Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Things are Different Here

Having realized long ago that the number of tips earned in a coffee shop is tied (albeit loosely) to the amount of piffle I can engage in, I end up making some sort of comment to nearly every regular customer every morning. So I told him that I liked his blue tie with the graceful moons on it. He explained that he got it from Mexico. Comparing it to the bazaars I'd been to just south of the border I was surprised, "really? I wouldn't expect to find that sort of style in Mexico," His raised eyebrow response was, "oh, no. I got it from the president of Mexico." Right. Another world here.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

$30 of Thanks

I wrote this piece in early Feb., happened upon it again tonight, touched it up a bit, and thought I'd share it with you. It's rather longer than my usual posts, but I hope you get through it and enjoy it. Please feel welcome to share your thoughts on this first, foundering effort.

My mother had taught me well. As a young white female walking alone one county away from the murder capitol of the United States, my skin was trained to burble at the sight and sound of a burly stranger advancing. A middle aged black woman separated herself from the shadow between two cars asking if I owned one. Calming my alarm and adjusting to the abruptness of the query I asked her to repeat herself.

Do you have a car?

As I did not currently own any transport other than my shoes I answered accordingly. Did I have friends who have a car? ‘Everyone is asleep.’ When the index of my personal property moved on to a cell phone, I willingly offered that tool to her services. She rang a taxi dispatcher and asked if they could drive her to another town.

I live in the town thirty miles away, and I have to get my kids home....All I have is my paycheck with me....The taxi driver says I must pay up front.

It was my turn to catalog her possessions. She had no cash. No credit card. No way to pay for her taxi home. It was cold. It was late. We returned to my pockets.

Do you have a card?

I have nothing on me but my house key and phone.

...A home nearby?

Yes, but all are asleep.

Really no car?

None myself.

As the conversation had turned the full circle I wished her luck and warmth and pivoted back to my own path, but not before hearing her half-aside muttering:


It has been several years now that I have entertained the suspicion every time I encounter overt Christianity that it is somehow factitious. So far from resonating with me, public and unsolicited mention of prayer and praise alike has been met with a gritting not just of my teeth, but of my whole body; beginning with that tightening of the spine just between my shoulders. So home I went. I had seen it before. The women in the metro in D.C. would always single out the young white girls because we were supposed to have money and be more likely to be fiscally compassionate. My homeward tread slackened as my thoughts spurred with unusual frenzy.

It is probably just a scam.

I should not feel obligated to help.

And what if it were me?

That last was not your thought. That was the thought of you Sunday School teacher who was charismatically and unconsciously promoting salvation by works. You don’t believe that.

But I have that twenty in the old cigar box that I was saving for this upcoming week. What if I just gave her that?

But it is a SCAM.

And what if it is? Should that subjectively matter?

As my thoughts continued to whirl themselves into a dervish, I found my way up to my room and fatally opened the cigar box. Grabbing its contents I stepped my way down to the street to look for my vagabond. She had already disappeared. The next several minutes I felt dizzy, as if I were somehow drunkenly searching for the woman in the Old School sweatshirt who needed to get home with her kids. Up the sidewalk to the corner. No one on my street. No one on the crossing street. I walked down the middle of the road, trying to see as far as possible. Away down the block a rabbit had conceived the identical notion and paused in the middle of the street to observe his surroundings. But she was nowhere.

I felt the urge to record the entire episode. Sitting with the window, the street, and the sidewalk all clearly visible around every side of my computer each sentence I wrote was punctuated with a glance down my street. Any hint of movement and I would crane my neck until finally I saw her dark outline against the jeweler at the intersection. I grabbed my little bundle--that twenty bending around my laundry-day roll of quarters--and skittered after her. I caught her a block a way and stuffed it into her hand with a mumble. She hugged me with a staccato word of thanks. My thoughts paced my steps as I again made my way home.

It was genuine, certainly, but not $30 worth of thanks.

That is because it was probably a scam.

But then, does that really even matter?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tiredness Part II (Owlishness and forced mornings)

Sunday night: we had an evening work meeting despite the snowstorm. It was boring and relatively pointless, as we had all expected. But while we were sitting inside being bored it was snowing outside. So on the way home it was absolutely necessary to have a snowball fight with Wendy until my fingers threatened to go the way of the Woolly Mammoth. Eye-rubbing began at 5 am. Result: 6 hours sleep.

Monday night: is always trivia night. The catch is that they have added a round of trivia questions and begun the contest later in the evening. So despite the fact that I did not stick around to see whether my team successfully contended that we did name the Rushmore Presidents in the correct order if viewed from the ranger station at the bottom of the hill, my wake up call at 5 meant that I again recorded 6 hours of sleep.

Tuesday night: Was the Missy Higgins concert at the Ram's Head. You didn't know that I was a fan of hers. Neither did I. She was recommended to me by a regular, and so based on a 30-second iTunes clip, I decided that I really wanted to see her show. Unfortunately, as she is talented and becoming ever more popular, she is touring with two other acts and did not even appear under the lights until 9:45 to start her set. As I thoroughly enjoyed myself I did not leave early as I had shruggingly supposed I would and made it home around midnight. Cell phone buzzed again at 5- I clocked between 4.5-5 hours for the night.

Wednesday night: I went back to The Ram's Head for happy hour with Tadd, Sarah, Steven and Tacy, during which we all talked about our various blogs and writing in general. Being inspired, I stayed up rather later writing the previous post, and the bulk of this one. Opened again, up unmercifully early. Result: somewhere around 7 hours (which, you will notice is getting back toward normal).

Thursday night: was a surprise birthday party for Wendy. It was particularly surprising to her since her actual birthday was at the end of January. She did not see this one coming. I stayed 'till one-thirty-ish then, as I finally did not have to open at Starbucks, I crashed until around noon this morning.

I think perhaps I might just be caught up in time for the weekend.

Tiredness Part I (an introduction)

Dawn has never broken gently over me.
I have had roommates and housemates who literally do that little happy-morning-flounce as their eyes are opening long before first light. I have personally never had the energy nor the inclination for this particular display of early birdieness; I distinctly remember as a child the flowing tears when I realized that I "really did have to wake up now." Of course at that time in my life I would cry over such minor things that it seemed I was single-handedly trying to make the high desert in which I lived into a tropical climate. Still, those ante meridiem hours were always especially trying. Mom would try to forestall the tears and rouse me with OJ and back scratches on several occasions, but my owlishness was deeply seeded. Even through college my morning routine consisted of groggily rolling over, pulling on the clothes closest to me (which explains my deplorable fashion for many years), and hobbling as quickly as possible off to work or class or whatever event I was about to be late for. All of that talk of birds and worms, and morning people generally being more productive than we the creatures of the night served equally to motivate and annoy me.
This being another of my years of adventure and personal growth, I decided to convert to the Sunrisen. To change my spots I signed up for the opening shift four (sometimes five) days a week at said Green Apron House. Now instead of orange juice and back rubs I am awakened by the grating and buzzing of my cell phone alarm, a cold brisk walk and the prospect of a ten hour working day.
I am actually quite proud of how well I have adjusted to this new extra early morning lifestyle. But this week has been quite the beast. You must understand that I have retained that college mentality that I can catch up on my sleep later and I won't miss the winks too badly. This theory is true until you either pile up too many lack-sleep-a-days in a row or cut the nights too short. This week I did both.
More the day after Tomorrow