Monday, September 28, 2009

Bus riding etiquette

So there should be a book on bus etiquette. And I'm going to make it happen. To me it's all common sense, stuff you learned in kindergarten. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

The Top 10 Bus Riding Etiquette Items (in almost no particular order)
1. Shower. There is nothing worse than sitting next to someone, let alone someone you don't know and having to smell their stank. When it's a friend you have the right to say "Dude, go wash yourself. You're ripe." But with someone you don't know there is no right or not uncomfortable way to tell them so. And if the bus is full, you can't switch seats.
2. When you sit in an empty two-seater, move to the inside. That way you can look out the window and the next person can sit down in the available seat on the aisle. If not you are going to have the awkward question/moment of them saying "Can I sit there?" And then you can't ignore them so you either move over or you stand up to let them on the inside. This isn't junior high, there are no "cool" seats.
3. Turn down your god damn music. We all have our favorite artists but most likely my fav isn't yours and I have no desire to hear your bass. Plus you're going to make yourself go deaf. I SAID, "YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE YOURSELF GO DEAF." Sheesh.
4. If you do talk on the phone, use your really really indoor voice. It's bad enough to have to listen to the "So I was like... and he was all... and then I was like" and the "You know what I'm sayin'. Shit." We don't need to hear your one-sided conversation either. Just put your head into your chest and talk quietly.
5. Please use words and phrases like "Excuse me" "Thank you" "Please." You do it every day at work, what is a few more times on the way home?
6. Don't put your bag in the seat next to you and pretend that it is OK. Because it's just not. I travel by bus more than any other mode of transportation and I carry a lot of crap. Yet I can put it on the floor, under my seat, on my lap and leave the seat next to me available.
7. If you see someone struggling offer your seat, offer to help. 9 times out of 10 they may deny it but it really is the thought that counts.
8. Greet and thank the bus driver. They are driving you around like Miss Daisy and most are very nice people. The will say hello back, and say things like "Have a nice day." when you get off.
9. Know and understand that this is a community and while many like to be left alone, many also like to meet new people. Humor the sweet, be it semi-nutty, old lady and listen to her story. After a while she'll stop. And if not it was just a small part out of your day.
10. And also understand that for some this is their only way of getting around. They understand more than anyone what is proper on a bus and what is not. Treat others like you would want to be treated.

It really is that simple.

This stemmed from my ride home today. I had my bag with my daily stuff in it, water-bottle, wallet, phone, keys, book, yada yada yada. But then I also had a big Target bag with a few things I picked up. I was able to sit down and put BOTH bags in my lap. And still pull out my book and read. But the man across the aisle from me had his legs spread like he was Ron Jeremy and a lap top on one leg, and his bag in the seat next to him. OK. One, you work too much if you are working on the ride home. Let it go for those however many minutes, sit and relax. But what really got my goat is that he refused to move his bag. Granted none of us passive-aggressive Minnesotans said anything, but still. You are one person, you should only take up one seat.

I wrote out an anonymous note saying "As a fellow bus rider I'd like please to remind you that it isn't just you and to put your bag in your lap so that others can sit. Thank you." And I was just going to hand it to him as I got off at my stop. But I chickened out. And I'm slightly pissed at myself for not having the guts to do this, but at the same time, he's a grown man. I shouldn't have to remind him that the bus is a public space and to please share. There were at least 5 people standing because his leather shoulder bag was occupying the seat. Looking back I could have stood up too, but I wanted his stupid bag to move first.

I really should have given him the note. I think the few people sitting around me might have seen me write it too. Perhaps I should print out this list, carry copies with me, and whenever someone is being an uncaring, disrespecting jackass I can hand them a copy as I get off.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

A break from web searching

I am sitting in my apartment, with Beethoven on the stereo, and the rain outside. It's lovely. And I'm trying to navigate the impossible world of magazines/publishing/where to send my pieces. That world is so big and I get lost in it so quickly. It's very disheartening. I wish there was a sarahgohereforallyourwriting/ website. Everything I and I alone need to know to get my pieces read.


