Previously posted on my Myspace blog (yesterday)…
i have a lot on my mind today. it is at times like this that i am very grateful for my dogged work ethic.
it will seem as if there is no way this excerpt could possibly relate to the previous snippet from a few days ago, but i promise that i have a surprisingly simple plan to tie it all together.
thanks for indulging me!
It is very important to rehearse your answers in advance.
Imagine, finding yourself being interviewed live by Larry King. Your parents and former classmates and ex-boyfriends are watching, along with millions of people you will never know.
Now, of course, I’m sure you are asking me, “But why am I being interviewed on a reputable news and information program?”
Perhaps you are a smooth-talking politician with a heart of gold. Or you made a highly successful documentary about apiculture entitled “We Bee Keeping it Real.” It received numerous awards at the Cannes Film Festival! Maybe you were just caught embezzling a prodigious sum of money from your employer. You fancy yourself a modern day Robin Hood, and the downtrodden masses can’t help but agree!
“So tell me, “Larry leans toward you, “What is your favorite thing about yourself?”
If you blow this interview, your fortunes will take a turn for the worse. You, the venerated white collar thief, will be sentenced to life in prison. Your film will be panned by both Siskel and Ebert. Forget about a re-election!
My interview will be quite smooth, a result of advanced planning and regular rehearsals in the shower.
“Well, Larry,” I will say with the largest of grins, my head turned slightly to the left to reveal the visually superior side of my face. “I have to admit that I am proud of two things. The first is my virtually light-speed typing skills. I learned on an IBM Selectric in 9th grade, quite by accident. You see, I was supposed to take Latin, but my school decided to drop the program rather abruptly. As a result, I was randomly assigned to Typing I. And this was, without a doubt, the best kind of accident. A life-changer, if you will.”
Mr. King will smile at this, possibly somewhat indulgently. But in all seriousness, I am one of the best typists ever: accuracy, speed, and fine posture all rolled into one. Every Friday in class, Mrs. Kennedy (our pantsuit-clad instructor), held a contest. She would write a category on the board, perhaps “Fruits.” In 90 seconds, we were expected to correctly type as many words falling under this umbrella.
P-e-r-s-i-m-m-o-n. I was the nerdiest of nerds.
T-o-m-a-t-o. So clever!
And so on. I won every week, which surprisingly enough, did not enhance my popularity. No one shook my hand after class. “Once again, I am in awe of your skills. You are an inspiration to all of us.” No, definitely not.
The prize was typically a small “fun-size” candy bar.
The secret to success was neither particularly agile fingers nor enlightening instruction. My family owned a typewriter, but I certainly never practiced. Instead I honed my skills with hours of late night “visualization.” I would lie in bed, on my back, typing my greatests secrets. At first, I would actually move my fingers.
“M-y m-o-t-h-e-r d-e-s-p-i-s-e-s m-e.”
Soon I would just give the appropriate digit a little twitch.
“I w-i-l-l p-r-o-b-a-b-l-y n-e-v-e-r b-e p-r-e-t-t-y.”
Eventually I would fade into my sleep, but the first few minutes of every dream were filled with a few moments of frenzied typing for an insecure fast-talking dictator.
But back to the interview. After a brief pause, I will continue, “The other aspect of myself that fills me with great pride is my ability to wake up early every day, despite my best attempts at alcohol abuse and late night sexual antics.” I will give the camera a sassy wink. I am assuming that my appearance on Mr. King’s program is the result of some controversial act on my part, so I know he will not be offended by a small bit of racy content.
It is true. I will always pop out of bed like a perfectly tanned piece of toast at 7 am. Illness, daylight savings time, extreme sedative consumption; none of this affects my inner clock. For a long time I fought this compulsion with blackout shades, sleeping masks, and over-the-counter sleep remedies. A waste of time, liver function, and fabric.
And so here it is, another Saturday morning and I feel as if I have the entire world to myself. I open my eyes at one minute after 6:59. Water is boiled for coffee, a bowl full of appropriately healthy cat cereal is bestowed upon Vivian, and a good face scrubbing is required to remove errant eyeliner from the night before. The curtains are opened, the plants are watered, and my teeth are brushed for the recommended two minutes. I pull on a pair of incredibly ripped and ink-stained jeans and a t-shirt with the neck cut out (crew necks tend to make me feel claustrophobic, but I am much too modest for a v-neck). I swiftly braid my hair and put on my only pair of sneakers: a faded pair of low top Converse with “TJ 4Ever” written along the side in purple marker. Coffee and soy milk are added to my thermos just before I stuff my keys into my pocket.
Minutes later, I am sailing down Hawthorne at breakneck speed. I do not wear a helmet. Pedal, pedal around the bend on 12th, and then up the gradual incline to the bridge. I am nearly out of breath as I merge onto the narrow lane reserved for bicyclists and pedestrians. I whiz by a couple in coordinating jogging outfits. A foxy young father with a baby seat passes me in the opposite direction. Otherwise the bridge is empty. No bicycle bells tinnily ring-ringing to signal “get out of my way” and no cars rattling the girders.
I reach the center of the bridge, and climb off my bike. I cross this bridge every day on my way to work. At least once a week, around the midpoint of its span, I am struck by my incredible love for this city.
It’s impossible to feel like anything less than the luckiest as I behold everything around me. Bridges, one after another, cross the river in all directions. Each one is different and every resident has a personal favorite. Off in the distance, a crew team is rowing and puffing toward the end of the horizon. Snowcapped Mt. Hood appears like a calm deity watching over the city. The hills to the west are the very definition of the word “green” with uncountable trees and ferns and plants no human will ever touch. Everything is real and completely utterly alive. At this very moment, lava is shifting under the otherwise benign Sno-cone surface of Mt. St. Helens. Tectonic plates are slowly sliding along one another. People are growing. Even the oldest, driest crone is young and beautiful here.
This is my new life, thousands of miles away from where I began