Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mommy, what makes men drum in the back of a parked truck in downtown Northampton on a Sunday evening?

And what makes a man videotape them? And what makes a man use the word videotape instead of whatever phrase describes shooting a movie with a digital camera? I slept until 3PM, well, 2PM, today and awoke to my door buzzer. Emily was returning the bag I'd left in her car last night containing a picture frame, an umbrella, and one warm can of Miller beer. The detritus of an evening of altered identities and mental states for morning-after forensic analysis.

I made a scrambled egg burrito and then headed to Northampton Coffee for a cappuccino and a lemonade at 5PM. I felt none of the usual guilt about sleeping away a Sunday, drunk with the heady luxury of that extra hour added to the day. This gift of an hour gives humans an illusory sense of power over time, as if we had any control. Sure, we invented these measures of time; minutes, hours, days, so we could have dentist appointments, and we can use our invention to pull this daylight savings time jazz, but sister this won't buy you time in the end. If your moment of death occurs right when the clocks go back, you don't get a reprive. Never mind the whole leap year racket. As the Beatles said, number nine, number nine, number nine. We're just monkeying with the instruments. Nevertheless, it's a great illusion and today felt long despite my scandalous sleep-in.

Usually I feel like I've robbed myself of life's precious and finite weekend hours. But lately I realize that I needn't see the weekend as separate from the work week because A. they frequently bleed together and B. why not just BE all the time wherever I am instead of framing some time as mine and some as "on the clock?" I've read about taking this approach with "waiting" in line or in traffic and it makes plenty of sense. Don't think of it as waiting. Don't focus on getting to the cashier and twitch and fidget. Try to be in line. BE in line. Look around. Listen to what people are saying. Monitor the culture. Gather some anecdotes. It makes me feel powerful not to allow a situation to get the best of me and look around at all the willing victims who have yet to reach CVS-line enlightenment. I think about elevators and stairs this way too. They are not merely a means to an end. If life is about the journey and not the destination, then what better metaphor is there than a staircase, an escalator, or an elevator? The epitome of a failure to grasp this idea is those ridiculous segueways (ala Paul Blart: Mall Cop) that rob us of our walking.

The video below evokes the concept of transport as its own reward (as well as offering a clever tool against obesity.)

Waiting rooms. The name already sets people up for annoyance. What is this need we have to divorce parts of our lives into chunks, half spent reminiscing, the other anticipating? Or doing too many things at once like George Costanza and his dream trifecta: eating, having sex, and watching television all in bed simultaneously. Jerry calls him "Caligula" after this incident. George says, " I flew too close to the sun on wings made of pastrami," and Jerry replies, "So, she didn't appreciate the erotic qualities of the salted cured meats?"

Personally, any moment on this planet that I'm not in pain, have no broken bones, I'm not in jail, I can breathe and scratch my elbow, etc., I am in a state of potential joy. The real test I guess would be keep my cool in an airplane that is going down. And really, what is life but that?

Richard Glaven and I used to paint houses for Joe Callahan in the '80s and when we'd finish and he'd assess our work he'd point to places on the house where we had missed a spot and say "Holiday!" He'd find another. "Holiday!" Pointing his finger at spots across the span of the house, "Holiday! Holiday! Holiday!" Richard made a point of answering Joe's critiques with meaningless non-sequiturs. "But Joe, it's different for domeheads." Joe would stare at the two of us, first Richard, then me, then Richard again and shake his head. He'd say, "Nevertheless...." We'd get back up on the ladders and paint over our little mini-vacations. Then we'd all go to Delano's for beers. I had a job as a short order cook at Delano's after college. It was my first employment coup with my English B.A. from UMass.

After Northampton Coffee I came home feeling ideal bio-chemically and inspired to create. This feeling doesn't happen often enough. It's a full moon so maybe I'm feeling a lunar tug on the tides of my creative juices. Sometimes it's the result of caffeine and is oft accompanied by a flurry of resolutions and the use of words like oft. I proclaim that I will get up at 7AM and go to the gym for the second time this year after buying a two-year membership last January. Then I'll go to Northampton Coffee or the Haymarket to read the paper, maybe scribble down some of the more promising fly-by thoughts, and go to work on time rather than sleeping until 9:45 and getting in at 10:30. Eric, if you're reading this, the times are purely hypothetical....

I tried to make some headway at my collage table but lost interest and, as always, I end up talking and writing about being creative rather than doing it. I love ideas and inspiration but wow does my discipline and follow-through suck.

The recycling bin is always interesting when you share a building with the TMNT's company Mirage. The renowned local enterprise was just bought by Nickelodeon.


Caty said...

I hate it when people feel guilty for oversleeping! Sleep and oblivion are one of the pleasures of LIFE and the weekend for you nine to five types. Glad you were able to ease up on yourself this time.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately you love what you do because you do what you love. The rest of us ex-Delano's employees are leading lives of quiet desperation. Silently loathing our pathetic slavery to the almighty dollar.

Mary E.Carey said...

Love that little guy on the couch!

Max Hartshorne said...

Jim I love that you are always thinking, always contemplating, never stop putting out thoughts and different points of view, and you're open to the views of others. Your mind is alive and never stops...I like that.

It makes you a very interesting person. Hey, I am just back from the gym, (it's Sunday) that will make you feel really really great too. hope to see ya soon!

bleudoggy said...

..and here i was-- thinking that once i get a new (collage) table for my 2nd bedroom-turned-studio...i'll stop collecting ideas and materials and "getherdone."
your exposed internal thought process is so recognizable-its scary.