hiiiiiiiiii, denver

Yesterday

“Should this happen, try to locate the nearest exit, keeping in mind that it could be behind you…”

While the flight attendant continued giving her spiel, I turned to watch him: an old guy wearing white sneakers, blue jeans, and plaid long sleeves — red, white, and grey.

He was one row ahead of me, to my left, and I noticed that he kept looking over to his right with this twinkle in his eye. Twice, he reached his arm out across the aisle, in a kind sort of way. I discreetly peeked over the seat in front of me and saw who was receiving the arm: a similarly-aged woman covering her face with her hands… gold ring, black nails, curly hair. It seemed she was crying; probably afraid of flying, I thought to myself, feeling for her.

I stole another look at him. He appeared amused with her, just a little, but also, his eyes glistened as they gazed at her.

My throat tightened and I looked away. That man has loved her for a very long time.

***

Today

“What are you thinking about?” Charlie asked. We’d gotten up early and walked to a cafe together where he asked for slow-drip coffee with a cinnamon brioche roll while I got a fancy plate of almond-butter-banana-and-honey-drizzle toast on seeded bread.

“A latte,” I smiled.

“Sure you aren’t thinking about getting a date?”

I thought about it. “No… not right now.”

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fancy toast @ Thump Coffee (Capitol Hill)

When we’d flown from Birmingham to Atlanta the day before, my Bumble queue became flooded with faces of dudes who’d swiped right on me. And then in Denver, the number of right-swipes grew absolutely insane; after working through about six sets of 50, I had to put my phone down, exhausted from the emotional stress of making quick judgment calls based on just a few pictures and a short bio.

 

“I mean, there are a few guys I might be seeing this weekend,” I continued. “May be getting coffee with one and hiking with another… but I’m not seeking out any new dates, or any actual dates. They’re more like hangouts.” I paused, an early morning high making my mind fuzzy again. “I just really, really liked Captain Kangaroo, Charlie. He was so interesting. And special. It STINKS!”

I wrote a little poem about Captain Kangaroo the other day; it goes like this:

(Captain Kangaroo), you stink.

You really suck a lot.

I hope you think about how dumb you are.

Has a nice rhythm to it, doesn’t it? And it sounds even better with his actual name inserted, because his name SORTA (loosely) rhymes with “stink.”

Anyways, I’d explained the whole situation to Charlie’s friends (a cool married couple living here in Denver; guy works for the government and lady works as an editor) the day before during our car ride over to a Thai place. I summarized, at the end of my tale, that I felt supremely uninteresting and bummed out and that my self-esteem had dipped a little (again).

“It sounds like it wasn’t you at all,” the guy said.

“Yeah. That guy doesn’t appear to know what he wants, from minute to minute,” the gal agreed.

“So it’s not that you weren’t enough — it’s that he doesn’t know what he wants,” they said. Whether this is true or not, it was very nice of them to say it, and it did make me feel better.

At the Thai place, I was eating pineapple fried rice with delicious chunks of tofu mixed in with it when I suddenly woke up from a dream.

“Hey guys!” I said brightly, happy to see them. The three of them stopped talking and looked at me. “Oh — shit,” I said, realizing what was happening. It’s happened before.

I’d purchased this special, lemon creme chocolate bar from the dispensary across the street earlier on in the day (as well as a magical orange soda — this is still in the fridge, waiting for me). The chocolate bar’s wrapper stated that it contained 10 doses (100 mg total), and while I originally thought it sensible to take a single full dose (10 mg), I followed Charlie’s friend’s recommendation of taking half of one since I have a zero tolerance (and it will unfortunately — despite the many mental and emotional and even physical health benefits of marijuana — stay this way until Alabama finally gets its shit together). And let me just go ahead and get this out there: I’m *so* glad I went with the half-dose, you guys.

I timed the event; on an essentially empty stomach, I swallowed the half-dose around 4:00, and when I looked at the clock again and saw that it was 5:15, things were really happening for me.

Just 5 mg of THC took me there, and then way beyond there, and for the next few hours, I was constantly slipping in and out of space and time (mentally).

I remember explaining (very loudly, unfortunately) to my table of friends that I could feel the teeth inside of my mouth today; that I could calculate the density of my neck bone, which I intuitively knew was curved here and there; and that I could vividly sense the temperature of my hands. “They’re cold,” I explained, “and I’ve never experienced this kind of cold before.” I held my hands up for everyone, looking at them myself as I demonstrated. “It’s like — it’s not that they’re VERY cold; it’s that I’ve never really felt how cold feels until now.”

I freaked out with these heightened sensations, as well as the unpredictable comings and goings — it was basically like I was recalling a memory, or dreaming of something, and then suddenly awake again, and sometimes, I’d find myself awake and in the middle of speaking (about what? who knows!).

“It’s like — every time I come back, it’s different,” I tried to explain, “and there’s this weird 2-second lag where I don’t know what I’m saying until it’s already been said. And then I’m trying to figure it out,” I sighed, totally freaked.

