Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stream of Consciousness: Day 8 (Silent Night)

I just walked my dog, but the minute I stepped outside, everything felt suddenly surreal.  It’s , but the sky is lavender purple, the color it gets right before it snows, but…there’s no snow in the forecast.  It’s foggy out, and the air is cool, moist, still smelling of freshly fallen rain.  The birds are chirping away like it’s 6 in the morning. 
I walk down the street and back again.  Nobody is out, no cars on the road.  Where is everyone? 
The only sounds I hear are my own footsteps, my dog’s paws tentatively tapping on the pavement, and his tags jingling on his collar.  And the birds.  What are they doing up so late? Are they as confused as I am by the strangeness of this night?
I get back to the front of my house and find the culprit: one loudly chirping bird sitting high on a wire, stirring up all the other birds in the neighborhood.  What could he be saying?  I climb the front stairs, and my dog and I stop.  It seems we are both wondering about that bird.  Finally, it gives one last chirp and flies away.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Stream of Consciousness: Day 7 (The Coffee Shop)

Almost every morning I get to Port Authority and choose from one of two spots that sell little cups of cereal.  Generally, I avoid the coffee shop on the first floor because it can get really loud in there, and I’m not talking about the music.  If you go in one morning before , I warn you: there is a group of coworkers/regular customers that meet there and take over the whole place.  Every time one of them walks in, there are loud greetings to be had.  It’s not a big place, and there aren’t many tables, so this group takes up a lot of space.  This “Cheers”-like atmosphere can get kind of annoying, especially because the minute you walk in there you start feeling like an outsider real quick.
Today I went in because they didn’t have any Frosted Flakes at the other place, and to my surprise, the main guy (there’s always a main guy) said “Good morning” to me with a nod of his head and a big smile.  I said “Good morning” back, with a small smile, and went over to the counter to get my cereal, a bit disconcerted.  As I paid, the main guy said loudly to me “Frosted Flakes, huh?”
“Yeah,” I replied sheepishly, turning back around.
“That cereal’s sweet!” he said.
I turned my head a little towards him. “Yeah, I need a little something in the morning.”
I walked over to get my milk, and then sat down at one of the few empty tables.
“Wow, Frosted Flakes! I haven’t had that in a long time! That must be delicious!”
“Yeah, it is,” I said. 
“Like, the milk gets really sweet, right?” He was trying very hard, and I didn’t understand why. The other men at his table were looking at me now, watching me eat my cereal.  I just wanted to eat my breakfast in peace. I’m not used to this kind of attention!
Finally, the guy stopped and went back to his own conversation. 
I wasn’t trying to be rude. I was just sleepy, and hungry!  Besides, this is New York City.  Friendliness doesn’t exactly run rampant.  He must not be originally from here…
Anyhow, I must admit that it felt sort of nice to be acknowledged as one of the “regulars” in the place.  Maybe now it won’t feel so weird to walk in there and sit down.  But at what expense?  Will I ever get to eat my Frosted Flakes in peace again?
I have been accepted into his secret club.  Now I just don’t know if I want the membership. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Stream of Consciousness: Day 6 (The Wish)

Last year, a 10 year old boy who lived in my building was talking to his friend as I was getting home from work.  I wasn’t paying attention to their conversation, but as the lobby door closed behind me, I heard:
 “Well, not like it will happen, but I wished for world peace.” 
I haven’t been able to get this phrase out of my mind since.  It’s sad that this boy already knows that his world will never be at peace.  That at such a young age, he already knows that there’s no way we can all “just get along”.  And yet, it’s beautiful because it’s so innocent.  I don’t know if it was a birthday wish, a wish upon a star, or a wish on a wishbone, but he used one of his precious wishes to ask for it.  Deep down, it’s something he hopes is still possible. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Stream of Consciousness: Day 5 (UNO)

I love getting the Wild card in an UNO game, and I love what it represents: a complete change, only for my benefit.  They’re the best! There should be UNO cards that I can use in real life. 
If I decide to make a major change in my life, I’ll throw down a Wild card, and no one can do a thing about it.  If I feel like I need a do-over, I’ll just pull out a Reverse card, and no one will notice how I messed up the first time.  And if I don’t feel like doing something at the moment, all I have to do is put down a Skip card and get back to it later.      

Friday, April 8, 2011

Stream of Consciousness: Day 4 (Friend)

My dearest friend:
I think you've chosen me,
Not for my personality,
But for my ever-listening ear
That never fails when you are near.
I only hope that someday you
Will give me the same pleasure too,
For friendship cannot be one-sided.
This is what I have decided.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stream of Consciousness: Day 3 (I regress)

I’m heading to a networking event today.  I was excited for a while, but now that it's here, I don't feel like going.  Sometimes I just don’t want to be a leader.  It's something I continually work on.  It seems I'll always be a work in progress. 
My default response is to follow – stay back and watch the extroverts do their thing.  Keep to the shadows where it’s safe and nobody can judge me.  There are days when I get to work and feel like: Can’t someone else run the class today?  Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it!  Give ME directions, not the other way around! 
I like to think that I’m getting better at speaking up and saying what’s on my mind, but on days like this my stomach starts doing that topsy-turvy thing, and I know I’ve regressed back to square one.  What a shame…

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Stream of Consciousness:Day 2 (When the eyes of a stranger are upon you...)

