In The Pursuit of Leisure

24 August 2014

She drinks coffee. She pours liquid from the French press into a small coffee cup. She has an entire cupboard full of coffee mugs of all sizes. She has four coffee mugs on which various portions of the images disappear or transform when hot liquid flows into them.

Earlier in the day she took a drive. She rolled down the windows. She could feel fall sliding in to replace summer. Her hair was dry and would surely be in disarray when she arrived at her destination. Sunday was the day she used no additional products on her body. No deodorant. No conditioner. No hair gel. Toothpaste, soap and shampoo were the maximum allowable, although she would opt for sunscreen if she ventured into the sun for too long. (This was a rare occasion.)

She listened to Dead Kennedys at a loud volume as she zoomed down one of the city’s major arteries. (Would it be a vein now as it was pumping her toward the heart of the town?) Her heart was beating fast. She had no coffee so the pure adrenaline of pointed punk sonics left her shaking in a way in which she wasn’t often familiar. How much of her life was spent in the thick of caffeine rushes? She wasn’t convinced she ever had true feelings, feelings she could actually cleave from other substances (caffeine, tea, music, people). Did she need a holiday in Cambodia?

She bought the Sunday edition of a major newspaper from a corporate bookstore. She considered buying a coffee to go, but wanted the experience of making coffee at home, drinking several cups while listening to music and trying to get through the nearly insurmountable stack of news she now had in a bag. The woman ahead of her in line had a hand basket full of items. The clerk finished ringing in the woman’s items, completed the transaction and handed her the loot in a single bag. “All of it fit in one bag,” the woman asked with noticeable disbelief and reproof. “It all fit in one basket,” she thought as she stood in line empty-handed going over and over the precise words she would use to ask for the Sunday paper. (She wondered if Joe Jackson was reading the news at that very moment. She actually wondered if Joe Jackson was alive. An Internet search later would reveal he is alive and has moved on to “eclectic, though less commercially successful, pop/jazz/classical hybrids.” When she first heard Sugar Ray’s version of “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” on the radio, she wanted to shout to everyone within earshot that Joe Jackson did it first and best and everyone should probably get on with the business of letting Sugar Ray fade into oblivion. She knew, however, that a lack of quality current taste for pop music and an atavistic longing for even the worst music of the 1990s would keep Sugar Ray in indefatigable and inevitable infinite rotation.)

She never finished the Sunday edition of the newspaper. She only cared to supplement her constant magazine reading with more in-depth analysis of recent events. She made her way through the voluminous text, ink staining her fingers and Deadmau5 ringing in her ears. At work she once made a joke upon hearing an upbeat electronica song that it reminded her of her clubbing days. She never had such days and probably never would, although in the interstices of her being lay secret notions that she could one day spend a week in Ibiza following the sweaty throng from club to club, dancing jumping gyrating to Oakenfold and taking club drugs and wearing very little.

The adrenaline had worn off. The coffee had kicked in. Her friends were at the pool. She was learning about the separate declared caliphates of the Islamic State and Boko Haram. The world is always and existence is constant until it isn’t. Inertia is an enemy; not so great as evil or even evil-disguised-as-good (religion), but certainly her biggest enemy. Television. Smart phone. Gaming apps. She partook in more opiates than Coleridge, but had none of the Khan-do attitude he had.

Best served warm

27 September 2012

This weekend, The Hippo and I begin watching Once Upon A Time.

Today is grey, cloudy and full of impending precipitation. Two women play tennis on the court next to my office. Soon their instructor arrives. He lobs a ball at one. She returns it. He lobs a ball at the other. She returns it. Thus, are professionals made.

I cannot stop myself from flipping off the Orrin Hatch billboard everyday. It irks me to no end. I want other motorists to know he is not worthy of office. I cannot let him stare smugly down, thinking we all adore him.

A Kansas City atheist group create a billboard calling for “Godless Government.” If only.

The god myth does much to ruin lives. Some persons say we should respect all religious beliefs, even ones disallowing women to wear pants or hold office or be of greater value than donkeys. I  cannot agree with this opinion. Oppression is oppression, no matter what cultist myth it hides behind. For me, tolerance for beliefs does not extend without question.

