Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Rate Me on!

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To make the nice people happy. On with it.
This seems a day for quickie posts: In "Shallow Hal", a movie which frequents my twelve HBO's, there is a line wherein Gwenyth Paltrow's character, Rosemary, burns Jason Alexander's character, Mauricio (or something, I do not pretend to know how to spell it or to care enough to look it up) when he is rude to her upon their first meeting. She asks if he is wearing a member's only jacket, and when he affirms that he is, she says, "So, what are you, the last member?"

Hal laughs. Maurypovichio seems genuinely embarrassed. But I never understood why it was funny.

Today, this popped into my mind at work, and I decided that it was my mission for today to find out why- why is this funny?

It turns out, as far as I can ascertain from my research, is that the reason it is funny is because the coats which used to be incredibly stylish have fallen out of fashion, and are now only seen being warn by old men. I guess.

If you have any further information, please e-mail me at

On with it.
A fun fact about my work: We sell 28 different varieties of maine-themed shot glasses at the giftshop next to Burger King.

....yep. That's all I got. On with it.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

"Who the hell was I when I liked who I was?"

I was bike riding today when that line, somewhere mixed into the context of my thoughts, popped into my head.

Zack had been expecting to entertain guests today, and I had spent the majority of the early afternoon with Emily, walking the beach of Reid State Park and making idle conversation. On the way home, I bought her a feast of McDonald's, then I went home and thought better of sitting the rest of my last day off of the weekend perched at the computer, so I went for a bike ride. Recently, I've been sticking to the areas around my house while bike riding, for fear that I would be more out of shape than I expected to be and be far away when I found myself exhausted. That kind of mentality, however, tends to take away from the point of bike-riding: When I was young, my mom wouldn't let me bike ride anywhere without someone being with me except for the streets that touched my house. And I did it like crazy, up and down Vining, up and down North. (It was North at the time, now called South, but, hey, things change.) When someone was riding with me, we'd almost indefinitely go to the paths behind wing street. I tend to think I was only supposed to go there when accompanied with someone's parents, or perhaps only in the day...some stipulation, anyway, but that only made it more exciting to be there. Amanda, she was my best friend at the time, she would always convince me to do things I wasn't supposed to, she was the only person in the world with whom I ever got into real trouble. In subsequent years, I would return the favor of her bad influence, and when she called me now and again from her new house in Topsham seeking advice, I'd prompt her to make the more exciting, if constantly wrong, decision.

With Amanda with me, the world was my playground. We biked in and around those paths, invigorated by the danger, the taboo, the way our bikes bucked over the sticks and mud. There was a place there-- a little bridge built for snowmobiles to get over this little ravine-- and it quickly became my favorite place to stop and talk or play Truth or Dare. I was always drawn to moving water, there seemed to be so much life in them, and I was easily pleased despite the tiny status of the stream that ran through it. And so, when I was rewarded, finally, with the allowance to ride at my will (within a reasonable distance) by myself, I spent a whole summer going there any time I wanted to sit alone, put my feet in the 8 inches of water, and lie back over the bridge, thinking and listening to the water and getting in touch with me.

As I was leaving the house, my mother reminded me to watch the heat as I was riding. My new bike has no place for a water bottle and it's easy to get dehydrated, so the warning was appropriate, but I blew it off, despite. "Sure, Mom, I'll watch the heat." When I got onto my bike, I turned up towards faith street, instead of down Vining where I normally make my commonplace rounts. I was going to the paths.

I went years without bike riding in between my pre-adolescents and now. A few rides or so a year, perhaps, but I never broke back in to the habit the way I did this year. A few years back, I remember, I one day got the urge to find my little bridge, my little stream, so I went off on a hot day like today. The paths start at a large sandpit that's visible from the road, and then the main one runs parallel to wing street and little ones branch off. That day, I started at the pit and went up the main path, unable to find the right turn-off that once was so unmistakable to me. Eventually, I took a guess and rode on in, then made a few wrong turns and ended up on something that only vaguely resembled a path. It was beginning to get dark, and even in my younger, more fearless days, I was afraid my mother's tendency to worry about me. She always gave me ample reason to, crying and getting hysterical if she didn't know exactly where I was for a half hour at a time. So, lost in the woods and years away from having any sense of where I was, I drudged out, hopelessly aiming for the road and almost hysterical myself.

