Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday night

Again, a cold snap has put a damper on my exercise routine, but tonight I walked home from the farther bus stop (about a mile down the street), after first stopping off at Burger King for two bacon double cheeseburgers (they were on sale and I was hungry). It wasn't windy or so cold that my legs would freeze underneath my thin, Florida slacks. It was actually quite a pleasant walk. Then I ditched my wheelie bag when I got home and walked to the convenience store for some cigarettes. It's still getting down into the 40s at night and affecting my sleep -- it's cold in here, and the reverse-cycle A/C is practically useless. I'll get a space heater for next year.

Got this email from Chuck Schumer today:

Dear [MOI],

As you know, I've been committed to a strong public option throughout the entire health care reform process.

First it was in the Senate bill, then it was out. But now, thanks to the tenacity of a group of four Democratic Senators -- Michael Bennet (CO), Sherrod Brown (OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), and Jeff Merkley (OR) -- there is a renewed push to create a public option as part of health care reform.

I just added my name to their effort to pass a public option through the reconciliation process, and I wanted you to be the first to know.

This is far from a done deal, but it's an opportunity to break through the obstructionism Republicans have pushed for the past year.

Let's keep fighting,


Chuck Schumer

Last night I emailed Fla. Sen. Bill Nelson, urging him to add his name to the "Bennet letter." Chris Hayes of "The Nation" -- I think the sharpest commentator around -- just said on Countdown that this could get legs if Harry Reid or Max Baucus (or someone else, whose name I've forgotten) came out for it. (Reid's constituents back in Nevada are against the health care plan but for the public option.)

Solitary walks are great for thinking and also reminiscing. I'll never forget seeing a once close friend's Camaro convertible sitting in the parking lot where I exit the bus, apparently abandoned -- it sat there for the longest time. Meanwhile my friend was dying of AIDS. (This was back before the HIV cocktails.) I guess the car broke down and he couldn't afford to do anything with it. His name was Bob Martinez, a Puerto Rican from New York. I'd met him at the old Sugars. Before he got sick, I used to ride in that car all the time when we went bar-hopping between Sugars and Karl's place on West Dixie (name?). Bob had worked at an upscale linen store; I still have some sheets he got me for my birthday. We drifted apart when he got sick, and he ended up moving out of his nice apartment down the street and rooming with another Sugars regular, who also had AIDS (and who also died). I can't remember his name, but he was a pet groomer and I'd bought my Persian cat, Yasmin, from him (cheap). He raised Persian cats. (Bill?)

As I continue down the street, I walk past the place I used to get my hair cut, usually by Cliff, someone else I'd met at the old Sugars. I went to Cliff's salon for years. I'd make my appointments for Saturday afternoon and ride my bike over. Cliff and his business partner, Jenny, ended up selling the salon, and I haven't been back since. (I cut my own hair now, what's left of it.) Cliff meanwhile had got into a bad business deal and disappeared. (I heard this from Jenny the last time I got my hair cut. Cliff was no longer at the salon.) Maybe he's back in Hawaii, where he was originally from and still has family. Every once in a while I see Jenny on my bus, but I haven't had the occasion to talk to her. (She was originally from England. Very polished.)

Then I walk past the IHOP where Jim and Oz from Sugars used to go for steak dinners before heading up to the bar. They'd been an item for years. I haven't seen them since the new Sugars closed, in 2005. Jim was an architect and Oz a computer tech. Jim had a solo practice and was no longer able to get health insurance after he had a heart attack. Haven't seen them sitting in the restaurant as I've walked by, but I keep looking.

When I walk past Woody's, I'm almost home. I remember talking with Greg, a stand-in bartender at the new Sugars, on the topic of cheese steak sandwiches. Greg didn't like the ones at Woody's, for which the place is "famous." (I'm not crazy about them either.) Greg had tended bar in Key West at The Monster during its heyday. He passed away a couple of years ago, not from AIDS.

Lastly, Flanigan's. No black Hummer parked illegally in the handicapped space tonight.

Since I haven't heard anything back from a certain magazine about my proposal for a nonfiction piece about illegal prescription drug use, I've decided to rework it and submit it directly as a short story. (The magazine accepts nonfiction submissions without a proposal first.) I'm more comfortable anyway fictionalizing the story, and it still will be all true. I think it's a really engrossing story for our time. I've never read anything like it myself. It's about a tragic situation that many people probably live with nowadays.

Making a four-egg cheese omelet for lunch tomorrow, with garlic powder, basil and dried chives. Tasty. I just flipped it over and a little bit broke off.

See what a little exercise will do to get the writing juices flowing?

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