So my most recent article for healthycal is part of an occasional series on aging with dignity and independence. Check it out!
So my most recent article for healthycal is part of an occasional series on aging with dignity and independence. Check it out!
So I decided to take up my old professor’s advice and trek through the rain to the annual Committee of Concerned Journalists workshop going on at UCCS.
It was a remarkably different experience than last year’s, when I was only two-weeks into my career as a reporter and could barely get my head around the ethical issues that were discussed at length and the gamut of decades-old news references. Bias, etc, etc. I feel like everything just sort of washed over me without ever actually sinking in. I remember sitting through most of that internship just quivering out of fear from what I knew I didn’t know and yet I couldn’t put my ignorance into the right words needed to ask the questions that would have filled in the gap.
Alas, reporting is just not a spectator sport. I didn’t learn much of anything until I spent a year out there in the headlines and I am still such a rookie. Everything I write, no matter how much time I’ve poured over it, seems like it could improve ten-fold. But at least I have gotten better at knowing how to ask questions and knowing how to get to the heart of different issues.
At the CCJ workshop, the biggest internal difference I noticed was that I knew exactly what I wanted to get out of the workshop and this made it easier to pick and choose what bits of information were relevant to me at this point in my career and to flag those bits down and absorb them wholly. I went mainly because I needed to feel connected to other reporters and writers and have a conversation about some of the things I’ve faced since I’ve been out in the field. I wanted to make some connections and give advice to the current interns who are in my old shoes. Luckily, I was able to do all of this. I met Torey Von Oot from the Bee, which is incredible news because I’ve been dieing to meet her and pick her brain. I also was solicited for advice by some of the new interns, which was an enormous compliment and I told them what I’d wished someone had told me. I told them that, while a lot of the stuff they are facing right now may seem intimidating, to not let it make them inhibited. I told them the main thing they needed to focus on was following their own natural curiosity and allowing it to guide their stories. To not be afraid of stupid questions. To not be afraid of looking like an idiot for a little while.
Unfortunately, I was talking with the other interns when Torey left so I didn’t get to pick her brain but she handed me her business card on the way out and told me that her and other reporters sometimes go out for drinks. It would be a total golden ticket to be able to have an in with other like-minded people who could share their experiences with me and maybe help to fill that disconnected gap so often felt by freelancers. I mean, reporters who work in a daily or even just some kind of news office have the constant support of other reporters and the advantage of small-talk to stay informed on what’s going on. Story ideas flood their lives. But I do most of my reporting with an iPhone, from the restless comfort of my big orange arm chair. It’s pretty easy to feel like I have no idea what’s going on. It’s pretty easy to feel like I’m writing from isolation because, essentially, I am.
It was a little embarrassing and certainly humbling to go through some of the exercises we did in the CCJ workshop and realize that I have produced biased news stories without even knowing it. I had forgotten completely about the millions of forms a bias can come in and I know that, feeling disconnected and discouraged, I have repeatedly gone to the same sources for quotes and information. That’s a bias. And I’ve totally done it. I remember last year thinking, “well no shit that’s a bias,” but now, after a year, I see how easy it is to get caught up in a deadline or a certain attractive headline and just sort of wing it. It is so easy to get stuck on a certain angle, so tempting to reduce something down in order to fit it into pagination.
So yeah, I’ll add that to my ever-growing list of improvements.
In other news, Chris and I took advantage of the buy-one-get-one-for-$1 deal at Sapporo’s last night. Being our second time, we knew that two rolls plus some pork gyoza would be sufficient. I remember the first time we took advantage of this deal we ordered something like 5 sushi rolls, expecting them to be artisan and skimpy. But after the sushi chef (say that five times fast) kept passing over monstrous roll after monstrous roll, we wound up taking home two boxes of uneaten sushi which inevitably went bad since we were too full to even look at it until it had already begun to stink.
Watched Inception for the first time. I don’t understand why everyone thinks it is such a difficult movie to understand. I mean, maybe there is some larger point I am missing entirely and the joke’s on me, but it seemed to be the usual breed of matrix-esque, reality-check, mind-twisters. I liked it, although I find it impossible to believe the school kid could have picked up on all of that so quickly. What is she, a freak genius? How does she so readily accept everything as if it were no news to her at all? Maybe that is the ultra confusion part that I’m missing…
The clouds are finally parting from what was a strangely-cold June rain storm which means it’s time for a long, long bike ride.