That memory was fresh in my mind today, as I made what may well have been the exact same turn off into the woods. I, again, had no luck in finding the path that I was sure would take me to my bridge, so I, again, took my best guess. At points, the path was so diminutive I couldn't tell at all if it were a path, and at others, the rain had soaked so far into it that the four-wheeler tracks were almost two feet deep, making crossing on a bike impossible. The determination I had aimed at finding my bridge was quickly usurped by anxiety, and I felt sick and scared and helpless. I was listening to Tabitha's Secret, and "Dear Joan"-- a terribly depressing song-- was on. And about the time I was almost totally disoriented, I was deep in rememberance of how exhilirating I might have once found a situation like that-- there, in the forest, where I always wanted to be, going down new paths and seeing new things, a real adventure. How it might have felt to be alone and unafraid or with Amanda by side, the two of us unstoppable. I started wondering what ever happened to that fearlessness in me, that wanderlust, that part of me that remains now only in the form of everpresent my hatred of boredom. And somewhere in there I started examining how I wasn't confident of my ability to guide myself out of the situation, I wasn't confident in my sense of direction or my strength or my perseverance, I wasn't confident in anything about me, and I was afraid of everything inside and out, of the trees and the paths and my body and North street becoming South and, and, and...

And who the hell was I when I liked who I was?

At first, it struck me that it sounded like a great title for a self-help book. I thought about writing one, then I thought about reading one, and then I thought that I still didn't know where I was. But somewhere it kinda clicked. Now, it didn't click loud. It didn't click strong. It didn't click in such a way that most anyone would notice it really at all. But I think it clicked, and if I was imagining it, it didn't much matter: I wanted the fearlessness back.

It wasn't easy to listen to. I still wasn't exactly sure where I was, and I hadn't the slightest idea how to get where I was going. And I was thirsty, and the sweat was tickling my face and it felt like tears in my eyes...but it wasn't. It was just sweat. It wasn't at all easy to convince myself, but the situation wasn't that bad. The song had changed by then, it was more upbeat by now, and the CD wasn't that long, so I couldn't have been gone too long, and it really was kinda exciting. And so what if I couldn't ride up that hill, I could push the bike. And so what if I was breathing pretty heavy, I could have rested if I had wanted to. And I kept picturing horrible things happening to me, but they were all pretty unlikely.

And it grew. Now, it didn't grow fast. It didn't grow much. And it might shrink back the second I let it, and probably will if I do. But the "So what?" grew. So what if I can't have sex, I will be able to some day. So what if Zack thinks other women are pretty, he loves me more. So what if I work at Burger King, I'm on my way out. Oh, it was just barely there, and it wasn't easy to hear....but so what?

So I trudged on. I rode through the four-wheeler tracks, and I walked through those deep puddles that just swallow you up, and that felt good. And the sweat all over me felt okay, and I thought that I was probably losing weight, but so what if I wasn't? And I trudged on.

And I started thinking of Amanda, and she was kinda with me in a way. And I miss her, but things like that can be fixed. So what if she doesn't live across the North Street that is now South street any longer, I carried her along up the hill and down into the place where the trees were thicker and the forest was very dark. And I started thinking that I should write to her, or for her, I should let her know I was thinking about her. And so what if she didn't respond? Your god may be in the details, mine is in the process.

And don't you think I didn't lose the click, the fearlessness, the "so what"? The hills kept coming and I kept expecting at the top of them I would recognize something, and it didn't happen for a long time. Don't you think that it got any easier to hear it at all...but so what?

Eventually, I trudged out. I found myself on Route 9, somehow, and I went down wing street. There's a great big hill on wing street, and I found myself forgetting the fearlessness riding down it. Something about the forest had strengthened me, and now I was on the street again. But I rode on home, through Huston Park a little, and I saw Amanda's car parked outside her boyfriend's house. I thought about knocking on the door, but then thought better of it. I wanted some water, and more, I wanted time to make the effort perfect. But if it wasn't exactly perfect, so what?

So I rode my back to my house. My house was located on North street once, a long time ago, and now it's on South. But, hey, things change. Along time ago, Amanda lived just across it, and her and I were crusaders, and I miss it. I don't have exactly have an Amanda anymore- not and Amanda, or a Jenn, or a Casey or anybody, really, not like that. But I do have a lifetime of memories and decades to fill with more. A long time ago, my body seemed okay to me and I was fearless in life and in love....and that's not true anymore.

But maybe...not just maybe, it will be again. And until then, I'll just trudge on with it.