The Lib (#128)

I have a paper due tonight, so I decided to come to the Lib (aka the library) to get some serious work done. Unfortunately, since I’ve been here things have not gone exactly as planned.

When I first arrived I settled into my normal table in the back, and everything seemed normal. There were a few more kids than usual in the adjacent play area, but I like a little background noise when I work so this didn’t bother me. Plus, listening to little kids fight over the blue car is always a nice distraction when I need a 30 second break from the grad school world. However, I quickly noticed more and more children showing up and a library employee sit down in a chair. The kids ran over to make a circle around her, and I thought to myself “damn, I guess she’s gonna read them a story or something that’s kinda annoying.” Folks, she did not read them a story…it was so much worse.

Apparently, today was some type of weekly program where they blast children’s song and kiddos scream along. I swear that I have never heard a louder or longer rendition of Wheels on the Bus, it was endless. This screaming/singing lasted at least a half hour, but the kids were so hyped up they didn’t really quiet down again for a long time. But hey, I guess that’s what I get for choosing to study in a public library.

The children’s section finally settled down enough for me to get back to work, and just as I was getting back into the groove of banging out some good pages on this essay, a cute old man who works at the library came up to me and says, “excuse me.” Since my peanut butter crackers and coffee cup were blatantly breaking the no food/drink rule, I figured that was what he was going to say. Surprisingly, he asked me where I bought my sweater. I smiled and told him Salvation Army, and I thought that was the end of our conversation, but Library Poppop had other ideas. He proceeds to sit down at the table I was working at and ask me a series of rapid fire questions: What are you working on, where do you go to school, what classes do you take, what is your paper about, do you like working at the library, do you like reading, are you going to write a book one day? The questions went on and on, and while I usually am so ready to talk all day with cute old people, I still had 2000 words left to write and a deadline that was rapidly approaching.

Eventually, Library Poppop decided to go back to whatever job he was supposed to be doing and I could get on with my paper. I was able to finish in time, and I think my final product was pretty decent but I will consider this a lesson learned. Do not go to the Lib under the false assumption that you will be met with a quiet and interrupted work space, Wheels On the Bus and Library Poppop are always lurking where you least expect them.

My Life Is Ridiculous (#111)

Okay so as everyone who has spent more than an hour with me knows, my life is pretty ridiculous. It is often so ridiculous that even my closest friends and family still can’t believe that something happened, because even the most mundane, ordinary things that so many people do somehow turn into hilarious disasters. My best friend Chaney always says that God smiles on, and I oftentimes luck out in some extraordinary ways, but I feel like honestly its just him helping me out since there are so many other times where my life is total absurdity and He’s probably up there cracking up like it’s a juicy episode of a reality TV show.

In trying to explain this ridiculousness to people, I have a couple go-to anecdotes. My pants-ripping while volunteering with the nuns in India? Classic. However, this examples usually tend to lean more towards the spectacular, and in order to truly help people understand the constant practical joke that is my life I’ve decided that it’s time to share a more low-key, yet still ridiculous story…

Pretty recently my manager asked me to run over to Wawa and buy him a pack of cigarettes since I got cut from work early. Now, this dude helps me out alot at work, so of course I wanted to help him out even though I’ve never bought cigarettes in my entire life and could already feel myself having some anxiety about it. But, despite this anxiety, I asked myself the same question I always do, “how bad can it be?”, and headed off to Wawa. I guess I should mention that my manager is probably in his 40s, so it’s not like I was buying them for some underage kid. This will come up later.

My plan upon arriving at Wawa was to just walk-up to the checkout counter and ask for the cigs, because I had just had a talk with myself that day about needing to cut back on my spending of useless things (i.e. multiple soft pretzels).  However, once I was standing in the store panic set in. What do I say when I order cigs? Will they know I’m not ordering them for myself? Is “ordering” even the right terminology?! Obviously, these are the types of questions that required me to pace around the store pretending the read the labels on Tastykakes and protein shakes while I figured out the exact script of what I was going to say. During one of my laps, I was close enough to the cash register to hear someone else order cigarettes and I listened carefully to take note of exactly how they said it. This was the final push I needed and I made my approach.

