The bus was almost empty, I sat down with my cell phone in my hand, trying to decide if I wanted to send a text message or not. I decided that it was a nice quiet bus, and that I'd really prefer to stare out the window at the shops on Fillmore. So I just held the phone in my hand. It's got a nice smooth shape that fits nicely in the palm. Just before my stop a grizzled old man with a grandfatherly beard got on and sat down in one of the front seats.
"Oh," He said strangely loudly, "Do we all have to listen to you talk on the PHONE?!" I had no idea what he was talking about. My phone wasn't visible and it was on vibrate. "You don't need to talk so loud that we ALL have to hear!" And then I realized he was referring to a girl near the back who was talking on her cell. She had a gentle accent I'd place as South African, and I hadn't even noticed her voice before he pointed it out.
He started talking with the man across the aisle about how rude people with cell phones are. Such vitriol from this man who only moments before looked like a sweet old grandpa. They went on about how people kept their phone on the loud ring setting even when it was in their pockets and vibrate mode would suffice. While his attitude might have been enough to put me off, I mean here I am with my cell phone in my hand not 2 feet from the old grump, this guy's attitude, volume, and bitter anger was far more unpleasant than the gentle roll of the girl's conversation.
He'd taken a fairly quiet moment that might have been somewhat irritating to him, and turned it into a loud moment that irritated everyone else, most importantly ME. I thought about pointing that out but I'd been so busy getting irritated that I almost missed my stop and had to jump off the bus before I got the chance. I managed a quiet "crotchety old ass" as I walked away that I pretended might have been loud enough for him to hear.
Funny how we can't just accept our own pain and irritation without spreading it around a little.
Sometimes having the best intentions isn't good enough.
I took myself out of the loop for a while, several loops really. I hid out, rested, shirked, flaked, faltered and remained non-committal when it came to making plans and going out and doing things. It was just one of those times. Core meltdown of social interaction mechanisms, interface tolerance at critically low levels, containment necessary for survival of parent processes.
Lately I’ve started venturing out again. Instead of dinner or drinks one day a week, I’ve gone to shows, am taking a class, go wandering around on weekends, and end up hanging out with strangers. I like strangers. Hanging out with strangers is the best way to make new friends and get exposed to strange new things – and strange new things are the stuff that revelations, epiphanies, and life changing experiences are made of.
So in this rejoining and regrouping I find myself, instead of rejoining loops, cutting myself out of some of the loops I thought I would continue to involve myself in. I find myself asking if these groups benefit my life. Do they make me feel the way I want to feel? Do they challenge me to be more and better? How does my presence affect the others in this loop? Does it affect them at all? Would they notice if I left? What do these groups and social circles do for me, with me, because of me?
Every few years I come to this place and check my definition. Make sure it reads right. There are loops and groups I’ll keep with me for life, and some that are transient, they get left by the wayside when I stop and take stock. I’ve made some new additions of little cliques that draw me out and help to fill me up. Others I’ve put on hold, unsure of what I want from them and them from me. And there are a few I’m going to let fall without mourning. Sometimes, it turns out, I’d rather be me than be cool.
Her eyes were heavy lidded with heroin. She had a black eye and on the other side of her face, a purple jaw to match. She spoke loudly, in a voice that made it clear that for her there was no one else on the bus but the old mustached man next to her she was talking to. Her face, if it were not bruised and marinated would have been cute. Round and chubby and I thought maybe even beautiful if she’d been smiling in a beam of sunlight.
She talked about her wife, she’d been married for three years, but left her and now lived with her girlfriend in the Coronado. It was her girlfriend she’d been fighting with. They fought like men she said. They fought for two hours, taking breaks to rest and then starting again. She said she broke her girlfriend’s nose, that it bled for an hour. She said it with a laugh.
They live in one room at the hotel, and work out of another that is registered under someone else’s name. The police had been there that morning, and they had been sure they were going to knock on the door that they work out of, but instead knocked next door at their friend Steven’s and arrested him for dealing speed. He was their runner, and now they didn’t have one for business. They sell drugs out of the second apartment. Heroin, crack, pot, speed, whatever. Right now they have 3 ounces of h to get rid of. They let their friend who has nowhere to live stay in that room. She said with a knowing smile that he works for them and they don’t have to do anything but get him high.
