Some days you’d be better off not even getting out of bed — or in my case out of my sleeping bag


It’s one of those mornings where I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown and if one more little thing goes wrong I might just snap and go berserk and go on a killing spree or just start screaming at the top of my lungs and never stop screaming. One of THOSE mornings..

The main stress is because the Post Office — because of their screw up — locked me out of my PO Box — a box I’ve had for 20 years and get very important mail at. And even though it was their screw up I’m locked in a buerocratic Catch-22 where I can’t get my box back.So now all of my mail is being sent back to sender. And I now I have to rent out a new PO Box which also entails all sorts of convoluted complications (starting with trying to prove I’m a Berkeley “resident” when I’m homeless — they refuse to take my feral cats word for it for one thing).

So I just got done with trying to reason with the Post Office supervisor (no luck). So I’m already tense and as high strung as an over-tuned guitar string that is about to snap.

So I go to this cafe to get a cup of coffee (I just woke up an hour ago). And there’s one person on line ahead of me. But the cashier isn’t at her station she’s running around taking care of other chores. So we’re just standing there for five minutes (which seemed like at least an Eternity from my perspective). Even worse the guy standing on line isn’t standing forward he’s standing backwards staring right at me (he’s actually watching his 3 year old daughter who is playing around right outside the cafe so he’s not really watching me but it SEEMS like he’s watching me since he’s staring right in my direction so I’m getting even MORE stressed.

FINALLY the cashier takes his order and of course it’s several complicated coffee drinks that takes another 5 minutes for her to mix up.

FINALLY she gets to me. But no. “I’ll be right with you sir. I have to do blah blah blah first.” She clears some of used plates off the counter, gets somebody else a refill of coffee and then disappears into the back room.

FINALLY she returns with a big smile on her face. “What can I do for you sir?”

“I’d like a large coffee to go” I said with a big smile that was more like gritting teeth.

She says something else to me but I can’t hear what she’s saying because she’s talking so softly and my hearing isn’t so great. FINALLY after much confusion I realize she’s saying “Would you like room for cream?” Which always annoys me. Just give me my damn cup of coffee. But I say “Yes just a little room.”

So finally she fetches my coffee. And I go to the condiments table. And you guessed it. THERES NO CREAM IN THE CREAM CONTAINER!!!!!

So I take the empty cream container back up to the counter. Wait another five minutes to get her attention. “There’s no cream,” I said. “Oh,” she said. She takes the empty cream container and then goes back to dealing with her other customers she’s dealing with. So now I’m standing there waiting for my cream.

And then this is the point where I almost snapped. This woman — this mild-mannered middle-aged lady¬† — steps in front of me and gestures towards the cashier. She has a black cup of to-go coffee in her hand so I can immediately tell what she wants. Like me she too wants cream for her coffee. But she doesn’t realize that I too am waiting for the cream. So it’s not like she purposely cut in front of me. So I can’t kill her. It wouldn’t be a justified homicide. So I just have to stand there staring daggers at the back of her head as the cashier gives HER the cream container so now I have to wait for HER to prepare her coffee before I can prepare mine. And if you had seen me standing there at that moment you would have seen a very tense person standing very rigidly, stiff as a board, my arms at my side, in the middle of the cafe with a very peculiar grimace on my face.

Now I’m sitting here with my coffee. So I lived happily ever after. The end.




It’s easy to snap, and many people do


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I’m way too high-strung and tightly-wound these days. I’ll give you an example.

This morning when I woke up at my campsite, I get up, and put on my clothes. But the zipper on my blue jeans snags. I spend 5 minutes struggling with the goddamn zipper trying to get it to work. Finally I scream at the top of my lungs in very real anguish and pain: “FUCK!! FUCK!! FUUUUUCKKKK!!!!!”

It was a little thing. Yes. But it was one of a long SERIES of little things that were each driving me nuts with aggravation. Its like water torture. Its not the one little drop that gets you. But the seemingly endless series of drops. Or as Bukowski put it: “It’s not the big things that drive a man to the madhouse. But the shoelace that snaps when there’s not enough time.”

When I read accounts in the newspaper about, say, “road rage,” where somebody completely snaps and goes berserk over a relatively trivial offense. I NEVER think “How could they DO something like that??” I usually think, “I’m surprised this kind of stuff doesn’t happen more often.”



My 19th Nervous Breakdown



I had a nervous breakdown this morning. It’s no big deal. I’m an “overly emotional” person. And I have them all the time. It’s a way of blowing off steam and releasing the backlog of repressed emotions.

I had been sick as a dog with the flu for the last 2 weeks. And then dealing with the crappy weather, the cold and rain. Peaking yesterday when it rained non-stop all day and we got 2 inches of rain in a 24 hour period. You can’t afford to deal with your emotions when you’re dealing with that shit. You can’t afford to drain what little energy you have by indulging in depression, anger or sadness. So you just go numb. And slog forward. Repress the misery you’re feeling. And soldier on.

Then last night I had this long involved dream. I was in a recording studio trying to record music for a big festival on Telegraph Avenue. All my attempts sucked. And I felt like the loser of all time. Until finally I hit on some magic. Then I’m standing on top of this hill over looking Telegraph. And I can see Duncan and all my friends set up at our vending table. Just like in the Good Old Days. And it’s like a joyous happy ending.

Then I wake up. Pack up my campsite. And I’m walking down Telegraph early in the morning. For real. None of my friends are there. They’re all dead or gone. It’s just scattered homeless people waking up in doorways. A pretty barren scene. Compared to how Telegraph used to be.

So I start crying as I’m walking down Telegraph. Which is embarrassing. But like I said I’m having an unexpected nervous breakdown. And I’m using all my will power to control myself. Because I could easily start screaming and wailing and loud sobbing and have a complete breakdown if I don’t control myself. Which would be embarrassing. Publicly losing my shit. Plus they might come after you with butterfly nets and lock you up if you act too weird in public. So I’m keeping my head down as I walk down Telegraph. So nobody can see my contorted facial expression. And the tears running down my face.

And as I’m walking down Telegraph I’m remembering a million triumphs and tragedies I had experienced on Telegraph over the years. All the memories. But now it’s all gone. This barren harvest I am reaping as I walked down Telegraph on this early morning after the storm.

I walked down to the car wash by Shattuck and bought a coffee and jelly donut. And felt strangely better from having experienced something in the morning. Even if I wasn’t sure quite what I had experienced.