I meet a Libertarian who does not like either current US presidential candidate.

I eat a bean and cheese burrito from Smith’s Marketplace for lunch. My stomach begins protesting before I even swallow the first bite. I battle my way through, refusing to give up. (I’m sure this is what Winston Churchill had in mind.)

I also get a cookie with icing. The cookie has an icing spider web design with a plastic spider (which can be worn as a ring) at the top of the web.

I have eight minutes of lunch remaining.

I am getting sleepy.

I finish reading Grant Morrison’s Supergods. I think about technology, humanity and technologised humanity. I remember essays I read in graduate school calling modern humans cyborgs. We are part-human, part-machine, all superhero.

—–

Last night, the rain started. The Hippo says it woke her up at 4:00 AM. I hear it when I wake at 6. I feel calm. Rain is safety and childhood and comfort.

I, as always, want the rain and cloudiness to persist all day, all week, all year. I know this is impossible in the desert.

On the way to work, the car hydroplanes briefly in a puddle of water. A light on the car’s dashboard display indicates “Traction Active.” The Hippo tells me of the voice she hears when this light blinks into existence. She hears a soothing, slightly robotic Sigourney Weaver.

I see blue sky and my disappointment builds. I need to live in a grey, dark climate.

I step out for lunch into the cold air. I take it in like a friend who visits too rarely, but is always welcome. The sky is white with clouds like the sky levels in Super Mario Bros. games. The clouds are so low I imagine I will see one drifting beside me as I drive home on the interstate. I am alive. I live in a desert and I don’t know why.

I know exactly what to listen to on a day like this. I pick out Radiohead’s Hail To The Thief and King of Limbs and Richard Hawley’s Lady’s Bridge. I start with Mr. Hawley and find his smooth voice a perfect complement to the calm, still day.

I like dark, depressive music that explores sadness, hurt and tragedy and does not always come out the other side. I enjoy thinking about death and hurt because they feel so real and prevalent. They are to be welcomed and embraced, not ignored.

I continue reading where I left off in Foucault’s Discipline & Punish. Where Supergods was the story of getting outside of our bodies to become superhumans, Discipline & Punish is about getting beyond the body to break the human spirit instead – scars that are difficult to heal.

Instead of beating, quartering and hanging criminals, we prevent them from voting and driving and obtaining gainful employment. We judge their souls.

—–

Today, Memaw (my grandmother) has surgery to clean out her carotid artery. I talk to her yesterday and she is in good spirits. She says she loves me until the day she dies. And then, just as I think it, she says, “And beyond.”

I tell The Hippo as we walk to the elevator this morning. I lose composure.

Memaw comes through the surgery ok.

I buy krab salad from the Smith’s Marketplace deli. I ask the woman behind the counter if they will have the hot wings I like again. She has unbreaded wings that she will cook tomorrow. Now I must return.

I buy TownHouse crackers. The box has an Olympic promo and tells me to play a game called Throw For The Gold. From the box:

Rules

– What you need: 3+ players and a ball

– Pick 1 player to go first and give him/her the ball. Remaining players move to the opposite side of the yard.

– Player 1 tosses the ball toward the others and calls out a medal value for catching it. The values are Gold (3 points) Silver (2 points) Bronze (1 point)

The remaining players try to catch the ball before it touches the ground to win the medal. Player 1 continues making tosses until another player collects enough medals to add up to 10 points. They then become the new thrower, and the game starts over!

After reading the rules, I realise I only want to be the person keeping score as tossers lob balls at fools.

Summer Sanders is on the back of the box hawking her “Super Red Pepper Spread.” She is called a “Gold Medal Mom,” but I have no idea what qualifies her. Any fuck can make a vegetable spread.

A box of gourmet mini cinnamon rolls claims “Best Served Warm.” I initially want to have the job of testing this claim, but I think of other foods that may need to be tested as well – coffee, butter, pork. (“Pork is best served warm on account of I died when I ate it cold.” – Former-food tester.)

