Sunday, July 18, 2010

Punches Thrown while Police Look On, An Insect Receives Last Rites


Punches Thrown while Police Look On, An Insect Receives Next-to-Last Rites

I raised my glass of Merlot and sipped to the beginning of my second movie for the night: A Streetcar Named Desire. There was a flowery smudge on the wine glass just next to the first capital letter of the winery where I bought it. I never noticed that before. Was there a previously unnoticed flower appliqué on the glass? No, my finger found the mangled body of a small insect. It was probably a moth that I had been swatting unsuccessfully all evening.

I moved the tiny pathetic body (and a leg found separately) to a napkin and was trying to answer philosophical questions about the life and death of bugs when I heard loud male voices and car door slamming outside.

The street I live on, Alvarado, is a dangerous street after dark. I shut off the living room lights and peered outside from behind the curtain. Two young men were shouting near a car pulled into the right lane. One man emerged from the sidewalk and punched the driver of the car twice before the driver noticed two police officers on motorcycles crossing the street at Montana, heading west. The driver raised his hand, possibly to let the officers know he was alright, but then again, he may have been hoping they would turn left onto Alvarado and intervene.

The officers went straight and when I looked back to the car in question, it was leaving the scene. The identity and whereabouts of the assailant are unknown.

I was overwhelmed by the timing of these events. After the first punch, I wondered if I would have to call 9-1-1. In the end, everyone seemed to have survived with little more than bruises, except for the moth who I’m hoping is on its way to a partial recovery sans one leg.

What to Do (Old essay from 2005)


I can’t seem to figure out what I want or what I want to do. I want to do everything, but it doesn’t seem like I’m qualified to do anything.

I feel as if I don’t do anything important. My field is interesting, my job is boring most of the time, but neither of them is really significant in the world. If archaeologists disappeared forever, I think people would be fine. I want to do something that has more depth to it, something more real and tangible that archaeology.

Sometimes I freak myself out because I think of all the things in the world that I’d like to do, but feel as if I won’t be able to; I’ll never be that world famous archaeologist. Then I realize that it’s ok not to be the world famous archaeologist. It’s ok to be a cashier at the local grocery store. But you see, I have a college degree and it doesn’t feel ok to be just a cashier in the same town I grew up in. I’m suppose to have some edge over the competition now so I can get that wonderful job in a far away land where I’ll learn all about the long lost culture of the whoserwhatsit and publish several books on the subject.

I want to be a writer, a gardener, a good cook, and a spiritual and well-balanced individual. But how in the Hell can a person be who she wants to if she has to spend all her spare time looking for a better job when there simply aren’t any available? What standards should I set for myself? I wonder if I should give up on these dreams and come to terms with the reality that I’m going to have to work at a shitty job for a long time and not get to do most of the things I want. What goals do I need to set in motion in order to be this person I can see in my mind’s eye?

I have been searching for guidance for many years and have only found it in small pockets: a teacher here, a friend there – and then it goes away and I begin the search again. Always searching and always waiting, that is the story of my life.