A Bus Buddy

I am back, I am caffeinated, and the blog posts will be flying off the keys with increasing frequency and an uncharacteristic amount of zeal. This, at least, is the idea.

Early on in the summer, my laptop decided it’d had enough of me (or maybe enough of the voltage in Italian outlets – your guess is as good as mine) and refused to hold any charge for even a second. Consequently, it was annexed to the family room ottoman for two months, perpetually reliant on a power cord accessorized with a “DO NOT UNPLUG ME!!!” post-it note. A lazy excuse to not write, but sufficient for a person such as myself. I also developed the internal monologue of “I’m just taking the time to collect material, it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine” – which was true. I penned many a note, illustrated many a character. It’s fine. It’s fine. And with that and a new laptop (!!!), dear readers, I present to you a study in the joys and sorrows of public transportation: the Bus Chronicles.

I’m sure most people would agree that 7am is a great time to be alone. Personal space is kind of a 24/7 preference for me, but it is doubly so at dawn, triply so at dawn on a bus. It’s not necessarily because I am cranky – I like to think I’m pretty chipper, actually – but because the viewing of a PNW sunrise should be a very personal affair, something free of interruptions, i.e. the coughs/elbows of strangers. Being trapped in the window seat by a sleeper when I arrive at my stop has always been an additional concern. Let’s not even discuss someone actually falling asleep on me. For these reasons and several unnamed, when came a morning of especial introversion, I assumed the role of that asshole who, in the most passive-aggressive preventative measure known to man, puts her bag in the seat next to her. As we coasted into the next transit center, I pretended to be asleep so no one could ask me to move it. It seemed like a foolproof plan. I had seen other people pull the exact same moves.

But, knowing precisely where to find me, Guilt paid a visit. It was a Thursday, and for some reason that day of the week tends to draw a particularly high volume of commuters, at least from my own observation; a shortage of seats was a possibility. So with a sigh of resignation, I grabbed my backpack and opened my eyes. There stood a woman, short in stature but inordinately large in visible bitterness toward me, looking down at the spot to my right in an expectant sort of stare. A modest line, but a line nonetheless, had formed behind her. Confused, I glanced behind me – there were a few seats open. Alright then. As I pulled my bag onto my lap, she gracefully plunked herself down and looked ahead. I scowled.

Despite an obvious and acute awareness of how my sleep had inconvenienced her, she conked out within the first three minutes of sitting next to me. This woman is the director of my nightmares. She proceeded to lean, excruciatingly slow. 90 degrees, 87 degrees, 83 degrees, one centimeter from my unwelcoming shoulder. At the last possible moment, she startled herself awake. This became a cycle, countless repetitions of eyes closed, shoulders slumped, leftward tilt, groggy awakening. A dance so slow it is nearly imperceptible to humans. As is only natural, she was in the throes of sleepytime as we neared my stop. I hesitantly placed my hand upon her small shoulder and looked earnestly into the place her eyes would be when she opened them. Rather than an expression of anger or annoyance, her now-conscious face was covered in what looked like deep disappointment in my character or something, as if she’d expected more of me. “Excuse me, sorry, this is going to be my stop.” She collected her lunchbox and purse and released me into the aisle. The end.

Except it wasn’t the end. She sat next to me again. And again. This woman, who was clearly no fan of mine, took the seat next to me no less than four times – if nothing else, at least the world maintains a sense of mystery. She continued to fall asleep, getting closer and closer each time until finally my shoulder became her own bony and angular pillow. How comfy. One morning, she sat down and promptly extracted a blank sheet of paper from her bag, folded it and held it over the parts of her face which breathe in air. To clarify, the same air I breathe. It immediately took me back to the day in English class when a guy purposely sat next to me, only to throw me sideways glances of abhorrence when my SEASONAL ALLERGIES made me sniffly. He also buried his face in his sleeve for the entire hour. What is up, guys. What is up. In the moment, I always chalk this up to pro-league hypochondria and I just want to tell the person to take their damn vitamins and chill out for a second. But, even though it offends me to be skirted around like the mad dog in To Kill a Mockingbird, I do realize there could be legitimate reasons to protect your health in such a vigilant manner. Here I go again: rationalizing my way out of anger. I should run workshops on this.

