Thursday, March 15, 2007

I Love My Mechanic!

My convertible hood was sticking. With my past experiences in paying, I don't know, roughly 600% more than I should have, going to a mechanic rivaled getting a bikini wax. Even so, I knew I couldn't manually open the cover by myself. I went to a garage that had cleaner floors than a hospital operating room; I couldn't watch while the mechanic manhandled the cover.

Today my mechanic showed me a broken piece the size of an ant, choosing to fix it instead of replacing a $3,000 motor. I can't be sure, but while he explained this to me, there appeared to be a glowing halo around his head while a cello and flute concerto whispered in my ear.

I'm Pretty Sure the Sky is Not Blue

Let's just get this party started by letting you know that I looked like a turquoise marshmallow.

The earrings matched the scarf, which was held together with a vintage fake diamond pin. Couple this with a white t-shirt, a pair of jeans and a Hello Kitty bandaid, and it's almost like I never left middle school. Until I threw that turquoise down Michelin Man vest over it all.

We went to see Lorrie Moore read her not yet published stories at St. Mary's College in Moraga. She read with the finesse of a great storyteller, even singing when it was called for by the character. I was encouraged as she said she is often inspired by the imagery of her dreams. I've thought through many short stories or plot twists through the sharp and sometimes upsetting visuals of my dreams. I think this is how the story works itself out if this is how it comes.

Driving to Moraga, the convertible opened to the big beautiful sky with clouds of pink and orange. My sight isn't perfect, but I'm guessing the sky was really pink. Unlike the puffy vest, which was blue in natural light and turquoise under fluorescent.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Jedi Mind Trick

Tonight I go to the bookstore to pick up Cathy Day's book, The Circus in Winter. I'm not sure what to do about funding, but I'm considering University of Pittsburgh's admission to their fiction workshop this fall.

A little fat man in an apron with a long white beard approaches me. "Speak and I will answer thee," he says.

I'm not even sure if he's an employee until I see his black and white lanyard around his neck that says WIZARD. I tell him that I'm looking for a Cathy Day book. I tell him I'm looking for a Chuck Kinder book, too. He corrects my pronunciation and simultaneously schools me on the origins of German namesake heritages. "Okay," I say. "Kinder." (Keen-der) I sound like I have a Scottish and Canadian accent mix, but I roll with it. I repeat Kinder's name four times. Kinder? No, Kinder. Kinder? I get the impression this man (read: lawn troll) will not help me unless I pronounce Kinder's name correctly.

He stands behind the screen of his PC relic. "Ahh yes! The Honeymooners! As in ritual of wedded beings," he beams. He is waving his hand in front of me, clogged with tarnished silver rings featuring snakes and witchcraft symbols on them. He sticks his ring finger out. His chubby fingers can hardly pry themselves apart from each other, like they would need to take yoga lessons to regain flexibility. His ring finger has a silver ring with a sculpture of a bat, but I can't be sure. "C'mon," he tells me, "I'm a psychic Wicca. Let's take a little hike."

I don't know what that means, but it's a Monday night and I've got nothing on the books. I follow him, and he turns around to say, "Don't get creeped out. I'm a Wicca. We're the good guys."

"You're just taking me to get a book, right?" I ask, looking around for other employees. There are none.

"Oh, yes," he stops, stares at the bookshelf, closes his eyes and points his finger in a slow circular motion. I live in San Francisco and have seen everything, but this is serious entertainment. He finds the book as if by magic. "I sensed its vibration," he tells me. We found Cathy Day's book first. "Ahh, The Circus in Winter. Does this look familiar?" he asks.

Of course, it doesn't, as I am not a psychic and have not yet read it. "The Circus in Winter?" I grab the book. "I actually don't know about it. Do you?" I'm being polite, but I realize later that since he belongs in the circus in winter, it might come off like I'm a smartass.

"Well, thanks," I say. And then just because I'm curious, "Is your name really Wizard?"

