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the difference between what you think is and what is is

October 7, 2008


The view from our balcony

The view from our balcony



Walking past a flowering Gardenia bush:

Chloe: “At first that smelled totally amazing then it started smelling like urine.  You’ll learn that’s how a lot of things are around here.”

Ramona: “Gardenias…”

Chloe: “Right.”

I could see only abstractly what she meant, but had the strong sense that she was probably right.


My job hunt continues to be a series of dead-ends so after seeing an add on craigslist for an open interview at Starbucks I decided that it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot, especially since my funds are quickly reaching bankruptcy status, although Chloe did point out on the way the gym this morning that they don’t call it 24 Hour Fitness for nothing.  If worse comes to worse I could move into the locker room.  After thinking about this for a moment we both decided that almost anything would be preferable to spending the night under those fluorescent lights while being forced to listen to Energy 92.7 for hours on end. 

Anywho, so there I was at Starbucks with about twenty other hopefuls, and I sit down with the interviewer and the first thing she says is, “Oh I see you’re a psychology major.  You’ll fit right in, almost everyone here has a degree in English.”  I smiled wistfully at the baristas, who I had automatically assumed were less educated than I, who I hoped against home to join in green apronned employment, and replied without a hint of irony, “Well, what else would we do with our degrees?”  I went on the emphasis the fact that since I was from the Seattle area, my advanced knowledge of coffee was practically innate, and although I had never actually had any experience making it, coffee and I were like apples and cheese, pinky and the brain, lewis and clark: we were just meant to be together.  She said they’d call about a second interview today. 

Next I went to the large new library in Civic Center.  This place is like percocet, it never ceases to make me feel like everything is going to be okay.  The whole building is made out of some kind of cool white stone, like The Senate in D.C., only better because it’s full of books.  I marched around importantly for a while, the call number for a collection of essays by Jo Ann Beard clutched in my fist.  Then I printed off some resumes, which turned out to be exceedingly complicated, and read a little about how to make a living as a freelance writer, one can always dream, and finally headed home around five. 

Later, I headed into the den for our newly established Monday night date with The Hills, which I have always derided as being so trashy that even I wouldn’t watch it, but have actually found to be quite hilarious. 

Upon entering the room the roommates looked up at me innocently, while munching happily on a couple of fudgesicles that no doubt came from Chloe’s ample supply, “Oh I’d love one,” I said to no one in particular and trotted into the kitchen at which point I heard, “Oh no you will not,” and the pitter patter of what could only be Chloe headed toward me in hot pursuit.  She came around the corner wielding the melting chocolate bar in one hand and in what was apparently a fit of selfishness wrestled me away from the freezer and began smearing her popsicle all over my white tank top all the while giggling like a maniac.  I honestly don’t know what gets into this girl sometimes.   

We finally made it in just as The Hills began.  I don’t know what it is about this particular “reality” show, that has so captured our imaginations, but the thing is really brilliant in the way that it seems so stupid that you slowly become convinced that the people behind it must be geniuses.  The way the characters can manage to have the same conversation every single episode without ever reaching a conclusion, the way their reactions to stimuli seem just slightly off, as though these conversations are edited so that it only seems that they were responding to the previous statement when in actuality this response was from a conversation three days ago. The way they so often seem to be staring blankly into space as if trying to comprehend the mysteries of the universe while simultaneously pretending to listen to Lauren complain just one more time about something.  The way they continue to lie to each other when, I mean, do they not realize that they’re on TV.  Do they really think that Lauren isn’t going to eventually find out about everything?  The thing about Lauren is that she probably knows what you are going to do before even you know what you are going to do, so intoned is she with the hum of all humanity.  We recently came to the conclusion that she might in fact be Jesus Christ himself.  And then there are Spencer’s facial expressions always somewhere between psychotic killer and gremlin that are reason alone to keep coming back every week.  

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kent McMIllan permalink
    October 8, 2008 5:15 am

    Your Uncle Michael unfortunately isn’t present to offer supportive commentary, but I’d like to think that he’d have had something valuable to say if he were. What do I think he might have to say at the age that he would be were he alive?

    I don’t know, but I wonder if he would sympathize with his obviously bright and talented niece who finds herself having to begin a long a patient search for the ways in which she will put her talents to use and find some sustainable happiness.

    If he grew to be a careful observer of people, perhaps he would mention the odd fact that talent usually is a two-headed coin, the reverse side being a skill set that tends to look like that of a misfit, some foreign money that won’t buy anything. After all, if talent were commonplace and well-suited to ordinary life, it probably wouldn’t even seem to be talent at all.

    Possibly he wouldn’t have shared the view that the important thing is to keep in mind where in general terms you want to go, figuratively – not necessarily literally – speaking. Maybe that would be my own idea showing up in what I might imagine he might say.

    I know that I believe that if you can write half a page describing the life that you would like to have in two or three years, then you can start to either work backwards from there or rewrite as necessary until it arrives as a satisfactory reality if you are willing to pursue it.

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