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Anna
~ I get my best ideas while in transit
~ Subject covered here: extreme navel-gazing
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16 June 13

There was a beautiful soul at the 16th Street BART station today

I was waiting for the next train to the East Bay.  An observer might have seen that I was sitting on a concrete slab, laptop clutched in my arms, but in reality I was sitting amid an invisible egg-shaped forcefield, its surface crawling with electrons which occasionally spelled out, DON’T TALK TO ME.  

A child of about ten roughly plunked himself down next to me; the man attending to him followed closely behind.  The boy began slapping his own arms repeatedly.  The man looked around sheepishly and tried to hold the boy’s hand, but this accomplished nothing.  The boy slapped his arms again, more vigorously this time: Uno dos tres,” he slurred.  He squealed, then squealed again loudly.  He tried to sit up and run, but the man grabbed his hand again.  ”The train is coming, it’s coming,” he said, the mask of humiliation now evident on his face.  

On the opposite side of the slab, a younger man waiting for the train heading south.  He turns around and smiled.  ”Hey man - Happy Father’s Day.”

The train heading south arrived, and both parties boarded and left.

3 April 13

Tit for tat

When you were a small thing, anything could hurt you and make you cry.  Skinning your knee.  Dropping your toys.  A gentle joke.  Tears tumbled out of you like a melt water creek as I bandaged you, coddled you, soothed you.  

Your sister would ask, “Why is she crying?” and I would say, “Shhh, she’s just a child.” 

Now you are older.  You don’t cry anymore.  The questions you ask go right to my heart.  You ask, clear-eyed and sure, “Did you think of me when you were away?”  When I answer, “Of course,” my voice quavers like the last dry leaf in a winter wind.  

You ask, “Why are you crying?” and your sister says, “Shhh, she’s remembering.”  

Tags: youth age time
28 March 13

Found Quotes #2: Blackbird, San Francisco, CA, 9:30 pm on a Friday night

Kevin is telling me about his estate sale excursions.  It’s loud in here.  Here is a bar done up to look old and weathered, but not too old and weathered; the cocktails are new and fresh reimaginings of classic cocktails, the type of place that feels exciting now, but in the future, a cultural archetype for bars of this time and this place.  Here is a bar thronged with young people, and we have to strain our voices to be heard.  ”I’ve seen some nasty stuff.  These places, you can see on the carpet where people had accidents and people would have to clean it up.  One time this man’s bed was set up in the dining room, because that’s the only place they could fit it.  So he would get his meals through the opening in the kitchen wall, right there in the dining room.  He died there.  In the dining room.”  

"That’s…horrible."  

"He had just stacks and stacks of anime, because that was his passion.  He lived all alone like that, just living in the dining room and reading his anime."  

"Have you ever walked up to a place and taken one look at it and been like, Nope, not going in."  

"No, no.  I think it’s fascinating.  One time I came across a box of college papers that this person had just saved in an attic for like, their entire life.  Like they saved it.  And at the estate sale, where they had all their things laid out for people to buy, there were people just walking all over it, just walking all over these papers that this person had hung on to until they died.  Like it was that important to this person, and now you have all these people walking all over it like it’s just paper.”  

"So since you’ve spent so much time at these things, do you feel like you  are ready to face your own mortality?  Like it’s not some mysterious thing to you anymore?"

Kevin pauses before he answers.  ”I own a box of journals written by this guy who wrote down everything he did, like every minute, from when he was ten years old to when he died.  Every day.  Like, ‘Woke up at 6:30.  Ate a chicken sandwich for lunch.  Had a test in English class.’  His whole life in a box.  Like, I own that.”  

23 November 12

Found Quotes #1: Red Rock Coffee, Mountain View, CA, 1:30 pm

Two middle-aged men sit in resigned silence.  One is wearing rings and sunglasses.  The one opposite him is weak-chinned and balding.  This one opens his mouth to speak.  

"Something from my professional life which has sort of been teaching me something about my personal life is this.  There are days when Ron will just lose his temper at me and then the next day he makes up for it…there are days when he’ll flip out at me for forgetting some crucial thing, and then the next hour he wants to grab coffee and bitch about the designers.  

