Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Day For Rain: A Lesson In Loss

I'm afraid to turn my head but I need to see them carrying it in. I can feel my brother next to me. He’s shaking. Or is that me? We are packed tightly so it's hard to turn around. Eight people in a pew for six. Things like this call for being close together.

Everything is moving in broken pieces. Clicking like a film reel. The family is holding hands as they follow in. All around them are rows and rows of fragile people who cannot move. I cannot move. Not an inch. Not a breath.

We are all made of straw; the procession has entered waving a match.

All I can think are stupid thoughts.

Why doesn't that kid walking in front have a tie on? He should have a tie on.

They're placing it at the front of the church…I should say him…they're placing him at the front of the church.

Does "him" make it better or worse?

Across the way I can see out of the window, a perfect cloudless sky. Endless. There must be dueling suns it's so bright. The kind of weather you hope for when you're planning a barbecue. The kind of daylight that hurts your eyes when you've just stepped into it.

If this were a movie it would be raining. Pouring actually, with thunder and large drops of rain that make rings in large puddles. There would be no risk of fire. There would be a scene where everyone was dressed in black, with black umbrellas and the raindrops would be falling to symbolize tears.

Today the tears are the tears.

There are no clouds in the sky today. Rain would have been inappropriate. Rain washes things away. Makes things clean. It brings things to life.

It rained like cats and dogs on my parents wedding day. They are soaking wet in all of their pictures, holding red umbrellas and laughing. The best day of their lives.

No, this is not a day for rain. This day there are two suns illuminating every inch of heartbreaking space.

The singing of hymns. The holding of hands.

The kind things that were said in tortured speeches by all the people who will always wonder how someone so young could be taken so quickly.

The door being closed after they carry him away.

Everything is burning.

Everyone bows their head and prays for rain.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The List

I wish I had made a list.

I wish I was the type of person who made lists.

People who make lists don't forget things. They don't have to walk up to the counter with that nagging feeling that they forgot something. Something important. THE Something. The whole reason they came to the store in the first place, before they got distracted by the sale on strawberries. Is it even strawberry season? Are they on sale because they are in season or because they're not and they taste bad? Strawberries would be really good with Nutella. When was the last time I had Nutella? Damn, that stuff is delicious.

What was I saying? Oh, lists.

Lists give people focus. People who make lists don't get distracted by strawberries and even if they did they absolutely wouldn't be found near the Nutella. They're there to make check marks. They're on a mission. They get what they came for and walk away satisfied, accomplished with all their somethings in tow.

I'm not a list person.

(Once I remembered to make one but then forgot it at home on the counter.)

So, naturally, I usually return home loaded up on strawberries and Nutella, wiping my ass with tissues for another day because I originally went to the store for toilet paper.

Anyway, that's how I got here. Standing in the check out line at Stop & Shop, with sweaty palms because I know I forgot something (probably THE something) and because I never think I need a basket but I almost always do and now the carton of milk, with all it's delightful condensation, is slowly slipping from my arms. My arms that are packed with english muffins, eggs, bananas, and Cherrios. All of which I strongly doubt were the original reason I came to the store.

I always forget to make a list.

I do need milk. And eggs. Maybe not bananas but they never hurt anyone. Cherrios are always good. But there was something else. I know because I've got the nagging feeling. I also know I will never remember what the something is right now. Standing here, thinking too hard. Nope. That's not how this works. The something is going to come to me on the ride home. Right as I'm hitting my stride singing the chorus to "Bad Romance".


Of course dish soap isn't it and I'm not going to remember now. Not standing in line. Not with the sweaty milk. There's too much pressure.

Aside from being genetically incapable of making or remembering a list, I can never get a hold of where anything in this place is located. I go to the store with my mother and she knows exactly where everything is. She whips in and out of the isles. She's quick and precise, never having to back track because she walked through the whole store before realizing the soups were back where she came in and she just spent 15 minutes weaving through every isle wondering why she couldn't find them. I can never find the stupid soup.

Maybe it was soup!

No, it wasn't soup.

