How Do You Spell Freedom?

9 Aug


(Nishiki and Zephyr rest in the kitchen after a Sunday evening cruise to Chinese food and a fast, furious night mission flying through quaint neighborhoods. Yeah!)

Backstory: When I was a kid, I had a sweet pink Schwinn with a flowered banana seat. I didn’t really ride it except when we lived in a housing subdivision for like, six months.  Then we moved back to the country and it ended up rusty and neglected outside the garage beside the three trash cans.

Living in the country, there were no sidewalks. And riding over the crumbly uneven soil just sucked. Our house was on a big hill and my sister and I invented ways to use gravity to our advantage in things that had wheels. Mainly, an old rusted Radio Flyer wagon.  Bikes? Not top choice.

The one time I decided to ride down the hill on a bike?  **H-A-Z-A-R-D** Underneath the field of long, golden California grass…the ground was riddled with gopher holes and probably snake pits and who knows what other kind of wild animal dens.  Long story short?  I took off helter skelter planning on the ride of my life; fast and thrilling.

Turns out, the only thing fast and (not) thrilling was my tremendous triple flip dismount over the handlebars when the front tire caught up in probably like, a badger burrow or something. And I ejected, a failed circus act, straight off that little flowered banana seat.  The bruising and shame of it all pretty much squelched any further daredevil tendencies.

Flash Forward: Until now.  Now, not only am I deep, deep in bike love but I am also reunited with my inner accidental circus rebel.  And now I bring common sense to the ride as well.  There is nothing like flying on an old steel road bike.  Life is right in front of you!  Butterflies graze my helmet, sun shines directly on my skin.  I am one layer closer.

I mean, you drive a car and to randomly stop at a garage sale requires work.  You have to execute a three point turn (only three if you’re lucky), you have to find parking, get out, lock the doors…by  now you’re probably a block away and you walk. Ugh. Walking good. The rest of it? Drudgery!

Ride a bike, spot a yard sale, crash up over the curb into the driveway and voila! You’re shopping. And there are shortcuts.  That actually make traveling shorter. Shortcuts in cars?  Never really shortcuts. Cutting through parking lots in a car requires waiting for other cars, following arrows.  You’re performing complete stops, losing patience.  Blahblahblah. On a bike?  You’re in. You’re out. Blam! Just like that. And you’re still obeying the rules of the road. Yeah!

Anyhow, about the Chinese food outing?  Hilarious.  So, we attempt to lock our bikes to the street sign in front of the joint…only to be thwarted by the polite yet insistent hostess who tells us repeatedly in loud clear English (with a thick accent) that we must park our bikes across the street. Upwards of ten times, even as we are moving our bikesthe shouting continues. Pointing to the city ordinance painted on the curb, and then to the bike rack directly across from us, she offers help and then I swear I hear her say, I wait for your ass.

And she did wait. Right inside the glass doors. With a deep bow, she seats us by a window with a perfect view of the bikes and announces–loudly–You watch bikes, see? And points.

There they are. Awesome.

The menu? Plum wine…of course. Mushu vegetables. Almond cashew chicken. Steamed rice. Yum.

The ride home?  Dark, cold, fast. Awesome.


Renegade Anti-Twotter

3 Aug

I meant Anti-Twitter. Oh, come on, you mean to tell me that the only way I can get my blog recognized is to Tweet about it? I can’t even use the word Tweet with a straight face. It’s embarrassing. I cringe. Moreover, the “but-everybody’s-doing-it” mentality makes me gag and barf.

I also hate the word blog. But I have one. I got used to it. I still hate the word blogosphere. Then there’s social networking. I like the word social. I hate the word networking. Why is the information age so annoying? And yet so convenient that eventually you give in. What choice do you have? Blogs that actually have readership all suggest the same things:

  1. Consistency and timeliness of posts
  2. Unique, audience worthy content
  3. Self-promotion via social networking

I actually considered Twitter today. I’ve been bucking tweets for Twitter’s entire existence.  Sure, on some days I have crickets and tumbleweed rolling across my blog stats.  Not gonna lie. I’m no pro. But I have standards. Freaking Twain didn’t Twot (ha. I said twot.) or Tweet or whatever the past tense of twittering is. Nor did any of the likes of the antique literati. Folks, ask yourselves: What would Hemingway do?