"And it’s the same thing with the designers.  One day they’re flipping out, and then the next day they’re very friendly and helpful.

"And I guess what all of this has been teaching me is, Don’t catastrophize, you know? The universe…” He pauses and makes a fluttery motion with his fingertips like someone scattering sand into the wind, as if his hands could describe his thoughts better than his words.  ”The universe has a way of creating equilibrium.” 

14 October 12
Perusing the aisles of a homewares store of a different ethnic extraction always proves to be a more satisfying experience than it should.  Oakland’s Koreana Plaza features an inventory studded with novel items to a Western shopper: gleaming chafing dishes, neat plastic storage containers for items which you were previously unaware were in need of storage containers, backless socks with slender slingbacks to be worn with…what, exactly?  Mundane objects made fascinating by a simple change of context.  

Perusing the aisles of a homewares store of a different ethnic extraction always proves to be a more satisfying experience than it should.  Oakland’s Koreana Plaza features an inventory studded with novel items to a Western shopper: gleaming chafing dishes, neat plastic storage containers for items which you were previously unaware were in need of storage containers, backless socks with slender slingbacks to be worn with…what, exactly?  Mundane objects made fascinating by a simple change of context.  

20 September 12

In an alternate world, are you happier?

You can see the scene play out in your mind as clearly as a movie you’ve watched countless times, only you watch it through the honeyed gauze of a memory that never happened.  This is how we met, you tell others when they ask, and that the story’s pieces fit together so jigsaw-perfect makes it hard to accept that there is no one to listen, really.  This is how we live, you tell yourself sadly, the amber light flickering by onto a screen.

A sepia stranger follows you everywhere, and its shadowy presence is taller, bigger than any other person who would take its place.  It looms over even the one who birthed him in the first place.  At times you wonder if it is not so invisible after all, if it is plain to see by anyone around.  

Your heart is tied up in string, and that string stretches across the continent to another sea.  A telephone wire which has been long forgotten; a fuzzy radio station broadcasting abandoned codes into the ether.  WISH YOU WERE HERE, you tap out unendingly, WISH YOU WERE HERE, W I S H  

Y  O  U  

W   E   R   E    

H    E    R    E

11 September 12
Last week, a gray sky opened briefly and let down glass sheets of rain over the South Bay.  Children peered agape out of windows, saucer-eyed.  
What is it like to grow up in a place where a late summer rainstorm is not a mundane occurrence?  Is rain shrouded in magic for the Californian child, or is it that much more ominous?  As a child growing up in hot, humid Texas, snow was a storybook event and not part of real life; I imagined it to have the consistency of a feather-bed and the taste of vanilla ice cream.  Not long after moving to Chicago, the novelty wore off, mostly; still, I feel a delicious thrill every time I see the first sprinklings of a snowfall. 
I also remember taking field trips from woodsy Wilmette, where we lived at the time, into the city.  Our teacher took us on an architectural tour of Chicago and swung by the Rookery.  We stared in awe at the funny pigeons that would come so close to you.  They looked like gaudily made-up bag ladies with the iridescence gleaming through their dingy gray wings.  Fifteen years afterward, and now I was the teacher taking my students on a field trip - this time to a verdant park worlds away from the rusted grit of their city block.  They shrieked when the squirrels skittered out of bushes and across their path.  
When you observe the way children react to the world around them, they remind you of the greatest and the most fearsome aspects of our species.  A child yelping with alarm at an unfamiliar animal is not so different from a woman on the subway clutching her purse closer to her as the train begins to let on more people who don’t look just like her.  A child cooing in wonder over the unremarkable might become the next visionary to forever change our lives.  We constantly change and yet always stay the same.

Last week, a gray sky opened briefly and let down glass sheets of rain over the South Bay.  Children peered agape out of windows, saucer-eyed.  

What is it like to grow up in a place where a late summer rainstorm is not a mundane occurrence?  Is rain shrouded in magic for the Californian child, or is it that much more ominous?  As a child growing up in hot, humid Texas, snow was a storybook event and not part of real life; I imagined it to have the consistency of a feather-bed and the taste of vanilla ice cream.  Not long after moving to Chicago, the novelty wore off, mostly; still, I feel a delicious thrill every time I see the first sprinklings of a snowfall. 

