puppy jobs

The phrase "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" has been running thru my head a lot.

How about changing it to: "you can't make a smart dog with experience do dumb things it knows better not to"

I had my first day at a new job and quit the day after.  Nothing wrong with the job, I'm just not the spritely bouncy puppy I once was and I'm realizing I can't force myself to run and catch a stick that was thrown by someone....why did you throw it in the first place if you want it back so badly?  All that running for what?  Seems like a lot of wasted energy for nothing!

I see the flaws, redundancies, lack of order, cleanliness....I read between the lines of what the employees are saying or not saying to me as they complain to each other about working too many odd shifts and who's not working their fare share while they sip soup behind the counter and fake smile at customers...I memorize the layout in a glance and know it's built for scuffed knees and bludgeoned elbows and I sure as hell have a problem with being scolded by a 20 something that I put the cups in the wrong place when they don't have a clear place to begin with.

I ask questions silently in my head:
Why is the entire staff going back for their masters degrees all at once?
Why is there so much running with not so much doing?
Why are the plates kept 15 feet from the pastries?
WHY are customers not paying up front for services and not clearly clarified to that we do not accept credit cards until after they have eaten their meal?...and if they walk out without paying, it comes out of my pay check?

...for example...

So yes, I am no longer a puppy.  I'm a big bumbling old easy going golden retriever who needs breaks and water and food every 6 or so hours and pretty soon weekends off because I'm tired.   I don't like messes and negative tension and unnecessary movement, frustrations, angst or bitchiness.  I just want to do a good job and show love and be adored and make people happy and occasionally be told that I'm a good girl and be rewarded with a treat for a reasonable amount of effort.

Perhaps I should put that on my resume?!?



My day as an etude in orchestral percussion:

A solo bass drum with thick dampening pad sitting on head to avoid echo, cautiously thumping out the rhythm to a carousel waltz going in circles. 
- my ear pressed against my husbands heartbeat early in the morning

A slide whistle played on the other side of a wall, going up and down, up and down at a slow lazy speed nonstop for 40 seconds in a steady crescendo (20 seconds) and then decrescendo (20 seconds).  - A police siren driving down the street

Fast paced single strokes on a hi hat cymbal with a tambourine balanced on top of it, played in steady fast beats 60 in a row as fast as possible, pause for 30 seconds, then 300 harsh shrill attacks to the cymbal, 5 minute pause, 30 more surprise attacks for a minimalist steady tortured finale in fortissimo that Reich would be proud of. 
 - A jack hammer going off in the apartment next door

A kazoo being murmured into for 30 minutes played and passed off between 6 performers taking turns in random improvised progressions of their choosing, with interspersed 30 seconds of jazz and elevator muzac every 10 minutes between kazoo murmurs.
 - my ipad playing podcasts while I make the bed and wash dishes

Throughout all of these over the course of 4 hours, intersperse pianissimo rolls on assorted timpani with dampeners and orchestral ride cymbals with a pair of your softest timpani mallets
 - the sound of traffic going by on the next street over, mixed with planes passing over head


Getting away makes you want to stay

London England.  Melacca Malaysia, San Fransisco, Zanzibar, Istanbul, Valparaiso. Wherever we've traveled, we have always come to find that port cities are our favorite cities by far.  The people.  The food.  The easy transit in and out.  It's all built around movement and openness to the outside world...comings and goings and all the in betweens.  It makes some sense than that we'd settle in the biggest port city in the world.  The truly great thing about living here is how easy it is to leave it and with 3 regional airports and loads of nonstop flights, the world is literally our oyster!  Kayak is my new bed time story.

I have all kinds of travel on my brain (A big trip to Asia is in my future) and the trip coming up the soonest is a dreamy vacation getaway that we have wanted to go see for years but it's a little tough to get to and requires more than a weekend.  At last the stars of vacation time, finances, a cheaperish flight, weather and the need to get away have all aligned!

6 days in Southern Utah are happening shortly!  Hiking, spectacular rocks, eating large amounts of nuts and dried fruit and getting dusty....if we were birds, we'd be in heaven!

