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He sits with one pencil, three erasers, and a yellow notepad with green lines on it. The notepad remains ready to take in the information, to capture and keep it. But, it is never tasked with this. The notepad remains untouched. He looks at the notepad several times, leans his elbow on it a few times, even picks up the pencil once or twice. But, it never comes to be.

Later, in talking with him, I learn about a strict teacher back in grade school. His perfectionism developed in the midst of what can only be described as an evil woman. Constant criticism, constantly ridiculed, made to believe he was stupid, always, and forever.

So, now, he writes nothing, nothing. I am intrigued and curious about the eraser to pencil ratio; 3:1. Should he choose to take the risk of marring the yellow paper with a pencil, he is well equipped and prepared to make it all disappear.

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Dressing Room Business

Laughter flows from the dressing room next to me. Lots of laughter.

“What?” woman one asks.

“It has stripes. That’s not going to work” her friend says.

“No. You try it on” woman one replies.

“Why? So then I can feel as bad as you do?” her friend says.

“Try it on.” woman one requests of her friend again.

“Hey. You didn’t even right side it.” her friend observes.

“What?” woman one says.

“You didn’t turn it right side out.” her friend says

“I didn’t want it on my body a moment longer.” woman one says.

More laughter from both ladies.

“Oh, this wouldn’t look good on anybody. That Mexican food we ate isn’t helping.” her friend replies.

I move a little quicker to get my regular clothes back on in hopes of catching a glimpse of the offending garment perhaps being slung over the top of the dressing room door. No such luck.

I am tempted to ask for a quick look at the striped garment. But, I think twice, not wanting to risk being thought of or acted upon as a voyeur. Oh, yes, I was a voyeur, a voyeur of the ears today. And I will never know just what that striped garment was that the friends were bonding over.

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Save My Soul

She walks away from the front door of her business, down the long sidewalk, broom in hand. She swishes the broom from side to side over the sidewalk. You can see her big round belly shake through her long thin sundress at each step she takes. As I walk past this scene, I smile and comment ” Boy, you sure are keeping things neat and tidy. I can barely sweep the inside of my house, never mind the outside.” Her eyes slowly move up from the area that she is sweeping and meet mine, so slowly in fact, that I stop walking to hear what she may say. I don’t want to be rude and keep walking, especially because I initiated the conversation. She whispers “people come here expecting me to be able to see into their souls. In doing so, they make themselves vulnerable. Their souls, they fall at their feet as they walk out and away. I must sweep them off of the sidewalk and onto the grass so that mother Earth can take them back. I do not want to be responsible for their souls.” I am at a loss for words. “Oh”, I say, and begin walking again.

When she speaks again, she seems like a totally different person, her voice is higher and louder, more assertive. “Take a minute. Come in. Get a reading. You want to know your future, no?” I stop again. I look past her, and I can see the sign. It announces : Halima’s Tarot Card Readings, Palm Readings, Psychic Consultation, and More. The sign is so crowded with words I have to look closely to catch it all. What’s the “and more”? Cleaning up lost, forgotten, mislaid, misplaced, fallen souls at her front door?

All at once I feel a coldness deep inside me. I shiver amidst this hot summer day. I back away from this woman, this space, so drastically and urgently that I stumble.

“Oh, don’t be afraid. Yes, I feel it too” she says as she looks into my eyes. She is whispering again.

I don’t speak, I cannot. I am suddenly overcome by fear, like from childhood at night when
you hear a sound in your house. But here, I can’t close my eyes. I can’t pull the covers over my head and curl into a ball.

I turn on one heal and run. I run. No chances taken here. I am not ready to give up my soul. And, that is what it felt like. Like she takes souls.

I make a mental note to never walk past her establishment again, to quite literally save my soul.

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He said “I don’t want to be with you anymore. “. The shock and filth of it was like the belch of thick black smoke from an old car. And like that smoke, it hung in the air. I stood there, waiting for the smoke to dissipate, to clear. But, it did not clear. I could feel my body become so so heavy, yet my head felt light, like it was going to float away like a balloon let go of by a small child.

He turned to walk away, and stopped for a moment, his body half turned away from me and half turned toward me. A wave of relief washed over me, crashed upon me. His own words had startled him. His words are not how he really feels. He has made a mistake.

