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Friday, July 14, 2000


This morning on the way to the airport, I noticed I was stressing in a way that was setting me up for a headache and a miserable day, so I sat up straight, took a relaxed breath, and tried to conjure up the comfortable attitude I associate with the awareness that whatever happens, I'll die in the end anyway. But quite by accident--an artifact of having less than four hours sleep no doubt--I stumbled upon that simple optimism that was familiar to me in my youth, a feeling which I'd all but forgotten and which is fleeting from my grasp even now. Really it was just a taste, like a sense of deja vu, a reminder of something from the past now extinct, unable to survive in this modern climate.

I sit here now, in a tin can with wings, watching out the window a man in his middle forties, with the gentle disposition and permanently open mouth common of an IQ under ninety, gingerly pull the bags out of the baggage cart and place them neatly on the conveyor feeding the body of the can. And now he's done and the cart pulls away leaving the empty tongue of the conveyor conveying old baggage stickers round and round, as if the body were still hungry for more baggage but the supply has run dry.

I look at the greyness that is Los Angeles through the shimmering heat leaving the back end of a nearby idling jet. My eyes scan forward to the little windows behind which I can only infer are rows and rows of biological organisms much like myself, perhaps looking out those windows and musing at me. Where is that simple optimism I tripped over this morning? Was it just a mirage? I am still searching for it, within myself, wishing to clarify its nature, dissect it so I can use its parts, perhaps reassemble it into something newly viable.

Airborne now. Having daydreams of using the inflatable emergency exit slide as a parachute after the wing rips off the plane and I bounce my way through the tumbling cabin past the strapped-in and stunned passengers naively hoping the pilot will pull the plane out of its limp tumble toward the ocean. Note to self: Emergency exit doors over the wings do not have inflatable slides.

Turned sideways now, in a manner only someone as skinny as me could manage, and still my shoulders barely fit between my seat-back and the one on front of me. It's impossible to type facing forward once they lean back their seat. I find to my dismay I have, without intent, eaten the entire contents of the packet of carbohydrates and fat which I was handed in an elaborately decorated foil packet. I even told myself just moments ago I was done after the first nibble, but somewhere in the midst of my contortionist logistics my lower brain automated the task I had consciously canceled. Fortunately, they had milk as well, which may sufficiently brace me against a glycemic crash.

The Asian fellow sitting next to me, twirling his hair too short to twirl, reminds me that Michelle will be off to China soon, direct from New Orleans where we'll be eight days from now for Siggraph. Her latest journal entry chisels yet finer detail into the portrayal of my life as the movie Guinevere. If only I had succeeded in taking up drinking, I'd have the role down pat. I wonder at the patterns in my life, whether I am somehow determined to find another Guinevere even though it's not what I think I'm looking for.

Or is it?

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com