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The November Report
"Take Care" by Deerhunter
December 1, 2019 Sunday 12:00 PM
We were walking through the mall this Friday, in the evening—and it was surprisingly vacant. I ended up only buying a pair of jeans (Guess brand, 99% cotton and 1% elastane, size 28R, button-fly. Not a huge fan of the pale blueness, but it was the only one available that wasn't, like, 92% cotton with 6% polyester—I hate the way those varieties look on my legs). "We" = me, my mother, my father, and my dad's post-doc, who I guess I will name Karl for lack of creativity. I'm naming him because at this point Karl has been to 2 thanksgivings and I guess he goes out to dinner with my parents a lot. I'm glad they people to eat dinner with. I always worry when I'm away that the house is empty and cold??? Like, there was a period between elementary school and early high school, where it seemed like my mom had very few friends, and my parents had very few joint-friends that they could hang out with. That changed with some neighbors that live near the high school (they go to the Unitarian church and have chickens). But I am used to worrying.
I wonder what Karl thinks of them. He seems to like my parents, which is nice!! I wonder how he felt in seeing them interact with me. I know he's seen Caroline, but Caroline is an adult and she acts like one. I don't know, I'm kind of stupid—I just get silly and cheeky with my parents. All kinds of attitude. And they walk so slow and I like to run. Like a six-year-old, I swear. I could talk and talk and talk forever around them. Anyway, Karl was great. He brought us to an Indian grocery store with a restaurant in the back (I know he is Indian but I'm not sure of the details). I brought Alexis, since we'd been hanging out before (more on that later). It was soooo nice. I remember I got Samosa Chat but I don't remember the name of the other dish?? Alexis and I were LIVING.
Also we started laughing and making jokes. I don't know. Being around Alexis can be a little hard only because we've been apart for so long that we are no longer best friends. I guess it took us a while to get back into the groove of being friends. But I'm so glad I saw her!!!!!!! In some ways it was kind of weird (as it always is), but mostly normal. The weird parts occurred only when we went back to her apartment and I met her boyfriend (he's not really her boyfriend, I guess—they're just really good friends that have sex and live together lmao). He was fine, just kind of shy. That wasn't weird either. I just never know how to react when people around me casually pass around a bong, lmao. I guess because I don't really smoke anymore (not that I was ever big on it).
Also, they smoked a spliff on the way back to Troy and I didn't really like that (because I had no choice but to breathe the same air) but I didn't know what to do. I said, "Can you drive and smoke?" and she said, "Hell yeah," and in my head I was like, "Welp, there goes my opportunity....." I figured it was OK as long as I knew that, if I died, it was 100% my fault for knowingly getting in the car with an intoxicated driver. But it turned out fine. I couldn't even really tell she was high. I wondered for a bit if I had a contact high since I know I have a low-ass tolerance. The smoke kept vacuuming into the back seat. I had the window open a crack on the freeway. The air froze the line of exposure between my mid-forehead and the border of my hat.
I liked talking to Alexis. It made me happy, to know her life was still happening, moving forward. Also, her Upstate accent has become more pronounced and it's so interesting!!!! "Cawfee" versus "Coffee" or "Fiyne" instead of "Fine." Basically, just extra syllables. An exaggerated shaping of the mouth as one speaks. I know she sort of got into the heavier bits of the accent for entertainment value mostly, not because it was natural. Well, I was extremely entertained.
ALEXIS'S LIFE & PLANS:
So Alexis still lives in her apartment in the capital (cheaper than Troy, which is now being gentrified—mostly downtown. So average cost of middling apts are, from what I've heard, over $1000 for studios? Not sure if that's accurate, I just knew it was something I vividly could not afford, lmao).
The streets in front of her apartment shimmer with broken glass—it's kind of beautiful. I mentioned this to Alexis and her boyfriend and they said, "You know, I was just thinking, this is the cleanest the street has been all year," and that made me laugh. How very... I don't know. I want to say, how very Upstate, but no, huh? I'm thinking, every small town is the same, except for the weather. Every isolated pocket of the US. Or maybe even beyond that. This one girl in my literature workshop wrote a short story about how mountain towns get stuck in time, and I think it happens like that, relative to the elevation of a place maybe. I have a small network of data, enough to maybe lift it from the category of "anecdotal."
The evidence goes as follows:
1. Apparently, Sandwich tracked his birth parents to a small mountain town in the Catskills. When he went there, he found it was literally a 1 general store town, everyone knew everyone, and there were a lot of illegitimate children. He gathered lots of stories about cousins accidentally dating each other, and how his father was a shitty guy (who also almost went to prom with his cousin). All in all, he is likely the product of incest. I can believe this, because there tend to be a lot of stories about this in mountainous regions.