I have a sudden urge to pretend to be Mormon to get a job.

-JPR

Purgatory in Salt Lake City

23 September 2012

I drive to work and finally make the switch away from OK Computer. I opt for Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm.

The plastic seal in the travel coffee mug lid is beginning to pop out. It prevents me from closing the lid all the way. As I drive and take a sip from the mug, coffee pours onto my shirt and lap. I am not burned, just bemused.

On the interstate, I drive south to work. Each morning, I pass a billboard with a picture of Orrin Hatch on it. The text reads, “With experience comes strength” and has his first name in cursive, as if he signed the billboard by hand, and his surname in print. I always flip the bird to this billboard because it enrages me. It should say, “With experience comes entrenched and moralistic judgement that is far removed from the life of the everyday person Senator Sign-His-Own-Billboard claims to represent.”

I take my exit and drive to the traffic light where I must turn left. I sit in the turn lane and watch the persons driving past me. I think about Mr. Hatch as I watch the drivers. Some wear sunglasses and some sing along to something they hear. We all do our best with what we have. Unfortunately, all some of us (e.g. Orrin Hatch, Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, etc.) have are terrible tools designed only to build our own houses on the rubble of neighbourhoods around us.

On my lunch break, I decide to walk to Bakery and Brews, a coffee shop I have praised previously, for a pumpkin spice latte. I find the building locked and completely empty. No tables, no chairs, no magazine racks, no life. A few days later, the large banner with the shop’s name is gone from the building.

—-

I walk the two and one-half blocks to Red Rock Brewing Company to eat my favourite brunch item – The Eggs In Purgatory. I walk through the Gateway, past the Farmer’s Market in the blazing sun. I have sensitive eyes and no sunglasses. I am often ill-equipped for my circumstances.

I am in the comforting presence of strangers amid a cacophony of 1980s music (“I Want Your Sex”), knives attacking cutting boards, silverware clattering against itself and indecipherable conversations.

I order water without ice and with a lemon, coffee (black) and Eggs In Purgatory. The coffee is good enough. It is watery and mild allowing me to drink several cups before shitting myself.

I do not know why the eggs are in purgatory. I feel some Christian sects allow for the purity of organisms that are never birthed. Yet, these eggs were so sinful (or just sinful enough) that they find themselves in limbo, denied bliss and near damnation. I devour them in the hopes this gustatory grace will end their torment.

Persons from the True Value convention dine here. The men wear khaki or navy blue slacks (probably Haggar or Dockers), polos or long-sleeve light-blue dress shirts.

The meal is as good as I remember.

I take a bite of bacon and a sip of coffee as my former neighbour, Dan, instructed me to do. I once enjoyed a gin and tonic with Dan on his balcony at our apartment building in the Avenues of Salt Lake City.

I leave Red Rock to adjourn to The Rose coffee shop. The location used to be Big City Soup. I was disappointed in the change at first, but now feel pleased. The space is open, the coffee is good and the clientele are 92-percent hipster. I spy a woman I used to know when I lived here the first time. Her hair is much longer now.

I am overstimulated with the action here. Persons moving, talking, catching up, calling one another “sleepy head.” My cappuccino has a flower-shape in the foam. Perhaps it is more of a leaf. Either way is OK.

A man wears a NASA t-shirt. His legs are veiny. A child walks in and makes noise on a harmonica. He plays the same note, in and out and repeat ’til death do us part.

Sleepy head orders iced coffee and toast. I hope the choice rejuvenates and prepares her for the day ahead.

Another small child walks in holding the hand of a grown-up. This child is not making noise on a harmonica. She is being quiet and respectful and looking around with curiosity in her eyes.

A person may wish to be in a park on a day like today, but I am not easily fooled. I know the sun is out there, waiting to make me warm and hard of seeing.

Another familiar woman walks in. I am stuck in a hipster time warp, riding my fixed-gear bicycle down memory lane.

One woman at the coffee bar says, loud enough for all to hear, “Time is the most valuable thing on the planet.”

The conversation dies down. The sound of crockery clanking increases. I get up and leave.