One day I will write a paperback memoir to join the annals of other paperback memoirs currently collecting dust in off beat book stores.
I will call it “Twenty lives in Sacramento.”
It will detail, self-indulgently, the intricacies of post-college life in what many young adults have come to call the “trainer city,” or the “little city.”
Recent graduates flock here from nearby universities seeking jobs and fixed gears. They wanted to go to San Francisco, but the rent was too high and the job-hunt morale too low so they moved in with a friend-of-a-friend from high school, down the street from a cheap bar or above the neon glow of a quicky mart. It’s kinda like The City…kinda.
And so they waited. They waited around for some kind of inspiration to pick them up and send them on their way. They looked for jobs that would replace the structure missing in their lives since graduation. They feared the future. They won’t like those jobs, they’ll feel inadequate. Maybe they’ll start small businesses selling vintage clothes. Maybe they’ll collect some records and smoke a lot of pot. They’ll undoubtedly eat a lot of sandwiches and drink tons of kombucha and PBR. They’ll wear Toms, which they can’t afford but buy anyways.
They’ll go into debt and yada yada yada, feeling very lost along the way. It’s crazy to think they are all just sorta moping about town this way. Tons of them. Just like me. In our own little tragic worlds, feeling disconnected.
I mean, it’s hard to see the future in the same light when you are standing right on it. Like, here you are. This is it. No more planning and anticipating, just make it happen. We’ve led our whole lives on hold and suddenly the gas pedal is down and we’re off and running but without any since of direction, really.
It’s an interesting phase but I’m pretty lucky because lately things have been happening that have enlivened my since of purpose. Little messages from the cosmos that I might actually be on the right path, small reminders that the rest of my life can actually be an adventurous concept to consider instead of a nagging fear.
Last night, I went to DeVere’s pub quiz with Chris and some of his Old Soul customers. All accomplished, older folks with classy style and quick, humble wits. I felt right at home, like I was back in my own living room as a little girl, talking with the adults. As the night progressed, one of the gentleman mentioned he was in the newspaper business and as we got to talking it turned out he was reporter-extraordinaire Howard Weaver. I tried to contain myself but was not very successful. I had just ordered food on an empty stomach but my appetite soon subsided as Weaver pumped my head full of wonderful, inspiring, helpful, tangible advice. I was so glad to be able to freely unload all my questions and concerns on to someone who knew the business, without feeling like I had to hold back in order to impress them into getting a job or something. He was so kind and open with me that my heart just melted with gratitude. It couldn’t have been a luckier run-in. Just what I’d needed. To top it all off, he gave me his business card and told me to keep in touch. His card says “A life in letters,” on it, which is the best little catch line for a writer. I figure I’ll be running into him at Old Soul too, since we’re both there every day anyways.
It’s hilarious that I am only a cashier and yet I live this double life where I get to talk to amazingly interesting and powerful people all the time. Like a grown up. And then there is this other part of my life where I am silly and relaxed and playful and in love. Then there is this other part where I am still a little immature feeling, wanting to do the bare minimum to get by. Again, that other part that wants bigger things. That wants to feel inspired and to inspire others. That wants to make the difference.
What I took from this fabulous scenario is that I don’t have to compromise my creativity in order to fit into some elusive journalistic form. In fact, I need to throw any ideas I have of an existing form away. I need to get over the hurdles I have built for myself and just tell my stories the way I want to tell them, finding answers for the basic questions that I have in my own head. Talking to the actual people who are affected by what’s happening in the Capitol. It’s funny because this is totally what Dan has been telling me to do and yet I still wasn’t really getting the message until I heard it straight from Weaver.
I also realized that I went into journalism stubbornly holding on to this idea that the creative writing world was somehow superior in artistry and that I was selling out by writing about politics. Alas, I have seen the way of my folly. Good journalists are not only creative but they are affective to their readers. A poem is great and awesome and influential but truly academic prose are only accessible for a small, and usually affluent, population. With journalism, you have the rare chance to use your creativity for this awesome purpose. You get to affect such a larger body with what you write. I can take what I know of poetics, of sound and story and hooks, and plant it in the minds of all my readers while educating them on what’s going on.
