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The beginning of a new year, an arbitrary designation, and I am asleep when it all changes over. It seems completely bizarre to choose this cold, empty time to start a new calendar. When are we going to give the vernal equinox its due and let that be the natural beginning? So we took down the Magritte and replaced it with Lemony Snicket. The Peanuts replaced with Monty Python. New beginnings never work with the date. They drop from the sky into unsuspecting laps. We will find new beginnings this year. Big, life-changing moments and decisions. We will be awake.
In the new year, we played Carcasonne. Ryo won. And I was trying to remember the year, but I only remember the second half. I remember the trip to England and riding our bikes around the lake in late summer and Thanksgiving in Nebraska and Iowa and waiting for Brad to finish his finals so he could relax for awhile. But I don't remember the month of April or February or when the snow melted. But wait, I remember March. I remember going to Arizona and watching spring training baseball and hiking in the desert and watching the war start.
The children love crawling on him, wrestling him to the ground, and giggling madly when he falls over and rolls onto them. They love when he throws them in the air and growls at them and tries to sit on them. He loves when they snuggle up next to him to watch movies, their incomprehensible dialogue, and dance routines. He loves when they hug him and kiss him at the end of the day and look sad that he's leaving. I hate thinking about them aging and forgetting us and wish I could find a way to keep them near.
I was thinking about entropy and watching the world descend into chaos. I was thinking about simplicity and modernity and finding a balance to make me feel healthy. It's not so easy. I want to whitewash the walls and dump all of the clutter and leave a bowl and spoon and pillow. But I want a secret door that will open to movies and books and blankets and computers and appliances. Too much. Not enough. Somewhere in the middle. I am a part of the world. I am not apart of the world. It's good to remember what I am.
Time to find a fortune-teller. Time to know the future so I can dream. I want to pack up my bags and sell off the extras and decorate a new landscape. But I feel constrained without knowing if any of this will even be possible. I will be heartbroken to leave behind the easy access to my friends and family. I have found a home here. I have come to love this city and its houses and restaurants and trees. But this place is infected with some rotten diseases that are eating away at all the parts that I love.
It isn't cold. It's Fuck Cold. Capitalized and spat out. Your spittle freezes on its way to my face. But I've layered my clothes and will sit on my hands at work. It's true Midwesterners are a little heartier and forgiving because they have to put up with a forecast that promises no higher than 4 degrees for the day. But it is not true that they aren't whiny bitches. They won't shut up about it. Yes, it's cold. It's science, people. There's nothing you can do about it. Except encourage global warming. I'm sure you'll find that easy enough.
They all want you to believe that people choose to be poor or gay or any other disenfranchised group. Poor people choose not to get jobs that provide a living wage and health insurance. Gays are choosing not to be attracted to the opposite sex because, well, that would make god happy and they obviously hate god. And if the single mothers would just track down and forcibly marry the jobless ass who got them pregnant, then there wouldn't be any children in poverty anymore. It's a good thing we've got people devoting their time to thinking of these things.
I was counting up the things we own. Adding them up, documenting them in a spreadsheet. We own a lot. They are heavy things when added up. But I don't hate that weight enough to throw it all away just yet. We weigh the good and the bad of our things. Look at them, feel them, and see how they make us feel. It's not all bad, owning things. I laughed my ass off when watching a South Park dvd last night and we switched the audio to French. The theme song in French made me glad we owned things.
It's not that I really hate them, but it just takes a tremendous amount of mental wrestling to keep myself from screaming, "Are you people insane?! Nothing you say makes any sense!" No, I don't want to eat at Perkins. No, this car is not small. It's fucking huge. No, I don't think your all-meat diet deserves my congratulations. Yes, I do think it would be fitting if your intestines rotted with cancer. You see, it's hard to enjoy a lunch when these things are running through my head. Aloofness is the best policy here. Of course, drunkenness helps, too.
It has become midnight at five in the evening as we drive this dark, straight highway. If it were light outside, we'd only see flat land and distant grain elevators and some wind farms. Not much else provides scenery on this drive to Iowa. When we get there, we sit and chat for awhile and we're far too tired to be enthusiastic about it. The dog's breath keeps us walking in circles. It's bitter cold tonight, but tomorrow will be full of sunshine and some of the snow will melt. And we will watch more VH1 than we ever imagined.
