Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Where'd I Put That Pen?

I seem to be experiencing temporary technical difficulty – namely the fact that my mind has suddenly become what can be termed “Pure as the driven snow . . .Not violated by a single thought.” In a nutshell – I got nothin’. So in the interest of putting something up on this fabulous blog space I’ve come to call….okay “Home” is not the right word . . . hmmm, well, see what I mean? Never mind . . . onward to today’s


To spin, or not to spin.
Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the slings and arrows of outrageous saddlebags
Or to take arms against a rising scale
And by opposing, become slim again?
To park on the couch: to nap;
No more, and by a nap to say we end
The youthful metabolism
and begin the thousand natural
movements south that flesh is heir to
Chocolate tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d . . .

For the love of all that is holy, make me stop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, that was quite possibly the worst version of Customized-Hamlet that I have done to date. Forgive me. Let’s move on.

I started spinning recently. For those of the uninitiated, “spinning” is an athletic activity whereby one wears specially designed shoes while riding a specially designed stationary bicycle in a room full of other people wearing specially designed shoes riding identical, specially designed stationary bicycles while an instructor, accompanied by a fabulously spiritual attitude and appropriate selection of “tunes” for the mood, leads one through a series of uphill climbs, sprints, etc . . . all while out of the saddle on the bike. One rarely sits while they spin. This entire process is carefully coordinated for maximum heart rate and maximum sweat. Needless to say, I look like I jumped in a swimming pool upon leaving class. Drenched. It’s addicting.

I’m afraid, however that my writing ability has left me briefly while my ass changes size. I’m assuming this is a temporary condition and that I’ll write something soon.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The People In My NeighborhoodPart 2

Some years ago there was a fire in a local pet store that sold parrots. All the birds were released to the urban wild in an effort to save them from the fire. Happily, they survived and there are now various flocks of green parrots in and around the Los Angeles area. We happen to be graced with one such flock on our street. Beautiful, displaced characters; odd in their surroundings. But they have been here so long that they have faded into the every day flow of the neighborhood and go mostly unnoticed. One doesn’t necessarily think “wild parrots” when contemplating the flora and fauna of urban L.A.

There’s a child that lives in my building who hasn’t grown since he was four years old. He’s about eight or nine now. He’s deaf, and suffers from frequent ear infections that the doctors can do little for. When he gets one of these infections, there are often entire days when the child will be screaming in pain. Other days he is happy and playing, but screaming and yelling with joy. He can’t hear himself, so there is really no way to tell him to keep it down because he has nothing to compare it to. Loud and soft, that is. His mother and grandfather do the best they can. We’ve gotten so used to the sound that no one reacts to it – it has faded into the every day white noise of the neighborhood and goes mostly unnoticed unless a stranger is visiting that has never heard it before. To them it sounds as if the child is being horribly murdered.

There’s a man who lives on my street – well, “LIVES” is such a relative term in some circles – what I mean is that he spends his days and nights there. He has become as much a part of the ebb and flow of the street as the movement of the sun. He sleeps somewhere under the shrubbery at night with his numerous belongings about him and then, starting at about 5:30 a.m., he goes about his day. Being somewhat of a people watcher by nature accompanied by the fact I’m out there walking my dogs at least three times a day, I have had quite a number of opportunities to become fascinated with this person. His job, if you will, is to appear quite busy.

Word of the day:
bus·y Pronunciation Key (b z )
adj. bus·i·er, bus·i·est
1. Engaged in activity, as work; occupied.
2. Sustaining much activity: a busy morning; a busy street.
3. Meddlesome; prying.
4. Being in use, as a telephone line.
5. Cluttered with detail to the point of being distracting: a busy design.

His collected belongings consist of a baby stroller, two large suitcases on rollers, a camper’s backpack, tote bags and a bedroll. At 5:30 a.m., he removes the numerous jackets, ski masks and hats that he has layered himself with for the sleeping hours, folds them carefully, placing them in the baby stroller, which he then covers with a blanket and secures with twine. He then moves these items one by one down to the sidewalk and arranges them neatly the way one would if they were awaiting a cab or the airport shuttle. He spends much time on the careful arranging, grouping and placement of the various items. Once they are arranged to perfection, he begins again, starting with the stroller. He wheels the stroller down the sidewalk to another location, then proceeds back and forth between the new location and the old, collecting his life on wheels, regrouping and precisely arranging that life - perhaps in an attempt to create order out of adverse circumstances – perhaps simply to keep moving in order to avoid being charged with vagrancy. Who knows, but it is his routine and he keeps this routine going from morning until night – up and down one side of the street and then the other, repeating the actions day after day. I’m reminded of an old Twilight Zone episode where a man keeps driving the same stretch of highway over and over again only to determine by episode’s end that he is dead and in Hell . . . or something like that. I wonder about the purgatory that sentences a man to the never-ending movement of his few material belongings, a few feet at a time, endlessly, on a street where the man has no home – and where this beautifully odd and displaced character simply fades like the flying of wild green parrots through the jacaranda trees, or the screams of a deaf child that won’t grow . . . unnoticed, into the everyday flow of our comfortable neighborhood.