“Gardening” may not be the correct word here: Masha’s radishes and carrots are knee-deep in weeds; her basil is stunted and under-watered; her tomato vines, withered.
Basically, some time in May, Masha sticks a bunch of seedlings in the ground, and then shows up sporadically throughout the season to pluck a few tomatoes, sit in her plastic lawn chair, smoke, and yell at people on her cell phone: “Listen, I pay you good money, and now, I expect you will deliver! Do you understand me?”
“I lose my security clearance, so now I do ecommerce,” she tells me with a good-humored shrug.
Masha has been in the U.S. for 45 years now. She spent her early adolescence as a stateless refugee in Rome, which—connecting the dots—probably means she’s a Russian Jew. I don’t know for sure because we don’t talk religion.
We do talk politics, though.
Masha is a strong Trump supporter.
“I don’t like everything he says. I like what he does,” she tells me.
I shrug and smile. I’m not going to give her any openings.
“That Biden. He has Alzheimer’s! And that Pelosi. She is crazy woman with big popping eyes!” Masha mimes Nancy Pelosi’s eyes for me.
At the root of Masha’s regard for Donald Trump is a furious distaste for all those foreigners who, in Masha’s eyes, are trying to scam the system by crossing the border illegally.
I suppose if I were a better guilty white liberal, I would explain to Masha that the vast majority of those foreigners, at least the ones at our southern border, are asylum seekers, just as she was in the 1970s.
But that seems like a lot of work.
“When we come here, we do not go on welfare!” she continues. “I was working, always working. At 14, I was scrubbing tables, washing dishes in restaurant!”
Here, I do feel compelled to chime in. “Undocumented immigrants are not particularly big users of social services,” I say. “In fact, they probably pay more into the system than they take out because they pay payroll taxes for services like social security and Medicare that they’ll never use. Plus most of them never file to get back their tax refunds.”
She slits her eyes sideways at me. “So, you don’t like Trump?”
“Nope!” I said. “Though I don’t think the world is gonna end or anything if he’s reelected. And there are a couple of things I do agree with him about, particularly his China policies. But, you know, the biggest issue right now is climate change. We’ve got to try and do something about climate change.”
Masha glanced up at the sky and laughed. “It is already too late for that one.”
All day yesterday, we had the most peculiar light.
At first, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. It wasn’t cold. A light breeze was blowing. But I didn’t hear any birds singing.
Late in the day, while I was tromping across the Walkway, I realized what the sky and the light reminded me of: the day of the eclipse.
We didn’t get a full eclipse here. I think maybe it was 70%? No darkness at noon or anything! But the light turned very peculiar, strangely diffused. And there were no animal sounds.
When I got home, I confirmed my suspicions: The smoke from the conflagrations raging along the continent’s west coast—in Mexico and Canada, too, by the way, though you aren’t reading about those fires in your daily dose of Big Media—had finally drifted to New York.
I watched I’m Thinking of Ending It because several people I know had watched it and wanted to talk about it.
I hated it.
I hated it because it was ugly.
I will freely admit that there are many, many things to admire about the film.
For example: I don't think I've ever seen a movie that captured the rhythms of a dream this precisely before. Maybe Alex Proyas’s underrated masterpiece, Dark City.
And the various symbolic motifs are fitted together very cleverly.
I knew—spoiler, spoiler, spoiler—that Jake and the Janitor were the same person practically from the first moment of the movie ‘cause you don’t splice in quick shots of horribly lonely old men staring at beautiful young women unless (a) the old men kidnap the young women (which seemed an unlikely plot twist in this particular movie) or (b) the old men are remembering the young women. Wild Strawberries, anyone?
But I didn’t catch that the young woman didn’t exist outside the Janitor’s imagination until about 30 minutes into the movie when Lucy mysteriously metamorphoses into Yvonne.
Very clever conceit having the film’s protagonist be someone else’s fantasy!
Still. There was an hour and a half of the movie left to go, and much of that consisted of a claustrophobic car ride through a horrible blizzard. I was in bed, sipping bourbon, and I kept falling asleep.
The pandemic has turned me even more superficial than I was this time last year.
Fun is hard to come by, but it’s all this girl just wants to have!
And I’m Thinking of Ending It is no fun at all. Crossposted from Dreamwidth.