#21: Training wheels
When I was five I rode a wooden toboggan, the old kind with metal runners and eye-shriveling top speeds and pretty much nothing controlling it on steep descents, the alleged steering column a piece of twine connected to the upturned front.
Brother Paul was a self-proclaimed Native American, and what I mean by that is he wasn’t actually of Native American descent, but rather forged his entire identity based on stereotypes. He grew his hair out to his waist, walked around barefoot, and, in case you didn’t pick up on it, insisted we all call him “Brother Paul.”
Then, yesterday, I was walking down Main Street and all of a sudden I felt something slimy. This sounds crazy. I thought I had soiled myself. I ran into the hardware store and had Ed show me the bathroom, clenching my legs the whole time and I got to the bathroom and sat on the toilet and what I saw wasn’t what I thought it would be.
The bleakest, basest circle of YouTube hell is reserved for the amateur musicians audacious enough to bare their souls to the unlistening world. I’m not talking about the ones that garner attention for being impressively bad. I mean the here-goes-nothing guitarists who can’t link chords together.
It was one of those all-too-rare days with blue skies and mercifully low atmospheric levels of PM2.5, the particulate mix of dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets pumped into the air by the coal plants and construction sites that surround Beijing.
“Do still life because you cannot tell a story about it—paint something that isn’t anything until it is painted well.”
My friend Nicole is turning twenty in May. She doesn’t normally like to celebrate, but this year she wants to have a party themed Leaving Behind Adolescence. “I found a recipe online for mixed drinks incorporating Pop Rocks,” she tells me over lunch, “and we can put vodka into Capri Sun.”
I'm at least a little afraid that who I am now is who I will be for the rest of my life I find myself desperately trying to make sense of these things I do all the time, of these things that help define me in some small way. So I've been remembering a lot of firsts, writing a bit of personal history.
"When you were first diagnosed with ADHD we did not really understand what it meant. Of course we knew you had focusing issues, and that your legs were always in motion, and we used to joke about the fact that your perfect job would be working at McDonald’s, as all your school reports tended to mention that “you would do so much better if you weren’t looking out the window all the time."
Sitting in that uncomfortably squishy chair in September, I so desperately wanted to be told that whatever was happening to me was—although perhaps not normal—not unheard of.
77 years later, similar thoughts must be floating somewhere around the minds of young workers across the country. Bumsucking to the manager – does modern work consist of much else?
I can’t even call myself a debater without provoking sneers or eye rolls from the self-appointed “real” debaters. Mostly males, they competed in Policy and Lincoln Douglas, CX and LD. There’s a hierarchy within Speech and Debate, and I, an extemper, represented the “softer” side.
While we may voice disappointment in an aspiration deferred, there is another speaker, barely audible, who breathes a sigh of relief as the world collapses from the vast to the cozy, from a landscape to a living room.
Those living the American Dream of an eight to 12 hour work day preceded and followed by two hour commutes are familiar faces on the 7:25am Hoboken Light Rail on the 22nd Street line.