Some people start their mornings with prayer, meditation, motivational literature. I don’t spend time around those folks on a regular basis, but I know they exist because I saw a guy waiting to cross Lakeshore Avenue with a Tony Robbins book under one arm.
Me, I start by looking at my cat. I mean, yeah, I also drink water and coffee, but a little time looking at this actual animal is a thing for me. She prefers me horizontal and as still as possible — if she can be said to have preferences. When it becomes clear that I’m going to escape the cozy confines, she’ll slink down off the covers and hide under the bed or out in the hallway, stopping to tune up her scratching post like a boxer tags a heavy bag with a puncher’s touch.
The best looking comes when the cat is off on her own, peeking out through the blinds or staring out at birds from the edge of the bed or seated at the base of a wall, catching the last little bit of wan-as-fuck autumn sun that swings around the corner of our apartment building.
And when I catch her sticking out her tongue, it’s because she’s about to groom herself so she can stand the rest of her day in style, as well as a reminder for me to do the same.
They sit lightly on the bridge of my nose, arms clinging lightly to my temples. Through their lenses, the world rushes at me with greater clarity and richer dimension than ever before. They feel oddly sturdy for their thinness and absence of weight. I do not wish to test their durability. I prefer drinking in the details floating in the air around me, higher-resolution data I hadn’t realized I was missing from squinting at small screens or staring at landscape horizons hurtling suddenly closer. All this before I notice the built-in shade that I’d forgotten about requesting, and here it is, seeping in to shield me from the brightness all around.
Words slide more easily across my eyes. Pages’ edges catch my fingertips and flip just that much more crisply. I can’t see all the way back into a rock legend’s life, but a look back at accounts of his formative years comes easily into focus for a little while this afternoon.
I kept getting up to wander around the newsroom and looking out the windows onto Grand Avenue to see if the rain had started. When I decided to pack it in and tromped out to the car, I found the windshield and the roof wet with spray from nearby sprinklers.
I made it home and got to my bedroom’s desk and noticed the wind rising outside. Then a rush of noise came, spattering buildings’ roofs and slamming down onto the neighborhood park’s basketball court.
As keen as the region seemed for any help from overhead to beat back the recent wildfires and cleanse the air, I felt sure a lot of people wanted every individual raindrop for its own selfish reasons, and not just because gravity meant each was already predestined to fall.
Today’s big errand was a run out to pick up some trial contact lenses. I’d got the ones for my right eyes a week or so ago, but the left ones were out of stock. With those acquired, I could stick them in my eyes and see just how well modern optometry could make the vision thing for a near-sighted and slightly astigmatic 46-year-old man.
Good grief, now I can tell what the hell you people have been doing with the world while I wasn’t able to see it this clearly, chewing it up and spitting it out, wearing it out at the edges and borders. Sure, you leave it with plenty of character, but what about the warranty?
At least I can still roll down the window of my car and see people and billboards and buildings, flashing signals and scattered trash in nearby gutters, and the local movie theater marquee leaping out at me with foreigners and dystopias and other obviousnesses in foot-high lettering. Long may it rave.
It took until about noon before I knew it was another bad-air day. I didn’t even have to leave the house. I just got dressed, ate a late breakfast and made sure to secure my own mask, just like the airlines tell their passengers in those safety videos.
Part of the reason was the fires still burning to our north. Another part was smoke from the Bear Fire drifting up the Peninsula. Another part was the 100-acre Fallon Fire that broke out in the afternoon east of Dublin in the Tri-Valley.
That’s more than enough parts to make a whole mess of a day’s worth of breathing. Still, the mask did its job and I did what I could of mine before going home.
By mid-morning, my chest hurt when I breathed deeply. I fitfully sipped at my morning water and coffee. Dreading another day of stressful breathing, I went to the grocery store. Not even the usual store-playlist trainspotting could distract me: oh, huh, that’s Seal’s “Crazy” followed by The Beatles’ “Come Together” and a half-dozen false starts on The Emotions’ “Best Of My Love,” before settling on REM’s “Orange Crush.”
So I was pretty happy when I got the call back from the family-run chain hardware store in Jack London Square. True to their word, the owner’s son rung me just as we got to the checkout counter: their latest shipment of masks had just arrived. So we went over and I bought a box. Then I went home, read the instructions, and took their admonitions seriously enough to shave: goodbye, goatee!
Then I went to work, settled in at my desk and masked up. After several hours of breathing with reasonable levels of comfort, I ate lunch and thought about how odd it felt to wear this thing on my face. I’m not anywhere I can’t be mistaken for anyone else, I’m not hiding my identity, and I can still answer phone calls. I’m just breathing easier.
It can take a long time for a proper future to get the showing it deserves, one both highly plausible and impeccably attached to an earlier vision. Tonight, it took almost three hours. But here A and I were, spending Cinemark XD money (unicorns and all) to see how things turn out and what more is still left to learn.
I was less spooked by the new characters as doppelgangers to earlier ones than I was by the cities and the climate, and the gaps that viewers are left to fill in, the history left to infer. That leaves at least three more videos to finish watching, as well as whatever useful video essays come down the assembly line.