Monday, 7/22/02

My apologies for the lack of blawgage recently. (I don't know why I bother apologizing. I can count the number of people reading this on one hand. Hell, even my high school shop teacher could count my visitors on one hand, and he's been a bit shorthanded since the Tablesaw Incident.) Anyway, I'm sure I've got some backlog of banality that I can lay out for you.

Let's see. Thursday was eye day. To my parents' delight, I actually asked for a specific birthday gift this year, saving them the trouble of determining which clothing I would be least likely to reject out of hand. I asked for eyeglasses. A geriatric birthday request if there ever was one. I don't wear my current glasses very often, choosing instead to spend most of my waking hours with pieces of plastic affixed to my eyeballs. My preference for contacts was not initially due to any aesthetic considerations (my personal appearance is beyond the reach of mere accessories; indeed, it can't be helped by anything less than the procedure advertised in the first Batman movie), but rather because I'm bothered by the feel of bodily adornments of any kind. Thus, my glasses grew old and stale, out of touch with both my current prescription and current fashion. And now, I must admit, the latter is the reason why I refuse to let myself be seen in them -- I hate the way they look. (My dad: "But aren't they exactly the same shape as my glasses?" Me: "Um... yeah.") I figured that glasses which were light, correct, and unhideous might get worn more often, sparing my optometrist the recurring horror of learning about my all-day corneal asphyxiation marathons.

So, first step was the eye exam. The optometrist happened to be pretty cute, I think... I mention this only because fate (or ingenious career planning on her part) had cruelly placed me in a position where she was nothing more than a blur for most of our meeting. A is worse than B, B is better than C, prescription written, off I went. My parents then accompanied me to the eyeglass shop to select a frame. My mom, unhappy that my prescription didn't come with a layman-friendly 20/whatever rating with which she could brag proudly and precisely about her son's optic impotence, demanded an impromptu estimation from the eyeglass clerk. I was positioned, lenses were removed, and I was pointed at the now-familiar alphabetic pyramid on the wall. Clerk: "What's the lowest line that you can read on the chart?" Me: "I can't see the chart." From this, it was determined that I could see at twenty feet what a normal person could see at 400 feet, provided that said person had spent the last ten minutes staring directly at the sun or reenacting the final scene of Oedipus Rex. A frame was chosen, glasses were ordered, and thus concluded Thursday's excitement.

Friday. On Friday, I met up with André, freeloaded more food off of his mom's ever-generous refrigerator, and was shown the website for his latest corporate venture. Another company. André hasn't merely grabbed the American entrepreneurial spirit; he sunk his teeth in and impaled himself with a rusty nail. I wouldn't be surprised if he goes his entire life without ever having been anyone's "employee".

In the evening, we watched Waking Life, which was rather interesting, almost unexpectedly so; it certainly demanded much more concentration than a "kick-em-in-the-face", as my dad derisively refers to one of my favorite genres. (A former boxer, my dad considers the only proper display of aggression to be a fist to the jaw. For me, on the other hand, aggression is properly displayed by walking away seething and holding a grudge for a year. Neither is ideal, of course, but he uses my technique more often than I use his.)

The remainder of the evening was spent with André, Genna, and massive quantities of gin. Although we were merely playing the latter, rather than consuming it, it still left us oblivious to the passing hours. I found myself driving home at four, demolishing my precariously balanced sleep schedule. Back to spelling "morning" with "p" and "m".

Saturday was jam day. Sam had invited Donna and me over for a lively afternoon of fruit preservation. Since Donna had found her own means of transportation, I decided to simply walk the ten miles to Sam's house. (For some reason, people keep thinking that there's something outrageous about that sort of thing. In this age of day hikes and StairMastery, the use of feet to propel oneself to an actual destination is uncommon to the point of social unacceptability. The proper process, apparently, would be to drive to the gym, stand on a treadmill for a couple hours, and then drive to Sam's.)

