Whenever I’m feeling blue and kicked in the shins, when some perceived injustice has befallen me or a turmoil of the heart has me in its grip, I battle this insatiable urge to spend money on new clothes. The mall calls me like a sweetly singing siren. I guess it’s better than the bottle or the needle, but maybe not any cheaper.
So it was in the throes of one of these retail binges, shuffling potato blue-eyed through Nordstrom’s, I found myself trying on a pair of plum jeans and appraising myself in the dressing room mirror like a real estate agent on Valium. Oh, yes, quite nice foyer, love the Moroccan tile, too bad I’m just completely dead inside or I’d show you the backyard. Concluding I was being silly and didn’t really like them anyway, (plum jeans? Really?) I decided to just smother my face in some face cream from the tester tube and continue my somnambulist wandering. As I get older I need moisturizer with SPF, Eye therapy, Shaving oils, lip balm with aloe, and other necessary enhancements for this decaying face.
Vanity’s a bitch!
Everybody’s beautiful in L.A. I try to stay up there with them but it just makes me feel ugly inside. Men with immaculate face stubble and Scotch & Soda sweaters abound, women with faux furs and Louis Vuitton glasses amass. It’s a festering mob of beautiful people. I’m sure somewhere nearby somebody is waiting for a call from their agent and somebody else is thinking about the gym.
Arcade Fire was playing through hidden speakers and I couldn’t tell if I was living in a Photoshopped dream or some weird David Lynch nightmare. We are nothing but the collection of our references. Kobe Bryant’s twitter feed…
I needed to get out of there.
It’s cold outside, for Los Angeles, so a scarf was choking my neck and my hands were brittle. If you shook them vigorously I’m sure they’d shatter — or just feel like it. Everybody was bundled up in pea coats, beenies, and expensive boots. It made me feel like a million Zimbabwean bucks. Worthless.
I went to Barnes & Noble and searched through the Fiction section for a book I didn’t know I was looking for. I needed some kind of reassurance that I was meant for this world and so I decided to find where on the shelf my novel would land. S… T… U… V…
I finally found the W’s and spied Infinite Jest. I smiled, thinking how great it was that I’d share a shelf with David Foster Wallace, but then realized only if that shelf happened to be 20 feet long. As it were I theoretically would be across the aisle from Wallace, right next to Virginia Woolf. I never read any Virginia Woolf but I guess I should if we are going to be neighbors.
But I’m no novelist. I’m a shitty blogger at best and kind of a hackneyed poet at worst, shedding daggers and aloe blood. The soul of an armadillo. Life looks aflame from afar… whatever.
“Mercury is in retrograde,” they say. Fuck off, I reply.
I cotton on to these dreary doldrums like a miserly old man pinches pennies, holding them close and snapping my jaws at anybody that tries to steal them from me. Lugging this heavy heart around, my miserable muscles bulge like Indian Mounds in old St. Louis. I’m the King of the Sparrows. James Dean of the pity party.
“Cheer up.” Go to hell.
“It’ll get better.” I’m happy being miserable, now leave me alone, imaginary friends.
Sometimes all you have are your sad thoughts. If sad thoughts were monetary, I’d be the melancholy Bill Gates. If depression were currency, I’d have an accountant advising me to invest in Elliot Smith records.
I picked up and read a depressing Junot Diaz short story about hopeless love that made those plum jeans seem less plum and more awesome. I should never have picked up that book. Now the bookstore was starting to close in on me. Rachel Ray grinning up at me from the cover of a cookbook with a handful of carrots, totally smiling and evil. A whole collection of Twilight knockoffs placed on the next table to remind me that being in love and torn up about it is nothing new, but every person thinks they’re the lone survivor of these wars.
I set out to Nordstrom’s to buy those plum jeans after all. Well, I wasn’t going to buy a Twilight knockoff, was I? We all need our drugs. Don’t judge.
Walking through the crowd I got stuck behind a couple pushing a stroller. Happy and beaming parents and I hated them for it. The passenger, a little girl with blonde curls and snowdrift cheeks turned around in her seat and stared at me. I swear she read my mind because she stuck out her tongue and glared like I stole her American doll out of her innocent, devoted embrace.