April 22, 2004

Sentence: Extended

Yet again i am reminded how that thing about the bang and the whimper is completely true. As i have mentioned to virtually everyone, itís boring here in Las Vegas. I knew when i moved here that since i donít do speed, gamble or fuck for money, i wouldnít be partaking in any of the house vices here and would have to, to a certain extent, make my own fun. Never mind that i couldnít do this in New York, somehow i was going to do it in a town where i knew no one (not anymore, thank god), didnít drive and really didnít know what the hell was going on. But the retreat was clumsily planned all around and itís just another thing i overlooked in my disorganized and ultimately futile flight, along with the lack of decent food, any form of higher culture and the fact that itís all freakiní white people in sweatshirts drinking Budweiser. Not even tallboys. I keep telling myself that any casino floor is one of the best classrooms a student of the human condition could have, but the lessons aren't what they used to be, even when Big Elvis has taken the stage.

So, essentially, itís hard to get my ass out of the house. I have nowhere to go once i do and no one to talk to once i get there. To be honest, iíve started feeling faintly nauseous every time i start gearing up to go outói donít mean to class or the supermarket, but someplace that would be a spot for social gathering if i had anyone to a) socialize or b) gather with. It takes two hours, five albums and several shots of Southern Comfort, trying to find an outfit that is kind of cute, but not too cute--which is another problem, when youíre blonde and six feet tall, you canít just hunker down on a corner barstool and go unnoticed. No, everyone knows youíre there and everyone knows youíre there alone. And i know iíll hate it, iíll be uncomfortable and miserable, i know itís pointless, i know itís meaningless, i know itíll just be another hour of standing against the wall, trying not to gulp my greyhound too fast and feeling much as F. Scott Fitzgerald once described in one of his many rejected film scripts: ďHer loneliness was so intense that she concentrated hard on looking like she hoped no one would talk to her.Ē But, like E. Carl Swanson keeps reminding me via his late-night cellphone pep talks, ďYou gotta be in it to win it.Ē And i march myself into the trenches at least twice a week, get on the bus, wander the Strip, roam the casinos, watch the band, huddle in a booth, sit at the bar until some vaguely-to-very creepy guy starts sending me drinks and/or tries to chat me up a little too insistently and i have to leave. Something iíve been wanting to do since i walked in anyway.

But, for now, i swig my greyhound and think about how fast iím regressing. I left New York City because, as i used to say, it was like the last 10 years never happened: After a decade of faithfulóand, according to many, exceptional or at least unique--service to the journalistic profession, i was totally useless and unemployable. But i come to Vegas and itís like the last 20 years never happened: i have no friends, i have no life, my personality is atrophying at an accelerating rate and i swear, any day now, iím going to relapse into stuttering like i did in elementary school. Is it any wonder i find myself taking solace in the works of Akira Kurosawa and Public Image Limited? Standing alone in the fog, broken sword in hand, nothing left to scream at. This is what you want, this is what you get.

And, as my college advisor just informed me, i can plan on being here until the end of 2007. I thought i could just finish the teacher's license part and be on my way to complete my mastersí somewhere else or pass on the teaching and slam it all through in one final semester but, no, iím supposed to teach full-time as soon as i get my license and take classes one. a. semester. And thus spend two-plus years completing 12 credits. Thus, the season in Purgatory has become a sentence in Hell. (God, and i when i think of who first compared this town to a season in Purgatory... but that's another story which i sincerely hope i am never drunk enough to tell here.)

But itís Vegas, you say! Itís neon! Itís beautiful weather! Itís no last call! Itís Vegas! Itís drive-in movies! Itís In-n-Out and Fatburger! Itís only one yoga studio within a three-mile radius of your home and even that is countered by the nearby Arthur Murray Dance Studio! Itís Vegas! And it sucks. Itís not just that I have no one to talk to (Not like that keeps me from talking. I most often tend to address the Las Vegas velvet painting souvenir pillow on the couch or the picture of John Starks flipping the bird magnetoed to my refrigerator. I expect to go full imaginary friend sometime in late fall.) or go anywhere with, but this town is pretty beat. Once you get beyond the Strip, and aside from the de rigeur attempt at an ďarts districtĒ (which always means there'll be a few hipsternazis around to irk one) and some odd niches that still give a Bukowski/Sinatra whiff (which perhaps just adds up to the scent of Waits), itís just a big damn suburb. I ride my bike around my little neighborhood past houses and apartment complexes and complex houses that seem to be apartments but who knows because itís all stucco anyway and none of the streets leads anywhere, dead ends and pointless looping-backs all around, all of them with hooker names like Lorilynn Avenue and Heidi Road and Doreen Boulevard that somehow aren't amusing anymore. And i wonder what the fuck happened, how i wound up back in suburbia, once again that gawky, friendless, stammering geek in the corner with nothing to look forward to but a civil service job and a late-model Kia and a one-bedroom apartment with washer-dryer and a couplea cats.

Oh, and did i mention my mom ran into one of the officials in the school district i used to substitute/assist in?The same school district i went to and suffered through for 12 years? Yeah, apparenlty i've got a job back there whenever i want it. So, once i get through doing my four-five years in Vegas and am looking down the barrel of 40, i can go back and work in the very building where i learned the meaning of humilation, rejection, alienation and depression. And i start to think of how easy it is to lay hands on a firearm in Nevada but then i also think how i've always dreamed of dying with perfect hair and Hurrell-quality maquillage and perhaps a replica of the dress Anita Ekberg wore in La Dolce Vita and, well, a shotgun barrel in my mouth would ruin all that.

None of it ever happened. Iím not even Lissa Townsend Rodgers anymore, iím Miss Rodgers. And i sit before the television (Because thereís nothing else to do. I think iím supposed to have a husband or a boyfriend. Thatís how it works in the suburbs: You can go through those two dozen videos they got at Blockbuster alone or with someone the couch next to you. Your choice and that's all the choices there be.) wondering how and where i can get the lobotomy that i increasingly think is the only thing that's going to make this bearable because the heroin quit working a while ago even if i could find it (although i hear crack can be had behind the dumpster next to the Taco Bell on Industrial Road) and it's either what they did to Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or finding Jesus. Honestly, i am so directionless and disconnected at this point that i genuinely fear some kind of religious epiphany. I hear they always get you when you're like that--you're going to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee one morning and suddenly, Jesus pops up from behind the sofa and... well, never mind. Iím sure everyone would tell me what a good freaking idea that is too, and how much better i look since i began following the path of Our Lord and i should really start writing again.

All i know is that my only hope in a life without friends or roots or ties or even that much stuff i like, was the vaguely forming idea that i could at least keep moving. Go to Germany for a little while, maybe live in Venice, maybe Philly, maybe Austin, eventually go to my death in New Orleans, whatís the difference when you have nothing behind you, nothing ahead of you and sure as hell nothing now? If youíre going to spend you life standing in corners avoiding the stares of people youíll never know, you may as well change corners and people as much as possible. But, now iíve got to sit here until the next presidential election. Not even the one coming up, but the one after that. Which means i should vote Bush, i guess. Best chance of getting funding for that lobotomy...

Posted by lissa at April 22, 2004 10:25 PM