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2003-12-08 - 10:06 p.m.

Now that all my papers are done, I can read again. Although I've still got a final in modern British literature. I'm supposed, I suppose, to be reading Joyce, Wolff, Yeats, and Beckett. Somehow, I can't bring myself to do that. Not right now. Instead, I'm reading "The Hours," which has a dynamite opening chapter about Virginia Wolff's suicide. Amazingly beautiful and sad and English. And I picked up Joan Didion's "Slouching Towards Bethlehem." I've only read her introduction, but recently I saw a picture taken of her when she was about my age now. She was a striking woman. She looks like someone who wears glasses but who took them off for the picture. Her eyes look like she's very sensitive to sunlight, as if she spends most of her time in a dimly lit place (a basement library?) and only comes up to the living room for pictures for dustjackets.

Still worried about my brother. He's at my parents' now, and has been since Thanksgiving. He's talking, vaguely, about getting a bartending job somewhere, but I know from experience that he's just talking. I'm half-tempted to invite him to stay with me for a while, but I know how that would turn out after a week. So when I talked with my mom today, I told her to ask him to call me. I have a hunch that how long he waits to call me will have something to do with how he's feeling.

I can't help but feel that I'm developing a really solid relationship with my mentor here, Mike. I think he respects my work and I have a feeling that when the times comes, he'll be able to go to bat for me somewhere, in a professional capacity. Hopefully, that moment isn't too far off. Playing basketball this weekend. Hope it's half-court.

And an end-of-semester party at a fiction writer's house. She has a beautiful place, all veranda and hammocks and brilliant, sad oil paintings inside. And she always gets interesting people together there. Her daughter is ridiculous. A dancer. Younger than me. Piercing eyes.

Beginning a draft of an essay about my granddad. He died in late October. Tentative title is "Taps." I'm toying with making this a multimedia thing, in the barest sense of the adjective. Having someone hit the play button on a boombox after the first few lines, having the boombox play the first few bars of the song. That song is designed to shake you up, and I'm trying to make this piece short, pungent, like that song. My last story was 25 pages, and I like the idea of making this one stripped down, without glossing over some autobiographical scenes with me and my granddad. That's what makes a story lengthy. But as long as a I can hint at those scenes and still get at the heart of the matter for me (I never know what, exactly, the heart is until I revise it once or twice), then I think a short piece can work.

I can see my breath when I go outside, which is nice.

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