Sophie & Nels Hogaboom

reminiscent of the idiom referring to the high school colors in The Hotel New Hampshire

Today the skies yield only grey, oppressive clouds: muggy yet delivering now and then a gust of dank chill.  The kids and I feel it and we hunker down into ourselves, resentful of the glum weather conditions.  Wiser than I, the children are prepared to stay indoors.  They build a massive structure of Legos (including the large “moonscape” flat pieces), fake money, and plastic dinosaurs – they tell me this is an “M&M machine” that dispenses both a peanut butter version of the candy as well as glasses of water, and they show me it’s elaborate – and to me, incomprehensible – workings.

I finally pry them away from their indoor play – promising a bus ride and a photo shoot – and we hit the bus stop for a trip downtown.

At our closest bus stop, where we wait and wait and wait when we want to grab the Transit.
At the closest bus stop, where we wait and wait and wait when we want to grab the Transit.

After our downtown walkabout and a small luncheon at our favorite Deli we hit the longer trip home on the bus.  We elect to take the #20 from the station prior to its pass-through of North and West Hoquiam, rather than sit an extra ten to fifteen minutes at the station which is growing ever colder.

There are about eight other people on the bus: a quiet bunch at first, rumbling back from work to their homes.  We travel past a coffee stand with the words “NEW IN CAKE BATTER BIG TRAIN” blaring from the marquee (I shudder – who in their right mind would want to consume such a thing?  Sometimes the world seems a decadent, sodden place).  Around the loop of North Hoquiam, a scrabbled area I enjoy very much – an area (jokingly?) referred to as “the hood” while I grew up.  A handsome, swarthy young man gets on and sits a few inches away from me.  He’s silent but not morose.  Sometimes I make conversation with strangers; other times, like today, I merely lean into my son’s hair and enjoy a few minutes of calm and passivity.  Bus rides are wonderful because I am able to relax and enjoy my kids and the world; easier and more peaceful than driving on my own – and yes, I love the people on the bus.

A few blocks later a jovial man and woman bound on board.  They are a couple, but could easily pass as brother and sister: each fat, happy, round- and ruddy-faced, missing a few teeth.  The woman spies the Silent Young Man next to me and beams, holding up a certificate: “Graduated Treatment today – I’m done!”  The Silent Young Man, who’d made a rather stoic impression up until now, leans forward, lively.  He assumes banter with her and her partner, the latter draping an arm alternatively affectionate and amorous over his recently-graduated paramour.

Around the corner and onto Emerson Avenue.  We pass seemingly inches away from a road crew just as one of them raises some kind of sledgehammer and whales a fierce blow to the street, causing chunks of black roadway to fly up in the air, and causing me to flinch.  Another rider from up front the bus says, “Use a blowtorch, it’s easier man…  it’s just tar holdin’ it on.” But this passenger is the only one besides me who noticed the road crew: the Male Ex-Drug Addict interprets this remark as referring to his teasing comment on the Silent Young Man’s wispy mustache.  Good-natured – if a bit confused – laughter ripples through the bus.  A block later and a young woman gets on board.  She is clothed painstakingly in Target separates, her hair glossy and thick, pulled high on her head, glittered eyeshadow and a chipped French pedicure.  She is Poor, or Lower Class, but she is more beautiful than most women you see anywhere, her skin perfect, her eyes large and almond-shaped, thick clotted lashes.

She knows the Silent Young Man as well; she and he fall to easy conversation and it is revealed she too has a boyfriend in Treatment. “You smell good,” Silent Young Man volunteers, then laughs self-depreciatingly.  She does smell good; if a bit strong, several layers of scents purchased in a drugstore.  Male Ex-Drug Addict swings his head around and laughs goonily at this last comment; the bus murmur resumes pleasant and familiar.

The Silent Young Man gets off a few blocks later, and the conduit between these four people in the back of the bus is broken.  The Nice-Smelling Working Girl begins assiduously and silently working her way through a copious number of scratch tickets, which she continues for the rest of the route.  A block after crossing the Big Bridge and we ring the bell; the driver takes us over a block past where we’d hoped to disembark.  I’m a little blue as we trudge home: my favorite lipstick was lost in our travels today.