My dream has always been to write books. Books! Tangible and now apparently antiquated…possibly retro? What beats a bound story that you hold in your hands and feel the dry, thin paper between thumb and forefinger as you turn each type-print page? Ahhh, the comfort of a book with riffled pages and dog eared corners. You can’t dog ear Kindle. You also can’t leave Kindle on a park bench or at a bus stop with a note scrawled inside saying something about hoping the person who finds it enjoys it as much as you did.

The lure to be published is strong enough to consider sacrifice of myself to the little pastel blue bird and one hundred and forty characters. Yet, the distraction is just too great. I seek to keep life simple.

Sure, life is about adaptation. A fable:  I rode the sweet cruiser (below) to yoga yesterday evening and the partner in crime told me my tire is low. We stopped at the gas station for air and as I fumbled around getting increasingly annoyed when I couldn’t get the air hose fitted to the tire he said, If it doesn’t work that way, try it from a different angle. You always gotta try different angles. Adapt and overcome. (his military training is reflex).

I give myself wiggle room yet still cling steadfast to the old school. Let this be a tribute. I’m going to see what I can do on my own at the level of technology to which I’ve already made a commitment. Let’s document how far I get without the cute little bird and the cute little obsession with cute little tweets, hmmmm?

I may change my mind. But not today.

Bargain Grocery Outlet: Field Notes

3 Aug

It’s a parallel universe…a warp world. My first trip ever to Bargain Grocery Outlet. Thoroughly intrigued by my immediate sensory thrill (and slight overall discomfort), I suggest that we walk down every aisle even though we are there for just two items.

Our first encounter: a mildly cross eyed twenty-something male employee stands just beyond the sliding door entrance.

An older woman with salt and pepper hair pauses, just past the cross eyed guy. Her eyes locked on the shopping carts askew on “the outside”, she is thrown off course because we pass and momentarily obscure them from her vision.

She looks like a spooked horse. Arms straight down at her sides, she spreads her fingers to maximum webbing and rears her head back looking down at us, grimacing.  Had she been doing exactly the same thing on her back on the ground I would’ve been sure she was having a seizure and probably would’ve held her head for her if someone wasn’t already doing that. But since she was standing and ambulating? Not quite sure what to make of it.

The floral department: a miniscule rack of flowers dyed unnatural shades of turquoise, canary yellow, and fuschia like a second grade science experiment with food color and water in which the veins of celery and flowers are highlighted as they suck FD&C Red No. 2 and water from the vessel in which they are submerged.

Detergent aisle: overpowered with the scent of mothballs reminiscent of basement shops in Chinatown, all shops in Taiwan, and my grandmother’s closets. So many brilliant colors of sponges and convenience pack Jell-O. That’s what I notice. All the colors.

Produce: The vast crate of corn, 5/$1.00 and a trash can filled with husks. And shabby little sacks of wrinkly little fruits.

Endcaps: Bedecked with packs of totally nonsexual items…yet are easy to turn into juvenile jokes:  “Big Soft” cookies, “Stubby” tool sets.

Other endcaps: rows and cases of extra large portable varieties of cheap beers: Bud Light, Pabst Blue Ribbon…all in bottle and can sizes you just don’t see in real life…unless they are lying empty next to a vagrant asleep in a park, on a sidewalk or in a doorway in San Francisco. Or, in a frat house…the morning after some strange ritual that requires  family size beer…yeah, you know, because hops are good for the wee ones.

Rows of canned goods: canned ham, spam, Willie’s Chili, or Willie’s Pork and Beans, Spaghetti and meatballs, hash, sardines…Okay, side note: this is a public “outing”…let it be known that my very own mother used to make spam hash. When I saw the stacked cans of Spam, I immediately tasted Ketchup and crispy fried potatoes. The Spam I don’t so much recall as it would be drowning in FD&C Red No. 2 Ketchup from back in the day.