Day 1:
 - Moab/Arches National Park
Day 2:
 - Driving Scenic Byway 12 thru Torrey and Capital Reef National Park
Day 3:
 - Bryce Canyon
Day 4/5:
 - Zion National Park
Day 6:
 - Provo and head home

We have our hotels/hostels/cabins and VRBO all reserved.  Our flights are paid.  All we need now is our rental car reserved, a stop at our local nut shop for a huge purchase of dried goodies, our new hiking boots to arrive in the mail from Sierra Trading Post and to actually hop on the plane and go!

This is a trip we both need badly.  R man requires a break from the odd smell of work air conditioning and his first few months of actually 9-5ing it up for the first time in his life, and for me to experience the dream come true of looking for miles in any direction and seeing.....absolutely nothing but nature.  I'm starting to get a little weird and I think it might be the black city dust that's always in the air finding a way into my brain.  I feel like the guy in the movie Dark City always staring at the poster of a beautiful paradise ocean somewhere and at the end finding out that it doesn't exist and he's on a cube space ship filled with people and garbage and city in the dark forever.... too dark an image?  Did I just give the movie away?  Well....I need to go and see this so called nature to believe it, because I'm starting to think it's all in my head and that it doesn't exist!

If you've been to this area and have any recommendations for us, give me a shout!


Route Talk (pronounced RoooT Tok)

A couple of years ago their was an episode on This American Life called "The Seven Things You're Not Supposed to Talk About."

It begins with an interview with Sarah Koenig's formal lovely mother, Mrs. Matthiessen, and I do believe it effected my brain and how I think about conversation ever since.  I still talk about the 7 things on her list of course, everyone does, but when I do, I feel a little guilty.  I find myself thinking I am boring and when others do it, ever since listening to Mrs. Matthiessen, it feels a little....boring.  I feel like Mrs. Matthiessen can sense my conversation wherever she is and is thinking, "oh dear god!" in her perfect formal English.  (ok, you really have to listen to at least the first 10 minutes of this episode to understand any of this this blog post...so you know...trot trot!  Scoot now.  Hop to it.  It's free on the This American Life Archives, so no excuses)

The thing is, I could be with strangers, the deli guy, the bank teller or at a dinner party and there are certain topics of conversation that are almost required to come up that I'd never thought about much before moving here.....and I believe they would all be considered "dismal and boring" to Sarah Koenig's mother...a mother I do not know and will never meet, but for some reason, I know she's out there somewhere....judgety judge judge judging!

Inspired by her list, my subconscious has awoken to my own conversational tedium on topics regionally specific to where we live.  Each of the subjects listed below gets discussed in extreme detail almost every day of my life for hours on end, even if it's just inside my head.  I'm curious to know how this would sound and translate to someone not living here!  Thoughts?

My 7 Things I am Probably Not Supposed to Talk About in Brooklyn:

1. Rent  Talk - There it is, a big ol' number everyone is thinking about, almost like a Credit Report or an ACT for college that hangs over each of us like the chains of the Marley Brothers...we all secretly want to know what everyone else's secret number is, but you can't ask directly and you're dying to find out.  At times, I've found myself still checking craigslist to just see what the going rate is in the neighborhood, or Williamsburg.  Every time we pass a realtor store front, they have a big window full of photos and descriptions of apartments and condos and R man stops and studies them in depth, not a quick glance, we are talking an intense 5 minutes of obsessively reading, memorizing and staring and each has one great big number in bold and big font with a lot of zeros attached.

It's not only young people, but older as well.  In the neighborhood where I work (Greenpoint) if you purchased a $200,000 apartment ten years ago, you are now a multi millionaire when you sell...if you sell out that is to the man....
Which brings me to....

2. High Rise Talk - Gentrification  - It's in the air.  White/Black/Latino/Asian, whatever you are wherever you are, doing what you do, living where you live, suddenly there's this great big label hanging over all of us, and even if it's not talked about, it's being thought about...but it IS being talked about, by everyone, which include glares and raised eyebrows at "them".  New high rise buildings going up in every neighborhood with older buildings getting torn down. I've just noticed that when I talk about it, I get really weird, and yes, a little boring!  We live in an "up and coming" neighborhood, which is currently a middle class West Indian Community, so we live smack dab in the middle of the next wave of construction and transformation..and it's awkward and uncomfortable at times walking down the street and seeing the construction and knowing what's happening and wondering what people may be conversing about me....it's also uncomfortable hearing what people say about this issue..not boring I guess but clumsy and awkward.  I still don't really know what to say or react in the correct way as a middle class white girl paying cheaperish rent in a pre war building...a little help Mrs. Matthiessen perhaps?