If only all things were that easy.

Life would be boring.

I finished "The Hour I First Believed" by Wally Lamb today. I teared up more times than I can count during the time I took to read that one. He weaves such deep characters and multi-layered stories that it pulls you into the soul of the book. There were several twists I didn't see coming. And it was a very deep story when it came to the history of the characters and where they came from. You go to know generations past of this family. Wally Lamb's second book "She's Come Undone" is in my top 10, and this isn't far behind. I think I should pick up his first one, "I Know This Much Is True".

I'm mostly blogging here to give myself a little break from looking at websites and through a magazine market book I have for places to send my stuff. It is so overwhelming and I don't know where to begin. I wish I had a counselor like in college, telling me that this magazine is a good fit and that one is not. But I'm all grown-up now and need to figure that out on my own. Perhaps I'll just open up this book "Best of the magazines market for writers" book I have and just pick one of the many many places I have post-it noted and say "This is the magazine for this try." Kind of a literary roulet.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Latest piece is running late

So my next writing assignment is late. And it's my fault. Well, isn't it always our fault? The dog never really did eat the homework. And I'm writing it on why I think Minneapolis rocks. I'm giving it my own twist, of course, and making it humorous and such. But I think I really, really love this city because it's twice as long as it should be. And I'm having the hardest time cutting it back. There is just so much that I love and want people to try out and enjoy that I can't shut up about it.

Its very frustrating. Remember those papers in college where you would make the margins just a bit bigger, and change the font from Times New Roman to Courier New all to see if it helped get what little you had written into the required page length? Yeah, well this one is too damn long, too wordy, not funny enough, and not original enough to what makes Minneapolis special for me to be happy with it.

Damnit. I really need to crack down here. Stop adding and start honing in on what is good, what can go, and what needs to be improved.

Basically I need to stop thinking about ways to improve and just do it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rejection 360

Well I just got my first rejection. I'm bummed. But it's the first of many, as sad as that may sound, but it's most likely the truth. I already received the letter saying "Thanks but no thanks" to that piece I submitted within the last month. Their website said they respond within 3 to 6 months. I guess if they really don't like your work, they respond quicker.

I honestly didn't expect to get accepted. That only happens in movies. But I didn't think not getting accepted would make me tear up like I did. I choked it back, thinking "If you're going to react this way, the rest of your submissions and rejection letters aren't going to get any easier." It is just a bit of a downer when you put your heart and soul into something and then someone says "It's not what we are looking for."

However, I was just talking to a fellow writer friend of mine and telling her about this. And she congratulated me. She said "You've graduated. You took a certain step in writing and you are on a whole new level." And she put this rejection into a whole new window for me. I'm going to hold on to that rejection letter as a right of passage. Someone did read my stuff, someone did hear my story, and even though it's not what they are looking for, I still had the gumption to send it out.

And you know what? I'm going to do it again.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Work= a witch and a vow of silence

Some times, well who am I kidding? Many many times I meet such interesting people at my job. Like last night I met a woman who, oddly enough look liked a witch, cursed me. And not like a "Fuck you, coffee lady" curse. More along the lines of "A plague on both your houses" curse. Simply because I wouldn't refill her drink because she didn't originally get it at my store. That didn't make her happy, so she stood in the doorway and cursed me. "I curse you!" she hollered. "And may it follow you everywhere!" Yeah, ummm OK. I have no warts and nothing bad has happened, so I have a hunch that her curse didn't work.

And today I met a guy named Steven. For the past few days he has come in and gotten a tea but hasn't said a word. All his communication is through writing. He simply writes "I can not speak, but may I please have a green tea?" He can hear us so we talk back to him in yes and no questions. And twice he has given us thank you notes for being so kind and patient. "You kindness and small gestures means the world" his notes have said.

