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1/18/03: Is that REALLY when I began thinking about this trip? Paul McLean: "10/25 or so to (1) DC for 2-3 days (he has apartments there), then to his condo on (2) Chesapeake Bay, then by auto-train to (3) Homestead, where he has a house, visiting Avi in (4) Venice and Laird in (5) Orlando, for maybe four weeks," and Edward in (6) Shalimar?? and Rita and Denny and Paul in (7) Satellite Beach??

MONDAY, 10/20/03: Paul visits NYC and makes REAL plans for the dates: I leave October 31 to DC, then some time at South Beach, returning to DC for the burial of his mother at Arlington Cemetery on Wednesday, November 5, then Friday, November 7, to Orlando for two nights, maybe seeing Laird, then, on Sunday, November 9, for an AM visit, even though Beau will be in church. Monday and Tuesday in Coral Gables (Paul goes back to DC on Wednesday, October 22), then to Homestead. I phone 1-800-872-7245 for a good phone service that connects me to a woman who puts me on the auto-train 53 at 4PM, reservation number zero-853-AA, there by 2PM, with Paul in coach for $150, his round-trip ticket $700. Then talk to Rita, who says she'll be at the Doral Gold Resort and Spa, 4400 NW 87th Avenue, near Miami Airport, for "six days and seven nights," which is clearly incorrect, from 4PM November 17 to Sunday, November 23, which turns out so that eventually I can drive back WITH them from Miami to Satellite Beach after they check out at 11AM. I record that I MUST be back for the BEARD dinner on 12/2. Rita also mentions that the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art has "St. Peter and the Vatican" until 11/23, tickets at 954-525-5500, or, and she giggles about Museum O Fart. I type these notes and put them into the souvenir file, which doesn't yet have a box, and what am I going to do about THAT?

FRIDAY, 10/31/03: 9:15PM: Trying to catch up on a day ALREADY terminally complex: started my notes: type to 7:15AM, and up to pack and go to Juno for the last time and type something and have breakfast while packing, and my NEXT note is that at 9:15AM I start to PANIC: I'm not nearly packed and I should be LEAVING: so I grab shirts and a pair of pants and my bathing suit, having increased my pill supply by three days, thinking of MAYBE going to Rita's for Thanksgiving and getting back to NYC the weekend before 12/2, and glad I recorded my message and shut off one computer, and gone through the paper-saves for the trip, but shutting the bag is HARD, and even though it's "only" 20 pounds it seems HEAVY, and I leave at 9:25, having exhausted my list, and on the subway: "Damn, I forgot my UMBRELLA," and 9:30 onto subway and then "I forgot my SUNHAT," and at 9:42 "I didn't leave my wallet cards out," and to Penn Station and at 9:55 print out my ticket, $61.20, which is PERFECT, and at 10:03, watching the board, I pack my cards and book and jacket away, my shirt WET with sweat, and train is "on time," but NO track for 10:35 departure until---ah, now flashes "10 minutes late," and at 10:34 STILL "10 minutes late", and guy says REGULAR train-fare is $79. At 10:46, 10:35 train [not here] is 10 minutes late. 10:49: "Train entered station." 10:51 "track 15" and I DASH to escalator, and at 10:53 ask which way the train is going and get a front-going LEFT seat, since most of trip will have sun on RIGHT (which turned out NOT to be true!). Shoes off, look at Acela magazine, and JAMMED train! 11:05 "DOOR troubles, we hope to fix soon!" Cafe car next to LAST car, and I'm in 2 or 3 or 4. Earplugs in; STILL sitting at 11:19, then GO, 45 minutes late. Brunch $7 of egg and bacon and cheese on bagel, hot chocolate, and apple muffin from 11:30 (Metropark at noon) to 1, and back to seat in JAMMED Philly station. 2:44 leave BWI (Baltimore-Washington International), STILL with leaf-color, INTENSE through trip, and to DC at 3:09, exit ONLY from front, with LOW platform, down three steps, where they'll take 20 minutes to change engines, and I pee, get to curb at 3:19, into cab at 3:21 to talk about his nephew sent to Iraq at the start, home already, and he STILL feels compassion for BUSH! To Paul's, ring #1 and he comes to the door, shows me HIS apartment, mostly a bedroom, and then MY apartment, a kitchen and garden, we look at garden, chat, then go to Giant for shopping for dinner, back about 5:10 to put on pork roast, having called Vidalia for 5:30 dinner tomorrow, and I read DC Weekend to find not much, except maybe Grapes of Wrath at Ford's Theater tomorrow at 2:30, and Paul puts on pork, I hang up clothes, nosh on cashews, and he's back (after I shit) to kill the cricket-spider with the vacuum cleaner, I hang my jacket for dinner tomorrow, start on gin and tonics, and Tom arrives about 6:10, Dick down about 6:20, we talk and drink (Tom's clean for 30 years), and dinner of pork with curry sauce, with an appetizer of asparagus with RANCH DRESSING, which is incredibly delicious, then peas with garlic and onion, okra with curry, and an ordinary white wine, and LOTS of talk, and then Tom says he has to leave, we all give a grateful farewell, and he leaves at 9PM, and Dick and Paul leave, and I have the duvet to dry, the Murphy bed down, the curtains closed against the robbers that have come in twice already, and I type this until 9:35 to get up to date, and had washed my face and changed into a short-sleeved shirt, and now I'm TOTALLY plotzed on drink, and ready for BED, when Paul said I should come to his place ANYTIME between 6-9AM, and I say it'll probably be between 7-8, and we're going to his something somewhere in the morning, and then I go to the play, and then dinner is with his cousin (with whom he has sex once a week, despite his marriage) and then we're to North Beach on Sunday, and I may still get in touch with the Yanofskys. REALLY plotzed now that I finish at 9:37PM, READY FOR BED! Bed at 9:42, but at 9:44 FUCK, forgot NIGHT pills! To sleep VERY drunk, VERY fast.

SATURDAY, 11/1/03: Dream vague dreams, wake a few times with a headache behind my eyes that seems to move down through the night, and wake in light at 6:43, feeling better, up at 7AM to pee but still feel tired despite having slept almost 9 hours, and back to bed to figure I've GOT to get up: Paul had said, "Come over for breakfast anytime between 6 and 9," and I said it would be more like between 7 and 8, and I guess he's on an early schedule. Up at 7:26 to shower, great bathroom for everything, and type this to 7:43, ready to dress for the day. Over at 7:50 and Paul's up already and Dick's doing laundry. Paul's phone rings constantly, as it did last night, and while Paul's cooking my "eggs McLean," the door goes and STAN comes in, a bright-eyed, 34-year-old Black, born in Richmond and never been in NYC, well-spoken, easy with me and Dick, and Paul whispers, "If you want him to suck your cock, he'll be glad to," and he's going to have a quickie before we leave at 9:30 to wherever he's going! He showed me ALBUMS of pictures, 95% black, of guys he's had, some VERY cute, though most are currently ravaged by drugs, and his CURRENT price is "$20, unless you're VERY good, and I'll give you $30." He's got it MADE, except for the constant phone-ringing. He also complained about the people coming to his door at 2-3AM and phoning at 5AM, but he got rid of THEM. Get the paper (Washington Post) except for the Sports, which Dick takes, and then I leave for Paul to enjoy his sex, and I do this to 8:30AM. Look at the paper and leave about 9:30 to go to Columbia Scan shop for Paul to buy four chairs, and around to the warehouse to pick them up, then off the highway to the Patunxet Wildlife Refuge from 11-12, where we look at drained lake, see confusing exhibits, walk along paths which show NO wildlife, onto rocky pontoons, and back to car, enjoying only leaf color in warm weather, actually 78 degrees on thermometer. Into DC about 12:40 and stop at Ford Theater to check when 2:30 matinee is over, and it's 5:15, too late for 5:30 Vidalia reservation! Back home to get puzzle from Dick upstairs, do them on a chair in the garden until 2:30, when Charles is supposed to come to drain the fishpond, and I'm inside to start reading my book, Charles calls at 2:45 to say he's on his way, and comes at 3, with a guy to borrow $10 from Paul, and he drains while Paul supervises, and then we dress after I phone 411 for Yanofskys' number, but they want to go to Blackwater tomorrow (an hour away toward Salisbury, in Cambridge, and they suggest we could meet in Easton) and Paul doesn't, so it's no go. I persuade him to phone Citronelle to see if their bar is open at 4:30, and it's not open until 6! He insists others will be open, so we walk across town, many new and rebuilding buildings, and Ben and Harry's bar is closed until 5, the Palm isn't even open, so we're across the street to Rumors, who never heard of an Americano, so I have a Half-and-Half for $5.23 and Paul a martini for $6.34, or some such odd amount, and we walk over to Vidalia at 5:26, getting seated, he has a drink, I have onion soup after a bland onion consommé and it's not great except for cheese and duck confit, and my sweetbreads are the hit for Paul, who doesn't care for his halibut special, and he LOVES my lobster rolls that leave me cold, conflicting with the sweetbread taste and texture, but he orders a GOOD wine (Chap Belle RH on the bill) and we both like the Georgia pecan pie with praline ice cream (for which he brings the chocolate, which isn't warm, late, and I just now, typing, notice he didn't CHARGE for it!), pay the $139.50 bill, and we leave at 7:25 to drop into St. Matthew's Cathedral for a choir-recital rehearsal, and then he has to stop for a traumatic shit at the Washington Wyndham Hotel for about 20 minutes, then back about 8:15 for me to grab old newspapers from the trash, work puzzles, and Dick knocks to see how the evening went about 9:30, and I read rest until 10:45, and shit a hard shit while typing this until 10:57, determined to sleep LATER tomorrow. Bed 11:04, not being able to find way to shut off second garden-light outside.