2. Troy is not quite in the mountains. In fact, it is in the Hudson valley between a few mountain ranges (Adirondacks, Berkshires—more?). The mountains have never been far out of reach, and Troy itself is quite hilly (because it is literally on a slant all the way down to the river. If you look at Troy coming east on that long descending freeway that leads onto Hoosick, you can see the way the town is tiered all the way up to the water tower, lol). Troy changes. People move in and out. That is because Troy is one of the densest areas of population in the area. However, there is something peculiarly "small" about it, despite being (ostensibly) 50,000 in population, not including the 100,000 in Albany, and all those scattered around in: Schenectady (synecdoche), Waterveliet, Cohoes, Colonie, etc. etc. The cafes close at 4 PM. THE CAFES CLOSE AT 4 PM. I feel like this is the only thing I need to say. Maybe it's just because I'm home for the holidays??... no, Alexis and I went to Spillin' the Beans on Friday... still, it is Black Friday... But also, I've known of a sandwich shop that closes at 3 PM every day. They have the best sandwiches. The point being, Troy is the kind of place where cafes close at 4 PM. Alexis was saying, part of what she doesn't like about Troy, is that she can't feel the people in it... there isn't enough traffic, I don't think. And even though there are young people coming in, it's pretty subtle right now. Besides, part of me thinks all these "young" people aren't young at all. They're just people trying their hardest to find security; and part of how they do that is by aging themselves into the mid-30's I've-lived-here-my-whole-life vibe (even if they haven't). Like my sister, who works at the hardware store and greets our neighbors who come in with a smile. That is sooooo small town!!! What the fuck!! She works at a place??? That is not Lowes or Home Depot???
And that's what the young people want to get away from, the big stores and the impersonal-ness of systems that fuck us over. So they're coming here, into boomer towns, and making them better. They're starting small sustainable farms, they're up-cycling furniture, making dairy-free ice cream shops, and all of them selling their goods for a ton of money and it's fine because it's for a good cause, right? I don't have an answer to that, I just wish I could contribute, I guess.
Anyway, this seems to be happening in semi- small towns all over the place. I mean, Troy isn't that different from Providence, except Providence is bigger and the places are open a bit later (the cafes don't close until around 9 or 10 PM, but for sure everything in the east side is closed by 2 AM). Providence has their market shares, their Whole Foods, their versions of art centers, etc. etc. It feels a bit more impersonal due to the distance that one must travel to get to where you have to go. And I still find it crazy that I can walk to the mall. I can WALK. To the MALL. Never in my life has that been an option before Brown.
Anyway, I've lost my train of thought now. I think small towns are the same everywhere. Is my point. And they get the more same-same, they stay frozen, the harder it is to reach them. That seems like a reasonable enough hypothesis.
[A tidbit, overheard just now:
"Why the heck you have a phone if you don't use it????" - my mom, every time I come home and probably also when I'm not home, at my dad because he never looks at his texts or calls. My dad receives her criticism with absolute facelessness—I swear I've never seen a man so unbothered. "I didn't look at my phone," he says, unnecessarily, and with a little pride.
And also my mom: "Traders Joe" and I correct her and she says, "Waaaahh, nO ONE HAS CORRECTED ME! They are politically correct, they probably think I'll get offended!" hahaha mama]
Continuing Alexis's plans.
So her GPA dropped significantly after a hard semester (which really sucks, she had a 3.8 which went to 2.6). She still doesn't really know what she wants to do, but she knows she loves math and ecology, so hopefully something with that. My dad suggested she go into field biology, or she become some kind of computational environmental scientist, which he says is in high demand right now. There was a more specific name for whatever field analyzes the meta-data of, like, biomes etc., but idk what it was. He said something about needing to know the physics of lakes.....
She is going to apply to some schools in California and I hope she gets in. She's been trying to get out of the capital region since high school. It bothers her, that she's working the same jobs and doing the same things she's been doing since then. Never quite settling down, she says. Her apartment wasn't even set up until a couple weeks ago even though I'm pretty sure she's been living there for almost a year. But I do think she needs to get out. I mean, if only because that's all she *wants.* I don't think, necessarily, that this place is dead-end—it's really not. In fact, I may come back to Troy after college because if anything it seems like it's becoming a ripe place for us young un's!! Alexis could definitely make a life here. But I want her to get out, get away from her family and into the waaaarmth. She would like it more.
And somehow... part of me feels like the people here aren't good for here. Her particular community, that is. They might make life fun, but I don't know. Everything I hear about them makes me feel like that's all they're around for. Ugh, maybe I'm jealous? Maybe I have some judgments as far as weed goes? I know Liv has the same doubts regarding Alexis's friends, but I don't trust Liv lmao. Liv also thought I was an alcoholic very briefly, lmao. Liv doesn't trust anything she doesn't understand. Which is fair, but then she makes these leaps in logic. From fact (i.e. Veronica drinks every weekend) to, uh: Veronica is an alcoholic, which is an entirely different thing.
