Even though I was completely awake, I began to dread the inevitable call of my alarm as the seven o’clock hour quickly approached. And, surely enough, when seven o’clock came, my alarm woke up, stretched and yawned, and the proceeded to lick the left half of my face.
Months ago, I traded relying on my bedside clock for the internal one of my puppy.
I tried to convince her that it was OK to sleep in every now and then, especially on your day off, but she saw sunlight creeping in through the window blinds and that was all the proof she needed that it was time to wake up and start the day.
I surrendered to her demands, stretched and yawned, and got out of bed myself.
I chased the pup around the living room, finally tackling her into submission and fastened her collar around her neck, then took her outside. She crunched through the thin layer of ice atop the snow, digging and sniffing the fresh powder underneath. She did her business and then we returned to the house.
Inside, she ate her breakfast, while I showered and changed, and then tried to attack my cereal bowl with her face while I tried to eat mine; which I think is rather unfair, seeing as how I never try to steal her meals.
I watched the morning news for a bit, before opening up my laptop and logging on. I decided that now was as good a time as any to start writing again but, after staring at a blank Open Office word document for a few moments, I decided that a quick game of solitaire was called for.
Solitaire has become, over the past month or so, the deciding factor in almost all of my decisions. If I wanted to watch a movie, read a book, go out or even eat dinner, I play a game of solitaire first: if I win, I can go do what I need to do. If I lose, I keep playing until I win or I don’t sketch or listen to my favorite new album. It’s not a point of pride — “Oh, I should at least try to win a game.” — no, I need to win. I need to. It’s the only way I seem to be able to make decisions lately.
Like Two-Face and his scarred coin.
After a seven or eight games, I finally win a match and then sprawl out on the couch with Austin Grossman’s debut novel, Soon I Will Be Invincible — about a super-villain who recently escapes a maximum-security prison and the heroes trying to thwart his latest take-over-the-world scheme — but stopped after only a chapter or two, finding it way to difficult to concentrate.
Seventeen minutes of solitaire wasted on twenty-eight pages.
I turned the television back on but, by this time, there was nothing of interest on; just early morning talk shows, court cases and Dr. Phil. I left the TV on, but turned the volume down low, just audible enough for background noise; the plaintiff yells at the defendant in an angry, muted whisper.
Eventually, the afternoon news comes on, so I turn the volume back up. The news anchor informs the viewing audience of the body count from the past twenty-four hours.
Murderers and Freak Accidents: 17. Innocent Victims: 0. And now on to sports.
We break for station identification and a commercial comes on. A dog sits in a kennel, tongue hanging out of its mouth, panting happily. A pair of legs approach and the dog perks up. The legs walk past and the dog follows them with its eyes, disappointed. The narrator states that not every dog gets adopted and that, should you buy a specific brand of dog food, their company with donate money to make sure that homeless dogs are taken care of.
It isn’t until the commercial ends and the next begins that I realize I’m crying; salty rivers streaking down my cheeks. I close my eyes, little white dots explode like fireworks underneath my eyelids. The puppy jumps on the couch and climbs on top of me, licking away any evidence of my slight emotional breakdown.
I decide that I’ll go stir crazy if I stay at home by myself all day.
I grab a long stick of pup-peroni from the puppy’s treat bag and break off a small piece, offering it to her. Instantaneously, she knows that I am planning on putting her in her crate and leaving her, so she slowly backs up, quietly howling at my attempts to trick and trap her. She is eventually cornered in the bathroom, scooped up and placed in her crate. I turn on a light and leave the TV on, so the puppy doesn’t feel completely alone.
I pack up my laptop and put on my hoodie. Keys in hand, I leave.
I get in my car, back out of my parking space and then turn onto Brice Road, heading north. I stop at a red light and the lead singer of Black Kids tells me that I’m too much sugar for his sweet tooth, which is flattering, I suppose. I cut down a side street and then take a left onto Rosehill, making my way north again towards Broad Street.
I pull into a Panera parking lot, sling my laptop case over my should, as I get out of the car, and head inside.
Without much of an appetite, I order hot chocolate and a small apple pastry, figuring that should cover the cost of an hour or two of nibbling on the deli’s free wi-fi.
I find a small table in the corner and unpack in my computer. I log onto the Internet as I place my headphones over my ears. I don’t play any music, but I have discovered that people with leave you alone if you have your headphones on. That or they’ll at you louder; which is OK, too, since they’ll just end up embarrassing themselves.
