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Thank god for New York institutions who have stood the test of time. I wrapped up what little work I had today and figured why not stop by Di Palo’s. I would pick up a ball of fresh mozzarella and maybe get some Locatelli romano. The rice balls looked good, as did the mortadella. I decided to also get some sopressata, and while looking at the smoked mozzarella, the guy behind the counter just threw it in my bag. It was the end of the day and they were going to make more in the morning anyways.

When I get home I lay out a spread ready to eat while I talk to Jason tonight. Jason and his friend need help installing software. I met Jason when I lived in Seattle. Jesus that time in my life was a simply an eleven and a half month long intermission. Jason was my roommate when I lived in Ballard. I responded to an ad and when I finally got to the house, a guy opened the door looked at me and said “you’re perfect, the rooms yours”, I hadn’t even said a word yet. I forgot the guys name but he was moving out and there were three other roommates. An Irish kid from New York named Mikey, Jason who played drums, his girlfriend Serena who played cello, and a guy named Jared who the guy giving me the room told me to watch out for. Jared was a djimbe player in a band called Trillian Green, wore hemp clothes, had long hair and a goatee, didn’t do drugs, womanized hippie chics, and was not to be trusted. The exact phrase used to describe him was “east coast in the guise of a hippie”

The day I moved in was my 23rd birthday, and I had a view of the Cascade mountains from my bedroom which I always thought was a nice contrast from having grown up in Houston which is flat and ugly. Seattle was such a peculiar experience in learning what I didn’t like in life… like Seattle itself. But me and Jason always kept in touch and I’m happy for that, he is a brother and always will be.

Which is why I am helping him now while I eat. Something I have been craving for the longest is fresh mozzarella, but more so is this Locatelli cheese. Locatelli has got to be my favorite cheese, the sharp savory tone to it, very robust yet light, and romano cheese is something that goes deep to my childhood back when I could eat three plates of pasta at sunday dinner. I would eat so much that I had to go lie down on the couch, unbutton my pants, close my eyes and wait for the pain to go away seeing how I stuffed my belly beyond capacity.

The Locatelli wasn’t the only star here, I had olive oil shipped in from a friends olive garden in Italy. I also take pride in my balsamic vinegar, which I decided one day had to be of exceptional quality. I found this brand of balsamic vinegar at a pork store in Bay Ridge that they made in house, and this was sweet and thick like molasses. In a bowl I mixed the olive oil with balsamic and ground in some black pepper. I decided to use the smoked mozzarella which had a nice flavor, and had a pile of grated romano to dip my bread in, with a few Kalamata olives and sliced sopressata on the side. A chilled seltzer was on hand to cleanse the palette… and thats a fucking meal.

I didn’t eat good when I lived in Seattle, I was still vegetarian at that time and like an idiot, ate lots of tofu and textured vegetable protein (TVP). In fact I ate so much protein that I got a hemorrhoid. I tried to deduct how else I could have gotten it, but that was the only thing that made sense, and I haven’t had one since.

On occasion I would go to Pike Place Market and pick up some giant dungeness crab the size of your head to take home and steam, or when it was in season, Copper River salmon. Jason would go on about how standard salmon would contain ten percent fish oil, while Copper River salmon contained as much as 20 percent fish oil, due to a higher fat content acquired by the fish to adapt to the cold waters of the Copper River. But most of the time I ate tofu :(.

It was living in that house in Seattle I discovered that baking was my Achilles heel. I tried making banana bread, put it in the oven, smoked a fat bowl, passed out on the couch and woke up to Jason pulling a burning black brick out of the oven.

Jason and Serena would argue constantly in that house, which was too much like hearing my own parents argue. I remember one argument in particular in which Jason and I had to leave immediately afterwards. Before we left I set up my dat recorder under the couch. I did this because I knew after we left Serena would go out to that couch and cry, I don’t know why I knew this, it was just a hunch. When I got home I found the dat still there, and obviously the tape had run out, but I was correct, and I got a clear recording of some very traumatic bawling. A few years later I used it in a recording and sent a copy to Jason.

