· Last week, I was on a company retreat in Hershey, PA (insert highway joke here). It was a time filled with team-building exercises and binge drinking. Day One was spent in Road Rules-type challenges which brought out the competitive nature in the team, as if we needed that highlighted. Day Two was spent at the amusement park that was closed off for us. After getting nauseated and dizzy, I walked around by myself for a moment and happened upon a ride named “Music Express,” the letters spelled in beautifully garish lights. Van Halen was blasting and I smiled a knowing smile. On the way back from the park, David Bowie was playing in a nearby amphitheatre and we parked the car on the side of the road, and soaked in some Rebel, Rebel and Sister Midnight as it bounced off the low hanging clouds.
· The soundtrack for my job should be that plate-spinning music from The Ed Sullivan Show as I try to keep all the dishes from breaking. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t written. I curse the sky for being so busy but I'm simultaneously grateful for the activity. Some of my upcoming shows are things I would actually watch.
· My writing workshop was on hiatus for a few weeks and I return tonight. It’s odd to have homework again, and I find myself more inhibited than ever to write. We’re given 300-word exercises and I feel forced to write in a style other than my own voice, which is good because God knows, I’m tired of hearing my own voice. Other than the elderly Indian man with an outsized hearing aid and the heavy-set woman who proudly announces her essays to be 500 words instead of the teacher's limit, the class is a relief. Tonight’s assignment was to write about the beach.
Mine is still a work in progress but it goes something like this:
I was so giddy to show Hodges my new apartment that I threw open my large front windows, opened my arms in a wide ta-da and introduced him to the view of the ocean. I’d moved to the Venice boardwalk after a contentious divorce, and was living a careless bachelor’s paradise. We both rested there, taking in the fish and chipsy wetness of the air on our faces. Standing in front of the window, a light fog already making itself at home in the apartment, we listened to the crush of the waves followed by the quiet bacon sizzle of the surf in rhythmic patterns that could have lulled us to sleep, right then and there. We were silent for a moment when both of us spied a girl sitting on the strip of grass that separated the sand from the sidewalk. At sunset, the boardwalk becomes desolate and you’d half expect a tumbleweed or two to pass by but this night, it was only the girl reading her book. A long, single braid glided down the back of her Indian print dress.
“Oh look! A hippie,” I said, mockingly. Venice is known for its sixties holdovers although she looked more offspring than original.
“I wonder if she’s reading ‘Our Bodies, Our Selves’.” Hodges asked. We laughed and stared at the faraway place where the sea meets the sky in pitch-black conspiracy.
To our right, we saw a man in a filthy, tattered coat walk up behind her. Her nose in the book, she didn’t see it coming at all. He had a bottle in his hand and before we could blink, he smashed it over her head and calmly walked past her instantaneous screams. Her hand went to her head and she slumped over, rocking back and forth in pain. Right before we called 911, I turned to Hodges and said, “Welcome to Venice.”
I know. I’m not crazy about it, either, but it really happened. It’s way more funny and dynamic in my head.
· So far, DC is cicada free. Bob and I walk as if our lives depended on each step, carefully looking ahead for any sign, and luckily, we’ve yet to find one. He’s just as relieved as I am.
· I had a great weekend with Joe. It was his birthday. I probably had more fun than he did. I got him super drunk then took advantage of the situation. Luckily, he didn’t remember anything the next morning and could go back to his platoon without shame.
· The space between functional sanity and a knee-dropping horror show is as thin as a Listerine strip, and not nearly as tasty.