I try to write again, but end up downloading some music and some episodes of The Boondocks instead.
At the table next to mine, two girls and their token gay best friend — all roughly in the late twenties/early thirties — sit down; salads, sandwiches and complicated coffee drinks in hand.
It was around the time when they started discussing the validity of Jennifer Lopez’s marriage to Marc Anthony – and how she could have been happy with Ben Affleck had she “just stuck it out a little longer” – that I decided to open my iTunes; the sweet sound of Kate Nash’s Made of Bricks filling my ears. I picture her, in my mind, to be the British bastard lovechild of Lily Allen and Regina Spektor – sweet but acidic – and I fall in love with her all over again.
Four tracks roll past and she calls me a dickhead, but I don’t hold it against her.
I start writing a letter to Logan, when a cute girl sits down a few tables away from my own, reading David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day, one of my personal favorites. I flirt with the idea of asking if I could purchase her a cup of coffee, but quickly put the notion out of my mind; I’m sure she’d rather just sit in peace and read her book without being bothered by a fugly fat kid with obvious self-esteem issues.
That and we’re sitting in a coffeehouse; I’m guessing she already has a cup.
I was thinking about why I was thinking about buying that girl a cup of coffee – I haven’t really dated in years and have become quite OK with it – when my Trillian instant messaging application pops up.
It’s David, and we talk briefly about the television show LOST. I had given him the first season the weekend before and he had just come off a fifteen-hour LOST bender and asked me for the second and third seasons. He told me that he was going to be coming up to Columbus this evening and would be staying with our friends, Steph and Abby. We agrees to meet up there later that night to hang out and watch movies; David was going to make gumbo.
After I faked drinking from my empty hot chocolate cup for another hour, I packed up my computer, slung the shoulder strap over my shoulder, and left Panera.
On my way out, I walked past a Giant Eagle and decided that my empty refrigerator could probably use a little food. I made a quick mental list of what I needed to buy I snagged a cart, and then entered the store.
I made my way up and down each isle, eying random items and throwing a few of them in my cart. I was halfway throw the store when I decided that I didn’t really want anything that I saw and ended up putting six of the ten items in my cart back.
That old Clash song, Lost In The Supermarket, popped into my head:
I’m all lost in the supermarket
I left the store with a gallon of milk, a twelve-pack of Sprite, and two frozen meal-in-a-bags; the grocery list of choice for someone who’s going to die alone.
I left the cart in the store and carried my bags to the car, unloading them in the backseat along with my laptop case. I backed out of my parking space, turned left onto Rosehill, cut across a side street to Brice Road, and headed south back towards my apartment.
Along the way, the lead singer of Black Kids made it explicitly clear that he was not, in fact, going to teach my boyfriend how to dance with me, which I thought was fair.
I arrived home, put my groceries away and took my puppy – who was very excited at the opportunity to not only get out of her crate, but get outside for a while as well – out for a quick walk. She happily romped and frolicked through the snow, until she was so cold she shivered.
We went back inside, put my computer back together, and played a game of solitaire to see if I should make myself some dinner and watch The Simpsons. Succeeding, I place turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes between two slices of wheat bread and sat down just in time for the opening theme.
The Simpson family plan some sort of outing; Homer gets drunk and screws it up; Bart makes a sarcastic remark about Homer’s bumbling ways and Homer strangles Bart until the boy’s eye almost pop out of their sockets; Marge yells at Homer, not so much for the attempted murder of their son, but for some lesser misdeed, such as making a scene in a public place; Homer gets drunk and wallows in self-pity until he comes up with a solution to his problem; Home makes everything right and, in the end, Marge takes him back and everyone is happy again.
I wonder, between the time that the episode ends and the next begins, why Marge hasn’t divorced Homer yet and taken the children far away from Springfield. Homer obviously has anger issues and an addiction to alcohol, he beats their child, and oftentimes explodes into a fit of rage at his neighbors and fellow townspeople.
Of course, I’ve known a few girls who stayed with men who beat and abused them, whether it was out of fear or a dependency on the familiar.
Some women are just attracted to assholes, I suppose.
I turn the television off after the second episode, which was amazing similar in plot to the first, and sprawled out on the couch once more with Soon I Will Be Invincible.
I read about a hundred and fifty pages before Dave calls me again and tells me that he’ll be at Steph and Abby’s sometime around nine o’clock.
