Monthly Archives: August 2006

The Carnival Pre-show

The Carnival of the Mundane will be opening its tent flaps here sometime tomorrow, and is looking for a few more good blogs. The Carnival is a celebration of the ordinary, a time to gather and connect with those stories out in the far corners of the blogosphere whose topics are of the daily, the minute, the mundane.

If you are looking to get a better idea of how the Carnival works here are a few links to past tent-pitchin’s.

The Random Yak

But Wait! There’s more

Inspired by a True Story

So, if you’d like to participate, email me the link to a post you wrote that seemed to be particularly mundane, and I will include it in the roundup.

Closing eyes and canned cheese

I’m not even through my first week of classes, and already I’m feeling intimidated by the amount of writing I have to produce in the next couple of weeks. I know I’ll be able to do it, but those first steps are hard to walk.

My eyes are closing on me right now so I’m going to do something I hardly ever do. I’m going to skip out on writing a fresh post tonight and instead send you over to this little piece over on the Metroblog that I wrote yesterday about a man I saw with a can of Easy Cheese up his sleeve. If you haven’t already read it, go on over and check it out. It was so odd and transfixing, I couldn’t help but stare.

Trash pickin'

Sunday morning at 11:30, Cindy picked me up in front of my building in a white rented Chevy Impala. She gave up her dying Acura a couple months back and has been living without a car ever since. Every six weeks or so, she’ll rent a car for the weekend in order to do all the big errands that need to be done. Philly Car Share and Septa fill the rest of her transportation gaps. Normally I’m the one picking her up, so it was a treat to be the passenger for the moment.

She slowly pulled up to the curb and I hopped in. It was a minor relief to connect with her, as I had watched her pass me about five minutes earlier, the chaos of Center City traffic had temporarily distracted her and she missed me on the first go round.

After a brief stop at the South Philly Target, we headed for the Italian Market for brunch. We parked in the municipal lot on Christian between 7th and 8th and headed over to see what the line at Sabrina’s looked like. Just outside the parking lot, in the middle of the sidewalk was a teal colored dish towel. As we walked by it, I noticed that it matched exactly a dish towel that I own. I slowed down and looked at it with purpose and a desire to possess. Cindy kept walking, thoroughly repulsed by the idea that I might pick up a stranger’s dirty, wet dish towel. I caught up with her, but then seconds later bent down to pick a penny off the sidewalk.

“Will you please stop picking things up off the ground for awhile?!” She asked, equal parts serious and kidding.

Being the unusual person that I am, I kept thinking about the towel all during our brunch (which we ate at the Butcher’s Cafe since we were starving and the line at Sabrina’s was an hour long). As we wrapped up our meal, I said, “If that towel is still there when we head back, I’m going to pick it up and take it home. It’s just too bad I did a load of towels yesterday.”

The towel was still there (because it takes a true scavenger to pick up a dirty, wet rag up off the sidewalk and there just aren’t that many of us out there) and so it became mine. Cindy looked at me with equal parts resignation and humor in her eyes and opened the trunk so that it wouldn’t get to close to her on the ride back to my place.

It came out of the washing machine just a little while ago, and it looks nicer and is in better shape than the one I already had. No one would ever know that it had been abandoned on the street. I do love a good find.

Goin' back to school

It is Monday, August 28th, 2006.  I’ve been anticipating today all summer and now that’s it’s here, I’m not entirely sure what to do with it.  When I got my new calendar back in June, it was this date that I flipped to first, before family birthdays and upcoming social commitments, in order to carefully pencil in, “MA program at St. Joe’s starts.”  Back then, I hadn’t heard for sure that I was in the program, but I wrote it down anyway, just in case.  Just over a month ago, when I found out that I had been accepted, I opened up the calendar (which was already showing every day of that month’s worth of age) and went over my original penciled words with black ink.

I start classes tonight.  I have a fresh, clean notebook in my bag, and I’ve spent more minutes that is respectable picking out which pens to bring with me.  I met a few classmates yesterday afternoon at a meet and greet for the department, but my memory has already mangled their faces and names.

