Friday, July 29, 2011

Enormous hollow legs.

"Ahh, I'm so hungry, I'm just constantly hungry," I said earlier. 
"That's because of your enormous hollow legs," my brother, Sami said. 
Grandma Millie and my mom laughed, "her legs aren't enormous!" they said. I looked down at my legs poking out of my shorts. They looked wimpy to me, not all muscly like when I was in the field all the time.
"Yeah they are!" Sami said, "look at her calves! They're bigger than mine!" 
We compare our calves. I flex on my tiptoes.
"Damn!! Look at that muscle, yours is way longer than mine," Sami points out the muscle that extends below the other muscle, not knowing that that muscle is longer on women than men, so of course it's longer than his.
"That's because I'm a girl, and that muscle is longer on girls," I say. But Sami is still impressed at my enormous legs. 
I stand on the steps, watching my calves flex and un-flex, feeling my muscles. I don't think that's why I'm hungry, and my legs don't look enormous to me, but it's nice to appreciate my muscles anyway.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Imagined offering him an apricot.

There was a guy on the bus ride home just now, he smelled pretty bad. He sat in the very back, a few seats away from me.
"Dumb bitch. Stay outta my way," he said, "stay outta my business motherfucker, dumbass bitch."
He wasn't talking to me.
"Dumb bitch."
He wasn't talking to anyone I could see.
I tried to watch him without making eye contact.
The woman sitting next to me got up and moved towards the front of the bus. Another woman sitting directly in front of him continued to talk on her phone. I accidentally made eye contact.
"Motherfucker, standing in the road," he peeled an orange with a knife. I didn't see the knife, I just saw the cut orange peels accumulating on the floor between his feet.
I imagined him attacking me.
I imagined holding my feet out in front of me to protect myself.
I imagined offering him an apricot from the bag on my lap.
I imagined saying, "it sounds like you are pretty upset."
The woman sitting in front of him moved to the front of the bus.
For a couple of blocks I was the only one in the back of the bus with him.
I thought about the invisibility of being homeless. The loneliness of mental illness. I don't know if he was either of those things.
I watched two more guys get on the bus, sit down, cover their noses, look around, make faces to each other. They looked at me. I looked at the ceiling and pretended I wasn't concerned that they would think it was me that smelled.
I imagined inviting the guy over to my house to shower.
I imagined washing his clothes, lending him a bathrobe in the meantime.
I imagined him waiting outside my door, for my own safety's sake.
I imagined him getting angry at me when I imagined explaining why I wanted him to wait outside.
I moved to the front of the bus.

In the end it wasn't the smell, or the concern that he had a knife, or worrying that he might attack me. It was those other two guys thinking it might be me that smelled bad. I wanted to walk by them, I wanted them to smell me as I walked by so they would know.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dinosaur theft is a serious offense, worthy of hate.

"How are you?"
"I'm tired. I've been working a lot. But I'm mostly happy. How are you?"
"I'm good."
"Have I told you how I think you are such a wonderful person, and you are so funny and I just LOVE you?"
"I hate Jack."
"What? You don't hate Jack."
"Yes, I hate him a little."
"Se roba mis dinosaurios."
My niece is five and I just think she is such a wonderful person and so funny and I just LOVE her (and apparently I've said that before). We've been talking on the phone lately, which is better than eating candy. I had never heard her say she hates someone. But dinosaur theft is a serious offense. Especially when you love dinosaurs as much as Taiana does. However, I figure she doesn't really know what hate is. I see her in my head pulling up a chair to help my mom cook dinner, "I help?" she likes to ask. Hate seems like such an innocent emotion when I imagine it in this little person I love.

After hanging up the phone, I imagine what it might feel like to hate Jack. Jack the energetic boy who runs around non-stop. Taiana, normally very talkative and assertive, is passive around Jack. I imagined him taking her dinosaurs and telling her what to do and I imagine her silently feeling hate towards him.

This one time, years ago, I'd been having a lot of roommate trouble and was talking to my wise friend Randy about it all.
"I feel like I hate her," I told him.
"Well you do hate her," Randy said.
"No, but I don't actually hate her, I just feel like I hate her," I clarified.
"Well, that's what hate is, it's a feeling," Randy pointed out.
"But this is not permanent, it will pass," I pointed out back.
"Well that's what feelings are. They're temporary. You hate her."
Randy was right of course; I've carried that perspective on hate with me since then.