I fixated on a vase of water for a while — the waitress had brought it, along with our glasses, at the beginning of the meal; it had “1” embedded in the glass here and then “1litre” embedded in the glass there (underneath) and I just couldn’t fathom it. Couldn’t trust it.

“Does this say one and then one litre, or ilitre?” I asked Charlie, very seriously. It was worrying me. I didn’t know “ilitre.”

I had to stop eating my food, too; it was delicious, but I was convinced that I wouldn’t remember how to swallow in time to keep myself from choking to death. Charlie packaged leftovers for me and I ate them later on, before passing out.

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ultimate yumminess @ Suvipa

When it was time to get up from the table, I wasn’t really sure how to make my body move, but I willed my mind to make it happen anyways and, somehow, made it to the car and then into the car and then – after fifteen minutes on the road that felt more like 15 years in outer space – back out of the car and then UP the stairs and into the apartment. Whew.

To keep from babbling incessantly (I was extremely paranoid that I was doing this; it was hard to know what was staying inside my head and what was leaving it), I grabbed a book from my backpack and sat on the couch with it, marking my favorite passages with a pen as I read. It helped keep me sane and in the moment. 

When I woke up this morning, I saw I’d written a few notes to myself inside of the book:

  1. Jace, you look at yourself as “things, accomplishments, regrets, tragedies, and relationships” — but you are your MIND (soul)… it’s so different. You aren’t your history; you’re right now — not a 2-second lag.
  2. Every time you go and come back, it’s different.

***

(back to) Today

Late this morning, I rode the 16L from Denver to Golden (following the suggestion of a dude on Bumble; got a yummy white chocolate lavender latte + scrambled egg, avocado, and veggie sausage platter from a cafe in the area — would def recommend).

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breakfast for lunch @ Cafe 13 (Boulder)

But even more interesting than the cafe itself and the lovely creek winding around it was the dude I met on the bus — the one toting a blue backpack, white blanket, and gorgeous German Shepherd along with him.

Right after purchasing my day pass at the front of the bus ($5.20, btw), I spotted a German Shepherd lying down near the middle of the bus (with a free seat right in front of him). I immediately walked over and asked if I could please sit with the dude who had the dog; he said yes, and then we spent the next 40 minutes talking about everything. He was SO COOL! I wish I’d had an audio recorder on me (why the heck haven’t I invested in one yet?!), but recalling as best I can (as per usual), here’s his story.

 

Crash retired after his wife of twenty-one years passed away in January. He had been living in a trailer park in Florida — in this little town called Holiday (where, funny enough, my late Uncle Junior once lived) — when one morning, Crash woke up and decided that he was suddenly sick of being there.

He called one of his daughters, told her to come grab anything she wanted (sentimental stuff, pieces of furniture, whatever), and then he sold or gave the rest away. He simply wanted to get on the road as quickly and easily as possible.

“From the time you decided this,” I interjected, continuing to pet his shepherd with my left hand, “how long did it take for you to actually get on the road?”

“Made my decision that morning and then got on the road the next,” he said.

“Wow. And your stuff — all of it’s gone?”

“Yep. All of it. Everything I own is in this backpack, and half of the stuff in here is his,” he chuckled, nodding at his dog. He carries toys and a blanket for Arbor (his shep) for when it’s really cold outside.

And for three months now, Crash has been journeying across the United States; hiking around, dipping into hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and striking up conversations with strangers. He’s heading down to Texas in a few weeks here to pass Christmas with an old friend of his.

“How far in advance do you plan your next adventure?” I asked.

“Not very far,” he said, although he did mention keeping a calendar. “If I hit a spot I wanna stay in for a while, I do. Nowhere else to be, really,” he smiled. I was so happy for him, and definitely a little envious.

We talked about socialism and communism and NOLA and Cajuns and books and book stores and technology and communication and how weird people are about talking on the phone now.

When it was time to go, I shook his hand (as we finally introduced ourselves) and wished him well. I watched him and his beautiful friend begin walking through the park together (where our bus lady had called out “final stop!”) and then I headed toward the mountains, solo.

 

***

I’m taking the GS up 93 (to Boulder) in fifteen minutes here; a guy named Corey is picking me up @ a cafe slash bookstore, taking me to dinner, and then driving me back down to Denver this evening. Charlie, cool married couple and I are then going to get drinks and watch a midnight showing of The Room (one of the worst-quality movies EVER — can’t wait!). This is, of course, assuming Corey isn’t a psychopath. So if you never ever hear from me again… (that line sure does appear on here often, doesn’t it? ha).

But before I go away (missing, forever!), here’s what I said to Charlie at the cafe earlier this morning [and it came out extremely very slowly, because – circumstantially (even on just 2 mg) – I found it was difficult to A. focus on a single theme and B. speak words, period].