As I was waiting in line for the nice cashier who had already sold the other guy cigarettes, someone opened up the line on the other side and called us over. Now, this is something that’s always annoyed me because clearly I can see that the other line is shorter, so if I chose to go the other person than they probably have a better vibe or something. But on this night the young kid was clearly beckoning me over pretty aggressively so I decided to give him a chance. I walked over there, and it seemed like he must still be in training or something, because standing right behind him was a man in a black polo with a name tag that said “manager.” So that wasn’t a good sign. I had to trudge along regardless, so I spat out my carefully rehearsed “can I have a pack of Newport 100s please” and crossed my fingers that I said the right name and looked like someone who would buy a pack of Newport 100s.

Unfortunately, the kid working must have been VERY new, because he just kinda turned and looked at all the cigarettes on the wall and then turned back to me with his own panicked look. The manager training him steps in to be helpful and points out that when you don’t know where a specific brand of cigarette is its always a good idea to ask the customer what it looks like. Alright, like I can see how that would be helpful except for the fact that I have no idea what the pack looks like and I’m probably about to get arrested for buying and grown man cigarettes. That’s how that works, right? I have a vague memory of seeing green when my manager was smoking so I gesture at a super general spot on the wall and say something like “it’s that green one there.” The boy still looks concerned and asks me to clarifying which one at which point my only option is to lie and say that my glasses aren’t on so I can’t really see but that they’re usually somewhere in the middle. Naturally.

The manager is clearly starting to get a little suspicious and he not only reminds the kid to ID me but then ALSO makes one of those jokes-thats-really-a-serious-question comments and says “You sure these are for you right?” Obviously we have now officaily reached DEFCON 1 and I am seconds away from just straight up running out the door, but the kid-in-training comes back just in time with the Newport 100s (which are in fact green, hallelujah) so I just laugh nervously at the managers comment, pay for them, and hustle out the door. As I get into my car, I look back and make eye contact with the manger who is now STANDING IN THE WINDOW WATCHING ME. I guess he wanted to make sure I wasn’t meeting up with any shady teens in the parking lot or passing them off to someone in the car. Basically, I almost got arrested in Wawa for buying cigs for my 40-something manager.

Now, some of you may be thinking that this story really isn’t that ridiculous, and I agree that compared to so many of my other stories it’s pretty tame. But that’s the point. You see, so many of my co-workers have also ran to Wawa to buy cigarettes for our manager and absolutely nothing out of the ordinary occurred. And yet, the one time I go of course someone is being trained who doesn’t know where the cigarettes are and I end up looking as suspicious as possible. This is the true level of a ridiculous life: not in the crazy stories of me choking on a fish bone or having to eat an eye ball in third world countries, but the everyday tasks that so many other people undertake with zero problems that turn into a comedy sketch when I do them.

Moral of the story, my life is absurd so stay tuned for more ridiculousness over the next year.

Back To School (#79)

Whether I’m 5 or 23, the first day of school has also inspired the same reaction: high levels of excitement mixed with a high level of anxiety with a dash each of procrastination and stress.

On the first day of second grade, I distinctly remember walking down the hallway and having to look to figure out which classroom door had an apple with your name on it. This was how we figured out what class we were in each year, so I knew the drill. But this particular year I had a hard time locating my apple. Little 8 year old me started to panic. Did they forget about me? Am I at the right doors? Does this mean I’m still in first grade?! Luckily, my teacher Ms. Panfile was waiting right next to the door to show me where I was suppossed to go.

Starting grad school at a new university feels a lot like looking for your apple, except there are no Ms. Panfile’s to guide you. Instead, you’re sharing the hallways with upperclassmen who know exactly where each class on their schedule is. They are totally ambivalent to you and your struggle, even as you take your fourth lap around the floor desperate to find 316. Even the freshman got to move in a week ago and participate in orientation and a whole line-up of events to make them feel more comfortable. Now, they move in giant clumps of 10-15 and herd the rest of us off the sidewalk to avoid being trampled.

