4 at 4:10 am.

Nothing in the diary worth blogging except “Finding Oliver,” posted yesterday.  It’s gotten fifteen views, an unusually high total, but only one “like,” which is low.

{5/20/21}  Weight 213.2 at 6:00 am.

Took a melatonin pill and got eight hours or more of sleep with one interruption—best sleep in a long time.

Chris Hedges:  America: The Farewell Tour is very grim reading in chapter one.  We are close to fascism, or closer than that.  Our democracy is gone, at least, squeezed out by the oligarchy.

Had my polygraph test yesterday at the old building.  The test was tiresome but went well.  Freeway construction continues there, after three years; there are no bus stops, but the driver let me off anyway.  There’s also no way to cross the street except illegally, unless you want to walk considerably out of the way (I didn’t, of course).  Starting next month, I’ll be going there four times a month, twice taking a taxi to get home (unless Bakersfield resumes normal bus schedule).

Watched a couple of videos by Chris Hedges, including “The Cult of the Self.”  Good stuff.  While I seem to be pursing similar goals through my writing, especially Twitter and my blog, I am making no attempt to modify my image to be more attractive.  I am about substance, not style.  Nobody could mistake me for having style.

{5/21/21}  Weight 214.2 at 5:50 am.

Another pill, another good night’s sleep.  Looks like I’m stuck with melatonin for the rest of my life.  Despite yesterday’s sleep, I also dozed off around 8:00 pm and kept dozing for more than an hour.  And it seems that melatonin does not wear off as soon as I get up; I’ll try the smaller pill this evening (3 mg vs 5 yesterday).

Chris Hedges disappoints me (in America) by referring to Freud’s “death instinct” as an explanation for something or other, an idea I find useless [it’s more a label than an explanation].  Also, his book is pre-Covid; his predictions about “the next recession” leading to fascism have not proved out—not that I expect him to be psychic.  But he seems about 2% too pessimistic.  I was reluctant to read him yesterday, not wanting to be depressed, but I went ahead and was not depressed.

A realization:  I need to get to a “final” reading of Kick Me so I can go ahead with publication.  My scruples about Oliver and the book have disappeared since he has shunned me.  A new dedication:  “To Oliver, though he’ll likely hate it.”  I’m not in love with it.  I need to contact Writers of Kern.

Of my despiséd time has come naught but bitterness.  A riff on Othello.  I wish it were otherwise, of course.

Spent the morning on Twitter and breakfast, now I’m ready for a nap.  After nap, I should start my final edit of Kick Me.

{5/22/21}  Weight 212.0 at 6:00 am.

Hemlock Club today.

Rereading Kick Me, I find some of it very disorganized.  The general approach is chronological, but I keep anticipating, that is, informing the reader of what happened later.  I think that’s mostly a mistake, since it kills any inherent suspense.  Also, analysis sometimes gets in the way of the story.  I should collect that all at the end.  I’m less than halfway through, and finding it a joyless task.

I had been posting on the blog almost daily for a while, but the last full diary posting was 5/14, and the only other things were “Finding Oliver” and a reblog of the Bateson piece.  The problem is that the diary has been scanty and dull.

{5/23/21}  Weight 213.8 at 6:00 am.  Yesterday’s weight apparently an error.

Finished reading Anne Lamott:  Bird by Bird.  It’s entertaining and has some important lessons, but I learned those the first time I read it (actually, the quotes I typed out were crucial), so this time it didn’t do a lot for me.  Passed it along to Pablo.

Got rid of Don’t Tell God; it was afflicted with “the [Lolita] curse.”  Have been unable to find “Grizzly Stew,” a fairy tale or fable; I probably dumped it a while after writing it (in prison) though I remembered it as effective, maybe clever.  No way to tell now, unless comments turn up in the diary.

The fiasco with Oliver preys on my mind.  Nothing to be done but grieve.

Finished dictation and cleanup of the first 800 pages of the prison diary.  Yay!  The day otherwise has been nothing much.  A little desultory reading, including Walter Kaufmann’s essay on Freud in his From Shakespeare to Existentialism.  It was good, but I’m just not that into Freud.

Bought three books from Thriftbooks for $15:  The Portable Chekhov, Wayne Booth’s The Rhetoric of Rhetoric, and E. M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel.  Thriftbooks now requires a minimum of $12 for free shipping; happy to oblige.

{5/24/21}  Weight 213.4 at 6:00 am.

I wanted to get Karl Popper:  The Open Society and Its Enemies, but at two volumes it came to eighteen bucks, so, no.  It’s also available free on the Internet; I started reading it once and got through a substantial chunk, like maybe fifty pages, but it didn’t really grab me and I find reading on the computer tedious.

