Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tell Me a Story

     After singing in the car, my second favorite way to amuse the children when we're on a long drive is to play the "tell me a story" game.  I'll point at a pedestrian, construction site, car, etc., and ask them to tell me the story behind the scene.
     We start off with the usual or easy ones ... They're in a trip ... She's going to a meeting ... It's a new strip mall.  Once those are out of the way, they can imagine the hidden story better.  Like ... They're running from the law, taking as much as could fit in the station wagon ... She's a spy on her way to meet her contact ... It's an unsuspecting grocery store on the outside to mask the hell mouth underneath (that one's mine).
     It's more interesting to play on the subway.  So ...

Tell me a story ...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hat & Gloves

     It was 19 degrees when I left the house, with a wind chill of 5 degrees.  I am dressed completely appropriately for the weather - good coat, scarf, hat, gloves ... And I will admit, long johns.  I don't feel it necessary to be cold, if I don't have to be cold.  Many of my fellow passengers are dressed the same.  But some aren't.
     Rather than believe it's all due to vanity, those men & women that refuse to mess up their hair, it's probably financial.  For that reason, I'm quite sad.  I've seen mothers shuffling bundled children on and off the train this morning, but their own coats leave much to be desired.  It makes me want to take them aside and ask if they need help.  But how would I interpret that move if the shoe was on the other foot?  Better to find less overt and more appropriate moments in which to act. 
     I've always been a big proponent of wearing a hat & gloves ... Many people over the years at work have heard me go on and on.  Everyone assumes it's because of my children, my desire to nurture and mother the world.  Actually, if you deal with uncertainty as a child; from hunger, or housing, or transportation, or potential parental abandonment or death ... You tend to worry, to prepare just in case.  Keep those gloves or an extra hat in the car.  What if your car breaks down and you have to walk.  Keep several days worth of food (or more) in the house.  What if there's an emergency or your neighbor needs help. 
     When I was little, our family cars would often break down, leaving us stranded.  I can remember my mother deciding whether to take us with her when she ran an errand.  She would have to mentally decide ... bring us and have help carrying the groceries, or leave us and know we were safe.  So much goes through my head even now as the temperature drops.
     So please, for me, please ... Put a hat on.  Love ... Heather

Friday, November 22, 2013

Both Sides

     Lest ye think I am ignoring both sides of this issue:

     There are plenty of women out there that take up more than one seat, too.  (For some, it's not just about the purse.  But I digress.). I would have taken a forward facing photo, but I know with 100% certainty that this woman could kick my ass ... And not just because I'm still sick.  She could kick it all day, every day.  I've made it a point in my life to avoid outright conflict for several reasons, from my own desire to not go to jail, to not wanting to end up in the hospital.  My track record shows that I've been a good judge of my situation and any potential participants.  I'm going to keep my pristine record.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Recent Pictures

The Flying V in all its glory.

Nosey Nellie

This is a Nosey Nellie:

     The whole ride, he vacillated between the smart phone on one side and the book on the other.  He made no attempt to be discreet about it either.
     When I was a little girl, my mother told me it was rude to read/watch over other peoples shoulders.  Keep your eyes front and forward.  To this day, if I catch my gaze wandering the guilt switch my mother implanted at birth triggers, and I immediately correct my error.  Front and forward.

Monday, November 18, 2013


     I overheard a conversation on the way home that I found both interesting and sad.  This college-aged looking couple, male and female, we're discussing their lives, stress and a mutual friend.  During the discussion, the female mentioned that the mutual friend seemed depressed all the time.  She had talked to this person about trying to find happier things to focus on.  Then she mentioned that she didn't want to use the word "depressed" for fear that the friend would both feel stigmatized by the word, and actually become really depressed.  As though her voicing the word would give the notion power.  I was amazed by this thought process.
     Then the male mentioned that his cousin was sounding depressed during a recent phone call.  He said he wasn't really sure even though the cousin had told him he didn't want to live anymore.  The female sort of gasped, and the male told her it was probably a ploy by the cousin for attention.  And with that, they continued on another topic, as I got off the train.
     The whole conversation made me sad.  Mental health issues are prevalent and shouldn't be trifled with or poo-poo'd away.  Very rarely will someone come right out and ask for help, as in the above example.  I had sadness for the cousin who needs help, for the male who may lose someone he cares for, and for the female who felt as though she shouldn't or couldn't voice her concerns.