3.  Train Talk (my version of route talk) - "just take the express bus and transfer to the G train".  Don't take the C train.  Never take the C train.  Don't get me started on Weekend Train schedules where half the trains don't work, but you don't know which when, half the stops are cancelled, but you won't know until it's your stop and it has already been passed by, because the Train Operator quickly announces them over his staticky intercom, but you can't really hear what he's saying accept for a word or two, usually the words good morning and have a nice day.

4.  Bike Talk - I love bike talk, but if you aren't a biker, it makes no sense.  Just like for me, train talk makes no sense because I don't take the train, so I don't know what goes where, when and which is best to take and why.  Bike talk is less about routes however, and more about the feasibility in the experience of getting around and swerving obstacles.  These types of commutes are a big stressful part of everyone's day, so venting is in order, but it's almost like speaking another language because the problems that arise seem insane, because things here never work the way you think they should...(see #5 for more on this).  People use bike lanes as an emergency parking lane.  There's buses.  There's piles of broken glass. There's pedestrians.  There's people biking the wrong way.  Then...there's the ridiculous amount of street lights and traffic laws that make no sense and are even more dangerous to follow when biking....which also yes, makes no sense if you don't bike, so I won't go into detail, but after biking here for months, I could write a book about the nitty gritty detailed frustrations of Brooklyn Biking.

5. Home Talk - "Back where I'm from" - I feel like the transfer student on the magic school bus show that always started her sentences with, "well, at my old school we never.....".  I say this line all the time!  To customers and friends and poor poor R man....In Minnesota, we...., in the Midwest we.... in Madison, we.... (fill the blank).  I'm sure this just comes from missing my old life and all the people and things and places we don't get to eat or see or do, but I'm sure that being on the other side of the conversation is Sarah's mother sighing and rolling her eyes with boredom.  Who cares about clean streets and cheddar cheese and quaint hippy music festivals or ....being polite....so boring and inpolite to complain about missing nice people.

6.  New York Talk - "New York City is soooo..."  - there was a day a couple of weeks ago when R man mentioned that I'd stopped doing this.  Apparently I was making statement after statement for months on end about what this city is, as if I owned it.  "Dirty, crazy, complicated, smelly, big, overwhelming, disorganized" and then go into detail about whatever specific thing had pissed me off that day and not realized that I had apparently almost bored him to death with my tedious scrutiny of judging this city with the same commanding condoning comments over and over again.  I guess he's now too Minnesota nice now to mention my faux pas, but now that I'm aware of it, it drives me crazy when I do it.

7.  Food talk.  This is going to sound odd to those who have a Rainbow or a Cub or a Copp's or a blessed Woodmans down the street, but without a car and without a massive affordable grocery store to fill the car up with every couple of weeks, we are left in an intriguing situation of needing to eat, but in order to eat, we must purchase different foods at different places on different days in different parts of the city.  I could talk about this topic for HOURS!  Favorite: bulk nut stores, Chinese groceries, fruit stands, CSA's, coops, corner deli stores, wine stores (that are legally separated from beer or grocery stores), farmers markets, and the list goes on!  Each of these is their own unique experience, meaning, some have certain things better than others, some are crap, some are great, some are cheap and great, some are ridiculously expensive and total crap and you don't know until you've gone and stared at every single product at every single store in the neighborhood and know for yourself what is what.  Not to mention...you may not realize this, but things like soap and toilet paper are regional!  They even smell different here...so yes, on this subject I could easily bore you to tears going into detail on the cost and quality of a tomato or a head of lettuce!

So what do you think?  Am I Boring? 


Living here

I wade into it little by little thinking...eh!  This isn't so bad, the water is beautiful, the sun hitting my back, the newness is exhilarating and fun with the sand between my toes, what a great idea this was! 

And then...the first sloppy wave slaps across my face, stinging and cold.  Annoyance sets in.   I venture on....I think it'll get better....and it does for a while as I wade out further, the calm before the storm as the tide sucks back out to collect itself....

