Secret Pop

Dec 12, 2006

The center cannot hold.

Dog on my lap. Sun in the glass. Cloudy, non-specific sense of urgency somewhere in my chest or throat. Nothing out of the ordinary. I am guilty of not counting days when they are beautiful. Of waiting for the streets to be wet with rain before I appreciate them for not having been.

This is my favorite weather. Even on the days when it rains. This time of year is the one that makes a year seem like a year. When my hands need pockets for warmth. When indoor climates are more unpredictable than outdoor ones. No matter how cold it gets, there is nothing more unpleasant than overheat. I've never been burned by acid or bitten by a wolf or drowned or electrocuted or stabbed much. But I'm pretty sure there is nothing worse than sitting indoors in a place where the heat is on too high. The stuffy injustice of everyone around you flushed and sweating in cashmere and too many layers of t-shirt. I prefer the cold to lead me to warm drinks and fireplaces and maybe an outdoor heat lamp. But let the heat be localized. Please oh please let the heat be localized.

This year, I haven't been to Vegas. I haven't had a car accident. I haven't gotten a parking ticket. I haven't gotten my camera fixed. I haven't learned a new language. I haven't baked a cake. I haven't sent a handwritten letter. I haven't left the door wide open, even when it was unbearably hot. I never said these were things I wanted or needed to do. But I notice their presence on an imaginary checklist. And I notice the absence of checkmarks.

I went to the art supply store near my apartment today. I hadn't been all year. They've moved everything around. It's easy enough to figure out where things are, but none of it is where it was. The aisles with the pads of paper and notebooks are marked by shelves that seem taller than the others. When you walk amongst them, it's like being in a forest. Some secret place. And when the guy with the two piercings coming out of the corners of his mouth asks if you need help, it startles you. Because it felt like you were the only one in the world in need of paper for drawing.

After a bath, I put lotion on my arms that I haven't used since 1996 or 1997. The fragrance is aggressively familiar. I remember putting on this lotion in my bedroom in the house that later burned down. I remember listening to CDs while I got dressed. I remember looking in that vast mirror and wishing there was more light. I remember sitting in the corner at a small drawing desk I no longer have and writing something rhymey by the light of a clip-on lamp. I remember seeing the moon through beige blinds above a grove of eucalyptus trees. And finding ways to write about it without saying the actual words. Sometimes, I sit in the bath with a book and lament the eventual loss of the bubbles and the heat and the perfect sultry stillness. Sometimes, I sit there and just wait for the bath to be over. As if it's something to endure. Bored, but unwilling to let all that hot water go to waste.

My mother says, when you're staying in a hotel, to take lots of hot baths. That's what you're paying for.

It's well into December and I'm nowhere near ready for it.

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