Thursday, September 18, 2008

About love.

It was about one in the morning when I found I'd had about all I could stomach. I'd been trying to write, but between my roommate playing an aggressively annoying video game and a deep creative malaise, I was a bit beside myself. I opted, therefore, to go for a walk to clear things out.

So I wandered the streets for about forty-five minutes, in a meandering criss-cross with no particular objective. I had just resolved to head home when I heard a faint jingling noise getting louder by the second. I glanced over my shoulder to see the tiny outline of a cat, practically galloping over from a couple blocks down a well lit parking lot.

I immediately knew I was in trouble. Cats are my weakness. There is absolutely no better way to distract me for a long period of time than by putting a cute cat in front of me. This situation proved no different. Against better judgement, I crouched down and waited as it ran over to me. It seemed incredibly affectionate, which suggested to me, along with the jingling, that this cat had a place to call its own. I gently reached below it's neck and looked at the name tag. It read Lucy.

Lucy was being phenomenally playful and lively for this late hour. She spent a good two or three minutes there on the dimly lit sidewalk with me, jumping at me, meowing happily, and licking the back of my hand as I'd scratch her neck or stroke her back. For those few minutes, I was maybe as happy as I'd been in months, just me and Lucy playing around at two in the morning.

After this went on a little longer, I realized I needed to say my goodbyes and get out of there. I've desperately wanted a cat my entire life, but my mother's allergies, and now the security deposit figures on my apartment, have always made that impossible.  The downside of this cat brightening my life for those brief moments, I knew, would be the deep melancholy that would set in after we'd part. I wouldn't be able to shake it for a while. It always happens when I'm around a sweet cat. And this one was making like she'd known me all her life.

I gave her a quick nuzzle goodbye and rose, spinning on a heel, determined not to end up in too morose a mood. As I expected, Lucy trotted after me for a few steps before stopping. I kept going. Then, after about twenty seconds, I heard her collar ringing again and looked over to see her following me, not behind me, but walking alongside me down the sidewalk. At one point she darted into somebody's garden, so I'd figured she'd reached her home. She continued strolling alongside me through the garden, though, and then leapt out and trailed me a bit more cautiously as I walked up the steps to my apartment. Sure enough, though, when I looked down at my feet as I was digging around for my keys, there was Lucy roping around my shoes. My roommate was still up inside playing Final Fantasy, so the lights were all on. As if sensing an invite, Lucy parked herself in front of my door, occasionally crooking her head at me and meowing.

I was in agony. Maybe not complete agony. Just partial agony. But I knew what was and wasn't reasonable as far as the situation was concerned, and as much as I'd fallen for her and wanted to let her in, there's a big ethical leap between somebody's kitty following you home and you letting it come inside. That's straight up catnapping. Or at least a concerted attempt to cause cat stockholm syndrome.

I knocked on the door and my roommate opened it for me. I excitedly showed him the adorable creature staring wide eyed into our apartment from behind our screen door. "I've got a cohort," I told him, grinning.

"Oh, hey," he replied. If he was interested, he was doing a good job hiding it. And that somehow made me feel worse. I opened the screen door, and edged inside, shutting it behind me. I stared back out at Lucy for longer than I probably should have; prolonging the goodbye was just masochism at that point. I felt like I was going to cry; it was the same basic emotion that would normally cause me to flush out the old tear ducts, but I was somehow too aware of the oddness of the situation to let that impulse reign. I closed the door softly, not wanting to scare or surprise her. I think on some level I wanted her to remember my apartment fondly. As sad as I am now, it'd be terrible never to see her again.


After this was written, I heard a jingling behind my door. I went outside and played with her on my porch for another fifteen minutes or so. I can't help it. I'm a sucker for punishment when the crime is that cute.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Why I get out of bed in the morning.

It's a trick title. Given my lifestyle as an unemployed youth who's obligations, both paid and unpaid, come in quick bursts, it's not unusual for me to be out late into the night and rouse myself a little past noon. That said, I trust the spirit of the title will remain intact.

I've found myself approaching a saturation point as far as the presidential election this year is concerned, but it hasn't been a process that has left me bored or cold with the whole thing, but rather it has pushed me against a psychological wall. The stakes, for me, seem very high to begin with, obviously. I view the potential of a McCain/Palin administration as about the least attractive thing since, well, the Bush/Cheney administration, except it'll be a new dynamic of awful so I won't be able to deflect the indignity of it all as easily.