“The reason why I want to be with someone so badly is — I want that connection. I want to really know them, and I want them to understand me. I want to engage with somebody’s mind, and hold their hand, and call them partner, and I want them to stick around. I really wish someone would stick around. While the world can be really disheartening, having a companion makes it so much easier to bear. But what’s AWFUL…” and I could feel – really feel – my lips now; chapped, soft, curved, “is the things I love most — writing stories, creating songs, loving somebody — they’re things I can’t really control. It’s not like you can decide when it’s time to write a story, or schedule when you’re going to compose the next song, or predict when, exactly, a compatible person will happily cross paths with you — it’s entirely random. Always catches you by surprise. And when it does show up, bam — then you can make your move. There’s no planning for it, no speeding it up OR slowing it down. I kinda hate it.”

And I think that’s why I really hate using these dating apps — swiping right thirty times and then left once; shopping for souls like they’re sweaters. It feels like I’m taking something organic and magical and crumpling it up — destroying it with graphs and percentages and weird expectations.

Because here’s the thing: You can’t really get someone’s personality by looking at still images of them and reading their stats and bio; the soul, and its personality, is truly DYNAMIC — it’s something you just have to experience. There’s the voice, and the way it sounds to you; the body language, and what you’re able to infer from it; the way a person’s eyes look, and where those eyes go; and the natural manner of speaking a person has that you can either fall right in love with or grow weary of quickly (versus simply reading the short, clipped, and groomed sentences you get from them electronically — no tone, no volume, no inflection, and little substance).

And those introductory convos are always awkward, and always the same: 

  • Ooooh, what records did you find?
  • What books are you reading right now?
  • Have your next travel adventure planned?
  • How’s your week going so far?
  • Best cafe in town?
  • Is the pup in that picture YOURS?
  • Any rivers or hiking spots you’d recommend?
  • What a cute baby deer!

And what a cute fuckin deer it was.

 

Still here,

Aun Aqui

Ten Things I Hate About Nashville

  1. Alcohol is fun (in measure), but Nashville’s streets (particularly Broadway) really reek of it. While I was out walking (after snagging some REALLY great Indian food — check out Chauhan), I watched a young guy who was INCREDIBLY drunk wipe out on a rented scooter. Some dude called an ambulance, a lady ran over with a towel, and then I drenched the towel with water from my purple bottle before instructing the kid to hold it firmly to his forehead. He kept removing the damn thing, asking if he was still bleeding (DUH), and the thick, oozing, reappearing gash nearly made me faint. “Either of you got a camera phone?” he asked suddenly, slurring the words out. I was too stunned to reply — what the fuck does a camera phone have to do with ANY of this? I thought. He eventually produced his own phone. “Take a… picture…” he murmured, holding it up for one of us to grab. The lady who’d brought the towel snapped some shots and then he proceeded to text the images to his friends. “Good luck, dude. Hold the rag to your head,” I said, continuing on my way.
  2. (Almost) everyone has a butt — I know this — but I DON’T WANT TO SEE IT! I think I saw the shortest shorts in America up in Nashville, and I was not a fan of them. Look, I get it; we’re born naked, with butts, and it would be the most natural thing in the world for us to, generally (barring super cold weather), live our lives naked. Agreed. But here’s the deal: In the US, the human body is heavily sexualized in every possible media form, meaning that the more skin you show, the weirder and more insecure people around you tend to feel. And don’t even get me started on the disgusting horribleness of how the media objectifies women for advertising… just this week, back in bham, I drove by a billboard promoting boxing. Boxing’s fine, cool, whatever. But why does the girl-model have to flash sultry eyes and BITE her glove to effectively advertise boxing? I swear, sometimes, I really hate being here (ie in this world). It’s gross (people are gross) and mean (people are mean to each other AND animals). A good friend told me once: “Forget how your body looks — how does it feel? What can it do?” YES! Yes, yes, yes. These are WAY better points of focus, so why not show that same girl looking confident and kicking (or punching) ASS in the advertisement? Anyways (I said I wouldn’t go there)… I know it’s a thin line to walk — authentically expressing yourself while considering and respecting the sensitivities of others… and I don’t really know what to say to you about it, other than: If one’s ass is LITERALLY exceeding the length of their shorts, the shorts are probably inadequate.
  3. Drunk people are loud. And indecent. And rude. “Hey little girl!” some dude shouted at me, riding along in the passenger’s seat of a golf cart. “Gimme some of that–” “NOPE,” I yelled back at him, shaking my head firmly. The audacity. The golf cart zoomed away (as fast as a freakin golf cart can… how lame) and I hoped that the fat stuffed rabbit sticking out of my backpack was throwing him a sideways glare.
  4. Country music reigns supreme in Nashville, which is fine. I knew that, driving into the place.
  5. I passed by lots of “gentleman’s clubs” with the ickiest and most objectifying signage — and why the FUCK are they even called that? They are, in fact, NON-gentleman’s clubs. Hello!
  6. When people go to the obgyn, why do they spell it out? O-B-G-Y-N? Why not just say obgyn? This has nothing to do with (specifically) Nashville, but it bothers me… always has…
  7. There were simply too many people in Nashville. Whether they were residents or tourists (like me), there were just too many of us. That’s why I left and came home right after the vacation was over.
  8. The Whole Foods in Nashville did not carry my favoritest brand of kombucha (the Live brand). Minus 15 points from G’dor.
  9. There were more cafe options in Nashville than Birmingham. That makes me sad, so we’ll minus another 18 points from G’dor.
  10. One cafe I walked into didn’t offer caramel or white chocolate flavor options. I politely left. In addition to the lack of flavor options, the place was just uppity (for example, no basic white chocolate or standard caramel flavors, right? But they DID have a signature drink called the aspen or the apothecary or the aviators… and that’s some weird bullshit).

