Margin Sketch: Staff Meeting

•January 15, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Staff meeting

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•January 15, 2018 • Leave a Comment

And now to compart-mentalize.
We spent the weekend watching the entire first season of the “Marvelous Mrs Mazel”. Thanks to the award season hype, the show was, for a few brief days, available to everybody and not just to Amazon Prime subscribers, and I was eager to get to see it after glowing recommendations from my youngest sister, Filbert. Frankly, it deserves every nomination that it’s got.

The only way to watch an Amazon Prime video on our television was to hook up a computer to it via hdmi cable. The only computer available and portable enough to make this worthwhile was my laptop. So the down side is that I couldn’t use my laptop all weekend, but the up side is that it forced me to stay focused on other things like organizing the digital files on my old hard drive and digitizing artwork and the usual laundry and laundry and laundry. 

Now that the weekend is over and I have my laptop back, I’m eager to get back to work, but somehow can’t seem to get started. Maybe my mind is still too full of the “Marvelous Mrs Mazel”. My brain certainly does seem to be using a lot of my processing capacity for… Something. I’m not sure what, yet. Trying to fall asleep last night was like lying on a hard surface under florescent lights and having the glossary, index, and appendices of a textbook drip fed into my brain. I wasn’t particularly worried or focused on any of this bulk data, but I somehow wasn’t able to dismiss it either. It was not a restful night’s sleep. I’m hopeful that this portends a creative breakthrough in the near future, but it does feel strange to be aware that your own mind is hard at work and you have no idea what it’s up to.

DudeBro II

•January 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

If I’m standing at the bus stop, the only thing I’m interested in being picked up by is a bus. #Pleaseandthankyou
Just my luck: my iPod was dead. I’d charged it all afternoon the day before, but when I stepped out of the house in the morning it lit up briefly, insisted “I shall dieeee”, and then proceeded to actually do so. 

I was annoyed, but not greatly inconvenienced: I listen to music as a way to cultivate privacy more than for the actual entertainment: a tacit way of expressing “I do not wish to be engaged in conversation, thank you”. I could survive one day without headphones, couldn’t I? How often did anyone try to talk to me anyway?

Well…

I stood at the second bus stop waiting for the express bus. Typically, I like to wait on the high ground because it gives me a better view and because it makes it harder for someone to sneak up on me or back me into a corner. Today, the view largely consisted of a DudeBro who was chatting up another woman also waiting for the bus. His body language said: ” I’m interested whether you are or not.” Her body language said: “I AM NOT.”  

He stood too close to her, inside her personal space, backing her up against the bus stop bench. She was tall, but slender. He was taller. And bigger. And openly drinking from a flat glass bottle of vodka. At seven thirty in the morning. 

The woman  her ground, and evidently made her disinterest known because DudeBro eventually walked away and left her alone. Still, I was readying myself in my head to ask her for ‘directions’ if he came back to bother her again. 

He came to bother me instead. 

I was putting up my hair, which had evidently caught his eye. He marched up the small rise, head on, staring unselfconsciously the whole way. He stopped in front of me. Too close. Inside my personal space. His body language said “I am interested whether you are or not.” 

I was not. 

“How long is your hair?” He asked.

“About to my waist.” I said.

“Take it down. Let me see.”

“No. I’m putting it up now.” I said. 

I don’t usually mind obliging this kind of thing when someone wants to see my hair, but I knew for sure that I didn’t want to encourage him. I continued to put up my hair. 

DudeBro held out a hand as if for a handshake. I didn’t take it.

“You just going to leave me hanging?

“I’m afraid so.”

“Why? It’s just a handshake.”

“I’m not comfortable with that.” I said. 

“How about-” DudeBro turned his hand over in a loose fist for a fist bump instead. “Are you comfortable with that?” 

I grudgingly gave his knuckles a tap with my left hand, knocking my ring against the cabuchon stone in his ring. If he was looking for a ring, this was his chance to see it. I hated myself for having to resort to the ‘I’m the property of a man already’ argument, but if it made DudeBro go away, I want above using it. 

It did not make DudeBro go away. 

