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Waiting For Miss Crow

sherylcrow03“Did you know when you go it’s the perfect ending to the bad day I was just beginning? When you go, all I know is you’re my favorite mistake.” ~Sheryl Crow

There were at least 20 black folks camped outside of the HMV on Walnut Street on that cool September night in 1998. Behind them in line were a motley crew of pretty much all other races and ethnicities, but it was clear that they had been there an awfully long time, and they were ready to go the distance. As the clock crept onward towards midnight the chill in the air grew more distinct and the shifting of the people more pronounced. You see, they were waiting for the dawning of a new day at midnight, when the store would open for business and they could get their mitts on the new Jay-Z record.

The $20 dollar bill burned a hole in my pocket as I stood there three people from the end of the line, content in my position, knowing that a few extra minutes weren’t going to kill me. After all, the last subway train of the night didn’t come through center city until 1:28, so I had more than enough time to purchase my CD and get back to Market Street. I drew my coat tighter around my thin frame, collar flipped up to deflect the breeze, and listened to others around me who had come with friends.

And I didn’t even care about Jay-Z back then. At the time I was still all about West Coast gangsta rap, even though by all accounts it was old and stale by then. Oh, and Oasis. In fact, those boys from the UK were even playing in my headphones, in the background, as the clock finally hit 12 and the line began to move forward. The black folks disappeared into the store in a cacophony of sound, the mad dash of feet and riotous sounds of shouting as each one found the display (which was conveniently located at the front of the HMV) and grabbed their own copy of Hard Knock Life.

HMVWhen it was my turn I slid inside and to the right, past the swath of bodies, past the larger than life display, and even past the small group of people just milling about near the new release wall. Because I wasn’t there for Jigga, even though I, too, am of dark skin color. And I didn’t care about the new Soul Coughing record, or A Tribe Called Quest, or even the dynamic PJ Harvey. They were all spread out across that new release wall, but down near the bottom was what I coveted, and I reached eagerly for it, the only one in the store who seemed to even know it was there.

All summer I had been waiting for Sheryl Crow, needing new music from her like a drug. Just a month before that midnight rendezvous I heard My Favorite Mistake and fell in love. I promised myself I would camp out for the first time ever to get the entire album before anyone else. HMV didn’t do those midnight events that often either, so I had Jay-Z to thank for it, even though I wasn’t at all interested in that opus at the time (I love it now).

Then I got into another long line, this time with my prize in hand, staring at the song list on the back and sighing to myself. It was almost as good as my birthday, that trip to HMV to wait for Miss Crow. Almost. I paid for it and was out of the store by 12:30 with time to spare before the subway passed me by. I ripped open the packaging and placed the disc gingerly into my discman, turned up the volume, and lost myself in the music as I waited for the train.

Sam

patience1Dear Journal,

Honestly, I should be more patient than I am. I mean, I used to be more patient when I was younger. Either that or I just didn’t want to make waves so I pretended. Yeah, I was really good at pretending back then, and not so much now. Perhaps getting older cuts through the bullshit, or maybe all the years of pretending just wore me to the bone. I’m leaning infinitesimally toward the latter possibility.

I remember a time I was really pissed off at my sister because she didn’t want to play a game with me. I don’t even recall the exact game right now, but it was all important back then, because for me it wasn’t about the game. It was about just wanting to do something with my sister, about craving her acceptance and affection. So I was ticked at her because she said no, but instead of being patient about it and asking her again later I went inward and pretended it didn’t matter. But it did.

And it still does, not just with my sister, but with anyone who I find interesting. Maybe that means I come on strong when I first meet someone. I don’t have the patience anymore to just sit back and let things happen the way they will, so I try to move it along. That’s the reason I think a lot of my friends are laid back type. Maybe God is cursing me for not being patient, so he sends me people who love and appreciate me, but they also just happen to take their time to correspond, therefore further destroying my already fraying patience.

I know it’s not them, either. We all have different definitions of time, and mine just happens to be RIGHT NOW. I know I need to work on that, but the first step is admitting you have a problem, right? There should really be a 12-step program for impatients (I’m coining a new phrase for people like me) where we sit around just waiting for each other to speak. That would be a brilliant way to teach us a collective lesson, or to cause some kind of mass riot.

So I do these breathing techniques, centering I think it’s called. And while I’m doing them I feel good, like I could wait a million years for anything I want, but directly afterwards it all comes back in a rush, like a waterfall on fast-forward. And I want to just talk to somebody else about it, someone who understands because she’s been there, but I don’t know if I’ll have the patience to wait for her to show up.

