Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Welcome to the Good Life

I am blogging from a sun chair on a rooftop pool! It is a perfectly Vitamin D sufficient day. I'm waxing nostalgic about summer ending with the new Mindy Kaling on my left, a new iPhone in my hand, and "Still Fighting It" in my ears. I am extremely privileged. Sid is visiting from New York and literally complained about drinking a warm smoothie this morning. I mean, a warm smoothie would be gross, but come on.

This girl I know is a waitress and does acting here and there. (Pretty common Chicago lifestyle). I follow her on Instagram, and every other photo is some fancy or gross food and a caption like "I deserve this." Or "hard week." I don't know her inner-workings that well. But I do know her finances. She projects them. She's poor in the way privileged people can be poor. Rich poor. The kind of poor that means you don't make good money but you do nothing to save it either because you're young and you want to drink like a fish and ultimately you can always be bailed out, if it comes to that. Whether or not you come to that, eh, the option changes your life. It does. I'm not looking down on this mentality. I know full well I've been able to take risks in life because if I really really hit bottom I have many family member guest rooms to crash in, some possibilities of cash flow.

Anyway, I've started getting annoyed with her attitude (I could always unfollow her, or stop going on Instagram but). It's like, dude, your week was not that hard. But also, okay, say it was. Say relatively it was hard. Say we're entitled to believe that. Still, your life is GOOD. You can be decadent fairly regularly. Why must you make splurges based in some negative correction? What about a celebration in honor of the fact that you CAN splurge?

I had an important audition Tuesday so I bought a GD ice cream cake for myself! Is that not the most bonkers thing you've ever heard? Talk about over correcting. I was able to take the day off work for an AUDITION of IMPROV no less and I "treated myself" with an entire cake sufficient to be the center piece of a birthday party. This is very cushy. This just be acknowledged.

Say it with me now--

1. I am privileged.
2. It doesn't matter if people are "more privileged" than I am.
3. I will cherish my privilege.
4. I will do something good with this hand I've been dealt.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Losing Not Free Things

Last night Bisque's bike was stolen from our third floor balcony. I came home from sketch rehearsal to find him somber and shirtless, missing that mint green zip machine. I loved Bisque's bike. It was hip and cute and accompanied my loved one on the lake shore trail, to music in the park, to Potbelly. It hunkered down in the snow. It was purchased in the desert.

It hurts. It hurts to know something was taken from you. Something with a lot of personal value that is now irrelevant to the thief. It hurts to feel like these things happen. It hurts, or some feeling like it, to recognize this happens all the time in this dumb city. People are jerks, they do not watch out for each other. I get honked at for using the crosswalk designed to be used. We get shoved. People crowd around the el doors, fighting before the cars even stop. Why do we live here? I call the appropriate government office to ask when to buy the appropriate vehicle stickers. I get an answer, I sit on the hot train, walk half a mile, get told I'm in the wrong place.

And I am trying to be empathetic. Before bed Bisque starts, "I'm against the death penalty but..." I laugh because I know what he means. If you steal such a happy seafoam fixit, perhaps you should die. When people steal they think they need something more than you, they have to survive (in some sense of the definition). I should understand at least my life isn't in a place where I must steal to make it all happen. But that hurts too. The amount of times I get asked in one day to help. The shaking change cups and the cardboard signs. The people who launch into their stories while I'm waiting at a red light. That guy who swore he'd pay us back the $25. That guy who tsked at me like I was the rudest person alive for not buying him a new amplifier battery?(!) The woman who stands in the same spot on Belmont asking surprisedly for a dollar, her little play of pretending this is the first time she has ever needed anything. It's not fair that when some quiet skinny man shuffles into Taco Bell Bisque buys him dinner only to come home to a porch rail ripped off.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Losing Free Things

I'm learning to be okay with lost free things. It's very hard, I think. Particularly for someone with a very good memory.

Last fall A Jar visited. He was wrapped in a stylish coat and scarves. He was talking about his drinking and how it gets out of hand. "And sometimes you get really drunk on St. Patrick's day and give your iPad away," he said. Pretty interesting when people say "You" when they mean "me." I got a pretty good laugh yesterday while lecturing about how "you" mucks up essays. I read aloud an essay that began, "When you're growing up as a young black man..." I explained, "I will never grow up as a young black man." Grammar jokes, ya dig? Know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em.

So A Jar is, reasonably, sad about this lost iPad. Then he reveals it wasn't his. It belonged to a school he teaches at! A school that apparently just lends stuff out and never asks for it back? Idk. Point is--he lost a free thing. I mean, he possessed it, at no cost, and stopped possessing it, at no penalty. I see how one would be upset, but should he really be? Logically? Nothing ventured, plenty temporarily gained.