Don’t look a crazy person in the eyes because they might just look back at you.  Why is that so scary?  Why do we avoid eye contact with strangers?
Eye contact is special.  There’s a reason why it’s one of the first things you try to teach a child with autism: it establishes a connection.  When someone looks you in the eyes, you suddenly exist to them.  You are acknowledged.  That’s why I avoid eye contact with a crazy person: I don’t want them to be aware of me!
Some people, like myself, are uncomfortable making a connection with a stranger, unless there is an attraction there (and even then I get shy and look away).  Whenever I see an attractive man, I’m not satisfied until I see his eyes.  I watch and wait to see if he’ll look my way, just to catch a glimpse.  What am I looking to find there?  I don’t know.  Perhaps a sneakpeek into his soul.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Stream of Consciousness: Day 1

The trek to my job is long and painful.  By the time I get there, my back hurts and I feel exhausted.  Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have to wake up so early.
Being a preschool teacher is no joke. You have to be ON, all the time.  There is no moment where you can step back and sit at your desk and take a breather. If you do that, one of your children will get hurt, or they’ll get bored and start creating chaos.  I don’t have a desk, anyway.
A thirty minute lunch time doesn’t cut it.  By the time you finish eating, there’s only ten minutes left to your break.  Just enough time to check an email on the one s-l-o-o-o-w computer in our tiny break room, squeezed behind a coworker who’s trying to eat HER lunch. 
I feel like there has to be more to life than this constant struggle to wake up and get to work.  I’m going to invent a teacher robot that can teach for me, while I sit at home and control the robot.  You know, just like the military is making those robots to go fight in the wars.  Hey, if they can do it, why can’t I? 

The Dance Lesson: Part 2 of 2

For four years, I kept my vow of never dancing again, but as I got older, the pressure to dance increased as I was invited to more and more parties.  For the sake of my social life, I gave up my vow and asked a cousin of mine for help.  With much patience, he taught me the basic steps of salsa and merengue. 
            Armed with my primitive dancing skills, I attended my friend’s 16th birthday party.  I was in my usual spot: sitting on the edge of the sofa, moving slightly to the beat of the music. 
            I was admiring two couples dancing in front of me when a good-looking, muscular guy with short brown hair caught my eye from across the room.  He smiled and I smiled back, recognizing him.  It was Anthony, the 17-year old heart-throb I had met a few weeks ago.  He walked over with confident strides, extending his hand toward me, the universal invitation to dance.
            I took his hand and stood up, attempting to look nonchalant. We found an empty spot on the floor.  Then I looked up to meet his eyes… and instead saw the top of his head.
            My height was the bane of my existence.  Usually the tallest girl in the room, I stood out amongst my vertically-challenged friends.  I knew Anthony was shorter than me, but I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of being this close to him, and it didn’t help that I was wearing heels.
            “Whoa!” he said, his eyebrows lifting in cool surprise.  With a self-conscious smile, I backed up so that I could actually see his face.
            We began to dance: one, two, one, two, one, two.  I tried to focus on my steps.  I had never danced with a guy who wasn’t related to me.  I was suddenly hypersensitive to everything – the feel of his hand on my waist, how large and hard his shoulder was underneath my own hand, how our feet were moving in unison.
             “Relax,” he said in Spanish.  “You’re stiff.”  He massaged my waist a little with his fingers, not realizing that his touch would have the opposite effect on me.  I tried to do as he said and breathed deeply, inhaling the enticing scent of his cologne.
            When the song ended, he lowered his arm but didn’t let go of my hand.  He seemed to be waiting for the next song to start.  It wasn’t long before the music started up again, but I savored every second that his fingers were gently holding mine.  He turned his dark chocolate eyes toward me.  “Do you want to keep dancing?” he asked.
            I nodded, and for the next two hours, he was my dance partner.  I tried hard to loosen up as he taught me the steps.  I tried hard not to look like a fool.
             Before I knew it, it was , and my parents were outside waiting to pick me up.    A bunch of people had just arrived and the party seemed to be getting started.  It didn’t matter that my friend's parents were present as chaperones.  I was fifteen and had to be home at a decent hour.   
            With a wistful smile, I said goodbye to Anthony, kissing him on the cheek.  I rushed to get my coat, trying to be discreet about the fact that I was leaving early.  As I walked out the door, I glanced over my shoulder and saw him with a couple of giggling girls.  I felt a stab of envy as I hurried to my parent’s car and the noise of the party faded behind me.         
            It took many more parties until I was finally able to relax and enjoy the music completely.  My dancing skills developed slowly over the years.  Each dance experience contributed to my growing confidence, melting my insecurities away, and I seized every opportunity I could to practice.  To Anthony, it was just another dance that he most likely doesn’t even remember, but that night signified the end of my greatest fear and the beginning of a life-long passion.