"Oh, yes!" he says, adjusting his smudged glasses. "I'm a Jedi Knight of the Wiccas. We're the good guys. Don't get creeped out."

I'm not creeped out, just intrigued. He is the smallest full grown Jedi I can imagine.

"You know what a Jedi Knight is, don't you," he asks.

"Of course," I say, "Sort of. Actually, I don't have a clue." There's no fooling a psychic.

A grumpy lady clad in Laura Ashley passes us--his manager--and he says something to her about it being a nice night. She smiles at him, half centered and shy, and I feel like I just saw something take place I wasn't supposed to. Now I feel creeped out.

"Yes, well, you see that door shield armour?" he asks.

"You mean the alarm?" I ask.

He nods, and glances sideways. I can tell that he's multi-tasking the explanation of the Jedi Knight with his Wizard Charmery on the Manager. "The Jedi Knight always has one of those to fight evil, and if you are a Wicca, then you stand for all that is good," he says.

I'm still a little unclear about if he believes he has an invisible bookstore alarm with him at all times, and who exactly he considers evil, but I decide to just buy the book. When he rings me up, he says, "Don't worry. I can't get fired. On the basis we are discussing my religion."

That thought never crossed my mind. I grab my book and reach out my hand. "It was nice to meet you, Wizard. I don't know anyone in the Jedi Knight industry."

He smiles and I exit through alarms I will never look at quite the same again. In the fall, if I go to Pittsburgh, I sincerely hope I pronounce Professor Kinder's name correctly. I'd come off like a freak on my first day if I tried to explain that a Wizard told me to pronounce it wrong.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Holy Hammock!

I had a flashback combination a-ha moment today. It made me laugh.

When I was in the third or fourth grade, I was huge. Baby fat for ten year olds, I suppose. Anyhow, my father came home from work with a hammock for the backyard. We tied it up to two plum trees. I was the first one in my family to give the new hammock its inaugural whirl.

I was so excited I hopped right in and my sister swung me as high as she could. Looking back, I was probably a safety warning illustration waiting to happen. But I remember it being really, really fun.


I fell through the hammock. It hurt, and I got grass stains on my big elastic waist banded polyester pants. But I got up and the whole family stared at the big hole in an otherwise bleach white hammock. I was bewildered, having flown a bit from my cheap seat carnival ride, so I asked no questions when my Dad said, "Get in the truck. We're taking this thing back!"

Before the massive takeover of chain stores, returning merchandise wasn't easy. Nowadays, a giraffe could return a used toothbrush to Target two and a half years later without a receipt and no one would bat an eyelash. No siree. This was 1984. You had to give receipts, reasons, and talk to managers. If managers weren't around, tough luck. You had to come back the next day. This was "Jafco." Bellis Fair Mall has cemented over what used to be Jafco-- one of Bellingham's fanciest "everything" type stores. (Think Bed Bath and Beyond meets Good Guys.)

My parents told my sister and I to go play while they straightened out the hammock situation. I'm pretty sure my sister was there, anyway. My sister and I were so close in age; it was like having a soundtrack playing. I can't ever remember her not being around.

The "exchange" took only a few minutes. My Dad pointed at me a couple of times. I can only imagine what the cashier thought when I wandered in, grass-stained and muddied, with a broken hammock that my Fat Ass clearly broke. Besides the pointing and sympathetic half-smiles, I have no idea what my Dad told the saleslady, but it worked.

Whatever happened, it honestly did not occur to me until tonight, over twenty years later, that my weight had any part in the hammock debacle. My parents orchestrated that whole exchange, without blaming my weight, during such a formidable time. Perhaps the impact was I never thought anything was wrong with me, or that I needed to change or be different.

That little memory was a hilarious jolt into a time I don't think about often. But it's these bittersweet details that are the foundation of why I see the glass half full and rising. They're the reason, when I was ready; the "baby fat" came off so easily. Because I'd gotten the message. Nothing was wrong. It was unnecessary to escape myself or be upset with the before.