SUNDAY, 11/2/03: 4AM: Wake at 3:43 with burning in the middle of my chest; worry at first that it might be some kind of esophageal cancer that killed Bob Whoever-It-Was a number of years ago, but when I shift position and burp satisfactorily from that area, it feels better. Pee, search bathroom for an antacid, finding that I didn't bring my often-taken little container of broken Rolaids, and (frightened) write this to 4:02, still feeling that SHARP pain in my left middle-back when I suddenly change position, which has ALSO been a concern of mine for the past week or so. Like Mom said: "Never get old." Hope to do some Actualism and get to sleep without dwelling on either of those pains too much, now at 4:03AM. Wake about 6:30, light coming in from outside, and, since a cursory search hasn't revealed where I stashed my supply of index cards to take notes on, I continue jotting notes on the back of the first card I started for the trip, noting that I got up at 7:41, over to Paul's for toast 8:05-8:15, back to my place to read, having been introduced to Rico's cock, lovely, and Paul said he got ROCK hard after I left, so I probably turned him on---sure! Read more papers and start out at 9:26, but do who knows what, since I recorded that we traveled out of DC from 10:02-10:28 to Jug Bay, which was open on Sunday, and we go into the much smaller Visitor's Pavilion (compared with yesterday's enormous, underpopulated showcase) and pick up a thick brochure and get out to take #14 of Jug Bay at 11:02, maybe with some birds as white dots in the photo, and he wants to show me the old rail line, on a strand with a bay on the left and a swamp on the right, where on our return we frightened a muskrat out of its cover and it treated us to a full-length view of its fat body and stubby tail as it leapt from one watery hidey-hole to another. Toward the end of the dock we saw five rowboats with a trio of screaming populace in each, and I took #15 and #16 of the rowboats in front of a museum-quality old brick house on a peninsula, framed first only by branches, and then by bright-red berries on the bushes below. I remark that they come out to the wilderness and the silence to enjoy shouting and screaming back and forth. They wave to us and we to them, and look at all the seabirds and vultures flying and circling above, Paul saying that the vultures are up there pretty much all parts of the year. A family has a DYNAMITE father to chat with us about the "bird, maybe a bittern" they saw, but it's the WIFE who does all the talking, about where we have to look. Then around 12 into North Beach for gas, first stopping to get gas at a place that has a nearby trailer with a BBQ sign on it, but when I ask for a pulled pork, he's only just started smoking, so there's nothing available as yet. Drive into the town proper and get to Trader's Seafood--steak and ale, on Bayside Road in Chesapeake Beach, and I'd asked for a hamburg or fish and chips, and they have a good, three-piece (though from the start it looked like just ONE small piece) fish and chips, with good chips, too, and I have a Bud draft which is so good and cold that I have a second, both for $3, while Paul has a BLT on rye with good, salty chips that I share. AS REMEMBERED (but not the next evening) the bill was $16.76, and Paul wanted to pay the tip when I insisted I pay, and I'd debated paying with a credit card, but decided to see what change they'd give me for $16.76---either the precise, finicky $3.24 with its two dimes and four pennies, or a simple three singles and a quarter (and it WAS the latter, since I add the quarter to Paul's $2 tip to make it more likely---but I FORGOT all of this the following evening, when in a panic I phoned Traders back to see if I left my Visa card there, causing me to have to pay the Pirate's Cove bill with my AmEx). Finish at Trader's at 1:10 and drive to Paul's condo in North Beach, giving me a short tour, where I take #17 of Isabel damage at 1:18, and where he shows me---and SOMEWHERE in here we go to his second cousin's house, where his stoned, red-neck relative is drinking beer in the early afternoon and swinging his two kids on a swing, tickling them, and making awful, explicit fun of his 2-year-old son's wetting his pants, and then the wife comes out to quarrel with everyone, and Paul leaves shaking his head at how anyone could live like that: muddy backyard filled with kids' stuff, house a mess, dog running around, but I mention if HIS future were all I had to look forward to, I'd probably drink as well----THEN to his great apartment (given a spare gold key for the bottom lock on the apartment and a silver key for the front door) and even Dick's "old" computer in "my" bedroom, which I put on and play FreeCell while Paul naps, and then I get so groggy from the food and the 2 beers that I lie down for a bit, but he gets me up at 5:30 and hands me a bottle of wine and an opener to present to his FIRST cousin, a Dick look-a-like that Paul's proud of fucking once a week, hoping his little wife Margaret doesn't know about it. She doesn't even bother to show me the house, just talks while she's cooking the chicken, making the gravy, boiling the broccoli, while the others are talking away in the TV room after Dick shows up and takes the last of the gin that we're all having with tonic, except for the couple, who doesn't drink. I about run out of conversation when we sit down to eat, and the chicken is tender, Paul taking BOTH legs "if no one else minds," and the wine goes pretty well, the broccoli is actually rather good, and the Stove Top stuffing with the buttery gravy is frankly delicious, and I tell her so, which pleases her. We continue to talk, sitting around the table, while she cleans up, and then we're into the garage to admire his 1955 robin's-egg-blue Cadillac, a later-model Cadillac that he's collected, and her prize-size mum in the garden-strip between. Out to the car to an extraordinarily bright star that turns into a plane landing nearby, and we're back to the apartment for Paul to flake out and I stay up until the food goes down and get to bed at 10:20PM, pleased with the visit and telling Paul so.

MONDAY, 11/3/03: Pee at 6:14, up at 7:30, shower, and after Paul's two eggs McLean and a lemonade (since he has no orange juice), and then we're out at 8:30 to Prince Frederick (or Prince Fred, as one sign has it) for him to play contract bridge and me to sit in the lobby of the Senior Center and work a couple puzzles after I finish looking through the Newsweeks and U.S. News and World Reports they have, not much in them of note, and sit 9:10-10:50, when I get tired of the AWFUL old people sitting around mumbling to each other, and the 15th announcement of "It's my 59th birthday tomorrow," and go out to the mall being reconstructed and browse an interesting children's educational shop with neat books, stickers, posters, travel books, toys, artists' supplies, and a clerk who just lets me roam about. Look down to the corner, but nothing appeals to me, and it's again one of these warm 82° days that makes me glad I borrowed a sun-cap from Paul, and I'm back at 11:20 to think we'll leave at 12:30, but Paul rushes out to say they started "the wrong boards," and had to do an hour's play over, so we leave at 1:20 to get a call from his friend recommending the Yellow Fin, north of South River Bridge on Route 2, but he thinks there's another place and later hears of Les Folies. I'm demanding lunch, so we stop at Applebee's, next to the bank he checks in on to make sure he can pick up a $150,000 check for the condo next door to him on Thursday when we return, and I order the Applebee burger, two patties with cheese and the omnipresent lettuce and tomato with the sauce, and he has a chicken salad, I have a Brewser, which I think is a brand, but then I'm offered a choice of brands and end up with a Bud Light that's not nearly as needed as the one yesterday afternoon. We pay for that in cash, since I have no bill for it, then we're north to Annapolis, stopping outside one of the gates and walking to the enormous Chapel, then find John Paul Jones's tomb (photo #18), and I take #19 of the chapel dome and #20 of SOMETHING after we circle the tomb past its 4PM closing time, and then over to the Peeble Building for the museum, overly shippy and military, until just before 5PM, and then walk more streets, and he tries to entice me to the Coney Island-like buffet on a second floor overlooking the Annapolis harbor----oh, forgot that we PASSED Les Folies and I made a 6PM reservation in Paul's name that he talked me out of. CLEARLY he didn't want to go there, and he'd blame poor food on me, so after walking around Annapolis until dark, about 5:05, GREAT old houses, we stopped at Yellow Fin at 5:30 when I REALLY wasn't hungry yet, so we drive out to Galesberg to find one closed, another unimpressive, and end up in Pirate's Cove, where we're able at 6:15 to order the early special, and his coppiano with seafood is unpleasantly strong for him, my flounder is bland and sauce-less, the baked potato tastes more boiled than baked, but he selects a good Chardonnay for $26, for a total bill, with tip, of $51.87, and we have no dessert and drive a LONG way back to the apartment, where I phone for my not-missing Visa card, play some FreeCell, look at the day's paper and do the puzzle, then get tired to bed at 9:55, remembering where my Visa probably is, and taking time to get to sleep, but it's not bad anyway.

TUESDAY, 11/4/03: Wake at 4:30 to pee, then up to shit just before his alarm rings at 7AM, and he gives me a set of keys and tells me where to have lunch and dinner, giving me his portable phone so I can get his call if he rings. I just have three little slices of toast for breakfast while he finishes some curried salmon I don't want any of, we chat some more before he leaves for his second bridge session at 8:05AM, and then other business and even dinner, which will bring him back here about 8PM for our drive back to DC. I put in his three videos about 8:15 after getting tired of writing this for a bit, and watch Junior Varsity, just kids, The Other Side of Big Bear," mostly Blacks, but with a good white-cum that I save for later, Hot Rodz and A.W.O.L., the last two just about an hour each, and then a two-hour, rather boring all-Black Bust a Nut #3, thankful for the speed button on his Magnavox. The freeze isn't that great, but I manage to cum a MARVELOUS quantity of PERFECTLY CLEAR fluid, very sticky, but no real "curds" at all. That's over at 11:20 and I've GOT to get to typing, so I play FreeCell a bit to get out of cumming, and then finish this to date by 12:34:56, ready to dress (after shower) and go out for some air and some lunch. 12:34:56 right at this NOW! FORGOT to take AM pills, had to borrow $20 to supplement my last $20, since I left my CASH in DC, and will DRESS at last, having NOT reopened the comb-wound at my right hairline that bled a lot this morning when I stuck it again combing. UGH! AND took one pair of shorts and one pair of socks out of the dryer Paul used after he washed ONE pair of pants two nights ago! Search MADDENINGLY for my WATCH, which I find on the bedspread. Leave 12:50PM. Stop in at Nice and Fleasy, interested in hearing DALE say "fleasy," and not as I'd thought, in the old spelling, "sleasy," and he had had 28 INCHES of water in his shop, and thinks he might not live long enough to clean everything off. He was dusting glasses to put back into a highboy, and later I saw books, including The Bookhouse, literally mold-infested on bottom shelves. The person he'd bought the shop from insisted water had NEVER gotten into the shop in the past 60 years! He described Thursday's as "redneck," but when I said I had a hamburg, he said that was what HE always had, and it WAS the best. I said there was not ONE "red neck" in the place, and THEY talked about Isabel, happening September 20, and EVERYONE talks about it. After lunch at 1:40 I took #21 of Isabel damage into the sun along the bay-front. Debate taking a shot of Paul's and decide not to. Just not picturesque enough. Decide to open the front door and the bedroom window, knocking the venetian blinds off into the bargain, but put them back and it feels good to have AIR through. Finish this at 2:11, only 4 hours left till I go to the Neptune for dinner! Do lots of FreeCell, some Solitaire, then shower and wash dishes, taking THREE calls for Paul, one of which will call his cell phone, another from Sol Waldman asking if Paul got him his woman bridge partner, and another from Bill Faust at 410-535-9772, who wants Paul's Florida number. Ready for dinner, except that I'm not hungry, at 5PM, and go back to FreeCell at 90%. Get it up to 94% at 5:52, and Paul calls and asks me not to drink too much because I'll be driving HIM home tonight. UM!! Shut window, lower shade, shut off computer, and prepare to look for Neptune. But it's CLOSED, so I'm across the street to Tastee Freez and have a fish sandwich and a hot fudge sundae, all for $7.22 plus $1 tip, and get back---to find that I left my jacket there! Back and forth 7 to 7:12, and Paul's BACK, having locked the TOP lock. Finish my ginger ale, leave at 7:30 and he talks to a neighbor until 7:45, and we drive back to 8:35, then have a drink at his place (I forgot physics program on TV!) and then over to my place at 9:15 to work the puzzle and decide to watch TV while brushing my teeth, and there's The Matrix! Watch THAT until 11PM and then get hooked into the great start of The Mummy until 11:15, and type this until 11:19, now officially LESS than 8 hours before I'm supposed to go over to Paul's at 7:15 to leave at 7:45 for his mother's burial at 8:30. HAH! Bed at 11:23.

