I have about 45 minutes each morning to write something and usually most of the writing happens in the last 15 minutes. If nothing has happened after 30 minutes, I start looking through old posts that I never finished/started to see if anything has come to me yet. I have one called 15 Things Successful People Do Every Day that has been blank for two years now. I'm going to try to add one or two things a day just as an exercise for myself. 15 Things Successful People Do
2. Get Things Done okay I'll do 3
3. Make it count (someone said this to me on my birthday and I'm not sure what it means, but I like it) one more
4. Be kind (see now, hold on, I'm not sure successful people are kind, I mean generally speaking. What do you think?)
That's enough for now, but here's an old one called The Me Decade
The Me Decade
When I was 9, I used to take the bus from my apartment building to the train station, get on a train, ride it out to the suburbs, get off at my stop, and walk 1/2 mile to my school. It didn't seem strange at the time. In fact I did it every day for almost 2 years. My brother Pete, age 8, was usually with me the first half of the way and then there were a few other kids who got on the train at various stops. We'd walk in a sort of staggered single file to the school. We wore uniforms: white button down shirt, green tunic with a belt, green knee socks, green blazer or sweater. I kept my hair in braids or else just hanging down, straight and stringy. I didn't carry a back-pack, no one did then; I carried my books and lunch in a canvas bag that was kind of like an electricians bag, which I sometimes held on my back like Santa.
No one ever told me to only walk in well-lit areas where there were a lot of people. No one told me to avoid weird freaks or scream loud if anyone came towards me inappropriately (I didn't even know what that meant). No one told me not to get into the back of someone's van or told me not to wait in front of the XXX movie theater at 17th and Market after dark. I think I knew not to speak to strangers or accept candy. I think I knew to cross at the cross walk and look both ways. But that was it. I never even had money. The times we did get some change, never a dollar, we'd immediately go to Parvin's pharmacy and buy pixie sticks, tootsie pops and sour cream and onion potato chips. All for 50 cents.
In other parts of the world there was a war, civil rights protestors were getting sprayed with fire hoses, 18 year olds were allowed to vote, women were standing up for themselves. Our older brothers and sisters were dropping acid and using words like fuck and no way and far-out in their every day lingo. Some of our parents were having key parties or getting divorced or smoking pot. Others were having parties at the country club or playing golf. A few of our parents were doing all of those things. What was the big deal about sending a 3rd grader on an hour long journey to school by himself every day. He knew where he was going.
There's a new kind of funeral. I say new, but I really mean green. I say funeral but I really mean just the burying part. I'm not sure whose idea it was, this green funeral, but basically they wrap the dead body in an old sheet --a shroud I think they called it, to make it formal-- dump him in a deep hole, and call it a day. Someone said in small towns where there is less space they bury the bodies standing up. They lower the body in a 10 foot hole and then just kick the dirt back over. Rest in Peace. I know it's just a body, but it doesn't seem very restful.
Both sets of my grandparents had a clock in their house that made noise. Don and Mary had a clock on the mantle that Don had built himself, it had loud ticks and chimed on the hour. If you were walking through the room you might not notice the loud ticks until they would stop. You'd stop too and take in the full silence, maybe feeling something was slightly off but not knowing what...Then you'd resume and the clock would begin to tick again.
Don and Lillian had a huge grandfather clock that went off every 15 minutes: a loud, full orchestration of gongs and jangling chains. It played a quarter of the song each time, so that when it got to the hour it was such a huge deal and was so long and interruptive you had to stop talking if you were in the same room. And this is how we lived! Every fifteen minutes it was as though someone yanked you up out of your comfortable chair, slapped you twice across the face, kneed you in the stomach, grabbed a handful of hair and knocked you into a wall. And we barely acknowledged it.
-I think it might be my best friend's birthday today.
-Out of 20 years I think I may have remembered 8 times without any prompting.
-Once I even got the month wrong.
-It's weird that we are such good friends.
-I mean of course there are 100 reasons.
-But we hardly ever see each other.
-Although it feels like we see each other every day.
-I remember the first day that I met her. I remember standing back stage by the curtain when we were in a show together. I remember the bar down the street from her old house and meeting in the driveway at my mom's house late one night. I remember the 8 foot bear she bought my daughter knowing we had to take a plane that day. I remember going to a weird country fair in Connecticut and that her boyfriend turned olive green after going on a ride. And that even though he was really sick and shaken and even a little bit frightened, we both openly laughed at him.
