29 October 2009


I always feel like I need a palate cleanser after writing a super depressing post. So here comes the grapefruit sorbet of blog posts.
Things I Find Utterly Comforting
  • BBC World Service. When I hear them say "It is 3 a.m. GMT," the idea that there are nice British news announcers with posh accents awake in some little studio at 3 a.m., just so I can hear about things like EU politics - well, that is strangely comforting to me. They are THERE for me. They are my people.

  • Speaking of radio, Daniel Zwerdling friended me back on Facebook. Not just comforting, but thrilling in a totally NPR-geek kind of way.

  • IMG_0852
  • And speaking of truly great voices, Barack Obama comforts me in a deep and satisfying way. I could listen to him talk about, say, agricultural trade policy with Central America for hours and not get sick of him.

  • My Superhero "Earth" necklace. I always thought these colors would be too wimpy for me. They're not - they are perfect. I feel like a pretty, pretty princess when I am wearing this necklace.

  • Goldie. Well, of course, Goldie.

  • Banana trees growing in my yard. Even after 4 years, I still think my banana trees are the niftiest thing ever, and sitting under them in the soft shade listening to the leaves brush together lets me pretend I am on vacation in the tropics.

  • The prayer for protection that we say at Unity. Like to hear it? Here it goes:
    The light of God surrounds me.
    The love of God enfolds me.
    The power of God protects me.
    The presence of God watches over me.
    Wherever we are, God is,
    And all is well.

  • Those Gap body pants they sent me randomly and for free for visiting the Shutter Sisters suite at BlogHer 2009. I am not getting paid for this review and I did not ask for the pants, but I must say they are the softest, comfiest thing on earth, and any time they want to send me more, I will say so again (hint, hint) and if they send me more than $40 worth, I will yank down my BlogHer ad so quick you won't remember it was ever there. Just saying.

  • Listing all the countries of the world in alphabetic order. Not strict order - I just start with all countries beginning with the letter A (of which there are a surprising number. Don't forget Angola!) and moving on to B when I can't remember any more A's. I do this to fall asleep. I rarely get to the letter E.

Ok, what comforts YOU?

28 October 2009

Damocles's Bitch

I am still standing, with the layoff sword swinging above my head. I can feel it whoosh by and chop a few hairs each time.

Today hundreds were lost. Like baby birds with new wings, they got sent into the unknown. But I'm sure it felt like plummeting, not flying.

They were people who have rent to pay, mortgages, kids to feed, too much debt. Maybe they cried, maybe they swore. Maybe they just sighed and put their stuff in their cardboard box, resigned.

I hate this waiting, the way it makes me feel. Hopeless and helpless with a stomach full of butterflies and a head buzzing with bad thoughts. Can't sleep. I try to meditate and my mind slips away in the space of two breaths.

And yet I love this waiting because it is one more day of doing this job, getting paid, not having to scramble with all of the desperate masses out there.

Like any caveman who doesn't understand the forces that befall him, I look to signs and omens: if we don't hear anything by noon, that means we will make it through the day. I check his eyes to see if the security guard looks nervous, like he knows something. I read and re-read the announcement emails, examining individual words, phrases, for hidden meanings and connections.

I hope it's not me, then I feel bad, for if it isn't me, it will be someone else. Do I deserve to stay? Am I better than my co-workers? Do I work hard enough? Am I smart enough, capable enough, do I care enough?

Or do I not care at all anymore? Maybe that's what this dead, flat feeling is, dull like a smashed penny from the railroad tracks.

I am at a loss. I wear the same clothes day after day. I don't fix my hair. Sometimes I don't comb my hair. I don't know what to eat. I don't want to get up in the morning or to go to bed at night.

Goldie is unsatisfied that I am not getting up. So she is reminding me of what I am doing wrong by menacing me with her giant dog head.

Maybe it is time to move on. But please don't let me have to.

I wish things were happy. I wish they were simple. I wish people treated each other better.

In Spanish, to hope and to wait are the same word, esperar. Espero por la futura.

25 October 2009

At long last, an Amtrak update

A nice lady from Amtrak called me to talk to me about this post. I wish they had a bigger staff so I didn't have to wait weeks for a resolution, but that's Congress's problem, I suppose.

Eddie Valentine said she is route manager for the train I was on, and that I am completely off my tree with charges of racism. She didn't say it that way. She was very polite.

"Don't see something that isn't there," she said.

She explained that on long-distange trains, passengers are sorted by destination to minimize the amount of foot traffic and luggage moving and whatnot that might disturb others as they prepare to exit the train.

Makes sense. I cannot remember anyone asking me my destination but I am willing to admit that my memory may be faulty. I was dealing with bags and traveling companions and tickets and ID and perhaps the lady did ask me. I don't remember it - but I could be wrong on that count.

Ms. Valentine also explained in no uncertain terms that she is Black and that there is no way she would stand for that kind of activity on her train.

So there we have it. An explanation at last. What do you think? Make sense?
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