Friday, November 15, 2013


     There was almost a middle aged woman throw down on my morning train.  Picture this:
     Snooty woman, all matching black ensemble with a hat that's got fur around the edge.  She's seated.  Another woman gets on, dressed regularly with a large bag that says "St. Marten, the friendly island." She's got really long hair, down almost to the small of her back.  She stands in front of snooty, and her hair (as I've mentioned before with my own hair) flys out towards Snooty.  Snooty pushes it aside and says something like "your hair."  St. Marten takes this as a compliment, smiles and thinks they're about to engage in a pleasant conversation.

     Snooty: your hair. It's in my face. 
     St. M.: what ... Oh, uh sorry.
     Snooty: be careful.
     St. M.: excuse me?
     Snooty: I'm allergic.  I'm sure we don't want me to start sneezing on here.
     St. M.: whatever.
     Snooty: I said, I'm allergic.

     St. Marten turns away. The train comes to Snooty's stop. St. Marten refuses to step to the side to allow her to get off.  This causes Snooty to have to inconvenience herself with an additional step.  As he leaves, St. Marten takes her seat and smiles.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fart Cloud

     This morning the train air hung heavy with some pretty intense farts.  Someone on the train was either having some internal dilemas or did not give two fucks about the people around them.  It was so strong, that when I got off the train, it was like it followed you.  An amoeba fart ... One long fart tendril wrapping around you.
     When I got to work, I could still smell it, like it had worked up into my poor battered sinuses and was going to hang out, like some kind of fart parasite.  A long stinky day.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Part Zwei

     The trip home was particularly challenging.  I just missed the red line ... as in, trying-to-fish-my- pass-out-of-my-purse-as-the-train-pulls-away-from-the-platform just missed it.  Then the green line, that I mercifully only have to take one stop, was so packed with warm humanity that I thought I was going to vomit.  I had to do my fake Lamaze breathing to try and still my tummy. (I call it Hamaze - Heather + Lamaze - created during the first pregnancy when we couldn't go to a class because of our retail schedules and no car.)
     Then when I got on the blue line, I just scored a seat when the warm humanity followed me on board.  The train was so hot, add to it the people jammed up against each other, my warm coat, the train rocking up and down, no air flow ... do you see where I'm going with this.  I could feel the nausea well up, so I closed my eyes to calm myself.  When I opened them, who was jammed up together in front of me?  My German family.  The father was carrying the little girl, her possible twin brother was at his knees, the older son was behind him holding onto his mother who I could hear but not see.  Thankfully, the man seated beside me jumped up and offered it to the father, but his little girl wouldn't sit, so I motioned for the little boy to sit instead.  I offered my seat, but still she wouldn't budge from his hip, so the father remained standing.
     And then I thought, please God, don't let me throw up on these children.  The train jostled and lurched, feeling as though it was getting still warmer.  The little boy was eating a granola bar.  When he finished, he tugged on his father and tried to hand him the wrapper.  His father just laughed, desperately trying to hold onto the daughter with one hand (plus coat and book bag) and the rail with the other.  I laughed then gently took the wrapper from his hand, folded it and put it in my purse.  I said, "no matter how old they are, they're all the same."  The father said, "I take it, you speak from experience."  Oh yes, yes I do.
     All the while, my internal monologue was still playing ... pleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGodplease GodpleaseGodpleaseGod ... not on the children.  On the snotty chick next to me who thought I didn't offer up my seat and wanted to make a "show" of offering up her own to the father.  Ok, I can throw up on her.  No, no, of course I don't want to throw up on anyone.  Thankfully, we got to Maverick station which usually clears out a large portion of the train and my German family got off, too.  Now I could breathe a little easier.  But I still thought about puking on the chick next to me.


     I'm not feeling well.  Not at all.  But I'm going to work.  Now before you yell at me, hear me out. 
     I've always had a problem with staying home when sick.  Not for other people, just for me.  I do have a couple absolutes: fever and vomiting.  Unless either or happened hours before and I feel a little better ... Then I go.
     Some of my reticence comes from my mom.  She never stayed home sick.  Of course, she was a single mom raising us on an hourly wage with no health insurance.  If she didn't go, there was a good chance we wouldn't eat.  Long since salaried, I still feel like even though I get sick time, I should rarely use it.  Or I should save it in case I get really sick.  
     I had a boss who would chide me from time to time, but she was a poor example herself, and I worried she would see it as a sign of weakness if I stayed home.  And if you were weak, you were out.  From time to time, I've gone because I worried that it wasn't fair to my team ... Not that they couldn't handle the work without me, but that I should be there for them.
     So, I'm trudging my way in and hoping that I don't get to much grief over it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

