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.

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Metaphorical Snowflakes

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Since high school, I’ve had this weird tendency to compare myself to glass objects. In an uncharacteristically existentialist/emo moment, I once described myself as a vase – empty, void of my own issues and emotions, consequently having ample room for other people to pour in their problems. I’m not going to explain what I thought I was achieving with this analogy, because a) that’s not what this post is about, and b) I think it’s funnier with no explanation. At any rate, the snowglobe is my metaphor of choice today. Maybe I’ll think about the significance of glass as a material and muse on that at a later date (jk, definitely not doing that).

Like life, a snowglobe has many phases. There’s a snowglobe before being shaken, a snowglobe while it’s being shaken, right after it’s been shaken, you get the idea. Eventually, all the specks of fake snow settle on the little benches and houses and it’s all still (until you shake it again). Well, I often feel like I’m in that stage of life that is parallel with the snowglobe right after it has been shaken. Everything is everywhere. There’s movement, and confusion, but also excitement. You don’t know where the flakes are going to land. I mean, having this stage is kind of the point of being a snowglobe, maybe also the point of being a person. I was not a fan at first. But now it’s different.

I just like the feeling of not being completely settled. I like being able to move around freely, to have more than one home, to change my mind about things. I like the simplicity of being able to live out of a backpack for a few days, if need be. I like taking buses to different cities and paying for them with quarters, and I like gazing out the window while I let some music sink into my bones. I like being young. I like the word “transience.” I like the romantic idea of being a vagabond or a wanderer. I like learning how to ask questions without expecting immediate answers. I like Bono, who describes the feeling more eloquently than I can:

And I have no compass / and I have no map / and I have no reason, no reason to get back / And I have no religion / and I don’t know what’s what / and I don’t know the limit, the limit of what we’ve got / Don’t worry, baby, it’ll be alright / you’ve got the right shoes to get you through the night / It’s cold outside, but brightly lit / Let’s skip the subway / let’s go to the overground / get your head out of the mud, baby / put flowers in the mud, baby / overground / No particular place names / no particular song / I’ve been hiding, what am I hiding from? / Don’t worry, baby, it’s gonna be alright / uncertainty can be a guiding light / I hear voices, ridiculous voices / I’m in the slipstream / let’s go, let’s go overground / get your head out of the mud, baby… etc.

Uncertainty can be a guiding light… still kind of want that as a tattoo. Anyway.

It’s not going to be like this forever. Sometimes it feels like if you just keep moving, you won’t get stuck. If you just keep swiping the paintbrush back and forth, those accidental drips of paint won’t dry and harden and be there forever. You feel like you can elude permanence. It’s not realistic, of course – it’s an appealing train of thought, especially to someone who isn’t keen on the idea of growing up, but it’s just not possible. Someday the metaphorical snowflakes are going to fall where they will, and I’ll learn to love that phase of life too. There’s beauty in chaos, and there’s beauty in stillness. I just happen to enjoy the former right now.

I’m not entirely sure where I thought I’d end up with this post, but I’m still writing it. Much the same, I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing with my life, but I’m still living it. Bam.

PS: don’t describe yourself as an empty vase, your friends will think you’re weird.

That Obligatory Dead Week Post

It’s that time of year, guys. That frenzied, beautiful, better-start-taking-some-pictures-because-you-haven’t-all-year season, the last week of dorm-living and paper-writing and seeing the people who have so quickly and effortlessly become a part of your life. It’s the few days where I get even more fast-talking and chattery than usual, an odd result of me starting to feel hopelessly sentimental about all that’s happened since September. What time am I talking about?

Dead Week. Because that makes sense, right?

No, but really. This is the last week of the quarter before finals, and those honestly don’t even count as anything. I’ve written all of my essays, I’ve done all of the necessary readings (code for “there are two textbooks I literally never opened”), and I’m moving back home in exactly a week. Basically, school is over. And I’m just sitting here, frazzled yet somehow happy, wondering where all those months went.

This year has been so wonderful, and so different from what I ever would have imagined. Naturally, I’ve had to do some growing up (laundry? what?), but I’ve also had a marvelous time revisiting my childhood with Chimp, aka re-watching every episode ever of Lizzie McGuire chronologically. I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to say we were destined to be roommates.

I have beheld some of the most beautiful sights, like the city skyline at 6 AM or the cherry blossom trees before they go commando, and I have enjoyed the company of some tremendously beautiful people. I have appreciated the scenery as well as the “scenery” (I’d put a winky face, but I am vehemently against those). Sorry.

Also, and this is primarily for the people who are paying for my college education… um, look how much I’ve learned! Did I know about the batshit crazy Roman emperor Caligula before this year? No! How about the partitioning of Pakistan? No way. Mesozoic marine life? Not. a. chance. No, but in all seriousness, I think my brain has expanded. I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone around me was just constantly resisting the urge to punch me in the mouth because I spew out “fun facts” incessantly. Incessantly.

Okay, I’ll wrap it up. It’s been worth all of the early mornings, all of the boring dining hall food, all of the times I’ve had to wait fifteen minutes for people to take their stupid towels out of the dryer. My freshman year of college has been, at least 96% of the time, the most splendid I could have hoped for, and I am so thankful for that. But summer… I am ready for you.

 

Oh wait, there’s no such thing as an obligatory dead week post? My bad.

 

It’s Time.

Haaa, just kidding. I’m not going to Oxford.

I’ve always had this random fascination with boarding schools, especially novels set in boarding schools (Looking for Alaska, Prep, ya know… Harry Potter). I, personally, would like to believe these stories have given me a sense of familiarity with the boarding school lifestyle. Taking into consideration this knowledge, you might think I’d be fairly prepared for what I’m about to do.

Not in the least.

Tomorrow, I will set sail in the family Dodge Durango, completely surrounded by 70-lb. suitcases, hampers full of bedding, and my weepy parents in the front seat. Luckily it will be seven in the morning, so Delilah won’t be leaking her syrupy, tear-inducing sentimentality over the radiowaves… that’ll at least help a little bit. But it will still be incredibly sad when they leave me outside my dorm after we’ve had lunch and gotten me settled in. It won’t be sad because I’m not going home with them; it’ll be sad because, as they’re driving away, I will be standing on my new, almost-permanent home’s doorstep. My home will be different. Like boarding school.

Of course, I don’t plan on being that mopey girl who coops herself up in her room and only watches rom-coms on Netflix all year. I know college will be beyond incredible, with so many amazing people to meet and interesting things to do. I can’t wait to get to know all of my floormates and have movie nights and eat really, really good food. I am actually super excited for my classes too, although I’ll admit the studying is definitely lacking appeal. But whatever. I will learn lots.

I’m just going to miss stuff about being home. Like going on walks with my mom and grandma, and watching AFV with my dad, and pestering my sister when I’m bored. I’m going to miss my boyfriend too. And my friends. And, surprisingly, my stupid dog.

Even though I’d love to fly off to Neverland at times like these, it’s time to grow. Not grow up, necessarily, but grow. And I abso-bloody-lutely intend on keeping this blog while in school, so perhaps you will get to witness some of my growth (not physically, that was over and done three years ago), maybe even as a writer. Who knows. Limitless possibilities.

So, yes. College. University. Here I come.