The Hoquiam River
The Hoquiam River

My daughter and I created a wee book about today’s little adventure. If you’d like a copy of the book – it’s awesome! – shoot me an email at kelly AT hogaboom DOT org (I had to laugh at what my daughter wrote on her Flickr profile – awesomer still her brother could read it on his own).

of lizards and liaisons

This morning our mission was simple: a sojourn to the local pet store to do some homework. My daughter has been persistently requesting a new pet: lizard or turtle. Today we went to find the appropriate animal for her care (verdict: leopard gecko) and price all the accessories we’ll need for said animal. Sophie brought a clipboard and pen for our research. After we move into our new place I’ll venture out again to acquire the animal (hopefully from a home that no longer wants their wee lizard).

It was a snowy walk to meet the bus; slow going, as the roads were still icy and treacherous. After boarding (fare is free most of this month for Christmas) we head to the back of the bus; I get violently carsick on most public transportation unless I’m assiduously facing forward. We sit next to a grown man in scuffed leather coat with a coarse dark beard and skull-printed do-rag. My daughter looks out the window at the snow; there’s never been a child more interested and invested in finding ice to crunch with her boots. My son takes up Sophie’s clipboard and flips the page to the lyrics for his Christmas concert (tomorrow night) which he’s been practicing. In a clear, measured voice he sings the versus of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”.

After my son concludes this recital the man next to me leans over. “Thank you for the carol,” he says, holding up two shiny quarters for the children (even though Sophie hadn’t sang). “Oh, thank you!” I say. “I didn’t know that was part of the deal.” The man apologizes for what he now perceives may be an intrusion. “I hope my tattoos didn’t offend you, ma’am,” he says, showing me two very homemade-looking on the back of each hand: “JESUS IS KING” and “JESUS IS LORD”. Tattoos don’t offend me; neither does passionate Christianity. With his long hair and dark beard he reminds me of my father and brother, of company my family used to keep when we lived in Southern California. I talk to him a bit more, sharing a story about walking a long distance the day before because I didn’t have bus fare, not knowing that fare was free this month. I enjoy talking to strangers and I am somewhat eager he sees I do not scare. I see his jeans are torn and underneath he is wearing bathing trunks, presumably against the cold. Where does he live? Where is he going? The words stick in my throat; I don’t want him to think I’m intruding.

Across from Swanson’s he rings the bell to exit the bus. “Have a nice day,” he tells us, and unless I’m mistaken there is something guarded in his tone. Does he regret offering the quarters? Does he think I scorn him based on his appearance – as so many before me doubtless have done? Is he just lonely?

“You too,” I say warmly. “Thank you.” I’m smiling as he leaves and my eyes feel wet, grateful for the contact between strangers.

We chug up the Simpson Avenue bridge on the bus, only blocks from our destination now. I think to myself how much the human soul wants connection, wants to be seen and not judged, wants to strike up a conversation with someone they’ve never met and likely won’t see again. I also think to myself that when I’m out on foot, on the bus, on the bike, I am so much more likely to experience the expansion of the soul, the pauses that end up in their way more rewarding and real than the rushing about I am wont to do in my many plans and errands.

My children in the pet store are perfectly behaved; their tender handling of the fragile, small reptiles betrays their gentleness. The lizards themselves, animals I hadn’t been prone to notice before, are amazingly beautiful; looking as if made of glass, but soft, barely warm to the touch. A delicacy in each face as if it were formed by an expert craftsman, which indeed many think is the case. Sophie asks as we leave if I’m going to indeed bring a lizard into our new home. “I promise I will take good care of him,” and I believe her.

of pesto and people-watching

Last night we’re sitting in our favorite pizza parlor. It’s so nice to have Ralph home and know he’s home for the weekend. I’m feeling very proud of him as he’s been riding his bike to and from work every day. In the Hogaboom driveway days go by while both our cars lay fallow as my husband, children and I use public transit and our own human power to get around. It feels liberating.

