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2005-11-05 - 1:49 p.m.

I'm no good at domestic things. I ran out of clean shirts and socks three days ago. There are other things I'd rather do than do laundry.

But there's this, and holy shit: In today's New York Times, a story about prisons in Africa. The reporter went to a prison in Malawi. It's amazing how any story, really, but especially the ones about how bad or how hot or how cold places are or how dire situations are, you can read numbers such as the fact that 200 men are sleeping in a prison cell built for 50, but it's the specific details that drive the point home. When they sleep, they're packed in so tightly that they can't roll over onto their other side except en masse. So they do it once a night. It's somebody's responsibility to ring a bell to make this en masse rolling-over happen. I don't know what to do with that.

So I'll just keep doing what I'm doing. I hung out at Dave and Julie's house in Catonsville, in the suburbs. I made them a mix CD. I was kind of honored when they put it on because they spend all day listening to music. Dave makes a new mix CD nightly, Julie told me last night. And he knows all the titles. She feels a little overwhelmed when he asks her how she likes a specfic song that he put on a mix CD two weeks ago and that they'd listened to once. He's got a strange brain. In college, he used to wait until 7 am to start papers that were due at noon. He'd stay up all night, but he wouldn't start them until the sun came up. He did that all the time. And he'd get good grades on them because he could do it. He had to have the absolute deadline beating down on his head, I suppose. I understand that because I'm the same way. But at least I'd start them at 10 pm. Anyway, we drank some beer and listened to music and talked about "Arrested Development." The Gob character is great. I really like that guy. He broke out of prison by getting shivved. Taa daa.

Seeing a Johnny Cash tribute show at the Ottobar tonight. Trying to write today but want to go clothes shopping, of all things. My roommate Geof told me about a store called H&M. It's at a mall far away. He said the clothes are slimmer fitting. I always try to buy clothes that aren't so baggy and so this store sounds good to me. I like to have clothes that look good but I hate spending money on them. This is probably a silly thing to worry about. I should just buy the clothes.

I tried to buy the Charlie Brown Christmas Special album online the other day, entered my credit card information and everything. But when I tried to complete the order, something happened and it didn't go through. I really would like to have that album.

I've been thinking lately about the phrase, "In the spirit but not the letter." I've been thinking about it because of the Spoon song "The Way We Get By." It's a manifesto song, a testament to a way of living. So, even though I don't do any of the things mentioned in the song, the specific activities, I like the thought of laying out a code of conduct:

"We get high in back seats of cars
We break into mobile homes
We go to sleep to shake appeal
Never wake up on our own
That's the way we get by."

Manifestos justify a way of life. Giving it words validates it. The act of naming is a powerful one.

The song culminates in this one:
"We believe in the sum of ourselves."

My friend Blair's little brother left today for Iraq. He's a fueler and a driver. He's there until April 2007. I really hope he's OK.

It's kind of amazing how much I associate Baltimore with my friend Kevin. When I first moved back up here, we'd see each other a couple of times a week. He had knee surgery a month ago and since then I've seen him once. He's the starter of things, the catalyst. I miss him. I miss tons of people. Sometimes I miss them when they're not gone.

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