I walk alone.

After walking some of San Francisco yesterday, I wanted to walk some of Berkeley's streets today. Aimed myself to the south, because a few blocks in that direction is something of a slum, or as much of a slum as you'll find in Berkeley. Since making the big changes in my life, the slums have usually been my home.

I was hoping for the sweet smell of pee and a few bums and crackheads spare changing me, but nope. Even the sorriest corners of this town smell fine, and the crackheads and tweakers of Berkeley are unfailingly polite.

There came a slight chill after I'd been walking a ways, a shiver from forgetting my jacket, or perhaps from remembering that I always walk alone.

Not long ago, I talked to an almost-friend, and he seemed mighty lonely. I gave him the expected bullshit line, that eventually he'll find someone. Ha. Walking today, I replayed bits of that conversation, and remembered that I'm lonely myself.

Always I say I'm a hermit — don't knock on my door, don't dial my phone, and don't expect friendship from me — and certainly that's who I am. Solitude isn't really a choice, though. It's a tactical retreat, and sometimes it's sad. Sometimes it gnaws at me like a rat in a trap, chewing its own leg off.

And yet I whistle a happy tune. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay. My, oh, my, what a wonderful day. Tell myself that lie every day, and after thirty years or so, why, sometimes I believe it myself.

♦ ♦ ♦

Marijuana is too expensive, and it's never been a major fascination for me anyway. But today I worked next to Buckeye, the jewelry vendor who lights up joint after joint every afternoon. The scent was everywhere, and after I jokingly complimented him on his aftershave, he offered me a few hits.

It wasn't necessary. The wind was gentle and in the right direction, so simply breathing the air meant enjoying his buds, almost as much as he was.

Now the day is done, and I don't feel much like writing. Corn chips, man. I really really really want some corn chips, and maybe some Twinkies on the side.

From Pathetic Life #15
Tuesday & Wednesday, August 22-23, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


  1. Wow, I thought you were overall happy with the hermit thing. Today's post adds a level of sadness. Doug, if you're ever back in San Francisco, I'll buy you a root beer.

  2. That's a long trip just for a root beer. Offer a couple of burritos at El Castillito and we can open negotiations.


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