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11 Aug 98

Acting my age

1974

A few months ago, one of the readers of the Subway Diary, whom I knew at Alfred but did not know was reading, sent a postcard to a person I'd written about in the poorly-written New Years entry. She addressed the postcard to his Subway Diary pseudonym. It read:

Sam,

I can't believe you kissed Barbara Martin on New Years. I am shocked! Shocked!

Kathy

I can't believe you kissed Barbara Martin on New Years. I am shocked! Shocked!

Kathy

"Sam" forwarded me the postcard. Kathy is not her real name, of course, but Sam and I both knew who she was. It was amusing, but strange, that people who know me in the flesh read without making contact.

It's fine when old friends discover this site and send email, writing, "Paul, hey, you're still an ass." And I expect the silent readership of strangers. Even my parents know about the SD; my mother has mixed feelings, and it bores my father. But former friends who became mute readers--finding out about them gives me an odd, one-way feeling. Especially if they send postcards about the entries to my other, less-mute friends.

This is day 8,401 of the Subway Diary.

I like to think that I was conceived in real pleasure, that my parents made love in the wasteland of their long marriage, both feeling a deep and human hope. That they loved each other, in that breathless moment. But it's better not to know.

I had wavy hair from the womb. It's gone straight, but my stayed blue. I wanted to become a Presbyterian minister. A college professor. A professional puppeteer and storyteller. A novelist. News radio anchorman. All jobs with voices.

I had wavy hair from the womb. It's gone straight, but my stayed blue. I wanted to become a Presbyterian minister. A college professor. A professional puppeteer and storyteller. A novelist. News radio anchorman. All jobs with voices.

About five months ago, I planned to end the Subway Diary August 11, 1998, on my birthday.

I turn 24 six hours from now. 10 AM, Bryn Mawr, PA, August 11, 1974, through 3:43 AM, Brooklyn NY, August 10, 1998.

I need human connections that rise above the spying of old friends. Or rather, I want to invest more in the connections I already possess.

I can't decide, and I've been putting off the decision. It would be nice to walk away from the computer. If I keep writing, tomorrow, or since I'm going out tonight and may be too drunk to write, the next day, then I decided to keep at it. If these spaces go blank, then I stopped.

In either case, thanks for reading.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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