Sam

Wanton

People in a bar.She knows the way I look
When I try not to look at all
This disinterested gaze
Hazy at best
Warning her that I’m here
Waiting for the pause
That proves she sees me
This shyness of spirit
Buoyant in recognition
Peeking from the shadows
Watching for a reciprocation
That almost never comes
But then hesitation shifts
To reveal her rare smile
Radiant as the noonday sun
Until I have to look away
Knowing she’ll do the same
Because she knows me
Even though we’ve never met
Doing this complicated dance
This shifting of feet
To prove we’re in control
Even though we’re not
So we strive to look away
While the world stands still
Waiting for us to connect
Even though we shouldn’t.

Sam

Six For Saturday

six_lgToday started off rather inauspiciously, as days go, with a huge surprise that changed the trajectory of the day, and that was just at work. For those new to my journal, I work as the perishables assistant at Target, which means I deal with all the highly perishable food like fresh produce, meat, and bakery items. Saturdays are one of our truck days, when we get items from the warehouse so that we can stock our shelves. Well, today we received 9 pallets of frozen turkeys. Yeah! Or not.

I mean, honestly, getting two pallets of frozen turkeys would have completely filled the promotional space in our double-sided bunker, and we have a ridiculously small freezer in the back for storage, so it quickly became a logistical nightmare. I felt like a turkey with its head cut off, no pun intended, trying to get those birds in some kind of frozen space before they unthawed and became a liability. Yikes, it was a fiasco, but we banded together, and I’m totally exhausted now, but we got every single one of those poor birds accounted for. And still frozen. Whew!

Then of course all the turkey jokes from my co-workers. “I think we’re going to run out of birds!” “We’re ready for that 2 for 1 turkey deal, Sam!” Yeah, very funny folks. I’ve lifted enough turkeys to last a lifetime. Anyway, with that out of the way, and finally back home to enjoy my evening, it’s time to get going with my Six For Saturday…

  1. I’m going to Philadelphia next weekend, and I honestly can’t wait. My sister suggested a sibling weekend, and it’s been a while since we’ve done that (early spring, from what I recall), so I somehow finagled a whole weekend off, including Thursday and Friday so we can get an early start. It will be good to be once again on my hometown turf, and since Joy moved recently it will be cool to check out her new neighborhood too.
  2. School is going well for the girls. Lexi went on her first field trip of the year a couple of weeks ago, and while it wasn’t a sparkling success (anxiety can be a real pain sometimes), I think she learned some coping mechanisms for next time. On Thursday, though, she left her planner and homework at school, so we had to get on our swift horse (i.e. scramble into the SUV) and catch her teacher before she locked up the classroom. We made it just in time, but we need to fix those bad habits too.
  3. u2-songs-of-innocence-album-coverThis week the new U2 album, Songs of Innocence, was released in physical form, and I totally love the album cover, although it has stirred up a bit of controversy. It features the band’s drummer, Larry Mullen, Jr., embracing his son, who is shirtless. I can see how it’s the impossible task of trying to keep our children young forever, and the pain in Larry’s eyes is pretty evident in the black-and-white photograph as well. Very well done, controversy and all.
  4. I’ve really gotten into this new show, Gracepoint, which follows a small town as it deals with the murder of one of its young people under seriously mysterious circumstances. Maybe it’s because I live in a small town now that I sympathize with the locals who have and want to keep their secrets, even if they have nothing to do with the young boy’s death. I identify, and maybe that’s enough to keep me watching and hoping that certain people didn’t do the dirty deed.
  5. Gearing up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) coming soon in November is taking up a lot of my thought processes. I’ve been working on trying out certain characters and styles on for size. It’s the first year that I’m doing some pre-writing for the month, and I’m wondering how it’s going to play out when it’s really time to write, if I’ll ditch my characters in favor of others, or if they’ll grow and coalesce together in harmony. I am also dedicated to keeping my character list small and therefore more easily managed.
  6. thFor the first time in a long time I’m reading non-fiction. It all started when my wife’s cousin’s wife gave me a copy of Michael Jackson’s autobiography Moonwalk for my birthday last year, and I just never found the time to read it until now, but it’s so interesting to read Michael’s own history, in his own words. He truly was a fascinating man and artist. In addition I’m reading Have a Nice Guilt Trip, by one of my favorite fiction authors, Lisa Scottoline, and her daughter. I love the double meaning in the title. And the chapters are remarkably short, and therefore more readable for non-fiction.

Yeah, those turkeys were pretty heavy too. I don’t think I’m going to do that every day.

Sam

Feels Like Fall

fallIt feels like fall. Finally. Unequivocally. That uncertain feeling of each morning coalescing into the conflicted atmosphere of the afternoon, and eventually fading into the cool veneer of evening. I woke up this morning to the dark of a night gone wrong, to an early start of another autumn day, and to a cool breeze outside my window. I eschewed a jacket in a show of solidarity for a summer that never quite lived up to expectations, that gave up the ghost way too soon.

As I slid into my car I noticed condensation on the windows, the cool dew’s moisture cold enough to create ice webs on my windshield. Defrosting would have taken too long so I used the telescoping scraper and some elbow grease to clear things up. By that time the inside of the car was warm, but I knew I wouldn’t need the heat on too long. Because fall is just like that, highly changeable. I drove 10 minutes down the road before I turned it off. The car stayed warm, the heat pressed in and comfortable like a supple leather glove.

I wouldn’t need the heat the rest of the day, even though in the morning air I could still see my breath for seconds before it evaporated into the autumn air. When I returned to it by mid-afternoon the air was still like calm waters on a sunny day. Because the sun was out and shining brightly overhead, pretending to be what it can only be for patches of time apart from the summer malaise that is fading with every day that brings us closer to winter.

It feels like fall as I get back home and shrug into my thick, fluffy robe, ready for the cool, collected endless nature of a complicated autumn night. And I settle in for the long haul.

Sam

819

Guess which one is the Grumpus.

There is this wonderful Friends episode where Freddie Prinze, Jr., as a nanny, introduces these two puppet characters: Mr. Wigglemunch and the Grumpus. Mr. Wigglemunch seems to be a friendly sort who speaks in a high pitched voice and espouses knowledge. “What’s the only boat that will never sink? A friendSHIP.” While our friend the Grumpus is just as his name suggests, an eternal grump for whom nothing will ever suffice. And I’m afraid Lexi has a kinship with the Grumpus, more so lately.

Me: You’re done with your screen time for today. You’ve had more than enough.

Lexi: NO I haven’t! I’m going to watch more.

Me: No you’re not. You’re going to turn that iPad off and find something constructive to do.

Lexi: Can’t I do my educational app instead?

Me: Uh, no. You’re going to turn the iPad off.

Lexi: Well, do I get more screen time later?

Me: You’ve had enough for the day.

Lexi: BUT IT’S NOT FAIR!

Me: You know what’s really not fair? That I have to argue with you about this.

Lexi: But I’ve only had an hour today, and I’m supposed to get two.

Me: No, your limit is two hours. That doesn’t mean you need or deserve those two hours every day. You need to find other ways to stimulate your brain.

Lexi: I’m not going to do anything then.

Me: Okay. Continue Reading »

Avant Garde

forward_thinkingI’ve never been ahead of the curve with anything, at least off the top of my head that feels like the case. The most I can say is that I liked the band Live before they got famous. Score one for me, but there’s not much else. In fact, I often seem to be the last one to hear things, to do things, and to “get” things. I’m quite proud of our Wii, that we got a year and a half after it was made available to the public. My glasses are the latest style… for 2001. I’m even still rocking an iPod Classic and quite proud of it. Oh, and I just got into spinning, too, about ten years after it became really popular.

And all of that’s okay because I don’t need to have the latest everything, or the best quality anything, or the ability to play video games with my friends online. I’m cool with being that guy who drives a 2008 car, who watches every Friends episode a million times, and laughs in all the right places every time, and who sits still at night instead of going clubbing, Madonna-style. Oh wait, Madonna is soooo over. I mean, going clubbing, Miley Cyrus-style.

The funniest thing is that the older I get the more I realize just how ludicrous it is to want the “latest” anything because if you blink that too becomes yesterday’s news and you “have to” get the next version. Finally got the iPhone 5s? Now here comes the 6+ and you have to buy it. Because it’s new, and as Barney Stinson says, “new is always better.” But is it?

e82d618fb47fbed8fa55f013540fe3cfI got new sneakers that ended up pinching my feet because the style is for people with standard feet and I have wide ones. I got the new Mumford & Sons record because it was the hip, happening scene, and I hated it. I tried to go clubbing, Taylor Swift-style, and I ended up hanging at the bar chatting with some other guy who seemed tapped out too. And that’s not to say I’m boring. Far from it. I just find my joy and excitement in being inventive, in the type of creativity and oddness that you just can’t teach. Which is fine for me, but which also keeps me somewhat stuck in the stone age.

When I was 12 I decided I wanted to shave my head. Michael Jordan did it, and it seemed like the “in” thing to do, so I went for it. And my head was cold, not to mention pale because I had never done it before. Until that hair grew back in I had the harsh two-tone look that wasn’t good for my reputation with the ladies. Maybe I should have thought before trying to be new and hip. And technology is all good and well until it breaks down or you can’t use it anymore.

When the power went out the other day my daughters looked at each other and at me over the candlelight  and shrugged their shoulders. They honestly had no clue what to do or how to do it without electricity, without the power to access the wi-fi that powers most of their iPad apps. I suggested we play hide and seek, and they were nonplussed. Now I know what it feels like to be a dinosaur amongst the Lilliputians. But that’s okay. I wouldn’t know what to do otherwise.

Oh, and I read to them. What a novel notion.

Sam

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