Can’t We All Just Sit Quietly?

Yesterday I was waiting for the streetcar when a young woman came up to me. She started talking and I pulled off my headphones, hoping the conversation would be short. She asked me how to ride the DC Connector and I told her I didn’t know what that was but the streetcar stop was just in front of us, pointing to the median where a group of people were waiting. She had her card out, so I told her it was free to ride.

That’s when things took a turn. She told me how she was glad it was free because everything was too expensive. I politely agreed cause, yes, the rent is too damn high. But then she started chatting and asking me questions. I thought I’d be nice, since she seemed harmless enough. She asked me what I did. She asked me where I was from. I didn’t tell her much, but she told me all about herself. She mentioned that she had some hard transitions. She said she didn’t know whether it was the right time for her to have a kid. She ran through a list of life’s difficult choices, looking at me as she mentioned each one. She was casting lines, but I’d stopped biting.

After awhile, she said she’d like to give me her card. I watched as she searched in her giant blue-and-white striped Jessica Simpson wheeled bag, finally finding something. She handed it to me. It was a card for her church.

Then it all started to come together. I’d thought she was just a young women who hadn’t developed appropriate social skills. Turns out, she was a young woman who had learned a specific set social skills, ones that would help her manipulate strangers. And something about me made her think I was the perfect target. Is it because I look malleable? Does my general demeanor exude skepticism and profanity?

She told me how when she was struggling her Bible study really helped her. She told me everyone is welcome. She said it changed her life. I said that’s nice that that worked for her. She said I should join her. Then I made a crucial mistake. Instead of just saying no or that I am an unbelieving heathen or please leave me alone lady with no personal boundaries, I said I was Jewish. I think I was searching for a button to press just to see what would happen. She lit right up. She said that was fantastic because we are the chosen people and the savior was Jewish and we were given the holy text. I stared at her silently, thinking that if she really thought I was chosen, why in the world would I need her. She said, well at least we could go for a drink. She was clearly grasping. I continued to stare.

Finally, she told me we’d come to her stop and got off the streetcar. I took a deep breath, scooted over into the seat she’d just left, and put my headphones back in my ears.

And this is why I don’t talk to strangers. One minute, you think you’re giving someone directions on the street, the next you’re being accosted by an evangelist disguised as a confused 26-year-old tourist. I’ll never tell someone how to get to Hard Rock Cafe again.

I’m Out, People

I’ve thrown aside the trappings of capitalism. I’m no longer carrying credit cards. I let go of the gift cards that have been weighing me down. I relinquished the cash I’ve been carrying. I am now living without these fixtures of commercialism and financial competition. I can see the world anew, without the weight of the economy bearing down on me.

And, while I’m at it, I’m snubbing my nose at the requirement that I be tracked and identified by the government. Until some unknown future date, I will be walking around free from the little laminated cards that tie us to our states, telling anyone who catches a peek the date we were born and whether or not we wear glasses. The biggest sacrifice is that it will be more difficult to order a glass of wine, but that’s just a struggle I’ll have to face for the privilege of freedom.

I am now liberated from the tiny cards and bits of paper we’re forced to carry to prove we belong. I will walk without the burden of making decisions about which capitalist institutions I should frequent and which I should avoid. I will demonstrate my distaste for the man’s incessant control by discarding the documents he says we must attach to ourselves when we leave our homes. I am moving around lighter and more in tune with what’s happening around me.

Two days ago, someone stole my wallet.

Something Worth Its Space

I saw Hamilton over the weekend and it was so beautiful. It was a reminder that life is small and big all at once, that our giant moments and tiny building blocks are set up right next to one another—that if we grip our toes into the cracks in our foundation, we might just reach the ledge where we’re meant to be. It made me consider whether I’m really using my moments, whether I’m creating something worth the space it takes. It made me think I need to hustle harder. Hustle how, I’m not sure, but here I am.

