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Saturday, January 18, 2003

It was an LA sort of day.

No work, no class, no nothing had to be done, so I woke up late, finished reading the comic book I fell asleep rereading. Frank Miller's Daredevil origin story, if you're curious. I'm in love with Daredevil's hair.

And then, unclean, grumpy, smelly, I made myself sit down and write the first scene of the next screenplay. It was pulling teeth, but it got done, and I liked it. For I like the asthetics of screenwriting, even when the work is hard. I like courier font, and I like using words like golden and slide. I was writing about princesses, and imperfect worlds too, and it was satisfying to do the work. To write.

Finished my scene and found my roommate in a cleaning frenzy, scrubbing the bathroom sink at the exact moment I wanted to take a shower. But I waited, and she finished, and I got myself ready for the day.

But I didn't have much to do - cleaned out and rearranged a cabinet, took down the Christmas stuff and packed it away. I have to take out the recycling and some other stuff tomorrow. But that's tomorrow.

Sat on the couch and rewatched some Sports Night while eating like a pig - pasta, canned corn with salt, a few chocolate malt balls, a glass of milk. I haven't been eating much over the past week - too many cough drops, too much coughing - but I'm back on food. And I'd missed it.

The sun set, and I checked my messages - two from a friend, letting me know about a 7 PM showing of The Hours at a theater I love. Rushed out the door to pick her up.

We got stranded in rush hour traffic, though, and got a bit lost to boot, wandering strange streets in the heart of downtown and going the wrong way on Sunset. We missed the movie by twenty minutes, but bought tickets for the next showing and decided to kill time in Los Feliz until then.

The best way I can think to describe Los Feliz for those who don't know - I just read American Gods (on the way back from New Mexico, mostly). The modern gods of Technology and Automobiles and Media have declared war on the old gods - Odin and Jackal and Anasazi. And it's that sort of clash between the old and the new, and the main character thinks, I'd prefer a roadside attraction to a shopping mall any day.

Los Feliz, the part I love, is head shops and boutiques and diners and the Los Feliz 3 with $4.50 bargain matinees. It's not a shopping mall. It's a neighborhood, a thing built by real people. A thing with depth. It's the one part of LA I've claimed as mine, a place I belong. It's probably different for Robbie and Em and those who know LA. But that's Los Feliz for me.

We roamed the bookstore where a tail-less tabby cat lives, and since it was Friday an author was reading from a book I didn't recognize. We entered mid-story, so I couldn't really pay attention, but I liked the author's voice, its soothing tone.

I found a book I wanted and carried it around for a while before putting it back. The author broke for questions and when they asked about Joyce and the significance of the title to the characters of Mary Ann and Ginger, it became easy to guess what the book was called -Gilligan's Wake. And it became even clearer when an old man, whisps of white hair clinging to his scalp, got up and asked his own questions, and the author recognized him, announcing to us all the presence of Sherwood Schultz, who had come to get his copy signed. I wanted to tell him that The Brady Bunch changed my life. But was afraid that he'd be embarrassed.

Gilligan and Marsha Brady as legacies. It's strange to think of what we all end up leaving behind us.

Alison and I left then, the randomness reaching its peak. Killed time at the coffee shop down the street before returning to the bookstore so I could stop regretting putting the book back. Then, we walked back to the car, passing Kiefer Sutherland (dining at an outside cafe with a cell phone to his ear) on the way.

I only caught a backwards glimpse of him - Alison was the one who spotted him first. Standard operating procedure. I never recognize the people from my television. I always expect them to be much much larger.

The Hours is supposed to be depressing. I was uplifted by it, by the characters struggling with depression and fighting to choose life despite the calling of voices, the temptation of ceasing. It was standard and good in many ways, and great in some. Some days, that's all I ask for.

Dropped off Alison and took the 101 north towards home. But it was midnight and there were only a few cars in my way, and the road was smooth and curving. With a full tank of gas, then, I just kept on going north, past my exit, past Hollywood, towards Ventura. A pretty name for a place I've never been.

I kept driving until the 405, letting thoughts of what I'd write about for my poor neglected blog flow over me, ideas for poems springing for, ideas occuring. Ed Harris has this speech in The Hours about the reasons he became a writer - to capture everything, every moment, every emotion.

I'd forgotten about that. I'd forgotten about the trivial, and how not-very-trivial it can all be. My eyes too much on the prize. My concentration shot to all hell.

When you drive fast on a dark freeway, it's like flying, like sledding down a perfect snowy hill. The street lights glow orange and sweep past with the even rhythm of wheels turning, of hearts beating, of music pounding. Red lights go one way, white lights go another. And there's no end in sight.

I'm wearing the pajamas I got for Christmas, all soft cottony love, there's a taped episode of Farscape, ready to be watched, and a weekend of possibilities is before me.

To paraphrase The Hours, yet again: This moment isn't the beginning of happiness. It is happiness. And it's not perfect, but that's what makes it so.

Today was a good sort of day. A day unremarkable, a day uneventful, but a day worth remembering. If only for that.

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