Anyway, I think I may have been adopted.

This lady in front of me has so many groceries in her cart she either has 8 children or is building a bomb shelter in her backyard. She even has the industrial size paper towel package jammed into the wire rack at the bottom.

I'm confident that she found her heap of supplies in about half the time it took me to locate the english muffin isle.

She is, of course, reading through a giant list and nodding approvingly. She's a professional. She's got coupons.


And I'm just standing here looking uncomfortable because (due to the struggle of holding all of these non-the-something items) the milk is not the only thing sweating. The milk that I'm going to drop in about 30 seconds right in front of this grocery shopping superstar.

"Do you have a Stop & Shop card?" the cashier is asking the woman. Of course she does. So now I'm standing here wondering why I don't have a Stop & Shop card. I have a Blockbuster card, a CVS card, a library card, a GAP card. I even have a Godiva card that I was manipulated into getting by an unfairly attractive Godiva employee named Mark. I need to get a Stop & Shop card if I'm going to be serious about this grocery shopping thing.

A Stop & Shop card, a basket and damn tutorial on list making.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Musical Moment

I was welcomed into a crowded bar last weekend by The Thong Song. I couldn’t help but smile as it thumped from the speakers and I was instantly transported back in time to a crowded middle school gym. A place where awkward 13- year-old girls, wearing Abercrombie t-shirts, danced in little clusters to a song about an undergarment their mother’s probably didn’t allow them to wear. A place where small, underdeveloped 13- year- old boys hovered along the wall pretending they were too cool to dance. Ahhh, how I don’t miss middle school or The Thong Song for that matter. I was hoping after 2000 I would never have to hear it again but there I was 10 years later being subjected to the corniness all over again. It’s just a slivers of pop culture, like stirrup leggings, that no matter how much you might despise, you cannot escape. Looking around the bar it struck me just how little had changed since middle school dances. Sure clothes might have changed and the beverages, of course were different (or at least legally being consumed), but the awkwardness was still there. A group of girls, dressed in slightly different versions of the same outfit, were dancing in a circle while a few guys hung around the edge, holding their drinks and trying to look cool.
I always thought, if I tried, I could develop a timeline of my life in music. Things like my 8th grade crush on the kid that sat next to me in math class would be marked with something like the band Slipknot. He liked them so I, naturally, thought I would like them too. As it turns out I’m not much for Slipknot but the band still reminds me of that kid (and of math, adding to my dislike for the band no doubt),solidifying it as a tiny dot in the timeline of my musical nostalgia.
I’d like to think I’ve come a long way from Abercrombie t-shirts and liking bands to impress boys. This past week I was handed a slew of new adult responsibilities, including buying a new car and moving into a new apartment. It made me wonder if in 10 years a song will come on and remind me of now. If Florence and the Machine is destined to always remind me of my new apartment because I was listening to her album on repeat while I was packing. If Britney Spears “Baby One More Time” will always remind me of my old car since it was, cruelly, playing on the radio as I was being whipped in the face with rain, driving through a hurricane, with a window that refused to roll up. It’s funny how things get marred inside your memories and you don’t realize it until one thing triggers the other and they both bubble up into your consciousness. Suddenly things that you haven’t remembered in years become fresh in your mind, like they’re somehow happening again and you can almost feel that awkward middle school anxiety sweeping over you and you think maybe not much has really changed. It’s amazing that such a small unexpected thing can trigger such a powerful reaction and then you think to yourself…The Thong Song? Really?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heat Wave