-I remember calling her up to ask if it was her birthday, and her doing the same to me.
-How do I remember all those things, but not the date.
I wanted to show you some things I found while I was wasting time working hard writing. If you can't see the videos, click on the title of this blog.
I get emails a couple times a month from this company called Imogene and Willie and I rarely open them, and in fact said to myself what is this crap cluttering up my inbox and then I watched this video again and remembered. Two hundred dollars is a lot of money for a pair of jeans until you realize that you will have them for the rest of your life. I liked their story.
I saw this photo again and had to repost. Cheers big ears.
I make a face like this one a few times a day. Not because I'm horrified. But because I'm trying to read something without my glasses. What is it about pulling the mouth down that helps a person see better? Another odd thing I do happens when I am driving and replaying a recent conversation in my head. While I'm thinking about what was said, I make the facial expressions of both the person I was talking to and myself. You don't have to tell me this is what insane people do.
It seems like a mystery until I trace my ancestors.
A few years ago my friend Holiday visited the isle of Lewis off the coast of Scotland and discovered we were related. Not only that, but our ancestors were (as she put it) "inbred, mouth breathing, tongue chewers". My first thought was, YAY we're related! and my second thought was "Well, obviously I was your queen because I still carry the name". Don't think I overlooked that our ancestors were feeble-minded nut jobs; we had our own ISLAND, people. We were a strong and hearty lot! We survived hideously cold and wet and dark conditions for six months out of the year! I am from royalty. And after thousands of years I had been reunited with my sister/wife/mother/servant!
As usual I'm driving. There's a kid to my right with headphones on and another kid in the back with earplugs. I'm listening to the radio. A guy whose voice sounds like it is right in my ear says Do you like to pump with confidence? I have no idea what he's talking about, but my mind goes to a very specific place. "Yes", I think, "I do like to pump with confidence". He goes on to describe something, whatever he is advertising, and he uses the expression pumping with confidence about seven more times. "You need to be pumping with confidence!" "I feel proud to be pumping with confidence". I look to the kid on the right and then to the one behind me, neither one of them is hearing what I'm hearing. I don't know if this guy is talking about sex or gas or breast-milk, but somehow I feel he is talking directly to me. "Whatever you are doing, you need to do it with confidence". That's my thought for the day.
I don't know why this post took me so long to write. I feel like it's been years. You know in old movies when they wanted to show that a lot of time had passed and they cut to a close-up of a clock with the hands going around and around. And then they cut back to the main character who is sweaty and confused and exhausted? That's what it's been like over here.
I'm still on hold with AT&T, by the way.
Occasionally, while listening to the blurry sax I'll have an image of myself free-floating in space, in pitch black, tumbling, somersaulting, slowly and gracefully, just waiting for someone to come back and help me out. Moving is the third most difficult thing to go through besides death and divorce. Things come up. Old wounds get rubbed open. Every time I've ever moved, since I was a kid, it was either because a relationship had ended or there was some financial hardship. There was never any joy in it. Never the feeling that, like George Jefferson, I was moving on up. Somewhere in my head moving = pain, remorse, grief, anger, self-loathing, divorce, death. The end.
These are my thoughts while Kenny G is lulling me into a stupor. This is where my mind goes. And I'm doing a slow motion back flip into the pitch black.
It's not even me who's moving. It's one of my closest friends, who I also happen to work for. So I'm the one who sits on hold. I'm going through it bilaterally. I take it on like it's mine, and then it is mine. My first reaction is: No problem, we can do this. But then it's difficult and exhausting, and all I can see is everything he is doing wrong and how he's making a huge mistake, and I start to think: what a fucking idiot. In turn, he thinks the same about me. We answer the phone "What?" We don't look each other in the eye. For some reason, we have to hate each other right now.
Someone comes on the other line. She introduces herself. She tells me this call may be recorded. She says something, something and something that I've heard a million times without once ever listening. She sounds cheery in a slightly aggressive way that is both familiar and disorienting at the same time. I explain the situation to her wondering if she hears my voice as something, something something without really listening. Internet, bla, bla, bla, connection higgityhoo, order, account, address biggitaboogataboo.
