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What It Means To Live in Berkeley Parade.
December 1st, 1999

A Woman My Age
I loaded a shareware program this evening called Diskeeper Lite, an NT defragmenter that will be included with the new Windows 2000 operating system. Oops. Red sectors are displayed to identify fragmented files and my screen looked like a Red Army flag factory preparing for Mao's birthday. I stopped it when I realized it was going to take hours to run. I'll restart it again later before I go to bed. Let it run all night. NT gets slower and slower as the hard disk gets more and more fragmented and I haven't touched it since I installed NT two years ago. Will this fix the boot problems I'm having? Probably not. Can't think why a fragmented disk would affect a computer that hangs before it's even talked to the hard drive, but PhotoShop will like it.

I've enjoyed these last two days. Spent yesterday evening in a last minute rush to finish my November On Display collab so I could get it posted by the end of the month. They get nasty if you miss your deadline. No shilly shallying around. Post it late and you're history. I enjoyed the writing, although I needed more time to get it right. My fault, of course, but that's the idea of doing fewer journal entries: spend more time on related projects. Putz around with a collab over a period of weeks, actually work on it until I think it's done. I think I can do this. The Night Routine at the Sole Proprietor's house at the left would have been nicer with more time and effort. Now maybe I can go back and clean up the old ones. Eventually have one or two that are, well, finished. Be interesting to see what finished looks like. Might be depressing.

I'm still having trouble getting started. There are stories I could tell from the old days What It Means To Live in Berkeley Parade. in San Francisco that might be fun to write. Use initials instead of names. If I can still remember the names. Lessons learned. That time when I was writing the book and had little or no money so I put up a note on the bulletin board at the local Potrero Hill coffee shop looking for a roommate and ended up renting to a young woman. I think she was 19. She might have been 18. Anyway, I was in my late 30's and figured that might work since I wasn't attracted to 19 year olds and I needed the money since the rent was due so why not give it a shot? Three weeks after she'd moved in she mentioned she'd run away from her father's house for the usual reasons and he'd finally tracked her down here at her new address and he'd like to come over and meet me. But don't worry. He's a truck driver, an acid head from the old days who would understand. Understand? Understand what?

Bottom line I had a long talk with the father at the apartment one evening, he eyeballing me, I eyeballing him, figuring out if we had, um, any problems. He naturally assumed I was this 35 year old fart fucking his young daughter's brains out every night thinking maybe he should be concerned, while I, who had been wrestling with this book for the last two years (and had no money and needed a roommate to help with the rent) obviously hadn't been thinking at all so I endeavored to put his mind at ease. Odd evening, odd conversation.

He ended up saying he thought it was kind of arty and cool having a 35 year old writer fucking his 18 year old daughter every night over here on Potrero Hill near the projects (although I got the impression he would have preferred a painter rather than a writer) so this ended our conversation on a good note, though, as we said goodbye at my front door, he took out the loaded Derringer he'd been packing and showed me what a slick little chrome plated fucker it really was. Nothing hostile, you understand, just a little man to man chat about life and excitement in the city with the unspoken statement our conversation could have ended differently.

An odd time and somewhat surreal experience. I've had relationships where there was a certain amount of tension with an old boyfriend, but no guns. At least nothing to write home about. This father - daughter thing was a different proposition. She was just out of high school and exploring her options, nothing too unusual. The disadvantage, I learned, of living with a younger woman or any woman I guess who is not a lover is they bring home strange men whom you will run into at odd moments in your own hallway, in this case her father with a .38 two shot and some questions. With male roommates you run into strange women at odd moments in your own hallway and that's a more comfortable experience.

Funny, but I can't remember her name. She was my roommate for (I think) six months. Strange young lady who liked boys and girls both and ran many of each through our apartment at odd hours and found it difficult to keep a job. I hope she's done OK these last twenty years in this age of AIDS. And her acid addled father who drove a truck carrying a .38 Derringer just in case. And her stepmother, I now recall, who, it was discovered, was living just down the street. A woman my age. Who would occasionally drop by and visit.

The photographs were taken at the What It Means To Live in Berkeley Parade.