Wednesday, January 30, 2002

joie de vivre

how is it possible that the company of another person can change your mood so drastically? do humans have no free will - no ability to resolve to be angry? are we so easily molded by the objects and people we encounter? is this idea of an independent self hogwash?

i am becoming more and more convinced that this is so. my mood shifting with the fact that it was seventy degrees today, making me happy. my dad's presence making me unhappy. so, so unhappy. i got in contact with joni, knowing that i needed to change my surroundings to change my mood. joni was doing some stuff at the library and told me to come meet her there. and so i did. i haven't seen her in a while, nearly two years, and she changes her hair style a lot, and i entered the library thinking that i might have seen joni sitting at a computer. the girl was black and skinny, but lots of girls are, and so i wasn't about to say hi to some possible stranger. i sat down at the computer next to her trying to get a glance at her face, and her hair was covering it. finally i got a glimpse and saw that it was joni and, this is the point at which some new bouyant mood emerged from nowhere.

i bounced around the library with joni so excited about seeing her, talking about our lives, and looking at the religion books since joni was looking for some system to explain life. i started looking too, not really finding anything that seemed suitable. i went and picked upinterview magazine, sat down on a couch with joni, and sparkled. marveled like a kid listening to a bedtime story as joni told me wild story after wild story in her exaggerated way.

we then decided to rent some movies from blockbuster. joni got her little sister whom she was baby-sitting, brianna, out of the children's books and we went to the evil blockbuster where i had like ten fucking dollars in late fines. we picked out sugar and spice and while we were waiting in line to pay for the movies, i saw that the thirty year oldish woman behind us in line looked real familiar. i had no fucking clue where she was from, i was thinking and thinking and then there was that a-ha moment and i quickly turned around, saying: you're the cafe manager at barnes and nobles! as if she did not know who she was. she recognized me and i told her how i tried calling her this morning and how they wouldn't let me start training until next tuesday. she was real nice and friendly and it was sort of real random running into her at this blockbuster half an hour away from b and n. seeing her and talking to her made me so happy about this magical idea of conincidence.

we went back to joni's house - joni still having to babysit her sister until her mom came home. we listened to the new wu-tang cd that joni got for free as a promo working at kemp mill. the album is soo good. while we were listening to it, the three of us played sorry. i was doing so bad, being bumped off the board every time i got out of start. i was laughing hysterically, for some reason taking so much enjoyment out of getting all competitive with an eight year old. we played two games. the first time i lost. the second time i came in second.

joni's mom came home, and we were about to leave to go to sharmain's apartment to watch the videos, when joni's mom, just like the last time i saw her, started yelling at joni about not having brianna in bed, about leaving a pair of shoes out, about a messy living room, and about a glass in the sink. while joni was running around the house doing her crazy mom's biddings, i sat on the couch, and bit my tongue trying so hard not to laugh. her mom yells about the most petty things, in the most serious manner, and in a thick jamacian accent. the three combined to make me want to laugh out loud. i did my best to hold back my laughter, but then between the yelling, her mom would ask me how i was doing, and she could tell that i thought this was funny. started to giggle and asked me, now would you just leave a pair of shoes that you borrowed sitting on the stairs and not put them back? except the question was much more detailed and much more funny when she said it.

finally joni finished her chores. her and her mom bickered some more to my amusement and then we were out the door. some jay-z song started playing on the radio, and joni to my further amusement went on how about how lame jay-z is, and how much she loves nas. i agreed with her about how lame jay-z is, but said that nas is pretty lame too with how obsessed with jay-z he is. we argued over nas's abilities, both agreeing that he is a fucking awesome lyricist, but that was as far as we could agree. we got to sharmain's, who i have not seen since high school, and she was living in an apartment with her boyfriend and two massive dogs, redman and sierra. as soon as i got in the apt, these dogs were tackling me, and i was so excited, i have not gotten to play with any dogs in so long - missing my dogs - rolling around playing with charmaine's, so happy - dogs seriously make me happier than anything in the world. joni put in the new dilated peoples album, we took shots of smirnoff, bobbed our heads, ate some food, talked, and then started watching sugar and spice. the movie was pretty lame except for the robbery scene and this one cheerleader who was obsessed with conan o'brien, making me so happy. throughout the movie, the dogs would jump over joni and hop in my lap and lick my face and knock me over - and charmaine asked me if i was wearing dog cologne, and i was made so happy by these hyper dogs.

the movie ended, charmaine went to bed to get up for work in the morning. and i really didn't feel like watching another movie, so me and joni made for home, having another conversation in the car about music. and i was so glad that i could have a decent conversation about music with someone. i got home, saw the full moon shining wonderfully, felt the oddly warm air, lingered on my doorstep, savoring my feelings of joy. i came in, and my dad was still up, watching cnn on the couch. he didn't even annoy me tonight. his drugs had taken effect and he was the normal dad i knew forever, balanced and stable staying up late watching cable news.

and the writer of pipi longstocking died yesterday and there was an article in the washington post that i just read that i really loved, and here's a section that is making me smile with delight:

We all want to be Pippi, but the truth is, few of us are. More likely we're a Tommy or an Annika, Pippi's normal friends from next door. They are the foils to our outrageous Pippi: Annika, always concerned about the state of her dress, and Tommy, whose ordinary-boy bravery seems feeble by comparison with Pippi's. Before Pippi, brother and sister "played nicely with each other in their garden," Lindgren writes with some disdain. Most of us are the average ones, the easily cowed ones, the ones whose complacency is belied only in our dreams.

"Do you live here all alone?" Annika anxiously asks Pippi when she first surveys her ramshackle house.

To which the redhead replies, "Of course not!" There's the horse and the monkey, too.

Pippi is teaching us to live outside ourselves. There is a decisive moment in the first book when Annika spills coffee on her own dress, but by this point, Pippi has freed her from such a mundane concern. "First it was warm and wet, and then it was cold and wet, but that didn't matter to her."

Through Pippi, Lindgren posed the question of what really mattered.

"With laughter and seriousness, fantasy and a little audacity, one becomes tall even if one is little -- that's what she taught us," said Prime Minister Goran Persson of his country's wildly popular children's author.

Pippi Longstocking doesn't need anyone, which is not to say she doesn't need anyone. There is always something mysterious and sad about Pippi's distanced relationship with her father, who lives as a pirate on the South Seas. This, and Pippi's occasional loneliness, are the only elements that hint at something deeper.

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