Tonight in the pizza place I can’t hear it, but on the television propped up by the kitchen I see an amusing commerical featuring a duck. First the duck somehow gets its bill stuck in a mail slot. Then the duck runs inside a barber shop and stands in front of a poster such that it appears to have a professionally-coiffed head of hair. Then the duck gets surprised about something and opens its bill really wide. I don’t know what the commercial is about but I like it better not knowing what I’m supposed to buy, and just watching the duck.

A party of four adults toting one baby come in. The baby is about six months old, a girl, bald, and dressed only in a little red polka dot romper. No fuss, no huge carseat caddy or special sippy cup or pre-packed little baby food containers. I like that. The adults are young and boisterous – one calls the other “retard” as the shuffle the tables around. The baby turns around to look at us often as we eat. When the baby drops her toy Nels picks it up. He keeps an eye on the baby.

A couple comes in, a few years younger than my parents. He is huge, massive, wearing a Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirt, long silver-streaked ponytail, and full-arm tattoos. I actually feel very comfortable around men who look like this. They are usually very friendly, engaging guys. Sure enough, a few minutes later and he’s making goo-goo eyes across the room at the aforementioned baby. I notice he and the infant have the same shade of large, blue-grey eyes.

The pizza, pasta, fresh coffee arrive and my family digs in.

getting over that hump

It’s 5:12 PM and I’m irritated. I’m irritated because it’s taken us a bit longer than I’d thought to walk across the bridge. I’m irritated that despite the sign on the Public Market proclaiming hours until 6, they close down an hour earlier, and I can see the two cars pulling out and away and: I’m irritated because I was counting on some meager produce earnings from the Market to get me a bus pass because (Irritation #3) the kids and I ended up on an overly-ambitious walk (made so because of duration coupled with the amount of exercise we’d had previously this day and our lack of food and water and means to get them). Accepting our loss at least today of lettuce-money now I know that if I want to catch a bus home I have to grab the kids up and cross the street in front of blasting log trucks and wait in a chilly wind God knows how long before a bus comes along and at at that point I’ll have to beg off on 15 cents I don’t have to complete our bus fare (and the drivers around here might even say No – I’m serious). In this moment I notice the kids have found and are enjoying the very, very poor excuse for a playground that is alongside the Market and I know they won’t like abandoning the “park” for this half-assed bus plan but neither should they have to walk all the way home and you know what? It’s my decision, my responsibility, to figure out what to do.

I give into the moment and sit in the grass and let the children play. They don’t know it, but it’s a dismal day, the kind of grey soul-swallowing bleakness that gave Aberdeen such notoriety the Kurt Cobain set (many of them not raised here) often cite. Alongside the river and I’m walking and I know how to dig in my feet and survive, burrowing down into my jacket and being as patient with the kids as I can and hoping for a more promising tomorrow. After all, I have things to look forward to: friends coming over for dinner. The cough syrup nap at night (sadly, still necessary). A day closer to the weekend, where Ralph and I try to enjoy our time together.

This morning the first thing I did to try to make myself feel better than I had yesterday was bake a rhubarb cake and do the dishes. Housework is soothing; I’d enjoy it in perfect bliss if it weren’t on a Rinse-Repeat cycle many times daily (ironically: it was having children that made me overcome my dislike of housework). We did have some excitement yesterday: the first hatchlings in our incubating chicken eggs. One died (in my hands – second bird in a month?), two have survived – we now have ten living entities in this house. I know cats and rats and chickens don’t count for much by some yardsticks but feeding and cleaning up for them kind of does, especially along with my much more messy and complex (but it must be said, far more rewarding) human younglings. Our cat Harris is pleased with the chicks; he offers his nannying skills regularly although we repeatedly defer.

