March 22, 2002
"Ivory is the smooth tusk of memory, soft to the touch, the color of this page…"

I came home from the party tonight to an empty house once again. Scott has gone back to New Mexico. This would have been a profitable day for him in the French Quarter, that is if he'd given his handwriting analysis talents better than a one-day chance. That one day was Monday, his first day. He made nothing. The chairs weren't right, he'd said. His phone conversations and correspondence with Bonita increased. Yesterday she sent a check for the bus ticket. Whoosh. No more mentor-writer in my living room. Suddenly the rent and bills loom large again. So much for "two can get the rent better than one." It was fun, while it lasted.

Walking in the door I squinted at the dark floor, ever-cautious not to let Matilda out or step on her tiny hands. And then I remembered. I fumbled with the key in the sticky lock and shouldered the door shut. Cursing quietly at the grim ghosts of habit, I slammed my two-by-four "ghetto lock" in place and walked into the cave-black darkness of my room.

Flipping on the light, I saw the U.S. map open on my bed and the mileage calculations that I'd left scrawled on paper scraps. Dallas in three weeks, then Houston. Hooray for Duke, my gig-meister cash cow. Jesus what a weird life I lead.

In the kitchen I hammer my fist on the kitchen table and the roaches scatter. Little fuckers. No matter how clean I keep the place, they come. The trouble with a duplex. My neighbor must be a pig. Well, it's the roach's world after all. More theirs than ours, they outnumber us by zillions.

I reread the poem I wrote this morning, killing time in the state mental health office. I find it decidedly lacking in merit. I write the one line I like on the wall with my giant graffiti Sharpie, then below it a little homage to Matilda. I sit down by the fridge and the tears come fast and hard.

Later, back in my room, I gaze at my computer and think of this ritual I've locked myself into. I get tired just looking at it. But I reach down and flick it on anyway, pull up a chair and throw in a CD.

A chip of the old Stock

Tonight was Devin's first birthday. I relished following his every movement with his granddaddy Chris' video camera. I cheered him on as he dug into his cake with both hands and laughed. What a special moment, and what a treat to be there and be welcomed so by Julian's family. Little Gabrielle, the French diplomat's daughter, spent the night whacking me with a toy tomahawk. I renamed her La Femme Nikita for her violent streak. In her defense, I admit that I was baiting her all night, stealing her socks and pelting her with stuffed animals.

Ever the bad boy uncle, I made little Devin a gift of a sixer of Coronitas, his first beer, and just his size in those mini-Corona bottles. He immediately took one from me and stuck it in his mouth. When someone remarked that the metal cap might cut his gums, I popped it and handed it back to him.

Somewhere due north of here far up the Mississippi, a cork-obsessed redhead is eating fried fish and polka dancing. I am jealous as hell. But I had my fun tonight, and for the first time in weeks my romantically run-down little shotgun shack in New Orleans is all mine again.

Oh, Queen Bed! Heaven is thy name.

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