Nov 22, 2003

Sucking on a Penny with Wind in the Ears

There are times when life tastes like something metal to me. When blinking is an effort. When everything feels heavy. When there's a great deal to do but no energy -- no power -- to do any of it. My mother is a very nuts and bolts person. I'm sure if I were saying this to her, she would say, "Metallic taste? Maybe you have diabetes." Or something like that. And she would shove three or four bottles of different kinds of vitamins and homeopathic remedies into my hands and tell me to let her know when I've finished them. She comes from a medical family. Her father was a doctor. Her mother a pharmacist. I don't know if that makes it make more sense or less.

I rode and adored the new Winnie the Pooh attraction at Disneyland, and I am eager to say I liked it. Maybe even better than the Country Bear Jamboree. I miss those dudes, but a ride just feels like more to do than sitting there, listening to machines sing and being made to smile because it's delightful when you can hear the clacking sound made by their blinking eyes and flapping jaws. And the visual design of the Pooh affair was like being in a life-sized Viewmaster slide. Everything so brilliantly colored and three-dimensional but in a sort of two-dimensional way. At one point, I thought of my friend Julie who is terrified of bees. She doesn't even like pictures of them. Like when a car manufacturer put a billboard of a sporty new coupe (was it Audi?) in yellow and black on a billboard with a giant bee in the photo (obviously appealing to the swelling apiarian car-buyer demographic in the Hollywood area), she thought twice about driving east on Melrose until it had been taken out of rotation. For the Pooh deal, you ride around in a little beehive with a bee on the back of it. I'll bet she would have objected. I wonder if she would have been upset by the bees that were also half elephant. This was all my way of mentioning that today might well have qualified as "blustery."

I keep feeling like I'm coming down with something. My immune system throws a tantrum when I keep getting plunged into varying climates. Too hot for this jacket. Too cold for that top. Hey, what's that water doing all over my face and lap? If my hands and feet are very cold for very long, I start to feel it in my throat. And I prepare for the worst by not doing anything about it. This is science.

I can hear the trees rustling. And a healthy plant with vine-like tendencies outside my kitchen window must be the source of that hollowish tapping sound I keep hearing. I put an extra blanket on my bed today. But I doubt that will do much to keep me from being startled by the random sounds of things knocking against my windows and walls.

Tonight, late, I had to drive far away to do a banking errand. As I passed the 710 South, I thought about veering off onto it and going back to the Queen Mary. I stayed there a couple of weeks ago while attending All Tomorrow's Parties, and I remember thinking that I would like to go back and take that voyage again. There is something comforting about close quarters. Something private and individual and safe. A long way back, I wrote something about liking the idea of compartmentalized things. I maintain this course. Having a small space to yourself makes it all the more apparent that the space is yours. It's claimable. Defensible. It's territory you can manage. All the better if you can keep one hand on the doorknob while still reclined in your bed. I stayed at an inn called, I think, the Hilltop one night when I was on my way out of Ithaca and home for the winter break. My plane tickets were bought well in advance for economic reasons, and as a result, I was stuck in town until the day after the dorms closed, so I had to find a way to keep myself busy for one night, before taking a bus to Syracuse and a plane home from there. The Hilltop was close to campus and small and quaint. A single-family home that had been converted. I tried to save on cab fare by walking my bags across campus. But I had two very large heavy ones and the process was essentially me carrying one bag ten or fifteen feet and then setting it down and going back for the other one. I don't have to tell you this is a retarded solution. I gave up halfway and called a cab and spent the money (I think it was four dollars or so) in the end. And cursed myself for having not just done it to begin with and spared myself the exhaustion and humiliation of inching my way across the Arts Quad like that. But that four bucks was nearly all I had. And I ended up only being able to afford something gross out of a vending machine at the bus station the next day as a result. Anyway, when I got into my room at the Hilltop, it was shockingly cozy. The bed took up nearly all the floorspace in the room. The sink was on the wall right next to the bed. And the toilet and bath were in a tiny little closet. I think I had to stack my bags up on a chair in the corner. There was nearly no floor. And for some reason, at one point, I had to answer the door and I did so while still sitting on the bed. I just reached out for the knob and opened it. It was a teensy weensy room. But I remember feeling so relieved and safe and comfortable there. I hated the idea of having to schlepp off in the morning to the bus station with my gargantuan sacks of clothing and the opposite of necessities. I would have wanted to stay there for my entire break, and I would have locked the door and not been bothered by anyone. Even though the television only got a few channels and I could hear the other guests the whole time.

So, I wouldn't have minded shrugging off my cares and high-stepping it over to the Queen Mary for a surprise night of away-from-home. But I knew it wasn't a practical whim. I would like to go back someday and have a proper time of it. With room service and fancy dining and less of the concertgoing riffraff sharing the decks. Maybe I'll get invited back for a trade show or to chaperone someone's prom. A girl can hope.

When life tastes this way, it's hard to swallow.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:14 AM | Back to Monoblog