Tomorrow: city park free lunch program (at my son’s request), a date with Jasmine, and Try #2 for gardening proceeds.

make it a regular part of your day

Whatever bits of spare time I thought I had have been taken up by biking and sewing, both of which I’ve been doing quite a bit more. It is merely exhausting pulling my trailer of 100 or so pounds (kids, books, backpacks, groceries) and by the time I get home it’s time to start dinner or finish the dishes or collapse on the bed and wish for a second wife in the family while I wait for my husband to rescue me from some of my work.

Yesterday Nels, E., and I biked down to the bus station to catch a bus to Aberdeen. We shopped for groceries at Safeway (the kids chose a car-like kid cart and were endlessly amused when I’d “drive” it crazily or recklessly) and packed half of the food into my backpack, half into one of those heinous plastic bags that cuts your palm to ribbon as you procced to walk across town. Physically carting one’s own food around town definitely self-moderates any extra purchasing one might be tempted to do; however I can’t bear the annoying extra expense of buying organic milk by the half-gallon.

After the grocery store we visited the local fabric shop for a bit; on next door where I sipped coffee in a cafe – the two children playing perfectly at an adjacent table – before walking the remaining seven blocks to E.s uptown school. The two little ones held up great and just before we got to the school we sat on a bench to have a snack and rest up. The walk and bus ride back home with Nels was less pleasant; I am prone to car sickness and it seems the bus system, already not without problems, hasn’t quite learned to cope with our bridge detour. The result was an extra and unexpected (for me and several other passengers) three mile delay when I was already about to puke my guts. I grimly held on as Nels gamboled about in the backseat flirting with all who came into eye- or earshot. I was never happier to see the station and our locked- up bike apparatus as when I shakily stumbled off the bus and held my breath from the diesel fumes.

I have started to believe that Grays Harbor Transit is underdesigned and largely ignored by those who have the time and influence to improve it. For instance at last week’s HBA meeting there was an anecdotal story about the bus system working well despite our detour – “working well” has not been my experience – and the conversation quickly turned as if we’d merely discussed an quaint irregularity; I’d wager not one other person at this meeting actually uses the system with any frequency. The schedule and routes don’t seem to be built for commuting but rather for those who have no motorized means of transportation and are at the mercy of such a system. In my several times a week riding I do not observe daily white-collar commuters (my husband rides the bus an average of two days a week and reports the same) and I have never seen another white, middle/upper class mum on board. People I do see on the bus: the sick, elderly, morbidly obese, or suffering riding up the hill for medical treatment, those in drug or alcohol counseling programs, those working blue-collar jobs, users with fallen-in mouths, hooded eyes, and dubious personal hygiene, near-silent Latina women and their small children. I have overheard many, many stories of drug use, treatment, and court (in fact, one woman sitting by me yesterday became agitated at the unexpected delay as she was required to be in court at a certain time). I have seen people with plastic bags of their own clothes or cheap Walmart goods huddled in their seat and scarfing food down, their skin tone poor and their eyes tired. People trading stories of methadone, roomates who’ve ripped them off; last week a woman asking another casually, “What are you then? An alcoholic or something?” as if inquiring about a fraternal organization. I feel like an anomoly on the bus.

In any case it doesn’t make sense, I suppose, for the bus system to improve. Even with gas prices rising as they are people are still freely choosing driving as a means of transport. Neither are many carpooling; in my biking about town I’ve taken to counting cars and have found over 80% of car trips to be passenger-free.

Other perils of bussing and biking; I went so long without driving our van that a tiny, tiny light left on managed to drain the battery over the period of three days. Whoops!


Today the children and I took the day off to take a trip to Elma on the bike and transit. Graced with four fresh tamales my mom picked up from our local market I first biked to the bank (I’m ashamed to admit I was really irritable when told I could not use the drive-through bank teller at my bank – two clerks were sitting there and no cars were in sight, not to mention I had two children buckled in the bike trailer) then sorted us out at the station for a two-bus trip.

I didn’t mind the free occasional bad language or methadone / heroin / prison talk (I heard all of this on both trips between Elma and Aberdeen) although I was shocked and disgusted to hear a woman behind me, in response to discussing a court date, call an area judge a “faggot”. I just forget the ugliness some people openly display (I guess I’m more used to those who hide it inside).