The man said it was lucky no one called the police when they were fighting. She laughed and said no one calls the police there. She said you could get raped, murdered, and robbed, and no one would call the police. She laughed again. She said after they fought she walked out, and could see the hurt in her girlfriend’s eyes. Too bad for her, she said, “If you mess with my paper, if you mess with my dope, if you mess with my hustle, I’ll kill you.” And of her bruised face she said, her face is how she makes her money, so the bruises, they were messing with her paper.
The crack heads bring them TVs. They have a 27 inch TV, a VCR, a DVD player, a stero. Someone even brought them a fax and a printer once. What the fuck were they going to do with that she asked. They live in a hotel. They don’t have a phone jack.
“At least you got a place to live,” he said. “Hell yah,” she said. “I’ll never rest my head on the sidewalk... I’m better than that.” She’d been on the street and in the hustle since she was 13, and shit, she’s almost 30, and she would never rest her head on the sidewalk. That shit wasn’t for her. She has everything she needs now, and she’s happy. He asked if she was happy with the girlfriend, even with the fighting. She said she wasn’t worried about the fight, there was always someone to fight. She loves the girlfriend in spite of the fight... But if she ever messed with her paper or her dope, she’d leave. Her ex used to do all of her dope, she loved her, but she left her. “You don’t mess with my dope,” she said.
And that’s life.
When I was little I went to nursery school all day while my parents were at work. For the most part I dont remember enjoying the place, but then I dont remember hating it that much either. My best friend there was named Brian. Around the time when I was 4 or so we got really into doing somersaults. The problem with this was that as soon as you put your head down on the grass, but before you could roll over and complete the somersault, anyone who saw you would rush over and sit on your head. So here and there on the playground, you'd see 4 year olds sitting on other 4 year olds heads while those with their heads being sat on were screaming in frustration. Sometimes you'd get lucky and roll before anyone sat on you, and the delight outweighed the risk. No one stopped doing somersaults... even when the sitters started pretending to fart.
It had been a long time since I'd shrieked in delight at something as simple as that. As an "adult" this just isnt something you get to do often enough. On Saturday I went with a friend to a party. We didnt know anyone and most of the crowd seemed a little into their own scene, but we talked to the host and at one point, without warning, he says to us, "Hey! Have you been to the paper room yet?" (The paper room? wtf is that?) He got all excited and bounded through the living room dragging us behind him. One of the bedrooms was filled with those big sheets of newsprint that you use when you're packing dishes and other fragile stuff. They were all wadded up in drifts and mounds like piles of raked leaves. He shoved us into the room, grabbed an armful of paper, and threw it into the air. We got the point immediately and started throwing paper everywhere, diving into piles and tackling anyone who got close enough to tackle. We must have been in there creating a blizzard of paper for 15 minutes straight and I was, in fact, shrieking with delight. We all tried to entice more people into the room but almost no one was interested. We got a lot of raised eyebrow looks, the kind where you know their internal monologue is going something like "Uh, no thanks, retard! As if!"
At first I thought it was sad that people would rather be too cool than have that much fun, but I went back in the paper room for a second go, and really how can you be bothered to be sad for the cool kids when youre having that much fun?
I have a bruise on my shin. Its big and the spot that hurts the most still doesnt show color. Its going to last a long time. When I walk, it hurts every time I step on that foot if Im not careful. When I walk down hill I think - ow, step, ow, step, ow, step.
It may sound like a bad thing to have a big bruise, but I think its one of those things that helps me stay in the moment. Thats something I've been thinking about lately. Staying in the moment rather than going over a conversation I had last week or last month. Staying in the moment rather than imagining a conversation Im never going to have. Staying in the moment and noticing whats currently happening and sticking to that rather than other times and other place and other people.
I got the bruise on Saturday night. I had fun in spite of it, probably partly because of it. I tried to take a picture of it, but it didnt come out. My brother got kicked in the shin hard enough to go to the hospital once. He was playing soccer though, not just standing around on a porch.
I dont have a store, but please feel free to place an order and send checks made out to me.