Saturday, July 11, 2009

Been dazed and confused for so long it's not true

Sitting on the toilet, my mind still reeling from the strong Turkish espresso and American Spirit cigarettes. Other drugs, I could roll with the best of them. Drink with the best them, smoke with the best of them, talk the most audacious amounts of shit -- given my size anyway. But for some reason cigarettes always got me heady and sick, but they made me shit, and that's what I wanted to do, was shit.

I crawled into my parents bed. Our 2 bedroom Glendale apartment was always too small for our family, and whenever my sister was blasting idiotic TV shows in "our" room, it's been routine for me to flop down on my parent's king-size bed in their bedroom, enveloped in the mixed smell of my parent's skin and cigarettes and perfume, dozing off, staring at the ceiling, daydreaming about this or that, listening to music or trying to read a book, which never lasted long due to the comfort, physical and mental, of the bed. My dad would be passed out on the couch, hogging the living room TV watching mindless action films (the more shooting, the more of a simple good-guy-vs-bad-guy plot, the better), while my mom would be busying about in the kitchen or little table next to the nearby window taking care of business as usual. MGMT said "I miss the boredom and the freedom and the time spent alone." Indeed I have.

Two great things about this room of my adolescence, where I sit and type presently. One is the large oval mirror, painted in eggshell white and framed by a thick wooden panel with a carved ribbon on top. In this mirror I have humored my vanity for years. Directly oppossing this mirror, where I smeared on my first lick of pre-pubescant eyeliner, is a giant window spanning almost the entire length of the wall and hip-height to ceiling. From this window is a conflicting view -- directly south is my parking garage. To the right is a dirty sidewalk; to the right of that, a dirty street. Then a dirty backyard attached to a red brick picture framing store, attached to a cocktail bar, both which have been there as long as I can remember. Living next door to a trendy bar hasn't made my life any cooler, just noisier. The drunken yells and screams of groups of night-crawling bafoons stumbling back to their cars has been the constant background noise of my 3 a.m. mornings. Thanks to this, late night college dorm life has been a breeze.

Adjacent to my parking lot and in head-on view is a lot whose occupation has changed numerous times over the past 15 years that I've been living here. Years ago it was a metered parking lot; years ago it was a Cuban restaurant; and years before that, a house my grandmother lived in during the few years she consigned to live in America. A lot of the time, it was simply a huge pile of dirt, festerning with overgrown weeds, abandoned in various stages of construction by whoever was the last frustrated investor who deemed the project too damned expensive to carry on with. Right now, it's a hovering cement monstrosity that houses a cancer treatment center as well as my mother's deepest fears about radioactive waves, dangerous invisible laser beams and toxic air.

But across from all this, on the clearest and most beautiful of Los Angeles evenings, is a spectacular view of the San Fernando hills. Purple-grey outlines of grand mountains obscure darker and smaller mountain-shapes in front. Above sits a sometimes breathtaking view of the Los Angeles skyline; on the best nights, wisps of clouds - big, medium and small - smear the skyline. Palm trees of varying sizes and ages dot the panorama of mountains and billboards and streets and buildings.

A deep colorful sunset to the right will make you pause for a moment and serve as the visual equivalent of a Led Zeppelin song on an evening convertible drive. Neon green lights from the Armenian dance hall across the street, dots of bright and severe city lights from the clump of downtown buildings to the east, and a sudden onslaught of traffic will all remind you that it's a Friday night in Los Angeles. What the hell are you doing just laying around, you've got places to be, baby. Now where did you put those damned boots?

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