 

That’s all! I wanted to write about my experience in Nashville, of course, and thought it’d be more fun to rant about it than rave. In all fairness, Nash has some tasty vegetarian food and a nice collection of cafes (with interesting flavor options OTHER than caramel and white chocolate). Sharing pics of my latte orders (and listing where you can find ’em) below.

 

 

More than anything, I had a great time catching up with my parents. We perused various thrift stores together, drove down to the Harpeth River (which was TOTALLY awesome), and enjoyed being in the sunshine. I arrived home yesterday afternoon, with a bag of scarves and rosy cheeks, and then fell asleep around sunset.

 

 

 

Still here,

Aun Aqui

I broke myself in Portland

She was sprinting through the house, wearing grey sweatpants and a towel on her head.  It was our last day together.

 

“I always think that the bus is waiting for me,” she said, grabbing her makeup bag and cell phone in one swift movement, “but it’s actually me who’s waiting for the bus.”

 

“That’s really insightful,” I called out from the couch, my right foot propped up on a three-tiered cake of pillow. “On so many levels…”

 

She laughed, and then I heard the bathroom door slam shut.

 

***

 

I spent last weekend in Portland, Oregon. It was a solo trip taken for the sheer hell of it; I wanted to try the coffee, and the vegan food, and take in all of the views — from tall trees, soul-soothing waterfalls, and soft old clothes to some of the most notoriously peculiar human beings on the planet.

 

But I had to tweak my plans early on in the trip.

On day two, I was riding the #20 in the direction of Mt. Tabor Park. As we neared the next stop, I readjusted my backpack, tugged on the yellow rope running along the interior of the bus, and went to stand up. Nothing weird — just, you know; rising up onto my feet, like usual.

But when I did so, I felt something like a ball explode inside of my foot — it was insanely jarring, took me completely by surprise, and every single step I took afterwards was more excruciating than I can properly describe. 

Sidebar History Lesson: The previous week, I was training new hires up in northern Alabama and spent my evenings walking several miles in unsupportive sandals, which I could tell – afterwards – stressed my feet out… and I suspect that THIS is what primed me for the explosion. 

And regardless of what was supposed to happen next, what I did was grit my teeth, hobble through the park, and then limp up and down the city’s bustling streets for the next two and a half days, chasing food and coffee and books and scarves.

 

 

 

 

Hover over pics above for deets. 

 

***

 

My favorite memories of Portland: 

One afternoon, a young man (20s) and his dad boarded the bus together and seated themselves near the front. I’d been engrossed in scenes beyond the window, so I heard the young man before I actually saw him.

Why? He was making the most interesting noises: deep grunts, sharp exhalations, gleeful laughs and high-pitched siren sounds. His dad, I noticed, communicated with him by clicking his thumb and pointer finger together, slapping him on the knee, and making intricate movements with his wrists. It didn’t look like formal sign language, but I definitely understood that this was their language.

The young man made one noise, in particular, that I found so beautiful it almost moved me to tears… it was a lovely trill, sort of like a bird’s. He did it once, twice, maybe four times; every now and then, it would magically reappear, and I wanted to hear it nonstop forever.

After about ten minutes, I noticed the father gathering their things together. I wish he’d trill one more time before leaving, I thought to myself; I’d appreciated hearing it before, but I wanted to really record the sound in my mind before he disappeared from me forever.

And then as the door opened and he began descending the stairs, there it was — that sweet, rolling trill, tumbling backwards through the air. I closed my eyes then. I can still hear it now.

*

Early one morning, it was finally on the cusp of being overcast (it didn’t rain AT ALL while I was there — what the heck!) and I was on the bus again. We were passing through the city, bumping over downtown Portland’s uneven roads.

To my right, I suddenly saw a narrow and dark patch between two buildings — and there in that shadowy space was a man, sitting between this wall and that one; he was wearing a blanket and quietly staring down at the flame on a lighter. It was strikingly beautiful.

*

At the bus stop (YES, I practically lived on or near the bus!) on Monday, I sat waiting beside a man who looked like a rock star — wearing a leather vest, leather pants, a jet-black faux hawk and silver hoops in his ears. A girl approached us, and then there were three of us waiting for the bus — possibly four, but the other lady was standing pretty far off in the distance, staring down at the asphalt and cursing at it, so she might have just been hanging out.