I'm not sure when it happens that so many women learn to be passive, but I know it happens. It's happening in my niece, and I almost don't recognize it because it's so shrouded in cuteness. Taiana and Jack are both such cute kids. And anyway, who am I to say a five year old girl can't feel hate for a boy that is her friend? I realize I just told my niece that she wasn't feeling what she said she was feeling. I hate when people do that to me. I hate feeling silenced, disempowered, unheard.

Suddenly I'm glad I'll be visiting in less than a week. This is an opportunity to help her learn something too many girls don't learn. After all, hate is just a temporary feeling (even if it is self-perpetuating). Silence can be temporary, too, but often isn't.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Los tiburones comen carne.

Sometimes there's just too much to fit into this heart of mine.

Of course, that's just a metaphor. Of course it all fits. My heart is not actually swelling like a balloon, crowding my lungs. It just feels that way.

Like when I listen to music and my eyes tear up partly because it moves me so much, partly because that's a big part of what I want to be doing with my time and I'm not doing it. Or like when there are problems with my family.

Talking to my niece on skype a couple days ago, everything she said brought tears to my eyes. "Jim is... lavando los platos. Grandma Millie is... tomando," she said. "Do you like the beach?" I asked her. "Si, la playa," she replied. "Do you like to surf, like Tio Sami?" I asked. "No, porque hay tiburones. Hay tiburones buenos y hay tiburones malos. Y los tiburones comen carne."

"That's true," I told her. Los tiburones comen carne. My eyes dripped into my keyboard.

A friend of mine just became an uncle this week. The baby was about two weeks late and when it was finally born, he said, "I did it! I'm an uncle!" We were supposed to work that day, important paperwork and feedback after instructing a course. My friend could not concentrate, all he could do was stare at the baby pictures that came in on his iphone. All I could do was remember my own niece and appreciate that sometimes love for others is more important than paperwork.

I don't like babies, generally. They remind me of newborn rats, pink and helpless. Or little aliens. They don't usually look cute to me. (Yeah, my biological clock must be digital, because it's certainly not broken, and it certainly doesn't tick.) Except when I met my niece suddenly my whole life made sense. That's why I dedicate so much of my time to trying to make the world better in whatever small way I can. That's why I work in outdoor education. That's why I try to be kind and compassionate to strangers. And to my family. For her. For all those little babies I guess. For all of us. Becoming a Tia was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Personally, I don't believe in good sharks and bad sharks. Though I do believe in sharks, and I do believe they eat meat. And like us, they are just making one decision at a time. Some good, some bad. The sharks don't swim around thinking about how causing unnecessary suffering is bad. But I do. And it feeds into almost everything I do. And my heart swells.

Sometimes there's just too much to fit into this heart of mine. But that's just a metaphor. Really it all fits, even if it does leak out my eyes.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Riding my bike.

Rode my bike home from work today for the first time. It took an hour. Hopefully my times improve. It's kind of impressive that riding the bus is only about 15 minutes faster than that. If I can improve my biking time to 45 minutes or less, then "the bus is faster" will no longer be my excuse for not riding my bike. That reduces my excuses to only
getting sick
feeling tired
rode my bike that morning and feel entitled not to this evening
rode my bike yesterday evening and feel entitled no to this morning
hating exercise
want to listen to This American Life on my ipod and I have to do it on the bus because it's not safe to have your ears plugged on your bike
flat tire
low tire pressure
was offered a ride
my feather earrings might get messed up in the wind
want to hitchhike
would rather walk because it's spring and on a bike I go too fast to see the flowers properly
too hot
don't care about climate change enough
my helmet is a little tight on my neck and I need to re-adjust the chin strap
have to carry my big backpack with me
have to carry my cello and my guitar with me
have to carry my acorn collection with me
my lunch is too heavy
carpal tunnel in my wrists is acting up
my gears need a tune up
don't want to increase my metabolism making me eat more making me spend more money on food
don't want to increase my health
don't want to breathe hard
don't want to sweat in my work clothes
don't want to carry my work clothes
don't want to take a shower at work
don't want to sweat in my biking clothes
don't want to take a shower at home
don't want to.

So I'll probably be riding my bike more now.