(by Sera, flying solo while Simon jetsets through... Michigan, I think.)
This is not part two of the post on Dreaming About Kissing Hot Writer Man. That will come soon, i.e. when I can muster the level of concentration necessary to write it.
This is, instead, a sweet little post about sincerity. No, really. Stop laughing.
I was a teenager in the 90s. The age of grunge, and the Scream movies, and just generally a time in which deep emotion was expressed through eye-rolling, sarcasm, and the layering of flannel shirts. Occasional whining was also allowed (think Winona Ryder in... every movie she ever made). If you were actually yelling about something, you were advised to look down, whereupon you'd doubtless discover you were holding an electric guitar and the yelling was singing and the guy standing next to you was Stone Gossard.
I get the sense irony hasn't exactly gone out of style. So allow me to be way, way uncool and step over that steaming, java-scented pile of cynicism and over to the frolicing happy gnomeland of sincerity.
Not that I haven't been known to affect a fairly convincing Sylvia Plath glower when the weather turns crisp. There's something about fall that's innately depressing. I chalk it up to the influx of cold, the sooner sunset, and the traditionally Holocaust-heavy Yom Kippur sermon (with special bonus discussion of how the current Israel situation is shittastic) that you have to sit through when you're really, really hungry. Summer's all bye-bye, and with it that lazy feeling of entitlement: of course you're doing something - you're enjoying the weather!
I live across the street from a non-descript apartment building that seems to house a large number of Orthodox Jews. I suspect it's some kind of co-op situation, with a synagogue/preschool on the ground floor, lots of yarkulka'd men and women in long, unflattering skirts, and ancient big wheels in the yard. If I could read Hebrew without the vowels, I'd be able to tell you what the sign over the door says, but alas. Let us live in the mystery.
The thing about the Jews across the street is that they sing their asses off at the slightest provocation. Friday night, Saturday night, mysteriously important non-Sabbath-related nights, holidays, and potentially also just for the fuck of it. Classic, nasal Chazan type singing. LOUD. Till, like, midnight. And lately there's also been some bangin' and some poundin', and I walked Mojo by their place the other day to discover a nice plywood Sukkah in their yard. Ah, yes, of course, Sukkot. Forgot about that one. The redheaded stepchild of Rosh Ha'Shanah and Yom Kippur.
Sukkot makes me happy. Why? First, because it carries itself with charmingly little gravitas. Build a tent, shake a palm frond, sniff a thingy that's not quite a lemon. In Day School, Sukkot always called for lots and lots of crafting. Long construction paper chains fashioned to hang from the rafters. Plus drawings involving glitter. It wasn't about a New Year in which you were kindly advised to do way fucking better than last; it wasn't a Day of Atonement marked by endless crazy praying of the beat-your-chest variety and, in my family's case, Mom fainting from low blood sugar. It was about making fun art.
So, the sight of that Sukkah stoked me. Shook me out of my traditional High Holiday snit. Gently coaxed me to notice the general yumminess of Santa Monica in fall. October (sorry, rest of the world with your shitty weather) is Indian Summer here in Los Angeles. Balmy in the sunlight, curl-up-chilly at night. I think of it as flavored-Starbucks-latte-appropriate weather. Perfect for walking. And so last Sunday I took the opportunity to do my own hemi-quasi-Jewish ritual.
In fairness, it's only really Jew-adjacent. Well, call it Jew-inspired. It's this simple yearly thing I do right after the High Holidays, aka those Holy-ass Days I don't particularly enjoy. What I do is get through the HH one way or another. This year, I skipped services and instead helped throw a disco. I recommend that for all of you who, like me, are made jaw-achingly depressed by the HH. Yeah, I know, apples and honey, fresh start, blah blah. Some of us find the HH as viable as the Hannukah/Christmas season when it comes to lying on the couch feeling all Jean Paul Sartre about the world. So - I wait till they're over, and then I do all the contemplation. I'm a good little contrarian. Here's what I did:
Got up, tossed my laptop in a bag, leashed Mojo, and took an early morning walk to the Mom and Pop cafe five blocks up. I passed the plywood Sukkah, and actually gave it a happy little wave. And then I counted my blessings.
Yep, that's the yearly post-HH ritual:
2. count blessings
(3. now with special bonus French Bulldog!)
Mojo, enjoying quality time with his bone. We know: he's hot.
I know, counting blessings sounds so lame-alicious. I'm with you. I'm kind of embarrassed to even write it, because I know all you bitches are sitting there with your ironic glasses and your ironic haircut and your vector-line-drawing tattoos, judging me for my cringe-worthy Chicken Soup for the Soulness.
I can only deal with it myself by keeping things really simple and not at all Oprah-y. So: no gushing. Just: I am stoked to live in Santa Monica. I am stoked to have such a great writer job. I am stoked to not have a traumatic brain injury that knocks 40 IQ points out of my head, thereby ending my great writer job which would cause me to lose my apartment in Santa Monica. That sort of thing.
Mojo and I took the patio couch. The weather was fantastically room-temperature. The coffee was just bitter enough. (Yes, fine, I'll go ahead and quip it, "like my men." Happy?) The horror script I was working on hummed right along with pep and vim and an appropriate number of eviscerated corpses. The other patrons were using their indoor voices, which I appreciate. The fountain in the center of the patio tinkled soothingly, as if to say, "I am rocking the ace feng shui, my brothers." Mojo curled up next to me and fell asleep, and I thought: I want for nothing. I'm totally blessed up to my eyeballs. Whatever comes my way from here on out is pure, sweet icing. The irony coiled deep in my bones, in my darkest proteins, somehow deactivated, and I just sat there, sincerely liking my life in the way you like someone in grade school that inspires you to work on their valentine for two whole weeks. Wow, I thought, I'm feeling so happy. I'm so... sincere. This is awesome. Also, I'm really glad no one's here to see it.
Later that day, things kind of devolved, but that's to be expected. (What can I say. I'm not just Jewish, I'm Polish Jewish. I'm never surprised by entropy.) Sometimes you get a perfect moment, and when you do, I think you should at least blog about it. Especially when your secret motive is to subtly start a revolution of sincerity that's not syrupy or fake. More like wabi sabi sincerity. Caffeinated sincerity that occasionally falls off the wagon and smokes half a pack of cigarettes in four hours. You know: no-bullshit sincerity.
Up with no-bullshit sincerity, people! Try it for a week. Report back.