Monday, June 05, 2006
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Friday, June 02, 2006
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Fingers in his lap, nervously touching, tip to tip. His head is down, yet he can see her with a secret sideways glance, three seats back in the row next to his. His hair sports no neat cut and his jeans are of the corduroy. Like this, he feels he cannot speak to her even though he has seen her before speak cheerfully to passengers who smell like 1,000 missed baths. Confidence lost, he is without motion as she exits the rear door of the bus.
Off the bus, three blocks, he walks in the opposite direction to search for her. Not to talk or engage, simply to know. To observe her doing what she does, being who she is. The first time he did this, he learned she likes coffee with splashes of milk. Another was the discovery of a single content of the leather bag she carries: a gossip magazine. He was not prejudging her, only hoping the magazine was for a sick friend. When he saw her reading it as she waited for her coffee, he restructured her as a populist, a star descending from the heavens to make Earth a little brighter, hotter, white light blue light.
On the corners, he sang in languages that moved people to fill his hat with coins and paper. He asked those with cameras to line the hat with their bills before snapping. Those with kids and cameras, ten dollars upfront. They obliged, he sang and posed, wondering what she would do if she happened to pass him by in these moments. Would she want a picture with him? Of him? He would sing her an Italian aria and melt her soul. Her money would be an insult as he instead would ask her to marry him. Or ask her name. Her name would be a good start.
Clutching his paper bag, saying goodnight to the clerk, Keeper of the Stoli, he likes to joke, he turns a corner and nearly runs her over. Runs her over. Her. Swallowing hard and finding a throat in rebellion, he cannot speak even an I’m sorry. She smiles at him her acceptance of his silent apologies and walks away unharmed, uninjured, unaffected by his accidental touch. He drops his bag and, trying to recover her presence, begins to sing. The aria. Their aria. If she hears him, she lets no one know of it. The sway of her hips disappears with her steps and brings brutal end to the serenade.
I am on your bus, he whispers after her into the night. I am on your bus, he says to everyone who passes him on the street. I am on your bus, he sings on the street corners, but no one pays for this information. The cameras stay in their bags. I am on your bus to Keeper of the Stoli who now bags the vodka with a sad look of misunderstanding. I am on your bus, he says, but no longer rides.
For whatever reason, I am feeling nostalgic today. In that spirit, I am listing all the jobs I've held (and the ones that held me hostage) over the years. My first job, I was 10 years old and kept it until I was no longer age-appropriate for the gig at 15. I didn't keep another job for five years until much later in life. I'm a bit of a vagabond and I get bored easily. I'm much better suited for the life of the independently wealthy, but alas...
Listed in chronological order by numeral:
1. TV anchor for local kids' news show on the NBC affiliate. I learned to read a teleprompter. I had personality. I was probably not well-liked by my five co-anchors. I earned $15 per show.
2. Games worker for amusement park. I took the money and pushed the button to start the mechanized horses' run from the gate to the finish line. I earned around $400 a month and I wasn't required to contribute to the family income in any way, so I blew it on junk every payday. That set the stage for many paydays to come.
3. Student work/loan program worker at a campus day care. Never again.
4. Retail worker--The Limited. Paycheck spent on clothes.
5. Retail worker--The Gap before it morphed into Gap. I hated my manager. Went back to...
6. Retail worker--The Limited. A year later, my hated Gap manager became my hated Limited manager. What the fuck, right? Did she follow me? I quit when my grandfather told me to hurry up and graduate already.
7. Retail worker--Uzzolo, a lighting store near K Street in Washington DC. I tried to be a full-time student, but I wasn't very good at going to class. One day, I was in line registering for the new semester and the line was really long and somewhere in my waiting time, I decided to take the semester off.
8. Retail worker--Mrs. Field's Cookies. Yum. Back in school by now and moonlighting at The Limited for the discount. Then quit The Limited because I got a promotion at Mrs. Field's. I got to make the schedule and make bank deposits. Then I got to take a lie detector test because someone stole the night's deposit. "They" thought I did it since I showed up the next week with my brand new charge card purchases that I was so excited about. I failed the polygraph, but kept my job through common sense. Who steals the night deposit and spends it on new bathroom towels?
9. No more college jobs. My grandfather was getting a little upset. Pick a major, please, and get your lazy butt home, is my paraphrasing of his demand.
