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2006-06-29 - 12:55 p.m.

Just got back from four days in Ocean City. Though the whole of the East Coast got rained on and flooded and generally screwed pretty good, the coast was spared a lot of the heavy rain. I got a bunch of sun on my chest and belly and the seatbelt stings when I turn or twist or make sudden, exclamatory movements with my hands. The girlfriend met my mom and they both like each other. She said my mom had pretty eyes and liked to laugh and was nice. All of these things are true. What's also true is that I know she looks forward to these beach weeks all year and it makes me happy just to be there and talk and laugh and eat food and drink blender drinks and know that she's waking up many hours before me to see the sunrise and feel the cool sand between her toes before breakfast but not before a cup of coffee and that all of it goes into her insides and feeds her in little doses like a time-release ball of fire.

On Sunday we ate lunch at BJ's on 75th Street and had some drinks and got back to the place and watched cable television. Cable television is amazing. At any given time, there are two or three cooking shows on. We watched a lot of World Cup soccer, too. And true-crime shows, which my brother likes a lot. We watched an episode of the Iron Chef. The secret ingredient was talapia, and all the hosts could say about that was that it was a bland fish. The non-famous chef made noodles out of the ground-up fish, however, and that's some serious business. The host said, after the chef had loaded up a big syringe with the fish-paste, "He's extruding it!" On Monday we played frisbee on the beach and I started Ian McEwan's "Saturday" (twenty-page verdict=main character is established as being at the top of his game and working at the peak of his abilities and reminds me of a lot of the characters in Hemingway where they're really good at chopping wood or fishing or skiing) and we all got red skin. And we drank Yuengling and ate crabs and sweet corn that my mom bought at a place called Pop Pop's Produce on Route 50. On Tuesday, we went to the boardwalk and ate ice cream and french fries and made fun of fat women in tight clothes. The younger three went out Tuesday night and lost money on Keno, which I play and then lose at.

So I'm back at the office job now and phoo on that. I don't know how these people do it. I'm one of those people, of course. Where's the heat here? Where's the thing about which I care? What here punches me? This place needs more hot girls. Or a basketball court. Or a flood or a burglary. Or more heavy drinking. I used to like, when I started here, checking my online bank account statement. That hasn't been nearly as satisfying lately.

I'm working on a new essay. The working title is, "My Map of Baltimore." It's about how intersections, restaurants, (and I need to get more creative with the kinds of places I'm picking so far) have specific memories attached to them. Mine's different than yours, and that's OK because I'm the one telling the essay, that sort of thing. It's more fun to write drafts than it is to revise. It's very hard to delete paragraphs and scenes like they never happened.

So the drive-in's playing three decent Hollywood-type movies. They visually inspect your car to make sure you're not sneaking in drinks or snacks. They have a large trashcan at the ticket booth in which they throw your stuff if they catch you. The last time, I brought a bottle of scotch. The scotch was contraband but the two sleeping bags weren't.

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