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         I must confess to the ultimate life sin:
I am bored. I know, I know, "The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings." But boredom happens, and hell, it’s probably a physiological/psychological necessity.
          And not only am I bored, but I have very little brainpower for writing at the moment. I wouldn’t dignify it with the term, “writer’s block,” as that implies that I might otherwise set down something profound. Readers of this column know that such seldom happens here except by accident or typo.
          Normally, a jolt of matcha turns my synapses into darting cats, and I can barely set down one sentence before the next one hunches up and pounces on the empty space behind it. No pouncing today. My thoughts are curled up, asleep in the cool overcast April global warming edition of June Gloom. Zzzzzzzzz. And my stomach can’t handle the acid in matcha right now, anyhow, so I settled for something called houji-cha, which is about as rousing as a lullabye.
          I’m sitting in my favorite joint, by the way, The Green Tea Terrace in Westwood, where I have ground out many a matcha-fueled paragraph in the past year. If you haven’t been here, well, there’s no terrace that I can see, but there is plenty of green tea. Some of it is so suffused with caffeine that it should probably be labeled a controlled substance. I mean, I once upgraded from “choice” matcha to “supreme,” and was fairly sure I could play basketball again, and possibly solve the Israel/Palestinian problem. I also had four or five sure-fire ideas for novels that I no longer remember, and was considering going back to college for the sheer joy of it.
          I got to sleep the next day around 3.
          A word about matcha, incidentally: it is powdered green tea made from the entire tea leaf, twigs and all, so as to furnish more antioxidants. It is also rife with an amino acid called theanine, which does a couple of proven things. First, it facilitates a “slow-burn” of caffeine, so there is no coffee-like bomb-burst. Your nerves do not go jingle-jangle-jingle, to paraphrase an old cowboy tune. Instead, you essentially cruise along, synapses crackling, over four or five hours (or more depending on the potency and amount consumed.) Second, it engenders a feeling of calm and well-being.
          Like I said, controlled substance. It’s good head medicine.
          But back to the terrace-less Terrace. It is a slickly designed, narrow space decorated in cool greens and pastel oranges and earth tones, and generally visited by extremely intent-looking students from nearby UCLA. They hunt and peck on laptops about comparative Spanish literature, and computer animation, and philosophy, and occasionally take breaks to ingest Nutella-and-ice-cream crepes with hillocks of whipped cream. (Afterward, they are less intent.)
          Because I am bored, and cannot subject my arteries to a Nutella-and-ice-cream crepe, and because I was unable to complete two stabs at a column, I have contented myself with watching a common melodrama here. A pained-looking homeless woman shuffled in, spent about a half-hour in the ladies' room, then emerged to take soft refuge on the couch in the front of the café. She walked like a person remembering how. Her hair was a witch’s frazzle, her shoes a pair of laceless trainers, her pants baggy and black, and her upper torso swallowed by a navy blue hooded sweatshirt. One arm remained hidden at all times.
          After perhaps an hour on the couch, marked by periodic indefinable vocal outbursts, the woman was asked by an employee to please leave. She took to this remark the way Rosie O’ Donnell takes to Donald Trump, Dick Cheney to Patrick Leahy---snarling that her arm was broken and that America is a vicious, unfeeling beast, etc. The employee left her alone.
        Moments later, a sweet young Asian-American student approached and asked if the woman needed help getting up. A nod. The girl held the woman’s good arm, and she managed to get to her feet on the third try, then haltingly walked back into a world as compassionate as phone company customer service.
          The homeless haunt the Terrace vicinity. One fellow wears about fifty protective layers of clothing, and radiates a urine funk more potent than roadkill under the sun. Another is a delightful, middle-aged African-American guy who inhabits exactly the same spot every day, all day, calling out stream-of-consciousness commentary to passers-by, probably because he can’t stop the stream. Some days, he bats violently at invisible enemies, scaring the hell out of pedestrians. Others, perhaps when he is on medication, he is astonishingly lucid, if in short bursts, and says things like “Take care and have a good day now” instead of, say, “You know what the company does with molecules, don’t you?" and "You know the style king, right?" He refuses to take money, always with the refrain, “I’ve got $50 million.”
          And there is something very, very mysterious about this gentleman, as many at the Green Tea Terrace have noticed. He has a way of declaring things that, well, have something to do with your life, or something you are thinking. I mean really. I will have dreamed about donuts the night before, and he will blurt something like, “Glazed are the best.” I wouldn’t remark on this, except that it has happened too many times. He also enjoys commenting on one’s general appearance, once pronouncing me---to my dismay--- “Glenn Ford today!” My favorite greeting from him:
          “Right on time!”
          I suspect that this fellow, who goes by “Jude,” knows much that he is not able to coherently convey. His allusions are educated; it is probable that he has been to a university somewhere along the line. But I love the implicit profundity of “Right on time,” especially because I arrive at all hours of the day. When, after all, are we not “on time?” We are on, in, and of time, whatever it is, and it makes me think of John Lennon singing, “Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be” from “All You Need is Love.” Which makes me think of Buddhist notions of how you can only be what you are, and where and when you are.
          Me, I are still here, typing and musing. My pal Jenn dropped by a few minutes ago, thank goodness, and we spoke at length about a vanishing native American language from the southwest called Pima. Pima, it seems, is only spoken by a few thousand people, and most are past age 50. Their children are not bothering to learn the language, which, by the way, is marked by an amazing grammatical feature. Or non-grammatical feature. That is, sentences may be ordered any way you like. “I read a book” can also be “Read a book I” and “I a book read,” and even “A book read I." You know, kind of the way George W. Bush speaks.
          I observed to Jenn that this is perhaps a characteristic of much primitive language, speculating that maybe the earliest humanoid tongues were not too strict about word order, let alone subjunctive clauses. But she disagreed, also speculatively, though she admits to not having wide knowledge of native languages on which to base a judgment. We were discussing this, incidentally, because Jenn is a UCLA graduate student in linguistics, and a hell of a lot smarter than I am.
          She likes matcha, too.
          So it is my good fortune, when I am bored and unable to write, sitting in Green Tea Terrace, to have the likes of Jenn and other bright, unjaded UCLA students come over, sit down, and regale me with all manner of insight and information, and to sometimes witness acts of kindness offered to troubled strangers, and to ponder Jude outside the door, yelling, “Right on time.”
         And before long, I’m no longer bored at all, and have finished a column.

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