I also remember taking field trips from woodsy Wilmette, where we lived at the time, into the city.  Our teacher took us on an architectural tour of Chicago and swung by the Rookery.  We stared in awe at the funny pigeons that would come so close to you.  They looked like gaudily made-up bag ladies with the iridescence gleaming through their dingy gray wings.  Fifteen years afterward, and now I was the teacher taking my students on a field trip - this time to a verdant park worlds away from the rusted grit of their city block.  They shrieked when the squirrels skittered out of bushes and across their path.  

When you observe the way children react to the world around them, they remind you of the greatest and the most fearsome aspects of our species.  A child yelping with alarm at an unfamiliar animal is not so different from a woman on the subway clutching her purse closer to her as the train begins to let on more people who don’t look just like her.  A child cooing in wonder over the unremarkable might become the next visionary to forever change our lives.  We constantly change and yet always stay the same.

Tags: humanity rain
5 September 12
A maiden sits alone at a wooden table in a simple house on a high plain, playing with her flowers.  The chill autumn wind rushes through a window, slamming open the shutters, shrouded in trailing black tatters.
"I see you," it hisses at her white neck, like the tip of a blade grazing tender skin.  "I own you.  And one day, when the flowers are at their most beautiful, I will take what is mine."  It bares its ice-white teeth, a frosty cloud mushrooms briefly in the air, and it sweeps away to whatever land it came from.  
The maiden looks up from her flowers and puts her thin arms around herself.  For a moment, she stares glassily in front of her.  Then she blinks and shakes her head.  ”What was that?” she murmurs aloud, and picks up her flowers.  

A maiden sits alone at a wooden table in a simple house on a high plain, playing with her flowers.  The chill autumn wind rushes through a window, slamming open the shutters, shrouded in trailing black tatters.

"I see you," it hisses at her white neck, like the tip of a blade grazing tender skin.  "I own you.  And one day, when the flowers are at their most beautiful, I will take what is mine."  It bares its ice-white teeth, a frosty cloud mushrooms briefly in the air, and it sweeps away to whatever land it came from.  

The maiden looks up from her flowers and puts her thin arms around herself.  For a moment, she stares glassily in front of her.  Then she blinks and shakes her head.  ”What was that?” she murmurs aloud, and picks up her flowers.  

4 September 12
Swimming through an aquarium of young urbanites; haven’t slept since Wednesday
Sound waves thrum and colored lights shift on walls; a laser galaxy in 2-D
The fish in this tank are black-clad, eyes ringed with smoke and late nights

Swimming through an aquarium of young urbanites; haven’t slept since Wednesday

Sound waves thrum and colored lights shift on walls; a laser galaxy in 2-D

The fish in this tank are black-clad, eyes ringed with smoke and late nights

25 August 12

A little insidery for anyone who's ever had to give a high-stakes standardized test.

  • Lee: How them boards go bawse.
  • Me: Yeah, is you a real doctor yet?
  • Wing: Ugh, them boards was booty. 9 hours of multiple choice questions and they ain't even give me a wordfind when I was done.
  • Lee: That how that second day of the bar was. On the afternoon set of multiple choice so the second hundred I was like on question 15 and just like, "This boring." I always wanted to color.
  • Wing: Yeah, it was miserable. Ain't no one coming around giving me mints to suck on, and you KNOW ain't nobody going through my answers and changing all the wrong ones. Like what kind of test is this?
  • Lee: Where that person who all, "Are you SURE about that one?" You have a boards pep rally where you spent the day before making signs that use changed rap lyrics? "Pass the test! Pass the test! Everything we learned will help us pass the test."
  • Me: You get that half day?
  • Lee: Yeah, how come I didn't get to watch Roll Bounce after my first session done.
  • Wing: I'm going to write a letter to Prometric to suggest these changes. I wanted a bagler and juice cup delivered to my desk because errbody knows you gotta get that breakfast before the test.
Themed by Hunson. Originally by Josh