WEDNESDAY, 11/5/03: 6:33AM: Wake with memories of dreams that seem distinct, but with time they fade into obscurity. Something about arrays of numbers, listed according to state, or cities within state, that are either dates or amounts of money connected with some parameter like time of settlement, or worth of property, or priority of importance---or maybe even amount of damages inflicted by Hurricane Isabel, which figured so prominently in conversations about the Nice and Fleasy Antique Shop or Thursday's Restaurant. Another topic was, even more vaguely, me in a play, or working, or writing something, or maybe a computer---it seemed very current and important and I've forgotten any details that might have made sense or memory of the dream. Sit on the toilet and type this and debate taking a shower, since I took one just about 12 hours ago, but I want to look "fresh" for the funeral at Arlington Cemetery this morning. Take the shower, just to DO it, and out at 7AM to see that there's corn flakes over my fridge, so I pop over and ask if he has milk, which he does, so I have his-poured orange juice for my pills, cereal without sugar since I can't find any not mixed with coffee, and a slice of toast without and the last one with raspberry jam, Smucker's, not Bonne Maman. Back at 7:35 to let Paul dress, Dick's upstairs, and they'll be through here to pick me up at 7:45, bringing umbrellas, since there're actually raindrops on the patio outside. Type this to 7:40 and dress in my jacket, taking a comb. Well, it's now 7:46AM and they're not through yet, and I've got the apartment fixed up nicely, everything out of the way, all the lights out except for the one I'm using at the sofa to type this, and my shoulder bag with magazine and camera in case there's boredom and a picture, respectively, at the funeral today. Unfortunately, it IS raining ever so slightly! NOT the best day for a funeral, whatever the circumstances. They come through wearing TIES, but I'm not intimidated, and we're into the car to drive over the Memorial (apt) Bridge to the entrance to Arlington Cemetery right down the road, they check on their clipboard for the name of Marie McLean at 9AM, and tell us where to go. We park, get to a reception area where four rooms are kept for each of four funerals for each morning hour---9, 10, 11, and 12---and probably another 16 that afternoon, and each day in the Post is a photo of a veteran's funeral at Arlington. A funeral director comes in and gets high praise from Paul, and then they go to discuss finances. A priest comes in, whom I ignore until they get back. Dick gets a call from his daughter Wendy that she's stuck in traffic and won't be there. Dwayne comes in with his mother and a Jamaican friend of hers, and we all go out in the cars to meet Jack and Margaret in their car just coming in about 8:45, and we drive to the site, where I take a picture #?? of the six military men carrying the casket to the grave, just down the hill from the Kennedys. Another picture #?? from the back, showing their dad's name and the Lee Mansion at the top of the hill, and then the third, #??, from the front, just before Kone showed up, short and plump and prosperous, still being kept by older men. Service to 9:23 and it's clear they'd like to clear us out, so I go up myself to look at the amphitheater beneath Bobby Kennedy's simple white cross, and the Kennedys have an eternal flame, and to the side is another crescent of quotations, and there, wet with rain, are the four flat stones: Jack, Jacqueline, a daughter who lived only one day, a daughter who lived only three days, and later get told that John-John was "buried at sea" and has no gravestone. Dash down to the car, moved to make way for the NEXT ceremony, and past a flock of Blacks marching uphill, and home through heavy DC-central traffic by 9:55. Everyone is invited in, including Stefan (who knew Paul in kindergarten and is bitchy toward him though he has a wife and three kids), and Dwayne is tall and impressive as Dick's other son, but the Jamaican monopolizes the conversation and it seems the mother tries ineffectually to make any point at all. Dick buys awful pastries that everyone passes around, and I have orange juice while others have tea and coffee and I pass out the chocolate chip cookies, which are the best, the last two of which I eat NOW at 4:47 PM Saturday as I type this. They talk and talk, and I THINK that Paul goes over to change, but he has a TRICK in his apartment while we're finishing up in my place, and they finally leave at 11:30, and I change clothes and read and Paul comes over at 12:26, complaining that the trick was 20 minutes late! We travel to North Beach via a large number of chores for Paul, and get to apartment from 12:34-2:05PM, and I eat two peanut butter sandwiches, read the paper and do the puzzle, and play FreeCell to 4:10. Vacuum porch at his direction until 4:20, wash face, move furniture into his new apartment, and FreeCell till 5:48. Dress to leave for Smokey Joe's (I started with a good frozen Tropical Breeze for $6, good ribs, poor fries, beer, and I didn't bother to even taste his haddock; Paul leaves early for his bridge) 6-6:59, $34 bill to which I added $6 tip for the poor older waitress, and it's RAINING as I cross the road, finish New York magazine, and read book to 9:53, AND AGAIN he makes an excuse for playing overlong, and back to share drinks and watch TV in his room to 11, and get to bed at 11:02.

THURSDAY, 11/6/03: Up at 8:10, breakfast and chat to 9:06, look at the Mysterious Places book and his Japanese porn until 10:07, play computer Solitaire and FreeCell until 1PM, when Paul's back from closing on the apartment next door for $150,000, Jack having come in and wordlessly looked through the porno that I unwittingly left on my bed, but neither of us say a word about it, and Paul's back just before 1, leaving a note for the maid, I stash everything in the closet, and we get to Neptune for Paul's tea, since he had Japanese buffet brunch with his people, and Jack has a shredded pork sandwich that I pay for to thank him for his dinner, and I have Buffalo wings and beer until 2. Back to look at the DVD Paul borrowed, but never got to see, of Nowhere in Africa for ADDITIONS to 5:25, while Jack takes down the partition on the balcony between the two apartments, helps with other things, and PAUL FUCKS HIM, right then, into the bargain! Incredible! DVDs are so good I'm determined to get my set soon. We have to leave for Paul's 6PM class in hospice-tending, and he drops me at a multiplex, where I run in to find they DO have a $6.25 Senior ticket for the 7PM Matrix Revolution, and they say I can see whatever other movie I want to pass the time "Since we're not busy" and I go into Runaway Jury and catch on quickly that it depends on John Cusack, only at the END revealed to have failed to save his girlfriend, his accomplice's sister, from a similar gunman that the Fitch character of Gene Hackman defended successfully, and THOUGH he pays her $15 million to throw the jury HIS way, it goes THEIR way "because they voted with their hearts, which left you out," and Dustin Hoffman doesn't do very much except agonize. Out at 7:15, when it's over, and miss the first ten minutes of Matrix Revolution, they don't seem to have previews or ads!, and don't seem to miss any of the action, he gets out of "limbo" when the Merovingian agrees to let him out, the Oracle spouts nothings, the Black overacts, why do they think glasses make people MORE attractive when you can't see their eyes (because they can't act?), and Neo (why is his "real" name Anderson?) and Smith fight on land, sea, and air, and finally Smith "enlightens himself to death," when he realizes that his condemnation of Neo, "everything that lives has an end," applies to HIM also, and we only get a GLIMPSE of a sky, sun, and crescent moon, but the gloom around "Machine City" seems never to lift ANYWAY, and there may even be ANOTHER sequel coming! Out at 9:15, Paul JUST coming to the theater door to see where I am, and we drive to TWO places he'd like to recommend, a Japanese place and a steakhouse, both of which are closed at 9PM, so we have to end up at Applebee's again, for steaks to 10:30, and they're pretty bad, but the beer is good, and I wish I could have tried their onion soup but she forgot to order it. Out at 10:30, as usual Paul wanting to split the bill but I insist on Visa-ing the $38.66, and home at 10:55 to find news of the suicide of the partner of the guy who was to meet us in Orlando, so plans change AGAIN. I tell Paul to come in if he needs to talk, while he commiserates with Dick, and I get to bed at 11:05, always falling almost instantly to sleep.

FRIDAY, 11/7/03: Pee at 4:53 and up at 7:35, shower to 8:07, and pack and have breakfast of toast and peanut butter again, not even finishing the orange juice, which Paul says Jack will empty out when he comes to put up the new fence around the building when Paul's in Florida, and at 9:30 Paul says, "We're leaving in 10 minutes," and we're into car at 9:55, someone else phoning (and have I mentioned the FIFTEEN TIMES he'd meet someone when he'll just HAVE to talk to them for about 20 minutes, introducing me, who just wants to get AWAY from there!). We take two trips for his SIX boxes of files that he insists I help him load up, and to DC at 11:10, seeing part of Titanic before we leave North Beach for the last time, then in DC the last 35 minutes of Conquest, with Charles Boyer as Napoleon and Greta Garbo as Marie, from 11:20-11:55, and ALL of Voltaire, with George Arliss, from 12-1:15 as I pack and ignore the trick that comes to MY place because Paul has TWO tricks in HIS place BEFORE him! Can't BELIEVE it! Dick wishes me a good trip and says Amanda is a typical transsexual name, though he doesn't know about Amanda Lepore specifically, and we get stuck in traffic that panics Paul but we get to Amtrak in good time at 1:50, check in to find that a sleeper would be $130 extra for EACH of us (though we end up BOTH wishing we'd TAKEN it!), and sit reading the paper to boarding time at 2:35, actually leaving early at 3:45, not 4PM, with 48 vans, 160 cars and 360 passengers, and quick to bar-car for CUTE Charlie being broken in by frowzy-wigged (I guess, since waitress has EXACTLY the same hair) super, PERFECT-shape of glasses for his tapered face, LARGE soulful eyes, NICE chest but, as I describe it, "straight pants." I have an Amaretto for $4.50 plus 50 cents tip, while Paul has FIVE gins with two tonics, we dash for first seats for 5PM first dinner-seating, sitting with Bob and Margareta from Wilkes Barre, Pa., who thankfully don't have ANY of the free white wine (and Paul won't deign to buy any of the red), so I have most of the two carafes on the table, with seasoned chicken breasts, broccoli (cannot avoid it, though I didn't have the one steak with broccoli and the broccoli SOUP last night) and squash and cauliflower, and MY cheesecake with chocolate syrup and Paul's vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, and almost none of the mashed potatoes. That's to 6PM, down to pee at 6:06 and take my night pills and 1/2 Paul's old Halcyon from Thailand at 6:10 and try to go to sleep sitting up, but it just doesn't work, and doesn't work, and finally go to an empty seat and try to stretch out about 11PM, but it STILL doesn't work. [Ah, forgot I passed La Cubana, a BUS from Miami to NYC that should be VERY cheap; should check it out as one of the MANY possibilities of getting back, after the plans STOP changing.]

