Never again

Got about 7½ hours of sleep, which is more than my normal six or so, but it sure wasn't "a good night's sleep." I kept waking up every fifteen or twenty minutes, and the dreams were like a festival of short films, or even shorter and stupider films, like commercials.

Ain't much that's dumber than commercials, but last night was.

It started at a party apparently hosted by the young Don Knotts, where the decor was all in a fish motif from his fish fantasy movie, The Incredible Mr Limpet.

Wait a minute, I said to myself in the dream. I don't go to parties. I don't know Don Knotts, so he became Jack Nicholson, who I also don't know, and then he became a guy I knew at Macy's named Jack but not Nicholson. This Jack was black.

Black Jack, I'd last heard, had a growth on his foot, and he was trying to find a better job with actual health benefits so they wouldn't have to amputate and he wouldn't be left bankrupt and with only one foot. That was reality, though — life in 1990s America. In the dream, he was limping.

Next, I was stapling together copies of this zine (except Bevvy's copy), when I slipped and shot several staples into my groin. The staples were all under the skin, and like Black Jack I have no health insurance, so I put a band-aid over the wounds and went back to the party.

I woke up just long enough to jot some notes about the dream, and then fell asleep again, and Mark called. I'd asked his opinion on the latest issue of Pathetic Life, so he told me it was fantastically awful, not merely uninteresting as usual but actually unintelligible, with whole pages of nothing but typos. He'd changed his mind, he said in the dream, and decided not to buy me breakfast yesterday, so could I please send him a check for the omelet I'd eaten?

Next I was at the airport, waiting for Sarah-Katherine. She was lifting her luggage off the whirling rack, and then she saw me, walked up and kissed me, and most of the problems from the night's other dreams disappeared.

In various other settings, that kissy-kiss moment was replayed several times during the long bonkers night, so she was making things better in dreams, same as I hope she will in reality.

In the next dream I'd cut myself shaving, which makes no sense. Haven't shaved in years; I have a long beard, scissored a bit only when it starts drooping into my soup. The razor cut was deep, though, and my blood was orange instead of red, and smelled like angel food cake.

I couldn't stop the bleeding and can't afford an ER visit, so of course I galloped over to Telegraph Ave, to see the guy in the med students' booth. For $2.50, he unfolded his portable homemade CAT scanner, slid me through it, and spotted those three staples in my dick and nutsack. He said he couldn't pull the staples out, I'd need to see a doctor for that, but he also said that because of the injury, my urine will be misdirected into my bloodstream, and I'll have Urine Leukemia, and be dead by Thursday.

No, man, I'm going to be on Josh's radio show on Thursday, don't want to miss that.

These are only the few parts of a restless sleep that I remember, but the whole night was fucked up. Between the dreams I'd wake and wonder about it, write myself a note for tomorrow and hope it might make sense, but then I'd fall asleep and have another crazy dream.

Even this morning, awake, I was still disoriented. I had to stop and truly concentrate to decide, nope, I've never met Don Knotts.

It was very reassuring to go down the hall and pee, find no staples in my nuts, and see that my urine was yellow, not red or orange. 

Usually after a dream, good or bad, if I remember it at all, I'll try to figure out what it might mean, what my subconscious was trying to tell me. My only guess after last night is, my subconscious needs to see a shrink. Of course, I have no coverage for that, so — onward to Tuesday morning!

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Despite a night of bad dreams, life is almost always better in bed. There I sat, happily alone, clipping and contemplating my toenails, feeling more anti-social than usual if that's even possible, so of course that's the moment when Cy knocked on my door to tell me I had a phone call. 

It was Jay, asking me to run some fish-related paperwork to City Hall tomorrow. I wanted to retch, wanted to say no, wanted to say again that we should have no further dealings with City Hall.

Look, If we're running a licensed fish stand, we already have the license. They've told us to stop selling Darwin, so we have to stop selling Darwin. No need to deal with City Hall.

If we're going to break the law by selling Darwin fish, then we're running an unlicensed fish stand, a/k/a a free speech stand, which also means No need to deal with City Hall.

So why is she sending me to deal with City Hall?

Way back in May, when Jay asked me to sell fish, she said I'd need to get a seller's permit, and I had misgivings about it. I'm probably not a full-fledged anarchist, but I do hate being numbered and indexed, photographed, filed, told what I can do, what I can't, what I must do, and what I mustn't.

Steady work sounded smarter than piecing together a living from "I'll do anything" gigs, though, so I got the plastic permit that's in my wallet, taped the license to the fist stand, and worked within the city's dumb rules (well, most of them).

Months later, it feels like that was the original mistake — dealing with the city, at all. 

Jay makes fish, and wants me to sell them. I want to sell the fish. People want to buy the fish. What any of that has to do with the City of Berkeley — why fish must be regulated — is beyond my comprehension.

But I didn't say any of that, when Jay called, and asked me to go to City Hall tomorrow. 

After a long moment of silence, I said I'd do it, because Jay promised that the forms would be filled out in advance. All I'm doing is dropping paperwork on some asshole's desk, and she's paying me to do it, and I won't have to converse with anyone at City Hall.

That last part is vital, because I cannot bear to again attempt dialogue with any city workers — not today, not tomorrow, not in this lifetime, or the next.

A pledge to myself, made right now: Never again will I take a job that requires bureaucratic butt-kissing like this. I'll do the shittiest work imaginable, literally shovel manure if I have to, but not if you need a special license to do it, or a permit, or you're subject to inspection by city workers at any time, any day.

Never again. Sworn this 19th day of September, in the 1,995th year since your lord and savior died and began decomposing in the dirt.

From Pathetic Life #16
Tuesday, September 19, 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 comment:

  1. I don't like parties either and always say no, but I'd go to a Limpet-theme party at Don Knotts's house. Haha


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