On Not Flying to Hawaii
in the airport restaurant
full of tired cigarette smoke and unseeing tourists.
I could turn into the never-noticed landscape
hanging identically in all the booths
or the customer behind the Chronicle
who has been giving advice
about stock portfolios for forty years. I could be his mortal weariness,
his discarded sports section, his smoldering ashtray.
I could be the 70-year-old woman who has never seen Hawaii,
touching her red lipstick and sprayed hair.
I could enter the linen dress
that poofs around her body like a bridesmaid,
or become her gay son
sitting opposite her, stirring another sugar
into his coffee for lack of something true to say.
I could be the reincarnated soul of the composer
of the Muzak that plays relentlessly overhead,
or the factory worker who wove this fake Oriental carpet,
or the hushed shoes of the busboy.
But I don't want to be the life of anything in this pitstop.
I want to go to Hawaii, the wet, hot
impossible place in my heart that knows just what it desires.
I want money, I want candy.
I want sweet ukelele music and birds who drop from the sky.
I want to be the volcano who lavishes
her boiling rock soup love on everyone,
and I want to be the lover
of volcanos, who loves best what burns her as it flows.
While I was just running down Government Street (attempting to run in this horrid heat is more like it) a man in an SUV starts honking at waving at me from a nearby parking lot. Thinking I must know this person, I wave back. He continues honking, I wave again, and then throw my hands up and just smile, not knowing what else he expects me to do. He proceeds to pull onto Government Street and STOP his car. He smiles and rolls down his window on my side, asking "Hi, how are you?"
I shake my head and say "Fine," as I continue walking.
"Where are you going?" he asks.
I reply, "HOME." At this point, he has stopped traffic and cars behind him are laying on their horns. He pulls forward a bit and then stops again.
He yells to me, "I'm going downtown to the bars!!" with a huge smile. He finally drives off. Needless to say, I took a shortcut home. I have a feeling a J. Beam or J. Daniels had a little something to do with his Sunday.
For the longest time I have been intrigued by people watching while trying to figure them out. This led to the best game that was developed in bars, finding the most unique person you could and telling their story. I’ve run into many people who do this as well. It’s really fun to see how far you can take it and who can create the most interesting “life.” What this all leads up to is that I find it intriguing to find out as much as I can about people from their appearance and actions. Wherever I am, I am constantly forming stories about the people that I see in public; all are possible characters for a novel I could write some day. In short, I love to observe.
Yesterday, I came in contact with a character that flew me for a loop. He was like some living cliche.
My laptop was fried this past weekend in a lightning storm. Never leave a laptop plugged into a phone line unless you want a fried motherboard. Fortunately, it is still under warranty with Dell and they instantly ordered new parts and let me know that a computer technician would be contacting me soon. Sure enough, Friday afternoon, I got a call from a meek voiced individual that asked me to make an appointment with him. He was very unconfident as to whether he would be able to get to my computer that day, but had me call back later. Upon calling that afternoon, we both decided that Saturday afternoon at noon would be more convenient.
After arranging my morning around the technician’s arrival, I received a phone call from him at noon. In saying hello, and how are you, he responded quickly that he was tired. Okay then, I thought, this guy is an honest man. When he began asking me as to whether a 2:30 appointment would work for me, I was confused. “But didn’t you say you were coming at noon?” I asked. His response this time was that he lived in Lillian, which was an hour away. I couldn’t figure out how that was an appropriate answer, but whatever, I would take what I could get at this point. I proceeded to make use of the time I had to be at home and clean. I became pretty inspired and rearranged furniture as I cleaned. By the time the technician arrived, I was in the last stages of my “summer” clean.
The technician (I never did get his name) was the epitome of a cliche when expecting a computer technician; he was dressed in grayish blu,e polyester pants, a few inches too short, and a thin, short sleeved, white button down shirt. He had thinning white hair that started halfway back his head, and huge, thick glasses, in which he would tilt his chin up and look out of at an angle.
I towered above the man; I expect he was only 5’5” at the most. He instantly came in and got to work after I gave him an area to work at my kitchen table. I let him know I would be cleaning if he needed me, and I got back to work.
