December 15, 2017
Los Angeles, CA
I know you’re supposed to wait 15 minutes after waking up to check your phone, but I also know I will never stop. My first action every morning is to paw at my nightstand until the familiar rounded edges of this abusive relationship fall into my grip. I run my thumb over the home button, using muscle memory to open emails and texts, and to check Twitter until I am replete with bad feelings. Then, I put on my glasses.
On Wednesday, the first bad feelings came via a text message from a woman I have weaned out of my life. We were just wrong for each other, and I’ve made sense of it by blaming generational differences. Even a few years between us meant that when Harry Potter was taking over her life, I was busy wearing scarves and flirting with my old flame, underage drinking. Once the honeymoon wore off, from my crotchety old POV, I couldn’t take her seriously. I didn’t understand sticking out your tongue for selfies, or berets. It felt like she didn’t do anything with her life, and for some arrogant reason, this bothered me. I think it comes from my personal fear of being lazy, so I project and overcompensate simply when people are relaxed. Basically, I have a giant stick up my ass, and I expect everyone else to have one too.
I went to work without showering.
Work for me takes place at a commercial production company. I have the greatest job in the world, because I work with people I genuinely love. I could be shoveling poop into my mouth for money, and as long as I enjoyed the people watching me do it, I’d be okay. Once I arrived, just about 20 minutes late, I realized my Christmas bonus had cleared. I proceeded to throw money at my computer. I bought my sister a gift, paid some bills, and donated to local public schools through a crowdfunding site, weeding out the ones in more-affluent neighborhoods. (Sorry, Silver Lake!) Halfway through, I started feeling bad because I wondered if I genuinely wanted to help children in need or if I was just donating to feel better about myself. I decided the youths of Los Angeles would benefit regardless of the purity of my motives.
I retweeted something funny about a glass of milk.
Come afternoon, I had my intern cover my desk so I could take some “meetings.” My first “meeting” was at my favorite nursery to pick out houseplants. The first time I went there, the employee who loosely resembles my friend Rebecca, but with curlier hair, laughed after I told two totally mediocre jokes and gave me a 20 percent discount on a midrange houseplant. I’ve seen her at least 10 times since, and she has never once acknowledged me again. I don’t know if she got in trouble for the discount or just realized how unfunny I actually am.
My next “meeting” was two doors down at Heath Ceramics, where I purchased small vases—more gifts. I’m never really on this little stretch of Beverly, short of being in transit, but whenever I’m here, I remember I really love it. Most of it isn’t for me—there’s a terrible coffee shop that charges for Wi-Fi, a shul or two, and an ice cream shop I’ve been to, like, twice. Maybe I always have a nice time because I get to show up as an outsider and leave when I’m done. Even the places I love the most have dents and dings from use, but I have no bad memory of this strip in my life. It’s always been around, and I’ve never really looked for it, but maybe it actually is my happy place. In fact, when I die, let the record show that I want my ashes scattered between Heath Ceramics and the nursery, and probably a few more blocks west to the Erewhon market for good measure. Beverly Boulevard is my Rushmore! We’ll (I’ll) always (no I won’t I’ll die) have Paris (half a mile on Beverly Boulevard).
I headed over to Larchmont for my last “meeting,” a late-afternoon coffee with myself. I went to one of the children’s boutiques and purchased a stuffed giraffe for a baby I know named Walter. I find buying stuff for babies so easy because I want all of it for myself. (In the past I’ve described my style as Baby Gap, but enormous.) The best part of knowing a baby is the opportunity to give someone a gift they love so much they could literally shit their pants.
I headed back to the office from my busy day of “meetings” (Tinseltown, baby!), and mostly everyone had left. I spotted a pile of clementines left over from the office holiday party, and I remembered a Nigella cake recipe that called for boiling them whole, which intrigued me because I love using the whole animal.
Shy of baking powder, the recipe is gluten-free, and I felt hip making something with an alternative flour. It was a pretty flat canvas for adding spice, so I threw in cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, and a dash of Angostura bitters, all flavors I historically think of as playing nice with citrus. The texture was crazy, like a cake that had been soaked, but custardy due to the amount of egg, and then also a little grainy due to the use of almond flour instead of all-purpose. It was good, and I’d make it again were I to ever encounter another surplus of Cuties.
At home, I parked the school bus of my back onto my poor mattress and alternated between noodling on a guitar and doing the Thursday Times crossword on my phone. A friend from college texted me to see if I wanted a drink before he returned to London for Christmas, so we went to my local watering hole, which is terrible but walking distance. The older I get, the more I hate every bar. They cost money, they’re always full of people, and sometimes these people want to talk to you. It’s particularly depressing because you volunteer to attend, so it’s exactly what you sign up for.
I arrived before my friend and ran into a woman I went on a date with a few years ago. She smelled of grain alcohol and planted a remarkably dry kiss on my cheek. She introduced me to a friend of hers who was wearing adult braces, a beanie, and a puffer vest—at war with the coldest weather Los Angeles could dish out, but also with crooked teeth.
I remember the woman telling me she was bipolar and actively not taking her medication because she thought she was fine. I understand that bipolarity without medication is a complicated conversation, but my one experience with it was not a positive one. About 20 years ago, a distant relative visited from Korea. She filled a bathtub with water and unraveled several of our Disney VHS tapes into the bath. Then she ran off into the night.
While recalling this story, I remembered I went out two different women who were bipolar and not taking their medication in the same year.
I guess I have a type.
Once inside, I ordered a Balvenie neat, which is an annoying drink (is the whiskey guy worse than the craft beer guy?), but a good bar employs bartenders that recognize your patronage and pour you doubles of top shelf for the price of a single well, so why not take advantage? As I ordered, I imagined those within earshot thinking to themselves, “Check out the palate on old glasses over there.”
My friend finally showed up. He’s British and handsome, with naturally stiff hair which always gives him sort of a pompadour. In college, this gay man we knew drunkenly told him he looked like an emaciated Morrissey and then walked away when he realized my friend wasn’t gay. I introduced my British friend to the woman and her friend, who I tried to like, but she was just full of blood and bad stories about her life.
Instead of heading back to the birthday they had initially come for, the two hijacked our evening, so we texted each other under the table and decided that the evening was a wrap. We left a little early, wished each other a Merry Christmas, then headed our separate ways.
At home I flossed but didn’t brush and crawled into bed. I placed my glasses onto my nightstand and began updating to the new iOS, falling asleep with my beautiful phone in my disgusting hand.