Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Before I put one foot on the Number 13 bus this afternoon, the bus driver managed to piss me off!   Not only that, but she continued to tug and nag at my patience until finally before getting off the bus at University Avenue in City Heights, I decided that I would leave her with a strong, deafening tone in her ears.  Literally!  
This afternoon, desperate to get out of Will's house and out of City Heights, I found enough loose change in the bottom of my bag to treat myself to coffee.  Good coffee had become a small personal luxury that--at one time, would have never brought me as much happiness as it does today.  I refused to settle for a quick trip to Starbucks in City Heights, instead choosing to ride the bus to North Park and visit the Starbucks in that neighborhood.  By doing this, I would ensure that I would not have to sit staring at young, Hispanic teenagers making out in a corner or being harassed by young kids, begging for a dollar; these two, which are very common sights at the Starbucks in City Heights.  No, in North Park, I would be able to sit at one of the sidewalk tables, smoke a cigarette and enjoy my coffee.  Of course, even in North Park, I would probably have to endure the homeless person, walking by and stopping to beg for an extra cigarette--it was tit for tat, really.  And I simply wanted to be there.  But back to the bus ride.
The #13 arrived at my stop and I readied myself to climb aboard when instantly, I was greeted with this bus driver's stern voice.  The middle-aged, heavy set Black woman immediately held her hand up, indicating for me to stop.  
"I wanted you to stop so this lady to get off the bus." She said.  Only then could I see another older, heavy-set Black woman slowly making her way up the aisle.  And I do mean slowly.  In her right hand was a cane, used to assist her walking.  In her left hand was a metal shopping cart.  The woman tried, unsuccessfully to maneuver both the cane and the cart.  As if that wasn't enough, this woman and the bus driver were trying to have a conversation!  Obviously they knew one another.  
"Are you gonna be okay getting off at this stop?" The bus driver asked.  "Is anyone coming to pick you up, girl?" 
"Oh yes," Miss Slow-Poke responded.  Not only did she respond, but she had to stop all motion in order to do so.  And she had yet to reach the exit of the bus!  The bus driver, seeing me still standing outside, waiting, took the opportunity to volunteer me to assist the slow-moving, heavy set woman with exiting the bus.  
"I'm sure this young man will be happy to help you off of the bus," the bus driver said loud enough that I'm sure the rest of grim-faced riders could hear.  I took the shopping cart first and placed it on the side walk then offered my arm for her to grab.  The slow moving, heavy set woman  gripped my arm with such a strong grasp that even I was shocked at the firmness.  The flesh of my arm in her grasp and shaking at the same time, the woman slowly lowered herself down from the bus and onto the pavement.  All of this took roughly four minutes!  I entered the bus with a huff and took the first seat roughly three feet behind the driver.  I dug into my bag, fished out my iPod, plugged in my ear buds and set about tuning this whole scene out.  
And that's when bus driver started up again.  I was listening to I:Cube and trying not to make eye contact with anyone when the lady sitting directly across from me started waving her hands to get my attention.  She pointed towards the bus driver.  Meanwhile, the bus driver was also trying to get my attention.  
"Your music is up way too loud."  The bus driver told me.  I'd gotten out of my seat and was now standing next to her while she continued to steer the bus along Fairmount Avenue.   
"But I'm wearing headphones.  How could you possibly hear the music?"
"Well, the good Lord has blessed me with having to wear a hearing aid.  The high pitched ping pong coming from your music--I can hear it." She informed me.  I couldn't believe this! 
"Can you hear it now?" I asked.  I removed the earbuds from my ears and lowered the volume.  
"Yes, I can hear it. If you could just turn it down lower." 
I huffed and returned to my seat.  I was tempted to argue with this bus driver, but what I really wanted was for her to get the bus to the next stop, which was where I was going to get off.   By now, everyone was staring at me, trying to figure out what I'd done to upset the bus driver.   I was miffed at this woman.  I couldn't understand how her having a hearing aid was suddenly my issue.   We were a block away from my stop when I got an idea.  
The bus stopped at University Avenue.  Half of the people on the bus, including myself began to exit.  As I came closer to the bus driver, I reached into my bag and fingered my iPod. 
I inched closer to the door and the bus driver.  Closer.  Closer.  
When I was just beyond her right shoulder and with rapid speed, I increased the volume on my iPod, ensuring that this mean bus driver lady got a full blast of Adore by I:Cube (complete with the ping pong).  I looked at the disturbed look on her face and smiled.  She opened her mouth as if to say something, but it didn't matter.  I stepped off of the Number 13 bus, feeling satisfied with myself.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Exes and Hoes.