So yeah, I’m jazzed about it.
Also, today is the first day of the Committee on Concerned Journalists workshop thingy at the UCCS today. This will be a good way to reinforce my support group and get some motivation and morale going on.
This week was training week which meant I was paid to show up for three hours a day and eat food and listen to people talk about how inspired and proud they are of the co-op. Pretty much a cake walk where you actually get to have the cake and get paid for eating it too.
But the second day of training nearly killed me. Or should I say, the night before nearly did. It was just another mellow Wednesday bonfire only the crowd was bigger this time and somehow I stopped paying attention to what, and how much, I was drinking. I know there was beer but I have no recollection of just how much beer there was. The killer, though, must have been the cheap white wine that capped the night off. That, as Chris would conclude the following morning, was the culprit of what I am thoughtfully calling The Worst Hangover Ever.
Suddenly, the morning after, waking up for a three-hour sit-down training seemed equivalent to getting each and every one of my hairs slowly pulled out by little screeching toddlers. With food poisoning. I did my best to not look like I was dieing. I did my best not to throw up on everyone or pass out or explode with exhaustion and internal chaos. The kind of hang over where even the very image of a pen sitting on a folding table looks disgusting enough to evoke the most violent of nausea waves.
It took nearly 72 hours to fully recover and even now I sit in fear as I contemplate the potential brain damage I have caused myself.
Obvious lesson of the day: alcohol is a poison.
In part, this event was caused by my body’s inability to process alcohol at it’s age. During my short time in Davis, I seemed to have consumed enough alcohol to have put my body on alcohol-processing strike. I know this to be true because my body has refused to process alcohol effectively since I left Davis. Now, I drink less than a fraction as much as I used to and yet I am almost guaranteed to have a hangover the night after just a few drinks. This is unfortunate.
By Friday, I had regained just enough of my bodily strength to pull the right strings to go camping with Arielle and Chris in heaven aka: Concow, CA. It’s a Native American reservation. We went up there to camp but there turned out to be a big music faire going on as well and Arielle’s buddies were playing so we got in free. A big ol’ hippie fest in the wild mountains surrounded by beautiful fields of tall, dry grasses and a glass-still reservoir and all these amazing stars and all the overwhelming majesty of nature and fresh air and space and freedom and stuff.
Freedom, at least, until you have to wake up early the next morning in order to make it to work on time for your closing shift, which goes by slow.
I like physical work. I mean, being a cashier hardly qualifies as physical but it’s certainly more physical than most desk jobs. I guess what I mean is that I like coming home with that kind of energetic come-down where your feet are sore and you can’t wait to share some story about some crazy customer, exaggerate the details, and pull something quick and salty from the cabinet before sitting back in a meditative lull wondering what exactly any of your anxiety has ever been worth or what matter any of your plans may be and how the hell you got here and what it means and what’s coming next and you have this cumulative image of people. Just people. The people you rang up all day. That guy who bought thirty pounds of lemons for the master cleanse and that girl who dropped the ice tea that shattered glass everywhere and that guy who seemed like he was on crack who yelled at the other cashier and that one thought you had that really stopped you in your tracks only now you can’t quite remember what it was. All you can really remember from anything are these snapshots of all these lives that probably look very different now than they did when they were presented to you on the other side of the counter.
And mostly, I’m exhausted and yet I have to appreciate the distinctive humility of this kind of exhaustion.
The summer months took so long to show up I was beginning to feel disappointed and accept what seemed to be the impending mediocrity of summer ’11. Then the heat came and I felt like dieing.
Nothing seemed more fitting for the situation than a glass of cold wine at the new Bows and Arrows, which is sure to be the hot spot hang out of the summer and long after now that they’ve joined forces with Fat Face. Basically, two of the coolest small businesses in the Sacramento area are together under one wonderfully stylish roof and I plan to visit my friends behind the counter at least three times a week every week for the rest of my life or at least until I run out of money. Which, to be honest, is pretty much right now.
