hiatus, part 6
March 5, 2008
Heidi is cooking dinner and watching “Dharma and Greg.” Really she’s cooking dinner but really really she’s watching “Dharma and Greg.” She’s trying to do both things at once, which is hard, but she’s trying, which is good, it’s good to try. It’s 5:25. She’s watching the episode of “Dharma and Greg” where Greg takes Dharma to a football game and then Dharma becomes obsessed with football and then Greg gets annoyed and hurt but in the end it all works out. She saw the episode yesterday and now she’s watching it a second time today. “Dharma and Greg” comes on two times every day, at 5:00 and 5:30. The first episode is a repeat of the episode from the day before and then the second episode is a new episode. Well, not really a new episode, they’re all reruns, but Heidi didn’t watch “Dharma and Greg” when she was younger so a lot of the episodes are new to her, except of course the ones she’s already seen. Lauren used to say that they weren’t reruns, they were vintage television. Lauren could wear vintage things and pull them off, but that’s not Heidi’s style, she has to wear new things. Like on “Project Runway” they say “make it work,” but for Heidi, it’s “make it new.” Heidi can’t watch “Project Runway” anymore because of Lauren, because of what it makes her remember and think about and feel. Heidi and Lauren used to go to vintage stores together even though Heidi could never find anything she liked at them except one time a pair of earrings. Heidi could never find anything she liked at them, eventually she just gave up on finding anything she liked at them – she would pretend to look for a couple of minutes and then she would sit down and watch Lauren in dusty mirrors for hours. The mirrors were always dusty, Heidi always coughed at vintage stores because of the dust, that was how she knew she didn’t really belong in them.
“Dharma and Greg” comes on at 5:00 and 5:30 and Heidi always tries to watch it both times, at 5 and at 5:30. It’s a repeat from the previous day at 5:00, but Heidi’s memory isn’t that good so when she watches it at 5:00, it feels almost brand new but more comfortable, softer. Sometimes they’re filming or she has to be at Bolthouse or they have to do some pictures for PCN or she has other important things to fit into her important busy schedule, but most days she tries very hard to arrange her life so she can be home between 5:00 and 6:00. Between 5:00 and 6:00 is when Spencer goes to the gym for his second session, lower body, so Heidi likes to be home then so she can have her personal time, all alone, and during her personal time, which is hers, which she owns, which belongs to her, Heidi likes to watch “Dharma and Greg.” Spencer doesn’t like to watch “Dharma and Greg,” in fact, Spencer thinks “Dharma and Greg” is stupid and crap. That’s a fact, he said it, he came home early from the gym once and looked at the TV and said, “This is stupid, why do you watch this crap, Hides?” He said she should be watching something more educational and contemporary and important to her future and then they had a fight and she yelled and slammed the door and now he doesn’t come home from the gym early anymore. He also doesn’t call her “Hides” anymore, at least he tries not to, he swears.
Heidi knows that maybe “Dharma and Greg” is stupid, that other people like Spencer think that “Dharma and Greg” is stupid and even though Heidi doesn’t think it’s stupid, she understands that it’s a possibility that it’s stupid. But then other people think that Heidi is stupid, sometimes Spencer thinks Heidi is stupid, sometimes he says Heidi is stupid, but Heidi knows she isn’t stupid, so maybe also “Dharma and Greg” isn’t stupid even though other people say it is. That’s logic, like computer programming. Heidi likes to watch television but at the same time she knows that watching television isn’t a constructive activity, it’s entertainment, so she tries to do other things while she watches television in order to better use her free time. Like for example she will read her book about history while she is watching “Dharma and Greg” or she will clean the living room while she is watching “Dharma and Greg” or she will call her mom while she is watching “Dharma and Greg” or she will move the cofee table and do some light aerobics and crunches while she is watching “Dharma and Greg.” This can be difficult, it’s sometimes difficult to do two things at once, the thing and the other thing, sometimes she gets distracted, it’s easy to get distracted, but Heidi thinks it’s important to challenge herself because that’s how you grow.