After being out of school for a year, I feel like my brain has forgotten some of the rougher details and romanticized the whole thing. I forgot what it was like to have a 10+ minute walk across campus in the rain and how sometimes you can forget where you parked your car amongst a giant lot of other cars. I forgot how exhausting it is to start your day at 6:00am and not get home until almost 11:00pm. And the stress! How could I forget about the stress? As I was transcribing all my due dates into my brand new planner, I could actually feel my blood pressure rising a bit. Today was only my second day and I’m pretty sure I’m already behind somehow.

But going back to school hasn’t been all bad. Just as I was about to hit full panic mood entering my first class, I noticed a familiar face from DeSales and I’ve never been so happy to see an acquaintance in my entire life. I also re-learned how to eat an entire meal in less than ten minutes, which is a skill I’ve been meaning to practice.

In all serious though, and despite the many hours of anxiety I’ve experienced in the past 48 hours, there is nothing quite so magical for me as a first day of school. Aside from my 4 years in undergrad when I was dutifully partying, the night before school starts has been a night when I stayed up way too late because the excitement and anticipation kept my mind whirling. And yes, these are the moments when I realize just how much of a nerd I am, but I will probably never stop being excited about the possibilities that await me in the classroom.

On that note, it’s time for this exhausted scholar to go to bed and say a prayer that my 5:30 alarm will actually wake me up. And Ms. Panfile, if you’re reading this somehow and are free next Tuesday, I never did find room 316.

As Easy As Riding A Bike (#74)

As a human, I think that I have slightly more than the average number of pet peeves. First and foremost, watching TV in the dark, I can’t stand it. Tied for second are people who crack their bones too much and the sound windshield wipers make when there’s not enough rain. Honestly, the list could go on and on…but pretty high up there is that stupid little phrase “its as easy as riding a bike.”

As someone who has been unable to ride a bike for 23 years, I feel like this phrase is kinda my arch nemesis. First of all, whoever started saying it is stupid because there are a million things that are easier than balancing on two thin wheels and propelling yourself forward. Breathing, walking, eating a whole box of Cheez-Itz. Lots of things. Once I asked someone why they were buying their three-year-old a bike because it seemed kinda young and their exact response was “you have to teach them before they know to be afraid of it.” Um, WHAT?! I feel like as a species if it’s in our insticnt to be afraid of something we should probably listen to that idk not a scientist or anything, but just a thought.

It’s also very clear to me that riding a bike is not as easy as everyone says it is, because I have tried multiple times to learn. When I was a kid, Pops dutifully took me out to vacated parking lots near by to try and coax me into it. I was cool with it until the training wheels came off, and after that something just never clicked. Later in middle school a few of my friends and their embarassinhly young little siblings decided to try and teach me. It was going alright for awhile until I took a turn to wide, hit a car, flipped off the bike onto the hood, and set the alarm off. The last time I tried was Senior year of high school. My friend Chaney had taught hundreds of kids how to swim, so we figured she would be a good candidate to teach me after our friend Trish failed the summer before. Within thiry minutes, Chaney was alternating between being supremely frustrated and cracking up at how bad I was.

Not being able to ride a bike is one of those things that comes up more than you may think. At least every couples weeks or so it comes up in conversation and everything gasps in shock as if I just revealed I was born on Neptune. Once when I was trying to learn how to swim (another pathetic post for a different time) my instructor, aka Chaney again, goes “just kick your legs like you’re riding a bike. Mmmkay, sure Chain I’ll get right on that. During our first meeting for my service trip in South Africa, my advisor told a story about how they had gone on a bike tour the year before, and the slowest bike rider was at risk of getting attacked my monkeys, so that was terrifying. Even this morning, on our nice family trip to OCMD, I was at risk of being left behind alone because the whole crew was going on a bike ride. Luckily, Pops volunteered to rent a tandem bike with me, which for some reason I am able to ride. i’m sure we looked completely ridiculous but at least I was able to participate.