SATURDAY, 11/8/03: Look at watch at 1, and 2 something, but have SOME snips of dreams, so I must have had SOME REM sleep! Finally up at 5:30 and to breakfast with someone awful who just talks the whole time while I have a bowl of (ah, lunch yesterday was a bowl of cornflakes and a thick sandwich of Dwayne's turkey breast and American cheese and Sprite while watching Voltaire) Special K with sugar and milk and a bowl of Sugar Frosted Flakes with sugar and milk, and a warm bagel with Promise and cream cheese and apple jelly, and forgot to bring my morning pills. Then they announce we're arriving at 7:45, and I look at foggy outside, and we sit for 20 minutes waiting for the CREW to arrive, since we're early. Off train at 7:55 and read a bit, then take a good shit when the lines go down at the men's room, and then Paul's car "Van #183" is called maybe 15th of all, and we leave at 8:55. Drive to Parliament House and find camp everywhere, but our rooms won't be ready until about 1PM. Out a highway to a Wildlife Refuge Paul knows and wants to see, but two maps disagree and he wants to see what Tosohatchee is, so we're down one road (route 532), not there, down another (route 530), not there, and he sees Lone Cabbage Fish Camp in Cocoa Florida, and wants to ask directions there, but then he says he's HUNGRY and wants to eat, so he has the $9 combo of catfish, frogs' legs, gator tail, and crab cake while I have the "boneless chicken wings with salad," which I think turns out to be chicken tenders with coleslaw, and a beer, and NOT the Key lime pie that I was tempted with. Out at 11:56 and we hear how to go BACK UNDER the Beeline Highway and turn right on Taylor Creek Road, and we find it, pay $2 for a rear-view-mirror tag and a drive through sandy roads for egrets, vultures, and a giant turtle that Paul throws into the creek! Then we aim for St. John's N.W.B., he not believing me to continue down the same road, until he manages to stop the second car, which says we DO come out at Route 50, and we go ALL the way to I-95 and he turns back, we see a false entrance we turn back AGAIN to see, then he sees the sign for "Orlando Wetlands Park" and he says THAT's it, so we're up the road past Christmas and Fort Christmas and find the park CLOSED from 10/21 to 2/1, which pisses him, but we see a CROCODILE at the entrance-ditch, gone by the time I get out my camera, so I just take #27 of egrets flying and #28 of egrets sitting in the closed park, pee, and back on road (oh, forgot about stopping at the statuary place for a long saunter through the kitsch at 10:10AM!), and then wait for the car to be washed 2:30-3:18, reading New Yorker, and back to hotel with air conditioning going strong in the humid 82°F weather, and get room 206 at 4:02PM, Paul saying to meet him at 6PM at his room or at 5:30 in the bar for a drink, but we look back at the guys in the pool (sun's on them), the guy with poor makeup who's helping with the sold-out drag show at 10PM, "But if you get there at 9:45 you'll surely get in," and the black-trunks-with-boots guy, the black porter with International ASSets, people walking past on the balcony as I watch TV to 4:32, finding LOTS to watch, including the final Magic Playroom selection, or whatever, for $100,000, on Spike TV, and then start typing, fumbling through stuff for names, and finish this at 5:38, not even WASHED, preparing for dinner BEFORE showering and getting to bed before---AH, LAIRD phoned Paul JUST as we drove into Orlando this morning to say that Beau's RELATIVES have descended on their house, so WE couldn't stay overnight Sunday if we WANTED to, and they won't even be home the rest of today if we wanted to telephone THEN. People SHOUTING and laughing and "Watch your ass!"-ing out the door, and I guess I'll just wash my face and dress and walk around downstairs to meet Paul somewhere, while taking in "the ambiance" of this place, to at least say I SAW it! Now at 5:40PM. Leave 5:50PM, taking cash WITH me, not trusting the room at all. 6PM: Turns out I was supposed to meet Paul at his room at 6:30! He's sitting in bed with his door open reading a book in his PAJAMAS, and I think I've messed up the WHOLE thing, but then he says he's going to take a walk around, and I ask if I should come with him, but he says, "No, I'll take a cruising walk," and I say I'll take a walk, too, and go down to the back to see curtains up in preparation for the show tonight (though it'll surely be LOUD and FILTHY through the curtains!?), and then around the back to find that "the pond" is a huge LAKE, and I can't IMAGINE that anyone with a TELESCOPE would be able to see any embarrassing details of someone doing someone on a table out there across THAT distance!! At first there looks to be only a couple on a chaise longue on the beach, but two old farts are sitting arm-in-arm in a wicker swing at my left, making some comment about me chasing the ducks away, and I feel acutely self-conscious even STANDING there. The place IS just for sex: it's an outside baths! People cruising around all the balconies, sitting inside their open doors: 1) WITH a partner, 2) hidden, 3) eating takeout in a shadowy corner, 4) lying on a bed, 5) watching TV---and finally I'm too embarrassed even looking in to see what's being offered! Some places are dark with leather vests, some empty with rumpled bedclothes. I'm certainly NOT cruising, knowing I wouldn't be able to get it up, let alone not being clean, not being sexy, not being OUT, compared with these flagrant sex-seekers. Paul's attitude of appraising EVERYONE is about what's going on HERE, by EVERYONE, and LOUD music is coming from somewhere down there. Think to come back here and ask, "Should I feel SORRY for myself for not being into this scene?" From a PRACTICAL point of view, it MAY be perfectly safe, but I'd be very surprised if it actually WAS. I NEVER liked to fuck or be fucked, only mutual masturbation, and it seems this crowd is FAR beyond that. Paul even admitted, "If someone young cruises us, they're probably hustlers, so just ask, 'Are you working?' and they'll probably say, 'Yeah, I could use a buck or two.'" And just then the DOOR is knocked upon, and I guess it's Paul, but I open to a stranger who says, "Sorry, I must have gotten the wrong room." Did PAUL put him up to it; does he knock at ANYONE'S room and either tries to get in or excuses himself as he did with me? And music from somewhere is VERY loud now---and Paul said it goes on till 3AM??? Now 6:10 and I don't even want to CONTINUE with this---so just conclude that I don't LIKE it, glad I don't feel that I have to PARTICIPATE in it, and can't shake the "superior to thou" feeling that it was much BETTER in the past when you didn't have to WORRY about AIDS or hustlers or being robbed THAT much, and I HAD all that, and don't NEED it, don't even WANT it, anymore. Sure, if I could "trade" for a beautiful young body and face I'd be out there as I was BEFORE: being VERY choosy and maybe selecting NO one. Paul DOES knock at 6:13, and we leave for Barney's Steak and Seafood, seeing the full moon against clouds but not remembering that tonight was the lunar eclipse until the next day, but it was cloudy all evening anyway. 8:44: Back, totally plotzed, TWO bottles of $15 wine just a bit more than the $26 Kendall-Johnson Paul favorite, bringing the bill with tip up to $88.99, almost New York prices, and he had the tuna, which he didn't care for, but I had the stuffed pork chops, which were so good (with its baked potato with LOTS of butter) that I brought it back to Parliament House and Paul showed me the kitchen and JJ was kind enough to take it from us and put it in the fridge until our breakfast tomorrow morning. LOTS of people cruising around when we got back, but a SINGLE in the restaurant, looking at me, was tempting, and then I got back to my room and found Alien 3, and even MORE, on Sci Fi channel, and watched it and got spaced out, TOTALLY stoned on TWO bottles of wine, which Paul didn't have THAT much of, and it's 8:54 and I'm---and it IS Alien 3. 9:13PM: Too much, got to shut TV off and go to bed, or I'll be wrecked for tomorrow. Just go to bed, though I feel like vomiting, and I'm still too full and too drunk. Fuckit: bed 9:18PM.

SUNDAY, 11/9/03: 2:35AM: Pee and take two aspirins for pretty severe headache from the more-than-a-bottle of wine for dinner. 6:42AM: Woke about 4:30 with dreams: 1) I'd been in an acting group but had no news of what parts I might be considered for, so I told some supervisor about this and he sat me down and said that a) I was being considered for a voice-over part on one program, and everyone knew that voice-overs very often led to other parts, and b) I was in lead contention for the part of Nico in the play The Master and Nico, and I looked at a script and saw that it was an impressive part, so I felt satisfied with my progress. 2) Some pattern in a plan was to be filled in with me getting a pair of air-lift, height-increasing shoes, and other parts of the pattern were being filled in promisingly. 3) I'd finally gotten mail from a tubular box (rather like the pipe into which I dropped our $2 car-fee for the Tosohatchee Refuge), and it contained a) a plate block of a pictorial stamp for Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty, and I debated keeping the copy of the ad, which was larger and more detailed than even the plate block itself, and b) a certified copy of a prescription that I needed for Dr. Jaffe, from some organization to which, for whatever reason, I had to send my post-office-box-number address, which I didn't check very often (a version of e-mail?), but here was the official form, with Xeroxed signatures, which was all I needed to complete an application I'd been working on a long time, so I could finally report that things were coming together---rather like the plans for the trip, changed so much by Marie McLean's death and burial, Roger's lover Michel's suicide, and now Laird's house being full of Beau's relatives, seeming to lead Paul to think we might spend a few evenings with Avi---except that I guess Paul STILL has his sex-partner friend to see for two days in Coral Gables. But we haven't phoned Avi yet to see if it's OK that I arrive Sunday afternoon, rather than Monday morning. I type this on the toilet, not being able to shit, conscious that 9 hours' sleep didn't seem quite enough to rest me from the sleepless night on the train. And I've GOT to shower before breakfast! Shower till 7:07, change socks and shorts and get out to knock on Paul's door at 7:14. First in to breakfast, good omelets, cranberry juice, $15 bill, out at 8AM, saying we'll pick up my pork chop before we leave, and at 8:02 Paul knocks on my door to say he has a flat! He'll call AAA, try to get a new tire, and I suggest he find out if someone just let the air out and the tire may still be good. Bummer! Look through two Florida magazines, one straight, one gay, to 8:21AM. [The following typed at 9:29PM 11/10:] 9:06 stop at AutoZone for "tire-lock release nut," which Paul didn't even think was needed, since he didn't think he put ON the tire-lock, and they thought, "It's in the back or in the glove compartment," but it wasn't. "Dick said you gotta INSTALL lock, but it IS locked." Stop at Mazda, but it isn't open until noon. Stop at Tire Center, open at 9:22, and at 9:25 Paul come to car to say, "Yay, they have the lock," even though they had to force it. Go sit in office [Room at Parliament was $66.86.] and NAIL was in wrecked tire; new Dunlop is $77. Phone Laird at 9:54. $35 to take nuts off. To car at 10:08. To Laird's at 10:40, through ritzy Windermere, particularly Isla Royale, where maybe even Bill Gates has a multi-million-dollar house. He's cooking omelets for us, shows us the house by explaining the provenance of each painting and print and photo, which drives Paul mad, and it's a GREAT place with lovely tiled, deep pool under enormous screen, and we both have tea, which causes us to pee lots. He and I take photos, talk to Beau (who's working until 4PM), phone Avi (who's pissed we're arriving today rather than tomorrow morning, but we say we'll arrive at 5PM), and leave Laird's at 12:50, the sky looking heavily like rain. Get gas to 1:05, stop at Walmart at his insistence from 3-3:12, mainly because he's falling asleep driving, so he lets me drive and we stop just before I-95 to get a set of sodas and me a vanilla-chocolate shake, not very good, and share Reese's peanut-butter cups, and get onto I-95 at 4:33 and have a couple of errors: we're off at Jacaranda, which is the THIRD exit in Venice, after Osprey and Linden, and then it's the THIRD light, not the second, where we'd already gotten OFF at the second exit, which was only Center Road, and then wind around to Hibiscus 4111, with no numbers on the door because it's just been re-stuccoed, at 5:04 and Avi looks the same and Robin is VERY emaciated but does NOT have HIV, only had an ANEURYSM that they thought was a brain infection due to HIV. Chat pleasantly and they agree we can stay the night if I'm not allergic to cats, which I'm not after taking two Benadryls that Robin thankfully supplied, and we get out about 6:15 to get to dinner at a Mexican place (Durango Steakhouse) that I note down, having a filet mignon that I send back to get cooked more, and LOTS of "double drinks" of half-strength (2 for $5.25): gin and tonics and lime margaritas, Robin not drinking at all and having only a salad, but all entrees are under $10 except my filet for $16. Happy conversation and drinks and I pay bill of $89.14, including tip, and back at 8:45, where we chat for a bit, having been shown the house, particularly Robin's incredible collection of dolls and even erotically linked military men, including the anatomically HUGE male doll he got as a $35 gift. Paul goes to bed almost immediately, I venture a guess that Robin's unknown postcards are mosques from probably Isfahan, maybe Shiraz, and we search for encyclopedias or photographs but can find none. Avi gets to bed and Robin says he's tired, so I'm to bed at 9:45 after colliding with the grandfather clock in the hall and sending up carillons of sound, and it's warm in the bed, but I hear Paul snoring as I lie down and have a LOT of trouble getting to sleep, wheezing from the cat dander but they ARE charming and beautiful.

