Monthly Archives: September 2008

My day: 9/11 & Becky

I can’t help but wonder if Themis Chronopoulis, professor of the rise and decline of urban cities, decided to show the film on the construction of NYC intentionally today. With several shots of the lower Manhattan skyline, coupled with higher-than-the-rest-of-the-month estrogen, I found myself misty eyed more than once at from 9:50 to 11:10 this morning.

NPR was discussing if we talk too much or too little about the occurrence seven years ago today. I was on a ten minute ride to work from campus, or I would have found out peoples’ opinions on the subject, but it made me wonder what my own opinion was. At first thought, “just enough” came to mind. But I’m not sure. And I still don’t know. Who’s to judge what’s enough or what’s too much? For me? I don’t think I hear about 9/11 all that often. However, I don’t know that if I did, I wouldn’t think it was being harped upon.

On my ride back to school from work, I caught a bit on school segregation. Popular theory of [the caller] was that high schools and colleges had racially segregated cliques. I immediately called my own high school days to mind, in an attempt to recall what it was like at good ol’ LHS. But I don’t actually recall what life was like then; I spent a lot of time avoiding that place. So I thought about the campus I was on my way to, and I came to the conclusion that segregation isn’t really an issue at SBU. Most people are pretty friendly with one another, regardless of ethnicity or nationality. I think, as the host of NPR commented, colleges have been working at creating environments that encourage mingling.

What I had to say about it (out loud, to the car stereo) was that we’ve had this problem since Brown vs. the Board of Education and the military had to be called to assist in desegregation. Today’s parents aren’t used to it and therefore don’t encourage their children to have friends of all nationalities. And it won’t be easy for them to either, unless they are made comfortable with the concept. Is it possible? Probably. But I don’t think it can be accomplished in the next few years, or even decade.

In other news, Becky, a former waitress co-worker of mine, came into my office today. At first glance I thought maybe she had a speech problem I never noticed. Or maybe a child (it’s entirely plausible from what I recall of her personality from back in the Bennigan’s days) with a tongue thrust…who knows? Instead, in making my way around the office wall to give her an “OMG! I haven’t seen you in forever!” hug, I noticed the pamphlets in her hand, and her male companion. Wishing she had noticed the “No Soliciting” sign (in hot pink) on the door, I asked what she was doing there. “Uh, we have spa packages, actually,” she replied. Through an obviously forced smile I reminded her of the notice on the door and told her she couldn’t be there. I noticed a self-righteous switch in her attitude. I asked a few questions about the biz and she felt the need to toss in how much “more money” she makes than the cranky people that throw her out of their offices. She also showed me all of the sign-ups they had accrued during the course of their beg-selling, and explained that it had nothing to do with begging and that they were quite educated, and then I think something about having her own business. Understanding her need to feel bigger, I marveled at her accomplishments and told her how great it was to see her. She did the usual: asked what I had been up to these days and such. She brought up that Kristy had gotten married. Realizing it as the words were flying out of my mouth, “I know. I was there,” was probably the most pretentious thing I could have said. I was met with a high-pitched, “oh,” and decided Becky hadn’t changed, and I had. And even though it was this vain, superficial comparison, I felt a little bit better about me, and the person I had become.

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Dear Dad

I know blaming you is not the answer, because my actions are my own fault, but I can’t forgive you. If you weren’t in my life, sure, I wouldn’t have been born, but the way I grew up, sometimes I think that’s better.

No one should have to go through this. No one. I spent 7th grade on suicide watch in middle school. Who does that? Why–please explain to me why–it’s so easy to be so mean. Tell me how disregarding peoples’ feelings can come without conscious awareness. I know you know the answer, because you do it to me every day.

I did it every day too, once. And I thought it was the biggest mistake of my life. Now I realize not being able to stop, now, is actually the biggest mistake of my life.

You couldn’t & can’t handle that part of yourself, dad, but I fight every day to try to handle that part of me. I just love when I can get it right–the feeling of comfort and happiness is just utterly amazing. You’d think that’d be enough for me to keep away from the mean, but somehow, it’s just not. I can be a hurtful person, and I am very ashamed of that. Because not only does no one deserve to have to fight to remain good, moreso no one deserves to be treated bad. For someone to play the role of “mean guy,” someone else has to play the role of “victim,” and I’m sick to death of claiming victims.

Just because I’ve made progress in this field doesn’t make it okay as a behavior. I hurt people, and that hurts me. Why do I even have the capability? And even if that’s something everyone is born with, what makes it so much more difficult for me?

Every time I slam a door, every time I use any variation of spite, I think of you, dad. Because all joking aside, “I learned it by watching you.” I don’t know how to forgive you for that. I’d like to think learning how would “set me free,” but I’m also not sure it’s that easy.

But damnit, more than anything else in my life, I want to be nice. To the people I love.

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fantasy dream.

Well, kind of.
It starts here, in Forest Hills. Kind of.
Several of us –mostly Chris’s family though, I believe — are in what feels like an inn. It’s as if we’re in some kind of cross between Ireland (where I’ve never been, so I may just be talking out of my ass here) and New York City. Chris says something in an upstairs bedroom that I don’t particularly care for, so I head downstairs, into a main room. I settle off to the side, in what could be considered a kitchen in a small apartment, but doesn’t feel like a kitchen in this instance. I sit on a regular plastic/metal chair and wait.