I watched the men and women on that stage, telling the tale of a person who was expected to fail but instead helped build a nation, telling it in their own language, holding it up to a new light, and it struck a tiny hammer against the hardened lava that had built up around the creative self living in my bones.

So, I’m on a mission to find more miniature crowbars to take to these developing rifts. I’m going to feed the gaps with art and music and treetops and then wait as they grow and grow. After awhile, something worth the space it takes might come out.

Stripes and Polka Dots

I recently got two news pairs of shoes, my first soccer cleats and a stylish set of rain boots. Both came from the children’s section. That is the gift of tiny feet—snazzy shoes for bargain prices. The curse: bad balance. It’s worth it. You can fall in style.

The real challenge when shopping in the kid’s section is differentiating between cool, funky designs and awkward, lame ones. Kids can’t always tell the difference, so designers are usually just throwing lawn darts into the air and hoping they don’t fall on an unlucky fashion victim. Children are mostly just attracted to bright colors and shiny objects. Like crows. But as adults, we’re supposed to know better, to be chic and trendy. At least, that’s what the fashion magazines in the grocery store check-out lane seem to be telling me.

But since those magazine don’t taste as good as popsicles or pizza, they don’t make it into my cart, and the lessons just won’t stick. Instead, I usually think the most stylish person in the store with me is the toddler wearing a tutu and a baseball cap. They’re happy and we’re happy looking at them. We’d probably not pick that outfit out ourselves, but maybe we should. We could be excluding all kinds of cool combinations from our lives. Polka dots and stripes could be your jam.

And that’s what I hope to gain from my children’s department shopping excursions.

Rock what you like and forget about the judgment. Looking for a hairy pink mini backpack? You’ll find that in the kid’s section. Wish you had tights covered in shiny unicorns? Children’s aisle. Need a shirt with seventeen pockets? You know where to find it. Feel like dressing like a giant cheeseburger? Go for it. In your free time. Or get a job as a hype man at a fast food restaurant. Basically, go after what you want and wear what you like. That’s why I’ll be wearing my furry Chewbacca costume to work tomorrow. HR, here I come.

Somehow, I’m Still Here

As you guys know, I took an unfortunate elbow to the face two weeks ago. One concussion, one and a half black eyes, and four nose x-rays later, I am now walking around looking like a person with a regular face. Well, as regular as it was three weeks ago.

I’m not really supposed to be on a computer, but since it’s my job to be on a computer, I have been breaking that rule. It doesn’t go well. It starts to feel like I have one of those wind-up chimpanzee toys that play the cymbals inside my head. Not pleasant for me or the chimp. I guess this is what you get for placing yourself in danger, or, in my case, going outside. Still, I survived. Again. Somehow. The world seems pretty set on killing me, and yet, here I am.

Two months ago I went to the doctor for the first time in awhile. I was getting a check up because my body wasn’t cooperating and also because I am getting old. Those things might be related, but I’m not convinced. I think I may have angered a witch in a past life. Or a current life. I can’t rule it out.

As part of the appointment, I had to tell the doctor about my medical history, including the list of strange and varied ways the world has tried to take me out over the last eight years. I thought it was just the kind of stuff the universe throws at you, but my doctor’s kind but perplexed facial expressions as I explained my predicaments seemed to indicate otherwise.

I explained how I have low blood pressure, but it’s totally fine. Just one time I fainted and fell into the Metro tracks. I told her I had Shingles and sometimes the nerves in my arm still throw tiny knitting parties under my skin. I revealed that two summers ago I’d been bitten by a tick—twice—and gotten Lyme Disease—twice. I described how recently I’d gone to a stomach doctor and he put a tube down my throat and told me my stomach was eating itself, but that I’d taken some pills and my stomach has started to eat other things.

And that’s just what made it to the top of my ever-growing list. Dave seems to think he should put me in a giant bubble every time I leave the house, or, really, every time I get out of bed. I like to think I am just really great at surviving. What doesn’t kill you makes you… confused and tired?