Remember a couple months ago when we were all yammering on about how we couldn’t wait for the warm weather? “I’m so sick of this snow,” we said. “I can’t wait for summer!” Well here we are almost a week into July and it seems our wishes have been answered about a million degrees over. It is absolutely boiling outside and the steamy weather seems to be having a strange affect. I woke up unusually early this morning and decided to take advantage and run some errands I’ve been putting off. I hit up Target, the Verizon store and BJ’s. I was on a roll! I decided to swing over to Michael’s to scope out some tools for a few interior decorating ideas’ I’ve been hatching. To my dismay the Michael’s shopping center had lost power. I admit this was a rather irritating set back but by the reactions of people around me you would have thought the world was ending. People were literally running around in the parking lot yelling “THE POWER IS OUT! THE POWER IS OUT! YOU CAN’T BUY ANYTHING!” I’m not kidding when I tell you that I doubt that even Paul Revere was so frantic when alerting townsfolk that the British were coming. To be fair the shopping center is also the home of TJ Max and DSW but still, neither warrants the sheer terror that was found in the eyes of these desperate people. Not only was the yelling a tad excessive but they were running from car to car. RUNNING. It’s 103 degrees outside! You can’t be running, I was concerned for their health. I got in my car as calmly as possible, as not to fuel the panic and drove off into the heat. Needless to say, my initial jump on the day was lost the minute I returned home and felt the AC hit. I don’t think I could be paid to leave the house again until the temp cools down to a more reasonable number. It simple just isn’t safe.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Circle of Your Friends

People are annoying. I've learned this not only from dealing with costumers but by just being alive. The majority of the time I wonder how my head doesn't explode from all the ridiculously irritating things the people around me do everyday. It is because I find people so annoying that it surprises me when I am able to find another human being that I can stand for any prolonged period of time. It absolutly astounds me when that same person can actually stand me as well. Therefore, it is in my humble opinion, that real friendships are the rarest kind of human relationships. It is nearly impossible to not only get a long with someone else but to also trust them and LIKE them, especially among girls who, for some unknown reason, seem to be programed by society to hate each other.

BUT despite jealousy, bitterness and selfishness that swirls around in society like air pollution, some girls actually find that that Sex and the City, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants friendship between a group of girls can exist. Although actual traveling pants and outrageous promiscuity are optional it is possible for girls to form friendships that are honest and healthy. To find in each other friends who will listen, with actual interests, when you tell a horrible story (and then have the courtesy to pretend to listen when you accidentally tell it again). Who can, with a single look, make you laugh so hard you cry. Who know that you are mad when you say that you're not but let it go. Who don't say "I told you so" when he breaks your heart. Who let you kiss that boy at the bar but don't let you go home with him. Who stick up for you. Who are willing to put up with your mood swings, bad hair days, panic attacks and big mouth because they trust that you will be there for them like they are there for you. No matter what. In this annoying world one friend just isn't enough. A girl needs a group. A circle that finds that together they balance out individual annoyances. Who love each other and respect each other enough to shoulder each other. And who will come running, through the storm of a family feud, a lost job or a broken heart, silver lining in tow.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Consoler of the Lonely

It always amazes me how different people display their crazy. Some people enter the store looking completely normal, are able to carry on normal conversation and then suddenly they unzip their tiny purse and pull out a 2 pound, nearly hairless dog, wearing a pink sweater and a tiara. Then you have the people who wear their crazy like a badge of honor like the woman who walked into my store a week ago dressed head to toe in 5 different shades of purple. I’ve become almost immune to crazy since almost every customer brings their own unique brand into store but even with out her blinding ensemble I could tell immediately Ms Purple was a special case.

To say I heard her before I saw her is an understatement. Before she even hit the door I could hear screeching from outside in the mall about a salt stain she had gotten on her jacket. When she actually entered the store she was handed a paper towel and with out skipping a beat she immediately began pointing out different bags, telling me which ones she “LOVED” and saying “oh no honey no” to others, wiping her jacket as she went.

Talking a thousand miles a minute she began putting on a show in the full length mirrors that border the store. As she tried on nearly every bag, Ms Purple gave me a run down of her personal style. Matching was key, she told me. For every bag she tried on she described pieces in her closet that might work with that bag. Pants, blouses, jackets, shoes on and on she went. Then she asked me if I would try on the bags for her, so she could see them against a different outfit. Over and over the bags got passed between the two of us, all the while Ms. Purple rambled about great deals she’s scored on her shopping sprees and good places near by to get rare handbags. Finally she picked her two favorite bags and handed them to me. She asked me to put them aside and said she’d be back later. Sure, I’d heard that one before. When people spend hours in your store, making a mess they always try to make themselves feel better about being a pain by telling you they’ll “be back later”, most of the time they’re lying.