Alright folks…I feel as though I have made a decently compelling argument about why riding a bike is anything but easy, and so I hope that the next time you are tempted to use that assanine phrase you stop and consider this post before you do. And on that note, it’s time for me to go take a bath because my legs are pretty sore from that long riide today.

“You’re a liar and you’re a liar…but the food is good” (#61)

For the past couple days, Grandma has been on a rampage. I don’t know if it’s because of the new medicine she’s on or because Mum and I have been spending more time in the kitchen which means less with her. Regardless of the reason, she’s been ruthless.

On Tuesday, it was Mum who sinned by “dragging the baby away” when she asked me to help her cook dinner. Last night, I left the room without telling her that I was going to the kitchen, and she declared that I hate her and that no one wants her here. We never know how long these bad moods are gonna last, but usually they can leave as quickly as they come.

Tonight, everything seemed good as we sat down to dinner. We set the table together and she was happy to fold everyone’s napkins. I put down a bowl of Pasta Fagioli in front of her and it got that all-important seal of approval: “oooh, that looks good!” But the good mood was not to last.

Within ten minutes of sitting down, Pops made the mistake of asking her how the food was. She immediately gave him a dirty look that would have made Marlon Brando proud  and accused him of talking to everyone else but her. Somehow, this escalated into her declaring that she wasn’t wearing his clothes, because she doesn’t even want to wear her own clothes. Next, she declared that everyone was a liar and went around the circle pointing, “you’re a liar, and you’re a liar.” Luckily, I seem to have missed this bullet. After going around the table, she pointed at me and goes “except that one, she’s not a liar.” It was slightly unclear if she was talking about me or the rabbit, but I’m gonna take the W on that one.

Throughout this rant I was doing my hardest not to laugh. Even though it is definitely comical, Grandma was clearly getting frustrated so I was trying to take it seriously. But then she delivered her final verdict and I couldn’t contain myself. After going on and on about how everyone’s a liar and keeping secrets, she pushed her plate away grumpily and declared “but the food is good so I’m happy.”

At this, I could no longer hold my laughter in and Gram started laughing too, because she knew she had said something funny. Surprised at her own comment, she seemed to snap out of whatever funk she had been in and is now cheerfully helping Pops with the dishes. At 91, it’s impossible to fault her these little tiffs. In fact, at 23 I just threw a similar tantrum for no apparent reason a few days ago, so really who I am to judge?

One thing is for sure though, living with Grandma continually proves to be an unexpected adventure.

Adult In Training (#58)

Being in your early twenties is a weird age because technically you’re and adult and have all the legal rights that come with being an adult, but when it comes to the practical knowledge of adulting, you’re basically stuck. Obviously, some people are better at it than others, which just adds to the weirdness. Currently, I have a 23-year-old who successfully got a mortgage and bought a house, and a friend who works for minimum wage at their high school job. I definitely lean more towards the latter.

Every once in awhile, my lack of knowledge of the adult world becomes exceptionally apparent. For example, I made myself tuna salad for lunch today and it took nearly and hour and a half because I have zero experience in the kitchen, to the point where chopping an onion is an extremely daunting task.

Usually, if I have to do something particularly responsible or adulty I’ll recruit someone who has a higher adult score than I do to help me out, but sometimes these people are too busy investing in stocks or working their full time jobs to help. In these cases, I turn to whoever is close-by and available. This happened last night when I had an appointment to look at a possible house to rent, and my friend Chris volunteered to go with me so that I didn’t have to go alone.

Now, Chris is a great guy in so many ways. He’s the first person I turn to whenever I need to vent about somethings or get a dumb matching tattoo or talk strategy about one of our favorite reality competition shows. However, he’s not that much further along on the adulting front than I am. The best example I have is that once the two of us sat at Aston Diner for almost two hours because the waitress forgot about us and we were both too afraid to ask for the check. So yeah, we’re both pretty useless sometimes.

