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post #118
bio: jen

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that week

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Sunday morning was filled with events. I'm realizing that in life, you can't pace events with mathematical precision like a drum beat. Instead, there are voids of inactivity followed by times when nothing happens, then a whole bunch of stuff happens, then nothing, then a wholebunchofstuff.

I have a need to capture that whole bunch of stuff, write it all down, so that I would have it later when I've got nothing. I have learned that it is impossible to capture every single thing and I would drive you all batty if I was to serve it up to you on a daily basis. Still, I need something to amuse myself in my old age. I have a strange suspicion that television will be total crap when I'm old and grey.

Sunday morning started early with a 5K run to support the local mental health center. I jokingly called this run, the Suicide Run. I almost called this piece, The Suicide Run, but I don't think that title really fits except for its shock value.

I like running 5K races. I'm not a fast or competitive runner. To me, it's just about showing up and running the whole 3.2 mile course. Okay, it's also about the T-shirt and the goodie bag and running faster than girl with a blonde pony tail flopping every which way (but no, I'm not competitive).

The Suicide Run was a good run. It was on a flat wide road next to LAX. Purple Southwest planes were landing next to us. Their engines roared loud then went silent.

In addition to the usual healthy types, elementary and high school students participated in the run. They were in a program called Students Run LA. At least, that's what their T-shirts said. It was pretty inspiring to see hundreds of kids running faster than me with that loping hopping kid stride. They should run faster than me. They're kids.

The only thing that depressed me about the Suicide Run was the whole Suicide Theme. Near the starting line, there were a bunch of black and white signs with facts about suicide and how many people commit suicide. There was a display with photographs of happy, smiling people who had sadly committed suicide. They were happy in the photographs, then gone. That's sad, so sad. Okay, time to run.

After the run and a second breakfast, I did a Home Depot run with my Uncle. He had to get a sheet of plywood. My car has roof racks, so I was the diver.

Home Depot is a male shopping cathedral. Men might make fun of women's shopping habits, but men have Home Depot. Recently, a guy friend called his shopping a ‘hunt'. He was a hunter off to get a power tool or whatever. Men don't shop. They hunt.

Women hunt aggressively too. Guys, go to a lingerie department during a sale. You might not make it out alive. That underwire bra is so mine, no it's mine, it's mine, bitch.

We women also like going off on tangents when we shop. While I'm here, I might as well look at. . . There's nothing wrong with tangents. Math is a good thing. Men also fly off on shopping tangents. While I guarded the cart with the plywood, my Uncle went off to get a soak hose and came back with lots of goodies. However, as we left, I somehow felt we hadn't gotten enough out of the Home Depot. We had one of those big rolling carts and only one piece of plywood.

My uncle and I slid the plywood up onto the roof and secured it in place with bungee cords. We got out of the parking lot without being run over by a giant pickup truck. We drove onto the side street and stopped at the light where we could make a left turn onto the main road which was six lanes wide and didn't have much traffic on it because it was early Sunday morning.

I made the turn and accelerated.

Suddenly, in my rear view mirror, I saw the plywood perpendicular to the road before flapping down onto the pavement like a freshly caught fish.

‘Shit! It's gone!' I said.

‘What?' my uncle asked.

‘The wood's gone.' I said as I pulled into the right lane, slowed down, stopped.

Before I could press the Hazards button, my uncle was out and running back to the plywood sheet in the middle of the road as cars swerved out of the way to avoid it. Damn it. I had already run that day, and here I had to run again. Wow, my Uncle can run fast when he has to.

My uncle reached the plywood before me. In a few seconds that would be slowed down in dramatic effect in the movie, I watched him pick up one end of the plywood right in front of an approaching black Hummer. Yes, I swear it was a black Hummer. I'm not changing the vehicle for dramatic purposes.

Fortunately, the Hummer slowed down, and my Uncle got the plywood into the right lane. By that time, I had reached him, and together, we carried the plywood back to the car as other cars zoomed by at 45 mph.

Yes, we had become one of those people. You've probably seen them on the road near Home Depot. They can't control their wood. You might think, oh those poor people, but you don't stop to help them because it's not really that big a disaster. They just need to tie their stuff down in a better manner. I almost called this piece, ‘One of Those People', but that was too specific and too fatalistic.

My uncle and I put the plywood back on the roof. While he pondered how to better tie it down, I went into MacGyver mode and pulled the soaker hose out of the Home Depot bag. Unfortunately, the soaker hose was too stiff to tie into a knot, so it was useless for the plywood.

My uncle is a very nice person, but sometimes, he needs his space to solve problems---especially problems involving physical objects. I think this might be true for other Home Depot guys as well. Don't crowd them. Just let them THINK. While my uncle dealt with the cords, I consulted my Thomas Guide to find the quickest route with the fewest turns on the least busy streets. I could plan, strategize, navigate.

I helped my Uncle connect the last bungee thingie and we were ready to go. I put us in drive and kept the hazard lights on as I accelerated slowly. With one hand on the wheel and one hand out the window on top of the board, I soon realized that the board got a little jumpy if we went over 25 mph.

I shimmied over to a left turn lane, made a slow left turn, then a right, then went over some speed bumps. I drove slowly, cautiously. I pulled aside to let cars pass me. Then, sure enough, I got the plywood to its destination. I needed a third breakfast after that.

That evening, I saw Zadie Smith read at 826LA. In person, she is quite beautiful, but in a deep way as if it's not about her looks at all. In the hallway, both men and women said she was beautiful as if they were admiring something untouchable and beyond jealousy, like when children see someone beautiful.

She began her reading with an apology that she was at the end of a book tour and tired, so that's why she was wearing so much makeup. She proceeded to read an excerpt from her new novel, On Beauty. During the reading, she did various voices for all her characters, but they were all a part of her voice like she was a master storyteller sitting at a fire. She then opened it up for questions.

To answer a question about a character who is over the top into hip hop culture, she talked about loving cultures not your own and said something like ‘what you love is what you love. Pursue it with the whole of your being' or something like that---I wrote it quickly with a plastic cup of red wine in my other hand.

As I thought about this piece, I also thought about Saturday which was less eventful. I hiked my favorite hike in the Santa Monica Mountains. The air was moist and a bit cool, but the ground was dry, and the shrubbery was crackling like it could catch fire easily.

Several times, up in the mountains, I looked out toward the Pacific, but I only saw low hanging clouds instead of water. I was above the cloud line, and from certain perspectives, the world was only dark green and sky blue. How did I get there? How did I end up walking through a dream of heaven?

As the sun set, a band of red formed above the clouds. I had forgotten that I was in fall and days were shorter, so I did the last tenth of a mile in darkness, but I could still see the path. My eyes had adjusted.

As I drove out of the darkness of Malibu into the lights of Santa Monica, I listened to Reading Lolita in Tehran on CD as my headlights shined flat against the mist. I want to read The Great Gatsby again.

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