12:01am – Walking
I try to take a cab home from Palisades but I end up in a fight with the driver over his broken credit card machine so I’m walking instead. It’a a fitting way to start this. I walk everywhere.
My cat Cecil has started waking up and jamming his face into my face at random intervals in the night. This started about two months ago, which lines up with my own recent sleep problems. There’s irony here because my sleep problems also began when I was thinking about wanting to jam my face in someone’s face. Cecil settles in pretty quickly but I’m awake.
I put on The Sopranos, which I’m almost finished rewatching for the 10th time. It’s the episode where AJ tries to commit suicide in the pool. It’s sad and heavy even if AJ sucks. (Note: AJ sucks.) There’s a moment when Tony rips the plastic bag off AJ’s face after dragging him out of the water that always gets me.
My friend Eli is visiting from Los Angeles. He snores like the crazy. Right this moment I’m finding it comforting. I fell asleep in my clothes, including my jean jacket. I was wearing this really crisp white polo shirt under it and I thought it looked like 808’s-era Kanye. I get up to go to the bathroom and I look in the mirror. Every item of clothing I’m wearing has shifted 30% to the left. I look like a vandalized mannequin.
For the past year I’ve been doing this thing where I listen to the same song on a loop while out walking around. Here are a few of the recent songs:
She Sends Kisses – The Wrens
Walking in Memphis – Marc Cohn
The past few days it’s been John Cale’s “Andalucia” which I was listening to on a loop a few months back, as well. It puts me in mind of one particular day, one particular car, my hand on one particular thigh. One of the disadvantages of listening to only one song on a loop is that it’s so easy to associate one of these songs with something painful, thus rendering it unlistenable. I felt that bitterness for a while over “Andalucia” but now i’m listening to it fondly. Things change.
I meet my friend Norman for coffee. We’re both early risers. I always feel a sense of purpose meeting someone for coffee on the weekend. Two people have entered into a pact that says “I could be in bed but I’m here with you.” I spend way too long decided whether to sit in the sun or the shade. Norman shows up and we talk about memory, short-term v. long-term heartbreak, hardcore, parental support and the possibility of us working together.
10:38 am – Walking
Norman used to live across the street from the coffee shop so we walk over to take a look at his old apartment. As we approach, we can see that they’ve knocked the entire back wall of his building down. He takes a picture through the mail slot. The view goes all the way through to the next block.
When @hsilkchampagne and I cook we don’t mess around. Me=Grilled flank steak with brie, grilled onions, shallots, hot and sweet mustard. Hannah=Thai peanut zucchini noodle. Utz=Salt & Vinegar A photo posted by Daniel Ralston (@danielwralston) on May 2, 2015 at 11:15am PDT
I am completely wiped out after the meal and Hannah and I have the kind of easy friendship where I can just go lie down for a while and she’ll hang out on the couch and just leave if I fall asleep. That is exactly what happens.
I watch the final episode of The Sopranos. I get re-angry thinking that anyone could not like it.
My mom emails me to deliver some bad news. The doctors think my two-year old niece Julia is never going to be able to speak:
I meet up with my friend Colin to discuss a video series I’m going to direct for him to coincide with the release of his book about pizza. He’s wearing a jumpsuit and looks like he’s in “Don’t Change” era INXS. I tell him I think this should be a summer where we set off a lot of fireworks. He agrees and we part ways.
I text my brother Drew (Julia’s dad) and tell him I’m here if he wants to talk. We’re not close but I’d like to change that.
6:45 pm – Walking
I wander Manhattan Avenue half-heartedly trying to find sneakers. I almost buy a pair of Jordans but I buy a hot dog from 7/11 instead. I loop around to Kent Ave and walk along the water. I run into a woman I went on a pseudo-date with a few months ago and it’s suitably weird. I’m wearing a brimmed men’s hat in public for the first time in my life and I feel super self-conscious about it.
My friend Ted and I have been talking about taking back the fedora from gamer turds and returning the men’s hat to its former glory. A strong wind lifts the hat off my head and blows it 200 yards down the street. So much for that plan.
I heat up the rest of the steak and make myself another sandwich. I got divorced recently and the only time I feel like a divorced guy is when I’m heating up dinner and sitting at my desk. It feels like a bad play. Stark set dressing, low light, a creaking chair.
Cecil comes over and tries to pull some steak off my plate. I let him.
Meredith comes over and she tells me about the show she played in Detroit the night before. We are a lot alike. We both have wild swings between knowing we are talented/together/focused and feeling unsure/uneasy/unfocused. She works harder than anyone I know and I feel lucky to have a friend like her. I’ve been thinking about my life and my interactions with people on a spectrum. I am a black and white person. I’ve never had a familial or financial support system so I’ve always just had to do things to survive. I’ve had to make definitive choices every day of my adult life so I don’t starve. I don’t really know how to exist any other way. I’m jealous and resentful of people with the luxury of pause. I make decisions about what’s good for me and what’s bad for me and try to reach for the good. I recognize that all my healthiest relationships are with other people who are reaching out. My life gets messy when I run into people living in the grey area between decisions.
We’re both feeling a little wiped out so we smoke and I put on Paris 1919 because I want to hear “Andalucia” one more time today. I think about sending a text that I know will end in me feeling awful so I just think about being here with my friend instead. I am a master of self-control.
One of my favorite things is playing music I love for people who haven’t heard it and vice versa. Meredith isn’t familiar with this record and I love hearing it through her ears. I’m still wearing the hat that blew down the street. I crash down on the bed and tip it over my eyes, like my grandfather trying to sleep on a train.
Meredith puts on this record by Sibylle Baier. I’ve never heard it and I’m completely floored by how incredible it is:
Meredith leaves and I play the Sibylle Baier record on repeat until I fall asleep. Before I drift off I decide I’m never going to wear a hat in public again.