Well today he came in a spoke. We were all taken aback, yesterday he was silent and today he is speaking. He explained himself. He had taken a vow of silence for a week. Just because. To clear his mind, to center himself, to take in the world through other senses. And he said it was the coolest thing. After the first few days, your mind actually grows silent and you become inwardly calm. I was extremely impressed and to be honest quite smitten quite quickly with how open and honest he was to complete strangers about what he had just gone through. And then to hear his voice on top of how good looking he was, whoo-wee. He's handsomeness surely matches what I have witnessed of his inner beauty.

I would love to sit and talk with this guy more. He seems so intriguing and aware and willing. I bet he has a lot on his mind and seems like someone who wouldn't mind sharing it with someone else. Plus he said he was going across the country on his bike, which was locked up outside. I bet there are many stories there.

I wonder if i could take a vow of silence? Now, I can just hear all of you, "But you're loud, and you always talk, and you're so opinionated." Bla bla bla. Take all that out. To me a vow of silence is more of will power rather than just not talking. I can not talk, that part seems easy. It's the idea of learning to communicate with others without words, or holding what is dear to you closer in order to understand it rather than just immediately showing someone else. I surly couldn't work during this vow. But I also would have to not lock myself in my apartment. Steven had said that this vow drove his mother crazy. I have a hunch my mom might be relieved. Hell, many people might.

I just love my job. Look at all the people I meet.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bar argument got me thinking

I went out with some girlfriends this past Saturday and my friend Kerstin and I would up at our new favorite people watching bar, Cowboy Slims. This is the bar that I fell in, mentioned in a post not too long ago. Not many people we know think highly of this bar, but we think it's a riot. We always have fun and seem to get some free drinks every time we go.

This last time I got into a heated argument with a boy named Tim. He said that money buys happiness and I disagree. His point was that if someone gave me 1 million dollars right now, that wouldn't make me happy? Well sure it would. But that is then implying that I am unhappy without that money. This guy is working as a mechanical engineer (it "pays the bills" he said) owns 2 properties in Duluth, and is looking to buy another here in some suburb. I told him I can't understand why someone would want to own a house in the burbs. (I love it in the city and no one can give me a reason that satisfies me enough to convince me to move.) And he said that he buys them for the resale value. Well whenever I buy a house, it's not to sell it again. It is to make it my home for as long as I can.

This guy got me so riled up that I was shocked when he said he wanted to see me again. I think our first date would be nothing but us arguing. He even told me to settle. Note to people just meeting me, never tell me to settle, or shush me for that matter. Just makes me that much louder.

But he did get me thinking. Since Saturday I have been thinking of the phrase "money buys happiness." True? False? Somewhere in between? Money buys us items that gives us moments of bliss, but other than that I don't think so. Money can not buy you that feeling and raw emotion from the inside.

I even told him "I work retail and live almost paycheck to paycheck and I am the happiest I have ever been." And that sure isn't because I won the lottery.

Would I be happy if someone gave me millions of dollars? Sure. But show me someone who would deny that money. Everyone would be more content with enough money so they could do anything they choose and wouldn't have to worry. But that isn't how life works. If it takes money for you to be happy, you're going to have a long, irritating and stressful life.

I knew someone who was always focused on not having enough money and it made for some not fun times. Money doesn't make me happy, I make me happy. And the people I love make me happy. Money is a necessity of life but it doesn't have to control it.

Sorry Tim, but you are way wrong.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A very amusing moment

So at work we spend a lot of time people watching. We have a big window that looks out onto Nicolette Mall and in the down time we watch crazy people talk to pigeons, girls walk by with too-short skirts on, fools with a bandanna and a hat on in wearing skinny jeans. It's highly entertaining. And with this comes the regulars. We see people come from across the street and we start making their drink, or in my case, we stare at the cute boy hoping he'll come over and get a coffee so I can ask him out.

