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2005-06-26 - 5:49 p.m.

I'm in Baltimore. I had three days of orientation for this teaching gig and tomorrow is the first day of class. Three weeks of ten-year-olds. It's called Writing and Reading Workshop and the whole scene makes me wish my parents had money to send me to things like this when I was little. The campus is beautiful. It looks like a 1970s version of what I imagine Holden Caulfield's school looked like. It's got separate buildings and great stone walls as high as your knee and walkways and pine trees and the most amazing school library I've ever seen. It's an octagon and the roof's all exposed timbers.

I've got a crush on one of the teacher's assistants. She's got an even bigger crush on me, I think. She's an amazing creature: very smart and wise and the best kind of conversations with this girl. She's nineteen and so there's nothing there but wouldn't it be nice? I was thinking of that Steely Dan song "Hey Nineteen," but we do, in fact, have something in common.

I love coming to Baltimore. I love the nasty streets, the potholes, the rumbling I get when I go anywhere in this town. My car needs new shocks and struts so it feels like I'm riding the suface, the bumpy skin, of the city and feeling every crack from my ass to my my hands. And it's hot and sticky and when I get out of the car my back's sweaty. Air conditioning feels good when this happens.

And we went to a strip club last night, after the Admiral's Cup, which isn't the best bar in the world but we sat outside, the harbor breeze at my back. I got a kiss on the cheek by a girl named Maggie. She had to leave the strip club to get a taxi and I walked her out, shooing away the panhandlers and guys trying to get her a taxi and flagged one down for her. She gave me a kiss on the cheek. When I got back inside they asked me if I got her number and I think I smacked my palm on my forehead. I've always been oblivious to certain things.

But I was drunk and I may have been stumbling so there's that. Incredibly hungover today. Axe in the forehead. Two rounds of meds and a vitamin.

My buddy just walked in here (I'm at the warehouse space--concrete everywhere) and he was saying something to his girlfriend and she said the word "orgy" and he yelled, concrete-echoed, "Family orgies are the only way to go! Can't trust the other ones!"

So I'm about to be very busy for three weeks, planning lessons (lesson planning!) and teaching and generally attending to twelve young people. It's so much harder than teaching college kids. I do get paid a ton of money for the amount of time, though. I have a list of things to buy and that list may or may not include the following:

sneakers, maybe Sauconys because they look comfortable
cell phone business (I'm without and I don't know anyone else besides my dad who's also without)
T-shirts because it's hot
more contact lenses
the new White Stripes
something by Philip Roth, Junot Diaz's collection, and maybe "Speak, Memory"
steaks and sushi and makings for gazpacho

And I'll buy my mom something. I've turned her on to Cormac McCarthy.

I really do dig on Baltimore. All of it: the junkies and the drug deals and the watches sold out of the backs of vans and the corner stores with Newport ads and signs for lake trout. And the girls all over town, more of them than I remember, wearing skirts and flip-flops and bandanas. I also really like the streets, the actual street surfaces. I've been thinking about this since I got here four days ago. It may be a metaphor, but even better, it's tactile and hot and dark and it's got stuff stuck to it.

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