Tuesday, January 27, 2009
We’re sitting in the shade of a giant tree in the middle of the orphanage compound watching some of the older orphans playing soccer, running up and down the cement “field” in their bare feet kicking the rock hard ball. Sometimes they don’t have a soccer ball so they use whatever else they can find – a plastic toy, a basketball, a shoe, anything that they can kick. Ama Foli is on my lap and singing one of her infamous songs and bouncing along to her own rhythm. I look at her and suck my cheeks in, making a face resembling that of a fish. She stops her song, pauses, and sucks in her cheeks. She can’t suck them in as far as I can so she kind of just looks goofy. She giggles at the facial expression then grabs my face and pushes my cheeks back in and giggles some more. Looks like we’ve discovered a new game, I raise my eyebrows and skew my upper and lower lip in opposite directions. Ama Foli tries to copy, then giggles and giggles at her failure.
Later that night we are sitting at the edge of the cement soccer field with our legs dangling into the deep gutter, I lay back and Tsulee comes and lies on my stomach. I hum Nora Jones’s “Sunrise” to him and he doesn’t seem to mind that, rarely, do the right notes come from my lips. The gentle vibrations coming from my chest to his head seem to soothe him and make him tired. As Tsulee and I are sharing this moment, Ama Foli deviously sneaks up and stands right behind my head. Without any warning she plops her naked butt onto my face. I pop up, waking up poor Tsulee and yell “AMA FOLI! What are you doing?!” She runs away laughing maniacally at her little prank.
Tsulee and I resume our position and I resume humming starting a new song -“Bubbly Toes.” I can feel Tsulee’s breathing become long and shallow, and I start to feel myself drift off too. Ama Foli once again creeps up behind me and plops her naked butt right onto my face. I jump up, waking up Tsulee for a second time, and chase Ama Foli. We do a lap around the soccer “field” when I finally catch her, flip her onto my shoulder, and tickle her until she’s hoarse from laughing so hard.
Wow, it’s crazy how some organized and thoughtful reflection can change a mood. I feel a lot more calm and ready for the rest of the day.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Out of place.
We’re both great shapes with sides, angles and points, we just don’t share the same sides, angles and points. My shape is meant to enter a different corresponding slot, and I now realize and accept that.
We could still read each other. We have enough history and familiarity to still possess that. During a lull in the conversation my leg started to bounce, my mouth set firm and I looked over his shoulder, out the window, focusing on nothing in particular.
“What are you thinking? You look like you’re thinking.” he says to me.
“I-I don’t know. It’s like umm like…I don’t know. I feel….different. I don’t feel awkward. I don’t feel like I expected to feel. I don’t know…. It’s weird.” My words stumble out of my mouth like Amy Winehouse exiting a pub at 2 in the afternoon. I couldn’t believe I finally had him there in front of me. The opportunity to pick his brain and ask all my burning questions was there, but all I wanted to do was sit in a familiar silence.
We joked, we caught up, we laughed and there was silence. Strange silence. Welcome silence. Understanding silence. Comfortable silence.
Healing took place, and I hope it was mutual. I can’t speak for him, and I honestly don’t know what his true emotions are regarding all of this. But, as for me, I feel a lot better. I feel like I can be me 100% independent of him and the ideas I’ve formed of him. It has been a long and strange journey as witnessed by the posts littered throughout this blog, but I’m really feeling like I have some tangible closure to the journey. Am I glad I went to dinner with him? Yes. Are my feelings mixed? Yes. Do I still love him? Yes, but not the same. Maybe I love the memory of him. Do I fear alienating him? Yes. Was I genuine in everything I said? Yes.
Strange is the only way I can think of to describe it. Familiar yet unfamiliar. Attractive yet unattractive. Weird yet normal. Pain yet healing. Wrong yet right.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I’ll use my latest “team meeting” from work as an example. I walked into the room where the meeting was taking place and a slightly obese girl with 2 chins and a deep voice was already waist deep in a story involving her best friend and that best friend’s boyfriend, who apparently has no respect for privacy. Speaking to the large man with a closely shaved mohawk she wagged her finger and said, “I told her ‘girl, you cannot let him do that. He’s acting like a girl; he’s being a little bitch. I’m the bitch here. I can be a real bitch. Vindictive Vickie, that’s what I am.’” A strange guttural noise busted out of her gut, I guess it was a laugh. Her laughed matched her personality and appearance, it was booming and punctuated by a loud and distinct snort. I kid you not.
