that awful void
Sunday, August 13 2000
Very early this morning, vodka headache and all, I went on a walk down the north-south alleys to the east of Bundy looking for some sort of discarded furniture for my house. My top priority was something to sleep on, and you can't imagine my joy when I discovered a complete mattress set leaning against a fence. It hadn't been out even long enough to be pissed upon by neighborhood dogs. It was clean and had no stains, but it was kind of chewed up on the end of one side. Still, I've been sleeping on much worse. The shifting archipelago of couch cushions on the smooth hardwood floor of my bedroom was not an appropriate long term sleeping solution, not even for the likes of me. But who knows, I might be sleeping on this dumpster-dived mattress ten years from now. It's unexpectedly firm, which is the way I like my sleeping furniture. Carrying it the three and a half blocks back to my house was a real bitch. After I was done installing the mattress in my room, my right arm was listless and weak for the rest of the morning.
Inspired by my score, I set out on a more wide-ranging alley cruise, going as far north and east as the cluster of of tall buildings near the intersection of Westgate and Wilshire. It turned up nothing, however, but I celebrated by buying coffee (the first in several days) at Ralph's. Lacking suitable coffee-making hardware, I was forced to buy a box of Folger's Singles. I've officially outgrown instant coffee.
I like my home computer and I like doing stuff on it. But it's a temperamental beast, a bit more so than the machine I use at work. They shouldn't really be that different, but they are. I'm running Windows 98 on a K6-III on my home machine and I'm running Windows NT on a Pentium III at work. My home computer has 50% more memory too, 192 Megs. Yet I've run into real limits with it on a regular basis. I've noticed that whenever I get Microsoft Visual Interdev and Microsoft Outlook going at the same time, my windows start doing all kinds of bad things, refusing to come to the front when I beckon, refusing to move, changing to entirely new font schemes, that sort of thing.
Then there's the archipelago of programs that RealNetworks likes to periodically force me to reinstall on my machine. I always forget how badly my machine gets fucked up by this process. But if I don't do it, the nefariously shifting media file standards change out from under me and I'm barred access to the multimedia that is my birthright. So eventually I cave in to the begging alerts of RealMedia, allowing them to assfuck me with a software upgrade, the sort that is so fundamental that it actually requires me to reboot my machine. And then, well, all hell breaks loose. I always forget to not install the RealDownload widget, and that causes a traffic jam of error windows as my machine reboots. I don't know why I forget, that thing is so horrible - it's just a trojan horse bearing annoying advertisements along with the buggy code. Its functionality appears to be entirely negative. By the way, this latest round of RealMedia "upgrading" was triggered by a desire to watch BigBrother live video. But even after the "upgrade" I couldn't view the files. Go figure. I feel like the victim of some sort of fraud.
In the evening, Kim came over to pick up a few things and to give me a pot (no, not pot, a pot). Sophie came charging in and immediately ran upstairs. It was as if she thought she was awaking from some terrible twitch-filled doggy nightmare and needed to prove to herself that everything is actually okay in her life. But everything is not okay in her life. Upstairs, the old bedroom we all used to share is vacant and full of harsh hardwood floor echoes. There is no bed to jump into anymore. She didn't bother coming down for awhile. Reality is too cruel for her. Kim says she spends a lot of time hiding under the bed at her new place. She doesn't like the breakup at all.
Kim originally thought maybe we'd hang out for awhile when she came over tonight. But there was nothing much to say or do while she was here. I didn't want to go for a walk with her as she suggested. Everything between us was just empty, cold and painfully irrelevant. My feelings were empathetic. I didn't want anything from Sophie or Kim. I just wanted them to be happy and I could plainly see that they weren't. This forced me to recall the feelings I had when I was sad and abandoned and no one I cared about cared about me. But it's finally come to this and we have to cope with it. There's not much we can do except try not to dwell on the inherent sadness of it all.
After Kim had gone, I felt a big emptiness in my, uh, soul. If there are little men who drive us around like cement trucks, well, it's in that little man that I felt the emptiness. It was as if that little man didn't really know where he was going, but there he was driving through the moonless night, and he's got to keep driving, because if he stops, that's it, my life is over.
What with the house situation, I have a looming fear of failure, like I stand a chance of being financially ruined. This fear of failure is exacerbating a feeling of aloneness in the world brought about by Kim's departure from my life. I was miserable when I was going out with her. But damn it, she really loved me and there was nothing she wouldn't do for me. Now, though, I'm a grown man in a faraway land. Everything is up to me. And no one is going to suffer but me if I fail.
I finally figured out what was wrong with my RealPlayer. Its default setting makes it look for streaming media via some sort of proxy arrangement. This, it turns out, doesn't work for the BigBrother setup. By not selecting the default proxy setting, I suddenly had streaming video of the stars of BigBrother. And, man, that stuff is like a conventional webcam on steroids, with zoom ins, pans, and live on-the-fly editing. That the subject is a handfull of dull whitebread Americans locked up in a decidedly unusual house doesn't detract from the experience at all. It's the fact that we can watch them with such fluid clarity in real time that makes it so addicting. I even briefly considered leaving the audio running all night so it would be as if I was sleeping in the same room with them.
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