“You’re very beautiful.” He said. 

“Thank you.”

“On a scale of one to ten, you know what I give you?”

I didn’t care. I wasn’t a fucking number. He was going to tell me whether I wanted to know or not. 

“For your hair, I give you…” He paused for dramatic effect. “… A nine.”

“Nine, huh?”

I was surprised he went that high. I was pretty sure he was gaming me. I was expecting a neg. 

“For your eyes, I give you…. A nine.”

“That so.”

“Uh huh. You know what I give you for your lipstick?”

“No.”

“I give you a…. Seven.”

There it was. He wanted me to ask ‘why a seven?’ So that I’d feel compelled to try to win his approval. When it didn’t come, he took out his phone and held it up as if taking a picture. I held up my hand, blocking the camera. He moved the phone around, making shutter noises. 

“None of that.” I told him.

“It’s not for real.” He held up the screen to show me that the camera app wasn’t open.

“I said no.” 

“Why you gotta be like that?” He wanted to know. “You’re very beautiful. You going to work?”

“Yes.”

“Where do you work?”

None of you’re business. 

Santa Monica.” 

“Santa Monica?! Wow that’s far! And you commute all the way from here? Why?”

“Because that’s where the work is.” 

“You’re waiting for the bus?”

“Yes.”

“But, why this bus?” He pointed in the direction of the traffic. “Santa Monica is the other way.”

I shrugged. I didn’t want to have to explain to him that the bus route took an illogical jog North in order to get onto the southbound ramp for the highway. He either already knew, in which case I didn’t need to tell him, or he was trying to go northbound, in which case he was waiting for the other bus, and I didn’t need to tell him. 

“That’s just the way the bus goes.”

 There wasn’t anything else you say about that. The conversation should have ended there, but DudeBro was no quitter. He changed topics.

“How tall are you?”

“Six foot.” Not strictly true, but that was how tall I was standing in my current shoes. 

“You’re not!” He insisted. “I’m six one. You’re not taller than me.”

“I guess not, then.”

“How tall are your shoes?”

“I dunno. How tall do they look?”

He leaned back to look, taking the opportunity to follow my legs back up. He wasn’t helping his case. 

“Four inches?”

“Guess so.” 

“You’re beautiful.” He said again, like he’d run out of other things to say. 

“Thank you.” I said. “You need to go now.” I pointed to the sidewalk. 

“Why?”

“You’re making me uncomfortable.”

“Why you gotta do that? I’m just giving you a compliment- I say you’re beautiful.”

“And I said thank you.” I said. “You still have to go.” 

“It’s a compliment.” He reiterated, backing away a step, then coming back like he thought I might’ve changed my mind. “You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful. Why do you say I have to go?”

I pointed to the sidewalk again. “I told you that you’re making me uncomfortable.” I said. “It’s time for you to go.” 

He did, eventually, back down the rise to the sidewalk, incanting “you’re beautiful” the whole way. When the bus came he got on it, exclaiming over the fact we were taking the same bus, but didn’t insist on sitting next to me. I wondered whether he was surprised to find himself heading south. He disembarked before I reached my stop, so I didn’t have to worry about him following me to work. 

Music or no music, I put in my headphones. 

•January 10, 2018 • Leave a Comment


The rain had stopped but the air was full of moisture. Breath turned into clouds of vapor. The morning bus route was hazed with fog until the rising sun burned it off. For just a few moments, it felt as if the bus were journeying into a realm of dreams. 

I wish I were in a realm of dreams right now. I slept fine, but I’m exhausted and have been for a few days. Coffee and energy shots are keeping me upright, but aren’t really bringing me awake. I suppose it probably has something to do with the fact that my body is readjusting back to normal after the holidays, but I don’t really know.

Sound of Rain

•January 9, 2018 • Leave a Comment


I woke up to the sound of rain. Yesterday’s light drizzle was still coming down steadily in the kind of soaking rain that the ground desperately needed. I wasn’t looking forward to navigating my commute with an umbrella and the inevitable dampness that would come from waiting out in the open, but I wasn’t about to complain about the rain. It happens too rarely. We need it too much. 

