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The end of October

Elton the cat scratched and screamed at my door off and on all night. I put her out of the room and into the hall, and she came back and yowled at my door. I let her in, and she yowled at my face soon as I fell asleep. Put her back in the hall, and she came back to the door, yowling and scratching. Let her back into the room, and she started jumping on the table and knocking things off. So I put her all the way outside, and she came to my window and started yowling and scratching at the glass to be let in.

The whole night is a blur of being awake against my will. Damn cat did whatever needed to be done to make sure I napped but never slept, and then she woke me for the day at 5:45 in the morning. That's early for me. I'm an eight o'clocker.

The cat's always interrupting my best dreams by rumbling through the trash, knocking cans off the mantle and eating my sandwiches. I do like having her on my shoulder while I'm typing, but letting her into the room only encourages her to moan and meow at the door all night long, waking me up.

So I think we're breaking up, me and that cat. It's not like she's my cat, or ever has been. She was part of the household when I moved in, and she'll still be here when I leave.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Elton reminds me of a particular woman I sorta dated, Dawn. She dated me more than I dated her. Only woman who ever pursued me, more than me pursuing her, and I did not like being pursued. 

I'm starting to feel the same way about Elton, like it was a mistake ever getting close to her. Maybe, sure, I'll tickle her ears when were together in the kitchen, but she's gotta stay out of my bedroom. Gotta build a wall around me and keep her out, just like Dawn.

Dawn. There's a name from the past. She deserves better than to suddenly be in my memories fifteen years later, but only to be compared to an annoying cat. I do hope she's OK, wherever she is.

I ought to tell you about Dawn. Her life had already been a hell of a story and she wanted to tell it to me again and again, and she did. Maybe next time I've run dry on my own stories, I swipe and tell hers. 

There was nothing wrong about Dawn, really. She wanted to like me, is all. Maybe I was an ass pushing her away. OK, not maybe, definitely I was an ass. She was just way more complicated than I could handle at 20.

♦ ♦ ♦

Drank two cups of coffee and took two caffeine pills, and still it was a sleepy day. Mostly I spent it riding unfamiliar buses around Alameda County, to put up my "I'll do anything" flyers. 

San Francisco is so overcrowded you can't ride a bus three blocks without finding a laundromat, and inside there's usually a bulletin board, so my "I'll do anything" goes up next to the lost puppies and cars for sale.

In Berkeley and most of the east bay, there aren't that many places to wash your clothes, and a lot of the laundries don't even have bulletin boards, so I glue one of my sticky-back flyers to the wall by the change machine.

Oakland has slums, though, and slums tend to have laundromats, so I spent the day getting on and off the #88 bus. Rough areas, full of tough people who seemed sadder to me than tough.

I didn't talk to any of them, and after a while the view from the bus window, and the neighborhoods I was walking, it all started making me sad, too. So I rode away, and put up some flyers in downtown Oakland, and then rode back through Hades to the little chunk of suburbia where I'm living with Judith and Jake and Elton.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Years ago, before I'd completely given up on the world, I thought maybe I could be a writer. It wasn't something I noticed in school, where illiterate "language arts" teachers told me what to read, then what to write about, how to write it, and what was wrong with everything I'd written. I didn't care and usually didn't try, unless their assignments by luck aligned with something I wanted to write about.

And even then, I cared more about my grade on what I'd written, than whatever letter they wrote across the first page.

As with all things, once the teachers and what they'd taught had been forgotten, the learning began. Once writing was something *I* wanted, not what someone else told me to do, I wrote better, enjoyed it more, and occasionally I'm even proud of it.

So here I am, writing for me, just a hobby, but you're welcome to look over my shoulder.

A few hundred people will read these words when this issue goes into the mail, and then, a few weeks after that, nobody will ever read this paragraph again, nor this page, nor any of the words I've tried to polish like an apple, and printed and stapled and mailed to you. 

You paid three bucks for this, so it's yours, but it's still a piece of me, you know. Most of you will toss it in the trash when you're finished reading, which might be twenty pages before what I'm writing today. The greener among you will toss me into a recycling bin. Wherever me and this zine end up, the staples will rust, the pages will mold and degrade to dust.

Every word I've scribbled, typed, erased, crumpled, rewritten, and finally pronounced "good enough" will be forgotten, which is not a great loss, but I would like to say thank you, for humoring this crotchety crank who wanted to write. 

And that's the end of October, 1995. If you'd like to humor me a bit longer, please remember to send three dollars for the next issue.

From Pathetic Life #17
Tuesday, October 31, 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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