Heidi’s not doing those other things today, though, she’s cooking dinner. Heidi’s cooking dinner, but she’s not really cooking dinner. Cooking dinner is a difficult activity that a lot of people find intimidating. A lot of people don’t cook because they find it intimidating and difficult. There are so many things that can go wrong when you’re cooking, like it might not taste good and fire and you might not have all the ingredients you need and food poisoning and cutting yourself and salmonella. You don’t get salmonella from salmon, you get it from chicken — why don’t they call it chickenella? Heidi’s cooking dinner but she’s not really cooking dinner, she’s reheating dinner. She’s reheating dinner from Don Antonio’s last night. They always order dinner from Don Antonio’s on Tuesdays – Spencer calls it Taco Tuesdays. On Taco Tuesdays, Brody and Frankie and the boys used to come over and play video games, but now they don’t come over so Spencer just watches CNBC and Fox Business and looks at his laptop like every other day. Heidi doesn’t even really like tacos – when she did the Taco Bell ad, she actually spit out her bite of taco into a napkin, why waste the calories – but Heidi knows how important tacos are to Spencer, how much he cares about tacos, so she makes a sacrifice and eats a taco salad and pretends to like flan. Heidi puts Spencer’s tacos on a tray in the oven so they’ll be crispier for him, they get crispier that way, she saw it on the Food Network. Compromise is important to a successful relationship.
A new episode of “Dharma and Greg” comes on. Heidi loves the theme song to “Dharma and Greg.” Really, Heidi usually likes theme songs with words, theme songs she can sing along to, like “Friends” or “The OC,” she loved that song from “The OC,” California, California, but she also likes theme songs without words, like the “Dharma and Greg” theme song or the “Sex and the City” theme song. Heidi thinks that the “Sex and the City” theme song sounds like drinking a mojito tastes. The theme song to “Dharma and Greg” makes a feeling in her that is like a key unlocking something, it’s a feeling like the feeling she got when she was a kid and her parents let her stay up an extra hour after her bedtime, that’s what the theme song feels like to her.
Even though Heidi isn’t really cooking dinner, she really is cooking desert. Or baking, that’s the right word, that’s the one you use for desserts, that’s proper. Baking. She’s baking apple pie, she’s baking her mom’s recipe for homemade apple pie, from scratch. Her mom bakes apple pie from scratch in Colorado in the small town where Heidi is from, where Heidi was born, and she mixes the ingredients in an old wooden bowl that was her grandmother’s or her great grandmother’s or somebody’s. When Heidi was too short to see over the kitchen counter, she thought that making pie from scratch meant that her mom used her fingernails to scratch the dough and the apples and the butter. She thought that the holes in the top of a pie crust were the scratch, that the scratch was what made it taste good.
Making and baking a pie is difficult and intimidating. Not all of making a pie is like that, part of making a pie is easy. The part of making a pie that’s easy is the part with the apples and sugar and cinnamon, the filling. You just cut up the apples and you mix everything together in the bowl and you can’t really mess up, you can’t ruin it. Even if you don’t get the measuring exactly right, it is still butter and sugar and apples and cinnamon that tastes good no matter what. Brown sugar, how come you taste so good, oh yeah. Sugar and spice and everything nice. The hard part of making a pie is making the crust. Heidi’s doesn’t like having to press the butter and the flour and the shortening together, she doesn’t like having to squish it to make it come together, it’s gross and it makes her hands feel gross and it doesn’t smell good like apples and sugar and cinnamon. And that’s not even the hard part. The hard part is when you have to roll out the dough with a rolling pin. Heidi bought a rolling pin, she liked that part, she liked going to the store and picking out her rolling pin, but you roll it out and you have to be really careful and then you have to make the bottom crust and the top crust. The bottom crust is easier than the top crust because you have to lay the top crust on top of the pie and you have to measure exactly how big the pie is and you have to focus and then the pie crust tears. Heidi’s crust tore so much that she couldn’t use it any more, she had to go the store with flour on her clothes, with bad hair, to buy more ingredients and make another crust and then that crust was hard to make too and Heidi didn’t know what to do.
But now it’s over, it’s done, Heidi has done it, Heidi has made the pie perfect, it is a perfect pie – all she has to do is bake it, after the tacos are done. Heidi looks at her pie, it looks beautiful. Obviously a pie can’t be perfect, nothing can be perfect, no one can be perfect, people and things can try very hard to be perfect and never succeed, but Heidi’s pie is very close to being perfect. She wishes she had made the pie from a recipe in a magazine instead of her mom’s recipe card so she could compare her pie and the picture of the pie in the magazine, because they would probably look exactly the same, that’s how perfect her pie is. Heidi takes a picture of the pie with her phone so that she can e-mail it to her mom. Her mom will be so proud. Her mom is always proud of her, but when Heidi does good things, her mom is extra proud of her, Heidi can tell. The difference in proudness is like the difference between white sugar and brown sugar.