I don't know his name. I think its Mike, a friend of mine thinks its Tucker (But I think he says that to mess with me) so we call this guy TuckerMike. And TuckerMike is cute. Another friend I work with suggested that I ask him out. I took his advice and did so. After my first failed attempt.

I thought I'd write it on the cup. "Lets grab a drink. Anything but coffee." with my name and number. So I did. And then TuckerMike comes in and orders a different size and I completely choke. I've never done that before, and looking back I'm still pissed at myself. I couldn't even say "Hows your morning?" I just stood there like a mute fool and filled his large (not medium, like I was hoping) cup and sent him on his way.

The next day, I was ready. No choking for me. I wrote my little message on a piece of paper instead, so I could put it between the sleeve and the cup of any size he ordered. TuckerMike came in after his morning cigarette (see, we really do people watch) and ordered his coffee. As I'm filling it, I'm trying to slide the paper in between the cup and sleeve and it is choosing not to cooperate. I can't chat him up any more, so I hand him the coffee with the note hanging very far out of the sleeve.

Smooth, Riley.

He goes over to our condiment bar for cream and sugar and puts the note in his pocket. On his way out he says "Have a nice day, Ladies." "You too." we all respond in a high, school-girl tone.

And we haven't seen him since.

One of two things were going to happen after he got the note. He was either going to call or he'll never come in for coffee again. And it turns out it's the latter. So I successfully didn't get a date AND lost us a customer in one shot. Awesome.

Now I don't care that he didn't call. I don't even know his name. He could be married, have a girlfriend, be gay (although my gay-dar would have picked up on that), but most likely he's just not interested. Fine. No skin off my back. But I want to go up to him during his smoke breaks and say "I don't care that you didn't call. But come back and get your coffee."

I guess TuckerMike isn't as cool as I thought. His pansy-ass can't even come back for coffee after a cute girl asked him out. In a very original way, I might add. Ahh well, moving on. On to another cute boy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

While walking through my neighborhood

With no TV and no car I tend to walk a lot. Not out of boredom, well maybe a little bit. But it gives me something to do, takes up time, helps me clear my head, it's good for me, and I like it. I have noticed that when walking just for walking's sake I notice more things than when I am walking to a destination. So when I go walking I've started to bring my camera with me to take pictures of all the really cool things I see.

Its found expression, people expressing themselves though few words or a picture. And I get curious about who wrote that or what they were feeling at the time.

Here are some examples of what I've found on my walks.

There is also a "Slut love (said with a heart not the word) you" a few blocks away.

This made me stop mid-step and smile. I also found it on another dumpster on the next block.

I kind of want to find the person who wrote this and give them a hug.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Excerpts from The Reader

"As the days grew longer, I read longer, so that I could be in bed with her in the twilight. When she had fallen asleep lying on me, and the saw in the yard was quiet, and a blackbird was singing as the colors of things in the kitchen dimmed until nothing remained of them but lighter and darker shades of gray, I was completely happy."

"At first glance, one might have taken it for a child's handwriting. But what is clumsy and awkward in children's handwriting was forceful here. You could see the resistance Hanna had had to overcome to make the lines into letters and the letters into words. A child's hand will wander off this way and that, and has to be kept on track. Hanna's hand didn't want to go anywhere and had to be forced. The lines that formed the letters started again each time on the upstroke, the downstroke, and before the curves and loops. And each letter was a victory over a fresh struggle, and had a new slant or slope, and often the wrong height or width."

I just thought that both of these little quotes were so simple yet worded so well. The first one really painted a picture in my mind of the ease he felt lying in bed with her. And I have never thought of handwriting or learning to write period in a way that broke it down like the second quote did.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A contented sigh

I just did some at-home yoga. Man, does that feel good! I was sitting at my desk a while ago, bored and not really knowing what I felt like doing. I was thinking that I can't hardly wait for my yoga class to start up again and then I thought "Why don't I just do some yoga here at home?" So I did. With a few candles, my pretty red star lamp on, and Vivaldi's Four Seasons playing in the background, I got back in touch with my inner-yogi.

