I feel Ashley get out of bed and look at the clock. It’s a little before eight in the morning. I roll over, remembering today’s the day I’m driving her to work in her car, then taking it to get the oil changed. I’m annoyed. I wonder if there is any reason to put it off until the weekend. Life would be so much better if all the petty, mundane bullshit could just be perpetually put-off. What a shame there isn’t a Nobel Prize for procrastinating. But then I’d have to find a place for it. . . . I turn my face to the wall and drift back to sleep as the shower pulses on across the hallway.
It’s around 9:30 and we’re nearly to Smithsburg. Ashley skips “You’re My Thrill” and “Ride of the Valkyries” to get to the My Chemical Romance cover of “Desolation Row.” She gives me a look. “I know you don’t like it . . .” she says, guilty, seeking permission but not asking. Which strikes me funny; this is her car. I tell her it’s okay, we can listen to it. Objectively, it’s not that horrible of a song, aside from the fact that it cuts out two-thirds of the lyrics and completely misses the point of the original.
We stop at Food Lion. Ashley is showing How to Make an American Quilt this afternoon and wants to buy popcorn. We’ve never bought microwave popcorn at this Food Lion, and finding it is like locating the final resting place of fucking Noah’s Ark. Fortunately, the grocery store being much smaller than the Middle East, and microwave popcorn not being completely mythical, we find it eventually. From there we go to the post office. I walk in with her in case she needs me to carry something, but she can handle it. I drop her off at the library. She gives me a kiss good-bye and I’m off to Wal-Mart.
A few minutes after ten and I’m talking to the woman in the fluorescent vest outside the Tire and Lube Center. They have some new treatment they can put on the battery to make it last longer, or start faster, or whatever. I’m not really sure what she’s saying, but it’s only ten extra bucks so I tell her to go for it. She gives me a slip of paper with a barcode and says they’ll page me when it’s done. I enter Wal-Mart through the back door, walk straight through without stopping, though I linger for a moment or two at the endcaps on the action figures aisle, and leave through the front door. I walk to Borders and buy two comic book trade paperbacks — volume one of Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly’s All-Star Superman, and Jeff Smith’s Shazam!: Monster Society of Evil. Tom rings me up. He’s a nice guy who sings the praises of Grant Morrison’s recent work on Batman. He’s read way more comics than I have recently.
My comic buying has slacked off dramatically the last five years or so. Reading something new, that I haven’t read before, is only an occasional event thanks to lack of funds and changing taste — there just aren’t that many comics (superhero comics, anyway) that I think are much good. Most of the stuff I’ve read on Batman recently has been dogshit. Maybe I’ll give Grant Morrison’s run a look when it comes out in softcover.
It’s 10:42 and I’m sitting in McDonalds eating a Big Mac and reading All-Star Superman. It’s good. I arrived a few minutes late for breakfast; this is the earliest I have ever eaten a Big Mac in my life. There is a screeching sound over my head, like a set of bad brakes. I look around to see what it is. Over my head there is a track suspended from the ceiling, running all around the dining room. I never noticed it before. It’s my first time in this McDonalds. Running on it is an electric model train. My irritation dissolves to wonder. Since I was a child, I’ve loved trains. My grandfather worked on the railroad for almost half his life, running trains first for the Western Maryland, then for CSX. As a teenager I became enamored of the films of Buster Keaton. The first feature of his I saw was Three Ages. When I found out Keaton was a train lover shortly thereafter, it sealed the deal. He was never anything less than my favorite actor from then on.
It’s almost one in the afternoon and the car is just now ready for me to pick it up. The ten dollar battery treatment took forever, but I am finally on my way back to the library. I arrive and find Ashley working in the office. I tell her about the car. I tell her about the train and she smiles at my childish enthusiasm. She’s getting off early today and has a long weekend starting tomorrow. I can’t wait.
It’s 1:10. The equipment for the movie checks out in the community room. Ashley has books to order. I walk out into the library, sit down at an empty computer, and begin to write. So far, so good. It has been a good day.