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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hey Nineteen: the Votes are in - the Ides have it!

Well, for having a reputation for being something to look out for, today has not been so bad on the whole. I suppose I still have a bit of time to screw things up royally, but so far I've managed to avoid death, and even do a few loads of laundry!

I give all credit to these achievements to my successfully having fallen back asleep after waking up at 8:30 in the morning. At first, I was somewhat resigned to my fate as one of the awake - planning my day, thinking about how I was out of yogurt, mentally drafting an email. But somehow my bed was warm enough and subtle enough in its insistence upon my staying that I did not even notice that I had.

When I woke up the second time, I was somehow less anxiously inclined to partake of the chores on my mental to-do list, and more ready to do them as items of practical necessity. "Get coffee" was number one on the list, so at least at the start, my eagerness to begin checking things off the list was really more chemical-based than anything else. Once that was out of the way, I could more ably slide into number 2 and beyond - the realm of the bleach.

Now I am sure I will sound like a marvel of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but I really feel much better about the uncontrolled nature of the approach of the coming week if I can use bleach-based products in a variety of manners throughout my home to gain perceived minor control over a week's worth of funk buildup. At minimum, the bathroom sink. At maximum, sinks, shower, stovetop, and hell yes that mirror is going to get a windexing. Last week's toothpaste splatter has no place in the coming week's reflection of my adult acne and new wiry gray hairs. Some folks are pious followers of major religion. Every Sunday I'm Orthodox Clorox.

Rest assured, you can come over right now and find any number of layers of funk and filth, dust bunnies procreating like rabbits (look how nicely i said that on this, the Lord's day!), and raisin bran flake particles in the cushions of my couch. I am not necessarily neat or clean, but I just like to feel like there's some sort of order on the seventh day - a resetting taking me back to a baseline so that I can slowly decay toward the slovenly again over the course of the new set of seven days. Optimistic as always!

Speaking of change and not change, being old but getting the new and then newly trying to make the old new again, this weekend has really presented me with the opportunity to explore two major themes:
1. new and old
2. birds

1. new and old
Friday, I decided to try somewhere new, and attend a game watching of my alma mater's basketball playoff game with the local alumni club at a sports bar to which I'd never been. When I walked in, I felt old, spying several young alumni who looked like they might have used fake i.d.s to even get into the bar. I also felt new, by virtue of my not knowing anyone, and slinking to a chair in the back of the circle of t.v. watchers. I was feeling generally fine, excited about this basketball game, and then someone invited me to move up and talk to people. Turns out, that guy was an old familiar face. A friend of friends, I knew of him and his exploits both professionally, in the current era of life, and collegiate, in the time when I did not know him. Saying as much made me seem creepy. Which I went on to admit - yes, I know it's weird, and I swear I'm not a stalker, but...

He was quite kind to not openly show fear, and was even kind enough to apologize for not remembering me. I assured him he should not remember me, as there is nothing in a common past to remember.
Turns out it's a lot easier to remember someone if you are an aspiring writer and they have successfully sold a screenplay. By contrast, I have achieved having a desk job, which I would guess is not something that would put me in the tendrils of the ole' college grapevine as someone to watch who is really breaking in.

As more alumni arrived, my old college awkwardness and social fear wained as my new appreciation of spending time with those with mutual interest in a sports team grew. By which I mean yes, it was happy hour! A few beers will take the edge off of any awkward social gathering.

I met an alumnus who was about a dccade older than me. He was talking about feeling old. Then we met the kids at the next table who graduated in 2008. "WHAT?!?!" was my reaction.
One kid opined, "Yeah, people always tell me I look like I'm sixteen! I get double i.d.'ed at bars!"
"My GOD you're young!" was all I could sputter.
The gentleman who had memory of our alma mater in the late 80s reminded me that I was young, by his standards, and that really, I had no right to feel old.