POW!  SLAP!  SLAP!  SLAP!  POW!  My feet lift off the sandy ground and the force of the water...the strength of the hugeness of this giant big thing crashing against me is almost unbearable...so foreign and different and overwhelming, all I want to do is not be in the ocean anymore...my brain cries out to me, anywhere but where I am would be better, ANYWHERE!  It was a mistake to think I could do this, what was I thinking?  I can't do this.  I CAN'T DO THIS!!!!  I'm no match for the ocean!  I had a feeling this would happen, that this would hurt and now I'm stuck, I have only myself to blame for the pain and shame I feel at not being able to handle a simple thing like swimming....it's just swimming at the beach!  Why is this so hard?  Wasn't this supposed to be fun?!?  Well, it's not fun, but now I'm stuck here alone amidst the slaps and thuds and cold stinging pain...I'm in it now, I put myself here, what am I gonna do?  Turn around and head back to the beach, which will be just as arduous a journey, complete with awkward falling, sand in my bikini bottom and a final heave ho from the strong current as if the ocean is speaking to me....don't let the door hit'cha on way out lady!  You know you don't belong here.  Game over.


Stand my ground....just a few more inches, a few more feet, second by second, moment by moment...breathe.  Accept.  Appreciate even...I'm alive, I'm in it...I feel pain but I'm still kicking and breathing and floating....still trying.  I think perhaps once I wade out a little further, maybe it won't be so bad.  I know this feeling of shock and it's manageable. I've been here before, the same fear and anxiety I've always stared down, beit on a stage, staring down at a blank piece of paper in a college auditorium or standing on top of a mountain of snow with skis on, knowing I may fail, I may fall, I may even make an embarrassing mistake and it's gonna hurt, I may not ace a test or get every note right....it's a risk of living and experiencing and maybe failing...but that risk is what makes life so rewarding and special once I'm on the other side of the big thing I'm so afraid of.

I know it could get better if I just keep going....maybe not....but maybe....my body has acclimated to the cold water...in fact, it's starting to feel warm and almost pleasant instead of stinging and painful.  My brain shuts down with the rush of the water around me, the sound of the waves that were so scary and ferocious are beginning to quiet and sooth...the sforzando of cymbals and gongs clanging is now a meditative pianissimo of a thumb skimming a tambourine and the gentle soothing roll of a bass drum, filling the soul with a deep dark hum that vibrates the heart into remembering that it has its own rhythm, it's own music, no matter where it goes it's as strong as ever.  Perhaps the world can't hear it's gentle beat against the crashes and clangs, but I can feel it, I can hear it.  It can handle more than what I can fathom or fear, no matter what tries to knock it down.


I live inside an iron.

It just rained, which means all of the wrinkles in this city should be steamed out completely. Instead of it getting less humid and cooling down like I'd hoped, it just amped up the whole sweaty experience.  Now I know why they call it an urban jungle!!!

I'm fuming......literally.
My favorite thing so far is biking behind a bus. Oh that's just lovely. The hot concrete and hot air shooting out the tail pipe of the bus...the lovely noise of the bus completes the zen like tranquility of animalistic panic taking over....it happened yesterday and my entire body immediately drenched itself in sweat as a protective shield...like some kind of tropical fish in a barrier reef poofing into a stinky spikey ball for surivival....where as I'm a slimy gross mess instead of a cool spike ball.

Pretty soon I won't have skin left, as I'm pretty certain it's melting off every time I take a shower, like a bad horror movie.

If only I had a big lake to jump into. Sigh.....;)


Wednesday morning

6:25am marimba ipad alarm goes off...soothingly crescendo-ing in and out...a meditative trance...like an old friend I once knew well welcoming me into active life again...and I look over at my sleepy husband and kiss his curly locks and take a deep breath in...he smells like sleep....there's a grumble, his body...not his face, makes a deep rumbling noise into his pillow  with a meaning of "I love you, have a nice day, see you tonight, don't worry I'll cook dinner" but sounds kind of like a....fog horn in the distance...it's a daily comfort...I kiss his curly haired head and figure out with confusion at being almost awake how to stand up.

