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2005-01-26 - 8:56 a.m.

Just got an email from my dad, saying they're inducing labor with my little brother's wife on Monday, January 31st. I think she's due the first week of February, and she's made no secret of the fact that she's tired of having a big belly. Can't blame her one bit.

Saw "Garden State" last night, and mostly really liked it. They did a drug scene, with the focal character staying still and with all this crazy drugged up action happening all around him. And it actually worked, this scene. The movie was sort of sappy at times, especially when my boy Zach spoke his heart. My writer's brain kicked in when this happened, and I couldn't help but think that he should do the "show, don't tell." Don't tell us you're all sad, man, but rather do some little action that does all that heavy lifting for you. And, the soundtrack, which I'd heard a while ago, was good. The two songs by The Shins are great. One's all happy and one's exactly the opposite, a rainy-day, rain dripping down the nose break-up sort of song.

I played the shit out of some basketball last Friday. I hadn't played since before Christmas, so I was out of shape, my lungs threatening a revolt, but I did all right. I mean, I'm white, so that's the qualifier. And I'm a little older than the other guys playing on the main court, the real deal pick-up game. I'm amazed by what these 21-year-old skinny black kids can do. They don't look like much--most of them look young and ropy--but the way they can leap off the floor and dunk or almost dunk, man, it's graceful as hell. And when they get fouled, they don't fuck around, no punches pulled. "You fucking fouled me, man," and then, no fists thrown or anything, they just take the ball out and jog back down the court, the incident over and the next play on the way. There's something to be said for airing tiny little conflicts as they happen, rather than letting them build up inside until they 'splode. I, of course, have never been much good at that. I don't do it often, but when I get fed up, I 'splode!

I really should start recording, in journal form or otherwise, all the random bits of human interaction I see and hear. I've always thought a stint at a 7-Eleven would be a good idea--just two weeks or so. For instance, this morning, this happened while I was waiting to sign the electronic debit card screen:

Two construction workers walk in, the first of them a 40-year-old foreman guy, stocky, holding one of those huge insulated handled plastic cups where you can get coffee refills for 40 cents. The cashier guy, slick curly black hair, chatty, nods at the formeman. The foreman holds up his cup as if to say, "Don't mind me, I'm just here to refill this here giant plastic mug. I come in here every morning, so I'm going to just wave the mug and that'll be my hello." The cashier sees the mug, which I notice was bought from a competing convenience store, and says, "You know we wouldn't sell that kind of mug here, man!"

And there's a nice lady who works in that store, too. Since Norfolk's a navy town, there are tons of Filipinos here (lots of navy things happening in the Phillipines, I suppose), but I don't notice many people from India or from the rest of Asia, for that matter. This is a little strange since Baltimore/DC is a mix of everybody, and that's what I'm used to. Anyway, when this nice cashier lady is at the 7-Eleven, I can't help but try to figure out what part of the world she's from. She looks Indian, and her name is Rosie. She has what might be an English accent. And, at the bank the other day, the teller was from Ghana but she'd lived in London for five years and had a really nice English accent. Not sure what I'm saying here, but I'm drinking coffee and so maybe in ten minutes this would have made sense.

OK. Getting a query letter together in the wild hope that some publisher, big or small, would be interested in taking a look at my collection. It's a funny little game. The idea is to pitch yourself, or your book. Selling is hard. Got my girlfriend three birds of paradise last night for an anniversary. I know now that these are flowers, and they're really pretty amazing, unlike any flower I've ever seen. They remind me of dinosaurs, the necks of the big ones like brontosaurus or pterodactyls. She likes them a lot.

Class tonight, crazy because last week's got shortened by snow. Teaching once a week for three hours is some kind of way to make a tiny, tiny living.

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