We came bearing raw material for the day's activity; namely, bags of home-grown plums. The fruit had been plucked from its arboreal cradle via a frustrating process wherein, with each plum I grabbed in my hand, three more would rain down around me and split on the ground. The deer ate well that night. And not just the deer -- the next day brought the vaguely unsettling sight of small birds whose heads were drenched with crimson juice, shaking fleshy bits from their beaks like buzzards fresh from a carrion feast. Even Hitchcock would have been slightly disturbed.

Anyway, Saturday was spent eviscerating fruit and mashing, boiling, sweetening, and jarring the pulpy remains. Much fun was had by all. Sam commented that she might get too much respect for what is essentially a rather straightforward process; apparently, the beneficiaries of this activity are invariably delighted with their gift of homemade jam, even though jam-making is not so much difficult as it is unusual. I personally think that embracing the unusual is reason enough for respect, but I'm unusual in that way. Regardless, Sam already earned my eternal respect when she sewed curtains for our kitchen window. I haven't found many other people who view unemployment as an opportunity for random creative projects.

Sunday, in contrast, was uneventful. (I mean, in contrast to the previous few days, not to the rest of my life, which has for the most part been asymptotically approaching some sort of absolute zero.) I cleaned and mopped and sorted and engaged in other forms of domestic puttering which no doubt would have reaffirmed my reputation for rectal retention had anyone been around to witness. I lent some editorial assistance to the new AndréCo website; hopefully, André is better at "executing core strategies" than he is at phrasing and comma placement. A sudden unaccountable impulse compelled me to make a spontaneous trip to our friendly neighborhood Happy Donuts and bring back a baker's dozen for the house. Happy Donuts for everyone! My resolution to not actually consume any myself managed to persist for several hours before ultimately caving in to a glazed old-fashioned.

At Rahul's insistence, I continued to slog my way through A Prayer for Owen Meany, which, despite the almost astonishingly continual stream of wonderfully clever and humorous prose, is about 400 pages longer than my attention span. Instead of following the classic advice of Lewis Carroll's Red King, Irving tells the beginning, middle, and end of his story all at once; if a typical novel is analogous to a curtain being drawn back over a world, Irving's style proceeds like the opening of a Venetian blind. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, and it makes for some great connections that would otherwise be chronologically impossible, but it does require an inordinate amount of concentration and perseverance. Instead of simply hanging on to see what lurks around the next corner, the reader must keep track of the entire story at once, as the details gradually get filled in like an interlaced GIF loading over a slow connection. It no longer surprises me that when Rahul's "book club" convened to discuss the novel, only Rahul himself had read more than half of it.

That's it for recent events. What else?

Well... I've been generally quite unhappy for the last couple weeks. How's that for honesty? It might not be entirely due to my current living/employment/social/self-worth situation; the previous month was spent in an inexplicably cheerful mood, and the situation was just as bleak then, if not more so. For all I know, my moods are governed by the phase of the moon, or sunspots, or the shedding of my uterine lining, or whatever. But I seem to be succumbing to a creeping despondency, an emerging acknowledgment that there is, literally, nothing at all in my life right now that I am happy about. And, really, there hasn't been for the last three years. And there is nothing at all on the horizon.

I know, I know, I know that compared to, say, the plight of starving, decrepit Calcuttan orphans, my life is some sort of paradise. That's the universal response to self-pity, employed by mothers of lachanophobic tots everywhere. Fine. It's just... I wish I had something or someone to look forward to each day.

I don't like any of this. I don't know how to find something to like. I'm not sure what I'm living for.

Whine, whine. See Bret. See Bret brood. Brood, Bret, brood. But it's true. At least I'm trying to be honest. I like honesty. I'm just not very good at it.

Despair is a nasty beast. (Although I was not aware until recently that she is a automasochistic relative of Jabba the Hutt who buys her jewelry at the bait n' tackle shop.)

If only happiness were as easily purchased as its eponymous donuts. I'd buy some for everyone.