Sometime around a quarter until nine, I scoop up the sleeping puppy, without giving her any warning, and put her in her crate, along with her blanket and her chew toys. I put on my shoes and hoodie and collect my computer. I turn on the television and a lamp for the puppy and head out the door.
Outside, everything is covered in a fresh layer of snow and ice.
I put my laptop on the passenger’s seat, turn on the car and the front and rear defrosters, and get to work digging out my car. By the time I brush off all of the snow and scrap ice off of my windows, another coat of snow has been put on. I get in the car, turn on the windshield wipers, and back out of my parking space.
I turn off the CD player as I drive; virgin snow drifts silently against the darkened night sky towards the earth and I think, for a moment, that I would like to listen to that for a while.
I turn down the alleyway behind Steph and Abby’s house and park my car about nine-thirty. I collect my things and start to make my way around to the front of the house. Steph calls to me from the back door and tells me that I don’t have to walk all the way to the front door, to come in through the back.
Inside, Abby, Steph, her sister, and Beta – Steph’s dog – greet me; Beta with his usual bark and growl. We smalltalk for a bit in the kitchen before making our way to the living room.
There, I make fun of Abby for owning the first season of Dark Angel, and the first two of Baywatch, on DVD. She tries to justify her purchases with retorts about how relevant the early episodes were, but I think I won with the argument that she actually owns the first season of Dark Angel and the first two of Baywatch on DVD.
David calls me and tells me that he’ll be at Steph and Abby’s momentarily and that I should meet him over there sometime soon. He goes on to say how much he’s looking forward to receiving the second and third seasons of LOST from me. He compares himself to a crack addict and myself to his pusher. I tell him that the first taste is free and he tells me that he doesn’t have any money. I assure him that I accept other methods of payment as well and he tells me that he is wise in the ways of fellatio before we hang up.
David arrives a few moments later and laughs when he sees me sitting on the couch, realizing that I was already there when he called. He gives me his external hard-drive and I begin loading it up with the second season of LOST, then the second, and then about a gig of music.
We settle in and watch The Soup followed by Snoop Doggs’ reality show, as David starts to prepare his gumbo, and watch celebrities do and say stupid things.
Abby hands me a small stack of DVDs and, at eleven o’clock, we watch 3:10 To Yuma, in which an old west version of Batman must escort the old west version of the fugitive gladiator, Maximus, to the train station in Yuma, in order to collect the reward that would save his family farm. Ben Foster stalks them and violence ensues.
When Yuma ends, we pop in Everything Is Illuminated, which is based off of one of my favorite books, about a young Jewish man who travels to the Ukraine — and shown the country by a American culture-obsessed, broken English-speaking local tour guide; the guide’s near-blind, cantankerous grandfather; and the grandfather’s seeing-eye bitch, Sammy Davis, Jr. Jr. — to meet the woman who saved his grandfather’s life in World War II. Despite its holocaust background, hilarity ensues.
My eyelids grow heavy during the second half of the film and I catch myself closing them for a few moments here and there.
Three-thirty comes and goes, so I pack up my gear, say my goodbyes and head out the back door to my car.
As I pull out onto the road, I realize that I never got my blow job from David. I turn my CD player back on and the lead singer of Black Kids cries because it’s Friday night and he ain’t got nobody. Some nights, I know how he feels.
But not tonight.
I arrive home within about twenty minutes; the snow and ice don’t really slow me down much.
I pull into the parking lot, sling my laptop case over my shoulder and trek back indoors. The puppy, while overwhelmed with joy to finally get out of her crate, decides that she is angry with me for leaving her in there all night and, after a brief dance filled with jumping up and down on her hind legs and whining happily, she turns her back on me and heads toward the bedroom.
I leave my laptop in it’s case and on the kitchen table and take off my shoes and hoodie. I double check the front door, to make sure it’s locked, then turn the thermostat down a little, and head to the bedroom myself.
I strip out of my clothes, pull on my pajamas, and slid into bed, next to the puppy, who is already quietly woofing in her sleep. I look at the clock and it is only a few moments before four o’clock as I drift almost immediately to sleep.
I try to soak up as much restful hours as I can, remembering that I have to work in the morning.
(Morning comes and I’m still asleep, but the puppy — who is still feeling resentful and petty for being locked in her crate for seven hours the night before — decides to wake up at six-fifteen and, hence, decides that I must be punished for my occasional social life and proceeds to jump on my stomach, attacking my face with tongue.