But alas, last night I was desperately in need of breaking my budget for a glass. But when I showed up on my bike, there was absolutely no place to park it. People were pouring out the door. Before I had a chance to figure out what all the hullabaloo was about, I realized I’d left my keys at home. I felt like a deflated balloon at that point but managed to keep my spirits up enough to bike back home with the intention of grabbing my keys and biking back to Bows. Alas, it turns out you need your keys to actually get in your apartment these days which is ironic since everyone seems to be entering other peoples’ apartments just fine without keys these days simply by breaking the window.
That’s besides the point but here I am locked out and still thirsty and at this point it becomes a contest between fate and will power to see who will win. Daniel is on my side, however, and invites me to leave my bike in his house while we walk to the remaining three blocks to Bows. When we arrive, the place is so packed that the rent-a-cop at the front door won’t let anybody in. Just as I’m cursing my luck, Bridgett from MidMo comes out and we get to talking and it comes out that this party is MidMo’s Best Summer Ever party. A little light bulb goes off because I knew that already and yet still seemed to space case it.
The night turns out to be a total success. By the time Bridgett and I are done talking, the doors are open again and Daniel and I flood in to the crowd. I’m instantly excited to see such a large gathering of all the cool midtownies out and about and looking awesomely sweaty. Everyone just as wilted as I am, but pulling it off very stylishly with their flouncy tank tops and wide mouth masons full of rose and Allagash. Sweaty, cold glasses and popsicles abound.
It doesn’t take long to get a drink in my hand and I catch up with Meg and David in the back patio just as the MidMo Sactorialist comes up to me and asks to take my picture and I feel like a god damned debutante and I just start laughing because I’ve only been waiting a year for this person to find me and take my picture. I’m babbling like a happy little idiot and she’s very nice and takes a few quick snapshots and I still feel sorta grumpy from the heat but at this point the night takes on a new momentum and I’m surprised to see a whole social scene thriving right in front of me again. I realize how long it’s been since I’ve been out and about in this way. I realize how much I’ve missed it and how great it feels to get out and see some familiar faces, people I had no idea were hanging out in midtown.
A little live music, some random raffle, and a nice cold spot by the fan in the corner. Lots of talking. TALK.TALK.TALK. But no dancing, which I guess was the only downfall. I could tell everyone wanted to just let themselves move into a little bop or something but instead people just tapped their feet and maybe moved their shoulders. I guess they’re probably trying to keep their gatherings mellow so they don’t get in trouble with the insatiable city ordinance who’s central aim seems to be to suffocate the cool out of anything cool that tries to straddle the line between mellow Weatherstone and based out Townhouse.
Midtown needs more house parties.
Midtown also has to stop having robberies everywhere. It’s making me paranoid and angry.
Today, new hire training at the co-op turned out to be surprisingly entertaining and inspiring. Learned all sorts of amazing things about local farms and thought seriously about becoming a farmer. I’m sure it’s much more romantic from my distance but still, it was really moving to see the land and learn about the shortage of young farmers. I’d love to volunteer at one of the near-by farms this summer.
After training was over around 1, I realized my bike tire was flat and walked through the blazing heat to find a pump at Edible Pedal and lunch at Crepeville, where I met Meg after a tall, cold beer and tuna sandwich. We went thrifting out in South Sac and stopped for a cold drink at the Wilco asian market, where a woman continually banged on the bathroom door while I was in there and I didn’t hesitate to snap back at her. Eventually she left and I was all geared up to give someone the glare as I walked out but she was long gone by then, I guess.
I bought a pair of awesome blue shorts that I plan on wearing all summer, plus a cheese grater (finally!) and a new popcorn popper. Beware: return of the mad-hot popcorn parties! I’m going to be pumping out so much home made awesome popcorn that I’ll have to start selling it on the streets just to keep our kitchen clear.
At training everyone sat around and talked about the places they wanted to visit the most. I started yearning for the coast and tamales bay, which I’ve never actually seen. I started yearning for the freedom of travel and new experiences and adventure and discovery. It was nice to really get excited about something. I just have such an urge to take off and do things and soak it all in with good humor and curiosity.
It’s good timing too. Tomorrow I’m going rafting and the next night I’ll be heading to Chico for a camping trip with Arielle and I couldn’t be happier because I haven’t been to Chico in a year and I think it’s beautiful.