“Vindictive Vickie,” she said. “That’s a good one!”
Then, sitting next to “Vindictive Vickie” was a red haired flamer who picked up a candy cane from the pile in the middle and declared in an animated voice, “I could thuck on thith all day.” His provocative statement made me choke on my own miniature candy cane. I regained my composure and whipped out my handy dandy Moleskine notebook I take everywhere with me, and scribbled out “I could thuck on thith all day.” And “Vindictive Vickie” These were little morsels of comedy which needed to be documented. We then were forced by the person running the meeting to go around and share a “fun fact” about ourselves. I opted to go first and said my first words of the meeting: “I have a fun fact, snakes don’t have ears.” My “fun fact” was met with blank stares and a further explanation as to why snakes don’t have ears from Vindictive Vickie.
In my mind I retorted, so what you’re saying is your ethnicity matches neither the drapes nor the carpet?
We then moved onto the large man with the closely shaved Mohawk and he proceeded to unfold a story with unforgettable detail about the time he “matrix-style” dodged feces projected from an elderly woman’s ass. Gross, right? Wrong. It was fascinating.
You simply do not get these types of conversations from beautiful people. These “ugly people’s” stories were vivid, imaginative, and gross. I loved every minute of it. I left the meeting wanting to know everything about these people. I wanted to know about their parents, their friends, their passions, their likes, their dislikes, and their respective STI’s. They were beautiful to me. They had depth and personality. These were people I could see myself sitting down at Starbuck’s and just listening to. How does one go about doing that? “Hey, do you want to go to Starbuck’s? You can tell me more about the time you dodged the old woman’s excrement.” I guess with “ugly people” that’s as good as any invitation.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Anyway, my break is over, and it's back to "adult life" at a break neck speed. I'm wondering if I've bitten off more than I can chew. I'm working 2 jobs, a full school schedule and a volunteer job which is really like another part time job, just with no pay. I go to work 6 days a week, and school 5 days a week. I literally wake up, go to school, go to work, go to my other job or back to school, and then get home and go to bed. When I’m not in class or at work I’m planning next week’s book club activity, preparing things for the new job, reading for my next class, or trying to squeeze in a meal. I can’t eat breakfast because it makes me sick. I sometimes have time for lunch, but that requires me to go out and spend money on it, and if I eat when I get home I usually can’t sleep or have psychedelic dreams as a result of eating so late. I’ve adopted a 1 meal a day and lots of coffee schedule, and I’m not really sure that’s too healthy. This schedule really has no impacts on my social life because that would require me to have a social life. Strangely, I’m perfectly content. The intense schedule provides me with a comforting sense of accomplishment and productivity, and all the different activities are sure to provide some great and entertaining stories.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
While waiting for my turn to be swabbed, they gave me a clipboard with forms to fill out. I think I should be in charge of writing the questions on those forms. People are willing to sit down and check a box telling you their deepest darkest secrets, and that needs to be taken advantage of. I’d start out with the basics like:
1. In the past year have you participated in anal sex?
2. In the past year have you shared needles?
3. In the past year have you had sexual contact with someone you know to be HIV positive?
And then move to some more exciting questions like:
4. In the past year have you dressed in leather, assless chaps and been whipped by a man who insists on you calling him daddy?
5. In the past year have you gone to Gossip (the local gay club) and danced in the cage with the guy who has a sock in his briefs.
6. In the past year have you been in a committed relationship with a wonderful man who buys you everything you want and treats you like the king that you are, only to find out that he is a nymphomaniac and cannot function without being with at least 10 partners a night?
As it comes to my turn to be swabbed I feel a little sensation in my chest. Was that nervousness? Fear? Anticipation? I dunno, but I didn’t expect to feel it that’s for sure. A charming older man gives me a stick. “Swab in between your gums and your lips.” He tells me.
“That’s it?” I reply.
“Yup, just follow Patti up the stairs into the waiting room and your results will be ready in about 20 minutes.”
I follow Patti and get to a room with couches along 3 sides of the wall and a very small T.V. in the corner. There are about 5 other people waiting to hear their fates. Nobody makes eye contact or conversation. We all just sit, tweedle our thumbs and anticipate the news we’re about to get. There are some interesting characters waiting in the room with me.