This past weekend, I was in contact with my three exes.  Through phone calls, text messages and visits, I was reminded of three men of whom I'd had previous relationships with.  While I like to think that they all ended on somewhat civil terms, I had to admit, even I was surprised when I communicated with each one of them.
I spoke on the phone with John on both Thursday and Friday.  On Thursday afternoon, I met him at Number 3 to do a clean-up job for the two unoccupied units in his building.  It was fun hanging out at the old building, the work was easy, I got to be with Miss Lester and I got paid for my work.  
Working a catering gig on Saturday night, I began receiving text messages from Raymond.  I couldn't respond to them immediately, but when there was a lull in the job, I would grab my phone and read the messages.  He was looking to hookup.  That was the farthest thing from my mind.
 I texted back to him.   Even after sending text messages back and forth, with me explaining that I would be downtown until well after 1 in the morning, Raymond and I continued our conversation of text messages, which finally ended only after I told him that I was in bed.  This was around 3 in the morning!
Dutch called on Sunday morning.   He and I spoke earlier in the week about me taking some Christmas photos for him.  Half asleep, I mumbled Hello into the phone.
"Come take my pictures." Dutch said.  "Lunch will be on me. I have this 2 for 1 coupon so I could take you to lunch afterwards."  It was after 11 o'clock Sunday morning and I was still in bed.  I didn't get to bed until almost 4 o'clock, after working a party downtown that ran until well after midnight.  I caught the last bus leaving downtown, heading to City Heights where I had to ride my bike the rest of the way back to Will's house.  Exhausted, I'd slept until shortly before the Dutch called.  He could hear the sleepiness in my voice.  
"You're still asleep and I'm hungry," he said.  "I'm going to eat.  Call me once you're up."  I told him that I would, hung up and went back to sleep.  
Before I sat down to write this entry, I started thinking about the my friendship with each one of my exes.  Even though the relationships soured, I like to think that--even at the moments when each one was over, I would still try to maintain a somewhat decent friendship with each.   And I have always been happy with that.  What was odd initially was the fact that, I still remained in contact with Dutch--even while I dated Raymond.  And I remained in contact with Raymond--while I was dating John.  The three men have never met one another to my knowledge, but they do know of the others.  
Monday evening, while waiting for the bus in City Heights, I received a phone call from Raymond.  We talked about his weekend text messages and I expressed my distaste for what he was asking of me.  
"The text messages," I began.  "I didn't like them. I don't like that." 
"I wasn't aware that they were making you uncomfortable and I apologize." Raymond responded. 
"I'm all for hanging out, going to a movie or even getting together for dinner, but there's no going back.  I don't want to do that and I know you can respect my opinion on this." 
"Yeah.  Sure.  And I'm sorry about that." 
By the time the bus arrived, I had ended my phone conversation with Raymond and felt good about stating my feelings.  I like the friendships that I have with my exes, but they're just that.  Friendships.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Relief and Comfort.

After blogging about the nasty rash that had developed all over my body, I was finally able to get back to my doctor for another follow up.  As I'd mentioned, I was still covered in small red bumps which itched and burned, usually with me scratching and clawing at my arms.  
"Oh wow, this has indeed spread."  My doctor told me after inspecting my shirtless torso.  "But I'm not sure if it was a reaction to the shot or if it's something else."  He began naming off a few other possibilities, using medical terms that I had never heard of.  I continued to sit there, nodding my head and hoping that he would start writing out some sort of prescription.  
While he was scribbling on his notepad, the doctor assured me that it would all go away in a couple of days.  With strict instructions and a couple of prescriptions in hand, I left his office, promising to follow up with him in a few days.  
Standing outside of CVS, waiting for my prescriptions to be filled, I received a phone call from John.  
"I'm heading home soon in case you were still thinking of stopping by."  He said.  Two days ago, John and I spoke on the phone and I told him that I would be in the neighborhood and could stop by if he was at home.  
"As a matter of fact," I began.  "I'm still on this side of town, picking up some medicine.  I can stop by afterwards." 
"PILLS!" He exclaimed in that tone of voice that, to this day, always makes me break out into a loud laugh.  
I hung out at Number 3 for about an hour, catching up on chit chat with John while feasting on a bowl of his infamous chili.  "I had a bunch of ground turkey here, so I used turkey instead of beef," he told me.  Miss Lester circled the dining room table, going back and forth between the two of us.  Later, we crammed my bike into the trunk of John's car, stopped for coffee then drove me back to City Heights.  
It was all so comfortable and familiar.  And I enjoyed every moment of it.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Burning Skin.