To conclude this many-chaptered story, I have a few theories as to why this mysterious woman kept taking that seat to my right. First, perhaps she shares my preference for the second row of front-facing seats on the left side of the bus. After all, that specific section does have the best and most expansive window view, which is why I sit there. But she spent ample time with her eyes closed on these trips, not looking out the window at all. My second theory is that, again, like me, she has a strange affection for petty annoyance. Sometimes I am grateful when a person irritates me, because it gives me reason to be irritated, which I kind of enjoy on occasion. The fact that this woman didn’t like me was clear as crystal, especially in the inevitable, tension-filled “excuse me, sorry, this is going to be my stop” interactions. Lastly, maybe my shoulder is more comfortable than I give it credit for. But that is highly unlikely.

No matter her reason for doing so, I don’t believe my bus buddy will be sitting next to me again anytime soon. Thankfully, I am done commuting. But I do have more stories – stay tuned.


How I know it’s spring.

I don’t really keep it a secret – spring is my favorite season, and it always has been. I love summer, I love fall, and I love winter, too, but there is something about spring that makes me want to sit in my window, read a good book, and have a cute little songbird come perch on my finger (this has actually happened before, no lie). I just love everything about it.

I have been particularly anticipatory of this spring. I remember days in February when we would catch the faintest glint of sun, and I would run outside in a t-shirt and sunglasses even though it was only in the 40’s. There were many times when I would find myself moving from campus bench to campus bench, following that tiny bit of bright warmth. If spring were a boy, I would want to marry him, but he would probably file a restraining order against me because I’m too pushy. That’s just how it is.

But now – finally – after months of imagining cherry blossoms and clear blue skies, my season has arrived. I’m generally a pretty happy person, but now I just have the urge to frolick everywhere, which is embarrassing and not an exaggeration at all. I am breathing in the smell of flowers and I can see the mountains so clearly and I am just so in love. I have quite a vivid imagination, but I can’t imagine a time or a place more lovely than the Northwest in the spring, and I can’t imagine better people with whom to spend it.

How do I know it’s spring? Well first of all, the spring equinox happened. I am also officially on spring break. So those are pretty clear cut. But there are a couple of other things that always seem to signify spring for me: wanderlust and happy music.

I told one of my roommates last week that I always feel some degree of wanderlust, but my levels see a steep, steep increase once spring comes along. This year, that spike is attributable to Aerial Americaaka one of the best shows to ever grace the pages of Netflix. For a long time, I thought everything I could ever want to see was somewhere across the ocean – Italy, Morocco, Japan. Even now, one of my most-sighed phrases is “I want to go everywhere,” but I feel like my previous attitude has changed a little. Of course I want to see Rome before I die, but I also feel like I’ll hate myself if I never drive the Pacific Coast Highway in its entirety. Thanks to some striking aerial footage and history-focused narration, I’m determined to embark on the ultimate road trip across America and see all the things and meet all the people and yeah. As I said earlier… I want to go everywhere.

And what is a road trip without great music? Answer: a shitty road trip. Luckily I have been able to compile a list of songs that are evocative of spring (for me, at least), most of which are featured in my two-disc “O Canada” collection – being the queen of thrusting mix CDs at people who don’t ask for mix CDs, I couldn’t not play DJ on a quickly-approaching two-day excursion to Canada with my roommates. A sample:

DSC_1158If there is one song that has prepped me for my favorite season this year, it is “I Can See Your Tracks” by Laura Veirs. I’ve probably listened to it too many times, but judging by how quickly I go through jars of peanut butter, I am not one for moderation.

So there we go. Yes, spring makes me a very sappy person. But trees are sappy too, and people love trees. (please love me) Okay bye!