I like to imagine the back stories of people I’ve never met. I’ll do it as I’m riding the train to school, while I’m in a meeting at work, or while I’m sitting in class. These people on the couches provided me with the best back stories. The girl who asked me for a pen as she walked in was probably the most interesting. She was Hispanic and had on incredibly tight jeans, they looked like they had been painted on. She also wore furry boots and her eyes were caked with so much make-up that I had to squash the intense urge to take my finger and press it to her face just to see how deep it would go in. The make-up made her face look like it could be molded into whatever shape you desired. In my head I molded it so that her left eye was wider than her right. I imagined that she is a single mother of 3 beautiful children, and in order to support those kids she gives massages with “happy endings” behind a Thai restaurant downtown. She’s applied for respectable jobs like a receptionist, T-mobile customer service representative or a Deseret Book sales floor girl, but no one would have her. They all were a little bit disturbed by the ratted hair, acrylic nails, tight jeans, and Plaster of Paris make up. This isn’t a judgment on her character I’m sure she’s a very nice girl. That is just the image that popped into my head when I saw her.
A young blonde girl enters the doorway and calls my number; not my name, my number. I follow her to a room where she closes the door and offers me a seat. My heart leaps as I anticipate the news she’s about to give me. After a few VERY personal questions she tells me that she does not have my test results and it will be another 10 minutes. What the hell? I’m all psychologically prepared for whatever news you’re about to give me and all you want to know is if I’ve ever exchanged sex for money? Back to the waiting couch room it is. My friend, Plaster Face, is nowhere to be found. I sit and wait for another 10 minutes, flipping through the Details magazine that I found on the table. Finally, a short girl with a bob cut calls my number. She takes me back to a room and we both sit down. She looks at me very seriously and tells me “I have some positive news for you.” She tells me breaking her serious look and giggling at her own crappy joke. “Your results came back as negative; you are free to go now.” That’s it? No plaque declaring my negative status to the world? No certificate of cleanliness? No button with a large negative sign and the words “Negative, it’s a positive thing” written along the edges of the button? No t-shirt saying “HIV? Not for me!” Oh well, I guess peace of mind will have to suffice.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
I had a very embarrassing moment yesterday at a job I just started this week. I was sitting down helping a 4th grader with his math homework. While I did get an A last semester in my math class, that was with the help of a calculator and given formulas. Math is my absolute worst subject. I hate math, and in return it hates me. Our hate is parallel to the hate between Israel and Palestine, it has existed for as long as anyone can remember, and there is no possible resolution in sight.
I’m trying to help this kid with his math which was multiplication; two digit numbers multiplied by two digit numbers. Intricate stuff, I know. I attempted to explain how he needed to set up the problem in order to find the answer. “Times this number and this number, now below it write a zero and times this number by this number. Now add it.” I told him. “Well, that doesn’t look right. Ok, try this…” I gave him a new set of directions and still came up with the wrong answer. I was getting frustrated. It’s no surprise that I never really learned how to do math when I was in the 4th grade. I was drawing penises in my notebook while the teacher was teaching this concept. I gave him different directions for the problem. “That still doesn’t look right.” I announced. The paper was smudged with eraser marks and his face was contorted with frustration.
“You lied to me!” He exclaimed. Right then and there I knew that I had lost any trust this child had in me. I was no longer a big person to look up to, but a big person who doesn’t know how to do little kid math. What a joke.
With a damaged ego I went to my other job right after and practiced my multiplication. I made those numbers my bitch. I’ll show you 4th grade math! I thought as I angrily scribbled out times tables. Thank you, public school education.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
We have had a 3 week hiatus from Kid’s Book Club at The Road Home, so this Monday will mark our first week back. I’m afraid that we won’t have any volunteers to help coerce the kids into reading. In an attempt to attract new volunteers I’ve come up with an infomercial. I love infomercials. I love the acting and the dialog between the actors. When I was a kid I would sit down Saturday mornings and watch infomercials for the Miracle Blade III Perfection Series, the Gazelle and all sorts of steamers and cookers. Some kids watched cartoons, but infomercials were my Saturday morning entertainment of choice. I’ve cast Tony Little from the Gazelle infomercials as the main character, and Amy Sedaris (my new hero) as the intrigued prospective volunteer.
Spunky announcer guy: The following is a paid advertisement for Kid’s Book Club at The Road Home. Amazing offer! Act now! Don't wait! Are you curious about what a homeless shelter looks like? Do you find yourself wondering “If only there were somewhere I could donate my time and skills.” Do you want to make a difference? Then welcome to Kid’s Book Club.