Now’s where it get’s weird. I finished cleaning in the other room, and made my way back to my kitchen to check on the computer. He had the entire thing broken down and was inspecting the parts. I started asking him if he was going to be able to fix it and he showed me where the modem had fried the motherboard, leaving a black scorch mark. He then began suggesting various products that I should buy, such as a battery-powered surge protector, and other things that I knew I would never purchase. I eased my way back into the living room to continue dusting as he kept talking. He ventured into the topic of the people who’s computers he had been fixing. There was a serious problem with this conversation though; he was a very quiet mumbler. I could only grasp bits and pieces of his sentences. Virtually, I was trying to piece together these words to understand what he was trying to say. I probably watched him with my jaw dropped as I couldn’t believe that he actually thought I would be able to understand ANYTHING he was saying. It was obvious that this must be a constant problem for him. The few times that I did ask for clarification by saying, “Excuse me, or even to be so blunt as to say “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you,” he would instantly pipe up and clearly speak. Then slowly reverting back into his quiet mumble.
The conversation quickly ventured into this man’s life story, all mind you, as he gracefully reassembled my laptop. There were times when I just stood in the doorway to my kitchen, trying my hardest understand what he was saying, and other times when for five minutes at a time I would simply reply with an “uh huh,” as he rambled on, never missing a chance to explain more.
Yet, like my other conquests to create stories about strangers’ lives, there was no need with this individual. I believe that I may have learned more about Mr. Technician that I know about close and personal friends. For instance, after being born in Wisconsin, he followed his parents to Lillian, AL. His parents only paid 54,000 for their 2,000 sq. ft. home, but will get 250,000 when they sell it. His dad is a selfish man, who does not give his mother any money to live on. She must beg for things. Just like she begged for her son’s false teeth after he got them knocked out at a young age, but after agreeing to pay for the teeth, his father spent the money at a tavern. “Excuse me?” I asked at this point, thinking that he had said the word, Tavern. “He spent the money at a tavern,” he repeated again. So his teeth were not properly fixed until he was twenty-six years old. That’s a long time to go without teeth, I thought to myself.
He went on and on about his father and his rather unpleasant personality before moving on the topic of spiders. “Was cleaning limbs….ex-girlfriend’s house…. being nice…. never thought….didn’t know for four days… brown recluse.”
He mentioned being bit by the spider and having a chunk cut out of his back, more about spiders that I didn’t grasp, and then onto snakes. Someone’s dog, a tough one, got bit by a water moccasin, but lived. From there he began telling me about all that he had been through in life. Several times it was mentioned that he had four surgeries, a shoulder, I think, thought I didn’t dare ask what for or due to what injury. I do know he worked for UHAUL and was in an accident, was electrocuted at another job, and lost three million dollars in the stock market crash of 2001 (?). His first wife cheated on him after he took care of her while she had ulcerative colitis. Cheated on him with a counselor, whom they had camped with. In my mind, I wanted to ask if it had happened on the camping trip, but I didn’t dare.
The one thing that was said that made my heart hurt for him was when he mentioned that his son died at the age of twenty-one. In all of the mumbling that was going on, I wasn’t sure at first if that is what he had actually said, and I didn’t want to broach that subject with him. But he did bring it up again while on the subject of why he hates guns. He said that his son died in a hunting accident. His best friend had shot him. I was floored and didn’t know what to tell this man, other that I was sorry. That story led into his story about when he was shot. During the first part, all I heard was “Jeffery Dahmer.”
At this point, I’m thinking this could go one of of two ways. First, this could be a very interesting story, or second this could be his lead in to where he comes at me with his computer tools. He proceeded to talk about being underneath a car in Milwaukee and someone shooting him as he ran away. After he was done, I asked, and “What about Jeffery Dahmer?” He explained that this all happened the same time that Dahmer was living in Milwaukee. Darn, what a lead in.
By the time he left he was beginning to ask me questions about myself. I started to feel a little strange. Is this normal for him to tell his life story to someone, unrequested, and then get the person’s story in return? How would I deflect this? Thank God he was finished before I had to give him too many one word answers for his questions.