I am sort of obsessed with cleaning and reshaping and changing things right now so I sit and stare at this television station for many hours. I watch people repaint walls and sell off old junk and build shelves. I almost salivate at the thought of doing this myself. I think of the closets at home. I think of the music I never listen to and movies gathering dust and the books that are not going to be revisited. They deserve a better life with someone who appreciates them. I'll pluck them out and cast them into new lives soon.
You told me you hadn't felt that good in a long time. We spent the entire day driving through boredom, so we filled the car with amusing words. Sometimes you slept, but mostly we talked. We got angry at the world and people and laughed at some things and listened to good music. I dug up the house when we got home and unearthed some old letters. I found a page listing the attributes I wanted in a mate, written many years ago and it cracked us both up to see how very different you are from that imaginary man.
I am having a hard time finding someone from an older generation who has not forgotten everything they ever knew. Why is it so inconceivable that not everyone has a dream job? And if there is no perfect job, should you not try to get some money out of having to work? Why is this so morally reprehensible to most people? I can find endless people my age who understand this decision, but boomers are another story. When are they going to face the fact that the world is not the place they were promised when they were little children?
Okay, here's the deal. You can borrow my suitcase for your trip to Japan, but you have to find a way to stow me away with you. How can I let my suitcase go to Japan when I am not with it? It's wrong. Fine. I'll face reality. But you have to bring back a ridiculous t-shirt. Or a ridiculous little stuffed animal. Or ridiculous writing paper. That is all I ask. I'll just wait here in this frozen blandness. I'll be sitting inside watching bad television programs and thinking about all of the stuff I want to throw away.
Here's what I don't get. Why do they insist on saying the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics are contradictory? I mean, they're applied to two different scales so, to me, it seems perfectly reasonable that they would not be the same. I understand the desire to form a unifying theory to bring them together, but I don't see the frustration. All because you can't measure exactly at the subatomic scale, does not mean that a measurement cannot be exactly made at the subatomic scale. This is where the people involved need to dig down and find their inner philosopher.
The day resting in the middle is the day that everything happens without me. People are going places and leaving behind old ideas and clinging desperately to someone else's coattails and I am watching from a window. It's not meant to be a poetic description or anything profound, but just something thought up in the middle of these days. You know, it's nothing to write home about. I am spending my time hoping. People talk about hope like it is this really beautiful thing, but I think it's ugly. It's a last desperate attempt to not give in to reality.
She wants to know why despite her bets efforts, she can find no one who sees how wrong things are. Well, hell, I don't know. I am drowning in questions like that too. It's frustrating, but what can we do? We're alone with each other. It's depressing as hell. I don't know why other people think the way they do. I can't begin to understand their logic. Or maybe more accurately, I can't begin to understand why logic means nothing to them. I am consumed by it, and they are repelled by it. We've got nowhere to meet. Not now.
First we walk to the hardware store to get your hockey skates sharpened. Then across the street to the butcher shop which is teeming with people who want to sample their lamb and duck and tasty olive concoctions. We have them carve up a chunk of round roast and head out across the street to the co-op where we load up on groceries for the day's meals. The last stop is the tea and coffee shop where they're roasting this week's beans. We maneuver the burlap bags in the tiny shop and the clerk bags up our tea and coffee.
Today is a day of mendacities and questions like "Do they sell butcher's block oil at Target, and if so, am I going to wander the aisles for an hour only to discover it tucked in with mosquito spray or something?" Today is typical January cold. Today, is the day after Sunday, which was a day of family and warm homes and slow cooking large slabs of meat purchased the day before from the local butcher. They made fun of me for bragging that the meat was from grass-fed cows from a local farm, but dammit, I think that's cool.
I remember when we walked down the street toward the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis and we approached it from behind, down a quiet deserted street. What a breathtaking moment to look up and see this old hotel and immediately your eyes are drawn to the balcony. We knew exactly which balcony it was; everyone knows now. It was so ordinary and quiet and hard to imagine that was where he stood and fell. I'm always amazed by that photograph of the men all standing next to his body and pointing to where the shot came from. The choreography of tragedy.
I bet if you took all the colors of the carpet here and mixed them together thoroughly, you would come up with a color not unlike that of feces. And if you took the patterns of the fabric on the chairs and plastered it on a wall and stared at it for a few hours, you would become suicidal. And if you think about all of the ugliness and bad lighting and monotony of this place, it is a miracle that anyone ever procreates at all. Here, little one. One day, all of this depressing, bland crap will be yours.