My children charmed many on our trip both in shops and on transit. Nels complimented a woman on her hair, eyes, and earrings in such a way several people laughed and the lady herself blushed. Lots of beautiful people who’ve lived hard, aged early, and have bad teeth. But somehow more vital, because they live so much of their life in public systems and don’t hide their light, such as it is, under a bushel.

Total miles not driven today: about 55, or $6.20 in gas (I spent $1 on bus fare roundtrip). This theoretical $6.20 more than paid for the two necklaces the kids had custom made at Unique Beads, a cute little Hawaiian print dress marked down to 50 cents at a new consignment shop (day three of their opening), and three kid-sized ice cream cones at a local coffee shop after our home-packed lunch.

So yeah – I like shopping, as it turns out. It’s nice when it’s all day, a family experience, and costs next to nothing.

so, some of it got paid forward today

Today…. well, a bit overwhelming in bits and pieces.

On the way to Aberdeen along with my mom she let me stop by the brand spankin’ new business of a local blogger, Etsyan, and young mother for a mystery package. After touring their office (the pride in their hard work really shone through) I accepted a gift package and well-wishes for the family. When I got in the van I found in the packet coloring books, crayons, and other little bits for my children as well as a Visa gift card with the following message:

“Sometimes things can be tight – regardless there’s always someone looking out for you! Go buy some cheese for those pizzas! [heart] & hugs – [signed] Amazing Family

I sat there a minute and swallowed hard while my mom asked me what my brief visit was all about. It’s hard for me at times because I work so hard to make sure my writing here is never a specific communication to anyone or a plea for any kind of help or consideration (as my friend Cyn says, “can I tell you how I feel without you feeling like you need to solve me”). I always want the freedom to write what I want to write even if that might make others uncomfortable (or maybe, on the other hand, colossally bored, whatever). On the other hand, all the rest of you reading this, you are nowhere near as cool as this woman for how kind she was to me today.

I kid, I kid. No really. I am totally kidding. And yes, I am going to buy us some excellent cheese.

Three minutes after this visit I set my bag of goodies on the floor of the van, get out, and hoist Nels into the parking lot for our all-too-familiar trip to my father’s biweekly poisoning session. When we arrive in the new chemo ward (fancy!) I realize I know three of the seven patients there. My own father and two fathers of friends I grew up with. You know, I never get angry at Cancer. But today I was really struck by seeing these men and I felt like there was some cruel joke being played on all of us. Why are these men being stricken, weakened, and yes, taken from us while they still have so much to offer?

The second part of my day I am on foot with my two children through the rain and wind. This is because I had no gas in the van and had piggybacked on my mom’s errands (hanging posters for our theatre’s upcoming showing of Mary Poppins among other things) so when she suddenly found herself caught short she dumped us in West-ass Hoquiam to take her meeting. Luckily my children are seasoned winter travelers.

“You really need to learn how to play that game,” I tell my son as we walk. Nels has this remedial, caveman-like concept of Paper Rock Scissors, the game I’ve adopted to help the kids choose who gets to ring the bell on the bus, or pick the ice cream flavor to split with one another. He thinks Rock should beat everything else (I swear, this makes sense to me). Depending on Sophie’s mood she will either take advantage of this to win, or deliberately Scissors so he gets the prize. When she wins, and we don’t do a rematch, he howls with anger.

