Monday, April 30, 2007

I've Never Been To Hawaii

I got up from the breakfast table at the cafe and started to make my way to the door when a woman in a window booth caught my attention. She was staring at me with what looked like questioning eyes. "Hello." I said, and waited for her question, searching my memory to a clue as to who this woman was. She was a big woman, a stranger, and she began to speak, slowly..."where have you been?" I looked blankly at her. "Your face, it is so red. Where have you been to get that sunburn?"

I've heard this question many times in my life. I am red. I have sensative skin. What can I say?


"Oh fun. How neat, Hawaii."

"It was absolutely beautiful there, mam. If you get a chance you should visit. Enjoy the rest of your breakfast now."

I say to my brother when we get outside, as he is looking at me with a smile, "It's just easier that way."

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dating Game

I recently re-entered the dating scene. It is a loathsome place to be. I want a cabin with a fire place and two cushioned arm chairs side by side. The smell of must mixed with tea and honey--boots caked with mud by the door--by oversized parkas hung on the coat rack. Dating strangers is rather, like being in a factory from the 19th century and the workers have a look of desperation in their eyes.

I don't want to date. I just want to be human and meet other humans. Real humans. Not ones with shinny pointy shoes and earings to bring out the color in their eyes.

I've exited the dating scene. It was a loathsome place to be. I'm on a star ship with my cat and I'm hurtling through the cosmos with a crew of dwarves who shovel coal into the hyper drive while singing old mining songs. I'm a house plant physician who wears a stethoscope and a beeper. I give lolipops to saplings when they've been brave. I am a walker who has journeyed to the edge of the world and tossed pennies into the abyss for luck. I tend bar at a club shaped like a raindrop off a parkway made of cobblestone. It is a watering hole for telepaths. The jazz band is made up of one guy who wears a thin black-waxed mustache. He sits at a round table against a curved red wall and folds paper into nouns.

Caution, Work Crew up Ahead

Driving the work truck down a country road with ditches on both sides and beyond, fields of tall green grass, wet with the mists of spring, I'm deep in conversation with my partner, Yonk. I tell him about a movie I rented the night before called "The Holiday". "Maybe you've seen it. It's a chick flick," I tell him. "One of those emotional porno movies that women watch with their girlfriends while passing a quart of chunky monkey ice cream. It wasn't the feminine flavor of the film that struck me, that is why I rented it. I want to study romance stories. What stuck out," I say while gesturing with my hands--the truck swerving over the divider line--"is how the movie writers created characters that were movie writers. Hollywood is stuck in Hollywood. I mean there were palm trees and beautiful people and lavish mansions and Mexican house keepers, and..."

Yonk removes the lid from his thermos and takes a sip of steaming gas station coffee. "Authors don't speak for us," I say. "They write stories about powerful attorneys in powerful suits who manipulate the world from their offices atop skyscrapers and the young idealistic intern, a lone wolf, who fights back with guns and cell phones. Or, there is the story of the poor, the impoverished victims of society who overcome their troubled past, their sexual abuse, drug abuse, gambling addictions. But who is writing our story?" Another gas station is coming up on the right, a breakfast stop for construction workers. Everything they sell there is fried, sugary, or caffeinated. We pull in to use the bathroom before getting to the work site. Inside, I break down and buy a coffee and maple bar.

I turn on the windshield wipers after starting the truck. I move my lunchbox and thermos making room for my breakfast. Yonk caved in too. He bought a sausage muffin with cheese. I pull out onto the highway behind a port-a-potty truck. "So? Who is writing our story? What is our story? What does it look like?"

He thinks about it for a minute, a long minute, breathing out of his mouth, steam coming out it as he chews on his fried sausage sandwich. Finally, "We're in a comedy," he says. I laugh. "Really," he says. "Remember that movie with Emilio Estevez and that other dude? They are garbage men and they get into all these comical situations. That's us."

"Your right! Our lives our comical."

"Yeah they are. I don't mind being in a comedy. It's better than a drama."

We're still driving, only slower now because we've come to a work zone and a flagger is standing in the road holding a sign that reads, SLOW. She's smoking a cigarette. We sit silently--the truck wipers squeaking a bit as they rub abrasively against the thin mist. I break the silence, "Yeah man, but I mean our lives are more meaningful than that, right?"

"Well, I'll put it this way, there isn't much for drama. If a Hollywood producer bought our story he'd have to spice it up quite a bit. There'd have to be a love interest first of all. Probably one of the chicks at our work site. A really cute girl in need of a make over. She'd probably have an abusive boy friend and a drug addiction. The greedy governor would condemn her building to put in a race track and her boyfriend would be selling drugs to the Gov's daughter, maybe even boinking her. We'd come on the scene in our landscaping truck most likely packin' heat, maybe a rocket launcher mixed in with the rakes and shovels. There'd be a lot of explosions and one of us would rescue the girl and the other would choke the Governor out and put the fear of God into him with our hedge trimmer. Something like that. This job just isn't exciting enough, man."

"Your probably right. None the less, we have a story without the guns. I wake up everyday to the sound of my alarm clock. It rips me out of dreams. It's friggin' traumatic, man. I pull on my trousers, brush my teeth, and come here to work. This is noble. It might be invisible, but it's noble, right? I mean this is epic. We are the working poor. We are America. We have a story!"

He laughs. We pull into the job site. We inspect it out loud: the grass has grown quite tall in a week. The side walk edges are furry, the Fontainea hedges need to be trimmed. "Alarm clocks don't sell movies," he says. "We tell stories about men in castles and princesses that need saving. We're living out a comedy, man."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Religious Experience

Seeing a large gathering of people in town square, I changed my direction, to curious to pass them by. I walked down the stairs of the amphitheater, past children coloring with crayons, pictures of the sun and the moon, of forests filled with birds. They looked content if not a little bored. In front of me, at the bottom of the bleachers under a pavilion erected on the theater stage, a man spoke into a microphone. I spied a seat at the foot of a comfortable boulder and leaned my back into it. I tripped on the people around me. They were organic people. No hairspray, make up, style of any sort. They looked like bark and they sat solemnly listening to the speaker talk about alternative fuels and energy efficient light bulbs. They seemed very familiar with the message, and as I listened, I didn't find it to be news to me either but they waved their flags and proclaimed their "hallelujahs" just the same. Their flags were blue with a circle in the middle. The circle was a picture of the earth. The man on stage told them what they had to do: buy local, buy organic, buy green energy, buy buy buy...

When the man was done speaking he exited the stage and a band came up and played a song with banjos and eight stringed guitars. The song, they said was written by a street person in Seattle, a prophet, I gathered. "When the sun comes out, it comes out for everyone. When the rain starts to fall, it falls on everyone." The audience was encouraged to participate and they did, some sang, some clapped, some looked skyward.

I got up to walk around. I passed signs that proclaimed things about war and oil, about carbon emissions and global warming. I looked for the signs that said, the end is near, but I didn't find one. College kids passed out literature concerning politics and the environment. They wore bandannas and hemp necklaces but no shoes. The uniform of sorts for a young devout mission ministry.

I know what this is, I thought. This is church. And it was. They all seemed caught up in the excitement of it all, but all a little desperate too...working, working, working to usher in the Kingdom.