Saturday, July 17, 1999


Getting very frustrated with my dreams … the best thing to come out of last night was my family planting trees throughout a graveyard where the gravel pit should be.

Loving the Haitian custom of girls kissing guys goodbye with a peck on the cheek. From 10-year-olds it’s all in stride, but it’s damn nice from a graduated Hawaiian like Iris.

I think Robbie’s in a town called Oacha, on the off chance I get to the Dominican Republic. Look at some history of the island. Don’t forget. This whole name-swapping thing has my interest.

Also: local superstition that eating ants is good for the voice (and the digestion). Up till now I’d thought at least the first paragraph of Scratch was a keeper, but this seems too good to pass up.

Having re-read this, need to syncopate my writing more. Is this drone really how I see the world?

All the grand old houses here [beat] have tile floors. Linda Gershunny’s was open to the street [beat] on one whole side. The huge patio had maybe four tiny things from South America [beat] on its walls, all [beat] except for the massive gilded rococo mirror standing in [beat] a corner.

On the CD player over supper tonite: an African, a beautiful, quailing, immaculate English. Next up: inscrutable Glen.

It didn’t even occur to me to write anything about him until tonight at seven, when I was still without food and went looking for him. The last I’d seen, he’d crashed face-down on his bed after work. On the NSA, secretary for this, translator for that. As my host too close to notice. I found him in the pitch-black livingroom, and murmurs told me that Gabrielle was there too. Did she have the spiritual beauty he said he prized higher than a pretty face? But this is who he is—a man with a gaunt face and a trim moustache and a hairline unfortunately like mine who feels the need to insist on that morality. A Harvard grad who worries he speaks too much on committees. He laughed his shrill nervous laugh from the darkness and told me I could heat dinner (a maid, Marieloud, cooks it during the day) for everyone. Told me which spoon to use, etc. I said it was like taking instructions from a ghost, and his thin whiteness emerged from the shadows to help me out. This is my host. I like Gabrielle a lot. I hope she sends me her story to English anonymously. He’s a good man too, man enough to second-guess the bravura of the Moros of Jacmel. Child enough to desperately miss his mother. I may win a Booker some day but I will not ever make an NSA.

[Shanties beneath the bridge in Pétionville]

[The terraced bourgeoisie a few blocks later]


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