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Sunday September 24, 2000, 01:57

I find myself sighing deeply (notably a much too sharp intake of air followed by a sustained exhale) and curling up in pain on my couch. Since quitting my job, I have been spending a lot of time in my apartment, often not leaving for days at a time, writing a lot and reading a lot more. In fact, the only times it seems like I leave these days is to go to the theatre or to go buy books (one of the unfortunate side affects of being unemployed is that it allows ample opportunity for me to go shopping). The pain stems from the decidedly not ergonomic nature of my desk chair and the fact that I can not find a keyboard that doesn't want to send me into fits of convusions after twenty minutes of use. This is the burden I must bear in my life.

I sit at my computer wearing my big jeans (rolled twice at the cuff to provide some weight to the pant leg as well as to prevent them from dragging along the ground, despite the fact that in doing so I am not wearing them the way "all the kids" are, that is, pants dragging along the ground picking up dirt, gravel and small children in their way). I usually do not wear a shirt because I am skinny enough that I can get away with it. I am sporting a bit of "extra padding" from not exercising at all but for the walking I often do to prevent having to pay to take the train, but despite this fact, I am not as overweight as one might expect from a computer person. My associations with the theatre do assist in my belief that I am attractive enough to not have to wear a shirt around my house. And the fact that nobody I know can see me.

If I am feeling particularly naughty, I will wear my collar (the choker that my neighbor found in her couch my freshman year which I have been wearing when I want to look tough or sexy). Without my shirt. Which means that it is just pants and collar. And underwear. Which is boring. So pants and collar. I will just let that image soak in for a minute, as it is fairly striking.

As I sit in front of my computer I periodically crack my wrists and rest them, realizing that if I don't I will be forced to wear braces again (on my arms, not my teeth) and that was not a fun period of my life. As I am taking the obligatory rest I will run my fingers through my hair, reminding myself that my hair is not short, not long as it was two weeks ago, and that it is still cute, which means that I am still cute. I also practice looking aloof, as this is an important part of my public persona and I want to make sure that I do not lose it. I would lose my identity if that were to happen.

I take a sip from the glass sitting at my side. It is Ocean Spray brand Cran-Rasberry juice, in a large, one gallon container. I buy my juice in bulk because I drink a lot of it. I drink a lot of juice because I don't know how to cook, and while a person can survive without food for several weeks, one will become dehydrated far sooner than that. I keep my body's thirst, as it were, for liquid sated with assorted juices and bottles of water. Note, this is not Bottled Water, but merely bottles of water filled from the tap and then placed in the refridgerator to chill. Local water, it could be called. Tap water is the more traditional term for it.

Juice, I realize, is good. Juice is very good, and I get up and pour myself another glass, realizing that I must go to the market (a term that sounds so much more traditional, and full of good values than "supermarket" or simply "store," conjuring up images of the local establishment with the proprietor misting his vegetables by hand and greeting everyone with a smile and a "howdy," even though i don't purchase produce with any regularity) very soon to replenish my supply of beverages. Juice is such an important, I soon realize, element of my life, that I must tell everyone about its power. Its potency. I run to my window where the trash men are emptying the dumpster in the alley behind my apartment building1.

I open the screen and shout down to them. "Juice," I yell, "is good." The appear to be caught up in their work, and I think fondly of men taking pride in a job well done, returning home in the evenings to their families and knowing that they did something good for the world, while contributing to the as of recently un-documented landfill problem in our country. They ignore me.

No matter. Undaunted I rush out to the hallway, banging on doors and spreading the good word about juice. I realize that I do not know any of my neighbors after eight months in this apartment and realize further that I will most likely not get to know them any better before my lease is up. This fact does not faze me one bit.

Out in the street, hands raised high in the air I look like a prize figher preparing for a bout. I thrust my fists up high shouting "Juice is good!" The motion is a welcome change from the typing and the reading I do all day. Reading is such strenuous an activity that I have been considering the possibility of writing to the World's Strongest Man commission and suggesting that they include the carpel-tunnel syndrome inducing Page Flip as an event in next year's competition. It would be an endurance challenge. I take a moment to crack my wrists, resting a moment to take in the cool autumn air. I am wearing a white t-shirt that has a neckline perfectly situated to expose the choker coller underneath, but just barely, so it acts more as a subtle accent accessory rather than a full in-your-face one. I am a subtle person.

To each person I see I announce that Juice is good! I am quite pleased with my message until I come across a young man wearing a black short-sleeved button shirt. He is holding a red, metal can and offeres me a sip. I taste, and am shocked. "What is this beverage?!" I demand of him. "It is certainly not juice!" It is soda, he tells me, and it will help me stay up later. I hand him back the beverage container, but he refuses to take it, claiming instead that I need it more than he does. I take his word for it.

Back at home, I perform various experiments before I learn that I can mask or satisfy my hunger with a combination of this Soda and a package of Premium brand Saltine crackers.

My life is nearly perfect at this moment.

1. Things begin to get strange at this point. Just go with it.

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