Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
On Saturday I was sitting in Starbucks below the Laser Tag place waiting for Har. A guy came in, looking slightly deranged, wearing a Wharton t-shirt. He walked through the place like a comedian walking through a suburban nightclub, all finger points and bu-dum-bas. Here was his monolgue:
Hey how ya doin
You’re my best friend.
That’s a good look for you
What kind of computer is that, an apple?
Welcome to beautiful downtown Sherman Oaks, one and all
A hip a hop a hippy to the hippy and you don’t stop.
Yeah, I thought so. Yeee dog. I could tell a stone throw away from here
Don’t get hit by a reindeer.
Yeah, that’s dangerous.
Come on baby.
You need me.
I’ve never lived in a place where I couldn’t hear a train. Close by, far off in the distance, I’ve sat in my room at night and heard the haunting trumpet sound. Some nights in NY, I felt the rumble, and listened to the metal on metal of brakes. Other times its just the moaning sound of the horn signaling itself. Was there something on the tracks? A cow? A hobo? I’ve ridden trains so much and often as a means of cheaper transportation, that I don’t really enjoy it. Still, it’s an odd part of my history.
I rode the train to school every day beginning in third grade. I was 8. One morning we were late, I somehow managed to run down the hundred stairs to the platform and get on a second before it started to pull out. My brother, age 7, walked in 2 minutes later wearing his enormous backpack, his hands skimming the tops of the seats on either side of him, his eyes wide and horrified. My step Dad had thrown him on the train as it was moving and he had almost tipped back out from the momentum. Another time in fifth grade I was in my classroom at school when Elizabeth Eagleson was escorted in by the principal, who sat her at her desk and then kissed the top of her head, before quietly walking back out. We all turned to look at her and she burst in to tears. She could barely get the words out but she had seen a businessman slide under the train. She said his leg popped like a grape under a hammer.
I rode the train back and forth to NY when I lived there. I took it to visit my grandparents in Rhode Island. I traveled to Florida, South Carolina, Boston, Washington and back to Pennsylvania. The longest rides with the dining cars, snack bars and smoking sections were the worst. From a lack of sleep, I not only swore I’d never step foot on another ghetto, stink-filled, chug along train, I hated anyone else who ever sat along with me, before, during or after. Then I’d see a train scene in a movie or be with a child who thought it would be fun and I would say to myself, it’s not so bad. As soon as an hour passed though I’d be swearing all over again: drunks, moaners, religious crazies, perverts, runaways, families, my own included, I’ve ridden with them all. I remember infestations of crawly bugs on the head-rests, and jheri-curl smears on the windows. I remember singing out loud to myself one time, my head pressed to the window. In a monotonous stupor I sang, certain no one could hear me, and who cares if they did.
I heard a train this morning, probably at Union Station, and thought all this.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Yesterday I was at a friend’s house and was offered an Oreo. I haven’t had one in maybe ten years or so and though it wasn’t really tempting, I took it anyway. As soon as I put it into mouth, I felt the sugar on my tongue and then down my throat like shattered glass. Delicious shattered glass. This is what crack is like, what heroin, what every addictive, mind numbing drug is like. I had to have another immediately.
I remembered my Nana with a full package in her lap, on top of the crocheted blanket across her legs, sitting on the porch of the house in the last few years of her life. She ate them all day, even after she couldn’t remember the names of her own children, or dress herself properly, or know that she wasn’t sitting in the theater watching the Boston Pops, she’d remember to get her cookies. I think it’s all she ate.
What a way to go. (I don’t know if I’m saying this with cheer or sorrow).
Friday, August 13, 2010
Sometimes my neighborhood feels like a college campus. I see the same faces every day. We have experiences together. We have conversations and debates, sometimes the same ones, on a regular basis. We don’t know each other’s names, but we are friends.