This morning, as my car grudgingly started and quite reluctantly rolled slowly down the frozen pavement toward work, I thought about how goddamned cold it was and how it would suck to live in Alaska and then I thought about how much I used to love the show, Northern Exposure, and how they really ought to release that on dvd because I will totally buy it and then I just thought about how my fingertips were so cold and how much that sucks. Then I thought about that absolute assface behind me who was driving too damned close. People suck.
I decided to take the bus into work this morning when I saw the snow that had fallen, and that more was falling. There was no need to put myself through the annoyance of driving. So I took the bus. As it slid through an intersection, I thought, "See, if this was my car, I'd probably be in the ditch." I'm glad it snowed. It has been so cold and the snow that was already on the ground has hardened into something dark and evil. So this new, fresh stuff is nice. And I couldn't be more mundane, could I?
They go too far, which is good. Please, do not get me wrong. It is absolutely good to go too far. It is wonderful to find that first moment of offense and shock. How perfect is that moment when you realize you have lost them and they are unsure of how to respond. The game is all about language. So much of what we deem proper or acceptable or moral is so arbitrary. My father likes to discount everything I have to say because I occasionally sprinkle in unsavory words like "fuck". Who decided for all this would be unacceptable?
It turns out that my five-year old niece and my three-year old niece love the movie "Field Of Dreams". They cannot get enough of The Voice. They fast-forward to the scenes in the corn field with the whispering and they whisper along with it and talk about how spooky it is and that he is going to build a baseball field so ghosts can come and play. I didn't even know they knew what baseball was. The three-year old was most concerned in a scene where Kevin Costner was in bed shirtless. She was afraid he'd get cold at night.
When my sister drug me into the kitchen and incoherently babbled rather crazily about how we would have to stay later than my parents because she would need to "unload", I thought, "Damn, this sucks". Why do my parents have to turn completely insane now and drive us all nuts? My mother would probably say that god is using their insanity to test us and teach us something. My father would say that we cannot understand what god is trying to teach us because our weak, little minds have been brainwashed by the liberal media. See how much it sucks?
Addled, but only a little. Very bad hangnails. A little hungry and headachy and anxious. But not entirely unhappy. Mostly maybe, but that is to be expected, what with the wanting and hoping and not-wanting-to-be-here business. But that can all be figured out. Or squelched. Or some other measure. I've got so little to say and so much I'd rather do and wouldn't it be even more interesting to just count the stripes on my sweater or not count anything at all even? There are many better things than this. Like walking and not being cold. Or better yet, sleeping.
My thoughts are confined in the winter months. I only think about how cold it is. Little else is entertained. In the spring and summer my mind is unlocked and I walk around outside having all sorts of great ideas, but right now it's just cold. That's all there is. I think about riding the bus and how to walk across this bit of pavement without slipping on the ice. I think about how the condensation on my eyelashes is turning to ice. I don't think about philosophy or the beauty of things. Mostly, I just think about the cold.
This cold is keeping us locked up inside. Cabin fever is what I may be feeling. It's ninety degrees in our house and minus twenty-two outside. It's hard to know what to do with that. We keep spending our nights watching old episodes of South Park and The Family Guy and I love it, but I hate that we can't go for a walk around the lake. Winter is trying to kick our asses. So I say let's defy it. Let's go Uptown and eat salads and go to a movie. Take that, winter. You can't stop us, old man.
It's a four, maybe five year itch, we figure. You start to think about the place you live as this annoyance. Is this my home? Why am I here? That's kind of how it starts. I was in love with Minneapolis almost from the moment that I moved here in late 1998 after finishing college. But my feelings about the state in which it resides have gone from mild regard to a very active bitterness. It is time to go and find a new place to love. And let that love slowly turn to hate. The cycle must go on.
Every day is a countdown to something. We are waiting for a change less ordinary. It is all about the waiting. What should we do this weekend? I don't know, sit around and wait? We don't want to buy anything, because it will just be one more thing to move. If we move. God, I hope we move. You should call your dad and explain to him just how much we need to move and that he should tell us if it's going to happen or not. And tell him that he should definitely tell us it's going to happen.
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