MONDAY, 11/10/03: Pee at 1:40 to find Paul snoring on the sofa, which it turns out he ousted Avi from, since Robin was restless in their small mutual bed, and up at 6:15 to chat with them and have a little bit of Welch's white grape-peach juice before dressing and going out to Casperson's beach from 7:30 to 9, Robin having to leave for work as an exercise guru at an old-folks' home, and Avi drives us to N'tino's Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant for a $2.99 three-egg and bacon and toast, but not juice, breakfast that Paul pays for and then slips me an added $20 to make up for my paying for everything last night, which he shouldn't. Then Avi drives us on a tour of Venice, showing us the Intracoastal Waterway, the dunes, the beaches denied the public by the rows of condominiums, and the elegant houses looking more like Philadelphia than southwest Florida. Paul insists we leave right after I shower to 10:50 in their shower rather than getting them to remove the kitty litter from the bathroom I used, hopefully NOT permanently (only temporarily, since it didn't flush completely when I tried it twice) clogging their toilet with a HUGE turd that I finally squeezed out after trying thrice yesterday with no effect, hoping that Paul didn't have to shit after and feel HE was responsible for the shit not going down because mine was still blocking it. Photo #30 of Avi and collection and #31 of just collection, not getting the HALF of it at 10:53, and pack up with his stale pretzels as a farewell gift and leave at 11:20, going down narrow roads along the cape to Cape Coral after leaving route 41 south of Punta Gorda, and get at 1PM to Matlacha, Paul asking and finding that the first-President Bush retreat that he thought might be on Pine Island is on the southern end of the island ABOVE it, meaning we'd have to do a large backtrack to see it, and when I went into a market to find that the "ferry" from the northern end of Pine Island only went to the Nature Park on Some-O Cayo, or down to Captiva, which would take a full day with swimming---and probably screaming---kids of doddering grandparents. Drive down through hot (up to 92° today!) crowded roads to Quality Hotel room 320 at 1:57 in Cape Coral, and I'm feeling lazy, so just flick through the ten or so channels of TV until Paul knocks (having had a nap and not wanting lunch) at 3:12 just as I was fantasizing getting the pretzels I left in the glove compartment for a taste of lunch, and said he had errands, would I like to go for a drive, so I did, we first getting to Jay Cee Beach to verify that INDEED the john there is ROARING gay, the three guys I fantasized might be cops being joined by the youngest of the four in a red exercise suit whom Paul sucked on after he'd been sucked on by someone ELSE but who didn't cum because Paul said he was still "rock hard," but maybe suspiciously MANY of Paul's conquests are "rock hard" with a "huge dick" and a "fantastic body." Stop at a Walmart for no calendar, then at a Big Kmart for a calendar for me for $7 which is unfortunately too wide for my desk drawer and I'll have to cut it down again, and an incredible $5.99 for SEVEN shorts! Making my luggage even more crowded, but maybe there are only three or four more packings to be done before the end of the trip! Out at 4:04PM (saved even the cash receipts for SOME good reason, checking EACH as I go through and proofread this). Fabulous fluffy clouds, no sign of rain, hot and humid (good eclipse photo in the Sunday paper at Avi's, and he gives me a part [the hard part] of Sunday's Times' puzzles), and back at 4:27 to hear the phone ringing and Richard Trout will be at Paul's in a few minutes. I flick through TV again and watch the start of The Lost World: Jurassic Park at 5 and Paul knocks at our common door at 5:45 to have me meet Richard, putting his cock back into his black boxers and reclining on his bed as Paul's in his pajamas in his, saying, "I don't take much foreplay, but I like the talk at the end," which I wryly observe that I am taking part in, and he IS charming, as Paul said, but to me he bears a disquieting resemblance, particularly around the eyes, to Paul's brother, ALSO Richard: Dick. AND Richard gives me the news that Paul is new enough to his mother to be marginally worrisome, so I would not be welcome to join them for dinner at the Island Palm, which Paul and I drove past earlier. They say I can eat there, they'll just ignore me! I go back and watch to the end of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, not remembering the END in the CITY at ALL! Out at 8 and across the street in HEAVY traffic to find that Island Palm is CLOSED the week of 11/8-11/14, so I walk AGAIN across the busy Del Prado Highway and Cape Coral Parkway to Perkins Restaurant and Bakery, which Paul said was good for breakfast, and it's jammed with people, and their four cooks are down to either two or one, depending on which waitress is telling the truth, and my Amanda is sweet in excusing my late-arriving grouper, greasily cooked with almonds and lemon and tartar sauce, the crisp corn made tasty with lots of butter, and the mushy green beans with one tiny piece of bacon, but the Glen Ellen Zinfandel was only $3.50 per 187 ml bottle, and I joked with Amanda that if I'd known they were $3.50 I'd have had THREE of them, and she gurgled, "GnawWN!" since she almost wouldn't let me order a second, since "There's a limit of only one per hour," but I said, "It's almost BEEN an hour" at 8:43, "so don't PUSH it." Wait for a LOVELY ice cream, whipped cream, and cherry atop a WARM brownie and WARM hot fudge sauce (which she said she heated specially for me, since it was taking so long), really GREAT for a total bill of $15.90, to which I gratefully added a $3 tip, which I hope she gets to appreciate directly. Back just across the driveway to room 320 at 9:34 and get this out, finishing at 10:12, figuring to get RIGHT to bed, since Paul said Richard had to WORK tomorrow, so we'd leave immediately to Naples to sightsee tomorrow, maybe even getting to Homestead tomorrow night. Now to figure HOW to get to Rita's, and IF I'll bother with Edward, since I heard myself saying today, for the first time, "I'm starting to get homesick" on my 11th day on the road. Wash face, take pills, and get to bed at 10:24PM.

TUESDAY, 11/11/03: 4:55AM: Wake at 4:43 and try to fit together the dream: I'm in a north African city, traveling with Jean-Jacques, and I want to buy something, and he takes out a pile of coins and measures me out about an inch and a half of three sizes of coins: the largest seem like silver, and might be the equivalent of silver dollars; the middle sizes, like nickels, are of two or three metals, maybe gold, silver, and nickel; and the tiniest, smaller than any usual coins, may be of gold, silver, and copper, which might be the local equivalent of a penny. I seem to want to reduce the number of coins by giving a lot of copper ones and fewest of the gold ones, but I can't be sure, and think to try to buy something for the equivalent of $1 and try to get one of the salespeople to show me how many coins of what size and color would be the equivalent of that $1 purchase, but then I get involved in objects of various values, and the details get vague. Up to wrap a shirt around me, lower the air-conditioner temperature, look outside to see that it's still pitch-black, and type this until 5:01AM, still quite tired. 6:50AM: Finally drop off to sleep after thinking about the rest of THIS trip: Rita, Edward, Bahamas? Guyanas? and think to tell Paul I WOULD travel UP the Amazon from Iquitos ANYTIME! Dream of bicycling in hills, somewhere in the US, I'd guess, with Spartacus, and I "come to" when I gather my stuff into my basket to continue, and wonder how we got into all these PEOPLE around, in back of us up a slope on which an old snowman is melting with soot-blackened fringes into the warm Alpine sun, and have to retrieve my wired mouse from a ditch to get around another cyclist blocking my way onto the main path leading to the waterfall at the head of the trail we'd been cycling up. Type to 6:52 and wrap blanket around to see what stage of wake-up Paul's in next door. He's up, we chat, I shower from 7-7:14, then over to his place 7:20 to breakfast. Slow but GREAT breakfast at Perkins until 8:24, Paul letting me pay the $18.73 and he pays the $3 tip, and back to BRUSH (only) teeth and pack after getting out my pills until 8:40. Pay Quality Hotel bill of $58.86 at 8:52AM. To car at 8:56. Stop in Naples at 10:22 at Lemon Tree, $69 for ONE room, and Paul says we'll be in Homestead tomorrow. Out of motel room, past the garden with winding paths and a Scandinavian woman reading in the screened-in porch next door, and to Burdines 11:08-12:08, where I buy a tasty Frullati for $4.51, and then nearby to the Naples Zoo at 12:15 (was my receipt for $15.85 at 12:13PM from this?): #34 gibbons at 1:02, #35 and 36 colobus at 1:10 from the boat-tour, nicely free. Paul's tired of it all very quickly, we see the Scales and Fins show (great ALBINO Burmese python, a sloth, and something with unusual yellow fur), and leave at 2:15. To the motel at 2:27 and lie down 3:03-4:04, not really anything else to do when we're sharing one room. Leave 4:52 to tour the small town, to the pier at 5:06 and #37 maybe even a Green Flash at sunset at 5:38? Paul drives searching for Gallery, a gay bar, and it's closed. We walk down the main street looking at elegant shops and expensive restaurants, many with sidewalk drinks and with tree-lighted courtyards, and I get a VERY good impression of the city with its restored Florida (not quite Art Deco) architecture, its wealthy clientele, its glitzy shops, and we stop at Pazzo for dinner at 6PM, I finally have my Americano from a GREAT waiter, Shawn S., who just charges me for a Campari for $8 and Paul's Classic Martini is $7.95, so drinks NOT cheap. Crowds on the sidewalk, most retirees and non-sexy, but the WAITERS are in a class by themselves. Paul's on the phone a lot, annoying me, but his cell phone has come in so handy I actually debate getting one myself when more of my friends have them (and Spartacus just gets one, too, which leaves only Mildred, since Charles and Carolyn and Vicki and Shelley already have them). His salmon and shrimp is good but my special snapper is delicious, as is the dessert of a strawberry lasagnetti for $7, for a total bill with tip of $119.99. We leave at 8:10PM and I drop in on Inn on Fifth and Café Lurçat, trying to walk off the STUFFED feeling from all the food, watch the end of a special on JFK, Jr. on TV and bed at 9PM, tired enough to sleep instantly.

