Actual event: Me, staring at the TV Guide channel charts as they scroll along the bottom of the screen. I haven’t lived with television for ten years. I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the large windows opposite the TV and the look across my face is terrifying and blank. “This is going to kill me,” I say to the carpet, the flip-switch fire place, the lampshade. “I think I’m going crazy.” Click power off.
Actual event: Me, connected to the web on wi-fi, downloading a .99 cent song. It’s Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend,” the main refrain being “Hey, hey, you, you, I don’t like your girlfriend.” I’ve never downloaded a song from iTunes before. Hello wi-fi world. Then I compose an email to Cass. I attach the song. “I think I’m going crazy,” I say to myself. Click send.
Actual event: Me, lying on my stomach on the floor, crying into a cloth napkin. It feels good and pathetic all at once and I’m not even ovulating. “This is going to kill me,” I say to myself, certain that the “this” could mean anything and everything all at once. “I think I’m going crazy.” Click, goes my brain.
Actual event: Me, snapping photos outside a closed coffeehouse where the barista frantically tries to clean counters and coffee grounds, certainly pleased to be done with his day. I am officially one of my own annoying customers in this moment. Click. I take today’s photo.
Actual event: Me, cussing loudly in the Coffee Room in Powell’s City of Books when my little Mac crashes again. Picture the innocent bystanders who do not understand the symbiotic relationship between the writer and the laptop. Picture the concerned looks on their faces, the mother who holds her toddler a little closer into her hip, the young engaged couple caught up in the blindness of themselves too adoring for any spare sympathy. I pray and press Restart. The sleeper button flashes. The computer makes a loud, unfamiliar beeping sign, then sighs as it starts up again. Click. I insert a just-outta-the-wrapper USB memory stick and back up everything I’ve done in the past 9 days (everything else is backed up safely in NC).
My day is like the city, where a class of first graders can walk hand in hand safely across a cross walk and one block over a Subaru Legacy can slam into a biker, sending him head over the handlebars into the street. Talk about manic. Click, click goes the biker’s heart. Click, click goes the second hand on the clock, the keys of the text messaging cell phone addicts, the racking up of numbers on the gas pumps, the business man’s pen as it taps the counter impatiently.
This is what the city can do to me. The city and a heart I keep cutting coils into. Call me melodramatic, but “the heart has reasons that reason cannot know” (Blaise Pascal). Hide me in a book. Fold me into a sentence. Carry me in a safe, dark backpack, and get me gone.
Picture from Day 9: This is a photo of the sign for Jim and Patty’s, the coffeehouse in the Beaumont district of NE Portland that is opened by the original owners and makers of Coffee People Coffee. I tracked it down (not that it’s any secret) today but they were closed by the time they got there. Cass and I meet there for coffee tomorrow afternoon.
Jim and Patty’s is a mere 14 blocks from my parents’ house and I make a point of getting there every time I’m in Portland. I still have my 1994 Road Tour, tie-dyed Coffee People mug, and I wield it proudly.