Monday, October 12

denial, anger, grief, acceptance

These are the four stages people tend to go through when they are confronted by a problem out of their control. First we persist on our trajectory, denying that our plans are ruined. Once we recognize the problem, we tend to get angry, trying to fight to rectify the situation to our liking. After anger comes grief, when we realize that we cannot get our way, no matter how hard we may fight. We mourn the loss of what could have been. Eventually, we move through grief into a stage of acceptance, some semblance of peace.

I had errands to run today, and found myself in the vicinity of Rebecca's school around lunchtime. Whenever this happiness, I'll send her a text, and see if she's available to meet up during her rare free time.

Today she had to mail out a package, so we met outside the post office, which is located inside a shopping mall.

I don't think anyone likes going to the post office. I might actually enjoy it, but only because I never go there when I have a time crunch. I always go optimistically, patiently, and ready for a show.

The post office we used to go to in Chicago was always a trip. You could never get in and out of there in under 45 minutes. The people receiving packages from me during those days never knew what it took to get their gifts in the mail. One day, Rebecca and I were lucky enough to witness two customers have existential breakdowns when, after waiting in line for so long, the schizophrenic postal clerk mocked them for being unable to read the broken down credit card terminal screen. "This is the WORST post office in the ENTIRE CITY!!!" the man declared, yelling, stomping off into the Chicago air.

The Downers Grove post office is always fun. I have a favorite teller there, a black man with a bald head, fuzzy beard, and friendly disposition. Every time I go there, I wind up shooting the breeze with him, because he's friendly, and because there's never a line of people waiting at that post office. The last time I was there I needed stamps. I was offended that he brought me the forever stamp. I said, "don't you have anything a little more exciting?" He offered me the Thanksgiving Parade line of stamps. I was outraged. "Come on, give me the good stuff..." He said, "Oh, OK. You'd probably like the Kelp Forest stamps..." You're damn right I do like the Kelp Forest stamps. They come on a huge sheet, a mural, and you have to hunt down each stamp amid the undersea creatures. Now we're talking.

So, today, Rebecca and I met outside the Lombard post office, inside the Yorktown mall. This post office has never been as fun as the one in Downers Grove, but it's usually a quick trip, minimal lines, etc. When I walked up to the post office, the wide entrance was well lit, and there was access to the PO boxes, and some mail slots. However, there was a metal door pulled down over the area where the teller would normally be. "Columbus day," explained Rebecca.

I don't mean to get started on Columbus day and what a crock of shit I think it is. Let's just say that I'm in no hurry to celebrate another white guy ruining an otherwise perfectly good indigenous civilization.

Time was short, so we just sat on a bench outside the post office, eating some fancy potato chips, the kind made out of taro root, and parsnips. The best part of our short time there was watching the occasional person walk down the hallway, packages and envelopes in hand, heading towards the deceptively well-lit post office, their face radiating a silent sense of accomplishment, a confident grin that says, "I did it. I finally made it to the post office to mail this thing. It's been on my list forever, and I finally made the time in my week-on a Monday, no less- to get this thing mailed out and taken care of. What a great day..."

Denial. Everyone went through it. It was hilarious, fascinating. Undoubtedly, the potential postal customer would confidently swagger in, thinking "Wow, no line. This is going to be quick!" only to be frozen in their tracks two steps into the room, when the stainless steel curtain sends the unmistakable message of defeat to their subconscious mind. "Nice try, but not today," says the cold metal. Their subconscious minds know this, but the conscious mind cannot accept the fact. They stare at the metal curtain, frozen in denial. They look around the room. Only when they receive the explanation in the form of a small sign can they move into the second stage.

Anger. Grief. We watched a woman mouth the word "Crap." to herself as she discretely tucked her envelope away into her purse. Another day perhaps. Another woman made eye contact with us as she retreated. She put her fingers into the shape of a gun and discharged an imaginary round into the side of her own head.

Even if none of them believe that Columbus was a war criminal, and human rights violator, everyone who walked out of the post office seemed to agree, Columbus day is a bunch of crap.

We watched a very happy man carrying a large box walk down the hallway, towards the post office. Rebecca nudged my shoulder. The universal law we had discovered was simple: the more optimistic they were, the more entertaining the scene would be. The poor guy, we thought. He had no chance.

Upon his discovery that he would have to return to the post office at a later date, the man kept his smile, kept his grace. He came out and saw us smiling at him, trying to laugh with him. He smiled back, and Rebecca confessed that she had wanted to mail something out today, and had also been stymied by the "holiday."

I don't know if the man ever moved fully into the acceptance phase, but he left us with some words that seemed to put the whole ordeal into perspective.

"It ain't a holiday if I have to work! This is bullshit."

We are all in this together.

Wednesday, October 7

midnight mouse

The pumpkin seeds started the whole thing.

The autumn has returned, and with it comes the return of the crock pot master! I love cooking with the crock pot, such little effort, with such a great payoff. Dump some veggies, spices, and water in there, wait a few hours, and you have a delicious, nutritious, hearty warm meal. The apartment always smells amazing with a crock pot going. It's just a win all around.

The other day I made a crock pot full of butternut squash, coconut milk, onions, peppers, rice, etc. When there was mostly broth remaining, I threw three sweet potatoes in there and let them cook overnight, and had them at breakfast.

Yesterday, continuing in this trend, I loaded up the pot with broth, lentils, and cubed pumpkin. Nutmeg, cinnamon, etc. It's delicious. When I was gutting the pumpkin, I set the seeds aside. At the end, I cleaned the seeds and spread them out to be roasted. I figured I'd use the toaster oven since there was such a small amount of them.

Five minutes into it, the smoke alarm went off. The toaster oven is a good toaster, but a terrible oven. Everything burns in there. I thought it would be different with the little seeds but I was wrong. I removed the tray of charred, blackened seeds, and set it on the back porch to cool off in the light rain.

Going on with my day, I forgot about the little tray on the porch. The winds came last evening, and scattered the ashen seeds across our porch (and hopefully onto our cigarette friendly downstairs neighbor).

As we were getting ready for bed, Charles was going wild by the glass door, pacing around, thrusting her head through the hanging shades. I had a feeling an animal was out there.

We've spotted a raccoon in the parking lot a few times. Once he was in the dumpster when I went to take the trash out at night, a silhouetted bulk, emerging from the depths in the night air. Startled the hell out of me.

I could tell from Charles' confidence level that whatever was out there was no raccoon. She wouldn't have been so excitable, so brazen. It took a little patience, but eventually my suspicions were confirmed, and the little visitor showed himself.

Yea, get your night vision goggles out. That little mouse is fast. He (?) basically had a routine down of scooping up seeds, and then running into our little planter box and burying them among the thriving basil, and the cabbages that never quite were. I think he may be saving them for the winter?

Feeling guilty that he had climbed the side of our building for charred scraps, we threw a bag of sunflower seeds out there for him. Those are the ones in the video.

I watched him dig holes in our little garden, so deep that only his thin tail suck out while he hid his prizes. When I woke up this morning, all of the sunflower seeds were gone. I found barely any evidence he had been in the planter; he had covered his tracks. The only thing to give him away was a pile of discarded sunflower seed shells by our door.

Tuesday, October 6

lotus flowers, cymbal rush

For once, I wish I hadn't moved from southern california, as I could've seen this show....