I heard the rock star fidgeting to my left, but didn’t look over at him.

“Need a lighter?” the girl asked suddenly.

He laughed. “Yeah.”

“Hey, I’ve been there before — it’s hard to light a joint from a cigarette.” I heard the click of it, and then a sizzle.

I was staring after a plastic bag blowing down the street, feeling puzzled; if he was able to light the cigarette, why can’t he light the joint? I wondered. Maybe he lost the lighter, or it stopped working, I reasoned afterwards.

Seconds later, I could smell it. Delicious.

“You know… I appreciate you not judging me, you know?” the guy said to the girl.

“Hey — I’d smoke it if I could,” she said.

Me too, I thought. But it isn’t legal back in bama… YET.

“It’s just… a lot of people judge me for it, you know?” he continued, and I heard him make a snorting sound. I couldn’t stop my head from turning a little and saw him batting at his nose.

“And it’s just like… some people need to be sober, and some people need to NOT be sober,” he concluded.

The girl murmured her assent.

The bus came and she and I got on it… I sat in the back, by the window again, and watched Rock Star fade away. Turned out he wasn’t waiting for the bus.

*

On Sunday, I purchased a scarf from a secondhand shop and then hobbled to the park across the street. Plopping down and leaning my back against a tree, I watched as — on a great, big court — several games of basketball occurred simultaneously.

There were four groups of older men — predominantly black, with one goofy-looking group of white boys — and two batches of young kids. Didn’t spot a single girl on the court, which was disappointing. I suddenly remembered getting hit in the face with a football during 7th grade PE. That dickhead — I couldn’t remember his name, but knew he was Ryan’s twin brother, and though he’d claimed it was an accident, I’d been standing just seven feet in front of him, counting as fast as I could: one mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi, four… 

I noticed that one of the kid groups (composed of four members: a skinny kid, another skinny kid who was dressed really well, a toddler, and a chubby kid) had an all-star on their team: the chubby kid! He kept landing shot after shot, from all sorts of distances, and I loved watching him dribble, because you could tell that he felt good about it (and himself).

This one time, though, the skinny-and-not-dressed-well kid went to steal the ball and fell in the process; chubby kid kept on going with the ball, landed the shot, and then reared back around, approaching the kid who was still on the ground.

My heart to started to ache a little as it anticipated hurt feelings, but then, it soared; I watched as chubby kid walked over to skinny kid, held his hand out, and helped him back up onto his feet. Then, he slapped him on the back encouragingly, like nice try. It was freaking awesome, because the kid was like seven.

*

A strung-out, emaciated guy walked onto the bus late one afternoon and started chatting with the girl across from him; she was middle-aged, dressed well, and seemed kind. He rattled on about having just lost $3000 in poker (apparently trying to be impressive), and she told him that she’d stopped playing ten years ago… that it had nearly ruined her life. He bristled a little at the unsolicited advice and got off at the next stop, and then the guy beside her chimed in, saying that poker was like a drug.

“It really is,” she agreed. “I was a stripper for a while and used to blow the money on the game.”

“Oh… that makes sense; so that’s why you’re into such alternative stuff,” the guy said, nodding after the already-gone emaciated guy (who – seemingly affecting a feminine accent and wearing a women’s shirt – had appeared to be in the process of possibly transforming).

“Excuse me?” she said, narrowing her eyes as she considered the guy.

Good for you, lady, I thought at her, happy she’d stuck up for herself and the other guy. You fuckin’ jackass, I thought at the jackass.

 

A few things I learned in Portland:

How to use public transit. We’re sorta, kinda getting there in bham, but spots like Denver and Portland have got it goin’ ON in the public transit department.

It took me a few days (and several missed stops slash incorrect bus boardings) to get the hang of it, but MAN did I feel proud of myself once I figured out how to route myself from this spot to that one via buses, streetcars, and even trains.

I didn’t have to Uber — not even ONCE (although, at times, the public transit system was really freaking confusing and I was TEMPTED to Uber — persistence is key!), and with a 2.5 hour pass costing $2.50 and a full day public transit pass costing just $5, I spent a total of $17.50 on transportation the whole time I was there.

*

You can bring your own coffee mug to coffee shops! I watched hipster after hipster do it, and realizing that doing this was possible resolved a true dilemma of mine:

Coffee shop mugs are so homey, and I just love sipping coffee from them, but it takes me FOREVER to finish a latte, so I usually opt for paper to-go cups (which come with lids). However…

At the thrift store last month, I found this neato porcelain coffee mug and swore I’d start making coffee at home with it (because I liked it so much). I tried doing so, and my coffee didn’t compare to Red Cat’s, but GUESS WHAT? I can now bring this reusable coffee mug (which comes WITH a lid) to the coffee shop WITH me and vwahla: My latte will preserve its favorable temperature for a bit longer AND I’ll be helping the environment out. Double win.

Happily back home in bham, I brought my coffee mug w/me to Red Cat this AM, and look at how splendidly things went! (And there was a surprising third benefit, too: The barista gave me a $1 discount for bringing my own mug!)