And cookies: galletas, Mother’s, pink cream wafers…the ones that made me salivate as a child. The ones that leave a waxy fat film on the roof of your mouth and tongue. Interestingly, they did not carry the pastel frosted animal cookies with rainbow sprinkles. My childhood personal favorite. Did/does anyone else favor the pink pastel animal cookies because they “taste better”? Or is this just me?

Shortly thereafter: Cheap wine, candy, sodas, impulse buy trinkets.

At the registers: In front of us, an older woman dons hot pink leggings, a black lace dress, a matching pink lei and pink wide brimmed sunhat, wire rim glasses, hair in pigtails and glitter woven throughout the lace and tassels of her dress. She has a thick east coast accent. She snips and snaps at the children with her. I can’t tell if she’s Grandma or Ma. She squints hard at the screen bearing her order’s total and asks, what’s the damage?

Behind us: A younger woman who looks old. Her pale thighs are covered in dark, inky tats. They sprout out of short cutoff denim shorts. She broadcasts in a loud monotone to her toddler-something child: NO, YOU DON’T GET TO GET THAT BECAUSE YOUR BEHAVIOR WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH. IF YOUR BEHAVIOR ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH YOU DON’T GET TO GET PRIVILEGES. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT!? YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT!!!

By this time it’s our turn to pay for our measly 3 pack of blue scrubby sponges and 4 pack of Angel Soft Bathroom Tissue, signs for both items boasting that elsewhere the products cost over $1.00 more. At a total of $4.58 we pay and scramble for the door. On the way out we are again face to face with the cross eyed employee, standing in about the same place. He watches us blankly. Or maybe he isn’t. Who can tell when eyeballs aren’t aligned? At any rate, he stands doing something with a pallet jack bearing produce…a vast crate of watermelons.

It is dusk.

will someone please get me OUT of food service? part II

27 Jul

okay. i am totally blessed in completely ungodlike, nonreligious ways. or so i think. how do i know?

condensed backstory: i believe that people believe in whatever higher power makes ideas of life and death safe and comfortable. and those beliefs don’t need to be tampered with by well meaning trespassers.

that said, i don’t join in prayer or say amen when people are praying around me nor does the opportunity arise. i don’t go to church. i moreso believe in the practice of yoga yet still don’t say namaste at the end of class. why. well, because the word translates, “i bow to you”. and i have my hands together like prayer in front of my  heart and i’m already bowing reverently. i’m doing it. why say it…redundant, you know? actions speak louder than words.

and yet, i still think i’m blessed:

three times in my life older, hip, successful, eclectic women have seen my potential, taken action and proposed offers i could not refuse. and to these women, i will forever be grateful. they epitomize the (ironically, biblical) story of teaching how to fish rather than handing out fish. they’ve afforded me opportunities with which i launch out of living or work situations from which my soul is being sucked…usually in its entirety into the vacuum of a parallel universe where parts of it are no doubt being dissected in a laboratory and tested on rats. buuuutttt…i need my soul here for now as i’ve things yet to accomplish.

so i’ve been grumbling for some time now about getting out of the grocery store. wanting to write and be published. employment is slim. i’ve applied for jobs i’m way overqualified for and haven‘t gotten them. like, dog walking. conversely, i’ve applied for jobs i’m a titch underqualified for and understandably haven’t gotten calls for those either.

so when this colorful woman i happen to be friends with from the coffee shop seeks me out at the grocery store while i’m working, hands me her card, offers me a job at her absolutely magical in-home preschool and then tells me that she and a friend are also brainstorming about another creative entrepreneurial venture (which i shall keep under wraps at the moment) and she’d like me to be in on it because I am “artistic and interesting” and she hates seeing me at the grocery store with the life being sucked out me…the freaking opportunity siren sounds and i know i’m blessed.

then when she tells me stories about traveling the world, sometimes with no money but it ends up okay because she’s innovative. and that she has only ever worked for someone else just once in her life but it has always worked out and she has always had plenty. she is following her heart. nurturing her life. she’s officially appealed to my inspired nomad writer heart and i know that being true to my talents and giving back with my actions is the only way i will thrive.

someone will get me out of food service…i think i am leaping off this hobo grocery train!!!