6:30am bathroom stuff..you know..boring...except the large amount of sunscreen I slather on my face every morning now.  I'm getting wrinkles around my eyes.  I kind of secretly like these wrinkles because I'm no longer getting unnecessarily hassled and carded at bars and liquor stores and am hopefully never mistaken ever again as someones lost child at a library by a homeless man, ugh....but back to the sunscreen...I do believe the sun is harsher here...maybe it's the reflection off the intensely hot streets and sidewalks when I'm biking and walking around the city...less trees, more concrete, like a giant easy bake oven cooking me from the outside in.  Sometimes I apply a layer of coconut oil to my drying wrinkled lines, completing my curiosity of what it feels like to be a cooking turkey, all I need is a good basting every 30 minutes and I'll be ready to eat by Christmas.

6:35-6:40am I somehow sleepily wander from the bathroom to the kitchen to grab my bike bag and keys, put on my helmet and bike gloves...the bike gloves are a critical part to feeling bad ass, being bad ass is necesary for what is about to happen next in my day.  I always believe I am doing this 'leaving for work thing' in a ninja like stealthy state of silence, that Rodolfo can't hear every single STEP as I CREAK from CRANKY moaning floorboard to floorboard and gently SLAM our gigantic HEAVY door shut and CLAMOUR the RICKETY metal lock with my key, securing my sleeping, beautiful, darling of a man into what I believe is a caccoon of safety...but is probably yet one more annoyance keeping him from dreams of lemon pies and paltas hanging on trees by the ocean.


6:45am I walk one short stone staircase down to where our landlord has given us permission to lock our bikes beneath an alcove on the main floor.  A giant silver chain we purchased at the hardware store down the street hangs off one of the black metal staircase bars.  Every evening we have to discuss who is leaving and biking first and then lock one bike on top of the other connecting them to the chain and settling them in against the stone wall beneath the stairwell.  We are lucky we don't have to keep them in the apartment, but we do pick off cigarette butts and sticky chemical liquids from the seats occassionally, when things of that nature fall from the flights above. We are so lucky that we live on a second floor...a luxury in a town of 5-6 floor non elevator walk up apartments.  I don't know how this happened, we will probably pay for this awesomeness in some other karmic way to come.  There is an elevator with a permanent smell of urine and odd mechanical sounds if we did need it.  Kind men offer to hold the door for me as I lock my bike, which is nice; it's also nice to decline their offers and walk up my one flight of stairs as I imagine the awkward and slow climb up with the smell even more pungent with heat in the air and bodies cramped in with the harumphing box slowly moving upwards, all of us considering our impending doom one day as it finally gives out....or is this something only I consider?  I like the stairs.

6:50am We have a giant golden painted lobby the length of our entire building...it's so long and bright and confusing to me.  From the ornamented detail of gold leaf against bright white painted brick and cement, it speaks to more eloquent times, calling for lounge chairs and plush velvet sofas.  Women in ball gowns and men in fitted suits wearing gloves and hats.  Lounging and speaking in whispers, gathering at the end of the day with perhaps a tea or a cocktail.  Now, it's empty, except for the line of metal mailboxes, perhaps some empty fast food bags and piles of dust in the corners, a few cigarette butts and a few small metal signs from past times stating...."no 'this', no 'that', no ....being, having fun, lounging, speaking to neighbors, cleaning this beautiful space up and making it what it once was...ever....we ARE watching you potentially on a security camera which is here for your own good, but probably doesn't work if you actually were assaulted in this beautiful old giant echoey empty lobby of olden days.  Sometimes I hop on my bike and let it coast thru in silence from one end to the other if no ones around.  It completes my preparedness for badassness.  I like breaking empty stupid rules and it's quieter than my footsteps and the clicking of my bike chain in consideration for the neighbors still trying to sleep in their own personal coccoons along the edges of the lobby.

6:55am I break open to the city streets thru thick metal doors.  Good morning tired people walking to the bus!  Good morning cars!  Good morning sunshine!  Good morninng giant vans parked illegally in the traffic lane along the already parked cars.  Good morning car horns and loud trucks and city buses moaning and waking up themselves and I'm ready to speed into the mayhem like a bullet, fully awake with the wind in my face and the city all around me, aware of every slamming car door, watching everything...my mirror, the ground for glass, the street lights changing, ladies in bright floral suits crossing the streets from just around a parked car....danger around every car and corner and crevice.  Badassness time!  Let's get to work!  35 minute countdown begins!