[Dad's afraid to send our Christmas card out. Our card is two versions of our family, one as normal and one gender-bent, which we did using snapchat. The caption says "happy holidays!" but we put it through a satanic text generator. And now he thinks if anyone looks up the font they will think we are "sending a message," especially if that is is juxtaposed with our "trans-gendered" versions of ourselves....lmaoooo... I mean, we're the ones who had to stop dad from captioning the x-mas card w/ something like "MERRY TRANSGENDERED X-MAS!!!" which, he said, was "topical."]
So maybe I'm being paranoid about her friends. I don't like them, that's all I know. I don't like her boyfriend. He seems nice, but I mean.... he lives in her apartment and doesn't pay rent and gets a ride from her all the time. She was complaining, she said, "We had to have a talk and I had to say, you know, I'm not your MOM," and she said if it doesn't get better... well, the consequence was unclear, but I think it means they go their separate ways? I think her tolerance for bullshit is much too high, but I imagine if I were in her place I'd likely do the same.
Thanksgiving, by the way, was fine!!! I was tired and mostly didn't speak, even though I was supposed to help Caroline endure the endless talking of our annual guest, Emma. She was in my sister's graduating class, and I remember she used to hang out at our house a lot when we were all in grade school. I never really liked her, not even then. She was sooo controlling and she thought she had the most beautiful singing voice (she did not). And now little has changed, except that now she talks endlessly about the minutiae of her life without stopping to inquire about anyone else's life. I don't think she likes me. I think I am a bit mean to her, but I don't know how obvious it is. To entertain ourselves, Caroline and I usually ask very small questions. She was telling us about pie day at her place of work, and I asked about the exact width of the pie—two or three inches? How long were the isolateral sides??? How tall was the pie? And the ratio, of filling to meringue?
This was partly making fun of her habit of going into intense detail about boring shit. She possibly playing along. My sister referred to us doing this as "taking control of the narrative." I don't understand how my sister is so nice to people. As the younger one, I have the luxury of being rude. I can go off and read, like a bookish middle-schooler.
I can bring up tattooed sclera and make Emma say, "Let's not talk about this at the dinner table.." hahahahaha. What a nerd. My sister and I are not the squeamish type. In fact, we like the gross stuff. We really do.
We had dinner with Joshua (my sister's boyfriend) last night and it was muuuuch better. He's a weirdo, but the more I see him, the more he grows on me. It's hard to know how to navigate your interactions with him, because his primary goal in socialization is to figure a person out—that is, figure out what bothers them, what intrigues them, etc. He always keeps at least two lines of conversation going at once with the same person. He'll pick up one or the other at random. He'll change modes at cliffhangers. It gives the illusion of connection or metaphor, like a literary device, you know? Caroline says he also has a habit of staring right above a persons eyeball, "looking right through you." Hahahaha. He says he likes to do that because people usually can't tell what it is that is making them uncomfortable.
They invited me to their New Year's party, where Joshua will just be cooking all night. He loves to cook. I like their relationship a lot. I felt pretty threatened by him initially, but no, I like him now. I'd been having nightmares in which they broke up (2 nightmares, to be exact, in the past 30 days). Not sure why. But they seem OK. Joshua and I ham-boned yesterday, and then learned how to play the spoons. See??? What a good guy.
Also I saw Parasite, it was amazing, but I'll talk about that another time. Or I won't. I went twice. Once with Diego and Nadiya back in Providence, and then with my sister and Dad here in Albany. Caroline looked a little traumatized at the end, which made me feel very guilty for a moment, and then pleased that it affected her so much.
I went for a walk in the woods yesterday. It was freezing. I took the long hike, the one that peters into a deer-path towards the end. I nearly slipped off the side of the hill. I would've gone tumbling into a very icy creek. That's kind of my aesthetic, so it'd be a good way to die. But I walked on all fours and tried to pay close attention.
I stood by the water and watched it rush around. I took videos and pictures. Ain't nothing like hometown waters. I remember walking on the frozen lake last Thanksgiving, with Nadiya and Maria. The litterfall. A woman walking her small dog through the woods. She greeted me. I said, "Chilly, huh?" and she said, "Sure is! Enjoy!!" and I felt happy even if that was a kind of strange, waitress-y thing to say. Ain't nothing, ain't nothin, ain't nothin. I wanna be home forever but I can already feel the restlessness beginning to set in. I'm leaving in about an hour so no worries about that. A shame to go back into reality, though. Shame, shame, shame.
Hey, I should go. I have to get ready to catch the bus. Mom's trying to get my prescription at the CVS. I'm starting on lamictal soon. I told them why and everything, and they seemed concerned, but they're fine and I'm fine and everything is fine.