The busses of Los Angeles are not weather tight. On rainy days, the rooftop escape hatches leak and a steady, cold drip of water seeps along the flashing on the ceiling to drop on unsuspecting passengers below. The seats where I prefer to sit are typically waterlogged before I even board, which turns the morning commute into an infuriating game of musical chairs, attempting to find a place where water neither drips from the ceiling nor seeps up through the upholstery.

At one station, I boarded the train in the rain. At the next station, I disembarked in the sun. Somewhere in between I felt certain there must be a rainbow, but it was not readily apparent in a quick scan of the skies. It wasn’t until several minutes later, when I was down on street level, that I glanced up at sky’s reflection in the windows of a building across the street. The reflection showed a rainbow, but I couldn’t see it in the sky. I peered between buildings to search the clouds, wondering if I was imagining the reflection, or that it might be some effect of the glass itself, but then I found the fragments of the rainbow in the sky- broken and faded, but still visible.

A Box of Trophies

•January 8, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Winner, winner, garbage picker
Someone was throwing away their trophies. There, beside the trash cans behind the batting cages was a cardboard box heaped high with trophies and medals, abandoned to the mercy of the LADWP. 

At first, I thought that I must have made a mistake. I’d glimpsed the box while running along the bike path behind the park, and there were still a group of guys in the batting cages- maybe the trophies belonged to them and they’d just set them aside until they loaded their gear to go home. When I ran back, the trophies were still there, but then again, so were the guys. 

The next day, when I ran by, the guys were gone, but the trophies were still there. They were big trophies too: double decker style trophies with multiple tiers like a wedding cake. Several of them were draped with medals.

I wondered what possessed someone to throw away their trophies. It seemed like a pretty meaningful statement to make, although in this age of participation trophies (do people still give participation trophies or has that finally been ridiculed into obscurity?), maybe it was someone just cleaning out their closets. 

The sight of that box of trophies got me thinking about the culture of winning. There’s a line in the Queen song “We Are the Champions” that goes: 

We are the Champions/ We are the Champions/ No time for losers/ Cuz we are the champions of the world

The ‘losers’ line always bothered me. I used to tell myself that I was just being oversensitive about it, that is been too strongly conditioned to believe that it was unsporting to call someone a loser that I couldn’t just enjoy a song about someone taking a victory lap. But the feeling never went away. I still don’t like the song very much because of it. I think it is very unbecoming for a champion to call their opponent a loser- it shows that they don’t respect our don’t recognize their opponent’s skill. I can’t help but think that someone who doesn’t respect their opponent isn’t really a champion no matter whether they win or lose. 

Similarly, I was watching (ok, listening) to the Golden Globes while puttering around the house. One of the winners was making their acceptance speech, and said something along the lines of: “I’m glad I won because it would be bad to lose two years in a row” alluding to the fact that he’d been nominated last year, but hadn’t won the trophy. On that one hand, I could see where he wss coming from- it’s hard to get so close to the top and not win the trophy. On the other hand, he didn’t exactly lose either- he still went home as a Golden Globe nominee. The nomination still follows him around for a year like a vote of confidence, and, in fact, will continue to follow him around for the rest of his life. It’s a little bit like being given a beautiful, faithful, helpful dog and spending all your time being sorry that it’s a mutt. 

The bottom line is: when you’re standing on the top of the mountain, it’s ok to be proud of making it to the top, but that doesn’t mean that the people still climbing are worse than you. Even trophies get put out with the trash. 

Flyover Day

•January 7, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Some days are just days that happen in between everything else.
Breakfast. Show. Laundry. Laundry. Laundry. Floors. Laundry. Lunch. Show. Floors. Floors. Floors. Laundry. Ironing. Run. Dinner. Show. Show. Bed.

It wasn’t the most noteworthy of days, but I made a dent in getting the house in order.  The holiday decorations are back in storage. The house is (mostly) clean. I went running even though it wasn’t easy. It’s late and I wanted to try to write something, but I don’t have much on my mind to write about, so I’m going to call it a night. 

Not every day is going to be a showstopper.

 
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