And then he left. As he walked out the door, he continued to tell a story of his daughter texting three boys at one time, but I asked him to save that story for the next time…
It’s finally here, the time of year when I am absolutely free to read. It’s something that I feel that most people take for granted. When I hear that someone is reading in their spare time, or god forbid, is one of those teachers whose class does not warrant grading, so they spend their free time in the teacher’s lounge reading, it stirs such envy in me. Reading is something that I feel is a gift to me. So many people I know, and students unfortunately, hate reading. They can only read newspapers or magazines. They want the facts and that’s it. Books for me take me out of my world. They give me the chance to see someone else’s life from the luxury of my own couch. And they have made my life that much sweeter by helping me to appreciate simple things.
Sometimes during the summer I start off with a trashy novel. Not necessarily a romance novel…. but rather something easy to read. You know, a pool book. The kind of book where you can be interrupted fifteen times by kids screaming for their moms to watch them on the diving board and still know exactly what is going on in the book. It’s like giving your brain a break. Instead, I’ve chosen a deeper book to begin with, one that I’ve been meaning to read for a few years: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.
It’s a nonfiction novel about the author’s journey through grief after her husband’s sudden death. It’s a book I gave my mom for Mother’s Day a few years back. I had written her a note on the inside that was a little bittersweet. Apparently this book was developed into a play that was on stage in NYC. I had intentions of going to see it with her the next year. We never did. I guess that doesn’t mean we still couldn’t….
Here is a list of my summer reading:
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. This book was purchased for me by a professor while we were visiting Seattle. I never read it and it fell by the wayside. He said it was one of his favorite novels.
You Shall Know Our Velocity! by Dave Eggers. This is another book that I picked up years ago and never read it. Since then I’ve become more familiar with Dave Eggers, though never having read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
For those of you who remember the show, Northern Exposure, the characters had to deal with lack of sunlight, due to living in Alaska. One character, Walt gets severely depressed and resorts to the use of a light visor. There is an actual disease called seasonal affective disorder which is a result of gloomy days without sunlight. I seriously think I suffer from this during the gray month of January. Perhaps a light visor would alter my doldrums.
“When Walt gets depressed due to the lack of sunlight, Joel fits him with a special light visor. He immediately becomes addicted to the contraption and abuses it by increasing the doses well above the prescribed levels. Feeling invincible, he chops wood without gloves and gets into a fender bender with a snow plow. Chris and Holling finally stage an intervention and Walt agrees to use the visor in doses, monitored by Marilyn.”
I decided to try out a new spot today to lie out. There is a small portion of beach that runs alongside the main bridge coming into Destin that is owned by the Air Force. I thought it would be nice to try out some new scenery and new beach. The area was beautiful; the land alongside the water is a bird sanctuary and is home to egrets, mallards, and pelicans. At one point today, I even saw a pelican fly low overhead with a whole fish perched sideways in his mouth.
On the small piece of beach I set up on, I could look across to the Harbor Village and watch the boats come in and out of the jetties. After an hour or so of lying out, I wanted to cool off. I went into the water (which is still a bit chilly) and sat down in the water. When I stood up to walk out, I felt something burning on my leg. At first I thought it was just the typical burn of salt water after shaving, but in looking down, I noticed something wrapped around my leg. It was a jellyfish tentacle. I ripped it off as my leg started to feel like it was on fire. I went back to my chair and started putting ice where I thought it was burning. Eventually, welts started forming where the tentacles had burnt me.
The first thought to my mind was that there was no way that I could pee on myself (because that is what you are supposed to do to alleviate the burn of a sting). Then I started looking around actually contemplating who I could get to pee on my leg!! The desperation of pain.
Rarely do I find myself going to a “club” anymore. It used to be that most Saturday nights my friends and I would end up downtown dancing. But it just doesn’t appeal to me so much now.
This past Saturday night we had a birthday dinner for two friends. The restaurant we chose to eat at (Spot of Tea) is attached to two “clubs.” The one upstairs is a very nice bar with pool tables and a DJ. It was actually once an apartment (Ultra Lounge). Downstairs is more of the typical “club” scene. The name, Club Insanity, says it all. It has a dance floor lit up with LED lights, and plays dance music while the videos play on huge TV screens around the room.
