Secret Pop

Sep 26, 2004

How it came from there to here

It was three years ago today that I showed up for my first day of work at my new Los Angeles job. I had driven up from San Diego the night before and stayed at a hotel with my mom so we could go apartment hunting together. I was wearing a sleeveless black turtleneck and these sort of dark greenish-brownish cigarette pants. The woman in HR took my picture with a Polaroid camera and put the photograph on the bulletin board with all the other employees. I remember being surprised that I didn't look horrible in it. I actually looked very thin. It had been a trying month. And I had lost my appetite. My day started late and ended early, and I drove back home to San Diego that night. Still so many loose ends to tie up. Packing to do. I met my friend Jennifer, and we went to Nunu's and had a drink or two. A guy kept smiling at me at the bar. But I didn't know what to do with that. We left when someone we knew but didn't want to see walked in. And the guy who had been smiling at me followed us out and said good night to us. I have nearly no recollection of him.

How we muddied what seemed clear

How can it have been three years. Already. It's something old people say. How time flies. It's not something you pay attention to when they point it out to you. You don't listen to the lyrics to Sunrise, Sunset and go, "I know, right?" But then all of a sudden you're looking back on something that has grown so very small in the distance. Something that used to fill the horizon. To all four corners. Something you couldn't see past or climb over or work around. All of a sudden you are giant and it is miniature, and you could smash it if you wanted to, but it is too far away to reach. All of a sudden you're out in the middle of nowhere. The last gas station for miles is well behind you. And everything looks the same in every direction. There is no difference between forward and back. Except whether you will have the sun in your eyes. When I let my memory catch me up, there are great stretches of ugly. A word. A phrase. Something that still stings when I hear it. Even in recall. Moments that can stop me dead in my tracks and make me ask myself how I ever got past that or why I ever let myself. Sure, I'm only flesh and blood. I'm no monument. I'm no glorious amalgam of perfect things. But there's flesh and blood and there's flesh and blood. And one of those pairs is weaker than the other. I spent a lot of time thinking I was saving something good. Spent. Wasted. Semantics. You could challenge the words I choose. And you would be right to. I go digging for things, and I worry too much about the dirt under my fingernails and too little about where I'm going to put all the dirt I've displaced. It's not like these questions answer themselves. And yet they do. Even if you don't ask.

Were we just doomed from the start

Were we just doomed. Were we just. I don't believe in fate. I don't believe in what is meant to be. I don't trust that things always work out. I mean, they do, of course. But not according to some plan. They just work out how they work out. But it isn't predetermined. You can totally fuck it up. That's the easy part. It's making sense of it -- or making lemonade out of it -- that weighs you down. I like to watch Iron Chef. I like the fact that the chefs are given some specific ingredient to dress up. I like that they have to make the best of whatever it is. They have to make the best of scallops or lamb or beets. It's not their fault if you don't like those things. They didn't pick it. I like the automatic absolution of that surrender. Maybe I just like being able to blame someone else. Or maybe I like the fantasy of an even playing field. Maybe I just like Japanese things. I'm not so complicated as all that.

We all get what we deserve

I believe that and I don't. Maybe I believe some version of it. "We all manage to deserve what we get." Some backwards business. The placement of a verb. I think therefore I am. I am therefore I think. Chicken. Egg. I like them over easy. I think the idea of deserving things is egotistical and Western and illogical in the grand scheme of things. It makes you penitent for no good reason. It makes you feel persecuted by happenstance. It makes you sorry, or it makes you feel entitled. It makes you think you are bigger than everything around you and that you MATTER and that some force in the universe is dialed in to what you are doing. I only wish there was something fair about the way things work out. Some form of justice. Some form of equanimity. I wish I could see the balance for the scales.

There are days when the light hits true

Yesterday, I took Arthur to LACMA, and we looked at the Robbert Flick exhibit ("Trajectories: The Photographic Work of Robbert Flick"), and I really liked it, and I bought the exhibit catalog. Early on in my time here, there was a contemporary photography exhibit at LACMA that included one of his sequences on Pico Blvd. I loved the piece then, but I wasn't as famliar with Pico as I am today, and when I couldn't find things on it that looked familiar, I thought to myself that I had more driving to do. When I saw the three pieces on Pico Blvd. yesterday, I found all sorts of things I recognized. All sorts of businesses that I drive by and know. That record store I keep meaning to patronize. The dry cleaner with the fancy ampersand in the logo. I know which side of the street they are on. I know which direction the camera is facing without having to read the caption. That's what three years of living here will get you. And that's not nothing.

Afterwards, Arthur taught me to play cribbage on the grass, and I almost won.

I also almost went to the Rustic with Arthur and his friend, but Josh and I got to Zach's party later than I had planned, and by the time we had said our hellos and gotten through a drink or two, it was nigh on last call. So we stayed put for a while. And I stopped trying to map the mystical progression of conversation topics that happens when you're standing somewhere with a drink in your hand. The police found a dead body in the trunk of a car near where Yun lives. Paul is considering becoming a vegan after seeing a documentary called Earthlings. Josh believes George Bush is going to be re-elected, even though none of us wants it to be so. Roz is a public defender. Eric chooses vodka, too. Geoffrey had an unusual UFO-shaped steel drum thing in the trunk of his car. You play it with your hand, and it sounds very pretty. Mario is very direct. By the end of the night, it's no wonder you can't remember people's names. Chances are you never heard them.

If the sun's too hot, well then sit in the shade

Another lost summer. I don't know that this one was particularly cruel. It had its moments. I made plans and sacrifices and commitments and progress. I saw flames rekindled and extinguished. Friends rediscovered and re-lost. Promises made and not made. Promises made and broken. Surprises. Delights. Glimpses of the unexpected. I cut my hair. I started over. I went swimming. This summer left marks on me. It lingers.

Given the chance I still defer.

No comments: