In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Hear No Evil.”
Perpetual inundation of bad news from your friendly newscaster. A new theme emerges like clockwork of ghastly inhumane and immoral acts. At first, the news is horrifying and inconceivable. Then there is the “rubbernecking stage” where the details are indeed despicable yet somehow become compelling drama. The events seep into every day thoughts providing a distraction from the lackluster workday. In the end, the events and perpetrators eventually meld into one general composite story. Same story, different day. Ennui settles in for a long winter nap. Evil? What evil? Hey, did you hear the breaking news story about Senator Tom Smith’s affair with his nanny’s daughter whose ex husband murdered their only child?
And it’s off to the races again.
This year winter’s cold and clammy tentacles have reached farther and deeper into my bones than ever. Why, just last evening I took a brief stroll with my dog, and before I had rounded the bend at the old abandoned school house to return home, my hands were completely chilled while I hunkered down in my insufficient windbreaker.
I ask you…no I beseech you, Mother Nature, to tell me just when does summer begin this year, and can you substantiate your claim? There was a break in the cold and rain a week ago, which served to merely whet my appetite. The air was moist and warm, and even the most cautious were sporting summer attire. I slowly walked into a lake so cold I squealed in agony only to eventually submit and jump in all the way. The water felt deliciously cool and cleansing on my skin, and I giggled and splashed like I was ten all over again. Afterwards the sun baked the water out of my clothes leaving me snuggly enveloped in heat.
More. I need more.
Kids say and think the darnedest things. I’ve already grown quite fond of Euphoric Charity’s make-believe friend, Mr. Ziegleporph. When I was a young, fatherless child, I travelled across the US with my mom via Greyhound Bus. It was a long trip, and everyone grew restless. An older man befriended me, and I drank in the attention by the bucketfuls. He liked me so much that he decided to give me a new middle name to add to the one I already had. My new middle name was “Sue”. I was so excited about having a new official name, I decided to give myself yet another official middle name. My new name I gave myself was ‘Tal’ (to rhyme with Sal). Thus, I ended up having a 5-word name.
Does life get any better?
Trains have the magical power to wend their way into just about everyone’s heart. Doesn’t everyone have a nostalgic memory that involves trains? I enjoyed KiwiBee’s description of her home town, Laramie, that was dotted with train references.
In my own life, I remember lying in bed late at night in my tiny twin bed in my tiny bedroom in my tiny town listening intently to the distant wail of a train. I was in a woozy, dreamy state because I was madly in love for the first time with someone that lived far away in Santa Ynez, California. He was a tall, beautiful, bronzy Californian, and I’m sure he’d already forgotten about me right about 30 minutes after he left town. At any rate, I would slide my window open, and jump out to the backyard and sit in the cool summer grass while basking in the soothing glow of the full moon with the hum of trains in the background. I was probably dreaming I was on one of those trains heading straight for Santa Ynez. Talk about giving a whole new meaning to the word ‘moony’…
Anyway, I have many fond memories of trains. In fact, just recently, I happened to be awake in the middle of the night, and heard the plaintive whistle of a train in the distance. Childhood memories flooded my thoughts. I told my sister about this the next day. She, too, had been awake that night to hear the train, and was also reminiscing about the days of living in our tiny town hearing the train whistles blow in the middle of the night in the middle of the desert .
A typical rainy Portland day and a typical in-limbo situation with a craigslist ad. Text messages, email messages, and “oh, yes, I’ll be by shortly to look at your item”. I’m like a jaded lover – yes, whatever, dear. You’re on your way now? “Ok, yeah, right”. I’m counting on it (not). So I get an actual phone call from said Craigslist user. I’m assuming he’s calling to say he won’t be over afterall – nice of him to let me know. Well, I was wrong. He was calling to tell me he was outside but didn’t know which house was mine. What? I see you across the street in your car, and you are looking straight at my house that has the street numbers clearly marked on the outside. We had quite the conversation for such a simple problem. I had to tell him more than once that I saw him, and that my house was directly across the street from where he was parked. See me waving at you from the window? I didn’t understand, but whatever, right?
I noticed, of course, that he is Black. Which is nothing of note, until I mused about the incident later. I now think that he was waiting for me to see that he was Black, and possibly making sure I’m not a crazy person that is going to shoot him just because he is walking up to my doorstep in ‘living color’. If I were in his shoes, wouldn’t I be a bit nervous based on recent shooting incidents? It’s easy for me to be outraged about the incidents, but the reality is that my personal daily life will not change one iota because of the shootings. I experienced the shootings on a second-hand basis.
I did get a taste of what it’s like to be singled out based on mere skin color when I recently visited New Orleans. My sister and I were looking for a place to eat that wasn’t expensive yet had decent food. We came upon The Trolley Stop Café. It looked cute and homey, and the menu passed judgment by two very hungry yet discerning women. Some nice gentleman held the door open for us. (I still remember because male gentility doesn’t exist in the Pacific NW). I turned right to go up a few steps to the dining area and pow! I felt like I was suddenly underwater without oxygen floating in a fishbowl. The sounds of the café went dead, the lights dimmed, and everyone stopped eating to look me up and down. Everyone in the café was Black and I wasn’t. I felt a moment of uncertainty… am I not supposed to be here? And then, just as quickly as a video that finally gets unstuck and plays correctly, all activity resumed. So, there you have it. The brief experience in the café gave me a visceral taste of what it’s like to be ‘different’. Even though I abhor what happened in Florida with all my heart, I didn’t understand what it is really like to live under a continual cloud of suspicion.
I still don’t, but at least I know that.
A typical day in the Northwest consisting of spells of drizzling rain to outright downpours. I”m walking my dog at Mt. Tabor, and I want to get extra exercise by climbing stairs. There are some old, narrow cement stairs that lead up the hillside to the reservoir station outlook. They are built the old-fashioned way with bits of big pebbles sticking out of the craggy sides. Thus, one would think I would be the only person interested in scaling them repeatedly, especially on a dreary, wet day.
Well, think again. I encountered a variety of stair-stepping zealots, but one girl left an impression on me all evening. She reminded me of a cross between Pippi Longstocking and Duchess Kate Middleton. She had a an electric blue umbrella that had seen better days, and was wearing dark wine-colored velvet baggy trousers that only accentuated her waif-like body. I continued to go up and down the stairs with my dog, and to my amazement, she kept up with me. I could see she was actually quite a strong climber. I asked her questions thinking she might be lonely, and after long silences, she would say just a few words. Something about her was very enigmatic and mysterious. The only thing she did say emphatically, but in a wispy Scarlett O’Hara way, is that “I have to walk every day”.
Later, when I climbed to the top for the last time, I was surprised to see her in the distance under her blue umbrella with her dog sitting calmly at her side. She had waited for me to summit. Her body and dog were completely still as only her hand waved good-bye for just a moment. I waved back.