Spending so much time on foot, bus, and bike (I have $134 left to pay off my new bike’s layaway… I am just so excited for it!) is a real blessing. I experience my children, my community, and my world so much more viscerally. Things slow down. I am grateful for my alpaca mittens and I think ahead about packing snacks in my pockets for the kids. I rarely see anyone out with their kids in this town. I see dads walking fast with a kid in a stroller, smoking. That’s about it. Everyone else is in cars.

for lack of two bits

Today I found myself at 11:15 leaving my daughter’s school (where I do volunteer work every Monday) and on my way to pick up Nels when: problem? I forgot bus fare. Luckily it was only very, very, freezing-nuts-off cold as opposed to the torrential rain that descended at 2:45 that day when – again, on foot – I needed to go pick up my daughter. At 11:15, realizing my error, I tied my hat earflaps down and walked super-fast to my parents’ house to ask for their van or 50 cents and the use of the phone. As I walked I thought about what it is like for families who really DON’T have a car or people who RELY on public transportation regularly. There is simply no room for, “Oh whoops, I forgot such-and-such,” or “Oops, running a little late!” when you’re catching a bus in order to get somewhere.

As of two yesterday our van battery is dead. Luckily nothing phases me when it comes to getting around; it’s a good life skill if you ask me. Today at 3:22 as I pulled the kids along to our bus stop (uncovered and right by a crosswalk; people slow down and glare at me, waiting for me to cross. I point and point to the sign we’re next to but no one registers it is indeed a bus stop. It’s weird.) my children asked me why we have to walk so fast in the pouring rain. I said, “OK. Let me tell you a story about what’s happening. When our car breaks down, we don’t have money to fix it right away. So we take the bus. You know some people don’t have cars at all. Some people have money to fix their cars right away,” and a bunch of other things. It was a good conversation. They really listened as we slogged through the wet. My three year old son valiantly hiked his coat up and kept a jog for four blocks. Yes, we made the bus. They are pros at it. Nels rang the bell when we got to the Y.

Despite being on foot, on bus, and bumming the use of my parents’ van once I still managed to arrange school for the kids, take homebaked cookies to Suse’s school, deliver a hat to a friend, and get the kids to the Y for my workout (very sluggish today) and the kids’ first night of Short Sports (tonight’s workshop: basketball skills). Arriving home at 7:30 and my body doesn’t yet know it’s time to rest (in fact, the dirty dishes and piles of laundry encourage my body to keep going). But it really is time to rest. And give the family the SNUGGLING OF THEIR LIFE! Does that sound threatening? Because it’s meant to.

divide by the cosine of grape jelly

This year for my eldest’s kindergarten I started work (unpaid) as an assistant to my daughter’s classroom every Monday morning while Nels is in school. Let me tell you, getting to know one’s child and other children within the school system is a great opportunity and I’ve been delighted to discover how much I enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I like my friends’ children but it has to be admitted these children (and my own) could often be viewed as obstacles to my socializing time with their mommies and daddies (anyone who’s been an at-home mommy or daddy of young children knows how much “quality time” with your children is instantly available or forced upon you; hanging out during the day with other parents of young children affords at least some adult-level interaction and pasttimes). At school however there are goals for everyone, there are rules in place and a neutral set of enforcers and pace-setters rather than the children’s parents. I find myself really enjoying being an educator rather than a parent or babysitter.

This week the children are “studying” a story about peanut butter sandwiches. I think the exercise focuses on reading comprehension (I have noted that classroom reading exercises are well below what my guess is Sophie’s second grade reading level – AR test pending; however, for the median classmate the academic exercises feel spot-on and all the children are attentive and seem to love them). While helping yesterday Mrs. P. asked me if I could come the next day and bring bread, so we could make peanut butter sandwiches (part two of the scientific experiment?).

So this morning with Nels in bike I brought homemade bread, Mrs. P bought the PB and J and we made sandwiches. I took a picture of the little kids freaking out joyously when Mrs. P. announced our project. During sandwich-making time (which coincided with other “stations” of art project and academic work on the letter “P”) Nels participated at a very good kgarten level, working so hard on a drawing / sticker exercise we were forced to take the sandwich with us on the bike trip to the bus station. Next week Mrs. P. tells me they are doing pizza and if she’s into it I will likely bring the dough and sauce, she can do toppings, and we can cook them in the kitchen. As you can imagine I am well-loved in that class. And I like each and every kid, and really feel like I’m getting to know them. Even The Little Sweet Psychotic (a beautiful, precious girl who scares me with her non-confrontational yet extremely confrontational behaviors) gave me two hugs before I left.