A few minutes pass, and Rachel comes over and stands behind me. She starts telling me stories about her hair, and how she had formerly cut it, or style it, or whathaveyou. I feel a brush being pulled through my hair and I realize she might have thought I was sitting there waiting for her to cut my hair. But the brush feels amazing, so I continue to listen to her talk, and wonder how I would ask her to cut it were that what she was planning on doing.

In her talk of hair length, she refers “like this,” indicating she wants me to turn and face her, so I do. She takes my eyeliner pencil cap off (though where she got it from is beyond me), places my chin in her palm and begins to apply eyeliner to my right eyelid. At that point it seems as though she is quite confidently going to give me a “makeover” as though she is some kind of authority on the subject. I feel awkward, but somewhat proud. I glance over at Chris, who has also entered the central room. He appears unimpressed.

With that, a woman sitting on a couch adjacent to us frantically begins asking for help, as her makeup experiment has suddenly gone awry. Rachel rushes over to assist her, and for some reason, I leave the establishment.

Outside, I wait for Rachel, though I’m not sure why. I explain to some guy about the scene that had just taken place while we walk down what looks to be a relative of Yellowstone Boulevard. Rachel eventually catches up to us, and in that same moment I realize she was holding my eyeliner back at the inn and it was still likely inside. She cheerily states she’ll go back and retrieve it, but I follow, only I am slower than she and she is already ahead of me.

I return to the “inn” shortly thereafter and she is nowhere to be found. A barmaid/innkeeper type woman is cleaning up in the exact location we had recently departed. She mentions I’m probably looking for the “TooLowToHearWhatSheIsSaying” but I explain, as I find both the pencil and the cover, that I am only there for my eyeliner, which yes, could have been purchased for pennies elsewhere.

Curious as to where Rachel had wandered off to, I head back outside. Upon my departure, a man with whom I am evidently acquainted “oh, hi!”s me. I return the salutation, but explain that that someone is waiting for me outside or I would stay and chat.

I immediately spot Rachel and hurry over. I convey that I had found what we had both gone to seek. She happily acknowledges our triumph and we begin walking down the street.

After a short journey we enter a shop as though we are on a mission. There are two old men sitting next to a table containing a type of pastry–perhaps rugala. We determinedly head for the set of stairs in the back of the establishment and exit to a series of alleys. After setting off down one of them, I turn behind me to find the source of some commotion we can both hear, but Rachel comments that they are high school kids and we should proceed forward. I reply that we’ll just have to go through the ghetto then, bound down some stairs, and following, Rachel laughs. I duck out of the alley and land on a city street. Faintly, I recall a memory in which Chris and I had traveled this path before and found it to be the incorrect way. I verbalize this thought and Rachel agrees to try to find the right one. We turn back to the shop. As we re-enter, the two men attempt to engage us in friendly conversation, noting how quickly we have returned, but we politely decline. I state to Rachel that if I recall correctly, there is a different staircase that we need to take out of the shop, but that Chris knows for certain. I begin to search rooms, but realize Rachel is not with me. I call out to her, several times, and she replies that she is talking with the shopkeeper, but headed in my direction. She joins me in the room in which I am standing and leans against a wide door frame, while I sit on the floor, defeated.

What she says next immediately confuses me. I can’t recall exactly what her words are, but it is clearly acting. A puzzled expression crosses my face. With that, Chris enters the room and begins speaking aloud to himself as though preparing for a game later, which is what I assume he is doing. It is also the first time I notice character/game pieces on a table in the center of the room. Understanding that Rachel wants to lure me into a role-playing game, I turn back to her and in an accent of some kind, exclaim in response to her question, “but we don’t even know where we are!” Chris’s attention turns to us, and I immediately ask him where the stairs that we are looking for are located. He answers without words by handing me a piece of construction paper with what looked like a message on it. Whether attuned to Chris’s, creating my own, or a combination of the two, I am instantly filled with pride once again, mostly because Rachel has swayed me into a game I honestly believe I will enjoy playing. I glance at the paper, which has the words “Basement for rent” written on it, with a description of the space available underneath it. I smile knowingly and thank him, placing the paper on yet another table in the room. “The basement,” I say to Rachel, and on a double-take, pick up the paper once again. “I think I’d better hold on to this as well,” I explain, “wouldn’t want someone to move in and block our access.” Rob Smith-Hoffman, out of nowhere, leans over to Chris and whispers, “she’s a smart one.” Chris smiles and I make my way to the basement staircase. Rob follows.

There are three people on the stairs, though I don’t know them. The first one is close to the top, and upon my arrival he “hits” me with a mock weapon. I “hit” back, and Rob notes the “damage” being done as well as comments on it. I lose comprehension at this point, but I don’t give up. I apparently “kill” my attacker through a parry and a kick, though I’ve no idea how. The two other people are towards the bottom of the stairs and I stare at them, suddenly realizing I’m in combat, and this is not table-top. Slightly nervous I turn to my former attacker and ask what to do next. “How do you want to attack them?” he replies. I make the motion of jumping, arms up and over my head, superman style, at them. “Or can I not do something like ‘jump’?” I inquire. He tells me that I can if I really want to and explains what happens if I kill both of them from the blow, or just one, or if I miss completely. I ask another question or two, about cost of attacking, cost for different styles and the like. I turn back to the battle, but two security officers are standing just below me on the stairs. I look over at Rob. “Are these guys real? Or are they your guys?” He laughs and tells me that they’re actual security guards. I look back at them, half-laughing, not sure if I believe him. At this point I get the impression we are in a public place, blocking a staircase and shouldn’t be there.

I wake up.

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