WEDNESDAY, 11/12/03: 4:31AM: Peed at 2:02, sitting until 2:16, having trouble getting back to sleep, trying to stay on my side so as not to wake Paul with my snoring, since his earplugs weren't working out. Finally fell asleep, maybe about 2:45, and had one of the most INCREDIBLE dreams of all time: not ONCE in the phantasmagorical odyssey did I question the reality of the "cadenzas" (chains, as I read in New Yorker yesterday) of happenings: I was in NYC, somehow present in a building given over to a small number of apartments occupied by a number of obviously wealthy (from the extent of the apartments and the enormity of the artificiality with which they surrounded themselves), probably "very important" (since I was impressed by the whispers that Andy Warhol [who, of course, is dead, but that didn't occur to me in the dream, so the most logical conclusion would be that THIS dream took place in a time before Warhol died] and Robert Rauschenberg had been in attendance at my---coronation?), and surrounded by a hierarchical coterie. I was looking from a distance at a sort of show, rather like the Scales and Fins show at the Naples Caribbean Zoo yesterday afternoon, which began with the unrolling of a long elaborate scroll, which at first I thought was individually painted along its 7-8-foot length, but at closer look may have been only a strip of wallpaper selected for its psychedelic pattern, into the center of which was inscribed "Robert Zolnerzak," and with the revelation of my name, I was swept into an elaborate ceremony that encapsulated my "fifteen minutes of fame" in this artist's circle. He was young and dark-skinned, reminding me of SOMEONE from my past: rather diffident, reasonably attractive, somewhat aloof, placid in a distant way (was THIS the Bob someone from Advanced Actualism?), looking like an actor, or a clerk at IBM, or a passerby on the street or in a museum I may have seen a few times, but FAMILIAR in a way I won't pursue here. People around him, when he revealed my name, were in turn attracted to ME, and they marveled at the sound and spelling of it, but then his attentions to me got more personal, and he began coming closer to me, touching me, as part of the ritual, it seemed, but then I thought he might be getting interested in me PERSONALLY, and he began to caress me more closely, and people around began to exult: "He's expanded the age-limit, THANK you Robert," from an older man whose sexual advances were now more acceptable because he was yet younger than I, and now that I was "in" he could be "in." Another thanked me because now his BEARD was acceptable because it was like mine, another was grateful because his POT was no longer abhorrent to this artist's disciples. We began to kiss, ritualistically at first, but then I felt he grew genuinely affectionate, and then realized we were going beyond the bounds of acceptable public behavior, so he stopped kissing passionately and others flocked around as if to share the extent to which he liberated the pattern of sexuality with someone of my age, weight, style, and peronality. I was lionized from room to room, people crowding around, though as time passed the people around me seemed less and less close to HIM, and after a number of diversions I found myself on the street, my moment of fame passed. But I wanted to know one thing, so I knocked at a door at which I FIRST entered this ritual, and a number of people flocked around trying to get in, until finally I recognized someone from the "inner circle" and begged her, "Let me get just ONE minute with (and there never WAS a name associated with the artist) him, to see if he was SERIOUS in any way in our brief relationship, and I was wordlessly admitted to the next circle, which enabled me to walk down a street to a large building (maybe this was all influenced by my impression of beauty of architecture and shops and restaurants, and wealth of inhabitants of Naples---and maybe even the handsomeness of Shawn, our beautiful, sexy waiter at Pazzo!), on the second floor of which I could see into openings that were almost too large to be called windows, into the no-walled area in which throngs of people, as at a Costume Ball, were racing back and forth merrily from one activity to another, and I entered THERE and tried to find someone closer to the artist, but found people who were tired from all the activity, or jaded by it, or newbies who didn't know anything of "the inner circle" in which I'd been so briefly exalted, and I kept looking for someone, or him, or a place that looked familiar, clutching the now ribbon-shaped band on which my name was inscribed, hoping it would gain me entry to that charmed circle yet for a moment again, but as the time went on my hopes faded, and the entertainments seemed stale, and I figured there OF COURSE had been no lasting emotion felt----and then I WOKE with a feeling of incredulity: it had been a DREAM! I lay in stunned amazement: not for an INSTANT had I thought it might be a dream, it was SO real even though it WAS completely fantastic, and finally got out of bed to record this until 4:58AM. Up at 6:37, breakfast at First Watch 7:15-8:05, which Paul insists on paying for, since I don't have a receipt, and we leave the hotel at 8:20, my bag so stuffed that I take it to the car UNclosed, since our next stop is his place in Homestead. He INSISTS we go east in the morning, driving straight into the sun, which burns his arm, and since he's already had problems with melanoma, he's very conscious of sun damage and will later get a sun-screen installed on HIS window-side and a strip across the windshield. We get gas to 8:30, and I changed film and so Roll 2 takes #1 at 9:26 of Chokolosker Mall (?), #2 of tame cock at 10:04, gator farm at 11:08, and to the Homestead Publix market for me to pay $34.45 for general groceries at 1:40PM, and to his place at 2:05 and immediately I'm greeted by PEOPLE who have taken care of his building while he's away and he talks to them for AGES. He unpacks, does laundry, and we talk through the day when I'm not watching TV or doing puzzles, and our dinner's over at 9:20 and I skim through TV and take pills and get to bed at 10:08, relieved to be somewhere stable at last.

THURSDAY, 11/13/03: Breakfast 7-7:40, take pills and pack for the night out and do other stuff to 8:40. Work on puzzles until 10, OUT with Paul for quick tour around at 10:10 and back at 11:50. He tries to get someone ELSE to come with us to Flamingo this evening, but they cancel out. Maybe because they're concerned about getting along with me? We leave 12:08, take #4 of blue heron at 1:09, #5 of alligator and Paul, #6 bittern at 1:30, and get finally to Flamingo at 2:40, check in a bit early, since they start at 3, but soon a line forms behind Paul and they give us room 132. We're in to quickly unpack and he wants to nap, so I start my walk at 3:23, stopping into the Visitor's Center and finding nothing to guide me, down to the shop and buy Deet for the mosquitoes and get pointed 1/8 mile to Eco Lake, but it's a long walk in the heat and get there at 3:47 for hundreds of white ibis that a red-shouldered hawk sent flying. Start around the pond at 3:52, walking slowly, passing people, reading signs, hearing creatures plunk into the water, and the hawk flies away CAWING when I get to his side of the lake. Photo a blue heron CLOSE and he's AWKWARD as he tries to change his position in the grasses, and #10 great blue heron on fence at 4:25, to #13 to 4:30, and back to viewing platform to silly comments, and Germans with long-range lenses, and take #14 ibis-tree at 4:40. Moorhen has OUTRAGEOUS ba-ba-aaaAAAH. Sunset comes and goes, as do two alligators in the pond, and walk quickly back 5:34-5:45. Paul's just left me a message on the bed saying he's going to dinner after the bar at 5:45, so he waits for me to shit and we go to dinner at 5:53, having a great Flamingo Sunset with orange juice and grenadine and vodka, and Paul has two Beefeater martinis for marginally more than what I pay for my Sunset and a fabulous Rum Runner with rum and blackberry brandy and other good stuff, and it's so alcoholic I say I don't want ANY wine with dinner, drinking only water while he has two glasses of Chardonnay, a crab stew that he doesn't find very tasty, while I have barbecued shrimp with a good baked potato with lots of butter, and end up quite full by 7:40, and I want to walk into the dark, but the lights from the lodge send me out to the cottages, then to the cabins, and the mosquitoes are out, as are a few lightning bugs, and there are many cars that try to destroy my night vision, and it starts clouding up, so in depression I get back by 8:32 to find Paul watching a junky TV movie, so I shower to get all the Deet off and when I get out at 9 he's shut the TV off and is in bed, and I get to bed at 9:05PM.