 

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my current usual: a white chocolate caramel latte ❤

 

*

Socializing doesn’t have to be difficult (or weird). My AirBnB host (the girl with the towel on her head) was a super sociable person who invited me out for drinks twice — the first time, I politely declined, but the second time, I agreed… and it was fun! Easy, even!

She and I met up with two of her friends (a guy and his bro, who was visiting from Turkey) and we went to two different bars (I ordered a drink at one of them). At the first place, we watched a local emo band perform on an outdoor stage — the 2015 Oregonian Pinot Noir had me swaying in the audience beside three new friends — and when we made it over to the second joint (a smoky jazz bar), I could feel it — understand it, and I’m talking about jazz — for the first time in my life:

I was the piano solo, and he was the saxophone solo… the notes were our words. The bass was the feelings we felt inside of ourselves — grief, passion, fury; the heart skipping a beat, or beating too fast… the drums were the movements between and against us — embracing and repelling — and the singer’s sometimes smooth, sometimes shouting vocals were the eyes that we gave each other.

 

Duh! NOW I get it, I thought to myself.

 
My AirBnB host broke up with a guy three years ago but finds herself still obsessed with him — always catching herself looking for him in the bar, on the bus, and at the grocery store…

“And you can’t really do anything about it,” she said, elbowing me with a sweaty and hoppy IPA in her hand. She’d just commented on how sexy the guy with the saxophone was; his name was Taylor. He was hanging back in a dim corner of the room now, waiting for his next solo. “You just have to focus on something else.”

I nodded. I get that more than you’d possibly believe, I wanted to tell her… thinking about Spanish and caramel lattes and college and gigs and travel and novels and work and bike rides.

 

She held the IPA out for me to taste it. I took a single sip, wrinkled my nose, and gave it back to her, smiling anyways.

 

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me @ Red Cat this am, feeling positive-neutral while mulling over the topic of scarcity (see related NPR podcast here). There are different types of scarcity: lack of money, food, time, affection… these deficiencies do crazy shit to our brains, and I realize now that I’ve been OBSESSING over wanting a relationship because I feel fundamentally lacking without a companion…

 

But like AirBnB said: If you’re helplessly obsessed, focus on other things. So I’ll keep on doing that.

 

 

Still here,

Aun Aqui

 

PS: Oh yeah — the whole broke myself in Portland drama bit: Turns out that the bus mishap was me spraining my ankle! I paid a rare visit to the doctor when I returned to bham and am now wearing a fashionable medical boot for the next 13 days. Woohoooooooooooooo!

 

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I freakin love this boot. I even uploaded a vid of me walking in it to IG and referred to the scene as my “boot fashion show.”

 

I know this is a little extra for a PS, but I had to ask FOUR different medical personnel if I could please view images of my foot x-ray before it finally happened. And FYI, my foot looks REALLY cool in b&w.

“Guess I’ve got bones down there after all!” I laughed to the nurse (who’d begrudgingly escorted me to the viewing room).

“Yep…”

“Do people ask to see their x-rays often?” I asked as she led me toward the exit, curious.

“Not really.”

“Ahhhh…”

 

Well — I felt very fortunate to have been able to see mine, and I would have asked for a 4×6 print to-go, but… #vibes #sociallyperceptive #igetit #butitsMYfootxray.

 

 

 

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A bus full of prisoners and myself. (Huh?)

 

I may not have the giddy widget displayed on the face of my blog (currently, I don’t have the time to worry about such things), but nevertheless, I’m committing myself to the obligation (one to be enjoyed) of making a post here on wordpress *atleast once weekly.  To further enable that end, the “post-a-day/ post-a-week” enthusiasts have provided daily topics.. sentences, one-liners.. that prompt the noble writer to think creatively, remember with detail, and foresee with insight.  I’m pretty excited about it! Mainly because, while scrolling down the page (thought it curious, but wasn’t entirely sold on the idea yet), I saw that one of the “nudgers” read:

“Describe the strangest thing that ever happened to you on a bus.”

..and the memory it recalled, I felt an immediate sense of urgency to communicate and share.

So, at random, let me tell you about the WEIRDEST thing that has ever happened to me while I was traveling on a (Greyhound) bus.

First of all, it was a long-distance commute.  It wasn’t twenty minutes from the city of Hoover to 23rd Avenue South downtown.  I was traveling from Birmingham, Alabama (about 4 years ago – I was fifteen at the time) to sunny, central Florida.  It was a 10 hour drive.. and a 16 hour bus ride (you know.. the stops you sigh at, the breaks you don’t really need and the layovers that make it all last longer).   

Secondly, I was going on the first of my twice-annual trips to visit my best friends, Melissa and David (Melissa.. the best friend of eight years whom you’ve recently heard deserted me.. yeah, her).  In retrospect, it’s funny; during those eight years, I was always the one who made the effort — who saved up all of her cashier money to buy plane tickets, bus passes and (later, when I was “old enough,”) gas money.  I always left my family and stayed with hers.. I always had to pack my stuff so I could store it haphazardly somewhere in her room.  I always had to endure those 16-hour-long, smelly, dark, creepy-weird bus rides..

and while I got to know her side of the family most intimately, she scarcely knew two facts about mine.