My big concern though, and admittedly selfish one, is that if the GOP's gamble pays off and somehow voters are so charmed by Sarah Palin that they swoop into office, I'm not sure what will happen to my brain. I think I might suffer a legitimately damaging psychological or emotional trauma from such a happening. It speaks to a general distrust I have of the values and voting records of a portion (I guess a large enough portion to deliver two heavily contested elections) or the country in which I live. It's an isolating feeling; I've grown up in the Bay Area my entire life, which is irrefutably one of the biggest liberal communities in the United States, and while I tend to think of my own political views as being developed and not inherited, it does create a jarring sort of dual experience. 

I have never, over the course of my life, been in a large room of people who I knew were political conservatives. I've probably never been in a room where there was a half and half balance in a large group. So I've grown and thrived in an environment that, if sometimes more in intention than in function, reflects many of my views and desires in the political realm. This creates a brutal contrast, though, when a man like George W. Bush is elected. I was just fourteen his first year. I had, even at that point, identified him as a cancerous politician. The idea of voting for a man because he seems like your buddy that you'd invite over to a barbecue struck me as stupid at age fourteen, but apparently carried enough weight to land Bush in the white house. Granted he dealt with some last minute tumult in Florida (you can likely deduce my stance on that situation), but he was in, and now I had to live with him.

I started out hoping the best that I felt I reasonably could hope; that Bush would be a terrible president (which was a certainty), but that he would be most impactfully terrible on people other than me. There ought to be a limited number of ways a jackoff president can screw you when you're a white fourteen year old with a passable amount of money in your wallet, I reasoned. And for a while there, it seemed like I was correct.

One morning I didn't get out of bed was September 11th of 2001. I was, gosh, a sophomore in high school then, so I guess I had Social Issues first period. My then girlfriend was in that class, and I was starting to smell blood in the water that she might dump me. I was exhausted on top of it, and didn't want to face the school day, so I lamely suggested to my mother, who had knocked on my door to wake me like every morning, that I was tired and didn't feel like going to school. Oddly, she and my dad offered no protest. I would learn after another three hours of slumber about the World Trade Center going down.

After the attacks everything about the Bush administration took on a familiar, sinister edge. It was the edge of a type of power that I could find no philosophical agreement or comfort with. This feeling towards the president, and indeed a feeling which perverted what I considered the office of the president to ideally embody, has stuck with me from then till now. From when I was a fourteen year old starting out in high school to now, I have lived under the Bush administration, and I've hated it. I've hated what it's done to our country, what we've done to other countries, and what it's done to my optimism. There's been such a constant downpour of offensive stink off of everything I've watched this government do over the past eight years that I find myself incapable of relating as the next election looms near.

I realized it was becoming a problem during the Republican convention. As I was driving home, I listened to Rudy Giuliani on the radio, enticing the St. Paul crowd into the chant of "drill, baby, drill!" I punched the radio off in disgust. Minutes later I strolled into my living room to find a woman from Alaska, among others things, thrash community organizers, cause I guess trying to do good work in your community is, uhm, stupid? And then I listened to a slate of pundits talk about how energizing and transformative her speech was.

All I can say is... really? This again? All of these folks are going to vote, again, for somebody who boasts little to no stated policy positions, but seems like a good ol' boy from the neighborhood? To be fair, Sarah Palin specifically called out the "good ol' boy" establishment, but that ignores the fact that she embodies many if not all of the values of that group; she's a conservative, pro-life (even if your dad rapes you), NRA sponsored hunter who thinks that global warming in a myth. She's basically a... good ol' gal, I guess? Also, she has too many kids. Overpopulation, man. I bet Sarah Palin was the kind of person who would play Oregon Trail on the Mac Classic and shoot waaaaaay too many buffalo. "You shot 1565 pounds of buffalo... but you could only carry 225 pounds of it back to your wagon!"

In any case, as the election gets closer, I've begun to see a worsening in my nerves. I recently picked up a copy of Obama's book The Audacity of Hope, cause I was at an airport and needed something to read. I was struck rather quickly by what a great writer he is, and in a distinctly different and more thoughtful way than he even appears in interviews and such. I got about a hundred pages into it, and then something happened. I couldn't read any more. I was enjoying the book so much that somehow it didn't feel safe to keep reading. Until I actually know for a fact that that's the man who's going to be taking over, I feel like reading his work is opening me up to sustain an additional wound. If America won't elect an Obama now, after eight years of what's almost universally seen as a train wreck presidency, I can't envision a scenario in which we ever will. And the idea that Sarah Palin could ultimately be what stands in the way, well, that'd be enough to send me to the mental hospital.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Splish splash.