It was true. The common ground and conversation shifted depending on which table you were talking to, and there was a sliding scale from "knowing" to "neophyte" around the room on every imaginable topic from "college as we remember it" to "life in Los Angeles" to "remember the BEST season our team ever had?" It was somehow both strange and depressing yet very fun to have a look at mental snapshots both backward and forward at once. And talking to 22 year-olds, one a first-year med student, one not having any idea what he was going to do in life, but certain he didn't want to end up at some desk job (who would do that?!?) I realized that you cannot help sounding terribly young when you say you feel old to those who are older than you. I wanted to tell these young souls that they weren't old, they were just kicked out of the Eden that is college and were trying to reckon with the world, but that they would never really figure it all out.

That sounded like a downer, so I gave them the best advice I could - drink a lot before you are 26, because that's when your body reallllly starts to hate you for the absolute physical abuse and the hangovers turn into nightmares. Not like the kind you can fix with Wendy's and a nap, the kind that has no resolution until you are completely demoralized and have sworn you will never so willingly and callously poison your body like that again.

(You do though).

In addition to roaming from old to new to old again in that social sphere, our basketball team did the same kind of swing on us. We all thought this was our new team bringing a new attitude of dominance and assurance to the post-season. The spirits of several of our old teams, teams that had broken our hearts before, showed up. We gave up early, and never got hot like we needed to to win.

A loss we felt we'd watched before.
But new hope for the larger tournament.

Yesterday I had a similar experience of watching someone a year older than me reveal her graduation year to someone several years younger than me, and him do a horrible job of covering his shock and dismay. She called him on it, finding his visible repulsion hilarious, like suddenly being told he was talking to a 90 year-old woman, not someone with whom he was able to converse. He then tried to say he understood the pain of being older now, having graduated a while back himself. Three years is a far different time frame than nearly ten. Ten years, in fact, constitutes enough years to get its own measurement as a unit of time. The decadence of youth without the decade-ness of age.

Thank goodness that instance also included beer, the great equalizer that makes everyone 13 again.

I think it is well said by Steely Dan
Hey Nineteen,
No we got nothing in common,
No we can't talk at all.

2. birds
Today I have been in spiritual concert with birds in a manner befitting a Disney princess. I went to my car to get that coffee that topped my list, and a seagull hung overhead like an omen. When I got to the coffee place parking lot - a different seagull greeted me, its bleach-white wings signaling the possibility of cleanliness and order as it dug through the garbage can upon which it was perched. As I did laundry, I passed by the orange bird in its cage a neighbor set outside so it could enjoy the sun. The cats looked on in frustration - being taunted by such a tantilizing creature that seemed to have feathers so bright that you would be hard pressed to find a dye to accurately fake what nature had made stunning. Through the bars it gave me a knowing glance - Looks like I'm sitting in the bird bird seat today.
I smiled back.

Later, I passed a man with a parrot on his shoulder as I was driving. Then I went for a walk and nearly bumped into a hummingbird hovering around flowering plants. I noticed that its body looked fish-like to me somehow. Like if you could put the body of a dolphin in mid-air and turn it deep green, that would be the hummingbird. Hummingbird appearances are new to me since moving to California, and still strike me a bit like catching Rumplestiltskin's name. The same walk, I shared a sidewalk with a duck couple. Not a couple of ducks, a duck couple. A mallard and a lady duck, out for a Sunday stroll. They seemed like ducks in retirement. Happy, leisurely, cautious about these new young people and their noise. And then a non-bird crossed my path. A guy in a bright green jacket waited to cross the street. As I passed behind him, I noticed his jacket had writing on it. It read "Winning is for the birds." I did not understand that message quite. It did not seem literal, but did not seem ironic. I just was not sure the message I was supposed to take with me after reading.

Ducks by a body of water, no big deal. But what about at nightfall. At the grocery store?
I went to the store this evening, more than a mile from water, and a different (I assume) duck couple was crossing the parking lot in the exact path people use to cross to the store entrance. As naturally as anything, they looked like they were there to pick up a few things for the kids' school lunches.

I'm not sure what all this bird movement through my path today might mean. And if the message is that they know what is going on, maybe I should follow them more closely? Maybe they know about an impending natural disaster? Or a winning lottery number?

Can't be sure, but I hope they're not here for the ides.
Et tu, Ducky?

Here's a treat for those who feel old and who may be low on bleach.

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