After dinner we all decided we wanted to dance. It actually was perfect for us. We were some of the first people in the club, and we had the dance floor all to ourselves. Now that I look back on it, they were playing a lot of “older” hip hop songs. You know, “I Like Big Butts” and “Push It.” As the night progressed, the songs changed to ones that I had never heard before, let alone by people I didn’t know. I think now that maybe they were playing “age appropriate” music for us.
Anyhow, we were having a great time. The club started to get a little crowded and we found ourselves sitting at tables watching everyone else dance. One guy in particular struck our attention. He looked like Micheal Phelps and was dressed in a pair of khaki shorts, a polo, and tennis shoes. Now, that’s fine, but it is January.
He immediately hit the dance floor and began doing a dance that I do not have words to describe. It was a mixture of a complicated stepping of his feet, pop and locking, and grabbing his shirt with his fingers to pull it away from his body. We all couldn’t help but clap after each time he finished a “routine.” This poor intoxicated boy was so proud of himself. He had huge satisfied grin on his face the entire time.
Soon, we began cheering him on to do the worm. He finally relented and dove onto the dance floor, flopping around, doing the worm the entire way across the floor. He popped up, ran to our table, and put his hand under his chin. Blood began dripping onto our table. He had slammed his face on the floor, splitting his chin open. One of my friends rushed to get him napkins, but he seemed unfazed and unaware of his injury. I asked to look at the cut and immediately told him he needed stitches. After an argument with his friend, he relented and left the club. We thought that was it.
Thirty minutes later, the guy appears in the back of the club, napkins still stuck to his chin, being escorted out by the manager. Apparently, he had never left but had snuck back in through another entrance! I can’t imagine what his Saturday morning felt like!
As the club began to fill up, we were entertained by a young guy who truly lived by the saying “dance like no one is watching.” He danced as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Again, indescribable and highly entertaining. We might have found the next contestant for “So You Think You Can Dance.”
"No, actually I stayed home this year."
"Oh, cause I thought I saw you in the club." T#1
"What club? Club Insanity?" I ask.
"Oh, you've been there???" questions wide eyed T#1
"Yes, I have. I'm actually going to a birthday party there tonight."
"Oh, cause I thought I saw you. She looked just like you. And she was walking with this guy. And he didn't have very much hair on his head. And I was going to say, you can do much better than him."
"Well, thanks," I say, laughing a bit uncontrolably at this point.
heard mumbling behind me- "What would we do if we really saw her at the club?"
Here is the picture that I have framed on the mantle.
I am going to use the green from the statue for the walls, and then neutral from the Opera House for the bedding.
I love this great duvet from Anthropologie.
Behind it, I might put a fabric panel. Another great idea from Apartment Therapy.
For years I’ve wanted a mirror like this. I found this one at Target.
And the coolest find of the day!! This website, Rasterbator, takes a picture that you upload and reformats it into numerous prints. They then send you the prints in PDF. You print them out and form a large image on your wall. I’m thinking of doing this with one of my pictures from Parisand then framing each image in a black frame. I think it would make a great piece of art for a wall. Here’s an example from their website.
This bedroom is showcased from the latest Anthropologie catalog. I wish I could get my room to look like this!! I did get some great ideas on how to start!
One fortunate aspect to living in Mobile is that every year when Mardi Gras begins, I have the opportunity to dress like a princess. There are numerous Mardi Gras balls, and with each, it is a requirement to wear a floor length ball gown. Over the years I have acquired a handful of beautiful gowns. Yet for the past two years, I haven’t been to a ball. It just didn’t seem like something I wanted to do. My first year in Mobile I attended four, and I think that I became burn out very quickly on the late nights and high heels.
Two years ago, I found this dress at a discount store for ten dollars! When I put this dress on, I can’t help but feel beautiful. I honestly think this dress was made for me. And it’s sad that it has sat in my closet in a back corner for two years. I took it out the other night and hung it up. It’s become my “itty-bitty string bikini.” I have worked out every night this week, cardio on elliptical, spin classes that bruised my butt, and numerous containers of yogurt. I have two weeks until my first ball this year. Here’s hoping that it fits like a glove.