Chris and I set off last night full of optimism and slight anxiety. Luckily, I knew exactly where the house was since my best friend grew up down the street, so we had no trouble finding the place. I’m all about the “fake it ’till you make it” life so as soon as we parked I confidently hopped out of the car and strolled up to the front door. On the way, Chris was remarking about how it looked like there were toys in the window and how you’d think they would clean it up a little bit more when it’s on the market. At this point, if you’re a certified Adult you’ve probably already realized what me and Chris haven’t…

We knock on the door and wait for Dan, the real estate agent to open the door. On the phone, Dan had mentioned that he had been running errands all day so he was just wearing shorts and a t-shirt rather than is normal real estate garb. No biggie, at least we would know what to expect. When the door opened, Dressed-Down-Dan was no where to be found and instead a woman who looked to be at least 8-months pregnant stood there looking very confused while a small child played on the floor behind her. Still unsure of real estate protocol, I forged ahead and opened with “Hi, we’re here to look at the house.”

I know, I know…what is wrong with me? I think some part of me just assumed it had to be the right house, because if two strangers were on my doorstep and I wasn’t expecting anyone there is 0% chance that I am ever opening that door. Also, you know that part of the brain that steps in sometimes when you undergo intense pain? Like when athletes break something but can’t feel it because of the adrenaline or whatever. I think the adrenaline of actually knocking on someone’s door was flowing so strong I wasn’t thinking clearly or able to process the intense anxiety accidentally knocking on the wrong door would give me.

As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, this nice pregnant mom was not in fact trying to rent her house out, but she did helpfully point us in the right direction and was super chill about the mix up. After we saw the actual house that was up for rent, we realized just how dumb we had actually been. For one thing, there was a “for sale” sign prominently placed in the front yard, as there ALWAYS is when a house is for sale to make sure that potential buyers do not go to the wrong home. In addition, the front door was wide open and Dressed-Down-Down was clearly visible waiting to let us in. Plus, there were no toys in the front yard or visible through the windows, since the house was empty like the realtor said it would be. So, all in all our adulting average definitely went down a little last night, but at least we will be much more aware of these things next time we go house hunting.

Unfortunately, learning as you go seems like the only way to truly become a certified Adult, no matter how slow and painful the process is. For now, it seems that Chris and I are just destined to continue adding to the chronicles of being an Adult in Training.

I Might Be A Cat (#52)

After spending the day in careful observation, I’ve come to the conclusion that I may in fact be a cat. Two of Trish’s new roommates are of the furry feline variety and since all the humans had to go to work today, I had plenty of time to hangout with them.

First, I noticed that the cats and I are both the most energetic early in the morning. Today, I woke up at 6:30 for no reason and was too awake to go back to bed. However, around 10:30 that energy starts to wear off and we’re ready to settle into the first of many naps. There was a little bit of a power struggle to see who was gonna get the sunny spot on the bed, but we managed to work it out. Around 11:15, we hear a noise on the stairs so we go and investigate. Realizing it’s just another roommate, we quickly say hello, grab a snack and head back to bed. This trend basically continued until the humans came home.

There are lots of other things I noticed we have in common as well. Both the cats enjoy being pet and cuddled, but once they are over that they swat your hand away. This is a strategy that I have definitely used before. Also, we both possess remarkable abilities to be able to fall asleep anywhere and everywhere, regardless of what is going on around us. I appreciate that there is a distinct difference in their personalities when it is playtime versus when it is time to relax, a dichotomy that is also evident in my personality. Similiarly, cats have no qualms about expressing their feelings. When they’re content, the purr. They meow when concerned, and find ways to make it painfully clear when they are displeased. Both these cats and I prefer to be at home where we’re comfortable, but don’t mind an outdoor adventure every once in awhile. And finally, though I could probably think of infinitely more similarities, we both get unnaturally distracted by laser pointers.