FRIDAY, 11/14/03, 5:45AM: Paul wakes me and I wonder why the lights are on so long, and it turns out he's dressing in order to watch dawn at Eco Pond. I dress quickly and pull the curtain aside to see perfect black outside, and suggest that with sunrise after 6:30, it might be about 15 minutes until false dawn. Woke with another dream: I'm in a pharmacy and they say they can put in my prescription, which I'll pick up next time I come in, and they ask with gentle curiosity, "Aren't you covered by some plan?" and I almost shout at them, "Yes, I am, and they always ask me that, and then I never get any discount anyway!" They turn away in repulsion, saying, "And if you act this way all the time, it's no wonder," and I end up feeling properly cowed and resolve to never be so antagonistic and angry again, but to use the "I'm just a silly old man and don't know what to do and can you possibly help me" ploy which HAS worked in the past. QUITE far behind in this again, but the whole trip is taking on an air of developed futility: almost EVERY plan that Paul has made, this time to share Flamingo with Melvin, has been thwarted, possibly by my presence, as was Richard Trout not spending the day with us in Cape Coral, and someone else not meeting us in Orlando, though that WAS the lover of the guy who'd committed suicide. Paul also suggested that he'd be driving to Eco Pond, which is much better than yesterday, when I couldn't find an available map at the unmanned Visitor's Center, and when I went into the souvenir shop she didn't have a sheet but only said, "It's only 1/8 mile away along the road," but it never took me 20 minutes to walk 1/8 mile, even in the sweltering heat with hordes of dragonflies in squadrons all around me. The pool was flocked with dozens of white ibis until a hawk flew over and drove all of them flapping into the air for their escape, but they came back, though never in such numbers as at the start (I guess I SAID all this before!). Two alligators came out toward the middle of the pond, and I always expected the---I ask Paul---dabbling? dappling? dabbing? white egret to be snapped up by an up-lunging set of jaws, but then one vanished at the start and the second became a problematic, possible clump of weeds rather than a pair of eyes following a nose-snout. The sounds of the moorhens were wonderful, the squabbles among the little blue herons would chase one to or from the shore, or to or from a tree limb, and the 3 or 4 black ibis lower in the tree seemed relatively undisturbed most of the time. [Paul now asks, again, about the purpose of my typing, and when I explain, again, that I can transfer the contents to my word processor, he murmurs "Um" as if it were the first time---which reminds me of his mother's comment when Paul would remark, "Yes, Mother, you've said that three times before": "Then this is the fourth time and you'll hear it a fifth and sixth time if I tell you again and again." So a few times I've taken to responding, "Yes, Marie, you've told me that before," when Paul repeats something, as he VERY frequently does, since he surely HAS inherited that particular gene.] Now at 6AM I'll tell him we can leave now. Just a bit of color in the sky, but the clouds predicted a nonexistent sunrise. Paul drives me around to see the cottages, which I'd passed last night, about 1/4 full (or at least 1/4 with cars parked in front), and then the camping area, completely empty. Scare up a few egrets from the sides of the road, and amazed at the bright white morning glories, but almost nothing at Eco Pond itself, no ibis, no alligators, and we walk around to the side where I saw the blue heron to only hear a red-tailed or -shouldered hawk's incessant cries from a hidden perch on a nearby tree. Paul locked us out when we left at 6, but we drove immediately to the office, where I picked up the second key, happy with their saying we could leave it off when we checked out. Find that breakfast doesn't start until 7AM, then back to the room, finishing the lovely hot chocolate they had free in the office---would that more hotels would offer THAT in addition to the usual free coffee or tea. Then type some more, one egret out on the lawn, the sky pink all around now at 6:51, but no visible sun or shadow. All the lights KEPT ON all night, to my disgust. Also, after wearing a jacket and still hearing and feeling mosquitoes, I'm feeling very DAMP, and Paul asks how I survived the Amazon humidity, and I look back to find I CANNOT visualize my CABIN on that trip, though I can call to mind the cabin on the Frontier Spirit in the Antarctic, the 50-day cabin at the end of the hall down from the Yanofskys' on the Orloff, as I think it was, on the south-to-north Atlantic cruise, but cannot retrieve the Lubova cabin at ALL---recall the trivia contest, paired with the family with the one? two? son(s), the crowded dining room more often with the Yanofskys than anyone else, though there were a couple of handsome husbands I would have preferred---ah, now the four closets for drying clothes, the walls that would stain with the wet clothes and then dry, come back to me, but was that communal shower on the Lubova or the Orloff? And what was my trip from the cabin to the dining room? Futile thoughts. A vulture hovers outside my window, and now at 6:56 Paul asks if I'd like breakfast HERE or back at Homestead, and I opt for here. Get out to breakfast at 7:05 but the restaurant isn't open yet, so I look at the heron stalking across the front, then up to the balcony to see flights of birds across the rays from the already-risen sun, then notice Paul going into the restaurant, we get good seats at the window, and while I'm eating a GREAT mushroom-bacon-cheddar omelet and he has a disappointing Crab Benedict, the Mormon waiter from Utah (to whom Paul gave his card, certain that he's gay---like the guy at the bar who drops the final hairpin by saying he's going after dinner to watch Tony and Tina (?)---what IS the name of that gay-guy show?) says he sees SHARKS outside, and we look and a troupe of dolphins is making its way from right to left QUITE close to our shore, and a few of the little ones actually jump ALL THE WAY out of the water in their enthusiasm. I order more hot chocolate and Paul has coffee and the older waiter from New York isn't nearly as sweet as the young girl from Illinois who smiles at us a lot. Paul pays the $22 bill because I thought my payment last night was more than the room, but he gives me a slip for $89.09 that tallies more than the $83.54 that I paid. To the car at 8:32, and in to some lake to take #15-18 of an ENORMOUS crocodile from 8:52, possibly 15 feet long. We stroll a renovated, lovely boardwalk, which Paul thinks has been lowered closer to the water level, at Mahogany Hammock, to 9:26, and we leave the park and stop at the Alligator Museum from 10:09 to 11:02, which Paul said has been worth the $7 entrance fee, and we see a BEAUTIFUL-eyed panther in a truck at the entrance, waiting to be taken to the vet for a welt under one paw, but when I rub him through the screen he PURRS, while growling at a group of school kids that drives us inside to look at the exhibits before they get there. Lots of macaws, then a new truck of about, say, four layers of six across on two sides for 48 snakes, most of them poisonous, and then out in back to two 600# Burmese tigers who are RIGHT THERE as we look at them, one even allowing me to scratch its fur through the chicken-wire fence, and then they playfully start cuffing at each other, me taking through #21 in awe of their speed, power, and affection, and we see many kinds of crocodiles, a small albino tiger, a brown bear, a small mandrill named Lucy, turtles, a black and a yellow-white wolf, very impressive to 11:02. Then Paul has a few errands and I buy another Miami Herald, and back to Homestead house at 11:21, he saying the patrol cars are for a NASCAR rally being held this weekend. I look through some of the paper and do some of the puzzles while eating a large piece of Key lime pie, to help finish it, since we might be going to Miami tomorrow afternoon---everything is so QUICK around here!---and then just as Paul lies down for a nap his friend John-John calls and he leaves at 12:20 to pick him up for a quickie, while I continue the papers and the puzzles; they're back at 12:50, and he drives him back at 1:05, having introduced him briefly to me, and he's pudgy and tanned and narrow-eyed, not sexy to me at all, and I remark to Paul when he gets back, "That was quick," and he says, "Oh, he doesn't like affection at all, so it's pretty quick." I continue with the papers, eating some sunflower nuts, a slice of cantaloupe and a glass of orange juice to wash down my afternoon calcium pill, doing more puzzles, and then there's the sound of fireworks outside and jets pass over for the opening of the NASCAR races, which I can hear out the window as I start the journal again at 3:35, Paul giving me a DVD entitled Boys in Training, saying that it might loop and I have to find a way out of it, and that we're going  around 6:30 for a drink at the Capri and dinner at the moved French-duo restaurant in the Redland Hotel. May have left out something, but I'll find out in NYC, figuring to be close to the end of this file, certainly more than halfway through the trip. Stop typing now at 4:15. Watch video to 5:11, when Paul suggests we walk around the lake. I'd thought he'd meant at the SHORE, but he has a plastic bag and walks around the STREETS that circle the lake, picking up trash and papers and plastic bags and bottles and cans from the lawns and streets around "his" lake until 5:40, nicely cool as the sun goes down in orange and pink. We leave, me dressed in khakis for the first time in ages to get away from the Deet-smell of my green shirt and blue pants, at 5:50 and hit a lot of traffic getting out of the NASCAR races. Stop at the Redland Hotel to find they'll have room for us at 7:15, Frederic recognizing Paul's name, and we get to the jammed Capri at 6:30, finding two stools at the bar, where Paul holds forth with the two barmaids, two waiters, and finally the owner's son, now the owner, since the original owner died two months ago. I absolutely gorge myself on celery and garlic cream sauce, salty potato chips, and almost tasteless dough-fish-nibbles while having my first sloe screw in ages. Paul pays and then we go off to Redland at 7:05 for our second drink, at my suggestion, though the hotel, not the restaurant, runs the bar, where I have a Caramel Apple Martini, rather too sweet, and Paul falls in love with a cigar box made into a handbag, and we choose our items for a $28 fixed price menu, starting with a complimentary kir with hard bread rounds with eggplant caviar and a rather drippy cheese, then a salad with an assertive French dressing but with iceberg lettuce that Paul detests, resolving to show them how to do business after being taken in by Jean-Claude, who advertised his failing restaurant in a French culinary magazine and they took his bait for 2.5 years until he pushed them out trying to sell his property for a half million, and they found this hotel with a liquor license, but he still allows Paul to bring in his own Lindemann Merlot for dinner, he having the terrine that he keeps calling a paté, I with the macerated snails in the traditional ramekin with almost-decent garlic butter than I absorb with the once-warm roll that he replaces with TWO warm rolls that we don't touch, and then the duck a l'orange is SO huge that I think it's whole, but he assures me it's only half, and Paul gives me one of his four carre d'agneau chops, and we both enjoy the crisp carrots and too-boiled green beans and potato wedges gussied up with spices, and I eat and eat but HE finishes most of what I don't finish after he says he's too drunk and would I please drive us home, so he has to finish the wine, too. I, of course, have to finish the two desserts I order: a cherries jubilee with only five cherries but a good sauce over vanilla ice cream, and I order the tarte au pomme a la mode, too, a wonderful deep-dish, flavorful, warm apple treat, and they add a 15% tip to make the bill $70.20 and Paul puts $3 under his plate and the chef, Frederic, not nearly as attractive as his front man (or top man), comes out to chat with Paul, who invites them to dinner at his place on one of their free Mondays, which might even be NEXT Monday when I'm still here, quite unready for an evening of French! We leave at 9:25, I manage to follow his directions, only stopping in the garage when he SAYS stop, but he has to get in to move in further to make sure the garage door doesn't clobber the back of the car. The door comes down at 9:40, and I go into my bedroom to take off my clothes and spit on the mosquito bites clustered around my ankles and finish this by 10PM, QUITE tired and STUFFED with food and ready for bed, going to MIAMI tomorrow! People TALKING across the street, and a dog's barking, as I put in my earplugs and go to bed at 10:08PM.