Recently, while cleaning out my shed, I came across a bag of clothes. I knew that if I put it in my shed, that I must have stored them there to hold on for a reason. I’m usually pretty good about throwing out clothes that I don’t wear anymore. And I try to only hold on to the ones that are truly sentimental. When I opened the bag, I found that it was full of “sentimental” clothes. I was able to tear myself away from old prom and concert t-shirts, but I couldn’t throw away this sweatshirt. I got this sweatshirt when I was on the school swim team. I really have no clue as to what year it’s from; I swam on the team competitively for nine years. After sixteen years, it was still in perfect shape. It’s been fun wearing it and reminiscing about my years as a “Flying Fish.”
Yesterday on the way to school I was harassed by a car. They swerved in front of me, slammed on their brakes, and then continued to mess with me, waiting until I was close enough to swerve out, back in, and then slam on brakes again. They finally stopped when they saw I was going into the school. I wrote down their license plate and called the police. They were able to give me a name. It was one of my former student’s brother driving the car. I spoke to her this morning. Turns out that yesterday afternoon, in front of the school, he wrecked the car and totaled it. I’m glad no one was hurt.
It’s time to make resolutions and for 2010, I've decided that my resolutions are going to be a bit selfish. Let me explain why. My problems in life are minor and typical ones: need more money, want to find love, would like to lose a few pounds. These are the kinds of things that eventually become boring to even think about because it’s mostly an everyday thought. Why have the same resolutions each year?
So as usual, in 2010, I would like to make more money, I would like to find love, and I would like to get in shape and lose a few. But this year, my resolutions are going to be more than that: I vow not to have any expectations.
This past year for me, in other people’s eyes, was one that I should feel blessed for. And don’t get me wrong, I am extremely blessed and I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am. I was surrounded by friends and family, everyone that is dear to me is healthy, I was able to go to France and Germany for free, I have a stable job in a tiring job market, etc. But 2009 for me was a year when all my expectations weren’t met.
To start off with, I have a lot of social events in my life that I look forward to. One positive aspect to living in Mobile is that there is always something going on around here. January stays a little dull, but rugby begins to start up. By the end of January, Mardi Gras is in full swing, leading to nights out at parades, Mardi Gras balls, and finally a nice three day break in the middle of February. March is when the azaleas begin blooming, the sun is shining and the weather is getting warm, and there is the start to trips to the beach on warm afternoons and rugby games at the Battleship. April is spring break for me and more of the beach, May is my birthday and then end of school. Then I have the summer off for unlimited adventures, volleyball in the fall, quickly followed by the holidays. There really is never an end in something to look forward to. But maybe this past year I looked forward to events in my future too much rather than focusing on the time at hand.
It seems like in 2009, every enjoyable event that I typically enjoy, left me feeling disappointed. Yeah, times were fun, but not like they usually are. And like I said before, it wasn’t that things were bad, but they just weren’t meeting my expectations. Could this be because I have hit an age where the things that were once enjoyable no longer are enjoyable to me?
I started off in January sick as a dog. I had been feeling ill since October when I got a flu shot, but it culminated into the full blown flu in January. After getting over that, Mardi Gras came around, and it just wasn’t as fun as it has been in the past. Spring break was spent in Destin with Mom, helping her move into the condo (which was an exciting change knowing she would be closer) .Then it lead into May, my birthday, visits from my best friend, trips to Ohio, and then my vacation to Europe.
It was on my birthday this past year that I found out Grayson was sick. At first I tried not to focus on the negative possibilities an for the time I didn’t let worry rule my life, but it quickly became an overwhelming factor. Without an understanding of what was going on with him, it was a black cloud over most every day. Even when Cara came to visit, it was overshadowed by trips to the vet, x-rays, and new medications.
Leading into June, I had a quick trip to Ohio, with a return to find that Grayson wasn’t any better. He looked worse. I was still in denial that anything could seriously be wrong with him. June was hell. Without much going on (these were supposed to be my two weeks without responsibility and time to relax) I focused on his problems and my anxiety attacks kicked in full force. I had to come to realization that my dog of ten years was dying and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. After more numerous trips to the vet, an exploratory surgery, surmounting debt, and travel back and forth to Pensacola to the specialist, I found out three days before I left for Paris that Grayson had cancer.
