Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Silence That Envelopes the House

11:05 p.m. My time. My parents are asleep, their bedroom located behind the living room, while my sister, saddled with a cold, will be asleep soon, if the Disney Channel doesn't knock her out first. I like to think the audiences for "Zack and Cody: Don't Mug Like That or Your Face Will Freeze" are paid something to laugh that loud and that often.

And I've just come back from walking our dogs, Tigger (part miniature pinscher, part Italian greyhound) and Kitty (part miniature pinscher, part terrier), where outside is the most piercing cold I've ever felt not just in the five years I've lived in Southern California, but even in all the years I lived in Florida. Frost on cold nights in Casselberry, near Orlando, was bad enough to kill the tangerine tree that was next to my window, as it is for orange crops as well, as seen on the news around this time of year. But the cold here, throughout the night hours, is the kind that immediately preys upon your vulnerabilities. With me, no gloves on my hands and no ski mask on my face. I refuse because I'd look ridiculous, even in a neighborhood where no one cares, where you live right next door to whomever and only wave at them once in a while. Not exactly a neighborhood where you try to get friendly. They might call the cops, concerned.

Having defrosted from the cold outside, I love this time of night. There is a silence that has gotten into all corners of this house, in between the couch cushions, in my bedsheets which I won't slip into until near 5 a.m., in the space between the refrigerator doors, and I'm sure it's gotten to the silverware and dishes too. For me, it's the kind of silence that lingers, never questioning, never suggesting, but at times, making me think about what I'm doing at the moment and whether I should be doing something else.

I'm nearly done with the newsletter for the night, but what next? Reading through the various Word files I've created with ideas for plays and even some dialogue written? More time spent with the first volume of Neil Simon's plays, studying structure at the same time I sigh with admiration over his dialogue and wish I could write like him? I haven't written any new reviews for Film Threat lately, so what about those DVD screeners from various independent filmmakers? There's one that I've wanted to see for a while, a documentary called "Humble Beauty," about homeless artists. I should contribute to my annual review tally with the Online Film Critics Society, of which I am a member and also on the governing committee. 50 reviews a year, as stated in the bylaws. Or maybe I should retreat to my journal for the night, reading what may sound so simplistic now. Is there anything else I could add that would balance it out?

I don't know what I want to do yet. But the silence rests above and all around, patiently, making me think further. Maybe a novel. Lord knows I've checked out enough of them on my library card as well as my sister's library card. I've got that collection of novels by Carson McCullers and only vowed to continue watching "The Member of the Wedding" on the Tivo in the living room after I finished reading the novel of the same name. There's also the early Steinbeck novels in one collection too. Maybe just the radio? KCRW? Lot of music there that I haven't heard yet, and I could listen and mentally add to my list of city music, that which feels city-like, specifically Los Angeles. I haven't even started a list for Las Vegas yet, and I should, considering how badly I want to be there already, if not for the dire reality of this economy which renders the Clark County School District there unable to hire my father yet as a business education teacher. That's a whole set of entries for another time. More to add to that physical list.

The time to just lay on the couch doing nothing passed long ago. I can't very well lay face up and stare at the marginally high ceiling. It's not a popcorn ceiling like I had in various houses in Florida (we moved a lot), so it's not as easy to find different shapes and scenery in it. Impossible to do that when there's so much read and watch and write about.

The silence can make you think about so much. It can send you right back to better days in memory. It can put you right back on the road toward Northern California, to Casa de Fruita in Hollister where there was a bakery that had the best peach pie in the state, and the most stunning views of the greenest hills you'll ever find, if you stay within the United States for your entire life. England might have greener ones.

I should finish this newsletter, archive it, and set it up to have it sent automatically to 680 subscribers. The newer subscribers are probably on that free trial week offer, and I hope they subscribe right after. Then, I'll answer the silence with what I plan to do. I'll think of something.

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