Can't you just flick a switch and have everything work perfectly? I ask her, eventually.
Oh I wish, she says, and puts me on hold again.
Outside across the way, I hear the new neighbor, a 70 year old troll, yelling "Hey!" I look out the window and see that he is yelling in my direction,"Get out here!" he yells, "Get the fuck out here". He's got a long skinny grey pony tail, his face is contorted, he's got his hands on his hips. I go out with the phone still to my ear. He could care less. "I told you yesterday not to park your fucking car there!" He points to my car which is 10 inches over the red line. I point to my phone as if to say Please! I'm speaking with the President of the United States. I sort of want him to keep yelling so that maybe there will be a witness and he'll be forced to feel shame and embarrassment, but still I can't help feeling like he has sprayed vomit right into my face. Even though he's old and has a ponytail and lives in a hideous purple house, I am stunned. Finally the wife comes out. She's an 80 year old goat with bleached hair, fake boobs, and bubble lips: a California girl. She watches her husband and I think she is going to calm him down, I think she's going to pat him on the back, tell him to come inside and have some tea, but instead she yells at me too, What the fuck is wrong with you? Her face isn't even moving.
I move the car and go back into the house still with the phone to my ear. I want to cry but I can't. All I can think is: I wish I had a fire hose so I could spray them both like bugs off a concrete slab. What is wrong with those people? Why did I need to have that experience? Out in space I bonk into a floating rock and twist backwards in a slow spiral.
The AT&T lady comes back, Okay I think I figured it all out.
Well thank sweet Jesus Christ, I mutter under my breath.
What's the matter? she says.
Everything, I start to cry.
But you're moving! she says, It's time for a fresh start!
This makes me cry harder," I'm not though". I can't even breath and I think I might be having a heart attack, "And I just crossed paths with some crazy freaks".
Welcome to my world, she says.
How do you do it? I say.
I try not to take it personally.
You think I'm over-reacting?
Hold please, she says.
Why is it that when you're out floating in space it's always dark. I mean every astronaut, every space ship, in every space movie I've ever seen has always been in the dark. There's a glow around the edges, but it's basically pitch black. It's permanent night! How is that possible? Wouldn't it be brighter if you were closer to the sun? Wouldn't the brightness be almost blinding? I'm seriously asking these questions. I'm really wondering about this. I'm going to ask the AT&T lady when she comes back. If she comes back.
I recently got talked into getting a credit card from Best Buy but then it sat on my desk for a few months before I got around to activating it. I called the number taped onto the card and was immediately transferred to the New Delhi branch.
“Good afternoon, my name is Bob, thank you so much for calling, to whom am I speaking today?
Ok Deird, that is a lovely name, and how are you today?
I am so pleased to hear that Deird, and how can I be of your assistance today?
I wanted to activate my card.
Oh very well, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate you Deird—
-- and let you know that I will be extremely happy to help you with that today. I understand that you would like to activate your card today Deird, is that correct?
I could have had this conversation for hours. Something about an Indian accent with its beautiful melody and rolling r’s hypnotizes and relaxes me to the point where I no longer hear the actual words, but feel as though I am being sung to. (I have a similar reaction to Arianna Huffington’s voice, where I feel like crawling into her lap and having her read me a story while she caresses the hair off my forehead.) I ended up talking to Bob, I should say listening to Bob, for 30 minutes while he told me about a “buy-back program”. He must have used the words program and offer and ‘to your benefit Deird’ at least 60 times during the conversation. All I could say was Uh-huh, and ok and yeah. When I hung up the phone I wasn’t sure what had happened; I may have just agreed to pay $50 extra dollars a month for the rest of my life.
I was still a little tipsy from the conversation when I got into my car, I had been on the phone so long I was late for after-school pickups!, and when I turned on the radio, they were talking about the new Best Buy consumer scam. I listened for about 5 minutes before the fog evaporated and I realized they had just said consumer scam. What happened? Bob what did you do? What did I do? I drove like a maniac swerving in and out of lanes and beeping my horn, while listening to why no sane person should ever fall for such a thing.
By the time I got to school I had calmed down; I pulled myself together and took a deep breath. It would be ok; I would just call Bob back tomorrrow and have another conversation.