Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years.

There's been a flag hanging in my bedroom window for the last ten years.

I won't tell you what I was doing that day.

I can't.

I remember every single detail and I've tried to get it down so many times, but I can't. So I just won't.

Ten years ago, I was a couple months shy of 15, and the whole world changed around me. It broke me, and it took a lot of time to recover from that. Like most of the country, I was confused and angry and vengeful. I wanted those responsible to be taken down, because surely that would make everything stop feeling so wrong.

There has been ugliness in the last ten years. Fear and dishonesty and mistrust. There has also been heroism. Strength. Courage. Hope.

This is all far from eloquent, I know, but it's honest. I still haven't made my peace with that day. I can't look at the images, I can't watch the video, not because I want to pretend it didn't happen, but because I will never forget. All of that makes me sick and angry and panicked, and that's not how I choose to remember this day. As time passed, I realized that I needed to choose what kind of person I was going to become in a post 9-11 world, and I chose to become a better one. I let go of the anger. I let go of the need for closure that would never come. I got out into the the world determined to live in it, because that was the best way to honor the fallen and the fighting, and started looking for ways to create positive change.

That's what I'm going to do today. It's what I'm going to do tomorrow, and the day after that. I'm going to live and love and leave everything better than when I found it. I'm going to let people know that they matter to me.

Honor the fallen. Honor the heroes, sung and unsung. And live.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Just Remebered How To Spell License (Or, Sometimes Stuff Hits Me In The Face)

I am not a licensed driver. Between the price of gas and the fact that I grew up in San Francisco and went to college in Seattle, there just wasn't really much of a reason to. Of course, now that I'm approaching 25 and have a penchant for adventures that would often be aided immensely by a car, I can't deny that this needs to change, but that'll be another story for another day.

What I've learned in my years of automotive ineptitude is that you can tell a lot about a city just by walking through it. You can tell even more by riding its buses. And, more often than not, what you will discover is that your city is batshit crazy.

So much weird crap happens to me when I'm walking along, minding my own business, that I have a running theory that the universe does it on purpose just to make sure that I don't run out of stories to tell. Now, granted, some of these are totally my fault. I have little to no balance and coordination and, as a result, can proudly boast that I've fallen in three countries, including the good ol' US of A. I can't really blame London or Paris for the fact that I face planted in the entrance of a Tesco Express or tumbled down the stairs at the Louvre. Actually, I take that back. Those stairs were deceptively short and curvy, so a little bit of that was on the City of Light.

But San Francisco, my beloved hometown? I've walked by a seagull tossing around a headless pigeon (decided it was an omen), had a woman stroke my shirt and tell me how awesome it was (she did so from behind, which led me to almost knock her out in self-defense), and once, while I was on my way to the comic shop I frequent to pick up that week's stack, a blackbird flew into the side of my head. It wasn't attacking me, as they're often fond of doing during nesting season. Oh no. I felt something hit me, looked down, and saw this apparently drunk blackbird getting back on its feet, looking just as flustered as I did.

Yet, for all the insanity that can come with being a pedestrian, nothing could ever top being a city bus rider. Except, perhaps, being a city bus driver. But I wouldn't know (see first paragraph).

The most epic of my bus stories has already been told and reposted, so feel free to go check that out here. That's right, my friends. SF MUNI is where the impossible happens.

Back when I used to work in the Financial District, I'd take the 38L from the beginning of the line to basically the other side of town. It was a 45-minute-if-you're-lucky-60-if-you're-not journey from the business-y end of downtown, Union Square, the edge of the Tenderloin, past my high school and Japantown and a few stretches of shops and restaurants, past my grade get the idea. When you cover such a large area, you get a pretty healthy mix of people, which doesn't always work out so well. The 38 has been my lifelong bus line, and I learned early on that it was best to just keep my headphones on (but turned low enough that I was still aware of my surroundings) and not make eye contact with anybody, because if somebody got on who was not quite right, they'd somehow find their way to me. It would seem I have a certain magnetism when it comes to crazy. After evening rehearsals in high school, I'd often leave my stage make-up on, just to make me seem extra unapproachable.

Still, sometimes the commuters' unwritten rule to avoid engagement backfires. On one ride home, the bus was stopped at Geary and Arguello. I was in one of the coveted single seats on the side nearest the street, pretending to listen to music while actually reading a book (never surrender your headphones), when something unceremoniously collided with the side of my head. I sat up with a jolt just as an empty Tropicana orange juice bottle fell into my lap and rolled onto the floor. Yes. Somehow, somebody outside had hurled an empty juice bottle from the other side of the street through the tiny bus window where it then made contact with my admittedly large and inviting skull. Immediately, I looked around. The bus was crammed full of people, and every single one of them was looking determinedly in another direction. Really? Not one person was going to appreciate the absurdity of the moment with me? I wanted to start pointing fingers, to stand up and yell, "Come on! I know at least one other person saw that!" But then I would've joined the ranks of public transportation's weirdos, and somebody else would be writing on their blog about that crazy girl who started yelling on the ride home. So I did the only thing a person could do in that situation: I sent out a mass text.

Look, the point here isn't to just tell you about all the times I've been hit in the head by miscellaneous objects, cornered by poultry, proposed to by homeless guys, or headbutted by goats. No, the point, if I have one (and I might not), is to bring to your attention just how much you're missing by spending all your time driving around in your fancy cars. Get out there. Take a walk, and if you're feeling really bold, hop on a bus. You never know what'll happen, especially if I'm there.