As you can plainly see based on the evidence above, there is a very high possibility that my whole life has been a lie and that I am actually a cat. Mum and Pops, if you’re reading this I think it’s time we had a chat…

Airplane Etiquette (#46)

Today I flew from Philly to Madison, Wisconsin and I noticed some things on the flight that I feel like we need to discuss. First of all, I was flying Frontier and my ticket cost less than $50 bucks, so I was not expecting much. With Frontier you’re literally just paying for a place to put your butt, and literally anything else imaginable is extra. This is what I expected and exactly what was delivered, so I have no problems with the airline. My problems stem from my fellow passengers on this flight.

I don’t know what it is about me, or what weird enjoyment the universe gets from it, but whenever I fly alone I ALWAYS end up sitting next to people on planes who like to chat. During study abroad, I missed a 4:30pm flight in Dublin, had to stay up all night at the airport, finally caught a 6:30pm flight, and the guy next to me noticed the cross I was wearing and tried to start a deep, philosophical, religious discussion/debate. SIR. It is 6:30 in the morning, no one wants to have or hear a religious debate right now.

Today, there was a guy who looked about my age stationed next to me. We started off on the wrong foot because he was late to board, so I had my heart set on sliding over to his unoccupied window seat. Nope, he was literally the very last person to board. After sitting down he stuck his hand out to introduce himself, which seemed very unnecessary. Just a polite smile would have sufficed really. I could tell he was gonna be a talker so I quickly put headphones in, in the hopes of discouraging any conversation. John-from-Milwaukee did not get the hint.

The moment I took my headphones off, whether to read a book, to untangle the cord, or even just because one ear bud fell off, John was ready with some new tidbit of small talk. It’s like he was staking out a moment of weakness to try and force me to be pleasant. I realize that this is not really that awful of a thing, and maybe other people might have enjoyed having someone to talk to. Mum is a pro at making friends on planes, and is always having full conversations with the people around her. John had other sins, too.

After making the whole row stand up to let him in because he was late, as soon as we were done taking off he decided he had to go to the bathroom. The seat belt sign was literally still on and we were those people that they had to make a special announcement for telling us to remain seated. As Gram would say, oofa! After he returned from the bathroom, I thought maybe our troubles were behind us. Lo and behold, John settled into his seat and chose a position with the worst manspreading I have ever seen. I probably could have sat in between his legs without touching either one, that’s how far they were spread out. And he hogged both armrests, even when I managed to squeeze onto one he just put his arm right on top of mine. That’s not how that works.

To be fair, John–from-Milwaukee is probably a really nice guy who was just trying to be polite and friendly. It seemed like he almost missed the flight, so he probably didn’t have time to stop at the bathroom before boarding. John, if for whatever unbelievable reason you are reading this right now, I’m sorry sitting next to you wasn’t really that bad, I just need to milk it for comedic effect.

The manspreading is real though dude, you gotta work on that. You just gotta.

Coffee Shop Chats (#39)

Okay so at this point I feel like I’ve thoroughly expressed my thoughts about people who talk to other people they don’t know in public places. In summary, I don’t like it. It’s not that I’m completely anti-social or anything, it’s just that I have an intense aversion to the type of small talk that is usually shared during these conversations. Making polite conversation is sometimes physically painful for me, although there’s no way to confirm this medically I’m pretty sure the vein in my forehead throbs a little bit and that can’t be healthy.

I almost wish that everyone was vastly inappropriate and dove right into the TMI topics. Like if a random person came up to be while I was filling my gas and started talking to me about how their sister’s husband used to be a rodeo clown, I would be so down for that conversation. Or if someone noticed I was wearing light blue and was like ah yes I recognize that shade of blue from the time I swam with sharks while I was deployed on a secret mission in Guam. My point is, people are awesome and so are their stories, but small talk is the worst.

