the sick tower


-- चार हजार एक सौ अड़तीस --

I did not ride my bike to work yesterday, for two reasons: to simplify my stop at a doctor's appointment on my way to work in the morning; and because at the end of the work day, I walked straight to the Meridian theatre, where I read my book for half an hour until Ivan arrived. We saw The Dark Tower, which I already knew from the reviews was going to be bad, but I knew Ivan would like me to go with him to see it, and so I agreed to even though I knew it wouldn't be great.

He apparently walked there from home, stopping at Barnes & Noble on the way. When he arrived there was less than five minutes before the movie was to start, but I knew it would be far from sold out and purchasing ahead of time would be unnecessary. There were maybe ten other people in the theatre at most. It somewhat surprises me to learn the movie actually was $1 at the box office last weekend, although it barely made more than $19 million. I had weak competition, though, and made by far its highest daily gross on Friday, before anyone knew it sucked. Dunkirk has actually reclaimed the #1 spot every day since, which it has done every day except for the Fridays after its opening weekend three weekends ago. (That movie is indeed way better but that's not a high bar for comparison; Dunkirk is a movie I feel is actually good but overrated.)

I'll give The Dark Tower this much: it didn't bore me. I did think regularly about how dumb it was. When it ended and Ivan predictably asked what I thought, I said, "It was about as good as I expected it to be." Later at home, after finally getting to watch Sunday's spectacular episode of Game of Thrones, I said, "That one episode was ten times better than the movie we just saw." He responded, "Matthew!" with mock incredulousness.

When we were walking back home together and I asked Ivan what he thought of the movie, he said, "It was okay. It bore almost no resemblance to the book." Apparently he's only read the first novel in the Stephen King Dark Tower series, so I remain a little mystified by his eagerness to see the movie, even after the bad reviews came rolling in. He's been mentioning it here and there for months. After the reviews came out, I told him I'd still see it with him if he wanted, but if he chose to see it earlier than Wednesday -- his first day off after it opened -- without me then I wouldn't be crushed. He still chose to wait, presumably wanting the company.

Something kind of odd happened on the walk home. We were maybe two blocks away from home, and I cut through a parking lot, assuming he would follow. A car hard parked right in the center of the lot and people started getting out, as though they were just parking there, even though they were not in an actual parking spot. I turned around and could not find Ivan for several seconds. He had chosen to round the corner on the sidewalk. "Did you think you'd lost me?" he said.

"Yeah," I replied. "For a second I actually wondered if you'd been hit by that car."

"I didn't, unfortunately," he said.

That's a strange thing to say. "Well, I'm glad you're still here."

"Well thank you," he said, cheerily. "That makes one of us!"

I just said, "Jesus."

Ivan really likes to make fun of other people who wear their depression and self-loathing on their sleeve, particularly when they do it on social media. The sharing of those feelings on Twitter and Facebook is a key difference, as he certainly never does that, but still, I'm beginning to wonder if some of that derision is a bit of projection on his part. Before the movie I mentioned to him that the night before, "you seemed like you couldn't figure out what to do with yourself." At one point he had come out of his room just, it appeared, to stand and appear undecided about something. And when I mentioned it to him last night, he replied, "I'm trying to figure out what to do with my life."

That's a regular theme of his. I'm so grateful I never really think that way. I have no need to figure out any direction to my life. I don't even think of my life as having direction, really -- it just is, and I am, on average, content with it. I feel like any excessive concern over not being any happier, or even more accomplished, than I already am is a foolish waste of time and energy. They only time I get close to thinking that way is when I consider the massive undertaking it would be if I had to leave Shobhit, which happens nearly every time he becomes a raging asshole. But I always get over it. There's something to be said for both taking the path of least resistance and the fact that I actually still love him as much as I ever did.

The truth is, Shobhit himself is literally the single consistent source of stress in my life. But I guess it could be argued that it's good to have challenges. I like to romanticize our relationship in weird ways. Many times in my mind I have compared us to Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, who, even though they never married, had a notoriously tumultuous, yet legendary, relationship. Shobhit's and mine actually isn't that bad at all, but I like to think of it as a reminder that some relationships are simply destined to be a certain way.

I do think it would be naïve to insist that I know we will always be together, but I still have no genuine expectation of our relationship ending. There may come a day when I just can't take it anymore. Who knows? It simply hasn't happened yet. Shobhit himself had a kind of sad take on rocky relationships when talking to Ivan a few months ago: "It's better than being lonely." Ivan, who has been single for four years, replied, "I would agree with that, actually." I often think of this when I consider the soul-crushing loneliness that comes with a breakup, and yet I don't even truly know what it is like because I've actually never experienced it.

And, as I've noted many times, Shobhit's and my relationship really isn't even that rocky anyway. There's just these incidents every several weeks where he gets angry enough to become a truly insane person. Not violent, just insane, like literally out of his mind, living in an alternate reality in which things that are demonstrably false are true in his world, which makes it impossible to communicate in any effective way. I even have at least a couple of friends who have now experienced this with him, although I would say they handled it in wildly different ways.

