Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Just another day at the beach

I said let's go to bed. We got up from our chairs, turned off the lights and walked out of the room. Instead of going to bed I walked directly to the computer and sat down to begin typing. I shut down applications I wasn't going to use any more, plugged my headphones in and pushed play. The entire Smashing Pumpkins, Zeitgeist, album was at the top of my iTunes party mix and it filled my ears through my junkie headphones not the good ones Pepper bought me for Christmas. Two years ago Pepper found out I am finally super easy to shop for. iTunes gift cards. I get excited every time I get one of the little plastic cards. Really excited. Without embarrassment or wonder. Maybe you know the wonder where you hope the gift giver believes you are really as excited as you seem. And then when you've given them enough of a show you feel a little bit bad that you sold your performance so well. Now they think you really love the yellow squishy thing that does some amazing thing that changed their life or they thought you would love so much because they were sure it was going to change yours. And then maybe you feel a little worse because you stop thinking about that whole thing and wonder why you put so much expectation on what a gift should do. Maybe it's more simple a thing. Maybe it really is just some one giving a thing they found and it seemed fun at the time maybe even a little funny and they thought it would seem fun to you for a moment. Or maybe even a little funny. But when you got it you didn't chuckle and you didn't think of how fun it was to receive a tiny little trinket. Instead you started your little routine saying how much you loved it through an unnaturally wide smile and a discourse on how useful it will be in your life all the while you are wondering how long you'll likely keep it before you can throw it away without any guilt. Well, the good headphones do not fall into that category. I was truly excited and surprised to get them along with some iTunes gift cards. The only thing I thought about was how long would they last through all my bus trips to school each day. I still use the case they came in. Except right now. It's the bad ones and the one in the left ear doesn't work that well. It shouldn't be an issue because my right ear doesn't work that well either. So I sort of always hope it will balance out when I put them in my ears. It doesn't balance out. So I guess I hear better than I thought.

If there is one thing I am good at it's not doing the thing I am supposed to do. I think I have always done this and I think I have always just considered it an artful way to live. Like my whole life is some kind of performance piece that I have been skillfully crafting for years. Take today for example I woke up and went to school. It was a homework critique and it took the whole six hours session. I sit with each student and break down the painting piece by piece. A lot of people ask how one grades art like I am going to agree with them that it's all subjective and anything can be called art. I see a lot of painting and very little art. Painting is very easy to grade. It looks like an apple or it doesn't. It looks like light falling across fabric or it doesn't. Easy. But tiring. That was it. The whole first part of my day. Talking and grading. Grading right to their face. It can be brutal. "I know you want to do this but with your best effort and all your time and money you've put into this you have earned a C-. Maybe you should go into insurance. People will always need insurance." I've said things like this, in jest of course, but totally serious. Having as many students as I have had I hope that one of the C-'s comes back to tell me how I was wrong about them and sticks their paycheck in my face or mentions my lack of belief in them in some interview they have published in a magazine. I would love to be wrong with that kind of outcome.

After class I made it to the bus stop. It was almost all I could do. I even ran for the bus. But it wasn't the one I wanted so I ended up waiting. Leaning up against a wall. Loitering really. The bus I ride is a school bus commissioned to take students from class to their dorms. I live a few blocks away from the dorm so it works out that I have a fast, free ride into school each day. All of that is great. I'm glad it's there. It's just these buses don't have real bus stops. The bus just happens to stop at about the same place every time. We get on. We get off. And it always in mass. So we are always in the way. There are too many crossing the street. There are too many clogging up the sidewalk. There are too many leaned up against a store front surely driving away business. But that's life in the big city. There are always a bunch of people doing a bunch of stuff and it all overlaps.

I had to stand on the bus. A messenger bag around my shoulder- because they are cooler than a backpack- and sticking in the face of some lucky girl with a gray comfy seat. I noticed one girl who was eagerly helping her hair form into dread locks. I thought, do what you want to your hair you still have a hairy face. Maybe a session or two of laser hair removal would be a better use of your time and effort. I agree that might sound kind of mean. But let me remind you I didn't say it out loud. I didn't tap her on the shoulder or knock my knee into hers and say "Laser hair removal would do more to detract from your fur than any amount of cat tails stuck to your head ever will." That's what I call dread locks- Cat Tails. I've never seen a tail on the end of a cat flattened on the asphalt and thought "I think that would look good on my head. I should go find some more. Because if one looks good a whole collection would have to look great." Now even if I had said anything like the things I was thinking she could have said, Do what you want with the hair on your face it won't detract from the fact you have little to no hair on the top of your head. And if she would have said that to me, she would have been right. At the next stop enough people left that I was able to get a seat. The girl next to me was talking loudly about her friend she loves very much despite how stupid and selfish she is. And how with out the help of the loving smarter friend the stupid friend would starve and be kicked out of school. That stupid girl sure is lucky to have a friend like that. The smart compassionate girl must have grown tired of expounding on her virtues and transitioned into her vices. Apparently if a young man is willing to take the time to text her she is unable to avoid sleeping with him. I mean being "romantic" with him. She must have had a moment of self awareness and realized how loud she was speaking and that she sounded kind of slutty. Instead of lowering her voice she just exchanged the word "sex" for "romantic". I sort of wish she had used something more appropriate like "Cheesecake". It would have sounded something like, "What am I supposed to do. It's late and he wants cheesecake and I've had a long day and I want some cheesecake. And he's like texting me about how he wants to come over and make cheesecake in my dorm room." I was pretty tired so I don't remember her words exactly but that's pretty close.

As I left the bus I heated up almost instantly. I was wearing a coat and the sun was out and unobstructed by clouds. I thought, this is a beach day. When I arrived home I slipped out of my shoulder bag and coat and asked "Who would like to go to the beach?" We all went. It was just another day at the beach. Another beautiful day at the beach. The kind that makes me fall in love with this over and over again.

1 comment:

Paige said...

Mark, I find it interesting to see into your mind a little bit and how you view life. You should write a book! I laughed out loud about the girl with the hair issues. I also wish we had a beach to escape to many days. Hang in there!