Today I was at Starbucks for a couple hours to get my standard Mango Black Tea Lemonade (aggressive name aside, it’s delicious you should go try it) and I was doing my standard eavesdropping on all the tables around me. At the Starbucks in Media, it’s not that hard to do because the tables are so close together at one point the guy next to me just totally had his notes on my table and didn’t even realize it.  As I was eavesdropping, I kept getting very distracted by this man who was meeting with high school students and their parents to discuss strategies for applying to colleges. Like the complete and utter nerd I am, I was strangely enthralled by this talk of Common Apps and SAT’s and which schools look favorably on making the effort to go visit.

I was so into this conversation that I kept smiling to myself when he made a joke, and nodding along when I agreed with a point he made. Finally, when he made a spot-on crack about Lehigh, the school right next to mine, I LOL’ed. Like legitimately laughed out loud at a joke made in a conversation I’m supposed to be politely ignoring. Naturally the whole table turned to look at me and I felt it necessary to explain that I went to school right nearby Lehigh, and that yes the social scene does in fact suck if you’re not in Greek life. This then leads to College Counselor Man asking me about where I went, what I’m doing now, and basically all the standard questions you get asked at your big family Christmas party. In other words, I had broken my biggest cardinal rule of not talking to strangers and was now engaged in the dreaded small talk.

The worst part about small talk with strangers is that there is no freaking way to end the conversation that is not incredibly awkward. If you say “nice to meet you,” they might through in a “you too, I’m Mark by the way,” and the conversation starts all over again. Just saying goodbye seems slightly rude, especially when you’re not going anywhere. In high school, I was notorious for just walking away when I felt the conversation was over but it’s impossible to employ that strategy when you’re waiting in line for something or stuck in a small corner table at Starbucks. The best equivalent I could come up with was to just pick up my pen and pretend like I was writing something again. Granted, they could totally see my paper and that no words were actually being written, but it at least gave them the ability to resume their conversation that I’m sure the parents were paying good money to have.

After surviving this first ever incident of self-started small talk, I resumed my writing. At some point, the cute boy with the overflowing notes at the table next door packed up his bags and left. Soon after, a guy who was like late twenties early thirties and a kid in his early teen years took his place. I looked up long enough to notice that the guy had some cool dreads, and then quickly returned to my notebook because I was in the groove. After about a couple minutes, I felt like someone was staring at me so I look up and me and Mr. Dreads immediately make eye contact. He opens up his mouth to say something and I brace myself for whatever mundane thing he is about to say.

Instead, he goes “are you writing a book?”, which caught me off my guard. I was so surprised at his accuracy that without thinking I replied with “yeah, how’d you know?” and next thing you know he’s telling me about how he was struck by the fact that I was handwriting something instead of typing and how he doesn’t know anyone else who still does that. We chat about how writing things by hand makes the words seem more personal and easier to manipulate. He pulls out a black, leather-bound book that he’s been carrying around for months as he works on his next poetry project. We talk about what genres we like to write in and about how coffee shops are the easiest places to work, though we can’t explain why. He does throw in a “I”m Darius, by the way,” but since we were actually having a genuine conversation I almost didn’t mind having to shake his hand and introduce myself.

As the conversation was ending, he told me about this even that him and his friends host every month. It’s basically an open mic night for writers, who have the chance to get up and share something they’re working on and get some constructive criticism. He told me I should come, when/where it was, handed me his card with the address of the place, and then put his headphones on and dove into his own work. Basically, this was the ideal social interaction.

Because I’m me and terrified of everything outside my comfort zone, I’ll probably never go to Darius’s reading group, even though it sounds pretty cool. However, it’s nice to know that in this modern world of awkward encounters, good quality conversations can still exist between strangers and people can actually meet the old-fashioned way.

Coffee shops man…they bring it out of you.

A Wild Ride (#7)

Today is the day I knew was going to happen eventually. The day when I don’t have anything specific I want to write about, the day I am exhausted and just wanna crawl into bed and push this off until tomorrow. These are the days that I created this blog for, and then shared it so I had some public accountability.  I definitely imagined myself at least being able to get to the double digits though before this day hit. 6 posts down, 359 to go and I’m already having a thoroughly un-creative day.  But, because of this project, I gotta write something and I apologize because I don’t really have anything useful or particularly interesting to share. The best I can offer is just a small glimpse into the ridiculous series of events that make up my life, and hope that will be entertaining enough. Welcome to story time.