I have my own challenges with expressing anger in the most healthy ways, to be sure, and especially when dealing with Shobhit. But, I am still always capable of being reached with thoughtful and rational arguments. Those are the key elements, there: both being able to make thoughtful and rational arguments, and also being able to hear them, particularly in a way that eases hostility rather than exacerbating it. When it comes to such matters, though, I suppose we all have a lot to learn.

-- चार हजार एक सौ अड़तीस --


-- चार हजार एक सौ अड़तीस --

And yesterday was a perfectly good day, for example -- that uncharacteristically dark comment from Ivan notwithstanding. Shobhit even had dinner ready when we were home, and had made enough to offer some to Ivan, which I don't think he'd done since before starting to work again. He made an Asian noodle stir fry with tofu which was really quite tasty, and even with a slightly spicy kick that I liked. (Of course, when I said it was a little spicy, as always, he claimed it's not spicy at all. But that's because Shobhit's seared tongue does not function like a normal human's.) I have a peanut based dressing that functions well as a peanut sauce that I like to put on dishes like this, and that made it even better. Ivan himself was unusually impressed: I'd say the litmus test with him is if he goes for a second helping, which he did.

This all made Shobhit feel good, I'm sure. He loves to cook, he loves to share food he's cooked, and he loves it when people love his food, which they reliably do -- so long as it doesn't injure throats with spiciness.

So we all ate while watching Game of Thrones, for which I decided I could postpone writing my movie review. That battle sequence at the end of the episode was a genuine thrill, although Daenerys's own pride, which she keeps accusing Jon Snow of, is starting to annoy me. That's disappointing since she was always my favorite character, but whatever. Even the best people go down misguided paths! She could get be redeemed by the end. I had really been begrudgingly on her side regarding Jon's refusal to "bend the knee" -- if the stakes are as high as Jon keep's insisting they are, why doesn't he just appease her? But, I was listening to Johanna Robinson on the A Cast of Kings podcast this morning and she made an argument compelling enough to change my mind about that, stressing that Jon's people would lose faith in him if he demurred to a foreign leader they resent. That said, Daenerys could be right that they would follow him if he, as their leader, made that choice -- and provided a compelling reason for it. This is one of those kinds of things you could really go round and round on. What I like about it, honestly, is that this show, even after seven seasons, remains as unpredictable as ever. I have no confident idea of the fate of any of the major players still left standing.

Shobhit rather delighted himself with an idea he came up with, though: Daenerys should create dragonglass armor for her dragons. He was so enamored with the idea that, after he mentioned it to me, he went to Ivan at his open bedroom door to present it to him; and then even posted about it on Facebook. "I advise Daenerys to build dragon glass armor for her dragons," he wrote. How cute. Who does he think he is, Hand of the Queen? (He'd probably be better at it than Tyrion has been lately.)

-- चार हजार एक सौ अड़तीस --

I just had lunch with Karen, at the Six-Seven restaurant at the Edgewater Hotel. The busy season must be over: we're back to it not being too busy for walk-ins and we're getting regular tables again rather than having to sit in the bar.

The view wasn't as great as usual though, because of this fucking persistent smoke. I'm ready for the smoke to go away. I don't even care if it has to stay sunny and hot -- okay, not too hot -- I just want the smoke to go away. I suppose rain would do it the most effectively. There's a "chance" of it on Sunday, which means I'm not holding my breath.

The bill for lunch was much cheaper than usual, since, at my suggestion, we forewent the truffle macaroni and cheese and split the flatbread instead, which is almost half the price. That macaroni is totally worth the price, but I didn't want to have something so heavy, since I'm eating at Bamboo Garden with Stephanie this evening.

Karen had a great story to tell me the moment I arrived. She hosted Book Club last night, and for reasons that totally escape me, apparently Dave put a bottle of wine back horizontally on a top shelf with a temporary cork in it, barely secure. I guess when Karen went to open the pantry this morning, the door pulled off the cork, and red wine cascaded down the pantry, splattering all over everything in there, and all over her, and pooling on the floor. It must have been quite the scene, as Dave was not home, but Anita was, but both Karen and Anita are wheelchair users. Karen mentioned how Anita at one point went "to get the reacher" -- I forget they have a need for such things -- just so she could prop up the bottle and get it to stop dripping. Before that, Karen had quickly fetched a Tupperware container to hold up as high as she could and catch as much of the falling wine as she could.

She said it took them over an hour to clean up as much as they could. They emptied the pantry shelves as high as they could reach, and had to leave that stuff strewn all over the kitchen. Karen never ate the breakfast she'd had prepared and doesn't even know for sure where it had been left in the end. I guess she left a note for Dave when he gets home: he'll need to take care of that top shelf. One detail I found interesting: they had no problem cleaning the wine off the pantry door or off the floor, but they could not get the platter marks off the wall paint inside the pantry. So, it'll just have red splatter marks until it gets repainted. This is right now making me think of when Shobhit bought hair dye to try getting rid of what little gray hair he has, and wound up with some permanent dark splatters on the wall paint in the bathroom in the West Hollywood apartment he shared with Troy.

Later she told me about having just gone to see The Big Sick as a family, and predictably, they all loved it. She didn't even know about it until trying to decide what to go see last weekend and looking up what was playing at her neighborhood theatre. Hell, I could have told her to go see it! I posted the review a month ago.

-- चार हजार एक सौ अड़तीस --