five / reading / work

‘Round and ‘Round

Well. The day after my birthday, I managed to get up in time for the bus ride. There are several different ways I could get to work, but the way that appealed to me most involved walking down my hill to School Street, catching the School-Middle-Street bus (#2) to the Kalihi Transit Center (you know, on Middle Street next to the Love’s Bakery), walking to Dillingham, and grabbing just about any bus that stops there. The ride on the #2 is shorter than ten minutes, while the ride from Dillingham down Nimitz to Valkenburgh is right around ten minutes, meaning I spend more time each morning walking to bus stops than I do riding buses.

I could begin the trip by taking the #2 in the opposite direction and then transfering downtown, but I absolutely abhor the thought of riding away from my destination, even if the actual travel time would be about the same.

The morning walks are wonderful. I am a total night owl, but I also love the early mornings (my ideal day would begin at about seven p.m. and end at about eleven a.m.). The air is fresh and clean, as is my brain, and I love the privacy I get, alone with my thoughts and with the pre-sunrise sky.

The bus rides are tolerable. I get motion-sickness like crazy if I read in a moving vehicle, but the rides are so short that I’m usually off the bus before I get really nauseous. I’ve been lazy lately and haven’t been fixing lunch before I go to bed, so I’ve picked up breakfast and lunch at the McDonald’s at the bottom of my hill. Definitely a habit I need to get out of, but I do need to eat something before the work day begins.

It’s about a seven-minute walk from Valkenburgh to my school. There are four baseball fields right near our school, and I take a straight line right through one of them in order to get to work. The grass is usually wet and frequently just-cut, so that by the time I get across it, the toes of my shoes are wet and covered with clippings. It is my favorite part of the day, lately, this two minutes of tromping across the dewey outfield. It is my two minutes of poetry. My two minutes of Thoreau, of Frost, of Dillard. It’s my two minutes every day of reminding myself that I love to be out-of-doors, that there is still something in me that is moved by the pleasure of the cold dew seeping through my leather Vans and cotton socks. When you teach all day in an air-conditioned, double-wide trailer, you need to be reminded of these things.

It was my intention to be on buses early enough to avoid running into my bus-riding students, but I’d say I run into them half the time. It’s not so bad; they’re usually not quite awake enough to be chatty.

Riding home has the disadvantage of not being early in the morning. I’m tired. I’m carrying the weight of mistakes I’ve made during the day, or tasks not completed when I hoped. There’s also the problem of that hill, that wonderful hill I walk down with such pleasure every morning. Walking up it, let me tellya, is not as pleasurable.

Riding home has the advantages, though, that come with not having to be anywhere at any certain time. This means I can be a little more adventurous in the afternoons. I can dawdle. I can explore. I can stop and have a sit-down dinner somewhere. I can run errands. I have, in nearly two weeks of riding the bus home, not taken the same route twice. One consideration every afternoon is whether or not I will try to take the Alewa Heights (#10) bus from somewhere in Kalihi to a stop on Houghtailing that will allow me to avoid walking up the steepest part of my hill. It’s still nearly a ten-minute walk from that stop to my driveway, all up-hill, but it’s a much nicer walk from that bus stop than from School Street.

The problem with the #10, however, is that it runs about once an hour. Waiting an hour, if I miss the one I’m hoping to catch, for a bus that takes me a distance I can walk in twenty to thirty minutes seems really stupid. So I have walked home from as far away as Dillingham.

I had dinner a few nights ago at what was once my second-least-favorite Zippy’s (the one at the corner of King and Mokauea) because I waited for the #10 at the stop on King, when the #10 stops on Mokauea, just around the corner. It’s a very convenient Zippy’s. I also, after JUST missing the #10 at the same stop, got to explore Queen’s Supermarket, a Korean store similar in ambition to the Palama Market, where I usually go for Korean stuff.

So while not having my car is undoubtedly an inconvenience, I am currently quite taken with the romance of it. Or maybe it’s not romance so much as novelty. I was a bus rider all through high school (it was a heavy price to pay for independence, but I paid it willingly) and for several months right after I graduated from college, and never have I enjoyed it even a little. I don’t know what the difference is.

I have enjoyed, too, the chance to read. My house is packed with books I’ve been meaning to read, and I am resolved to get rid of a significant portion of my collection this year. I loved the anticipation I felt when, the day I was going to finish that Tobias Wolff novel, I pulled two titles from the shelf for the purpose of selecting what would be my next read. World’s Fair, by E.L. Doctorow, was the easy winner over We Were The Mulvaneys, by Joyce Carol Oates. Ghosts-of-the-past Oprah’s-Book-Club stories don’t interest me as much as post-WWII American-angst stories, so while I still plan to read the Oates novel, I am happy to be taking my sweet time through the Doctorow book.
I know I’m not the only person who envies Albert’s way of life in some way, and for me it’s the time. Albert pretty much spends his time the way I would, were I to choose a similar path: reading, emailing, playing computer games, feeding kitties, and drinking beer in the park.

Reading. As much as his many exploits interest me in a wide-variety of ways, what I most look forward to when I read his journal is an update on what he’s reading.

Maybe that’s why I say “romance.” There are things about Albert’s life I would never, ever want to have to deal with on a daily basis, but I feel a small kinship with him most days.

This week’s Friday Five is another set of questions submitted by me!

  1. What does it say in the signature line of your emails?
    My personal emails contain two quotes:
    “O Love,
    that fires the sun,
    keep me burning.”
    Bruce Cockburn, “Lord of the Starfields”
    “Stupid is as stupid does.”
    Forrest Gump

    My professional emails contain a quote by Kahlil Gibran: “Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.”

  2. Did you have a senior quote in your high-school yearbook?
    “You lock the door and throw away the key; there’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.”
    Pink Floyd, “Brain Damage”
  3. If you had vanity plates on your car, what would they read?
    I like “WRITER,” but if that’s taken, I think “2BV-2B” would be cool, although that’s certainly way too esoteric. In symbolic logic, the V means “or” and the – means “not,” so the plate would read “to be or not to be.”
  4. Have you received any gifts with messages engraved upon them? What did the inscription say?
    Miss Koide, my GT teacher in elementary school, gave me a Cross pen with my name engraved in it when I graduated from sixth grade. Great gift.
  5. What would you like your epitaph to be?
    It would be nice, if when I die, I’ll have published something lasting, and my family would put a quote from my poetry or prose on my headstone. But barring that, I’d like my epitaph to say, “He loved his family.”

  6. quick, random opinion:
    Big Fish: not a must-see, but pretty good.

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