October 05, 2009

(Again: the events detailed below in a sort of haphazard present tense actually took place several weeks ago.)

Tuesday I am leaving town. I am leaving town Tuesday night, to be more specific, and all day Tuesday I act like I’m leaving town that night, and like I’m going to be gone for a few weeks. This is different from how I usually act when I’m leaving town. Usually I act entirely normally until it is fifteen or so minutes before the Super Shuttle arrives, at which time I throw a bunch of things at my backpack, zip my backpack up, and hit the door. A sense of general slackness so pervades my air travel routine that I rarely even write down my confirmation number anymore. Typically I double-check what airline I’m flying on my phone while sitting in the back of whatever vehicle is conveying me to the airport, and oftentimes I become distracted by other things on my phone, so I don’t actually find out the answer to the airline question until the driver, who needs to know which terminal to drop me at, is asking, “What airline, sir?” and I am responding “UHM UHM UHM” in an attempt to kill time until my travel confirmation e-mail loads fully.

This slackness is mostly not the rule on Tuesday. Mostly I’m prepared. I am even packing a bag that is not just my backpack. This is because I realize I’m leaving for several weeks and even I understand the practical reality of needing enough stuff to last for that period of time, not because I have been visited by an angel in the night and been fundamentally and miraculously altered and become a “together” person or anything.

On Tuesday afternoon, one of our elevators is once again lined with smelly moving blankets. It makes the elevator feel like a tiny shitty recording studio that smells like machine grease. If you were going to shoot a movie about plucky working-class Irish mechanics who become a boy-band, and you didn’t do it in our elevator on Tuesday, you missed a great opportunity.

I am at Staples mailing something when the woman behind the counter tells me the Starbucks contained in that same shopping center is shuttering. I am immediately bummed out by this as I spend a ton of writing time there, and by extension, a ton of time being one of those landscape-y regulars I hope less frequent customers notice and think “That guy again?” Then I wonder why this woman knows I will be affected by this news enough to warrant her telling me in the first place. Have I ascended from a franchise regular to a whole-shopping-center regular? Does my routine have depressing ramifications for lives outside my own? She can see that I am puzzled so she reminds me that she worked at the Starbucks. Apparently she worked at both places part-time and then recently became a full-time Staples employee when she learned of the Starbucks’ impending closure. She is, it turns out, a greater whole-shopping-center regular than I could ever hope to be. I think of us as little organisms running around on the surface and beneath the skin of much larger, commerce-based life-forms, and I think if you told me the story was really about the shopping centers and their relation to each other, I could be talked into believing you.

Naturally the next place I go is the Starbucks that is not long for this Earth. Lots of local Starbucks managers are having a meeting around one big table. As the meeting begins, one woman says, “We ALL have a funny story about mocha,” and several other managers laugh knowingly. They’re then addressed by a woman who, I’m not sure, but seems to work for some sort of third-party cleaning service. Since I’ve just learned this location is closing I want her to be kind of like crime-scene clean-up for dead franchises. I want her to go from meeting like this to meeting like this, putting the figurative pennies on the eyes of fallen chain stores. She very well could just be leading a full-district annual cleaning and inspection or something, but I very much want her to be a harbinger of death. Not because I hate this store. I am sad for the lost or dislocated jobs and I spend lots of time and money here. But we live in a pretty tame version of the world, all told, and I want it to be the case that if you really squint, you can see the cowboys and cattle rustlers and doom-saying preachers in everybody.

Later, I go to an audition that is on a very high floor of a very tall building. Going up, the sleek superfast elevator makes weird stuff bubble around inside of me.

It is so week-one easy-pickings ironic that I’m sure it’s been pointed out elsewhere, but there is something just crystallinely beautiful about being an actor and getting out of an audition and then going to the reception desk and saying “Can I get validation?”

On the way down, the sleek superfast elevator makes weird stuff bubble around inside of me, and it kind of hurts this time. I hope that the building has a regular-speed non-fancy elevator for the folks that work in the mailroom and have to go up and down all day, or at least a line in the job description that says “After a few weeks, you will be a liquid.”

I run to the Apple Store to pick up an external hard drive. To the woman at the Apple Store who helpfully intercepts me and lets me purchase the drive before I can reach the actual counter, normally I appreciate the convenience of your store’s check-out-while-just-standing-anywhere-if-you’re-paying-with-a-card service, but not when it prevents me from interacting with the cute blonde cashier with glasses who I had been looking at just long enough for my internal slow-motion-and-romantic-song machine to get out the first two notes of “I Only Have Eyes For You.” That is when I don’t like that service anymore.

Later, it is my first time doing laundry since moving to Los Angeles, and don’t you DARE judge me. There are thousands of rap lyrics that glorify the kind of hustle that could make you forgo doing laundry in favor of other more critical pursuits for oh, eighty-six days. There is an entire genre of comedy movie devoted to the battles between snobs and the kind of person who could think it was okay to not do laundry for eighty-six days. Besides, I am a big believer in the cleaning power of leaving clothes around on the floor of your bedroom until you have run out of other, cleaner clothes, and that first round of floor-clothing now starts to look relatively clean to you. There is no better detergent than the constant erosion of standards.

I have dinner around the corner from our place with our friend Daniel. I hear a woman sitting near us say this sentence: “They don’t fuck many people they don’t know.” I wonder how one goes about getting a referral.

After dinner, Meggie drives me to the airport. I am going to be the first member of Derrick in Florida, with Dominic, Dan, and Meggie following me out a day or so later. I love flying red eye. The airport is charmingly low-key at night. It’s like your friend’s dad runs the airport and you get to sneak in after hours and just, like, fly wherever.

As I’m taking off my belt at security and placing it in the grey bin also containing my laptop and feeling particularly Zen, I wonder: is it this mellow because it’s late and there aren’t that many people here? Is it this mellow because I had two beers at dinner? I can’t tell. After I get through, the security line I was in shuts down for the evening.

It gets maybe too mellow when, before boarding, I buy a water bottle, then move to a trash can to throw away the receipt, then forget halfway through the move why I’m heading to the trash can, but momentum and my original intention to throw SOMEthing…but what?…into the trash can carry me, and I fling the water bottle into the garbage. With a similar degree of thoughtlessness, I quickly bend over and fish it out. I have to reach in, sure, but it’s sitting on top, it’s not like it’s lying in a POOL of anything. Then I go to the bathroom. I place the water bottle on the urinal and as I am peeing I am looking at it and my rational mind at last catches up with me and I think: Why? Why would I do that, at the outset of this critical trip, in this season of swine flu, in this enormous germ-ridden airport? This is how, after I finish peeing, I end up scrubbing down the unopened water bottle in an airport bathroom sink with soap and hot water.

Posted by DC at October 5, 2009 10:17 PM

This is certainly my favorite Tuesday. Also, next time you should lie, say you're paying with cash, and go to the counter and talk to glasses. Or maybe you have already! I wonder what you have done in real time!

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I love reading this blog :) I hope I get to see mystery team again sometime soon. I don't have the gas money to drive all the way to columbia again though :p

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"There is no better detergent than the constant erosion of standards."

that is my favorite sentence ever.

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