Last week, I went to see my doctor, complaining about skin irritation that had started to spread as the result of a shot that I'd received the previous week.  Initially, the irritation was only on my right butt cheek and groin area.  My doctor gave me an examination, had me fill out a bunch of survey questions and told me simply to apply some hydrocortisone and the problem should go away in about a week or so.  
"If this doesn't work," he said.  "Call me and we'll figure out what our next step should be." 
Last night, I awoke frantically scratching and clawing at my upper arms.  Even before I removed my shirt, I could feel the small red bumps, which appeared to be taking over the upper part of my body.  Trying not to panic at 4 o'clock in the morning, I calmed down enough to allow myself to fall back so sleep--promising then to call my doctor in the morning.  This morning, after I'd gotten out of the shower, I inspected my upper body and confirmed what I'd felt while in bed.  My chest, shoulders, arms and stomach were now covered with small red bumps.
And they itched like hell!   
I stood in front of the mirror, afraid to move but at the same time afraid to look away.  It looked as if I had measles or chicken pox.  When I could no longer bear to look at myself in the mirror, I ran into the bedroom and called my doctor.  
I tried to remain calm while I spoke with the nurse and described to her how the allergic reaction had now spread from the lower part of my body to the upper region. 
"Are you taking any other medications?" The nurse asked.  When I told her no, she placed me on hold while she went to find my doctor.  Minutes later, she was back on the line.  
"Okay," she said, sounding a bit out of breath.  "The doctor wants you to stop applying the hydrocortisone and instead start applying calamine lotion to stop the itch.  If the rash continues to spread, we'll have you come in on Monday." 
Monday?!  What was I supposed to do until then?  I understood the Thanksgiving holiday was coming and sure, I was aware that the office would be closed but--here I was trying desperately not to scratch my outer layer of skin and now the nurse was telling me that I would have to wait until Monday before I could see the doctor.  

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Arriving almost 15 minutes early for my doctor's appointment, I was sitting outside in the courtyard, smoking a cigarette before going in to meet Dr. Morris.  Keeping my eye on the time while at the same time, puffing on the Newport, I eyed the man coming towards me.  I already knew what he wanted.   In fact, I was ready with my response as soon as the words came out of his mouth.  Check out this little exchange.
"Say bro,"  he started. "You have another cigarette on you?" 
See!  I knew that's what he wanted.  What's more, I hate being called 'bro' by anyone, but it's usually vagrants who like to use that slang-ish term of endearment.
"No, man.  This is it."  I said, holding the half-smoked cigarette up for him to inspect.  With a loud huff, he walked inside the medical building.  
Only to return a few seconds later.  
"Well, could you save some of it for me?" The bum asked.  What was wrong with this dude?   From my seat, I eyed him and began, "I'd kinda like to enjoy this smoke by myself." 
But that wasn't enough for him.  Frustrated that I wasn't willing to share my cigarette--and no, it wasn't the last one, but I wasn't telling him that-- the scraggly vagrant spat one last remark at me.  
"That's okay," he began.  "God hates greedy people."  He said that and disappeared around the building.   
So now, I'm greedy?  Who would've thought?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Who needs an education?

For as long as I can remember, I've always had a fond relationship with public libraries.  I can still recall receiving my first library card to the W. Walworth Harrison Public Library in Greenville, Texas in 1982.  I think it was the librarian telling me, as she put the card in my young hands that, with [that] card, I could come, read and check out any of the books that were on the shelves.  
And boy did I?!  I love the fact that a public library is one of the few public places where you're supposed to be quiet, where you're surrounded by books and you're in the company of others who love reading and books as much as you do.  
There are some beautiful libraries in San Diego.   Some of the branches, while older than others, are more comfortable to be in.   The University Heights branch, where my bike wheel was stolen, while its a small branch, is very quiet and soothing.   Then there are those, such as the Mission Valley branch, whose large open areas and ample lighting provide the perfect atmosphere for getting lost in a good book, a great magazine or--if you're like me,  pillaging through the archives of whatever I can think of.   The Coronado and Scripps Ranch branches are so beautiful and well worth visiting.  
Now having written all of that, one can only imagine my frustration and disappointment with the public library in City Heights.  The building is fairly new and the accommodations are excellent.  The building sits in the heart of City Heights and is an anchor for the Performing Arts complex.  The library is also a quick bike ride or bus trip away from Will's house.  It's also where I've spent a few afternoons.  This evening, sitting at one of the partitioned tables, I noticed all of the graffiti which was scrawled on just about everything!  But it was this one particular table which caught my eye and I knew I had to photograph it.  
If there's ever been any doubt that my wanting to be a teacher wasn't a good idea, it was squashed after reading what some kid had written.  And in the library of all places.
Anyone who reads dis [sic] shit is a assholel [sic]!
I can't get back in school fast enough.