It’s 5:45. In the new episode of Dharma and Greg, which Heidi actually saw a couple of weeks ago, Greg is depressed because his boss gave him a “Very Good” rating instead of a “Superior” rating at work. Heidi thinks there is a difference between very good and superior but that people should be happy when other people think they are doing a good job and not worry about being the best. Heidi knows that she’s not “superior” at a lot of things but she would be happy if people thought she was “very good” at some things, just a few things, just the things that are most important to her. In the other part of the episode, Dharma starts a business that doesn’t sell anything. This makes Greg frustrated and more depressed because it doesn’t make sense to him. It doesn’t make sense to Heidi either, but Heidi’s not very much like Dharma. Dharma is such a free spirit. Some people would say that, that Dharma’s a free spirit, but what does that mean, a free spirit? Does her spirit come out of her body at night and fly around her bedroom like a ghost? How is it free? Does it have something to do with money? Do other people have to pay for their spirits, does it cost them something, but for some reason Dharma was a lucky person and hers came free? Heidi saw on the Discovery Channel how in Ancient Greece people were buried with coins over their eyes to pay to get into heaven – they had real video of the coins being put on the Ancient Greek peoples’ eyes. In some religions, like Ancient Greek religions or Ancient Egyptian religions, which Heidi also saw a show about, you had to pay for your spirit. In the past they used coins, but maybe nowadays you have to get a loan or a high interest credit card to pay for your spirit because of inflation and the Euro. Heidi feels lucky to be a Christian, that Jesus died for her spirit and that she doesn’t have to pay for it because He paid for it. She wonders if he paid for it with dollars or Euros and how much did it cost, how much was it worth? But at the same time that Heidi is happy she doesn’t have to pay for her spirit, it doesn’t feel free, it doesn’t always feel like she totally controls it and can do with it what she wants. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, except sometimes Brent buys them for her.
Dharma has a free spirit and that causes a lot of problems for Greg, like in the episode where she gets put in jail for starting a fight at a hockey game or like in the episode where she almost burns their apartment down or like in this episode where he doesn’t understand her business that doesn’t sell anything. Greg is the opposite of Dharma; he is serious and important and he cares about business and money and important and relevant and serious and contemporary things. But at the same time, Greg loves Dharma and her free spirit. How does it work? How can two people who are so opposite find things between them that are unopposite? Heidi worries sometimes that she doesn’t have enough in common with Spencer. Heidi read in Cosmo that it’s important to share some activities with your man that he enjoys doing. Heidi tries to watch the business channels and the politcal channels on television with Spencer, but she doesn’t like them. It’s just people talking at each other or arguing with each other or shouting at each other and Heidi doesn’t believe in arguments and shouting, they make babies cry. She tried to play video games with him for awhlile but he always won so she quit. When Heidi played board games with her dad sometimes he would let her win, she knew, she knew he was letting her, and it made her feel nice that her dad cared enough to let her win.
Heidi likes the end of “Dharma and Greg” best. At the end of “Dharma and Greg,” everything always works out. Everything always works out except sometimes when it’s a two-part episode, like a cliff hanger. Cliff hangers are called that because they make you feel like you’re hanging off a cliff, which is not a good way to feel. But most of the time, almost all the time, everything or almost everything works out. In the last two minutes of the episode, the problem that Dharma has with Greg is solved or the problem that Greg has with Dharma is solved and they find the way they love each other again and usually they touch each other too, Heidi always notices, like not sexual at all but just because they can’t help but feel the other person, and the audience claps because they are all watching and the feeling the feeling too. Sometimes Heidi starts to clap or go “oooh” and then she realizes she is alone on the couch and not in the audience, but Heidi loves the feeling that the ending gives her, like a pretty pink ribbon is being tied up inside her heart, into a bow like little girls wear when they dress up for church.
The end of “Dharma and Greg” is the best part, but also it’s the worst part because it means that feeling ends until the next day and Heidi has to live without that feeling until the next day. It fades away so fast. Heidi wishes she could stretch the feeling out like dough and it wouldn’t tear, it would just keep stretching until it covered everything and everyone in her life. Heidi wonders why seeing herself on television doesn’t give her the same feeling. It seems like if seeing Dharma and Greg be happy on television makes her happy and gives her the feeling then seeing Heidi and Spencer be happy on television should make her happy and give her the feeling, but it doesn’t and she wonders why. She thinks about that episode that showed them when it was her birthday and Spencer gave her her presents at dinner, the shoes and the coat. It’s not that it doesn’t give her a good feeling to see herself on television, it does, it gives her a good feeling, it gives her a great feeling sometimes, but it’s not the same feeling. Heidi feels something when she sees herself on TV or in a magazine or on the internet, she feels a good feeling, but she doesn’t feel enough, it doesn’t fill her up, it’s just a snack. It’s like measuring spoons and measuring cups. Heidi wants to feel as much as in a measuring cup but all she feels is as much as in a measuring spoon. What is the recipe for happiness, how many ingredients does it take, how much? Heidi wonders if maybe you can’t have that feeling about yourself, you can only have it about other people, like Dharma and Greg.
