Friday, November 24, 2006

Letter to a Friend


Dearest Friend,

Right now I'm at my mothers house in Placerville. There is a thick stillness everywhere save the kitchen, where a knife slices against a wooden block and green onions fall into pieces. My mother is cooking thanksgiving dinner, her husband, Gary, is outside mowing the lawn. I was watching an Arrested Development marathon on the 13” in my bedroom, but she wanted to record a dog show on the DVR so I had to make an exit to the living room, where the baby grand sits in the corner and the creepy illumination of a Thomas Kincaid painting hangs above an antique bookshelf. It is a centerpiece and it has its own light attached to the top so it’s always on display, whether or not anyone is looking. I think it was a Christmas present from a few years back.

My brother isn’t here this year, he is in Phoenix with his fathers side of the family. I imagine right now he is pretty bored. Possibly even more bored than me. He says he is going bird watching tomorrow. He says it is apparently some kind of sport. He told me that the guy he is going with, a friend of his fathers, has an ipod filled with different bird calls, and he listens to them when he isn’t out “watching,” and sometimes he takes a microphone and attaches it to his ipod so he can play the various calls in order to lure certain birds when he does. It all sounds silly to me, but it takes all kinds, right?

Yesterday when I arrived it was dusk and as the bus rolled into the Sacramento Greyhound depot all the streetlamps poured their pale yellow light onto the city. Entire families pushed and shoved their way through the station. It was packed. I bet Greyhound makes a lot of money during the holidays. The bus ride itself was only slightly uneventful, though the evenness of the trip was interrupted by an old man and his dog. The bus was full and two young Cal students, each carrying guitars, were having trouble finding seats. The old man sat in his own row, his dog occupying the other seat, on the window side. One of the students asked if he could sit there, explaining there were no other seats on the bus. The old man refused. I paid $79 for that seat, he said. It cost more than my own ticket, he said, then he held up the stub and pointed at the charge. The student pleaded with him. I’ll let him sit on my lap sir, I love dogs. Please? The old man continued to refused, pointing again at the ticket stub then saying, can you believe that? It cost more than my own ticket. They charged me more for my dog than for me. It’s insanity! The student looked crushed, his guitar a great melodic burden strapped to his shoulder. His friend stared in disbelief at the old mans stubbornness, his unwillingness to budge. I was actually impressed by it. I would have given up my seat, and just sat in a bitter heat the entire ride. The old man though, he was having none of that. Eventually the student found a seat in the front, next to a larger woman who probably took half his area with her size. I went back to my book. And that was the end of any excitement on the bus.

(When we all got off I saw the students standing in the lot, playing their guitars, singing folkish songs. It made me smile. Fucking hippies, I thought.)

I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother dying. But I guess she was old and led a great life so it isn’t such a bad thing. As for your question, yes, I have seen a dead person. Nothing as intimate as what you experienced though. It was the brother of a kid I sort of knew. This was in elementary school. He had hung himself, I think he was around 16. I saw him at the wake, I walked up like everyone else to pay my respects, even though I had never met him when he was alive. He looked calm, and sort of green. I waited for a second as I stood over his casket, sure he was going to open his eyes, but of course, he didnt. Then my friend nudged me and I moved along, embarrassed that I had stood so long staring at him. It was sort of uncomfortable, with most everyone in tears. I felt nothing though, I hardly knew the guy.

It sounds like an intense experience, spending those last hours with your grandmother. Like watching the earth rotate while you stand still. Trippy.


*****************************

Now I'm “downtown” at a Starbucks and I have a grande coffee but I didn’t put enough sugar in it so its sort of bitter. I just smoked a spliff and I'm stoned and anxious. Kids are everywhere. So are their parents. Some cute Mexican chick just asked me to look up a payless shoe source in Placerville. My mother told me most of the poor people in Placerville are Mexican, so I guess that’s why shes buying cheap shoes. I looked it up and gave her an address and now I'm ignoring her because I don’t feel like going through anymore google searches for shit I don’t care about and I can tell she uses her looks to get guys to do all kindsa crap they don’t want to. she has big tits and a pot belly and walks with a slight waddle. I think shes pregnant. But what do I know?

I had to do some work, that’s why I'm here. my mom doesn’t have any internet access at her house, shes quaint and cozy that way. I don’t know how she does it. she doesn’t have call waiting either. Its like shes a museum. Were I to live here I would just die. I'm disconnected enough as it is, I couldn’t bear to survive without access to wikipedia or gmail. I'm a modern man. I own a cell phone with a PDA. I have tivo. An ipod. Wireless internet. I couldn’t make it without the long fiberoptic arms of today. I cant see how anyone does.

So anyway, I have to send in all these forms for records we have coming out in February. I don’t have enough of the info from labels though, so basically I'm just stuck here staring at the computer screen. This work needs to be done by Monday though, or we’re fucked. I'm already broke enough as it is. $300 short on rent. No dough in the pipeline either. At times its like I'm choked with worry, but I don’t even have the time to suffocate. I have to keep on moving, keep on floating down the stream. I have no idea how I'm going to come up with the money. I suppose ill just sell some old records on ebay. Maybe hustle my cute little ass down by the docks. We’ll see. We’ll see.

Damn dude, whats with Michael Richards? He really lost it didn’t he? My girlfreind thinks hes crazy. Maybe so. Either way his career is a wrap. He’ll have about as much chance to score a new sitcom as OJ Simpson now. You lose Cosmo Kramer, hope you enjoyed your run. Douchebag. I cant even watch Seinfeld anymore, which sucks, because I truly love Seinfeld. That shit cracks me up.

My mom hates Jessica Simpson. Loathes her. Just FYI.

Maybe ill write more later. I dunno. I'm bored and tired though, and this letter isn’t that interesting, so ill drop it and try to do some work. I hope you guys had a great holiday. Love to all.

-jon

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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at downtownalleys.blogspot.com.