I rode the bus today.

Finally got it together to commute via bus this morning, and I’m glad I did. It was an adventure. I had all these plans regarding books and notebooks and laptops, but when I got on the bus, it was dark and the seats were too close to allow for any kind of make-shift workspace. It filled up quick. I kept my bag crowding the seat next to me until a string of ladies came through. (A trick I learned back in junior high, last time I rode the bus on a daily basis. Keep your bag there ’til all the men go by. Don’t give up your adjacent seat to a man without a fight.)

A lady sat next to me. We didn’t make eye contact, even though our elbows had to touch. The minute the bus took off into the dark, she, sitting straight upright like a cat, closed her eyes and slept, paws tucked down in her lap. She smelled like something particular, like maybe something my third-grade teacher used to wear. I looked out the window. I like to look out the window whenever other people drive, because usually I drive and therefore I can’t. It sounds stupid to enjoy looking at, say, the marquee on the Luby’s, to see what specials they had for lunch. But I read the specials and enjoyed it. I looked into lit offices at Wells Fargo. I peered at the paint cans and broken scaffolding behind warehouses lined up along the freeway. People at the next park-n-ride, one guy bouncing to his headphones and presenting the only happy face. David Addickes’ giant president-head sculptures facing us from one of our oldest, most run-down neighborhoods, and miraculously free of graffiti.

I got off the commuter bus and ran one block to my transfer stop. Wasn’t sure which corner to stand on. Went back and forth like a chicken getting to the other side… no, the other side… Gave up and called Metro, then saw my bus and had to do a mid-street U-turn and sprint back to the proper stop. I had on heels but the kinds made for “juniors” — thick training heels with rubber soles. Good thing I sometimes have childish tastes. Good thing I’m dressed a little like a school kid today. Got on the second bus. There were actual school kids on it, dour in stained uniforms. I looked at the direction they came from and wanted to offer them part of my lunch. Because, not to make assumptions, but I was pretty sure they hadn’t had breakfast. Because only some kids have to take the city bus to school, and they form a big Venn overlap with the kids who don’t eat breakfast (can’t, not won’t, because breakfast isn’t there, not because they turned up their noses at the Pop Tart or Go Gurt flavor of the day). And, um, I used to be one of those kids. So I knew. But there was no way to offer them food, of course, because… you know. There simply is no way. I couldn’t even smile encouragingly at them. Those are the rules. They got off at another stop, to wait some more, and I felt even sadder. They had to ride two buses to school, and I only ever had to ride one.

The bus driver passed some guy’s stop — I don’t know if by accident or purposely. The guy only fumed where the rest of us could see him, and I immediately pegged him as a hobbyist victim, because how hard would it have been to stand up and walk forward, to say, “Next stop.” You can’t just ring the bell and then sit there waiting on other people to take charge of your life, you know. I mean, you can, but then there’s no use complaining, in that case. Why would the bus driver want to take care of you, if you don’t even want to take care of yourself?

And then we got to work, and I ran ran ran across the carpetting and potted plants and parqueted elevators and conspicuously clean windows…

and I’m glad I took the bus. I’m going to make a habit of it, if I can.

Tedium Uncovers Your Natural Potential

I like it when someone at work tells me, “Hey, you’re a writer, so…” because that means I might get a chance to work to my potential. My boss said, “You’re a writer. Could you maybe write, or edit, or just summarize…” and I said, “Yes, yes, yes.”

You know how I know — how I’ve been sure for a while — that I’m a writer?

1. I read it in Bird by Bird, and then again in The Artist’s Way.

2. Whenever we had a boring block of time in school, I’d use that time to write. Sometimes I’d draw cartoons, too, but usually I’d write. Long, long notes to Dorothy or Letty or my boyfriend of the moment, describing the boredom of the moment plus everything else in my line of sight. What had happened the day before — soft focus on the bad parts, laser detail on the parts I could control. Girls I hated, in copious detail, and why. Teachers and my distorted perceptions of their lives. Every intimate detail of our teachers, who were our celebrities, in a strange inverted way. “Courteney guessed that Ms Tucker would wear the blue flowered dress today, and she was right. Michelle hates her accent. She’s from A-a-a-albany. No wonder she doesn’t have a husband. I feel sorry for her — I should do my homework today.”

What do you do when there’s a long stretch of time, when you’re held prisoner by the tedium? Do you write? Then you’re a writer. Do you draw? Then you’re an artist. Do you practice posing? Then you’re an actor or a lip-syncher-to-be. Do you imagine having sex with everyone in the room? Then you’re an executive in a private firm. (Heh. Just kidding… Everyone thinks of sex when they’re bored. Unless you don’t, and then you’re destined to write non-fiction about your non-sex-life that will humiliate your spouse.)

What do you do? That’s what you are.

My dentist almost died.

A few weeks ago, my dentist had a severe allergic reaction to medication that came very close to killing him. His body tried to purge the allergen by ejecting his skin, piece by piece. Thank God the hospital stopped it in time. Because I love my dentist, and I don’t want him to die.

My dentist happens to be my future brother-in-law, but that’s not why I love him. I love him because he’s a good dentist and a charitable person, but an undercover one — he hates spewing affection or gushy feelings. He shows those things by: 1) throwing money at you or, 2) bitching at you in a long, roundabout way. (Like, “You dummy, you shouldn’t have bought a car without calling me first. I bet your interest rate is sky-high” means, “I care about you and I’m always willing to help you have what I consider the best life.”)

So. Usually, when I see my dentist, we multitask. He drills my teeth, but also lectures his brother through me, and thereby shows his love. He spends a lot of money on my teeth, doesn’t charge me, and doesn’t let me thank him, and so I feel the affection, too. I understand the way he operates. He says, “I like being a dentist because people can’t talk when I’m working on their mouths. And I want to be the one to talk. Open wider. Bite this. Now I talk and you listen.” And I do listen. It’s the least I can do.

So… This time, it would have been the same as usual, except that my dentist recently almost died. So… He had a lot more to say than he normally would. He had a lot more people to bitch at/about, including me. He had to hurry up and say everything, bitch at everybody, loud and fast, before I left. Or before he lost the chance, before something might happen again and this time he might not be so lucky. “You’re going to be family now,” he kept saying, “so you need to know…”

He talked loud and fast and I listened, listened, listened. And I was glad he didn’t die, but sorry he went through the scariness of almost dying… But glad that he had the opportunity to talk, and that I knew how to listen. I wanted to say, “Any time, brother.”

But I couldn’t, because there was a drill in my mouth. But I think — I hope — he knew what I was thinking.

Next time I see him, I’ll give him something expensive and then bitch at him when he tries to thank me. Then he’ll know. :)

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in domestic, Houston, writing on 04/01/2008 05:07 am

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.