Regardless, continuing..

My mom and I had stayed up the night before – all night.  I can remember eating a bunch of crappy junk food and watching some weird, petrifying children’s program around 2 am where a funny-looking baby creature whaled “booobahhhh.”  The psychedelic trauma has altered me as a person.  It was always my theory that, were one to deprive themself of sleep for a long period of time before traveling arrangements were carried out, they would be able to “sleep through” the boring travel time.  Sierra and I tested this out and..  I was wrong.  The 16 hour bus ride absolutely SUCKED, starting early that morning.

We left the house around 2:30 am, as the bus was scheduled to leave around 3:30 or so.. I can’t quite remember.  We drove down the long, obscure, absolutely deserted innerstate until we reached the long-awaited for exit.  After making it past the one-way streets, shattered windows and decaying buildings, we once again found the bus station (this wasn’t my first bus ride — it was one of many.  Periods of time, however, intervened between trips, so the exact location of the bus station was easily forgotten by the two of us.  Let it also be noted that Sierra always had me drive to the bus station; driving downtown terrified her, and driving at night was always something she sought to avoid).  We parked the car, lugged my guitar and singular duffle bag into the staging area and picked up my pre-purchased ticket from the attendant on duty.  Then, we waited.

Waiting always sucked.. the people around you are weird and creepy, the lighting is dim, it feels unnatural – to be so awake, lively and purposeful when it’s so dark and early.. it’s just awful.  Everything seems to take weeks and when the time for boarding does finally come, it feels like you should already be where you’re headed to.

I grabbed Charlie (my guitar) with one hand and let the weight of the duffle bag hang off my other arm.  “I love you sweetie,” Sierra would say.  “I’m going to miss you so much!.. make sure you don’t miss your second bus and please do call me during your layover — and please make sure that you’re kind, thoughtful and helpful when you’re staying at Barbara’s.  Go over to Grammy’s some days and spend time there and make sure-”

“Okay mom, I love you too,” I’d assure her.  “I will call you, it’s all good.”

And then, we would part.  I would cry on the bus – I always missed my mom – but she never knew.  Quickly thereafter, however, I became excited.  Finally!  After six months I get to see Melissa again!  It was always the highlight of my year and the very joy of my life, spending time with my best friend.  No other person was as close, dear or valuable to me (aside from my mother), other than Melissa.  She was my confidant, counselor, partner-in-crime, comedian, and biggest fan.  Anyways.

The ride was long.. and very EVENTFUL.

Here is where the “Oh my goodness it was soooo weird” nudger finds it’s accomplishment.   The setting has been established – you’re prepared. 

Well..

During the long ride of drudgery, somewhere along the way, I fell asleep.  Upon waking, a group of prisoners were staring at me, and smiling.

Yeah.. they were sitting in front of me, their heads turned – facing me – and they were smiling.  Upon seeing me stir, they shifted in their seats and removed their gaze.. but I knew where it had been and I was totally freaked.

“Why were the prisoners staring at me? and WHY are there prisoners on the BUS??”

I was horrified.  But, it was also an interesting occurence.. and one I planned on making memorable.  (Of a certainty, I knew they were prisoners, simply by virtue of their shaved heads and identical orange garb). 

After a period of silence between the two parties – the prisoners and myself – a gutsy inmate had the courage and audacity to remove himself from his seat (I appreciated the distance) and to place himself DIRECTLY beside me, arms almost touching (I didn’t approve of this, but didn’t reprove or deny him for fear of being hurt, molested, murdered, etc).  He began some small talk, to which I replied in Christian accents.  It turned him off immediately (this made me glad), and he soon picked himself up and found another seat – perhaps his first one.  (Praise God! The sword of the spirit indeed.)  This wasn’t the end, however; the flirty, mach0-man inspired some of the rest (his contemporaries) to present themselves to me — as dashing, marvelous, bad-boys of rock and roll.  Huh?

A group sitting behind me somehow caught my attention — I can’t remember if it was a cough, a question, or a laugh.  Regardless, the self-proclaimed leader of the pack began speaking.

“Yeah.. we’re a traveling rock band,” he began.

“..really?” I quieried in sudden amazement

At this time, you must understand that I was an amateur musician – a hopeful, floating in the clouds, dreaming of stages and lights and crowds and microphpones, idiot.  And so!, this being a bad-boy rock band, I was very amazed, full of admiration and ready to hear more!

“Tell me about your band!” I insisted.

It came out, eventually, that they weren’t really a rock band.  He explained that they had just gotten out of prison, at midnight, and were headed home.  One of them asked if I had a phone he could borrow.