I was left with the realization that I would be forced (there was no way I could pass up an opportunity like this) to travel to Europe while Grayson progressively would get worse. At first I convinced myself that it would be a good break from the round the clock worry, and that I shouldn’t stop my life because of his illness. But I was gravely wrong.
I honestly don’t think a dream could be worse that taking, what could possibly be a once in a lifetime trip, while drowning in sorrow and worry. Paris wasn’t the beautiful place I wanted it to be. It was not home and that’s all I could focus on. To make things even worse, five days into the trip I became faced with the decision to have Grayson put to sleep, with only four days left until I could return. I had no other choice, and officially had my heart broken in Paris.
Returning home, I laid head on into focusing on volleyball and keeping myself busy. Volleyball season and the return to school was a welcome to me. I had little time to think of much else. Yet reality set in in October when it occurred to me just how much I had missed out on in my trip to Europe because of my sorrow. My summer had slipped away as well.
While the holidays were nice this year and my family was once again blessed, it seemed as though there was a constant reminder this year of all the family that was missing. After a childhood of family packed holidays, being in a condo with just the four of us didn’t feel as much like Christmas as it should have.
So, this year, I do not want to have any expectations. I may look forward to times, but I am not going to project all my happiness on specific events. I am going to take each day at a time and find something in that day that makes me happy. Yesterday, it was talking to the two little boys outside my house about the orange kittens, watching Ely do his happy dance, the feeling of accomplishment after working out at the gym, and a furnace that finally caught up with the cold outside. Who knows where I will find happiness today, but I do know that I want to find my happiness in what I have today and not only in what tomorrow holds. Maybe if I lose my high expectations, I will be surprised by the unexpected.
The other morning I got an email from one of my coworkers asking me to come see her. As usual, i figured that I had done something wrong, forgetting to clock in or fill out the proper paper work for my recent absences. When I got to her office, she told me that there was something that she needed to show me, but that she couldn’t at the moment. Then she gave me one of those looks with a long pause in the conversation as if to say, “You know what I need to show you.” I instantly knew that she had her new teacup Chihuahua puppy with her. “Is she under your desk?” I whispered, leaning up against the door so that no one could see into the office. “No, she’s in that blue bag.” I looked over to her side table to see a small blue, foldable lunchbox. “In there?” Sure enough, very carefully, she unzipped the top of the lunchbox. And inside was the tiniest little puppy, wearing a red sweater and a jingle bell, lying there asleep. She had cut out the front of the lunch box to expose a mesh pocket in the front for her to get fresh air. She said that “Bella” didn’t make any noise and just lied there quietly. She was too small to leave at home due to how cold it has been recently. I couldn’t believe it. What is could be cuter than a tiny puppy asleep in a lunchbox beside you?
I am a pretty self sufficient person. I don’t have a problem living alone; I actually quite enjoy it at times. There aren’t any roommates that I have to worry about getting the rent from, sharing food with, asking to quiet it down when I have an early morning, etc. Yet, there are times when it would be nice to have someone just “there” if I did want someone to talk to. Otherwise, I am such a busy person, that I rarely have enough down time to notice that I am alone.
But one situation that makes me very depressed and extremely lonely is when I am sick. It is so hard for me to be alone when I am sick. This past weekend I developed the stomach flu in what seemed like a matter of minutes. No aches, no pains, no fever, just instant nausea. Throughout the night as my illness progressed, thoughts of dying alone on the bathroom floor filled my head. What would happen if I did die? How long would my body lie there before someone noticed that I was missing? What a horrible thought.
I began consistently calling my mom to “update” her on my illness and let her know how I was feeling. My poor mom, I know it must get tiring to hear me crying into the phone at 2am, but I couldn’t help it. I needed the comfort of knowing that someone out there knew that I was sick and would be there in case I needed help (it doesn’t matter that she is hours away) I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have her to call.
That’s when I began thinking that this will be such a major requirement for me when deciding if I could spend the rest of my life with someone…. How do they treat you when you are sick? I typically don’t require constant attention or someone to dote on me, unless I am sick. I know that whomever I decide to marry someday will have to go through “the sick test” to see if they can give me care and attention I want. Can you imagine being with someone who would go and sleep in the other room, leaving you to lie and writhe in pain through the night? Not me. I need the person that will be there patting my back and handing me the wet washcloth.