i’ve been feeling down the last couple days, so it was nice to wake to your letter, murph. i read it in bed and got to commenting straight away. if only tracking the distance between that payphone in vegas and my apartment in bushwick were as easy as counting the miles, i thought, and like my friends waiting outside the rio, i too wanted to skip breakfast.
i took a walk and gave you a call, hoke. talking on the phone has become my preferred activity of late, especially late at night when the streets are empty and i can remove my mask. sometimes i’ll take the dog, sometimes not. i’ll dial up a friend, pick a direction, and get to talking. hoke and i mused on andy and his creative projects, as well as <quote-01>your pragmatism, murph<quote-01>. i returned to the computer to work on my letter before making dinner--a task i happily fulfill most nights--and now i’m back, reading over what i’ve written, writing some more, wondering what--if anything--i’ve got to give you.
casey texted me yesterday afternoon: can you talk? this happens occasionally, usually because of something that happened with a girlfriend. casey has dated more than one bonafide <quote-02>sociopath<quote-02>, and i’ve spent many an hour helping to straighten him out as a result. lucky for us both, i wouldn’t lump grace in with the rest. i like her for him. the dog needed to go out, so i told casey i’d hit him up in a sec.
earlier in the week i had a surprisingly candid conversation with my mother during the dog’s afternoon walk. her doctor had recommended a tai chi dvd set as an alternative to her gym routine now that the gym is closed. she described the merits of tai chi as a physical practice aside from its--for her--frightening ties to eastern spirituality. for years i’d championed the benefits of yoga, but my parents weren’t interested. enter covid, and my mother and i are examining the similarities between mindfulness and prayer. how ‘bout that?
how’s it going? i asked casey. oh, fine, just finished therapy, he sighed. oh, i see, an hour with a paid professional wasn’t enough, i joked. ha, right, he said.
i was right; he needed to talk about grace. she’d been thinking about taking an rv across the country with her sister’s family to be with their folks in san francisco for a while. they’d load up with food for the trip, stop in rest areas, and quarantine to the best of their abilities for a couple weeks once they got there. needless to say, casey was dreading the thought of losing the company of his partner during a time like this. i think traveling at all right now seems unwise, i told casey. stay put, be safe, wait to learn more. <quote-03>he agreed with me<quote-03>. grace, however, is a bit... <quote-04>untethered<quote-04> was the word he found. he and grace have been together for four years. he’s opposed to marriage and doesn’t want kids, so i suppose this is the type of problem that is bound to come up. i told him if she splits we’ll have to take some masked walks together, maintaining the prescribed distance, of course. perhaps we’ll hit play on petty’s long after dark at the same time, like you and i did with south park’s bailout episode from opposite sides of the country, murph. <quote-05>‘member?<quote-05>
you know you can screen share video with this zoom app now? i knew it was only a matter of time until someone figured out the compression rates to make something like this feasible, but i wasn’t aware we were there yet. tisdale and i recently watched the new louis ck special, sincerely. stand-up is the perfect media to share on zoom, by the way--the comedian in the center of the screen and your friend off to the side in a box, ready to laugh along with you. this is how we hang out now, i guess. louis put the special out himself. he had some good material, some as good as his material has ever been; still, i couldn’t help but feel he wasn’t equipped to address his cancelation in the way i wanted to hear him address it. but what did i expect? a great special? because i got that. i guess i wanted more. there was something sad about it for me, about the whole thing, my expectations included.
i wonder about my expectations of myself. like, what is it exactly i find so repulsive about self promotion? to continue the comparisons between andy and myself you and i drew over the phone, hoke, we can make the stuff, but we can’t sell it. perhaps we are limited here by the breadth of our interests; perhaps there are other factors at play. all i know is that andy seems less troubled by all of this than i. i’ll give you that as of late his responsibilities lay elsewhere--what with ashley’s role as the main breadwinner and andy’s as the stay-at-home parent--but <quote-06>the freedom with which he approaches his creative endeavors<quote-06>, whatever they may be, has always fascinated me.
what andy can’t do is <quote-07>rehearse<quote-07>. here, for whatever reason, he is severely limited by his expectations. remember how difficult it was for him to perfect his tambourine part in utah? how he blew up during our rehearsal outside the gas station, catalyst for the later explosion around the fire pit? i doubt it was his lack of facility with the instrument that <quote-08>set him off<quote-08>.
i remember working with andy on boneshaker, the short casey and i made. it was a beautiful fall day, and the three of us were out on our roof. at the time casey and i lived under the elevated m train a few blocks from where sarah and i live now. you both stayed there on separate occasions. i remember you, murph, enjoying the dodger home games so late at night. anyways, wanting to highlight his multiple talents, casey and i had written a couple different characters for andy to play, and we’d set aside the entire afternoon to work on a mime sequence. unfortunately, we only got about an hour out of him. casey sensed my frustration, and we talked about it afterward. we’re probably used to rehearsing from years of doing theater. maybe andy just doesn’t know how to rehearse, casey posited, and i thought of all the actors i would rather be directing in the parts we’d written for andy.
evidently he and ashley have been going a little stir crazy with renzo in their tiny los angeles apartment and are gonna head to her brother’s place in tucson for a bit. we just need some air, he told me. i imagine grace has been feeling something similar. i’m always slightly confused when i get a video of <quote-09>you and abram exploring the great outdoors, hoke<quote-09>. is this real? where is that? how’d you get there? most new yorkers are living on a different planet from the rest of the country. with parks and restaurants closed, where is there for us to sit outside? it’s not like we have patios or porches. it must be nice having your mom around to help with grammar, murph, although she must be going <quote-10>a little stir crazy herself<quote-10>.
again i wonder how it is i got here. i feel stuck, like andy must’ve felt with that tambourine. in response to murph’s pragmatism: we’re pulled in one way by utility and in another by an ideal until at some point, whether in confidence or out of exasperation, we draw the line. that’s enough, i can take no more. here’s the line. this is where it goes, and i’m drawing it. however, this moment of resolve--andy’s, fuck this shit--is entirely contingent. tomorrow i wouldn’t draw it here, and yesterday i had yet to draw it at all. so why now? why here? what does it matter that i--who am a mystery to myself, who must always be--draw a line today when tomorrow a keener understanding of my situation will demand its erasure? i think of andy miming a bicycle on my roof in bushwick and how suddenly, he could mime it no more. when do i get to quit and go inside? is it soon?
after hearing about the situation with grace, i used up the majority of the conversation with casey yesterday enumerating these futile thoughts of mine. trying to make me feel bad for calling you after therapy, i get it, casey joked. i don’t know. i feel like i never get any closer to figuring anything out. i am constantly refining/defining, keeping temperature, trying to maintain a critical approach. i think of zizek’s challenge to progressives: don’t act! think! and hey, i get it; but would he give the same advice to hamlet? i wonder. i, for one, am growing weary of examining the nature of my frustrations, weary of wandering while on the phone.
i feel like i haven’t said anything here, like i haven’t told any stories of note. or worse: that i’ve told them poorly. maybe i’ll take a walk, call a friend, and come back and see where i’m at. hopefully i’ll be able to give you something better than what i have now.
[1/2] Tap Next to continue
[1/2] Tap Next to continue
[1/2] Tap Next to continue
[3/4] Tap Next to continue
[2/4] Tap Next to continue
[1/4] Tap Next to continue
[1/3] Tap Next to continue
[2/3] Tap Next to continue