Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sea level

Leaving Santa Fe, I think about how I will miss the clouds, and how people will not understand what the hell I'm talking about because of course it's cloudy all the time in Seattle, right? Sea level: what will that feel like? Why a stomach ache almost immediately after I get on the train, the desert flowing into night and, to tell you the truth, I actually sleep better on the train than I do in general, if only they could leave me alone for another two hours I might actually feel good, or something.

Except for my sinuses, right? All that recycled air and then there’s what they call air in LA, which actually is much much better than usual because of the rain yes rain, but still, it is LA. On a side street everything can feel kind of calming, fresh almost in the rotting suburban urban way that is LA, all these weird things growing and how? Birds chirping and why? But still.

I settle into this apartment where I'm staying, convenient and comfortable almost like my own place I mean it is my own place while I'm in LA, but then there's this pain in my sinuses, pressure in my head, is this the pressure of my sinuses or the pressure of sea level, dizziness, sudden confusion when everything rushes around me and I look up at the sky to see what it is, yes it looks like sky, different, not as dramatic, the sunset happens so fast you can miss it, the apartment buildings alternate between rundown and overpriced, and upscale and more overpriced and actually it's kind of quiet too you when you're not on one of the thoroughfares with cars zooming into my head at that sudden burst of pollution overload and I wonder about the train, or actually when we stopped in Albuquerque and this guy in tie-dyed shirt with big curly hair came up to me and asked: are you tripping, you must be tripping.

Projection: we all do it. It's funny how that walk through Albuquerque surprised me more than LA -- skateboarders, someone kicking a soccer ball, homophobic snickering at the bus station, what are all these people doing out? I mean Albuquerque is pretty abandoned for a so-called big city, but still a city and then I came here, driving crosstown with Campbell, driving driving driving which was actually kind of interesting because I could sense the sprawling geography at the different way, I don't think I could ever relate to it really because I don't relate to sprawl, but it started to feel more familiar, rundown stripmalls blending into opulence. People on the street: curiosity and disdain. A nice comment here and there. Somewhat surprisingly friendly; somewhat predictably snotty; someone surprisingly snotty -- somewhat predictably -- no, friendliness is never predictable, unfortunately.

Yes, more rain, I think, did it rain again last night? A construction drill outside, but then it stops. Looking out the windows at these impossibly wild palm trees, walking around and seeing those evergreen hedges that grow so tall and skinny, how? And then you turn on the street suddenly so wide, palm trees arranged like sticks on the sidelines and there’s a dieting store called Organic Liaison. Kirstie Alley started it.

Back on the train, the guy with the big hair remembers my name, comes up to me in the lounge car: hey Mattilda! Tells me about this drunken guy who was bothering him, and the conductor called the cops and had him thrown off the train. But then this guy’s stuff disappeared -- the conductor said it was the drunk guy who stole it, mostly this guy was worried about his hat, sentimental attachment. So he called the cops to ask about it -- no, they said, there wasn't any hat. When this guy confronted the conductor, the conductor said are you calling me a liar? I'll kick you off this train.

Sea level: are we there yet?

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