It became a mantra that weekend. "We only lost a free thing"--in regard to plans falling through or the immaterial gifts of junk like friendship. Maybe I can say it, but I don't feel chill re: losing free things. I didn't know what CVS ExtraBucks were (basically just free money) until three years after they had been piling up, expiring, in the back of my scooter! I accidentally used my free "Welcome to Uber" ride on a $4 trip. That kills me. I still think about it when I swipe by my app. Those other $26 wasted. (The $26 I didn't have.) I think the solutions lie in 1) recognizing other people deserve goodness and money too. It's not all about ME. 2) This is practice for not caring about the big fat missed opportunities. 3) Hopefully, I don't have those.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fall, Stay Slow

First morning of hot cocoa at the farmer's market, but afternoon iced coffee.
I walk to the library after class and pick up one DVD, two books, and linger in the sun.
Windows open weekend. Car windows down tonight, the new M Night.
The scary can't come fast enough.
The people are out, the bus trips are long, there are birthdays, there are scarves,
lots of football jerseys, and a street festival winding down. Reggae band for no one.
Open the sharp block. Spin class Saturday. Rehearsal for the Scooby Doo sketch.
New hardware and old feelings
in the gut. The smoke smell is coming.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

"It Gets Better"

A year ago today, lesson plans at Daley Plaza.
A year ago today I might not have believed I'd still be teaching community college. That first semester was so difficult--learning what the students could (and mostly couldn't) do, feeling so alone, hours upon hours teaching myself what I take for granted in grammar.

I've been thinking about what to say to the struggling heart. "It gets better," is bubblegum lately. Has been. At first it was meaningful, and then it was viral, and now it's even beyond irony. It's old. So what is there to be said? So many suffering peoples. Many inside that large square I call work. The first essay prompt is "What is an experience that changed your life and why?" My student asks if I can look over his outline about his divorce. Lord help me if I had been a college freshman with one marriage come and gone under my belt!

I imagine that student from last spring who needed help coming to my office. What would I say if he did? It does get better? Then I think, I'm not sure it does. I surely can't promise that. It could get better. Maybe it doesn't. But, I thought, you do. IT might never get better. It might be the pits for your entire life, but YOU get better. You learn and you grow and what was once The End is now an ant hill.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Let Me Know

If I have the capability to haunt after I die, who is interested? Also, what degree of haunting would you like (assuming I can choose)? I'll do my best. I'm hoping to have powers ranging from leaving notes via Scrabble letters and turning on the TV when MTV's Catfish is on. If you just want lights to flicker, don't bother. That's really not worth it. You'll never even know it's me! Anyway, hit me up.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Importance of Cleaning the Whiteboards

When class ends I say, "Goodbye! See you all [next class day]," and I always get up to clean the whiteboards. Every teacher is supposed to clean the whiteboards before leaving classrooms because it's annoying to show up to class with some previous professor's scribbles everywhere. But even if I am staying in the room a bit longer to grade papers, or even if I know the janitor will be visiting the room shortly after class, I always slowly wipe down everything from the day immediately after releasing the students. In the year I have been teaching community college, a lot of really key conversations have happened while I cleaned whiteboards. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I've heard that many gay high school students come out to their parents in the car because they're side by side instead of facing one another. Also, the teenager knows he won't be beaten. Not at that particular moment anyway. In a similar, less dire vein, I like giving students time to talk to me while my back is turned. It's funny. I'm very aware this is happening. I'm not sure if they do. If they get why suddenly they feel ready to explain the absences or admit they really don't know what the heck they're doing when it comes to next week's exam. On the flip side, while I clean white boards is often when the little sweeties make themselves known. The quiet kids who want to be my friend, who are looking for a mentor-figure to share a piece of good news. I think these students typically see authority figures as very busy and perhaps uninterested. But, ah ha, "those five minutes she's not grading or teaching or really doing ANYTHING. I can swoop in and show her my drawing right then. When she's just wiping dry erase dust into the air." The days I haven't written anything (and thus don't erase), fewer people linger. The days I haven't written anything I don't usually hear any stories and no one unravels apologies. Again, I don't think they know this. I'm not sure if there is a larger metaphor at play or simply some useful teaching advice for those interested.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How Much?

This morning Bisque called out from behind the light of his phone, "Did you see this article about the couple who quit their jobs to travel the world and regret it?" I hadn't. "Yeah, they're janitors now and are totally broke." This is pretty funny because what you always hear is, "You won't regret it" and the term "priceless." But sometimes there is a price.

We watched Another Earth yesterday with my hair wet from the rooftop pool and my hands full of leftover pizza. Very reminiscent of summer days at Peppermint's house growing up. We'd sit dripping on our towels while Spice World played for the billionth time. Without any spoilers, there is a lot of dramatic action surrounding a 3 million dollar travel ticket. The stakes are high, very high. There is deep dark guilt, love lost, love found, repentance. But even so. 3 million dollars. Sheesh. That's a lot to be tossing around.

I wonder about how important it is to visit. Friends. Okay, kinda. My parents. Sure. Sometimes I don't want to. Well, it's rarely that simple. I feel like I'm just not up to it. Planning, traveling, and mainly all those dancing dollar signs. But anyone could die at any moment. And then how would I feel about those dollar signs? Pretty dumb. But, also, sometimes I'm thinking about what it would be like if I actually just did everything I want. Oh whatever, I'll take more cabs so I feel up to a big trip. Let's go out and celebrate more. Who knows when we say goodbye. If we did, would I not empty my bank account to go back in time and have that weekend getaway with you? But what if I emptied it now and credit card debts strangle me and I am nothing, and every time you see me for the next twenty years (because goodbye didn't happen) I am sad and sick and mainly oh so poor. Oh so, oh so poor.