This is all just to say that I think this summer is going to start picking up pretty soon here and I couldn’t be happier.
Yesterday was the first day in about two months that I’d stepped foot into the yoga studio and I went into it observing all my negative patterns, etc, etc, and all the things yogis are supposed to do.
Realized some stuff, which was nice. Realized how many little realizations I have every day, which then caused me to wonder how many tiny realizations we each have in a single day and how incredible they probably all are. If only we could observe enough of our minds to give merit to every single one of those realizations. Really see them come in and explore them and write them out.
Unfortunately, there probably just isn’t enough LSD available to every individual to make this happen.
After yoga I sat in my big orange chair and made some calls for my story. But then people stopped calling back at one point and I felt restless and bored and unproductive and angsty and was working all this out in my head when I remembered the kitchen was still a disaster and yet again nobody had managed to do any of their dishes or clean up after themselves in what looked like months but was actually only the span of about one week. I thought of crumbs all over the floor and counter and the half eaten food hardening on plates scattered in the sink and all over the counters. I thought of the trash Nick hadn’t taken out in god only knows how long and I just panicked and now I went, running, giving in, to clean it all up myself. Again. Enter angst. I banged around the dishes and got em done and started sweeping and feeling pretty good about this outlet of mine. Took out the trash, turned off the AC as I heard my wallet getting sucked dry by SMUD, and did two loads of dishes before the counters were clear and ready for scrubbing.
Finally everything was cleaned out and I headed Naked Lounge with Chris where he ran into his ex girlfriend and it was an awkward interaction to observe and then we were on our way to the river by old town with Jessica but the trip was cut short when Jess’s bike tire slipped into the railroad, throwing her into a set of cement stairs. When I ran up to her there was blood coming from her head in mass quantity. I grabbed my handkerchief and pressed it against her head until her friend came and whooshed her away in a big white van. She went to the ER for a head shaving, five stitches, and three staples.
As we watched the van drive off, Chris and I stood there in the afternoon heat without a clue about what to do with ourselves. I needed water. My body needed to jump into a big tank of cold water and feel like it was sinking. Then I needed to float to the surface and sigh a big refreshing sigh.
So I went to my dad’s, where the backyard oasis of palm trees and lavender plants skirted around the kidney-bean shaped swimming pool, cool and dark water. I climbed to the top of the water fall and jumped into the water. Luke, Chris, and I all shot each other in the face with water guns until I called it quits and sat out in the sun to dry off. We munched fresh cut watermelon and pineapple and grilled some burgers. Watched Luke play some video game. Talked about politics.
Today I decided I’ve made the whole journalism thing much harder on myself than it needs to be so I just put my big girl panties on and called everyone on my list without hesitation. Enough with this hesitation I’ve been having. A few conversations into it I realized how real it all was and felt more connected. Wrote up the story and sent it in. Editor seems to like it so far, which is a big plus.
Relieved, I headed to Old Soul (again- it’s becoming a psychological routine) for powerful AC and to meet up with Lance, who took Chris and I shooting out at a range off Sunrise Blvd. I was scared but trying not to let it show. The last time I shot a gun I was in the middle of the desert outside of LA with three grown men, all stoned out of their minds, and we shot something like a 45 magnum something something into a bunch of cacti and I was so terrified by the guns power that I basically just wanted to wimp out the rest of the time and not shoot but I couldn’t because the humiliation would be too much to bare. I had to keep up. This time the shooting was much less intimidating. A shooting range where everything seems safe and orderly and a guy with a chin strap ‘stache goes around every fifteen minutes for a safety inspection. Lance took Chris and I through the basics of shooting a gun step by step. I shot a “cute” little pistol revolver. Classic design. Took a round on the semi-automatic handgun too, which was much more powerful but still not as wild on the kick-back as the gun I shot in the desert so I felt much safer and free to relax and actually enjoy the experience. Chris hit the middle of the target on his go-round with the big handgun and I have to admit it was sorta sexy. The next three rounds where he consistently hit the middle, though, was indefinitely sexy.
Who knew, I got a bit of a hick in me.
