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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Find your fleece lining

fleece

I am welcoming the month of December in high style, and by that I mean I am wearing fleece-lined leggings under my jeans.

I’ve never really been much of a fleece person – by way of blankets, I generally prefer a down comforter or microplush Spider-Man throw – but I have recently come around. I got fleece-lined mittens a couple weeks ago ($3, I love H&M) and around that same time my mom sent me these leggings, which have actually changed my life. Winter is full of crisp, chilly mornings, especially when you refuse to turn your heater on, and these angel pants (did I just coin a new term of endearment?) are the perfect solution to the “freezing bare legs for five seconds while changing from pajamas to real person clothes” problem: wear them under your pajama pants, keep wearing them under your actual pants. And, of course, throw them in the wash every once in awhile. We are adults here.

Perhaps every cloud has a silver lining (I never remember to check), but not every pair of leggings has a fleece lining – find yours.

Other things I’ve been enjoying lately: sleep, the song “On Ice” by Chris Thile, family time, burning candles even though I’m not supposed to, Sufjan Stevens’ rendition of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” and, as usual, Zayn Malik’s face.

Happy last month of 2014!

The coffee conformist

photo (29)

Despite being a) an inhabitant of the Pacific Northwest, b) a college student / generally sleep-deprived person, and c) the daughter of a triple tall americano addict, I never really got into the whole coffee thing. Up until I graduated high school, I would order lemonade at Starbucks, and for another two years after I never strayed from iced, unsweetened green tea. I had not consumed a drink with coffee in it until roughly six months ago. Tall, iced, non-fat mocha. I was annoyed with the sheer number of words I had to rattle off in order to get said drink, but I remember enjoying the unfamiliar rush of caffeine, describing it as “fun” to anyone who would listen to my chatter.

The next day, I repeated the process. This time, however, I felt like I was experiencing the physical symptoms of a panic attack, having so much energy coursing through my body with practically no outlet (sitting in lecture doesn’t require much exertion). I decided, at this point, that I was not going to pay five dollars a day for something that made me feel like my brain was out-growing my head. And then a week later multiple passersby witnessed me exiting Starbucks with a tall, iced, non-fat, decaf mocha in hand.

Due to the suburban lack of cozy, indie coffeehouses and my own laziness in the area of drink-making, the coffee thing did not present much of a problem while I was living at home over the summer. Upon my return to the city, though, it became quite the opposite – a coffee shop about a block away from campus lured me in with the free wifi and enormous peanut butter cookies, and who was I to ignore my forgotten flame, the mocha? In an effort to seem more chill and less high-maintenance, I dropped the “iced” and “decaf,” even though I have never been a hot drink person and I know quite well by now what caffeine does to my… wellness. The power of conformity, guys, I’m telling you.

And – I say this quite mournfully – now the non-fat mocha has pretty much become a part of my daily life. It seems as if each one I get has less chocolate and more coffee (particularly the one I’m drinking right now, which I accidentally ordered as a double-shot… when the barista asks, just say yes to avoid any potential awkwardness), and by this time next week I very well may be drinking my coffee black. The funny thing is that I feel like this has just happened to me. Like it has been out of my control. It’s, like, 8:30 in the morning, and I’m in this coffee shop full of books, Ella Fitzgerald’s voice reverberating off the walls, and I don’t want to be that pansy who orders an iced tea. You know? Chunky cardigan, hipster glasses, laptop open to WordPress, steaming mug of coffee; it just makes sense.

I didn’t want this to happen. But I suppose I just have to live with it now. Sorry, body. Sorry, wallet. Sorry, baristas who have to deal with me on a daily basis. Actually though.


On a separate note, my recommended songs of the week:

Best 6: things to do in November edition.

This is my “me” night, meaning I have been deserted by my roommates for the majority of the evening – this usually results in me laying on the couch, eating freezer waffles, and singing “La Vie en Rose” to myself repeatedly. Tonight, though, I figured it would be good to at least try to write about something, at least something other than expressive realism or depressing novels from the 1920’s. So. I have decided to share with you some fun things to do during the second half of this lovely month of November, mostly based on what I did over the first half of the month.

1. Break your toe.

I know, it sounds difficult, but it’s really not! All you have to do is sit in a chair at a table and have some pent up frustration. Try to push the chair back with your feet, and really put a lot of energy into it – you will not achieve this through half-assery. Keep pushing until – voila – your foot loses traction on the carpet and, with surprising force, crashes into the table, making you want to scream in agony… that is when you know you’ve done well. Good job, you’ve probably broken the second toe on your right foot, just like me (I think). Twins.

2. Play mind games… with yourself!

This is astonishingly easy. My personal favorite game is “Convince Yourself That Turkey Burger You Just Made Is Giving You Food Poisoning.” You can actually make yourself feel pretty nauseous and anxious, even if you overcook the turkey burger. General paranoia is a helpful trait to have if you are interested in doing this, and if you are doing the turkey burger thing, don’t use a meat thermometer (I don’t even own one – one step ahead of the game). The uncertainty is what makes this really exciting.

3. Fall down in a public place.

Things you’ll need: TOMS (or other shoes with traction that is abysmal), rain, slippery floors, etc. I also find it helpful to not be paying any attention whatsoever to the outside world; it works best when your head is in the clouds. I mean, I guess this is pretty self-explanatory. Always makes for a good story, I can tell you that much.

And now I will offer some serious recommendations.

4. Make a November playlist.

I am a firm believer in having a playlist for every occasion, and the month of November is no exception. I just listen to songs and imagine myself sitting by a window, wrapped in a blanket, watching the rain harass those poor, naked tree branches. November is weird, because I associate it with both coziness and bitterly cold weather. My playlist probably reflects that.

The Quintessential Mid-November Hypothetical Mixtape.

The Quintessential Mid-November Hypothetical Mixtape.

5. Get addicted to a new show. 

It doesn’t have to be new to the world, but it should be new to you. I mean, what’s the point of winter if not to stay in and binge-watch Netflix, right? I’ve gotten into Lost lately, thanks to Olivia, who has watched the whole series like three times. It’s a good show, but most of you probably already know that so I’ll just shut up about it. We are also very much addicted to Say Yes to the Dress in this apartment, and I’ve tried to get everyone on my level of appreciation for Parks & Rec… not as popular. But nonetheless, try it. All five season on Netflix, SCORE.

I'll bet you're not as sophisticated as Tom.

I’ll bet you’re not as sophisticated as Tom.

6. Sleep.

It gets dark at 4:30 anyway, might as well use it as an excuse to get some shut-eye.

 

Well, this has been delightful. I hope everyone, from the NaNoWriMo enthusiasts to the participants in No Shave November, is having a great month!