“Dharma and Greg” ends. It’s 6:01, the news is on. The news is saying something about Britney, there is some video of her in a car at night and there are flashes of light, so many. The news is saying something about a hospital. Heidi doesn’t understand. Did Britney get struck by lightning? Lighting never strikes twice. Or does it, is that the saying, which is it? Heidi feels warm. She hears the front door open. Spencer is home. It’s 6:02. Heidi’s time is over, personal time is over, now it’s time to be together, now it’s time to be a couple. A couple means two, it’s a number and it’s also a relationship. A couple is like a pair but in a pair, the things are the same, they match, but in a couple the things don’t have to be the same, they don’t have to match, in fact, a lot of the times they don’t match because finding a thing that matches another thing is hard to do, very hard. A pear is a fruit you can use to make pie, a match is a stick you can use to make fire. Spencer says something but Heidi isn’t listening, she isn’t looking, she’s not ready to listen to him or look at him yet, she’s not ready for personal time to be over yet. It’s 6:03. She’s trying to stretch the feeling over her like a blanket, like a fort, like a snow day. “Heidi,” Spencer says and he grabs her shoulder and he shakes her, he pulls her back and forth. Heidi looks at him, she has to look at him, but she can’t see him because of something. What is it, why can’t she see him?
It’s smoke, there’s smoke, smoke is everywhere, smoke is filling the house. It’s not a house, it’s a home. It’s not a house, it’s a condo. The night she moved in, Heidi made dinner for Spencer. Really, she tried to make dinner for Spencer, she wanted to make dinner for him, she thought it would be a nice thing, like a thing people would do in a movie when they move in together. Heidi tried to make spaghetti but the pot wasn’t big enough and the water kept boiling over the side. She would blow on it and stir it and it would stop but then she would turn away to talk to Spencer or just look at him for a second and it would boil over again, it kept boiling over. Heidi wondered how it could keep boiling over, there was only so much water, where was the water coming from?
In the smoke, Spencer is running across the room to the kitchen, like a fireman about to put out a fire, like a hero in a movie. My hero. A hero is a sandwich, but a sandwich isn’t a hero. That first night in the condo they had sandwiches because the pot wasn’t big enough to make spaghetti in. They were good sandwiches, Heidi remembers, with fresh baked chips, barbecue flavored. Heidi gets up from the couch and goes into the kitchen. It’s hard to lift her legs, it’s hard to move them, it’s like she has to remind them, “left, right, left.” Doing two things at once is difficult because sometimes you forget about the one thing or you forget about the other thing; there are two things to remember and that’s twice as many as one. That’s hard, that can be hard for anyone, anyone can make a mistake, everyone makes mistakes, no one is perfect, even if they try really hard. In the kitchen, it’s smokier. The tacos are burned, they’re black – Spencer pulls them out of the oven and puts them onto the stove next to her perfect pie. The pan is touching the edge of her perfect pie and Heidi wants to say something or move it but she’s afraid, it doesn’t feel right, she doesn’t feel like she has permission. The condo is filled with smoke. It’s not a house, it’s a home. It’s not a home, it’s a condo. When Heidi put on the apron that first night in the kitchen, in their kitchen, in the condo, in their condo, which they would share together, Spencer grabbed her around her waist and he said, “Well, look what we have here, Miss Heidi’s playing house,” and he swung her around a little bit in the kitchen, like a ride. She said, she remembers exactly what she said, she said, “Well, uh, actually, mister, this is a condo, so really, I’m playing condo.” When she said it, Spencer laughed and while he laughed, he looked at her with this look in his eyes like, you are funny, you are smart, you are unique, you are an individual, you deserve my love. He looked at her like all those looks and she felt like a genius, like a superstar, like Madonna and Julia Roberts and some kind of fancy scientist, she felt important and true and real, she felt like she was giving an acceptance speech for an award she had won without even trying. It’s not a home, it’s a house. It’s not a house, it’s a condo. Heidi looks at Spencer, but he’s not looking at her and even if he was, he wouldn’t look at her like that, not anymore, he doesn’t look at her like that, not anymore. It’s not a house, it’s a condo. Heidi looks above her perfect pie, at the stove, at the clock, at the numbers. It’s 6:05, now it’s time to be together.