At home I don't do yoga for nearly as long as I do it when I'm in class, but that is OK. I was in some serious need of some stretching. I've walked a lot in the last 24 hours. Yesterday I walked to and from work just because it was gorgeous out. And after work I went to a friend's house for some beers via the bus. But I walked home afterward. And then today another friend and I walked around and around my neighborhood and the rest of Uptown for a few hours. My legs got their share of work and then tonight got to relax and stretch.

It is only 9pm, and I am tired. Tomorrow is Labor day and I have the day off. I should be out on the town and enjoying the night life. But simply put, I don't wanna. My stoop with my neighbors or just my chair and a book will do.

I am reading The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. That book that was turned into a movie that won Kate Winslet a Golden Globe and an Oscar. My mom said it was a hard read for her, which usually means it will be really hard for me. But I'm actually finding it a well-flowing book. It was originally written in German (I think) and has been translated. The translator used the simplest terms and for a good chunk of the book, it works. It's told from the boy's point of view, so it's elementary in it's thought process about the love affair he has with Hanna. He was a teenager and his simple mind is very well portrayed in the words. I'm halfway through, in mid-trial and am enjoying it. I just know how it ends thanks to Hollywood.

Summer is coming to an end here. I love fall. I love sweaters and scarves and layers and cool breezes and changing colors. People always ask "Do you prefer summer or winter?" And I prefer Spring and Fall. I like the hibernating and re-birthing of nature. Plus it makes these glorious, warm summer months that much more enjoyable.

I have tomorrow off and nothing on the docket. Funny, after I typed that word I was just wondering what a docket was. According to my big and wonderful Oxford American Dictionary a docket is "a calendar or list of cases for trial or people having cases pending" So I guess I didn't use that word quite right. I am not on trial nor do I have any cases pending. But nonetheless (another funny one, who thought of putting 3 words together to basically mean "that aside"??) Anyway.... I'm rambling. I have nothing planned for tomorrow. I'm sure I'll be outside, it's supposed to be lovely out.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Detective

Not too long ago I wrote a post about a regular customer that we call The Detective. He's old and can't really see or hear so when he talks it echos through the cafe.

Well I finally found out some info about him.

I was quoting Friends for my fellow co-workers and was making big gestures and this guy saw me and said I reminded him of Ceasar Romero. Which I don't fully understand, but that isn't the point. I called him over to the counter and he got up and did a little jig before he walked over to us.

His name is Ferdinand, but people call him Fred. He just started talking and I tried to take in as much as I could. He played guitar since he was 14, his dad was in World War II (but I thing he meant WWI, seeing as how Fred himself is old enough to be in WWII.) Anyway...He said that he used to be much more agile in his younger days, he still gets around pretty well though. Just don't walk behind him, he said. And I think that was his way of saying he's gassy. Which totally made me giggle.

He comes in every day, reads music magazines with his magnifying glass, does his little jig as he gets up to leave, visits with his lady friend. We all hear him one day say in his loud-I-can't-hear-myself voice "I'm going to take you out on a real date. Yes sir-ee." He's just so charming and simple. I kind of wish I could go back in time and see him in his hey day. Bet he was like the un-famous version of the Rat Pack.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Reading + Words = Beauty

I just finished a beautifully written book about books, mystery, love, secrets. It is called The Shadow of the Wind by Carols Ruiz Zafon. Although sometimes long-winded, it was a lovely read. Here are some excerpts that I marked in the book, showing it's wonderfully weaving words.

"This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read and lived and dreamed with it. Every time the book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens."

"I had never known the pleasure of reading, of exploring the recesses of the soul, of letting myself be carried away by imagination, beauty, and the mystery of fiction and language."

"This city is a sorceress, you know, Daniel? It gets under your skin and steals your soul without you knowing it."

"Bea says the art of reading is slowly dying, that it's an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with all out heart and mind..."