The few times they didn’t argue was when they were fucking. Instead Serena would moan so loud that Mikey would bitch about it stating “she’s just doing that to tell everyone in the house that she was fucking Jason”. He told me this while washing his hair and armpits in the kitchen sink. I asked him what he was doing and he said has was taking a Puerto Rican shower.

Mikey slowly went on a downward spiral in that house, and running into him became more and more like bigfoot sightings. When he opened his door you could smell his room downstairs, like it was a dungeon or a cript. One day I Looked at Jason and said “fuck it, I’m going in”, and I proceeded to demystify what was actually going on in his room, so I went and knocked on Mikeys door. When he opened I asked if he wanted to hang out and he invited me in. It was then I learned of the evils that men do when alone. Mike was cooking up cocaine with ammonia and smoking it through a Coke can. He offered me some and I thought to myself, whats the worst that could happen. I smoked, I got high, and about 20 minutes later said I was gonna go crash. I felt like shit, it wasn’t a pleasant feeling at all, and I just didn’t get it. I tried to watch TV, but nothing was appealing, I figured I would listen to music, but once again none of my cd’s seemed appealing. Then I told myself “J, go to sleep, and when you wake up, this will be gone” and thats exactly what I did

When Mikey moved out I took his bedroom. The other roommates thought I was crazy, but once I had it cleaned up, it was really nice and I even had two windows, one with a view of Mount Ranier. One morning while going for a walk I saw Mikey’s car, a Plymouth Valiant. I walked up to the car and saw that he was sleeping in the back.

Once my mom came to visit and I took her to Vancouver which was only two and a half hours away. We went to the Vancouver Art Gallery which currently had Edvard Munch’s entire collection on exhibit. We saw The Scream, but my personal favorite was The Vampire. Then I had the idea of taking my mom down to Hastings St, which had recently become known as “New Amsterdam”.

Canada recently had decided to stop arresting people for drugs, and on Hastings st, a majority of the businesses encouraged that you “light up” on premises  Knowing my mom enjoyed the occasional smoke, I thought it might be fun to indulge with her just this once. Normally I don’t do that; I know I do that sometimes and I know she does that sometimes, however I don’t want to know my mom on that level. She is not my friend, she is my mom, and I want to love her as my mom, just saying.

On the way to Hastings st we met two dreadlocked hippy white kids who just happened to be from Houston. We chatted for a few minutes and agreed to meet them back at the Cannabis Cafe. When I got to the cafe I asked someone behind the counter where I could score a dime, they mentioned trying across the street at the Crosstown Traffic. So I went into the Crosstown Traffic, ask the person behind the counter where I could get some green, and she pointed to a dude playing pool. I asked if he had a dime, I gave him ten dollars Canadian (this is back when 1 American dollar was 1.50 Canadian), went back to the Cafe where my mom was waiting with the two little hippy kids. The hippies had the pipe, we shared a bowl, then when they asked where I got the green, I told them I would just sell them my dime for ten dollars. They bought it off me, my mom mentioned that was “slick” of me, and I bought her a slice of cheesecake made with hemp oil.

We then wandered around, got a meal, went back to the hotel room, watched Boogie Nights and passed out.

Jason knocked up Serena when I still lived there. He wanted her to get an abortion but she said the baby had already come to her in a dream and told her what her name was…it was Magdalena. I tried staying as long as I could to witness Magdalena’s birth but she came late.

When I finally left Seattle it happened like magic. I lost my job on Friday, on Saturday I was talking to Ure about how I really didn’t want to start over in Seattle, and asked about the possibility of me moving to San Francisco where he lived. He lit up immediately and said “oh man you gotta come here…seriously” He said he could get a place ready for me, so I said fine lets do it. So I decided I was moving on Saturday, on Sunday I put my room up at the co-op and that night someone came by and decided to take it insuring I would get my deposit of $300 back.

On Monday I received a cd drive in the mail, from a company that sent it to me by accident, and I sold that for $300. Jesus what a sign of the times that was: In 1998 an internal cd-drive for a computer cost $300, now they sell for $40. On tuesday Sally called and asked what I was doing and I told her I was getting ready to go to San Francisco. She asked what was in San Francisco, and when I told her I was moving there, she said she was as well and was leaving in a week, and asked if would like to hitch a ride. It was all rather serendipitous, and like that I was gone.

Balsamic reduction