*Setting is Tony Little walking past a line of obviously homeless people standing in line for the soup kitchen.*
Tony Little: In these economically tough times do you find yourself reaching into your pockets to donate to the homeless only to find gum wrappers and lint?
*queue montage of empty wallets and out-turned pockets*
Tony Little: Well do I have an activity for you. Let’s meet Amy inside for some more information on how you can do your part at absolutely no cost to you.
*Setting is the Playroom at The Road Home where book club is held. Tony and Amy are sitting at a small craft table.*
Tony Little: Hi Amy, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to come and learn how you can do your part.
Amy Sedaris: No problem, Tony. So tell me, what exactly is Kid’s Book Club?
Tony: Good question Amy. Book Club happens every Monday at 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm at The Road Home which is located at 210 South Rio Grande Street (455 West) Salt Lake City, Utah 84101. It is a literacy program for kids living at The Road Home ages 5-11. That’s what it is on paper, but what it is in reality is FUN! Volunteers read one on one with the children for the first hour, then we all get together for a group book, and finally end on an exciting activity inspired by that group book.
Amy: Wow, sounds like a great program. How can I get started?
Tony: Simply show up at the Road Home at 7:00 on Monday, sign in at the front desk and wait for Katie or Taylor (who’s a stud) to show up. Or if you’d like more information you can email Taylor at email@example.com.
Amy: Wow that’s as easy as 1 2 3. What sorts of things can I expect in Book Club?
Tony: You can expect noisy, rowdy children who love to push every one of your buttons. You can also expect hilarious dialogue between the children and yourself. Kids really do say the darndest things.
Amy: That’s sweet, but I don’t know. 2 hours is a lot of time to cut out of my busy schedule.
Tony: Let’s look at it this way.
*Transition to graphs and charts*
Tony: There are 168 hours in a week. That means 10,080 minutes. All we are asking for is 120 out of those 10,080 minutes.
Tony: In the time it takes to watch a movie, you could be having a positive impact on a young child’s life. In the time it takes to clean your chinchilla’s cage, you could be helping a child improve their literacy.
Amy: Well, when you put it that way it makes sense, but I’m still not sure…
Tony: Let’s hear some testimonials from a few veteran volunteers.
*Fade out of the Playroom and into the hallway where veteran volunteers are giving their testimonials.*
Veteran Volunteer 1: I was nervous to come to Book Club for the first time. I wasn’t sure how to interact with the kids, and I didn’t know what to expect from them. I am so happy I went. The kids are great, and I feel like I am actually doing something with my life now.
Veteran Volunteer 2: It’s all worth it just to see a smile on the children’s faces.
Veteran Volunteer 3: All the kids are great. They can get out of hand and crazy, but you learn to just roll with the chaos. I’m so glad I went to Kid’s Book Club.
*Setting is back to Tony and Amy in the playroom.*
Amy: They sound like some satisfied volunteers.
Tony: They sure do.
Amy: This all sounds great, but I don’t know if I can come every week.
Tony: Amy, that’s a great point. We would love it if every volunteer would come every week, but we understand there are circumstances which prohibit that.
Amy: Wow, Book Club is so accommodating. Some people might say that they live too far away.
Tony: Well, that’s just poppycock. Pardon my language, Amy.
Tony: The Road Home is at a prime location right by Trax and Front Runner. We have volunteers coming from Provo, so distance really is not a valid excuse. And as Veteran Volunteer 2 said it’s all worth it just to see the smile on the children’s faces.
Amy: Well Tony, I’m still not sure this is how I want to spend my Monday evenings. What is the activity this Monday?
Tony: I'm glad you asked, Amy. Our group book will be something about winter, and then we will be making some fabulous scarves with the kids.
Amy: Sounds great! Alright, you’ve convinced me. I’ll be at The Road Home, Monday at 7:00 sharp, and if I have any more questions I’ll just e-mail Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony: I can’t wait to see you there, Amy. You won’t regret it.
*End with a wink and a smile from both our stars Tony and Amy.*
*I'm nuts 4 nuts!
*If sex were a dessert it would be frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity. So much for my streak of celibacy.
In the new year I resolve to...
- Put someone, anyone, in their place.
- Lose the baby fat.
- Conquer post-partum depression.
- Have a moment.
- Take my relationship with Seth (my imaginary boyfriend) to the next level.
- Cure cancer.
- Cure AIDS.
- Laugh till I cry at least once a day.