I am presently sitting in my bathtub. The tub is not full of water, though, because it's not a comfortable enough tub to warrant a bath anyways, and it's also 6:30 in the morning. The water would also not be recommended thanks to my obvious desire to blog from a bathtub. So, the question might linger, assuming for a moment that I have living, breathing readers, why?

In truth, I don't have a great reason. Perhaps a rundown of my last twenty-four hours, even if it fails to illuminate why I'm sitting fully clothed in a bone dry bathtub when I should be asleep, will put you in a state of mind in which you can better understand. Or not.

I lied when I offered (or rather proposed) to tell my last twenty-four hours. Well, I didn't exactly lie, but I didn't wake up till two in the afternoon yesterday, so the first chunk of that time is me sleeping in my dirty, oversized bed in my dirty, disorganized room. The recent streak of hot days has reminded me why I cherish the bay air the way I do; I can't help but cure under my breath when I wake up to find I'm already coated in sweat. My room traps heat, and sometimes my roommate who sleeps against the window will not open/close it in the appropriate situation. This particular day the temperature wasn't awful, though.

I awoke to a phone call from a friend who wanted to hang out. This plan, as it turns out, went off without a hitch. Sitting on a couch and watching a friend play a video game while you skim through any and every news article that you can find that day is a good time killer, and it doesn't take a terrible lot of planning. Just one part sloth and one part curiosity. I began eying the clock at around four, and pulled out my phone to place a call. I found that I had a few missed calls, as I forgot to switch the ringer on after the preceding night's rehearsals. I dialed up notorious friend of the blog Carla Zilbersmith to confirm plans we'd made the week before. At 7:00 PM, I left my home to head to Albany and meet her.

I had decided to cross the Richmond Bridge at the precise moment the sun would reflect directly off my side mirror into my eyes. It wasn't dangerous exactly, but I suddenly felt exhausted when the bright glare vanished, almost as if I'd been on a limited stipend of energy, and the extra effort in keeping vision on the road had sapped me. I ended up parking my car an absurd distance from Carla's apartment, mainly because I circled the whole street and block once and couldn't find a better spot, despite the fact that there were plenty of spots when I walked down towards her apartment. I had clearly somehow proven an incompetent parker. I felt reflexively regretful about this when I met up with Carla and her son, Mac- despite the fact that Carla has a motorized wheelchair, there's a certain melancholy in knowing your inefficient parking has inconvenienced somebody for whom transportation in general is clearly more difficult than anybody would hope.

We ended up dining at a very nice Chinese restaurant in Oakland. We ordered three different items, but Mac was the only one who really made a dent; both Carla and I seemed to be grazing through our food, each of us as deliberate as a priest weighing the pros and cons before ducking into a strip club. In truth, while I wasn't phenomenally hungry, I likely wouldn't have eaten that much even if I was. I was much too busy chatting it up with Carla and Mac, which is something I don't get to do often, exactly, although we do cross paths with a decent frequency. For the record, though, the hot and spicy tofu was still quite good.

After dinner we went back to Carla's apartment, and they invited me up for a bit. I went up, had a cup of tea, and continued to shoot the shit, as they say. Mac showed me how to use the webcam on my computer, but seeing as most of my friends with webcams live within a stone's throw, I'm not sure how much use I'll get out of it. 

I must digress for a moment. The hard surface of the tub has begun to cramp my legs. I shifted my weight to help it a little, but I'm clearly living on borrowed (or stolen) time. My legs will soon be numb if I don't stand up...

I left Carla's at around 10:20 or so. I jetted back to my apartment where I spent another few hours chatting with friends and drinking only the finest of chilled, bottled water before they started heading to sleep. Thanks to my late start to the day, I couldn't follow their example; I found myself alarmingly untired. I continue to be. There's a guy sleeping on my couch, so I didn't want to make a ruckus in the living room. There's a roommate sleeping in my room, so clacking computer keys there isn't ideal. So here I sit, crunched into this tub, completing the self-fulfilling prophecy; I'm writing about why I'm in the tub, but the only real answer is cause I couldn't write anywhere else.

P.S. - I also read the first twenty pages of Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope in this tub before grabbing my laptop. I bought it yesterday, along with a copy of the U.S. Constitution and an issue of SLAM magazine. I highly suggest, should you read these three things as I have, that you follow this order: Constitution, SLAM issue, Audacity. It's just better that way.