2.20.2004

A story

A few weeks ago, I'd gotten the urge to hook up my NES again and play some retro games. This happens every three or four years, and then I basically play Tetris and Bionic Commando and Super Mario Bros. straight for months, until I burn out, unplug the whole setup and pack it away again for several years. At the time, I was hankering to play MLB, the greatest baseball game ever programmed.

Lee was at work for RGIS, counting things. She's had the job for a while, working strange, late hours. We eat dinner together, and then she leaves for work, getting home long after I've gone to bed. I think she was at Shopko, counting pillows and pencils.

I got stoned after Lee left, and I beat the computer at baseball. The final score was 36-2 or something like that. I always kick the shit out of the computer.

So I put Tetris in, and let myself be mesmerized by the shapes, the patterns, and the music I had on - which reminds me: I'd put the iTunes jukebox on my computer on random and threw on my headphones, my favorite way to ignore any tenants. If I can't hear them knock, I don't need to plunge their toilets.

But Tetris - I was having one of those games where you screw up a few key times, then concentrate really hard, then kind of relax and just go with the flow and reach a plateau. This plateau is a place where you rarely even need to turn the blocks, just move them from side-to-side and let them fall. And you get lines, lots of lines.

Then a song came on the jukebox - a reverbed guitar being plucked mournfully under painful singing: Open the curtain and let in the sky. It's about half past 2am, you can tell by the light. Open the window, let in the atmosphere.

Modest Mouse. I didn't even pause the game, I just set down the controller and listened. The song felt like a sleepless night in a cheap hotel room on the edge of some godforsaken LA suburb drenched in hot smog. Lonely, red-eyed, scratchy. It seemed to go on forever, and I wondered if the winter would ever end.

I'm still listening; still wondering if it will ever end, wondering when the sting of bleach in my eyes and the smell of garbage go away.

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