He looks at me, his eyes settling just above my head as his words came out. “I’m sorry.” I wait for the rest of what he has to say. Now, he turns away from me and begins to walk. I watch him, each step that he takes. His steps are loud hard stomps. My balloon head begins floating away, higher and higher away, the ribbon having finally slipped out of somebody’s hand. Now, I am disconnected from myself. Just as all the anger and sadness was starting to well up inside of me, it dissipates. It is lost, gone, some where else.

I talk to myself.

“Get hold of the ribbon and get that balloon back down. Get it back before it’s gone forever!” And, that is just what I did. Next, the heaviness of my body mysteriously lifted, and I was back to me, back to being in myself. Now, the pain comes. It is intense. I gasp for breath and my chest tightens. Like in the movie, I see a montage of scenes with him and I. The montage ends with me standing here alone. I look around. Yes, I am alone. He is gone, yes gone. He has left, he has left me. He has undone “us”, and left me with me. I stand up very straight, inhale deeply, and exhale as I take my first step without him.

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Solo Performance

She sits, hands folded in her lap, curled around bright red drum sticks. She waits for her part, paying close attention. And, there it is, a red light. She breaks out a strong beat on her steering wheel, unaware of the car next to her creeping up to get a better look, now pointing and smiling. Double beats, single beats, rest. Wild rambunctious beats fill her truck, as she dances in her seat. She cannot be still. Until, until the light turns green. Away the sticks go, and she quietly drives off.

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How Much Change?

“Hey, the register isn’t telling me how much change to give back!” I heard the cashier say. Oh, I remember this from when I worked at Burger
King when I was like 19. It was incredibly stressful. I initially solved this problem by having a pencil and piece of paper next to the register. But, both shame and embarrassment quickly disavowed me of this notion, not to mention the fast pace of the first lunch rush at the drive-through. Doing math on a piece of paper off to the side. Yeah, right. I was lucky to have a moment to breathe!

So, necessity is the mother of invention, or learning- in this case- how to count back change using only my brain. I honestly do not remember exactly how this lesson went or who the teacher was. But, I do know it is information that I still use today. On the rare occasion that I pay cash, I know exactly what I should be getting back. Funny, most folks don’t count the change back. They merely drop the pile of change into my palm, and cover it with a few bills of paper money, or the reverse, pressing the paper money into my hand and topping it with the change. But, I feel empowered to know exactly what the change should be right at that moment. And, I speak up if it isn’t correct.

I hope this cashier finds his way to this valuable skill. I know, in the age of smart phones with voice recognition, he could just shout out the mathematical request. But, even in modern day, shame and embarrassment still endure.

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Waiting Room

As I wait at the doctor’s office, the “cell phones interfere with our equipment. Please no cell phones while in the office. Thank you for your cooperation” sign forces me to instead look around. I spot a woman 2 seats over from me. She is reading a book on her IPad. What catches my eye about her is her shoes. They in fact are different colors. One is purple with black swirls and looks dots and green trim. The other is tan with black polka dots and purple trim only on the toe area. They are completely asymmetrical. My eyes keep going to them, to the imbalance. They are very different than the woman’s across the room, pale rose color with matching flower decorations on top, neatly atop pantyhose covered feet, nicely matching her plaid pastel skirt and green pastel spring coat; a vintage look really. Funny thing she does , she keeps lifting her feet up and looking at her shoes, legs stretched straight out. Now they are flat on the worn blue carpet S the doctors comes to the door and calls “Joan”, she is up in an instant, hand extended to shake hand of the doctor in the open doorway.

Now, and older gentleman. Eleven other available chairs, and he sits right next to me. I am vaguely irritated by his proximity. I mind as well look at his shoes. Black slip-ons. Look comfortable. Brown thick looking socks underneath, faded jeans on top. Now, the coughing begins. He brushes against me as he reaches for a tissue on the table next to me, politely saying “Excuse me” as he does so.

Now, the three of us are all nestled together in the corner of the waiting room; woman 2 seats over and coughing man right next to me. Eleven other seats in this good sized waiting room. I have a twinge of claustrophobia. I wish I could immerse myself in my multiple distraction on my IPhone; email, texts, Facebook …

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