German Family

     There's this cute German family that is often on the train on my commute in: mother, father and three kids.  All the children look to be under 7, and the two youngest may be twins.  How do I know they're German?  They speak what sounds like German to each other throughout the trip.  So, they could be really hammering home education or it could be Austrian ... I call them my German family.
     I see them once or twice a week, and most of the time, they're just calmly getting the kids on and off the train, each with their own tiny backpack.  Mom hands out little ziplock baggies with breakfast treats.  One morning it was pancakes.  Sometimes, they all get off at the same stop, sometimes dad takes the eldest one direction and mom the younger two another.
     The first day I really noticed them, the eldest got his backpack strap stuck in the bench at the subway stop.  His mother was furiously trying to pull it out, as the father stood holding the subway door open and keeping the two younger ones inside the car.  Finally, she pulled out a small knife from the pocket of her coat, cut the strap free, and they both ran aboard.
     A couple of weeks ago, either mom was sick or away and dad had to wrangle all three.  I did not envy him ... Three small kids, subway changes, three backpacks, hats, coats, etc. He did it though, like a million single mothers and fathers do every day.  There weren't any little baggies that day, though.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Food for Thought

     Here's an interesting article that a friend of mine brought to my attention and should spark some conversation.  How far does our right to privacy extend?  Or is this guy just full of crap?


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Thank You, Mr. Bike Rider

     On the way out of work, I have to cross the street to get to my t-stop.  There's a pedestrian crosswalk, and most of the time, the cars stop patiently while I scramble across.  I'm not one of those slow walkers ... the kind that you want to ease up on; I move quickly, and I say thank you.  Mama raised me right.
     Tonight, I stepped up to the crosswalk and three cars zoomed past me.  As they passed, I stepped off the curb and saw several bicycles coming.  I paused for them, and the lead cyclist, cigar in mouth, jaunty cap and hipster look, came to a complete stop, while the others passed me.  I was so impressed that he stopped, I stopped to say thank you.  And by stopping, I didn't get pancaked by the bus that sped through the crosswalk.
     So thank you again, Mr. Bike Rider for obeying the traffic rules.  Be safe getting home.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pictures & A Sleeper

     The guy next to me on the way home was very, very tired.  As the ride progressed, he was leaning further and further forward.  Thankfully, he wasn't leaning on me.  This is how I left him ...

     The pole is clearly helping me out, and for that, I'm very grateful.
     Also on the trip home, the man across from me was quite comfortable with and committed to his relationship.  Nice to see.

     And we have the evolution of seat hoarding ...

     To this ...

     And we'll end with a tutu.

Friday, November 1, 2013

An Old Friend

     I was pleased when I got to the Government Center t-stop one evening this week and saw an old "friend."  I know him not by his name, but by the brochures he hands out and the placard he wears.  It's a large rendering of the fiery pits of hell, complete with some sinners in agony.
     The old placard used to say something like "Are you saved?" Or "You're going to hell" or something like that.  Years ago when I worked downtown, I had to pass by him on late nights in order to get to my train platform.  I'm a fairly agreeable sort, and when strangers talk to me, I tend to answer them, or at least acknowledge them.  I don't like to ignore people.  This has, from time to time not resulted in the best possible outcome, but it makes for a good story.
     One night, after having had the pamphlets shoved in my face a couple times, instead of just saying "No, thank you," I said "I'm good. I'm saved."  He questioned the authenticity of said salvation, asking if I was Catholic.  When I said no, he scoffed and told me that I had been led astray ... as only Catholics were getting in.  I disagreed and quickly realized that we weren't going to have a legitimate theological discussion.  So, I excused myself and went on my way.  And thus the weekly "conversation" was born.
     I don't know what I was expecting.  I mean honestly ... did I really think I was going to have an open minded two-way conversation involving a real exchange of thought with a guy wearing a sandwich board painted with flames.  There are other examples I could use, but I think when you've crossed that threshold, where you leave the house with the sandwich board - you're kind of committed to your particular ideology, and no matter how persuasive I am, I'm probably not going to be able to spark new thought in you.
     So, for months after our little exchange, when I walked past him, he'd remind me that I wasn't saved.  I'd call back, "Yes, I am."  "No, you're not," back and forth we went.  Very mature on my part I know, but I didn't want this guy to pass his judgment without me getting a word in - even if I looked a little crazy doing it.
     It made me smile to see him this week.  It remains to be seen if we'll take up round two.