Ate burgers with Lance at Suzies and listened to his story of how he basically became a self made millionaire. He has enough money to buy a bunch of cars and guns and man toys and to invest in companies and live without a paycheck and follow his every dream and whimsy. Lucky guy. I really missed out on the whole technology crazy. Just going right over my little head. I’m beginning to accept the fact that my greatness, no matter how big it may feel, may always be a little small, at least financially.
Generally, it’s just hot in Sacramento right now and I’m getting antsy for change. Not sure what kind of change I’m looking for. Just feeling a little stuck. Which means any day now my mind is going to have a breakthrough and something is going to make sense and something is going to get moving.
Sometimes, when I’ve been out there in the big bad real world, I have yearned for my college days. Yearned for the freedom I felt biking down the night road coming back or going to some party at some house. With either a forty in my pack or an impending hangover in my head, some subdued inspiration was always building and ready to be put down on paper just in time for Monday’s due date. Back then, weekends lasted a lifetime and oh! how many different reincarnations I had conquered.
Alas, that old nostalgia crept up again last night after I caught word that it was Dan-Dan-the-Great’s birthday. Party at the Duke house.
So off I went with my bottle of co-op wine, jamming out to some nineties angst and feeling the attitude. At the house there were a thousand familiar and unfamiliar faces and my hunger to know them all over again was surprisingly strong and I suddenly felt deprived of the party scene.
It did not fail me in momentum. There seemed to be only one communal energy sweeping up the masses- go hard or go home. So one bottle of wine went down as quick as the several beers that followed it and before I knew it dancing felt natural again and the air was pure cigarette smoke and easy speak.
Easy speak with people I had spent so much time with and invested so much of my life to. But even as plastered as I may have been, I couldn’t help but notice the shallow boundaries our conversations seemed incapable of permeating. I had written infinite poems and shorts both individually and collectively inspired by these amazing people. These living abstract canvases. And yet somehow I had managed to extract just enough of inspiration to draw the rest with my imagination. I had never actually confirmed the depths I assumed resided in them.
Basically what I’m saying is that I never really bonded with any of these people outside of substance abuse.
Of course, the high only lasted so long. Since I don’t drink nearly as much as I used to, I ran a good fight till around 2 am, at which point I sought respite in my old roommate’s room, on a gray couch covered in dirty laundry and art portfolios. The crash drunk couch where partiers would pass out in heaps, back in our old split-level college apartment. I played drunken WordsWithFriends until exhaustion overtook the spinning sensation.
I woke up, anxious, at 5 am. Dubstep still shaking the walls. I noticed the music was better now than it had been earlier. Someone else was DJing. I wondered if it was Noe. But I craved desperately to be out of the house and in my own clean bed, free from the cigarette smoke and the throbbing, womping music and the dirty laundry and the broken bathroom door and when I walked my all-too-sober self out of the room, all the lights were on and a new crowd of partiers had just walked in the front door. I ducked my head past the familiar faces, gave a nod to those who noticed me and made a run for it.
At home I shook with anxiety and sour stomach until a dream about running late for work slipped me out of consciousness and then jolted me awake at 11 am. Craving absolutely nothing but a shower and a immediate stint of memory loss.
What I’m trying to say is that the party is over. What I’m trying to say is that it’s better when you can party with people you’ve actually built relationships with.
But I should also say that it was fun while it lasted. Once. Sometime long, long ago.
I have titled this post, uncreatively, “Thursday.” If you were hoping for something a little more edgy or meaningful then too bad.
Get. Over. It.
Well, the family visit didn’t turn out to be nearly as tragic as I’d been anxiously expecting. Everything worked out pretty seamlessly and my mom and the boys were entertained nonstop by water parks, giggling baby Joe, and BBQ’s.
They left this morning, still in the their pajamas and clutching the stuffed animals they splurged their entire allowances on at the Sacramento Zoo.
We’d spent six days whining and hugging and barking at each other out of impatience and partial heat stroke and sun-baked emotion, only to laugh it all off and say loving goodbyes in a parking lot off Roseville Parkway.
And that is family. We miss each other, we see each other, we bark at each other, we say goodbye, and we drive several thousand miles just to do it all over again. Love makes you do stupid things.
