Sometimes nostalgia comes at you in the form of a long-lost classmate whom you might run up and hug and reminisce with or a person whom you duck under a store aisle to avoid because you remember you didn't have much in common with them 10 years ago and that you doubt your paths in life have converged much more since then.
Sometimes nostalgia is an old letter or a scent that reminds you of an old lover or a really really old lintball under the bed that reminds you of the time, years ago, when you last cleaned under a bed.
Nostalgia. So thick you can smell it. Sometimes nostalgia is sweet and fragrant, like you imagine Halle Berry might be after a shower. (Sometimes you imagine this more often than is really healthy, but that's a whole other entry.) Sometimes, it's funky and awful, like David Arquette.
I never expected nostalgia to be sitting in my grocer's frozen food aisle in bulk, available for $4.99.
Behold: I give you Rectangular Cafeteria Pizza!
It's tough for me to know how many of you out there experienced it, but for at least five or six years of my life, this exact kind of pizza that I found at my local H.E.B. was what I ate at the school cafeteria through elementary school.
I was stunned that this pizza still existed. Hadn't pizza technology moved forward since I was a young lad with no discernible taste in pizza? I couldn't believe it hadn't been some concoction created secretly, under cover of darkness, in school cafeterias. No. This pizza had a manufacturer. And now that manufacturer has gone from selling these pizzas in huge, oversized, sliceable sheets to cutting up the goods, freezing them, and shipping them out to all of us.
Because it wasn't enough torture that I ate this same pizza every Friday of my formative brain/neuron-development years, but now, at the age of 27, I found that my wits and my more developed taste buds were no match for the Pavlovian response all those years of cafeteria food had trained in me. I had to have that pizza. The next thing I knew, it was in my shopping cart and then in my freezer.
It's quite possibly the first bulk food purchase I've ever made that was part involuntary response, part kitsch.
Each pizza came in an individual plastic wrapper. I cooked it in the oven almost immediately, following carefully the directions on the overstuffed box, lest I ruin the nostalgic rush of emotions and tastes that would surely flood my brain as soon as I bit into the 'za.
It didn't taste the same. In fact, it tasted cooked, which was all wrong. The pizza I remembered was nuked, not cooked. It was floppy and pasty, not crispy and hot. Maybe if I'd cooked it at half the temperature or just microwaved it, or placed it on an electric blanket set to "Medium" I might have approximated the pizza I remembered from my youth.
So, the moral is, you can never go home to your... uh, pizza hut, er, home... at the cafeteria... without microwaving, to, um, go home again.
Right. That's it. You can never do that again. Because no one will know what the Hell you're talking about. The best you can do is cook your nostalgia at 400 degrees and bury those old rectangle-pizza memories.
The work situation is a lot better. Not because anybody said or did anything, but just because two weeks have passed since what I'm calling, "The Bullshit Crisis" and I still have a job that pays and a desk and the means to pay my mortgage (just barely). So, I figure I'm ahead of the game.
I used to really not care what happened with work in some ways; like I always figured if things went wrong, or I made a huge mistake, or the job market just tanked (which it has), that I would always have options and offers and fallbacks.
There comes a point, though, when you've been at a job for a long time that you realized you are Entrenched. Entrenched is nice when it comes to impressing new employees with knowledge of the intricacies of the vending machines or in not being treated like a wet-behind-the-ears newbie, but where it breaks down is that you winnow away your parachuting options. One day you realize that you have a mortgage, a car payment and a cat who demands a steady diet of Purrfections snack treats, and you think, "Holy shit. I can't lose this job. Not even for a month. I'd never make it. I can barely afford to make ends meet now. If I lost this job, the ends would relocate to different coasts."
So that's why I freaked out a little. Things are fine now. Just a little work-related scare to keep the blood pumping and the workflow steady.
Couple of things I wrote last week:
I did a thing about wireless Internet and before you say anything, I know there are some mistakes in the story. Two of them are factual and one of them is grammatical from an editing change. (And, no, I'm not going to go point them out for you.) There's nothing worse than seeing an advanced copy of a story after it's gone to print but before people have it in their hands and knowing that there's nothing you can do to change it. And those are just the mistakes I know about. Sigh...
So here it is anyway. I thought it was something neat to write about at the time, but now I'm acting like it's Billy Jean's kid and I want nothing to do with it.
The other thing is a review of an obscure Japanese movie called City of Lost Souls that's playing in town this week. This one, as far as I know, doesn't have three mistakes in it.
Oh, and in case I don't get to it again before the next entry, and if you're in Austin, the Latino Comedy Project is having its huge annual Fiesta show this Friday and Saturday. Read about it here, then go buy some tickets. We're also hosting a movie night. If you're interested in the movie night, which will be a small, but still great event, drop me a line and I'll drop you some more info about it.
Hey, look at this! Stuff to buy! Haaawwwt-Damn!
"The colors! The pretty, asthma-enhanced colors!"