Immediately, the workings of my silent thought-processor:

He’s a criminal, so he might steal my phone.. I should tell him I’m running out of minutes and spare mother the money.  Wait– he’s a criminal! He might know I have a phone with lots of minutes and kill me! Or, he might believe I don’t have the minutes and be angry that I don’t have them and kill me!  What do I do!

 

“Oh sure!  Use it as long as you’d like,” I smiled.

He grasped the phone and began making his phone calls. 

 Once he had dialed the number to every individual, I believed, whose number he had memorized, he handed the phone back to me.  I was pleasantly surprised, but didn’t let it show.  Then, of course, another jailbreaker requested the device.  Slowly, my phone made it’s way through who knows HOW many hands.. (and no, I hadn’t brought germ-x with me.  Now here, I am not implying that prisoners are any more germy than non-prisoners.. but come on; look at how much breathing and touching and lips and sweat my phone met with!  that bus wasn’t pumping sixty-degree air). 

But all that matters, is that I did get my phone back and they were all able to contact the individuals they needed or wanted to.  It was a service that I felt proud and glad to offer. 

The trip ended — some of the prisoners got off before my stop, others were still sitting on the bus when I finally jumped out of my seat, grabbed my belongings and headed out.  We exchanged smiles (I even hugged two of them) and said our goodbyes.. wished peace, blessings and prosperity to one another.

I descended the steps, listened to the engine carry the prisoners (and other travelers) away, and turned my eyes to the gas station.  Was the purple van there yet?

 

No; Melissa and her family hadn’t yet arrived.. (they had a knack for being late to everything), but when they did, they heard all of my (briefer than this) narrative in shock-horror (Melissa was very sheltered — a homeschooled Christian kid.  My story was about as thrilling and monumental as the account given of Germany, in 1941, in her history book). 

I will stop here – no need to recount the details of the trip (which I don’t remember clearly, as all the trips and visits of eight years have sort of meshed together in a pleasant but indistinctive mass), as that was not the focal point of the story.  But yes.  That was the most interesting experience I’ve ever had on the bus.  Well — there was that one time when the guy with scar marks (and dressed in all black) sat next to me and discussed his future plans to have fifty children and to either torture, sacrifice or train them to be evil world dictators.. (the which I tolerated the entire ride, gave a religious book to and let lean his head on my shoulder for weariness).  Different trip.  That was weird, too.. but not quite as strange.  I might have been sixteen then.

Really, come to think of it, I’ve had lots of creepy-weird encounters on the bus.. but, today, I wanted to share the story of the prisoners with you all.  I digress.

****

Presently, March 24th 2011, here’s what’s new:

The nominating committee, of which I am a part, is wrapping up their work of selecting officers for all church positions for this upcoming year.  We’re at the stage of making phone calls.. I’ve been only semi-successful, as, this being my first year on the committee, I’ve discovered that people don’t always answer their phones – and some people never answer their phones.

Christopher is still working full-time at Panera and, might I say, he is kicking butt.  His store is #1 for catering in the entire state of Alabama.. and that’s not my opinion; that’s based off of sales reports.  Every other store — doing half or not even the business — has a catering coordinator and atleast one (or multiple) assistants.  He’s flying solo and rocking it.  I’m very proud of him.  Additionally, let it be mentioned that he is the sweetest man in the whole entire world!  Chris is always stopping by my work after he’s finished working, and he’s always bringing me surprises.. cookies, my favorite smoothie, and – best of all – his gorgeous smile, and his heart-warming presence.

I planned on starting school this August, and in the process of getting everything ready, I’ve encountered some problems with college admission – not regarding residency (what I had expected to fret over).  No.. the high school I graduated with (an online program) is, I have been enlightened, nationally accredited — not regionally accredited.  And, the college I have planned on attending (due to it’s location and economic affordability) ONLY accepts regionally accredited degrees (ah, the paradox!).  So, as there were no other options, I went down to the school yesterday, paid my fifty dollars and have been scheduled to take the 7 and 1/2 hour GED test on April 19th.  Got a 600 page study guide at the library afew days ago and bought some index cards at Walmart last night.. I’ve never used the index card study method before, but, as you can probably tell – even in the very shortness of this blog – I’m an impulsive, vacillating, unsettled person who delights herself in trying new things.

So, I hope I pass.  We’ll see. 

I stopped by a thrift store in Hoover yesterday.  It’s eight weeks from closing, and the owner was very nice;  I’m pretty positive the discount she gave me, on the two purses and clay-metallic piano figurine I bought, was more than necessary. 

It’s Thursday – and what Chris said weeks ago is resounding in my ears, coming, again, to my mind,  and causing me, once more, to smile..
“Have a great day, Rose – and make sure that you smile.. because you’re the best thing ever, and it’s almost Friday.”

I’m loving my job, I am daily being taught, by my puppy, to have patience, I’m crazy about my husband, Christopher, and –

I’m actually, officially going to visit my family in Florida this June.

Life can’t seem to decide whether she wants to hate or adore me,

support or oppose me,

beautify, or destroy me..

Aun Aqui