Monday, August 10, 2015

Waiting at the Red

On the drive to work today I found myself behind a slow-moving truck, so I changed lanes to get around it. I wasn't the first car to think of this; there were a couple in front of me when we all hit the red. The semitrailer behind the truck was high up off the ground. I looked underneath the semitrailer and saw a woman on the ground.

The woman was on the sidewalk at the bus stop. She was on her hands and knees shaking her head furiously three, four, five times. Her motions were quick and jerky. She jumped up, then down again to the sidewalk. She faced a different direction and shook her head up and down again. I don't remember how many times she repeated this. I was still waiting at the light when she stood up and hopped on the bench at the bus stop. Her legs, too short to reach the sidewalk, swung back and forth. Dust remained on her knees.

It was seven in the morning.

The light turned green.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Green and Red

My boss came by my cubicle at the end of the work day. The team sprouted around her to hear the game plan. It was late, I was tired, and the summer sun shone through the windows. I keep the blinds up to watch the people and cars go by whenever I need a break from staring at a screen. On a daily basis we hear siren honks from motorcycle escorts preceding and trailing hearses to the cemetery. Sometimes there are joggers, cyclists, employees walking from one building to the next, from one meeting to the next far out down at the sidewalk beyond an ivy covered hill and the trees outside my windows.

I focused on my boss and what she was saying as she crossed in front of my window. She walked in front of the view of the green leaves shimmering in sunlight that swings low on our side of the building this time of day. It seemed to me like the leaves burned red and orange, that beyond my boss and the assignments for tomorrow the months had flashed ahead of us and all the green had been consumed in the leaves on the tree outside. I lost focus. I looked at the tree. There was no hint of an early autumn; the leaves were as I had left them: green and bright at the end of a summer day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

It's Hot

I turn on the air conditioning for guests.

Sometimes I turn on the air conditioning for myself, but not always.

Maybe there will come a day when I will leave the AC on to exactly the temperature I want.

This is not that day.

Monday, August 3, 2015


I bought myself a dining table and chairs.

This is the first set of table and chairs I have ever purchased. I have lived in dorms, and in the forgotten room behind the kitchen toilet, and in a single apartment that was furnished with things I did not own.

Consequently, I did not know what I wanted out of a dining table and chairs.

I had gone to Living Spaces to check out their selection because Monrovia had pointed out in an advertisement they had some super-affordable (and yet, wow, that's more money than I usually spend on myself) dining sets. But the nearest Living Spaces did not have that model from the advertisement. So I drove to the farther Living Spaces. The model from the ad was not on the floor, it was in the back with the chipped and dinged stuff. There was a sealed sliding door like they have at grocery stores to keep the air conditioning inside the actual Living Spaces and to let you know that they weren't going to spend their AC budget on cheap people. The table I had been looking for was there. Squarish with rounded corners. White fabric seats on the chairs.

I hated those seats. There may or may not have been dings in the table, but all I know is I hated the white fabric seats. So I drove back.

Monrovia and Duarte didn't give up on me. They pointed me to a furniture store in the mall. There was absolutely nothing I wanted there. Which was great! I seem to learn what I care about when I see something that I don't like rather than what I do.

At this mall store there were big heavy wooden tables, with tabletops that were not smooth, but had hills and valleys to let you know this came from a real tree at some point. Terrible. I want a flat surface that won't give me splinters. I want something that I can lift. I want something I can move. There was a circular glass table. I liked the circle in comparison to the rectangles, but I didn't like the idea of glass.

I went to Scandinavian Designs. They had a circular office table that I liked, but not in the color I wanted. I didn't like any of the chairs. All expensive, none that comfortable. Modern.

I decided to try Living Spaces one last time. If they could get me something at a better price than Scandinavian Designs, then I'd go for it. All this time there was a thought in the back of my head that maybe I had inherited my father's taste in furniture, that maybe, unknowingly, he had passed down that Danish Modern preference. I couldn't tell you what is or isn't Danish Modern just by looking at it. I could not tell you if I like Danish Modern. But I can tell you what I wanted, by that point. I wanted something movable, something circular, something with a flat surface, something sturdy.

At Living Spaces, I found my table. It was paired with ugly chairs with grey mottled fabric seat and backing. I asked if I could mix and match and the floor salesman said I could. I was tempted by a sale on a large rectangular table with six chairs, a table designed for hosting dinners. But I could not move that. I would not have been able to carry that up stairs. I was barely able to carry the table I did get with Duarte's help. Someday when I move again I will need to hire movers to help with my table. I picked the prettiest chairs from a different set.

