“How is it out there?” I got a text from a long lost comrade, on the East Coast of my youth.
It came in between my feverish dreams on behalf of the girl next door with a terrible cough; and another girl, also sort of next door (more like behind the door diagonally across the hall from mine), who insists on slamming that fucking thing every time she leaves or returns to the premises. (And considering that the girl behind the diagonal door is a new starlet in Hollyweird, she comes and goes quite a bit. I also presume she must be quite forgetful, ‘cause that door usually gets slammed a dozen times before the joint returns to its habitual silence. All that noise — from one little girl!)
Oh, and then it was one those fire drill days in my building; and once I returned to my heavy, sweaty dreams — after the new starlet finished her door slamming for that portion of the day — off it went: A horrific sound of metal on metal, meant to save the living and to wake the dead!
I reached for my earplugs. Normally, I sport those if going to bed after midnight: when the ghetto birds come out to cruise my ‘hood and wake up the girl next door — and her terrible cough. But yesterday morning, I was meant to sleep in. (I had been awake for half the night, every night of this week, due to a heartbreak-related insomnia. FUCK.) Except: I forgot to read the memo plastered on the door of our garage earlier in the week.
“Probably another filming notice,” I dismissed it at the time.
But the memo multiplied like an occasional stampede by rodents; and by the morning, it appeared on every door of the joint. When the drill when off, I stumbled out of my apartment into the corridor, with purple earplugs ‘n’ all:
“Is there smoke?” I thought, trying to remember where I used my laptop last, before finally falling asleep: ‘cause that’s the only thing that was worth rescuing. “If there is no smoke, I’m going back to bed!”
“Dear Tenants!” I first read the paper on the diagonal door before noticing my own copy. I skimmed over it.
“Cocksuckers!” I thought. So much for sleeping in!
I closed the door, jammed in my purple earplugs further and went to the fridge. That’s where I keep my coffee, you see, and anything else that I would hate to see be invaded by a stampede of rodents. Top shelf: Hemp milk, honey… FUCK: I’m out of coffee! Totally forgot! Must get to Trader Joe’s today, but: FUCK.
I got out a gypsy skirt, utilized it as a dress, took the stairs, stepped outside: Lovely. Perhaps not really a beach day, but still: Lovely! I took out my purple earplugs and walked to the 7-Eleven on the corner. Behind it, a construction that’s been going on for over a year was starting to look like a building, not a skeleton of steel beams, and plastic, and fiber glass.
“Afternoon, m’am,” a bearded man in an orange helmet grinned at me in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven. These guys are awesome: construction men who are often warn their invasion of an neighborhood with signs like “Caution: Men Working”, “Men Working Above”, “Caution! Men!”
“Afternoon?” I responded. What frigging time WAS it? Come to think of it, that fire drill memo did mention 12 noon.
Armed with my watered-down coffee, I rushed back to my apartment. Sure enough: 12-fucking-30! FUCK. I gotta publish! The horrific sound of the drill made me consider visiting some coffee shop at a walking distance, but then you never know with those, in Hollyweird: Some lonely exhibitionist may always impede on my work there, and then I’ll need my purple earplugs again. I got to work.
After a typical three-hour session which sometimes feels like a catharsis, and other times — like a mean constipation — I finally got around to returning my messages. There was a semi-flirtation by an old lover. Cute. Then, there was the request to take a raincheck on a date from a player I just met. An actor. Of course: What was I thinking? Two lines were sent to the old lover, one — to the actor.
“How is it out there?” I reread the text from my long lost comrade.
Right. What to say to that one? I stumbled around the apartment for a little longer (the fire drill was finally over), and decided to do a little research on behalf of my curious witness, on the East Coast of my youth. Because I’ve been out here a bit too long, to be easily impressed to give him the answer he may want to hear; so I thought: Why not take a little walk while running errands?
First stop: The bank.
“I’m SO glad there is no racism out here!”
As soon as I stepped in, I overhead a white woman do her spiel in front of two clerks, in the lobby.
“Right, right, right,” one of them was responding.
They didn’t have a choice but to listen to her. None of us did. I began testing those dinky pens with strings, just so I could sign my checks. Apparently, she had just returned from Paris and was “shocked” — “SHOCKED!” — by the state of the racial affairs over there.
“I tell you: This is exactly why Los Angeles — is the best place on the planet!”
I looked over at the African American security guard by the door: Was he as uncomfortable as me?
“Right, right, right…”
The white woman was finally marching out, laughing at her own joke, seemingly relieved (had she just fulfilled some civic duty?); and as she passed the security guard — now holding her door — she ignored the courtesy to thank him. Oh goodness! I was already craving to get back to my apartment.
But: FUCK! I’m out of coffee! And didn’t they just build a new TJ’s around here? I decided to walk around a lil’ more.
“How YOU doin’ today, mami?” — a Chicano was smoking outside another bank I passed on my excursion. I examined him, head to toe: I’ve been out here a bit too long to be easily impressed. Then, toe to head. The head was smirking, disarmingly.
“Good,” I answered. Fine: I looked back and pressed my lips together (my version of a smile); then kept walking.
“Nice poom-poom!” he hollered before I disappeared behind the sliding doors of TJ’s. And how would HE know?! FUCK.
Screw it! Quickly, I picked up my staples: I’m pro. A woman on mission. Besides: The inside my apartment was starting to feel very tempting.
Ahead of me in line, a young mother was venting to the cashier:
“My son was beating up a boy over these seaweed snacks! And I was like: You’re in kindergarden!”
The cashier smiled uncomfortably while stuffing her bags with what looked like a month’s supply of seaweed. The young mother looked back at me for some better sympathy. I pressed my lips together.
“I mean: This is what the children in Hollywood fight over! Seaweed.”
She took her time paying, while figuring out which credit card was going to work that day; and finally settled on writing a check. This — was gonna be a while. I put down my items. Scanned the shelf of Zico coconut water. Oh! I NEED me some of that! I grabbed a about a month’s supply, and approached the tortured cashier.
“Rough shift?” I said.
He pressed his lips together: “Just another day in Hollywood.”
I packed my own bags, paid cash, took a different exit to avoid the smoking Chicano and stepped outside: Lovely. Perhaps not really a beach day, but still: Lovely! I strutted home.
Oh, but: FUCK! I’m out of coffee. Totally forgot to buy some.