Ate some Cheetos this afternoon; I screwed up my diet by buying a rotisserie chicken and eating some for lunch.  Come dinner-time I wanted just a snack but had eaten an ice cream sandwich a couple of hours earlier.  So “dinner” was a handful of Cheetos, which I’ll likely top off later with a couple of chocolate chip cookies (and a gain tomorrow?).  It wasn’t really a binge…

I’m very dull today, but what else is new?  Since I haven’t started on the Synchronicity novel, I’m sort of at loose ends, sometimes reading in Thomas Uzzell:  Narrative Technique, watching The Simpsons—an episode I saw today in which Homer throws a “pox party” may have been the funniest half-hour I’ve ever seen on television.  I think it was from 2006.  I’d do well to continue reading KM.

After declining “views” of my blog, down to a small handful or zero, today I got 40, from “three persons,” all in the U.S.  I’m thinking that they all might be Oliver.  The single document that got the most views was “Finding Oliver,” five views.  The rest were miscellaneous, mostly diary entries.  If it was indeed Oliver, there is hope that he might decide to contact me.  Here’s the list:

“What is it Like to be Me?” is a philosophical response to Nagel’s famous essay, “What is it Like to be a Bat?”

The diary entry (2/9 to 2/15/20) that got three hits has a lot about guilt and several movie reviews.  “About” is my old résumé.

Bought groceries this morning, always a long and tiresome task; I was lucky that the driver on the 22 worked hard to get us to the Southwest Transit Center timely, and so I didn’t have to sit around for twenty minutes or more.  After lunch I took a nap.  Now it’s 7:45 and I haven’t done a thing worth talking about.

I’m reading Uzzell, the General Semantics book I bought very recently, the Hesse novel, and Kick Me.  I’m not excited about any of them; but it would be wise to get through KM this week.  I’ll probably read some Uzzell and possibly some altogether other book.  Chris Hedges and Bertrand Russell are on hold, and it’s not unlikely that I’ll never resume them, though both are excellent (America:  The Farewell Tour and Mysticism and Logic, respectively).

Hell, I’ll just watch Paranormal Activity 5 and then go to bed.

{5/25/21}  Weight 213.2 at 6:00 am.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones was rather different from the previous four, and on the whole slightly better because the scares were not so repetitively stupid and pointless “jump scares.”  So it was less annoying and held my interest better, but it’s nothing like a good movie.  The “found footage” angle, as always happens with these things, got progressively more unbelievable, and as always happens, fell flat at the end.  One more to go in this DVD package.

Talking to Just_Sophi_ on Twitter this morning about Timmyted, I’m thinking now that I’d rather rewrite Taffy’s War than push ahead with Synchronicity.  Decisions, decisions.

{5/26/21}  Weight 214.2 at 6:00 am.  213.2 at 8:00 am.  Time to replace the battery in my bathroom scale.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is the last (thankfully) of the series.  It marks a return to the static-camera, found footage approach of PA one through four, but carries the “story” much further.  Episodes two through five are a complete waste, and one and six are, at best, of marginal interest.  This one has the most mayhem-per-minute as well as being the creepiest and most heavily SFX-laden of the lot.  Meh, or if you prefer, “nothing to see here.”  In fairness, it did hold my interest, and the cheap jump scares were not too excessive.

{5/27/21}  Weight 214.2 at 6:00 am.

Spent $61 on books over the last few days.  Not included in the total are three listed in my 5/23 entry; the latest are:  Making Up Your Own Mind, Murder Your Darlings, Explaining the Computational Mind, DVDs In the Fade and Bugsy Malone, and Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing that You’ll Ever Need (ha!).

Then I went to the library and bought twenty-two items ($11), about half DVDs and CDs and half books.  Mostly it’s junk.  Okay, all of it is junk.  Except maybe Erica Jong’s Fear of Fifty, a memoir.  I liked one of her nonfiction books previously.  I also rented two DVDs, both foreign films:  Augustine and Lore.

Watching Ghost World, which I saw about 20 years ago and liked a lot, now pretty much hating it.  I actually turned it off twice.  Empty people walking around sneering at empty people.  There’s a lot of that early; later it tries to redeem itself by blaming Enid (Thora Birch).  It’s never cheerful.  Starz channel cut the sex scene.  I read the graphic novel before I saw the movie the first time and liked it a lot.

Starz is advertising a new series based on Anaïs Nin’s Little Birds, starting June 6th.

[Note to blog readers: I’m including the following from today’s diary entry because it rounds off the review of Ghost World]

{5/28/21}  Weight 214.4 at 5:15 am.  I expected worse because of a Cheetos mini-binge.

Starting the day off with a dream, in which Enid and Seymour of Ghost World fly down to Rio; I gradually woke, still in the dream, and it became an exercise in trying to figure out how they could have gotten her a passport, as well as seeing an impending catastrophe because Seymour is suspected by passengers of trafficking Enid.  I couldn’t go back to sleep, alas.

Much of the unpleasantness of Ghost World [spoiler alert!] is due to Enid’s character:  she wheedles everyone in sight (her weapon is an anguished “Pleeeeease!”) to get fulfillment of her whims, so self-centered that she doesn’t see it, and Seymour succumbs repeatedly, essentially wrecking his own boring life.  (That sentence is overstuffed, but I’m letting it stand, being lazy.)

Copyright 2021 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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