After the flood, all the colors came out.

Have you ever felt like you could seriously look at something forever and never, ever tire of it? That’s how I feel about my city today.

Frankly, it has been a rough week in pretty much every sense of the phrase. First of all, my emotions have been all over the place due to reasons I have deemed too personal for my blog. Like, really, someone should have flown me to a desert village for drought relief, because if my tears had been filtered and purified, they probably could have quenched many a thirst. Truly. Second of all, winter quarter has started – and it’s a busy one. I don’t simply walk from class to class, I speedwalk. Sometimes it borders on running. So my legs and my lungs are exhausted, and my ears are very tired as well from hearing my right shoe squeak every time I take a step. Thirdly, it has been drizzly and gloomy and altogether freezing as of late, and there have been multiple occasions when I have feared various appendages would just fall off of my body. So.

But today is the kind of day I live for. It’s so sunny it almost hurts my eyes, and the air is crisp and terrifically chilly. I got to walk to class (in my mind, I was skipping) and listen to Beautiful Day by U2 and not feel like my iPod was lying to me – that, friends, is worth a million bucks. All of the buildings on campus looked even more brilliant and regal than they normally do, even the rusted urban rooftops I can see from my dorm look beautiful and worthy of a poem. And none of that even begins to describe the city I see in the distance, its skyline illuminated and peeking out between trees. It sounds stupid, but everything is sparkly, especially the water. Never really considered myself a sparkle-loving girl, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.

I just love how something as simple and omnipresent as the weather can give birth to new optimism. Maybe I’m just weird and let my surroundings affect me too much, but I’m pretty certain I saw a bounce in almost everyone’s step today. And honestly, sitting here in my dorm lounge and looking out over my marvelous city, I can say I would not want to be anywhere else in the world at this moment. If that isn’t happiness, do tell me what is.

And if you’re in a dark-grey gloom right now, literally or figuratively (either way, I can relate), just trust me that the sun does still exist and it’s probably coming your way.

And now I know everything.

I have officially survived a week of college, guys. You can applaud me if you want.

But seriously, never has my life changed so drastically in a matter of nine days. In fact, I have so many things to talk about that I might have to split this subject into multiple posts. Just so, you know, I don’t seem annoying or something… maybe it’s too late for that.

Anyway, I moved into my dorm last Thursday. My roommate and I pretty much have the greatest dorm room the world has ever seen, complete with a bathroom and a pretty nice view into the neighbors’ windows across the courtyard (be mindful of your blinds). Also, we have a Parisian Corner. Observe:

Tres adorable, non?

Outside of my lovely dorm room, I have learned many valuable things about college life. Since I’m bored and have an affinity for lists, I will share with you some of the discoveries I have made:

  • It is socially acceptable to shave your head on the third floor terrace.
  • Peanut butter in excess is just… no bueno.
  • Books are expensive. Especially books you don’t really care to read.
  • Guilty because of your caloric intake? No problem, said the seven flights of stairs to your dorm room.
  • When every single floor TV lounge is full of guys, there is, without a question, a football game on.
  • Blueberry hibiscus tea looks like blood and tastes like Splenda.
  • College is full of people who want to take your picture for a fashion blog. (personal victory #131)
  • Contrary to common belief, college isn’t about learning. It’s about doing icebreakers.
  • Quiet hours? What quiet hours?
  • People who sing in the hallway generally aren’t the people you want to be singing in the hallway.
  • Granola bars have some rare magical property in them, and that’s why they’re TWO DOLLARS each. Well, that’s sort of just a theory.
  • Literally everyone likes Harry Potter.
  • Literally everyone likes Apples to Apples.
  • Following a big group when you don’t know where you’re going doesn’t always work in your favor.

As you can tell, I pretty much know everything there is to know now. I don’t even know why I’m still here… Just kidding. I am enjoying this experience immensely.

Do you know what else I am enjoying immensely? Babel, Mumford and Sons’ new album. My ears think it’s delicious.