The guy on the bike, Hola: This guy is probably around 35 or so. He has twin boys and another son who sings at Mexican rodeos. I see him in different parts of my neighborhood and I have no idea what he does all day. The thing I love about him is that he always speaks to me in Spanish. He doesn’t even try to half/half it like a lot of people. I have no idea what he’s saying and he knows this, and doesn’t care. Once I was outside on my front steps and he was on his bike across the street. Still straddling the seat, he walked over to see me. He started in on something or other, and I just said oh… Yeah… Sure. He asked me some questions and I just nodded my head smiling, my mouth open. Then he pushed away and pedaled down the street still talking loudly over his shoulder. Ok! I said. No problem! In ten minutes he was back with a huge and empty laundry bag. He laid his bike down on the sidewalk and walked over to the avocado and orange trees on the side of my house and started filling his bag with what was strewn across the ground. Oh! I said to him yes, go ahead. Gracias he said.
The homies: These guys, there are 4 and I think they are brothers, sit across the street all day. Sometimes they are belligerent (once saw one of them slap the back of a car and throw a can at it when it tried to turn around in a driveway) but most of the time they just sit quietly, almost meditative, and watch the weather. They are not gangsters like Carlos and his fam down the street but they know how to keep it on the lo. One of them has a chihuahua. He (the guy, not the dog) has teeth like a shark. Every single one has been filed to a V/point. I don’t know if he did this to himself on purpose or if he has an unusual set. More likely he had them all capped gold and then had to sell the caps. He always says hello to me and asks me about my dogs (“my babies” he calls them).
Cleopatra’s Parents: I know them as the couple who own the Great Dane that lives around the corner. They are in their 60s I think. She writes for the Style section of the L.A. Times and he writes for something else. He went to Harvard and all their cars are green. They eat breakfast out on the front porch in the morning and once they had a birthday for Cleopatra and all the dogs invited had to do a trick. My dog Lester’s trick was to show his underbite.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I’m sorry to put a photo of someone I’ve never met displaying their horrible teeth but here’s the thing, I have a bad tooth right now. It’s in the back. Not all the way but almost. You can really only see it if I guffaw, which I try not to do too much. But I can feel it and it hurts and I keep hoping if I stop thinking about it, it will go away. I have to confess that this is not the first time I’ve had a rotten, painful tooth so the fact that I’m trying to convince myself that I can deny its existence is ridiculous, and really goes to show that the one thing more durable than stupidity is shame, which is what I’m feeling about it: shame about my poor dental hygiene, my sugar-filled diet and my inability to pay for root canals. So what can you do when you feel shame about something? You can make fun of someone who is worse off than you. What other choice do I have?
Monday, August 9, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I am not a mature person. I can listen to discussions about politics or feminism or art, I can even contribute to the conversation, I can even be moved by someone’s passion on the subject, but there comes a time when my brain or attention span or whatever (maturity level) shuts down, you know, like the factory at 5pm, everyone leaves the building, all the lights go out, and the final alarm sounds out, then dies down to silence. My body is still there, still staring at the mouth of the person speaking, watching the interesting shapes it makes while the words come out, but my mind is elsewhere, dog heaven for example, rolling in the grass, barking, sniffing asses.
It’s not that I am easily distracted that makes me immature, it’s the subject matter I go to. I’m not proud of it. I am capable of depth and compassion, but after a certain amount of time, the odds are probably against it. You would think children would be a little more tolerant of this trait, but I’ve found actually the opposite to be true. It may be a little upsetting, I think, to see the main person you look to for guidance behaving like an idiot or saying something inappropriate. I get it. I fully support any child who mistrusts a 50 year old doing a hip hop dance.
Mo says, That’s it right there.
You don’t say doing a hip-hop dance.
What do I say then?
(She shakes her head and sighs from the back of her throat.)
I’m not going to tell you.
What do I say? I’m hipping and hopping?
Yeah Mom, you say hipping and hopping.
How can you deny that I have excellent moves?
You can’t deny it.
You’re not bad.
You just need to stop talking.
Maybe this isn’t the best example of my immaturity but it sort of shows my desperation to fit in, which is kind of what’s at the heart of being immature.