10. First after-college job? Back at The fucking Limited. But I was management, god-doggit. So we were opening a new kids' store and I was in charge of recruiting freight unpackers and clothes hanger-uppers. I posted signs on the job board at one college and it was so hot that day, I went home without posting signs at the college across the street. Wow. That first college--lots of people wanted to be box unpackers and clothes hanger-uppers. My lead manager told all callers to come on, let's get this done. She panicked when her store was filled with students from what happened to be a historically black university. I don't think she'd ever been around that many black people at one time. Ever. I got taken to lunch. Not as a reward, but as a what the fuck were you thinking? Man, I thought she wanted the boxes unpacked and the clothes hung up, not a meeting of the Junior League. Whatever. I forget if I quit or got fired shortly thereafter.
11. Oh, yeah. I remember now. I quit because I got offered a marketing (my belatedly chosen major) job with a small newspaper. Commission only, my dad was paying my rent. Job over soon enough.
12. Retail worker--bookstore. I got to read on the job and didn't like putting a day's worth of books back on the proper shelves after the store closed at freaking midnight. I was drinking by then and getting off work at one in the morning was a serious crimp in bar time. I hadn't yet figured out I could drink at my apartment any old time I felt like it.
13. Full-time writer hanging out with full-time painter. I was scribbling in my journal while watching him paint. That doesn't pay anything. I was charging everything from rent to wine to dinner for six to my dad's credit cards. He never said anything to me, but he must have mentioned something to my brother. Next thing I knew, I was on an interview for my next job after another what the fuck conversation, but with my brother this time.
14. Customer service--FedEx. Hard to get any writing done while tracking some dude's Lands End turtleneck like it's the end of the world.
15. Courier--FedEx. I liked that job since the writer in me had committed suicide during a customer service call gone bad. But I got into a scrum with my station manager and quit on principle. I miss the health benefits, but I kept my honor.
16. Staff writer for a church. Not bad. I had to answer a short ministry survey like "how many people have you brought to Christ" or something like that. I skipped the question and still got the job. I'm guessing that wasn't really a prerequisite.
17. Abstinence director for a conservative Christian ministry. Abstinence can mean so many things, but they meant abstinence from sex. Hmmm. Another survey. This one really long and personal. I answered how I thought I should answer at the time. The director told me that God told her to hire me. Go God. I don't think God told her to pay me less than $30,000, but I guess he does the hiring, she sets the salaries. I got fired for getting pregnant while being not exactly married to the guy I was fucking while being completely depressed about so many things, that unliveable salary being chief among them. I didn't get fired for getting pregnant. I got fired for refusing to apologize for sinning or whatever.
18. Technical writer for creative temporary agency I found on the 'net while surfing with the round belly. They didn't care about no baby daddy drama, only that I was good at translating engineering documents into English.
19. Current job as technical editor. Trying to revive/rebirth the writer who left me those many years ago.
Perhaps I should not try to speak for all writers. Let me speak for this one. Being a part of any community is hard for me. Work, school, social organizations (forget that one altogether). If I'm new to the scene, as I am to this blogging community, I am silent except in my own space until I read something that touches a nerve, making me want to help or spend my two cents. I contribute to the discussion and, every time, immediately regret the decision. Always thinking that someone will find me dismissive or rude or insincere. Or that someone will be dismissive, rude or insincere toward me. (I also proofread the hell out of each and every comment and entry. So I'm regretting and I'm wondering about comma placement all at once)
Blogging every day makes me write every day, and that was the original goal when I started this thing (thanks to I-know-who). Whether I finish my story or not, I've learned to write for an audience (yes, an audience of three, but that's more community than I ever received in my sketchbook journal). I've learned to swallow praise and criticism as the same little coated caplet. I've always been an information nerd, so having the Internet at my fingertips while I write is amazing.
When I was younger, I used to give soliliquies similar to this one over how my mother was persecuting the genius in me by making me clean my room or clean the kitchen. My brother, paraphrasing me in his hilarious falsetto, would stand to the side of my dramatics with a hand to his forehead and cry: "Goodbye, cruel world" or something to that effect. He always made me laugh and, to this day, can still call me on my bullshit. I was thinking just now that I may not continue this blog for much longer, and those scenes with my brother popped into my head.
Writing is hard work. Writing well is harder. Any philosophers out there? Did I get that right? I'd hate to make illogical leaps of thought here on the 'net. That never happens.
More later, after I feel I have my shit together. Or maybe before I get my shit together. That choice might make things a little more interesting.