After class time Nels and I biked to the bus station to take the bus to Aberdeen’s LYS. After a very nauseating trip (I am very prone to carsick on our busses, sadly) I had Ralph meet me at the downtown shop and take Nels on a photo walk while I learned how to pick up the heel flap and inset to make the sock gusset. I was really irritated to discover the lack of “exact science” in picking up the stitches. However from here on out it looks like super easy sailing and then being walked through kitchener stitch by my fabulous local mentors. Yay socks!

Tonight: library date with kids, board meeting for the preschool, dinner at my ‘rent’s while watching 300 with the associated rifftrax. A little slice of heaven for me, well except for that Board meeting.

of bussing, rain, and pungent leavings

Today after a memorably annoying lunch date (kids were not on best behavior) Sophie and I rode the bus back from Aberdeen while Ralph and Nels took to Top Foods for groceries. Sophie and I waited a long time for our bus into Hoquiam, and it was cold even in the bus shelter. Then there was a twenty-five minute wait at the HQX station – Saturdays and Sundays the bus routes are nearly dead – and by then the cold was in our bones so we took my last $2 to the 7th Street Sweet Shoppe to split a cocoa. Here’s what’s funny: the proprietors of this little cafe ply my children with more sweets and extra helpings than a grandma on love-crack. Today I didn’t escape without double cocoa portions, extra whip cream, and a giant cake mix cookie to take home to give my kids after dinner (this last excuse was used when I claimed my children had had enough sweets for the afternoon). Jennifer, the patroness of the shop, especially wanted my son to get his part of the decadent cookie. He is her biggest fan in an almost stalky way, which by the way is kind of cute on a three year old.

The leg of bus route that gets us closest to our house runs through the more run-down or low income area of town known as North Hoquiam – my girlfriend who grew up there affectionately calls it “the hood”. This is also the most active part of the Hoquiam bus route since those that take the bus in Hoquiam and Aberdeen are usually poor, carless, or both. Today as we passed the Lincoln Commons we let out a man and he winked and smiled sexily at the driver as he crossed behind the bus. He was one of those men that retains a certain handsomeness and dangerousness – a Daniel Desario or Danny Zuko – keeping his lothario charm despite years of bars, pulltabs, smoking cheap non-brand cigarettes and living a life of, well, low-income apartments I guess. In any case I got a kick out of his optimism as the driver in question was a big-boned toothsome woman with Barbie highlights at least fifteen years his junior. She didn’t look interested in flirting in any way, her kohl-rimmed eyes weary and irritable from working on a Saturday in the rain.

We passed by the apartments again on my way back from the Perry Ave. loop and I found myself wondering about the families and citizens in my [hometown] / new burg. Who where these people and what were their lives like? How does it feel if you ride the bus because it’s your only way to get around? Why do some people live with their family, even a large family, stacked up in these tiny apartments on the edge of town? Why do those who can and do own a spacious home all to themselves pretend these others don’t exist or flat out decide they don’t exist for all practical purposes? Why am I hearing so much about “the hills” and “the flats” these days – more than I ever heard of the haves and have-nots when I was growing up? Why am I puzzling over remedial “injustice of the world” questions as if I was a thirteen year old just discovering them?

Hey, you know what’s awesome? People that let their dogs crap on our sidewalks and yards and lawns without cleaning it up. Today was really great because just a few minutes ago I was helping Sophie remove her boots when my hand, gripping the heel, came into contact with the slimy, rancid horrible backend vomit of some neighborhood pooch. Although this is the first time I have mashed my hand into dogshit, the weird thing is my body had a preternatural awareness of what this substance was, right upon contact. After my revulsion and anger I washed her boot and scrubbed scrubbed scrubbed my hands and I can still smell shit. You know, there’s almost no point to this tirade – I don’t really feel any differently on the subject than I did almost two years ago.

My brother is moving to Portland in two days. Wish him luck! We’ve been feeding him a lot. I think he is kind of lonely yet overworked and stressed lately.