The cycle has its own realistic charm. How else can we sustain a relationship throughout our entire lives if not by allowing it to fluctuate constantly between longing, satisfaction, and a little healthy irritation? It has to be able to renew itself in this way in order to last so long. And when you’ve known someone for so long, in so many different lights, it’s so easy to take them for granted. It’s so easy to feel comfortable enough to not sensor your thoughts or actions. And sometimes this means you are sick of each other and sometimes this means you are overwhelmed with pride and a sense of belonging and the miracle of life and the reality of other cliche things that you could just break out into song and dance right there in the middle of your local over-priced theme park.
Anyways, I have a story at last so I’ve got to buckle down this week and refocus my efforts towards the adult day health care system in California, or the soon-to-be-lack-thereof.
Ever since I started reading California Crackup, my perception and interest in State politics have significantly increased, studies show.
Oh, and it’s finally summer. 90+ degrees of summer. And it’s just the beginning.
Meanwhile, I have another parking ticket thanks to “street cleaning.” I stopped by Chris’ on my way home this morning, absentmindedly parking right in front of the stupid fine-print parking sign. A half hour later I pranced out to find that cherished little white envelope on my dash board. I’m getting good at this. So far, I’ve paid about $400 towards the city’s bike-lane fund. Too bad it has yet to pay off. Oh, and too bad there’s actually no such thing as “street cleaning.”
I’m struggling to answer some big questions in my head. I feel completely mentally constipated which is painful and irritating, as constipation usually is. Slowly, if I give myself time to meditate, I can feel the start of the thoughts finally forming into words. I have no idea, still, what exactly it is that I am going through. But it feels like I am running on the crest and I figure it’s bound to crash down any day now. I think it might take leaving the country for my mind to really bust open and allow my heart to let out whatever it is clinging to.
But we’ll see.
I haven’t published an actual news article in, like, a month. The story I was working on was cut because another reporter’s story sorta budged into it. Now without a story. Spent some time freaking out about my future as a journalist, the sudden lack of drive that has taken over since graduation. Talked it out with some strangers-turned-new-found-friends at Old Soul and felt better. Met a girl in the same situation. Decided there was an entire epidemic of people just like me. I will call them gappers. I’m going to continue to search my brain and others’ for a better title but in the meantime, this one will have to do.
Chris went to the dentist and left with a handful of X-rays outlining fourteen cavities. He’s looking at $80 a month in Dental insurance plus $1,500 or so in additional co-payment costs, cuz he’s gotta get his grill fixed for the Peace Corps. He’s got a year.
Works good. It’s so smooth I barely even realize it’s happening, sans all the new aches that come with standing in one place for 8 hours a day again.
Customers are pretty cool so far and I’m enjoying the diversity. I realize it’s basically been my entire life since I’ve been in a place so diverse.
Went to Davis to have a beer with Arielle, who was stuck working on a paper so the visit turned out to be more like a romantic date for Chris and I. Nothing to complain about there. Ate dan-dan noodles at DNC and walked around downtown and on campus. Sat on a bench and he told me about the first time he realized he was alive. How he stays calm. He is honest and humble and sweet and I listen to him and realize I am in love with this person and yet I have only scratched the surface of who he is. I am pleasantly surprised. We finger through his charming bits of notes, written on blank order checks. The air is intoxicating because it’s finally hot outside and the orange blossoms are emitting.
It feels sticky. But in a good way.
We finally meet up with Arielle and have beer and music in her little apartment and we’re all lightweights so we pass out on her floor and wake up, sort of sick, at 6:30 am, yearning for home. Familiar home. Chris and I make the brisk walk to the car downtown, practically running, and I fill the car with gas and I feel like throwing up but a breakfast burrito from DelTaco curbs the urge until we get home in time to crash for a few hours before it’s 11:30.
I’m out of birth control because my second-to-last pack was in the backpack that mysteriously disappeared when the mysterious disappearance took place. So what should be my second-to-last back-up pack is actually my last and it runs out on Saturday.
When I called in a panic this morning, I was told that the clinic was closing early that Friday and, despite what it says online, I DO have to come in for an appointment just to renew my script.
