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Breakfast at JJ's with Jay

"Today I did nothing much today, today I did nothing much." If this show had a theme song, those would be the only lyrics, repeated over and over again.

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My nothing-much today should've been BARTing into San Francisco and putting up a hundred "I'll do anything legal" flyers in the Mission, in the Castro. The voice-mail has had very little to say to me lately. Business isn't booming. Even when Jose and I talked a few days ago, we came to a general agreement that I'd work with him again, but not a specific when and where.

So definitely, gluing flyers to every telephone pole in the city is what I should've done, but the pants refused to go onto my legs. There were so many other things to not do, that I spent the entire morning and the first few hours of the afternoon not doing all of them, one by one. It was exhausting, so I took a nap.

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The big mistake was that when I finally crawled out of bed and did something, it was one last proofread of the 'next' issue of this zine. In the time warp reality of publishing one's diary, the next issue is last month, August.

The way it works is, first I write the zine, day by day.

Then, I go back and delete about half of it because it's the same as the other half, and tidy up the writing that remains, so it's a little less repetitive, boring, and repetitive.

Then I let it sit for a few days or a week, and look at it one last time before hitting the 'print' button. That wait lets me read it with a fresher eye, catching the last few typos, and noticing any especially badly broken writing so it can be repaired, if possible. That's what I was doing today — that final fix and read-through.

And wowsers, I'd thought August was at least of so-so interest, but it's worse than that. It's almost entirely uninvolving, unfunny, and… ungood. It's not something I'd particularly want to read, let alone have my name on the byline.

I don't enjoy writing, but I love having written something good. It's sure frustrating to read a month's worth of what I've written and realize that it's not very good.

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Why do I do this zine anyway? What kind of man puts every embarrassing ejaculation on paper, prints it up and offers it to the world for three bucks — and can't even make it amusing for more than a paragraph at a time here and again there? This isn't literature. It's just litter.

For that matter, why bother with my life at all, let alone writing about it? Down like a DC-10, this is my worst instant funk since my last round of the blues.

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After I'd typed the above, deep in ambivalence and not-quite self-hatred but certainly self-dislike, the house phone rang and I ignored it. Nobody calls me, and I hate the phone. Never give out the number, so it ain't for me, and I hate taking messages, too, so fuck off, whoever's calling.

Moments later my flatmate Cy knocked at the door and said the phone was for me. What the what? Who even has this number, I wondered. Sarah-Katherine has it, but by mutual agreement and because long distance is expensive, she never calls me and I never call her. 

It was Jay on the phone. Guess I'd given her the number at some point. 

"What do you want?" I asked, grumpy and itching to get back to my depression.

The plan is, we're going to sell fish via mail order, and Jay explained that she'd prepped rough drafts ads for the fish, and she wanted me to look at them, give her my opinions, and help her lay out the final fish ads.

"Sounds good," I said. "When do you want to do this?"

"Uh, now would be a good time," she said.

I looked at the clock, and it was 9:50. At night. Generally, that's bedtime for me, but, "Sounds good," I said again. Hell, I needed to get out of my room anyway, out of my head, so I got dressed and then waited outside. She drove up about ten minutes later, and we spent a few hours doing fishy arts and crafts.

Then we went to a midnight breakfast at JJ's, an all-night restaurant in Oakland. Jay was buying, so I couldn't refuse, and anyway I'd never refuse breakfast, even if I'd just eaten breakfast. Never been to JJ's before, and probably never again unless Jay's buying again — the food was good, but expensive.

There's a telephone at every table, which is something I've never seen in a restaurant. You don't even need to dial '9' to get an outside line. Jay and I wondered about it, and decided, judging by the borderline twitchy customers all around us, that the phones are for conveniently arranging drug deals while you eat.

Between our omelets and the phone on the table, we constructed the ads, and in my opinion they're not great but not bad. Of course, what I know about advertising is nothing, but Here's hoping they sell some fish, we toasted with our OJs. In my mind I added an ellipsis... so I can maybe have at least a part-time job filling and mailing fish orders.

Then we drove to Kinko's to shrink and print the ads, with me mostly helping Jay keep track of which fish we'd photocopied and which we hadn't. After that we dropped the finished proofs into the mail, addressed to half a dozen magazines and half a dozen 'big' zines. The ad campaign is now underway!

By the time Jay dropped me off at home, it was 3:30 Thursday morning, and I was ready to drop myself. I wrote about it instead, and now it's 5:00 AM.

I'm in the same place as seven hours ago, but it's a better place mentally — thanks to Jay. Despite the occasional arguments, I like working with her, and having her around. 

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As for the shittiness of the zine I'll soon be printing and stamping and mailing, there's nothing much I can do about it, eh? Can't go back and re-live or re-write August, so this weekend it goes to the copy shop, and then to your mailbox, dear reader. Thanks for the three bucks.

Life goes on, and Pathetic Life goes on, and sometimes it sucks but what doesn't?

From Pathetic Life #16
Wednesday, September 13, 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.

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