The book jacket states Ablutions is Patrick deWitt’s first novel but it’s really, as the subtitle suggests, notes for a novel — notes made by a nameless fictional bartender working at a down-and-out Hollywood dive. Throughout, we’re introduced to a variety of characters who are patrons of the bar, such as Curtis — a disconsolate man with a law-enforcement fetish.
Simple but wonderful morning discoveries make me happy, make me glad I didn't give up on myself. Only a year ago, in fact last spring, I was fighting something in my mind that was getting the better of me, taking me over. There were no birds singing and there was nothing in the sky I wanted to watch or witness.
I think of my friends John, Amber and Anna. I also think of that man who wanted bus fare at the bus stop, the guy who tried to bully me for cigarette money and the woman who wanted to buy milk for her babies. Trying to put myself in all of their shoes, trying to understand why some people can find jobs even in bad times while others have to ask or beg for money and live off the streets, I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around it all.
I haven’t been using my ATM card lately to withdraw money from my checking account. With this financial crisis, I’m afraid that one of these days the receipt coming out of the machine is going to read, “Sorry, you’re a day late. We had to spend your money yesterday to pay our utility bill.”
As I started to unpack the box, my stomach was in knots. I knew what was inside, and I didn't want it. It occurred to me to simply throw the box and its contents in the trash. When a friend said he was going to ship the mandolin to me, I said, "Please don't."
When my new friend Julie called me Wednesday night to see if we were still on for lunch the next afternoon, I wasn't sure. This was the week of the big snow, then ice, then more snow. I hadn't been out of my living space in days. I wasn't sure if I could walk on the stuff.
I'll be meeting my son for lunch next week, and my daughter wants me to see her new place on Sunday. They never seem interested in leaving Cincinnati. I always am. But while I've threatened to leave many times, so far I've stayed right here. I've moved around a lot, but I always stay local. My road doesn't really go anywhere else.
When she walked into Buddakhan bar and restaurant downtown on New Year’s Eve afternoon, I wasn’t paying attention. Sitting at the far end of the bar, I was busy sulking while drinking a vodka and cranberry. I was thinking of my therapist, who tells me I shouldn’t let other people’s negative energy or behavior affect my mood.
For better or for worse, I usually end up writing most of the columns in this Living Out Loud space — and that was no different in 2008. Sometimes I think I’ll run out of things to write about, but something always happens. That something is life. If you’re living with your eyes open — or out loud — the well never really runs dry.
Ramona was driving the 64 Metro bus when I first moved to Westwood in the spring. I have this habit of sitting in the front seat right next to the driver. I don't ever expect the drivers to talk to me, but Ramona did. At first it was polite talk about the weather and traffic and such, but after a while our conversations became more personal. Often times when I'd get on the bus I'd be the only person riding. Those were the days I liked the most. It was like having my own personal taxi driver.