So I book it to the clinic on the other side of the grid, in my PJ’s, to see if they can throw me an emergency pack of pills to get me through until Monday but the lady asks for my little green patient card and I don’t have it because it too was in the mysterious disappearance and so she takes my ID but I can tell that the absence of the green card is enough for her to shrug and say, “sorry- we’re closing early today.” So in the meantime I’m celibate sally. Which just pisses me off because getting birth control in America is a clusterfucked process that will only increase in absurdity as the House Republicans continue to work to defund family planning efforts across the country.
WAHWAHWAHWAH. And something about womens’ reproductive health still being so archaically disparaged. It’s a sad day when women with full medical insurance have to rely on planned parenthood for birth control because their plan doesn’t cover it.
But then my mom comes to town so I throw on some real clothes and try to beat her to her hotel, certain that her estimated arrival time will be about one hour later than she anticipated. True to her word, however, she beats me to the punch and is at the hotel 30 minutes before traffic allows me to sneak up and surprise her at the front entrance way. Somehow, it is just as magical of a reunion as I had anticipated it to be.
She meets Chris and everything is all hugs and smiles and the boys are growing up and they go swimming and it’s all over too soon before I have to go, begrudgingly, to work.
And this will be the entirety of the weekend, thanks to having a new job where I have no idea how to get my shift covered. This will be the whole weekend of having my mom in town and wanting constantly to monopolize her time and, instead, being at work, distracted and anxious that my mom is off somewhere strolling the isles of a Macy’s in California, without the family she drove out to see.
And alas, breathlessly, the day must end.
I have strange dreams and wake up to an eerie silence in the house. Realize later that one of my ears is plugged, so I’m par-deaf.
I go on a walk to Old Soul and the streets are deserted. It feels like I am the only person in the world. Nobody walking around. No cars.
I pet a calico and keep walking, my headphones blaring Foster the People. The air is amazing and fresh. It’s cloudy still and I’m feeling good, but subdued.
Experiment with positive affirmations on the way over and laugh out loud to myself in the street because I’m amazed by how affective they are.
I repeat these two the most:
I am my own force.
I am a great reporter.
I finally see a car, by Jacks Urban Eats, and it’s a truck with an old man in it. He stops and I cross the street and he smiles and I smile back but then he flickers his fat tongue out at me and lowers his eyelids, undeniably perverted in nature. Just like that. In the midst of a perfectly quiet, rainy morning. What should have been a completely innocent moment. My stomach flips and I furrow my brow in part confusion and part anger. I scowl at him and he drives off. My whole body feels infested with maggots and I hate the feeling so I decide to forget about it entirely.
Sitting in the Sunday din with my headphones on and one ear plugged, I feel halfway underwater most of the morning.
Chris hands me a cappuccino and a kiss. At the same time.
I learn about the umpteenth batch of negative consequences propelled by Prop. 13, in California Crackup.
Such a good read.
Walk home, have another bought of epiphanies pertaining to self empowerment and responsibility. I regain some independence and think “autonomy” a thousand times before coming home to write it all out in a big, blabbering, excited email to Megan, who is climbing a mountain South Korea.
She sends me a picture of the foggy green hills via iPhone text message. God bless technology. And Kakaotalk.
Works goes by effortlessly enough. Nice people come and go. But I can’t look any old men straight in the face without feeling like I’m crawling in maggots again, wondering if each old man I see is the man I saw in the morning. I try harder to forget about it.
It’s painfully slow and I fidget all day. The last hour, I barely get any customers until three minutes before closing, when a nice older man has two different transactions, the first of which he decides he wants to change at the last minute and so we cancel the purchase and I re-ring it all on a new receipt, only the canceled receipt doesn’t look canceled. Then I find out that the cancel actually charged his card and so I’ve charged him twice and it’s all a big hullabaloo because we have to refund each item individually and everyone’s waiting in line and waiting to go home.
It all shakes out and I’ve counted my till in no time and I leave, my drawer five cents short. Nobody seems surprised when a drawer is a few cents off, which is surprising because if our drawer was a penny short at the other co-op, it raised eyebrows. I’m not sure how my drawer ever got five cents off and nobody seemed to care, but still…it bugs me.
I eat a little pasta and pass out.
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