Right now I’m feeling a bit blank, but I’ve rolled through nervous and near-catatonically freaked today.  I’m expecting to hit excited soon, possibly while in the car on the way over there and I’m looking forward hopefully to feeling of clicking and an internal ‘yes’ either during or after class.  Occasionally I’ve been able to push all those noisy, chaotic emotions to the side in order to find the one that started all this, the one that told me I had to change or go crazy.  And it is feeling very proud.

Ghostly pancakes

I woke up this morning to ghosts in my apartment.  The scent of the peach crisp I baked yesterday hung heavy in the air, and as I stumbled sleepily from bed into the hallway, my olfactory senses struggled to identify the aroma.  Instead of remembering the peach crisp, my memory reached back 20 years to childhood, to the summer mornings when my grandfather would make pancakes for my sister and me.

As I walked down the hall to the living room, I expected to see my mom and grandmother sitting at the table, sections of the newspaper in front of them.  My mom would have one foot folded up, her left hand curled around a cup of hot coffee.  My grandma would be wearing large blue-framed reading glasses that she would pull off as she looked up to talk to me.

My grandpa Sid would be standing at the stove in the kitchen, wearing casual pants and a v-neck undershirt.  Raina and I loved his pancakes because they were polar opposite to the nutty whole-grain ones our dad made the rest of the year.  These were made of Bisquick and water and he always cooked them in margarine, which left the edges crispy and laden with an almost-buttery taste.  He served them to us on glass plates with a restaurant-style dispenser of store-brand Mrs. Butterworth’s.  We loved them.

I hesitated as I walked towards the end of the hallway, not wanting to dissolve the memory of those mornings.  After a pause, I stepped out into the living room, and confirmed the fact that I was no longer 7 years old and that there would be no grandfatherly pancakes for breakfast.

The Shore, Ireland and a Man-Friend

Standing in the hallway of the 20th floor this afternoon waiting for the elevator, a neighbor of mine exited her apartment and walked towards me.  I would guess that Ella is in her early 70’s, she dresses in fashionable clothing and is always wearing cool, funky jewelry.  We’ve often stopped and briefly chatted in the hallway or elevator, but have never had more than a three minute conversation.

“How are you dear?”  She asked this with a sincere grin on her face and a sense of well-being vibrating around her.

“I’m doing pretty well!”  Before I had a chance to reciprocate the inquiry, she started reporting a collection of her recent joys and experiences.

“I just got back from two weeks at the shore, and before that I was in Ireland taking a painting class!  Next week I leave for Florida.  And I have a man-friend!”

The last comment was offered with raised eyebrows and a slight nod, and I couldn’t help but grin at her and say, “You seem so happy, he doesn’t happen to have any friends, does he?”  She let out a roar of laugher and patted me on the shoulder.  The elevator arrived then, the conversation came to a stop and she  walking down the hall to the trash room.  I boarded the elevator, but stuck my head back out and shouted to her back, “I’d wish you a good day, but I have a feeling you will have a good one regardless of what I say.”

She looked back and smiled, saluting me with her plastic trash bag.  I rode the elevator down to the lobby, inwardly chuckling and enjoying the memory of the conversation.

Random Friday–My last workin' Friday for awhile

It’s Friday, and it is the very last time I will post a Random Friday set from this job.  My last day of full time work is September 6th, and next Friday I’ll be playing host to the Carnival of the Mundane, so no Random Friday Ten will be appearing in this space.

You know the Random Friday rules, so say them along with me.  Set your pod or other digital music devise to shuffle/random and report back the first ten songs it spits out.  Skipping, omitting or obfuscating is not allowed.

1. I Lost It, Lucinda Williams (Car Wheels on a Gravel Road)
2. Somebody Been Talkin’, Homesick James (Best of the Chicago Blues)
3. Bookends Theme, Simon & Garfunkel (The Essential Simon & Garfunkel)
4. New Thing Now, Shawn Colvin (A Few Small Repairs)
5. Sister, Indigo Girls (Come On Now Social)
6. Late in the Evening, Simon & Garfunkel (The Concert in Central Park)
7. Jackson, Lucinda Williams (Car Wheels on a Gravel Road)
8. Beautiful Night, Ani DiFranco (Revelling/Reckoning)
9. Oops Upside Your Head, The Gap Band (Pure Disco)
10. Sunflowers, Francis Dunnery (Live at the World Cafe)

Initial Thoughts: This is kind of a weird set.  Two tracks from Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, an album I always liked but haven’t listened to in some time.  Two tracks from Simon & Garfunkel, both of them on the obscure side of their song catalog.  Ani DiFranco showed up again, there was a period of time when she was showing up every week, but it’s almost as if she’s been on Random Friday sabbatical for the last month or two.   Shawn Colvin will probably be purged from the pod in the near future, to make room for some new stuff, so this is her last hurrah on the RF scene.  And I can’t for the life of me figure out which Live at the World Cafe disc the Francis Dunnery song is from.