This morning I had to be at work at 8am. Yesterday, I worked a 14 hour shift so this morning I was dragging my feet a little getting out of bed. Just to clarify for those that don’t know, I work as a server so it’s not like I was running around an Emergency Room saving lives for 14 hours. I was literally just serving burgers and fries, so I really shouldn’t have been that tired. Also, to be fair, I’m basically a little bit late to work everyday, regardless of my schedule the day before. I read an article once that said that being perpetually late everywhere is really just a sign of an optimistic person, so I like to use that to justify my lateness a lot. Okay, we got off track here a little bit but the point of this paragraph is to establish that today, like every day, I was running a little bit late for work.

The majority of my drive to work is on a smallish, two lane road which basically just means if I get stuck behind a trash collector, or a school bus, or a Mommom driving to her doctor’s appointment, I’m screwed. Today I was stuck behind a man in a red Jeep who was actually driving at a pretty decent speed. I didn’t even register him until we got to the first red light and I saw his door start to open. However, the light quickly turned green so whatever he was going to do, he didn’t get the chance to. The next light we approached was just turning yellow as we came up to it, so Red Jeep Man (RJM, for short) took this opportunity to throw his car in park and head to the trunk to look for something. At this point I’m getting a little fired up, because there is no way RJM is going to be back in his car on time when the light turns green, and I’m already running late so I just don’t have time for this. RJM clearly doesn’t hear whatever curse words I’m muttering under my breath at him because he just keeps on digging through his trunk, clearly having a hard time finding whatever it is he’s looking for. Finally, the light turns green, I briefly tap the horn, RJM swears loud enough for me to hear, and gets back in his car clearly frustrated that he can’t find his sweater or phone charger or contact solution or whatever it is that could possibly be this important.

The next stop light we come up to is red only long enough for RJM to pop the trunk again before it changes and he has to start driving again.  At this point, I am already two minutes late for work but I have to admit I was pretty intrigued by this whole process. We finally make it onto a major road with enough lanes for me to pass, but I decided to stay behind him for one more red light because I felt I owed it to all the Nancy Drew books I read as a child to get to the bottom of this situation. As someone who drives this road every single day, I knew that the next light was a looooooong red, so I was pretty confident he was gonna finally be able to find this life-or-death item. RJM did not disappoint.

The minute the light turned red, RJM was out of the car and had his head buried in the trunk. Right when the opposing lights started to turn yellow and I thought I was gonna have to spend the rest of my life never knowing what this man was looking for, RJM tossed out a big “woohoo!” and pulled his prize out of the trunk. At the risk of sounding ridiculously cliche, you will never be able to guess what it was. In fact, try and guess. Go on, I’ll wait–

It was a freaking TURKEY. A full, grocery store turkey, wrapped up in that red net stuff it comes it. Maybe frozen, maybe freshly thawed, who knows? All I know is that my boy RJM had a whole turkey in his trunk and after stopping FOUR times to look for it, he simply picked it up, placed it in the front passenger seat, and continued on his way……. I have so many questions.

First of all, why was it so hard to locate a huge bird in the back of your car. Did Mary Poppins design your trunk? What else could’ve been back there that kept this 40lb bird from being found for a solid 5-10 minutes????? Secondly, WHY COULDN’T THE TURKEY HAVE STAYED IN THE TRUNK???? What could have possibly been the reason that you desperately needed that turkey riding shotgun with you? And, if there was some strange reason, why did that reason not occur to you before you started driving? I was so dumbfounded by what had transpired that now the person behind me was beeping as I was the one sitting in front of a green light.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I will ever learn the answers to these questions unless RJM is out there reading this somewhere, but what I do know is that God did me a solid today. I may have been late to work and stuck in a shitty section because of it, but I got an awesome reminder about how unpredictable, goofy, and entertaining life can be and that’s something I’m always willing to be late for.