SATURDAY, 11/15/03: 5:56AM: Some trouble getting to sleep: VERY aware of the hot, swollen feeling of my ankles from walking and the mosquito bites yesterday, vaguely worried about West Nile Virus Fever, but get to sleep and wake at 4:32 just as the seconds click over to read 4:32:10, and then back to sleep instantly to wake at 5:52AM with the memory of ANOTHER incredible dream: I'm hosting a Games Group at my apartment, and there are only four of us: me, a young guy, and two very young and quiet women, possibly oriental, and I'm suddenly aware I'm supposed to be at some kind of MEETING at a school that's offering a free series of sessions in a topic I'm interested in, so I turn over the Games Group to the guy, sorry that it'll be so quiet with him and only two timid girls, and get into a crowded classroom to find I have nothing to take notes with, so I rifle through the desk I'm sitting in to find a blunt pencil that's been sharpened with a dull knife, with not a very good point, and then I'm at a set of lockers that I look through in turn, to find a spiral notebook whose owner won't miss one or two pages that I can rip out, but interestingly the two pencils STILL have only those blunt-knife-sharpened ends. Finish the class and know that I'll miss some of the next ones (like Paul with his hospice classes in North Beach), but I can get the information from notes from classmates and make it up before the final exam. Back to my apartment to be amazed by the NUMBER of people who showed up for the group after I left! Two, three, FOUR more people greet me as I come in the door as they're getting ready to leave, and I look for the guy I'd left in charge, and he's wielding a broom, sweeping up what looks to be leaves from the Mahogany Hammock boardwalk from my floors, and I'm amazed he had the wit to know where to look for my broom and took the responsibility for cleaning up my place. Go into my "second-floor living room," as it was in the dream, and try to put on a new T-shirt, but the old one somehow gets tangled in a VERY stringy old rose plant, like the one I got from Arthur Ellenbogen, grown to about 7 feet tall and 18 inches in diameter, around the top of which my shirt is impaled by the thorns, and in the process of SHAKING the shirt to get rid of the plant, a LOT of dusty old leaves filter down to the floor and form a PILE of debris that I decide no one's going to see, since they're all leaving from the lower floor, so I go downstairs in only my T-shirt and trousers, and there are even MORE people there, but when I try to count, I realize that some of the people who are gathering in what are now a set of pews in church are college students early for a concert in this auditorium, part of which a black friend of mine had described before: "I was just singing softly, but they REALLY boomed out 'Ite, Missa est,'" (or some other mass of 40-hours liturgical song), and without transition I was in a vehicle going south on Broadway with a load of people, I think still from my party, who were being left off at various places, and as we pass down near Columbus Circle, which looks more like the theater section of Broadway, I realize that if I can get out across the street, it'll only be a short walk east across the bottom of Central Park, and a few blocks north to 70th Street, and I'll be home, so I ask the driver if he please won't stop there for me, since I'm the last person off from the rear of the enormous bus/station wagon, and he agrees and I wake at 5:52AM, lying dazedly, thinking about the complexity of the dream, which in transcribing I DID finally flow over into File 4, and stop typing sitting on the john, having peed but didn't need to shit, now at 6:13AM. Ugh, left the area around the base of the toilet WET under the little rug. Did I do that? And his light's on in the kitchen, but I want to lie in BED for another hour! Get up at 6:52 and he's made his coffee but hasn't had it yet, so we have cantaloupe, finishing it, and he microwaves sausages and I have granola and the last of the orange juice, and he says we'll leave for Miami about 10AM. Breakfast to 7:40, shower to 8:10, but the round circle on the back of my left calf doesn't go away, and Paul says it's just some kind of mole, but I'm thinking more of an ingrown hair, and have another item to add for my December dermatologist's appointment. About a dozen mosquito bites, but only the one on my left Achilles tendon is constantly annoying. Change shorts and socks, since I have so many clean ones, and brush my teeth while finishing off the DVD, but then there IS no TV, and Paul says it goes off every so often, so I catch this up at 8:45 and continue with National Geographic magazine to finish my teeth. Put magazine down at 9:10, GOT to get into packing and phoning Rita. Check with Paul: no jacket for the service, very informal, and we'll be back here tomorrow evening for pill purposes. Phone Rita, talk to Denny, who's letting HER handle all the planning, and Rita doesn't want to drive with me to Edward's, so he's off the list. Call him for about ten minutes, talking to Anne, he telling me he worked on Turkey Point nuclear reactor and even considered moving to Homestead, but will wait "for some other time when we're here, we just took an 11-day trip to Cape Cod two weeks ago" for my possible visit. Agree to meet Rita and Denny in the Doral lobby at 10AM on Sunday 11/23, when they're due to check out at 11AM and drive back to Satellite Beach with me, "Denny won't charge you too much." "Maybe we can stop off at a butterfly farm on the way up." Sounds good, particularly when Paul said he might drive me up to Miami for the meeting! So Thanksgiving with them and THEN just try to find a way back to NYC in the busy weekend after Thanksgiving! Now 9:43 and Paul is finishing showering for OUR departure. Paul discovers my bath-toilet black-rot (worse than he remembers it being) and ants (for which he fills all bottles with new liquid to get rid of them) and wet rug, which he puts back without allowing it to dry. We leave at 10:16, and though he said it would take two hours for the bus to get me from Homestead to Miami (let alone from where the Miami bus would stop to the Doral Hotel next to the International Airport), he stops for gas and gets caught in some little traffic (though not as bad as that coming the other way for the NASCAR races, which are already thrumming in the distance), we get to Archie's at 11:11, and he calls in the bathroom window and gets Mitchell to let us in the gate (wrapped in a towel since he was in the shower), and it IS his ring that I found on my bed's coverlet when I first unpacked, which he's delighted to have back, and takes the towel aside to show a large, semi-flaccid dick that he even SAYS is partly excited. His "keeper" Archie is briefly visible when he goes naked from the bedroom into the bathroom just before we leave, as large and strong-looking as Paul said he was. Bébé the Shar-Pei is larger than I would have thought, and strangely (per Mitchell) reticent to approach us, though it becomes clear that Mitchell's been INSTRUCTING her not to jump on newcomers, and once when I was sitting she POISED to jump onto my arm on the sofa-arm, but then GLANCED at Mitchell and STOPPED in mid-jump. When I finally got to her, she loved being rubbed and touched and jostled and fondled, and Mitchell hoped that the spots on the rear heralded her first heat, and that they would go when the heat came and went. He went ON and ON and I was quite relieved when Paul, after he left, said that HE was beginning to tire of Mitchell's incessant talk. He finally said we could go to lunch, and debated between a Cuban place and Jimmy's, but when I was asked I could only say, "Whatever you decide," since I didn't know anything about any of the choices. They had to move out of their (tiny) no-pets apartment into a new place (which we drove by, but the neighborhood seemed equally bad, and since Mitchell had never been inside, though they're supposed to move in the next two weeks, he had no idea how big it was). Paul remarked that the window-covering, allowing the sunlight through its blue flowers and decorative borders, had been a SHEET that Paul gave them, as well as some dining chairs, the sofa that served as a bed across the way, and other things in the small, dark apartment, dominated by the television in the dining room and the dog vacillating in uncertainty in the hallway between the bathroom, wall-kitchen, unseen Archie-bedroom, and our dim sitting room, where Mitchell leapt up and down and I kept looking at Bébé and myself in the mirror to stop from looking at him as if he were some sort of exhibit. Then Paul was eager for lunch, unusual for him, and we left about 1:15 for Jimmy's, which Mitchell hadn't wanted to go to, Paul later thought, because he'd had some run-ins with his sexual partners and didn't want to see them again. In the car he said he wanted to go back to school, possibly to take a course in massage, though he wasn't willing to use his own name in any gay-paper ads for sexual massage. He kept making remarks about how "not old" Paul was, how big his cock was, though we all know different, and how attractive we all were, which I didn't countenance at all. He said there'd be no place to park at Jimmy's, but we had no trouble and got to the last booth for three or four, a football team looking at themselves in the mirrors in the alcove in back, and a cute kid was joined by another cute male kid to resolve THAT question. I had a half-pounder with a good onion, fries of which I ate two or three, and Mitchell had ONLY the Key lime pie, giving us all tastes, and Paul had the patty-melt, to which the waitress responded with some puzzlement when Paul said he didn't want cheese with it, which I thought was the distinguishing factor of a patty-melt. I had a beer, which Mitchell expressed surprise with, and when he went to the john, Paul thought his extensive shoulder burns might have come from scalding water when he was quite young, which Mitchell didn't mention when he encapsulated his troubled childhood with being the youngest of 13 children, his father dying when he was 10 and his mother when he was 14, his being farmed out to a sister (which didn't work out), and in his words his "emancipation" at age 14 to run his own life when psychiatrists decided he was better off on his own than in the care of anyone else. We go to a pet shop with lots of fish (I missed the birds that they found) for a dog harness that cost $65 there, which was too expensive, and then Paul drove him home while he talked about the Bacardi headquarters, the new Quantum double-tower, and other North Miami sights when Paul took him back to his apartment, kissing him on both cheeks, and he hugged me when I moved from the back to the front seat and we drove back to 3:06 (oh, BEFORE we left Dick's apartment, we met an older Bob, who with his lover Carlos lived in the building on the other side of this double-building complex, who gave Paul his phone number and Paul called to say come over at 6PM, but then he called about 5:30 to say he was going to dinner and they'd be over at 7:30, and Paul got disgusted with the mind-changing of these crazy faggots). We'd stopped at the Publix for three bottles of wine, all Hardy, for $5.49 each, and meatballs because they didn't have the meatloaf that Paul was looking forward to, and he insisted I choose the vegetables and I got the sweet corn, although another pair of shopping faggots said, "They look dry," which I couldn't understand, and he bought them and we got home for him to take a nap and me to watch TV, switching back and forth between Sci Fi, and travel things about the underground storage area outside St. Louis, and then, for lack of anything interesting, got hooked into King Kong from whenever, with Jessica Lange, and it's even WORSE now than when it came out, and when it's not on I switch to a judo thing with Eric Roberts, who sadly doesn't show his body while I'm watching, and a New School/Actor's Studio interview with a charming---my God, I can see his face and think of his wonderful quote from the later Stanislavsky: "Or you can just be charming," which---he who was in---Hugh [GRANT!]---the thing with Julia Roberts, Eric Roberts's sister---and not Hugh Griffith---ANYWAY, and then I watched the AWFUL end of Kong on the World Trade Center until 6PM, when Paul's still reading, and we start dinner about 6:25, he doing the meatballs for two minutes but I do them for two minutes more because mine are raw, and I do two sets of two ears of corn, and Dick has the SAME corn-end-holders that I do, and the Hardy Shiraz, and he even opened a bag of potato chips for me to sample with my pre-dinner gin and tonic, and when we finished at 7:45 he said that the shitty couple probably weren't going to show up at ALL, though maybe PETER would show up, whom he'd described before (but I'd frankly ignored) as the guy who lived across the way who had given his apartment to his sister and her husband, who were visiting, but probably Dick DID get in touch with him that WE were staying here tonight, and so HE decided to stay away, though he might YET show up this evening, still relatively young at this moment at 8:25PM, and Paul's in his room watching TV after showing me the mass of lights to the LEFT as being Miami Beach, from the long-blue-topped building and twin-triangled-topped building in the north to the two blinking tower-lights to the south, about where Paul's apartment that I stayed in before the Amazon trip had been on 17th Street, while we're on 128th Street, and the distant lights on the right are Miami central, being oddly, as he said, tall buildings interspersed with tiny Cuban bodegas catering to the influx of immigrants from below, in Cuba. The apartment is a marvel: I stood on the balcony outside with my binoculars, scanning the horizon for anything interesting and finding nothing, on which Paul, of course, would never step, and then look out now as the lights dim in comparison to the bright torchiere under which I type, next to the bicycle, the highly computerized keyboard that Paul said is ALSO Dick's, and I could put on the power strip, and the APC, but couldn't find how to put on the COMPUTER for FreeCell, and Paul bitched at the end of dinner how Dick spends HOURS on the computer with his pornographic photos and his family photos, burning them into CDs and DVDs, sometimes delaying Paul's real-estate profits for THREE MONTHS, he said with enormous asperity: "We've had words, but he just won't change, he thinks what he's doing on the computer, putting in photos from the family, is IMPORTANT, but I'm not interested in them, neither are his daughter and his son [and he agrees with me that they're certainly more of the black culture than of the white, and Paul complained that they'd never even THINK of dating whites, which he agreed might mean, as I said, that whites would never agree to date THEM] interested, nor is Jack [the cousin whom Paul fucks weekly in North Beach], nor ANYONE in the family---When he dies I'm just going to come in and THROW THAT ALL OUT," and I of course [and now at 8:32PM I hear VOICES from outside! They've arrived! And I rush to put on my trousers in case Paul decides to ask if I want to be introduced to them---and he DOES.] think of MY endless proofreading of my journals, my "mission" of putting all the writing, videotapes, slides onto the Internet (which CAN'T be thrown out---HA HA HA!). Back to room at 9:56 with ANOTHER gin and tonic, with INCREDIBLE things I want to record from the conversation with Carlos and Bob: 1) do NOT take testosterone because its main effect is to spread cancer throughout the system; if you have no interest in sex, think of the added amount of time you have to pursue your OTHER interests! 2) the US SUPPORTS Castro through an intricate political-drug connection, as proved by the fact that the TWO people most South Americans want to kill are Castro and Bush; our CIA protects Castro from being killed; so great was the threat to HIS life he wouldn't go to some Pan-American gathering of Spanish leaders in Bolivia. 3) Panama is totally corrupt: a) currently ruled by the former mistress of the former president, they're getting BILLIONS of drug dollars from Colombia (and doing NOTHING about building the rest of the Pan-American Highway), much of the economy ruled by a small number of JEWS who are building castles on a little peninsula outside Colon City toward which a RIVER of turds is running from the city sewage system, and they're making a mistake living on this narrow peninsula because they can be isolated and killed off one by one, or inundated by a river of turds; b) now home to a VAST intercontinental trading empire in Colon, owned by the politicians and the Jews, through which MOST of the moneys of Nicaragua, Panama, Columbia, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, even Brazil passes. Everyone in South America hates the PEOPLE in the United States because of the corrupt GOVERNMENT of the United States: WE are now their great enemy, and if George Bush is again elected, our country will be DESTROYED by the combined efforts of the South American coalition and the tanks and guns that are currently being paid for by the governments of Germany, France, and other European countries to FIGHT the so-called leadership position of the United States in the world. "There will be many more Ground Zeros, many more catastrophes, if the government of these people interested ONLY in money continues." 3) Small numbers of Jews in MANY countries continue to control VAST power and money, but they make the mistake of ISOLATING themselves and not allowing themselves to be INCORPORATED into their countries, and THEY are again more and more in danger of being annihilated. I suggest they visit Madras and Mahabalipuram and Tirichirapalli in southern India, and that Hyderabad is a good place to buy carved goods, and of course Madras is the source of a kind of CLOTH by itself. They've known each other for 47 years, met on the Promenade, where Carlos insists he lived on Clermont Street, not accepting my possible substitution of Clinton, but he DID say he was two blocks from the Promenade and six blocks from the Clark Street Station. They figure their rate of return from their real-estate investment in these buildings is about 20%/year, much more than any bank would allow. They loved Thailand and Cambodia to travel in, we talked of other travel possibilities, and finally I had to get out to record all these things, finishing now at 10:10PM, closing my blinds because it's going to be VERY bright in the morning. OH, and Peter, who had borrowed the use of Dick's bedroom while his sister and brother-in-law visit and use HIS place, tries to unlock the door in the middle of our conversation, and he wonders who all these people are, and Paul informs him that he can either use the sofa HERE or the sofa in HIS place to sleep, and sorry that Dick hadn't gotten in touch with him to tell him that, and I'm astounded how docilely he takes his stuff and LEAVES. Now it's 10:12 and I've GOT to stop, ankles still itching atrociously, last of the gin and tonic going down very well, lights seemingly much less bright outside, though I can hear a radio from an adjoining apartment without my earplugs in---but then why would an adjoining apartment have my earplugs in? Take pills and get to bed at 10:22, taking a last pee, seeing Paul turn off his TV for the night, and a little amazed that I haven't exhausted the room on File 4 yet, but it'll surely happen early tomorrow morning, the 17th day of the trip, SURELY more than half over.