Need more Random Friday than I can give you?  Check out these folks…


As always, if you’ve got a list up and would like a little link love, let me know.

Rainy sleep

Last night, I had a hard time turning off my light and going to sleep. For whatever reason, I felt restless and too tired to sleep well, almost the way I used to feel the night before an airplane trip, or the first day of school. I finally convinced myself to put my book down and turn out the light a little after 12:30 am. I started on my back, then turned on to my right side, stretching my legs to fully appreciate the luxury of having a queen-sized bed all my own. Searching for a cool spot of pillow I turned again, this time onto my stomach, and stuck a leg out of the blanket, to better monitor the temperature.

I fell asleep that way, and didn’t move until 5:30, when the sound of rain woke me up. I had left the window open in an attempt to lure some of the cooler night time air into my room and along with the breeze came the normal nighttime city noises of sirens, screeching trains rolling towards 30th Street Station, drunk pedestrians and the hum of building-sized cooling units. These sounds don’t wake me up anymore, but the shift from that accustomed white noise to the rain drops pulled me from sleep immediately.

Groggily awake, I went to the bathroom, fluffed my pillows and settled back into bed. I listened to the pouring rain for awhile, thinking about the skylight in my high school bedroom. It would often bring the sound of storms into my bedroom, albeit a more laid back fall of water than the one that hit last night.

I fell back to sleep to the sounds and smells of the rain, all the antsy-ness of earlier carried away by the water.

Dancing birds

I’ve been in a bit of a fog recently and I feel like I woke up from it while I was walking home from work today. As I crossed the Market Street Bridge, I looked around and was surprised to see that there were lots of other people around me. Walking down the sidewalk. Talking with friends. Asking for change. Somehow, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been all alone lately, and in that state of loneliness, I wasn’t registering that I live in a sea of humanity. That I am surrounded by people who eat, breath, talk, sleep, love and engage. I had stopped noticing the life around me, which for me is strange, being that I am normally the one who pays attention.

I was struck by all this as I started down the path that connects the Market Street Bridge with the Chestnut Street one. Half way down the path, the cry of a seagull caught my ear and I turned my body towards the river. I stood there, watching five seagulls weave back and forth in the air space between the two bridges for several minutes. At one point, it appeared that they were playing follow the leader, as they formed an undulating line just above and to the side of the path’s handrail. It almost seemed as if they were a team of syncronized flyers, practicing for a show.

After all this team work and togetherness, they suddenly scattered, going off in difference directions, abandoning their cohesion for chaos. Rehearsal was over, I guessed. I sighed, having appreciated their beauty and feeling slightly jealous of their ability to fly, and continued home. I was grateful for the psychic shaking I had had moments before, so that I was awake and aware enough to notice the birds and watch their performance.

Assorted tidbits

I’ve been laying on my bed since 8 pm, my desire to do anything more than watch bad tv and scoot around the internet destroyed by the menstrual cramps and aches that are currently wrenching my lower back and belly.

The hormonally induced headache that is clawing its way out from the inside of my skull is sapping my will to live and my ability to be creative, clever or witty. So I leave you with nothing more than five random tidbits about me:

1. The majority of my possessions were previously owned by someone else (I must confess, my grandparents and Aunt Flora have been my primary donors). On average, at least 75% of my clothing, books, furniture, pots, cooking utensils, dishes and consumer electronics are used. I make my mother proud.

2. I have worn the same style of bra for the last 8 years. When I find something that works, I stick with it.

3. I own 4 copies of “84 Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff and if I stumbled across another copy in a thriftstore, I would buy it without a second thought.

4. I use Hanukkah candles on birthday cakes.

5. When I was in middle school and would stay home sick, I would make myself either crepes or hash browns for lunch.