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A Descent into Palm Springs

Three days in paradise.

“Our descent into Palm Springs could get a little bumpy, so make sure your seatbelt is fastened securely around your waist,” the pilot announced over the intercom.

I’d already checked my seatbelt twenty million times over the course of the 2.5 hour flight. But I wasn’t about to ignore the advice of the person holding my life in his hands. I tugged at the tightener thingy again, the seatbelt creating a painful canyon in my belly flesh.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to die in a plane crash one day.

It will almost be unfair if I don’t. Because then I would have wasted all this time and energy worrying about plane crashes without any payoff. That’s bad structure, narratively speaking.

The average temperature in Palm Springs was about 104 degrees. 104 degrees. That’s a real temperature that real people actually exist in without shriveling into withered leaves then disintegrating into ash on the scalding pavement before melting away into whispers.

My ancestors were northern people. They came from dark lands where everyone was depressed 11 months of the year and no one ever heard of vitamin D. If it wasn’t raining, they got disoriented and lost track of which squatty, thatched roof house surrounded by sheep was their squatty, thatched roof house surrounded by sheep. They read by the light of flickering lanterns, buried themselves in furs 110% of the time, had skin paler than naked mole rats, moped around a lot, and were basically the Starks of Winterfell with slightly less killing. Or more killing. Could be either.

No one actually told me this. But I assume it’s true.

Because I’m not great in hot places.

I noticed an email in my inbox from McSweeney’s submissions account. I knew what it was going to say. Roughly.

“Good tips all around, but I’m afraid I’m going to pass. Thanks for shooting this one by us, though.”

So far my particular brand of goofballary hasn’t aligned itself with the sort of goofballary arbitrators of popular comedic culture hunger after. Alas. Am I too random? Too specific? Too boring? Too weird? Or are there just too many humans in the world? If a plague wiped out 3/4 of the population, could I get a book deal?


Perhaps it is the fault of my ancestors, who sat in their huts grunting at each other instead of spending their time honing comedic monologues. Yeah, I’m going to blame them. Probably it’s their fault I can’t bake a cake to save my life, either.

I should have had French ancestors.

Palm Springs is full of houses where stars used to live. If you’re so inclined, you can drive around and check them out. They all lived somewhat close together and I like to imagine them pestering each other for sticks of butter and probably drugs.

Behind that fence is where Elizabeth Taylor used to live.

Behind that fence is where Elvis used to live.

Behind that fence is where Marilyn Monroe used to live.

Behind that fence is where Frank Sinatra used to live.

Behind that fence is where Carrie Fisher used to live.

It’s a lot of fun and doesn’t at all make you think about dying.

It was too hot to swim, if you can believe it. Sure, the part where I jumped into the pool probably would have gone alright, but the part where I came back up for air was risky.

I wasn’t in Palm Springs for my own amusement. If that had been the case, I would have gone when the thermostat was a little lower, so I could photograph the shit out of all the vintage signage and post pictures on my Instagram that made me look like a carefree, influencer wannabe. Maybe a shot of a pina colada and my painted toenails with a quote about grabbing my dreams by the neck and wringing wringing wringing until I become actualized or activated or asphyxiated or something.

Yeah, that would be pretty sweet.

Instead, it was more of a family memorial situation.

I’d really like it if someone could invite me to a wedding this year, because I’m on pace for the memorials to outweigh the weddings.

Or I could come to the birth of your child.

I promise not to hum “I Want To Break Free” while you’re pushing and screaming.

Just, something life affirming would be good. Instead of the constant stream of people slipping away, transforming themselves into memories.

Memories don’t do me a lot of good. I have a terrible memory. I prefer the calm assurance of knowing a person is somewhere out there in the world, maybe planting a garden or complaining about politics or scratching their nose. Living.

I braved the outdoors one morning for a latte, but the heat waves must have already gained control of my mental strings, because I forgot to add the word “iced” to my order.

The latte they handed me was hot to the touch, with steam rising up and melding with the scalding air, smelling like recrimination fused with the fumes of hades. I’m sure the barista thought I was some sort of masochist and later I’d be out in the desert searching for hot coals to cross.

“I meant iced!” I wanted to tell her. “I just forgot that part! I like being happy!”

Instead I drank it. Silently.

It was coffee, after all.

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Engaged in inadvisable wordsmitheries and other creative acts.

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