Picking up the furniture, assembling it, adjusting it, all that stuff took up my writing time last week. Now I have a table and chairs that glow a deep brown in my dining area. The seats are soft and easily cleaned fake black leather. The legs of the table bend inward and out again so you don't bang your knees. It's a circular table, like the knights had in the stories.

I know people say that material things don't matter, or shouldn't matter. I know I have lived as though material things don't matter to me, denying myself the acquisition of things on the basis that I had no place to keep them. For the first time in my life I have a space that fits what I imagine I want for myself. I'm not in a shoe box any more. And now that I can afford these things, now that I can actually keep these things, these simple things, I am learning about myself. I did not know what kind of dining set I would buy because I did not know that about myself. But after searching and comparing, after carrying and building, I can see something that came from within me, I can now see from my table and chairs that I am the kind of person who would buy such things. These are the kind of things that you will find in my home. Maybe it's Dutch Modern; it looks more medieval with the Game of Thrones coasters Brother got me for housewarming on it. I don't know. I know that it is a reflection of me and that I like what I see.

Monday, July 27, 2015

I like my boss

I basically spent last week lending support to a coworker on a project that technically we are all responsible for.

As a result, I fell behind in my work.

My boss gave me the talk: "Tell people you can't help them because I said so."

It's pretty great, I got to work on math and programming all day. Glorious.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Two Birds, Two Collisions

Today I was hit in the head by a bird while discussing office safety at a team meeting. A minute earlier my coworker complained about having the meeting outside since there were huge horseflies around.

"Do they bite?" I asked.

"No," he said.

"We can just kill them," said another coworker.

I barely felt it when the bird hit me. A flutter of feathers at the back of my head, then there it was, smaller than my fist sitting on the ground next to my chair.

"Did a bird just hit me?"

My coworkers laughed. "You hit the bird! You better apologize."

"I've seen The Birds. I'm very sorry, little bird."

The bird wasn't moving much but it did crane its head around and blink at me a few times.

We continued with the meeting. This past month I had just watched the HBO movie, The Girl, about Alfred Hitchcock sexually harassing and obsessing over the female lead to The Birds, Tippi Hedren. The Birds had been on my mind.

Last week I had been driving to work, talking on my bluetooth to Monrovia, when a peacock stepped out from in front of a Prime Time Shuttle in the lane to my left. I yelled, I braked, I heard a thud and saw a ball of feathers flap away. I grew up in peacock country. It's common for peacocks, peahens, and peachicks to roam freely in my hometown. Raised with the firm belief that it was a federal crime to touch let alone harm a peacock, I knew that I had sinned.

Today, at the meeting, I found myself looking back at that little bird sitting beside my chair. Its comrades chirped away for it from all directions in the quad where we sat. One bird sang from an umbrella the next table over. The bird on the ground, after resting beside me for about fifteen minutes, recording my license and getting a copy of my insurance, flew up to meet its mate on the umbrella, and then off to tell the others what it had done.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


I've been taking yoga at the gym at work.

The gym is in the basement. There is the bigger room, filled with stationary bicycles, treadmills, free weights and some machines I still don't understand. Then there is the smaller room, where classes are held. They offer yoga, spin, some martial arts, but no tai-chi. I asked them when I first joined.

"I had been taking classes at my university," I said.

"Do you think you could teach tai-chi?"

This is not the story of how I faked my way into teaching tai-chi at my new job. I joined yoga.

Yoga is a lot tougher than tai-chi.

Tai-chi, or at least as far as I got, was all about figuring out your center of gravity and doing stretches to improve flexibility. It was about stability rather than strength; efficiency of movement was the key principle.

Yoga is about twisting yourself and using your own body as a weight to build strength and endurance. You hold poses that test your balance.

Back at Irvine my tai-chi instructor talked about how easy it would be to knock someone over if they were holding a yoga pose. A tai-chi pose, on the other hand, is planted.

It's a silly put-down.

I'm definitely not getting better at it. It hurts my knees. I have no upper-body strength.

At the end, as we're resting, we take time for meditation. It always makes me late for work, but it's worth staying later for that payoff after the grueling vinyasa. I am not quite asleep, because I can still hear my instructor. Sometimes, though, I drift so deep that even though I can hear her, I do not comprehend her words any more.