Vague light whispered under my cracked eyelids, having traveled through mid-clouds, various pollution and smog, off the neighbor's chrome gutters, through tinted glass, finally landing, and making visible, the exposed silver insulation outside my bedroom doorway. Ethereal alarms allow me drift back off and re-enter dreams.
But once the light becomes champagne, that's less invitation than wave. Deep gold means early evening these strange rainy days, and although the sun never showed her face, noon -- man's invention -- reared it's judgmental, featureless head at the agreed-upon adjunct just as I touched my phone for affirmation.
Tossed that phone and clicked the nearby lamp by its switch, twice to the right. Click, click, light.
Went to the desk.
Lists foil my amnesia. So scraps of scribbled-on paper were stacked between a rectangular collection of untouched bills and mail, a square stack of various photos and torn-out maps, and a circular collection of paper wrappers. All arranged distinctly across my desk, but still a mess.
Placed forearm flat on the oak finish and slid the bills and notices into recycling bin. Slapped away the wrappers and flitted through the remaining chaos to find a correct set of missions and internet search curiosities for an honest, quiet laundry day.
Half rice puffs and half Fruity Dyno-bites in East LA silence (honk, honk, roosters, dogs, children calling in the distance), gold, yellow, milk and cream kitchen.
I’d written down more errands than business hours could allow -- plus it was Sunday the first day of the rest of our collective lives -- January 1st! How productive could the first day of the year be with everything closed.
In the sloshy silence of cereal solitude I mapped out again a more appropriate plan for the day — first day of the year, first edit, First Day Out Tha Feds by Gucci Mane playing through my ear-eating headphones first thing like it's not my first rap phase.
Removed the wheel from the bike in the hallway. Loaded the trunk with said wheel, extra Swiffer, and recyclables.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I heard a meow.
Looked around for it.
Our neighbor across the street and up the hill manifests as a surprisingly vindictive, two story pumpkinhouse. The contrast between that block mansion and the sky vibrated the edges of my eyes, avert to the ground and shield 'em, with a small headache aching at the peak of my skull but nothing more. My doctors recommendation and thus my prescription ended at the end of the month. Last year. Everything today was sharp and new.
My right hand smacked the headphones from atop my crown. Vee of the chord temporarily choked me, brought my left hand up to pinch closed my eyes. Muted the music, untangled my neck, and set my equipment inside Wendy, my trusty red VW Jetta. Again there was a meow. Extended both hands above in a whi, and pivoted halfway toward the sun before finally realizing why.
Travis the Cat cried impatiently from a nearby tree.
Let him down thanks and Travis the Cat moved his snake-spine along my shin-bone, mimicking a big fat furry baby cry — truth in a lie. I brought his bulky bulk skullside, the vibrations of his larynx healing years of microwave damage to the dome from cellphone use. Ah.
Dogs are the type of friend that call you on your crap, barks before and understands after (if that’s even necessary), keeps an owner accountable. They are incredible animals just. Reflections of a domesticated relationship, generally relied on as much as they rely. Cats, however, the self-domesticated, must've learned long ago who’s hands all the hardest, most violent, and demanding of evolutionary tasks could better into fall. Let the monkeys do it. They have the thumbs.
Cats get virtually free room and board compared to the demands on man's bestie -- and this only makes their lethargic, inter-dimensional watching of our progress all the easier. So be it.
I let Travis into the house. Sans constant background meow the outside really mellowed out.
As I closed the trunk a glint from the plates caught receptors in my peripherals. Expired tags. Missouri. Unwashed exterior, over-full interior, and memory clicked on and on as my field of view broadened.
Stepped back from the portrait for a different perspective. Sunlight called more uncloaked than earlier through refraction in Wendy’s taillights. The left ones are out, I suddenly knew. Blast!
Popped the trunk and took the bike tire for a walk around the block. Turns out, it wasn't flat after all so the fill was free. This brought wheels back into the picture of my day to day. Lucky me. Stop by the library and it's closed until Tuesday, post office open Monday. Food For Less open on holidays, apparently. I got peanut butter and bananas.
Returned home in early evening warmth. With the garage door down, the house looked like a one-eyed George Washington on some kids show where houses play historical figures.
Shook my head and wheezed. El Sereno is made of hills, and I made it teetering through the side gate, two tubes of sweat in a pair of black jeans, jelly hands holding the plastic bag with the food in it. Put the wheel back on the Nishiki.
“Wow, it’s bright out here.” I commented aloud on the cloud-covered sundown.
Travis the Cat meowed from his perch.
Days are long and rainy, I wrote. at my desk trying hard. My brother approached, toward the stairs for his evening lunch.
"Just feel like I didn't accomplish much for the first day of the year and now I'm sitting here and can't write anything. Not even anything bad."
"Oh... want me to give you space? I could get out of the house."
"What? No," I relaxed. "There's nowhere to go it's all shut. It's probably fine to pace myself to completing one thing a day and I got the peanut butter, so..."
"You got the bike fixed?"
"Oh, yeah." I pointed at him as he bumbled past and up the stairs. "And that." Wrote some bullcrap for a couple hours after that.
TRX in the cold basement, coffee and milk.
Brushed teeth, tossed, turned. First day over with, and probably plenty gained even with nothing earned.