20JUL2013 – A coffee shop around the corner from my apartment, where knives of soft light slant in across my lap; right ankle over left knee, slouching slightly in a brown easy chair, looking out the window on my left over a rather strong cup of coffee.
Lately: I’m obsessed with pinning meaning to the wall. My personality, my experiences, my thoughts (all of which are completely invisible under an electron microscope, slabbed and measured on a coroner’s scale or held red and glinting on the tip of his knife) are just playing cards flicked free from a deck and I’m trying hard to communicate myself to you, to bond with you, to grow roots with you, to mean something to you.
Spending too much time in my head again. (Who first tricked a hamster into running on a wheel? Now that’s a fucking bar bet worth winning.) Been in California exactly one year today.
“Where’s home for you?” (Usually a person will ask me this question with all the guffaw and chummy backslap of a man in a tweed jacket who’s built his fortune making horses fuck, as though he were taking stock of my breeding. I’d answer but he’s checking my teeth.) But that’s a trick question, isn’t it? “Home is where I keep my stuff.” Beyond that, we’re getting into answers that only bring more questions. Shit, it could be worse. I could still be digging ditches, or hawking Highlights magazine to frail old ladies who couldn’t afford to keep their lights on:
Me (holding an unsolved Rubik’s cube and sitting in a half-wall cube farm among college students, doddering retirees, single moms and bored housewives, each hunched in front of a crappy CRT monitor and reading from what had to be the most insulting sales script ever. I pull my headset aside to look up at the quality assurance agent now hovering over me; the same woman who, during my hiring interview, claimed to be a “big Beatles fan,” as she coaxed two slow Hippie snaps from her fingers and nodded along to the memory of some validating song): “You heard her. She said she didn’t have enough money to pay her heating bill this month. I can’t sell her what she doesn’t need.”
Probably not a Beatles fan but definitely condescending: “Well, that’s not for us to decide, is it? Perhaps her grandchild would really benefit from a Tommy Timbertoes activity book.”
Hey, I could be homeless. I could be in jail. (Recently found: a relative’s mug shot online. All three of them.) So for now, let’s just keep the cycle moving forward. There are nights where I eat and go to bed while the sun is still shining. It’s how I fast-forward to the next chapter and get to the good part. I’m throwing hours and days on the fire just to hear the whooshing sound they make. But when I’m sleeping, I’m not eating my groceries or spending money I don’t have. And I’m not staring down into the Void or worrying about tomorrow.
When I’m not sleeping, I watch a lot of movies. Lately it’s been whole seasons of Star Trek spin-offs. Gotta love those Vulcans, man. They’ve really got their shit together. College was a waste on me. I wish I had studied philosophy, anthropology, engineering, or literature. Or maybe all of them. I wasn’t in the right place at the right time with the right mindset, but I’m lucky that I later realized how much I really love science; it’s led me to so many ideas and different fields of appreciation.
“Everything is so goddamned fascinating.” I wish I’d had this tattooed on my skin as a teen. Or maybe this: “The most important thing is to understand the meaning of your potential and ignore the obstacles. We are alive for a short time only. To have any effect on the world in which we live is amazing.”
But this time alone has allowed me to be more aware of my day-to-day headspace. I observe the gradual deployment and destruction of the spiderwebs near my front door. I can remember what I felt two weeks ago, when I put my key into the lock Friday at 6 p.m., and I try to imagine what I’ll be like when I do it again.
Been working some long nights lately, taking on more and more jobs, tasks and assignments; coming in early, staying late, and caring way more about the endless ocean tide of emails and meetings than I should. (Bummer, my best hours of the day are between 0700 and high noon. Ideas and bits of dialog come to me from nowhere while I’m driving to work, to the other side of my brain, and I have no way to accurately capture them. The finished product is nothing like the conception. It’s like nailing a fried egg to a tree.)
(Friend) <– Randomly and secretly selected. (Everyone else) <– concocts more and more brilliantly extreme methods with which to hide lines from a movie or, line by line, the text of an entire page from a book in that friend’s sight. Today’s sentence gets scrawled across the rear window of their never-washed car. Tomorrow’s will be written in a stranger’s hand along the side of their latte, courtesy of the barista you’ve bribed. The next it’ll be crumpled in Bic pen on a yellow Post-it and left on their chair. Will they pick up on it? Will they catch you? Will they get it?
Q: “Who has time for that?”
A: People whose YouTube videos of their own attempts you will watch, *like* and post on your Facebook page.
Note: Perhaps this pranks is best reserved for complete –> (Strangers.)
Anyway, my coffee’s done.