*[p.s. for those of you dying to know, the italiano will be out of the shop by friday!!! can’t wait.]

if i twittered, who would follow?

26 Jul

i’m awake 4 hours 30 minutes ago

fed cat. she ate. 4 hours 25 minutes ago

let dog out to crap 4 hours 15 minutes ago

he’s crapping 4 hours 14 minutes ago

cat in litterbox. she reeks. 4 hours 13 minutes ago

reading news, making tea, dog barking at back door 4 hours 7 minutes ago

turned computer on, poured tea, gonna use the can 4 hours 3 minutes ago

looking in mirror. time to pluck eyebrows again 4 hours 2 minutes ago

btw, everything came out fine! 4 hours 17 seconds ago

checking email, looking for bike parts on craigslist & writing 4 hours ago

still doing same thing 13 minutes ago

Got up, stretched, ate avocado & cashews 10 minutes ago

seriously…who cares!? 2 minutes ago

hate to be a pessimist. some things seem dumb.  am i missing something? 30 seconds ago

naughty madre

23 Jul

i have a friend who has a particularly naughty mother. he told me a story once about how she consoled him after a break up. she said: the best way to get over a break up is to get under another man. now, he’s not interested in men. but you get the picture. why publicize this tender tale?

because in order to get over the old french bike i had to get on top of a new one. meet the italiano:

1978ish italvega

unrequited bike

23 Jul

the alternate title to this post was, warning: never buy bikes from hoarders who sniff a lot. the other alternate title: listen to your gut. yet another: know something about what you’re buying. yeah, i could really go on and on…

soooo, the old french bike is gone, a short lived love affair. it wasn’t planned that way. we never plan it that way, do we? i bought her from this guy that lived on the same street i grew up on. a person is not honest by association. especially not association with a street you happened to live on growing up. his shadiness was apparent from the beginning, a rampant double-talker who would argue whatever side of the coin suited his sale. thinking it was no big whoop, i was just buying a bike from the guy, i ignored my doubt about his character. five things i should have paid attention to:

  1. his property was blanketed in unkempt, half finished projects.
  2. bikes, lawnmowers, tools, golf carts, etc.  littered everywhere in vast quantities.
  3. his dogs were covered in cysts and ticks.
  4. his incessant sniffing was reminiscent of people i used to know who enjoyed the snorting variety of narcotics…buuttt, never know. could be allergies…
  5. my own gut contorted when i spoke with him.

in my life, i attempt to veer from judgment as much as possible. but in general, anyone who doesn’t care for their property/home, their animals, or themselves (wherever the sniffing originated) is probably not going to maintain a bicycle. okay, so that’s my soapbox. in a nutshell, guy selling=untrustworthy.

long story short, after some debate he gave me my money back because he couldn’t fix it. tells me flippantly as he hands back the cash, don’t matter anyway. sniff…i  gotta gal in the city that’ll pay three twenty fer it. sniff. i congratulate him and take my money, relieved to be finished with the interaction. i go home to peruse craigslist and what do i find? he has the old french bike listed for twice the price, touting it’s perfection:

womans Motobecane Mixtee cute roadbike in like new condition – $240

selling a beautiful mixtee motobecane ten speed bike ,has new cables ,new tires .new tubes ,a new seat and brake pads the paint is pristine ,with no fading or rust this is one of the nicest vintage bikes of its kind around its is simply beautiful ,,no e mail just call #%*-0071, thank you ,,, a great bike and super value at 240 firm


um, yeah. liar, liar pants on fire!

lessons learned. at least i got my money back!