Imagine my surprise when hours later, about half an hour before closing Ms. Purple waltzes in with three huge Nordstrom bags. I hand her the two bags she had put aside and she does a brief bit in front of the mirror before telling me she wants them both. As I ring up the bags and run her card she is talking about Louboutin’s she got on sale at Neiman’s for $100. When I look up for her to sign her receipt I realize she has taken off her coat and sat down on the bench in the middle of the store. “What do you think of those Kardashian girls?” She asks me. “I think they’re a bunch of you know what’s, if you know what I mean.” Even though I don’t really know what she means, I nod my head. “That middle one even made that sex tape with that R-Jay. That’s trashy.” I’m not really sure what to say to this so I just nod my head again and listen as she continues on a little rant.

From the Kardashian sisters she moves on to talking about Sade, then Oprah and Alicia Keys. Before long she is telling me about her life long love for Michael Jackson and how his death had a real impact on her life. She was the president of his fan club growing up and felt she understood why he “was the way he was”. I can’t really explain why I just continued to listen to her. The conversation (or lecture) seemed to go on forever before I really started to panic that she might never stop talking and I would have to sleep in the store.

Then the CD that had been playing in the store stopped and the classical music the mall plays came tinkling in. Suddenly Ms Purple stopped talking and turned her head to the door. “Do you hear that?” She asked me. I realized she had actually paused and was looking at me, as if suddenly she needed me to actually participate. “Yes.” I said.

“Isn’t that beautiful? I just love music, I really do, I love it. My mother used to play the piano, she was really good too. She used to play this song. It’s so beautiful”

I wanted to say yeah that’s great lady but you need to go, when something horrific happened. Ms Purple started crying. Crying. In my store. I froze. I don’t usually know the appropriate way to respond when someone I know is crying forget the consoling of a complete stranger. All I could think was, this is awkward. It probably wasn’t any longer than a minute but it felt like she sat there sobbing for hours. She apologized then told me she just couldn’t listen to classical music with out crying since her mother passed away years ago. I felt sympathy for her and tried to reassure her that everything was ok but on the inside I just wanted her to leave. I’m a sales associate not a shrink! Finally the woman got up and put her coat on. She took her bags, thanked me and left.

On the way home I kept thinking about Ms Purple. She seemed like a nice woman who was just in desperate need of someone to talk to. All day she probably blabbed to different sales people about her expensive collection of handbags and her skills at scoring deals on designer shoes but this woman wasn’t trying to brag she just wanted some human interaction. She wasn’t crazy (ok maybe a little) Ms Purple was lonely and no bag or shoe or deal could make up for that. I’d like to think on one slow Thursday night Ms Purple found some real retail therapy in a sales associate who may have felt awkward but was willing to listen.

Monday, January 4, 2010

In My Own Little World

Romeo and Juliet ( the Baz Luhrmann, Claire Danes- Leonardo DiCaprio version) has been a guilty pleasure of mine since first being exposed to it in my 9th grade English class. Not only does the movie display an adorable fresh faced, pre-Titanic Leo but the film is also breathtaking visually, a cool modern spin on the most classic of love stories. So you can imagine my elation when I was reading the latest issue of Lucky magazine and came across a feathered vest that much resembles the wings Claire Danes wears when she attends the costume party as an angel, the same party where she meets her Romeo for the first time. Despite my brainstorming I could not come up with an appropriate, realistic moment in my real life that I would require a cropped feather vest. However,in my fantasy life where I am a ferocious glam rock goddess (a la Lady Gaga or Gwen Stefani) the vest is ideal. Amazingly enough the vest is to début on this month and I am seriously considering purchasing it for the mere satisfaction of displaying it in my room. It would become a little shrine to my lavish imaginary world in which I am currently performing to sold-out crowds of screaming fans every night, walking around wearing a feathered vest like no big deal and where, ironically enough, Leo is my boyfriend.